Jul 29, 2009

My Latest Cyber "Refrigerator" Creation!

Welcome back to the "after" photos of the gorgeous home that I showed you a little earlier. If you remember, I showed you a home with huge windows in need of a little dressing. The owner (and friend) is a true romantic who wanted opulence without stuffiness and her request to me was, "Elizabeth, I want my bedding to remind me of a wedding dress and the drapes to feel like ball gowns...."

When this project began, the home had some construction issues that required the owner to vacate and move out while the floors were being completely replaced along with all the trim around the windows!  Many months later, we finally got to install the drapes. These "after photos" show the drapes, but note the home is not completely unpacked yet. Shelves are still empty, walls still bare and the owner is still unpacking her boxes....but once we put up the drapes, she immediately said so happily, "Now finally, it is feeling like home!"

Nothing makes me happier than to see a house turn into a home. And even though this owner has many boxes to unpack and lots of shelves and walls to fill, the softness of the silky fabrics that hang so casually instantly provide what I like to call "livable elegance."

Please enjoy the photos and while most of us don't (well, at least I don't ) get to live in such a lavish home; this home, I assure you, is filled with the kind of love and friendliness that the little ole' cottage homes we so often think of when we think of "comforts of home." This lavished home is lavished with love!

Before: The family room while unpacking

After: The family room:

These drapes are actually two panels. The top is tied to the bottom. I had lots and lots of inter lining sewn in to produced a heavy, lush feel to such a fine fabrics. I  love the height of the windows! The challenge was to design a drape that would only soften the edges of the windows, compliment them, and allow the windows to remain the centerpiece. 

The above photo you can see how the two drapes are tied together. Below is a photo taken from the balcony. I am designing pillows for the sofas and once she is unpacked and art is on the wall....the room will be spectacular!

I love puddling. I like this view because it does remind me of "Gone With the Wind" ball gowns of ladies dancing in a row in a ballroom. This design is not practical if you have pets or small children (the owner has neither). For those who do have children or pets, I would design it similar, but have a few tricks that make it more practical.

Before: Hallway window

After: Window with silk drapes and tiebacks 

I love the photo below. The puddling reminds me of a beautiful ball gown skirt.

Below is the hallway that has the beautiful window above. And at the end of the hallway is the master bathroom. I am standing in the bedroom taking this photo. Can you imagine getting out of bed and looking down this hallway every morning and passing the beautiful window on the left as you make your way down to take a bath?

Below: The before photo of the main window in the bath

After: I designed Austrian shades for the master bath. Doesn't it look like whipped cream on a wedding cake? My friend Debbie, who came with me on a visit to this home, is the one who said, "Oh, that shade looks like frosting on a wedding cake!" And now, every time I see it, I do get a sugar craving, and that isn't a joke! So the wedding and ballroom theme continues even into the bathroom... :-)

Before: The bedroom window and study:

After: More silk, more Austrian shades, more elegance!

Now you may notice that you can see the corner of the bed, but no bedding....that is because I am saving it for another post! Yes, you will have to wait. Actually, we are making a few adjustments to it and I was excited to get the photos out and I didn't want to wait for the adjustments. So, I will have them out later. Maybe I will have the pillows for the sofa done by then as well and you can see those if finished. I hope you enjoyed the peek. Once the home is completed I will be taking more professional shots of the complete home - you should see the kitchen, the upstairs bath, and the sitting room! I will be taking lots of photos of this home in the future. You haven't even seen the study yet.

And now I save the best for last....I want to thank Maureen - the miracle seamstress who can take my designs and figure out all my drawings and my math and make it all work out. She is truly talented and patient and a joy to work with. Her son, Andrew, helped her install the drapes and he is definitely a pro as well. Can you even begin to imagine how many yards and yards of material that was required? I am talking about the fabric you see, the fabric inside to fill it out and the lining behind the fabric.  Anyone want to guess?

(If you guessed less than 175 yards you guessed too  little.)

