Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Velvet Pumpkin

The editors of The Leaf Chronicle are kind enough to publish my ramblings each week, here is my installment from two weeks ago . . .

In spite of my protestations in last week’s article, these cooler morning and evening temperatures have really got my palms itching for some fall-ish décor. I’m beginning to doubt those coffee filter pomanders are going to be enough to stave off the desire to throw some pumpkins into the mix! The truth is, I love and decorate with pumpkins year round. I’m not sure why, but they’re always been a favorite of mine. I remember when we lived in Virginia, I saved my money to buy at t-shirt from a shop at the Springfield Mall because I liked the name—The Velvet Pumpkin. Their tag line was actually a quote from Henry David Thoreau, “I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

Doesn’t that sound lovely? But let me tell you, I’m hoping to get my hands on some gorgeous velvet pumpkins for Hodgepodge. I saw them at market, but walked away. ARGH!  Talk about the best of both PUMKINS 037worlds—although, I’m pretty sure Thoreau wouldn’t approve. I’ve never been much into transcendentalist thought—it is hard work. (I’ll keep you posted on the arrival of these plush beauties.)

In the meantime, however, I’m supposed to be inspiring you to make that slow transition into fall, so I’ve compiled a few more ideas.

One of the reasons we’re prone to these seasonal changes is the change of outdoor colors. We’re moving from the riot of summer’s bright colors into the warm palette of fall, but in between we have the tans and greys of drying blooms, grasses and so on. An easy, inexpensive change you can make to reflect this no-so-attractive transition is this is to cover some of your books in brown wrapping paper (or recycle paper grocery bags) or newsprint. This helps unify the design of your bookcases or coffee table. If you don’t want to go that far, you can simply remove the jackets from your books—I’ve never been a big fan of those and remove them as soon as the purchase is made. They’re usually brightly colored to get your attention at the bookstore, but once they’ve done their job take them off.

brown book covers

photo credit

Another subtle change you can make is transitioning from silk flowers to dried blooms. If your own flowers haven’t already faded, you can clip some from the garden and allow them to dry in an arrangement you’ve created. You can always buy fresh flowers from a florist and take them home to dry. I spoke with the fine folks at Franklin Street Florist and they said they could help put together a bouquet that will dry nicely. Viola!

ball jars and hydrangeas

photo credit

One last tip is to add rattan, willow or sisal accents to your room. This can be in the form of some storage baskets, a group of decorative bottles wrapped in rattan, placemats or an area rug. The visual interest added by these textures can do subtle wonders for a room and they help introduce or reinforce the natural elements of a room.

baskets in decor

photo credit

I hope you find something useful in these suggestions. Let me know if you have other ideas for creative transitions. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for your indulgence.


UPDATE:   The pumpkins are here!  The pumpkins are here!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wardrobe Wow!

Remember that amazing, custom made wardrobe I referenced a few blogs back?  Well, it is finally in place and looks fabulous!

About two months ago, Whitney sent me a picture of the  wardrobe she had in mind.  We talked about their needs  and decided which changes we needed to make.  Then my friend, Jeff, went to work.  He recycles old shutters for a lot of pieces—they were exactly what we needed for the doors.  We painted with sea scape—a valspar paint—then I finished it with the toner from Caromal Colours.  It looks great—if I do say so myself!

whitney's stuff 001

We also helped Whitney choose some new bedding.

whitney's stuff 002

She has a new ruched duvet and matching euro shams.  Then we added these beautiful shams and coordinated bed skirt.

whitney's stuff 003

I understand that this beautiful headboard is Whitney’s own creation!  It took all of my restraint to not jump in the middle of the bed—it looks so comfy and welcoming!

Thanks to Whitney for allowing me to share these pictures with you.

and, thanks for your indulgence.


Monday, August 15, 2011

transitioning into fall

What follows is my article for  The Leaf Chronicle, August 7th—I was able to find some pictures to show you.

