Friday, August 31, 2007

Images from the Week

My sweet boy has fallen in love with Tracy. Anxiously waiting for her to wake-up each morning. Seeking her out when she is out of sight. He caught the fever/cough bug from Wylie and we have had a few days in a row of being home together. I can't really say I have minded the slower pace and the chance to cuddle a little more than normal with him. He is just so sweet...

A pink glitter explosion. There was a whole lot of craftin' goin' on this week, during our forced confinement. Can't say I minded that either.

Of course all the crafting took it's toll on the rest of the house. The kitchen never really lost that "lived in" look all week. And my bed never got made either. Some things I just have to let go of for the sake of everyones sanity... (PS, this picture is also for Nancy.)

But all the chore ignoring wasn't for nothing. The Shoppe is now stocked with some fun Harvest and Halloween Banners. More to come next week, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rural Treasure

One of the bestest things about having Jeanetta move here is that now I have someone to Flea Market & Garage Sale with on a regular basis. And a someone who can go my speed (fairly fast,) doesn't mind passing ones by that don't look promising, and who isn't looking for the same sorts of things I am looking for (her: avocado green patterned Pyrex, me: old pink Christmas ornaments.) So when we recently found our newest haunt together, it was such a great moment to share. The fact that we got to take Tracy with us for further exploration, was just yummy icing on the cake. For me, having 2 friends to flea market with was almost too much excitement to stand! I was in "hog heaven" (as we say down here...)

This flea market is off of a rural stretch of highway outside Conway. We were intrigued by the signs that said "Flea Market! A/C!" (A/C = Air Conditioning.) But, because everything down here has air conditioning - and mostly central air conditioning at that- the very fact that they would advertise it as an amenity was intriguing enough for us to explore further. What we found was a treasure hunters delight.
This flea market is held in 2 buildings that were once part of a small rural school campus.
The rock building (which was not air conditioned I might note) was once the schools gym. Even though it has a new roof, it still has the original wood bleachers and tongue-n-groove beadboard walls. Amazing! The gym was filled with all sorts of junk and treasures - some furniture, lots of vintage clothes and odds and ends.
I grabbed some old lampshades that can be torn apart and re-made for the Shoppe, and Tracy found us a roll of Tickets to split for only $3.
Of course everything inside was old and dusty, and I needed some allergy medicine right away. And it was hot as Haiti's in there. I thought Alaskan Tracy would melt for sure. We will have to go back for further digging when the weather cools...

Escaping from the heat of the gym and walked to the white building - which used to be the school cafeteria, built around the early 1930's. Inside we found more beautiful beadboard walls (with the wood running horizontal instead of vertical) and lots more goodies. Oh, yes and A/C too!
There is a precious chain smoking, beehive hair-do wearin' old lady who tends the shop. Her skin is the most beautiful smooth shade of olive, with very few wrinkles and a great smile. She is so beautiful to me as she seems so content to run her little shop (only open on Saturdays) and visit with all who enter. Always asking "Where y'all from?" And always offering to hold your goodies up front by her chair while you look around, because she "could never look around with full arms" herself.
Even though most of the items are covered in a lovely layer of dust and may have been there for years, it is obvious that she takes pride in her shop because things are well laid out. The vintage clothes are all hung neatly in a row and the dishes are stacked according to style and color.
One of these days I am going to be brave enough to ask her if I can take her picture, but this past weekend she was visiting with some friends who had stopped by for a chat and I didn't want to put her on the spot...

These are some of the goodies I picked up on Saturday... What fun finds! I think I like the vintage Old Maid Cards the best.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I always knew...

that I belonged in Paris...

"Stylish and expressive, you were meant for Paris.The art, the fashion, the wine!Whether you're enjoying the cafe life or a beautiful park...You'll love living in the most chic place on earth."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday's Loose Ends

After a busy weekend that included a marathon Flea Marketing Excursion with Tracy and Jeanetta, I now have a house full of sick boys and we are all a little sleep deprived. I guess all the excitement and germs of our first week Back-2-School did them in. But that doesn't keep life from moving on, or the creative wheels from turnin'... I am excited about all my finds, including these great buttons. Don't you love the metal flowers ones?

In other crafting news, I think there a few days left to sign up for this fun Halloween swap over at HopHopJingleBoo.

So if you are feeling a little spooky and very crafty go over and sign up!

Also, please go visit Joe and Tony's and see what my sister Judea has been up too! She has struck upon a well of creativity and I am loving everything she turns out!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gettin' Organized. Sorda.