Thank you for allowing me to put my art on the "cyber refrigerator" as I like to say. I think that is what we artist use blogs for anyway. I mean, think about it. As a child, what do we do when we create a drawing? We show it to mom or dad and they show it off  by putting it on the fridge with a magnet. Now, we are all grown up and no longer do we really hand our "art" over to mom to hang on the fridge and unless we have a gallery (which is just another giant refrigerator), we now post our art in cyber space on our own refrigerator, aka "blog." And our magnet is our posting for all the "moms and dads" out there to see our work and clap for us! And actually, there is nothing wrong with that. I hope we adults never grow too old to clap for one another. And I definitely hope we never grow too old (or too proud) to be willing to put something out there for someone else to clap for in the first place. You know why? 

It's called encouragement. And it is called inspiration.

Too often we are so quick to evaluate, criticize, and basically shrug off others' endeavors especially when they have no particular meaning to our own lives. Sometimes we don't even realize we are doing it. And sometimes, our society is very purposeful and mean in doing it. Just pick up a Hollywood tabloid and read who gained 10 pounds (gasp!) or who wore the wrong shoes to an event, or who "needs" an eye job? 

Our culture takes great, great joy in knocking down others and seeing others fail...why else would the ratings for American Idol's early season shows be so high? We love to see (unfortunately) which poor slob is going to get slammed by Simon. Or other "reality" shows that vote "losers" off the show...our culture gets great pleasure at the expense of other people's pain. I seriously doubt there would be a reality show that would make it past one season with the theme of  encouraging others to excel and exceed, now would there? I kind of like that theme for show: Encourage! Excel! Exceed! The show would have teams in which life tasks are to be performed and there are no losers - the teams are assigned to shelters and which ever team can encourage a member from the shelter to excel and exceed at life and get that person's life back on track again - that team is the winner. And actually - everyone is a winner.

And that is how I see all of our "refrigerator" blogs out there. We all like to show what we are doing and if we feel like "clapping" for the other, then we do and we offer encouragement. And it always feels good to be encouraged. It always feels good to feel like you have someone on your side. And what a bonus when you find out that what you put up on your refrigerator becomes an inspiration for someone else as well!

So, thank you for visiting with me and I do so much enjoy sharing with you. Because there are so many others that have such wiser things to say than I, I like to usually close with a quote from one of those wiser folks:

"We are what we believe we are" Benjamin N. Cardozo

From my house to your house,

Jul 21, 2009

"I am on my way...!"

Hello! I would like to welcome you to my blog if you are new and thank those of you who are visiting again. As many of you know, I got married last November and now I am happy to say that our wedding is featured in a little 2-page spread in St. Louis Bride magazine's Fall/Winter 2009 issue in their feature "Real Moments" where they feature real weddings around the area. I also wanted to let you know that I finally updated my blog that features photos from My Carriage House Wedding which shows photos of not only the day's events, but also the "behind the scenes" events that so many of you seem to enjoy. As I like to call them: the "not-so-pretty shots that make the event pretty." You  may click on the right of this page where it says "Carriage House Wedding" at any time to see any updating that I may add as I add more photos over time.

I had to smile at the cover of this beautiful, ethereal shot of the ballerina bride - and to know that I and Randy are the first couple to be featured inside this graceful cover. While most brides probably feel ethereal and even are seen as such....well, I think I had too much fun to come off as ethereal. I know I didn't feel ethereal, but I do I know I felt extremely happy and while my boisterous-mouth-wide-open-laughter and my shenanigans with an old French sink, may not be country club etiquette, they are perfectly suitable for an old carriage house filled with friends, family, lots of candles, a Tuscan feast, burlap (yes burlap), cheesecloth, and most of all, love. 

The writer for the article asked me to give a tip for any bride who is in the throws of planning her wedding and here is the advice I gave:

"The best advice I can give a bride who is planning a wedding is to remember that all the effort, focus, and energy she spends on the wedding should be very little in comparison to all the effort, focus, and energy she spends on her marriage."