I guess if this past week didn’t put you in a fall frame of mind—you’re a more substantial person than I. I don’t recall ever being so hot! The reality, however, is that we still have many more weeks of warm weather ahead. Personally, I’d like for it to cool-down enough to allow me to walk the dog without having to shower upon our return. Or how about if it cools down enough to have the pool water once again feel refreshing? (I’m pretty sure we could have cooked our ramen noodles in there last week!) I’d also like to enjoy another month of summer flowers, but the heat and lack of rain has ravaged the garden.

Have you noticed that the weeds don’t seem hindered by the high heat or lack of rain? Those things are thriving, right next to my wilting basil and crisp lavender. Those dang morning glory vines are insidious and seem to enjoy the challenge of the heat!

I’ve heard many folks talking about changing their home décor to their favorite fall themes, but I’m not quite ready for such a change. This statement borders on heresy, as I generally sing the praises of autumn above all the other seasons. But mind you, it’s not that I wouldn’t prefer cooler temperatures, it is just that I can’t hang my fall wreath until the weather matches it!

Are you the same way? Or are you already looking for your pumpkins and scarecrows? There are a few ways I’ve discovered to make some changes to my seasonal home décor without a without going full-blown with corn stalks and pumpkins.

Last year I made some decorative pomander-like balls to perch atop garden urns and pillar holders using coffee filters and Styrofoam balls. I was going to refer you to my blog to find instructions, but I’ve just spent 30 minutes looking for my blog post about that activity and guess what? I don’t think I did one!

So, briefly, I brewed several different “colored” teas—using extra teabags to get a more saturated color. I used black tea, a standard tea (one you would use for iced tea) and a fruit tea (which is red in color). I set up three bowls, which I filled with about two cups of each of the teas. Then I grabbed my bag-o-filters; I used the type of coffee filter that is used in the basket-style brewers. I then stacked three filters together—folded them in half to form a half-circle. The next step is to fan fold the half-circle and secure the tip with a staple. Holding the tip, I then proceeded to dunk the wide end into the tea—make sure you make a variety of filter flats

Allow to dry—in this heat, they will be dry in a few minutes! When completely dry, you will fluff the filters open to form flowers.

coffee filter open

I attached the flowers, using floral pins, to a 3” Styrofoam ball.


The colors are still reminiscent of summer, but the paper construction materials help make the transition from lush summer to the dry season we always seem to endure before the changes of autumn.

finished pomander

I will continue searching for the pictures I feel sure I took while making these pomanders. When I find them, I will share the photos, along with this article, on my blog.

Well, as you can see—I added pictures.  Here are a few more to show you how I’ve used them in our home.  Perhaps you’ll try them, too.

on the mantel

Thanks for your indulgence.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fresh Approach

I think it is safe to say we’re all ready for an end to the summer of 2011—between the record setting heat and our bickering leaders on Capitol Hill—I know I’m ready!!!

Since there is little, to nothing, I can do control either of these frustrating situations, I decided to focus on things I can control or, at the very least, influence.

Darren and I have made some decisions about the business that we think will put it on the right track. I’ve been participating in a great Christian book discussion with friends. They’ve helped me gain insight—through which I’m reaching new spiritual perspective. Then there is the recent addition of my business partners, Kimberly Santiago (Creative Corner) and Kathy Owen (Petticoat Junktion). New ideas and fresh approaches are almost always a good idea. Ask, Believe, Receive.

All of this positive energy has manifested in various ways, not the least of which is a desire to bring change to Hodgepodge. I love working on the “floor” at the shop—this means with customers and with our products. I absolutely loathe being behind the desk, but it is required if I’m going to properly tend to our business. But I’ve been working on better balance and feel like it’s coming.

The other day I posted on facebook about some new displays we’ve put together at the shop and someone (my sister, Nikki) was kind enough to request pictures. Well, Nik, flattery will get you everywhere with me, so here you go . . .