Do to a million different reasons, I moved my office/guest room around to accommodate my ever growing need for storage and organization. Having the shoppe expansion has been such a great thing, but it has caused an explosion of "stuff" in our house. Stuff to be cleaned, stuff to be painted, stuff to be altered, sewn, priced, listed and glued. Oh yeah, and sometimes glittered too.

In a perfect world I would have painted my office before I re-arranged. The blue on the walls is a very "boy" blue to me and does not really soother or inspire. Which are 2 of the things I would like most in my work space. But this is not a perfect world and the painting will have to wait for another, less busy, time. Like January. By the way, my January To Do List is growing rapidly...

One of the reasons I was motivated to re-arrange is that Tracy has taken pity on me and come down to the hot, hot south to help me with my accounting issues. I have recently incorporated my business (another big change) which has come with a lot of new challenges, Proper Accounting being the main one. Because, to be frank, numbers make me cry. And numbers that could get you in trouble with federal government make me want to sob and go to bed for a week. So my dear friend (we realized we have been friends for 21 years!) has graciously come to my rescue to help me get set up and make sure that I am dotting all my i's and crossing all my t's.

Unfortunately she is crammed in between some shelves, much like these, that are piled high with files and supplies and resources. I wish I had a beautiful guest suite for her to steal away to and relax, but some cute vintage sheets and a little side table were the best I could do.

I am very excited about these new shelves though because the are already helping immensely. I have made temporary labels for each shelf (pretty magnetic ones to come later) and I am able to keep things out where I can see them (and thus not forget about them) but where they are still sorted into piles such as "fabric for lampshades" or "items for Fall." Over the next month or so as I play with the shelves and my system I am sure I will make a few changes and adapt things to my ever changing To-Do List. But for now I am feeling a little more organized and clear headed. Well, sorda....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesdays Loose Ends and Exploding Water Heaters

Well, it didn't explode exactly. But it did die. And it ruined our kitchen floors. And it had to be replaced. Immediately. So there you go. Exciting huh?
The good news is that this little glitch will be prime motivation to start tackling the kitchen remodel. I think we will work from the floor up...
So it is back to the kitchen inspiration drawing board for me... These are pictures from a wonderful kitchen in Texas that I saw on HGTV's Country Living TV show a million years ago (I guess that is why the pictures are so grainy.) But I just love the whites and creams and the way everything is tea stained and soothing... But I know me, and somewhere, somehow, I will have to inject some color. I just won't be able to resist. As much as I love to look at it in the picture, I don't know that I could live in it so neutral... The color always finds me...

In much better news I have been nominated for a Rockin' Girl Blogger award from the fab Gabreial
@ Vintage Indie! Thank you so much Gabreial!!

I in turn am nominating the following fabulous and defiantly Rockin' Girl Bloggers:
Because they are not only Rockin Girl Bloggers, they are also some of the people who help me get through my days and weeks and years, with their friendship, laughter, wise words and wonderful math abilities (Go Whitney!)
Thanks ladies, you are so very lovely! And rockin!
PS- If I could nominate a boy for Rockin Boy Blogger it would be this Dude... and not just because of this...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Looking for Fall

Fall has always been my favorite season. I love all the very Americana things about it. Football games (not that I pay attention, but I love going, and the idea of them) new notebooks, unpacking the sweaters and corduroys (oh how I love chords.) And my blue jean jacket. My own personal bit of heaven right here on earth. I know it is silly to feel that way about a piece of clothing, but it is one of the very few things that I always feel right in when I wear it. It is comfortable and flattering and and oh so very me. I do not own a stitch of clothing that is more me that that particular blue jean jacket. I would wear it every day if possible... I am just itching for that first cold front when I can whip it out.

I also love plaid patterns and brown boots of all shades (if they are flat) and tights and all sorts of fall clothes. Every year I am most inspired by Sundance, J Crew , Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren, because they all seem to have a great beat on Fall textures and colors. So I have been browsing their sites, looking for clues and lightbulbs (to go off in my head...)
Because, frankly, it has been really, really hard to get inspired for fall when it has been 100 degrees outside. 100 and humid. Not a great combo for Autumn Inspiration. But because I have to stay one step (at least) ahead of things for the shoppes, I have persevered and dug out all my fall back-issues of Country Home, Country Living, Cottage Living, Martha and Home Companion. But still, I have found myself frustrated and stumped time and time again. Especially when it comes to how to mix the colors of fall with the colors I typically use - those shabby chic/cottage colors...