Have you tried a fresh approach lately? I'd love to hear how you make changes in your life.

Thanks for your indulgence!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Creative Outbursts

Do you have those? 

I’ve noticed that, while I’d rather have consistent creativity, my opportunities for aesthetic expression come in fits and spurts.  Fortunately, there are times when I justify the laying aside of the “should be doing” list in favor of the “would rather be doing” list!

Last week was like that at the shop.  I worked on displays; pulled stuff from the backroom and found places for it on the sales floor.  (It sure does make it easier to sell when the customers can see it!)  Painted furniture and worked on various other projects. 

In between these endeavors, I had the occasional customer (nice!) and we chatted as I rang-up their purchases.  While waiting for them to conclude the decision to purchase, I would type a few words here for my blog.

Next week may be nothing but book work, filing and order filling, but this past week was fun.

One of the best things—on several levels—was the sale of one of my farm tables.  While I loved the table, I was glad to have it leaving to fill a void in a local home.  The problem was it would leave a large “hole” on the sales floor—with a lot of displaced merchandise.  Since the customer wanted to pick-it-up the following day, we had to think quickly.  After a quick run to ReStore to see if they had something I could work with, I remembered a round oak table on the third floor.  I’m not a fan of the orange tones of oak, so I have been waiting for a chance to  paint it and the matching chairs.  Then my mind went to the new paint we’re carrying at Hodgepodge.


paint pic

This is what happened next—I called my dear, strong and handsome husband (who, thankfully, was home for the week and occasionally reads these) to ask if he had the time to come move it to the “front porch” of the shop.  He did and he did . . .

At 5 p.m.table pics 004

At 5:30 p.m.

table pics 006table pics 005

At 6:15 p.m.

table pics 007table pics 008

And here it is the next day—on the sales floor—holding a great new display of Hodgepodge merchandise!  I’ve been painting furniture for a long time—never have I found a product like this!

more table 002

(Incidentally, I used the ReClaim in Latte.)

But I digress . . .

How do you do it?  How do you block-out time for yourself?  Is your family respectful of your need for your own time?  Do you, like me, put the limits on yourself?  (I don’t allow myself time to do things I enjoy.)  Don’t get me wrong—my family would understand—these are self-imposed restrictions.

Do you do that?  If not—how do you  avoid it?

Thanks for your indulgence,


Thursday, August 4, 2011

july 31

. . . the article . . .

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a very uplifting week. It has been typically full of activity and meetings surrounding my family and business obligations like a flutter of butterflies. This bears mentioning, because those “activities and meetings” often feel more like a swarm of bees. (By the way, I looked-it-up, the National Geographic website says a group is called a “flutter.”) Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of time to just “be,” but the other time was productive and I feel like I’m in a good place.

When I had some time to just get a few things done “for myself,” they were things such as: dusting and reorganizing my cookbooks; gathering my inventory of silver plate flatware into mixed place settings, to sell at the shop; and, training our newest family member—the Great Pyrenees mixed-breed we adopted from the shelter last week. Now, most of those activities may sound like chores/work to a lot of folks, but for me, it was a pleasure. My indulgence was listening to a book I recently downloaded (and my daughter synced with my whosey-whats-it)—“Water for Elephants.”

This week I hope to accomplish a few more fun chores. I’ve been trying to sew some new aprons for us to wear at the shop. The sewing machine and fabric have been sitting out for entirely too long (my husband hasn’t mentioned it—this is by my own standards!). I had the back room—my “studio” cleaned-up enough to do some actual creating back there, but it quickly filled-up with the accoutrement of summer (coolers, patio cushions and bikes). I was just speaking with Mike Mitchell, an instructor in the Art Department at APSU (and, incidentally, the mastermind of the cool new Austin Peay Steampunk University—like them on Facebook for more info) about our “studio/storage” space. We both have the problem of bringing more and more cool-stuff-in-waiting, aka “supplies,” consequently, running out of room to actually perform the creative acts of transformation. I think this is a common problem with those “extra rooms” we try to claim as our own. The problem is: everyone else in the household has, in effect, claimed it as well. We’ve always used it for storage—what made me think everyone (including myself) would stop using it for storage just because I started calling it “my studio” and not the “back porch?”