Today when I went in to yoga I was tired and not very awake yet and dreading the thought of another hot Arkansas August day. I was dreading having to think about fall and all the things I needed to do to prepare. I was dreading having to juggle even more now that summer is over. But as I stretched and groaned and listened to parts of my body pop and crackle, I began to let go of my tension and my worry, and I suddenly found myself very grateful instead. I am grateful to have a life that allows some space for things like yoga -pop, crackle and all - and mindless browsing through Barnes and Noble, iced latte in hand. I am grateful for a life where I get to create something with my hands, and share a bit of joy with people. And I am grateful for the creative process, because it is never boring, even when frustrating.

When I came out of yoga I felt the breeze - even over the heat, and the light had somewhat shifted and
I could feel the promise of fall in the air. "Be patient, fall is on it's way" is what the light peeping out from behind the trees seemed to say.

Later, I found this picture, on the BHG website. This picture is a perfect example of the shoppes astectic and fall meeting up. The tea stained colors of the wallpaper, meeting with the crisp white beadboard. Mix in a little plaid, some velvet ribbon and frosted acorns and voila! A Storia Home Autumn is born...Suddenly a steady trickle of inspiration has started to flow...

So what get's you inspired for fall?

Back in the Saddle

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Monday's Loose End post to bring this special bulletin:

Here are some pics we have managed to snap 3 years in a row on Wylie's first day. As you can see Miles gets pretty excited too...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Today's Loot and Funny Family Factoid

There wasn't much out there this weekend. At least not around here. With 100 degree weather and school starting on Monday, putting on Garage Sales was NOT the big thing to do in Arkadelphia or North Little Rock this weekend. I did find a few goodies at an Estate Sale (the old vintage scale for one) and made off with a good load of pillowcases and sheets from the BeeHive Thrift Store in Arkadelphia.
Speaking of Arkadelphia, have I ever told you about the crazy girl names in my family?
Well, I come from a long line of uniquely named women. Starting with my Great-Great Grandmother Perilee. Followed by her daughters, Mitilda Arkadelphia, Zorabelle and Hattie. Then came my Grandmother Ethelee. Her daughters Tanya and Teija. Of course my mom (Tanya) had Me and then Jemimah and then Judea. There are a few boys mixed in there, but none of them have weird names so they don't count in this list. Do you want to know the funniest part? I thought so. The funniest part is that no one noticed this Odd Name Trend until I did a paper on our family in college and put it all together... Crazy huh?
Does anyone else have Odd Naming Traits in their families? If so I would love to know...Or are we just that strange???

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Porch Dreams

I want a porch. A screened in, easy breezy porch. Just like the porches of my mother and my grandmother.

And I want a bed or swing, or both (or combo of the two) on the porch so I can sip tasty beverages while I think deep thoughts. Or I can lie down and nap or read a good book, with the crickets and cicada's and the breeze playing their tune in the background. And ceiling fans. We will need ceiling fans being in the south and all...

Porches are essential to experiencing Southern life to the fullest and I want one.

I want a vaulted ceiling that is painted (as well as the walls and floor) and I want it to be made out of bead board.. I am not sure what color yet. Maybe white? Maybe pale green... But something crisp and cool.

There needs to be a table and chairs for dining.

For informal dinners with kids and relatives and Nathan's bar-b-que chicken. Or formal ones with adults only and lots of good wine and rich food and my sweet mans wonderful french bread. Yes, lot's of bread will broken on this porch...

And there needs to be a corner set up with an an easel and some paints. Just in case I feel in the mood to piddle around and allow myself to relax with the sun and the breeze and some paint...

There will be 2 sets of pillows and cushions. One set for spring and summer when everything feels bright and light. One set that reminds me of the beach, and the simplicity I find there. Tranquil and inviting...

And one set for fall, when everything is crisp and golden. A set that reminds me of camping and cabins and the warmth of being wrapped in a slpeeping bag in the great outdoors, looking at the stars.

Oh yes, someday I will have a porch. And it will be so lovely...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

So Nice...

I just love how blogging has opened this whole new world up to me- a new world of creativity and generosity and inspiration. I am never bored or out of things to learn with all of you out there, sharing bits of your life and your story with me...
One of the fun things that seems to be catching on is the "award" tags. Since most of us will never receive an Oscar or a Golden Globe or any other huge award, I think these blog awards are a fun way to feel noticed and appreciated and for that I am appreciative.

Especially because this week Toni at Rabbit Hill Creations tagged me for a Nice Matters Award! It was such a sweet surprise, and all I can really say, is "awe shucks!"

So I am nominating the following fellow bloggers for a Nice Matters Award, because, well, they are always just so nice...

And really to everyone who drops by my little blog, thank you for making this little hobby "the most fun!"

PS- I have started asking people who buy custom banners to send me pictures of how they use them. Here is a link to the beautiful Alania's birthday party and her banner!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday's Loose Ends

Today is the last Monday before school starts. I can not believe it is 108 degree's outside and in a week school starts. How crazy! I cannot wait for that moment in mid-September when the air begins to change, and suddenly you just feel it. Fall... Oh, to dream...

Well to celebrate the beginning of a "new year" I made a few Back-to-School items and posted them at Storia HOME. One of them, my Back-2-School Clipboard, is being featured over at ZevCards, and I am so flattered for her mention!

Earlier last week during our big Artful Blogging party Fiona asked about Ms. Bessie, Storia HOME's prima donna.

Well, Bessie used to belong to my littlest sis Judea, back when she went through her Fashion Designer phase (seems to be written on our DNA I am afraid.) When I first began shopping in earnest for our Shoppe expansion I found the cutest vintage Tutu at a rummage sale and I knew she and Bessie belonged together and more importantly that they belonged at the shoppe. I have started gathering various vintage slips,nightgowns and dresses for Bessie to show off in at the shoppe. She is a great one for modeling our aprons, Jeanetta's handmade brooches, my party crowns etc. I am hopeful that Bessie will be joined in the future by 2 more sweet girls, because as we all know, 3 is the magic number!

Speaking of 3, here are 3 sites I have found recently that are pure eye candy (and a great resource) for all fabric lovers out there!

and the always lovely Cabbages and Roses

Happy Monday & End of Summer to you all! May you be lucky enough to be cool, wherever you are!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Doing The Shoppe Thing

Recently, Jen from Cottage Nest inquired about how I got started with the whole Shoppe thing. You can read about how I found myself as a Professional Nest Fluffer over here , but I guess I have never really explained how I became a Shoppe Girl too. I will give you the long version, because frankly, I stink at giving the short version of anything. Just ask Nathan or Amy or Whitney...
In the beginning...
I think I have always wanted to have a shoppe. There are several bits from my childhood that back this statement up. For one, ever since I was a little girl. "Store" was one of the make -believe games I played, setting things up, arranging them just so, etc. Then, around the age of 10, when I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer, I always imagined myself with my own label. I never imagined working for Ralph Lauren or Christian Lacroix, I always assumed I would have a brand and have my own stores. And "take meetings." I always imagined myself at big powerful meetings in big powerful office buildings in New York City. (Funny in retrospect, considering I live almost as far from big meetings in big buildings as you can get...)
Well as we all know my ambitions to be a fashion designer died with my in ability to sew or cut a straight line. But somewhere deep inside me the dream of being a Shoppe Girl and a Designer of Something still held on.

Shortly after Nathan and I were married and we had moved to Little Rock I had a bit of a emotional meltdown. Nothing scary or anything like that, but there was a lot of crying and marathon napping and tons of "who am I?" and "what do I really want to be" discussions. A lot of it was due to the job I was in at the time (a very stressful social work type of thing,) and some of it was just due. Just because it was time. I can't really explain it more than that. But during those months when I was struggling with all those thoughts and emotions, the one thing that I remember clinging to the most, the thing I identified with most, was the movie You've Got Mail. I remember so clearly how much I felt like Kathleen Kelly, not knowing which way to go, which way was up. But I also remember how drawn I was to her store. How much I somehow wanted a bit of that magic to be part of whatever it was I was to become, whatever it was that I was going to do...

Well, skip ahead a couple of years, and see that we have bought a house, and had Wylie and I have found my love of design and Shabby Chic and all that goodness. And I have realized that I am not 100% cut out for being a Stay-At-Home Mom in the traditional sense, and that I really don't find things like laundry or cleaning baseboards to be a good creative outlet for me... So I start looking for ways to use my creativity, to make some spending money and to get out of my house a little more often. By this time I am doing the "design thing" on the side a little bit also. And that is good, but I find myself wanting to have a store, wanting to "style" things, re-purpose things and show off the look that I love so much.