(Let me interrupt this regurgitation of my weekly article to illuminate with illustrations . . . this is a publication I now carry at the shop.  It is frustrating in its inspiration!)

where women autumn 2011

The need for this workspace, however, has become painfully obvious in the past few weeks. I have nowhere to work on furniture for the shop, to leave projects in-the-works while paint and/or glue dries or to store the myriad of cool-stuff-in-waiting. Sure, there’s that huge building my husband bought for me to play shopkeeper in, but it’s been tight in there, too! (Especially with the Christmas order that was delivered three months too early!)

I’ve lamented about this issue before and, same as before, I hear in my head George Carlin doing his “Stuff” monologue. (If you haven’t seen it lately, it’s worth a viewing on You Tube—just be warned it is Carlin, so there is some language!)

Thanks for your indulgence,


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

retail warrior

my article for July 24th follows—I apologize for not having the gumption to make additions to my blog beyond these articles.  I hope to find the time to share more frequently . . . soon, but there are a few things that must change first.  more on that later . . .

Well, the retail warrior has returned. I wouldn’t exactly describe the event of the July Market as a conquest, but I would call it successful. I found many wonderful items I will be proud to offer to my customers at Hodgepodge, but they’re not here yet. A common misconception about retailers attending the market is that they bring stuff back with them.

There are a few “cash & carry” markets, plus the jewelry vendors almost always have cash & carry opportunities at most markets, but usually, we just place orders and have stuff delivered. That’s what I did at this market.

While ordering new stuff is the main focus of these markets, I find that I go to seek inspiration and attend seminars. There is always something to learn, be it walking through the showrooms or sitting in a classroom. I’d love to get in the heads of the folks at Park Hill Collections—one of my favorite vendors. Their displays are amazing and stir my imagination like none other. The true wonder of that showroom is that people do not have attacks of claustrophobia! You think my shop is crowded and overwhelming—honey, you haven’t experienced overwhelming until you’ve shopped that showroom with about 50 other retailers! There are a few other vendors who put together displays that make we want to run back to Hodgepodge and get to work, but nothing like this crew.

I also enjoy attending the seminars. I like sitting in on these classes for two reasons: (1) I usually learn at least one new thing from the speakers; (2) misery loves company—and I’m in “good” company with the other attendees! So many of us are trying to keep our heads above water—hoping that we can keep our dreams alive. I look forward to when they offer that long awaited seminar with the Swami who reads tea leaves and crystal balls. Although, it will probably be offered while I’m in the Park Hill showroom with my jaw hanging slack and I’ll miss the all-seeing soothsayer!

So, what does all of this mean to you? It means that I’ve come back with fresh inspiration and new ideas to share with you. Shortly, we’ll start transforming the shop for fall and you’ll see some of the ideas I’ve gleaned from these design stars. Yet, while Patty, Jennifer and I keep our noses in magazines, books and blogs trying keep-up with trends, sometimes the best stuff we offer are new twists on old concepts. Most of those come from our own little heads.

First, however, I need to put some finishing touches on the most amazing wardrobe I’ve ever seen! It was a special request/order for a favorite client and it has turned-out better than I anticipated. It was constructed using new materials, married with recycled louvered shutters. We’ve painted it an incredible shade of blue and I’ll be adding a sheer coat of toner to “antique” the finish (some of that stuff from Caromal Colours®). This client also chose some new bedding—which was our inspiration for the color of the wardrobe—with her permission, I’ll add some pictures to my blog in the near future.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I apologize for the lack of pictures—that’s half the fun. isn’t it?

Thanks for your indulgence  . . .


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