Knowing that a full blown store was not a possibility at all, I set my sights on getting a flea market booth instead. I talked my Mom and my friend Kim into renting a booth with me at a new huge market in the town over, about 20 minutes away from where I lived. We stocked it with all sorts of fun vintage & retro finds & mom's pillows and just waited to see what happened. Some months we did OK, some months not so much. But it was really too far out of the way for us to maintain it well, and as usual life got in the way. Nathan and I moved to a new house even further away, Kim and I both had "surprise" babies, and things just sort of got put on hold. We gave notice, boxed up our stuff and that was that. Shoppe #1 over.

OK, skip ahead another 2 years. I am back in the design business on my own, my kids are older, we aren't in the middle of moving or anything crazy like that, and I get the shop bug again, I decided that I want to give the booth thing another try. So I visit all the Flea Markets close to my house, feeling them out for atmosphere, traffic and most importantly RENT prices... I find a small Hole-in-the Wall market that seems very easy going, is on a busy street and has low rent prices. I find an empty booth under a skylight and sign the contract. I am suddenly back in business with Shoppe # 2.

About 6 months later I walk into The Shoppes on Woodlawn for the first time. The Shoppes are in an old Dutch Colonial house located in a historic neighborhood that is known for great food, unique shopping and the best old houses around. As I walk around the shoppe I realized that each room in the house is run by a different person, sort of like a Flea Market booth system, but there is something different about this space, something special. As I left I just happened to inquire - on a total lark - this place would be way out of my price range I am sure - if there are any rooms coming available... Wouldn't you know it? The little bitty attic closet was coming open soon. I literally got chill bumps...

Again I used my charm and I talked (begged?) Jeanetta into splitting the rent with me...Because even though we would have the smallest room in the house, it was still more than double what I was paying at my Hole-in-the-Wall space and I wasn't quite ready to make that jump all by myself yet!

So to the attic we went. And we worked that attic closet over. Jemimah helped me paint shelves & we added lots of little lamps everywhere we could to add light. Over the next 9 months we kept experimenting with product, seeing what sold, what didn't. What prices points were good, what was too much, what was too little etc.

Then in May the Shoppe Ladies, co-owners, Jessica and Lou, offered us the Front Parlor. Downstairs. It was coming open in July and it was ours if we wanted it! Again our rent doubled, but by then the little attic space was doing well and because it was limited in space ( you have no idea how limited) I just knew that we would never really be able to do much more up there. And there was so much more I wanted to do - still want to do - and the Front Parlor seemed like the perfect space. So we took a risk and jumped! I thrifted and garage saled and antique until my whole back patio was full. We all painted and sanded and crochet, and glittered until we couldn't see straight and we got just enough in our little room by July 1 to make it look loved. And now, I am proud to say, we have made it though our first official month successfully. We made more than our rent and to me that is success... especially since we had no big ticket items and we are still figuring it all out...

There is still so much more I need to do and learn about shop keeping. Someday I think I might even want my own independent store. But that is such a HUGE commitment - all the overhead and details that I am blissfully unaware of right now. The Shoppes on Woodlawn have been such a gift. I am able to afford prime real estate in a great neighborhood which I would never be able to afford on my own - at least not this soon.. Plus I have a great relationship with the Shoppe Ladies; they are incredibly supportive and nurturing, helping me figure out what sells, what doesn't, and what we should do next. They take care of all the advertising and if the air conditioner breaks they are the ones who take care if - not me! Woo hoo!

I spend lots of Friday and Saturday mornings hitting garage & Estate sales looking for things to clean up or fix up and sell. I sell things I make, like the banners and crowns and the various things you see in my Etsy shoppe as well. I also make lampshades out of vintage linens and pair them with old lamps. I am working on designing benches made from old headboards, with big fluffy seat cushions along with a few other things. I would love to be able to carry a small line of vintage inspired and eco-friendly paints & fabrics someday. I love things that are good for the enviroment and made from organic elements, but I find that so much of those things have a much more modern/mid-century look about them. I would love to find - or develop- products that are much more cottage /vintage in design and texture, but are still eco-friendly. I also want to have a full service online store, and a t-shirt line, but those are down the road...
Most days I have so many ideas I feel like I am going to bust. Ideas are never my problem - it's time and execution... oh, and capitol. Those are the things that trip me up...
But I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, crossing my fingers and toes, saying lots of prayers, reading Shop Owner and A Boutique Industry for moral support and hopefully, I will get to keep doing what I love to do most. The Shoppe Thing.

PS- These photo's are all of recent thrift finds. I took their pictures with my newer fancier camera. What do you think? Can you tell the difference?
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