Sometimes, I have to remember to take my own advice....isn't it funny how easy it is to give advice but harder to take it?? :-) I can get wrapped up in my projects so easily and quickly and before I know it, I have my groom calling me on the cell phone saying, "Hey, remember me, the handsome barber who is waiting on you so we can go eat? Have you left yet?" And as I quickly close down the computer and rush out the door, I don't really answer him until I am in the car and I say, "Of course, I am on the way! I wouldn't forget you!" And so now, to my own demise, my advice is now in print for all the world to see; but that I don't mind. What I do mind is that my lovely husband can point to it now and again with a raised eyebrow and a slight (grin?) on his face while looking at his watch.

Maybe, I should have just advised brides not to show their grooms any possible wedding articles that may be published about their wedding. That would have saved me at least, one less point in his favor when he is trying to win.....oh wait....marriage isn't about keeping score, now is it? Now that is a whole new topic that I won't even debate...I mean start...."debating" means there is a winner and loser...and we're not about winning or losing, right? Right? Right? I am right, aren't I? ;-)

Okay, I am done having fun about that - but I do want to thank you so much for visiting with me. And please stop by the Carriage House Wedding and see all those wonderful people I thanked for making my day so special. 

And I want to thank St. Louis Bride Magazine and Atia Thurman, our photographer, who submitted the photographs to the magazine and I got a surprise email from the editor asking for an interview. It was fun going through the photos and finally getting them sorted for the blog - they brought back a lot of smiles. :-))

From my (carriage)house to your (carriage)house,

Jul 10, 2009

Updates and Happenings


Well, I certainly have missed you all and I have some wonderful emails and blog comments to catch up on. Please know that if you commented on any of my postings in the recent past and you haven't seen it yet or seen a response yet, know that I haven't forgotten you and I will respond and I appreciate you taking time to write me:-)

I am wondering if I should catch you all up with a few fun things first and then end my post with a few not so fun things or the other way around? Fun first? Or, not so fun first? Hmmmm....

I think I will start with fun first. We all have our own life's ups and downs and sometimes, we just don't really want to hear (read) about one more problem (well, at least I feel that way sometimes). It doesn't mean we don't care or have concern for others; but sometimes, when we click on our computer, and after we get past all those news ads, pop ups, more ads, and other Internet things we must sift through in hopes to get to some eye candy or fun reading, it can be a little disappointing to be faced with yet another life issue, that well, frankly, we just may not be in the mood to read at that very moment. With that in mind, I will start with fun things first!

So, having said all that, let me say how nice it is to have you pop on by and visit with me again and how I so much love hearing from you all.

I know how much you love (and me too) "before's and after's" and below I wanted to show you some before pictures of some windows that are about to be covered with some drapes that I designed. The home owner wanted everything to be light and sweet and yet have a luxurious feel. She also stated that she wanted her bedding to look like "a wedding dress." And she wanted some of her curtains to remind her of elegant "ball gowns." She is a true romantic. Just about all the fabric used was silk and my seamstress, Maureen, used a lot of interlining and backing to really make the delicate silk very opulent and full. Not an easy feat.

Below is a photo of the living room and the windows. This is before she really moved in. And right after she moved in, she had to move out again due to some builder's mistakes in installing the woodwork and flooring. However, the finished product is beautiful with all the finishing wood touches that you will see a bit later. For now - look at how high the ceilings are! And no, we did not cover all the windows! In fact, we covered very little in this room....

Just look at the scale by studying the size of the french door and where the door knob on the door is compared to the height of the chandelier (which is changed in the "after" photo)!

Her bedroom is very sweet and romantic. The bed, she got from England and she wanted it to feel like a wedding dress. She has a long hallway (2 photos above) that leads to the master bath that is to die for.

The room you see at the foot of the bed is a room she is using as an office, but it could be a sitting room, dressing room or whatever - but wait until you see the fireplace!

Don't you just hate it when your windows are just so large that they make your beautiful European armoire look like a little toy that belongs in a doll house? I hate when that happens! :-)

Okay, back to reality - well, my reality at least. That is her dream home that she worked very hard for and saved for over the years. And while her dream has finally come true, someone else's dream has come true as well....

...While not nearly as glamorous, or large, or breathtaking (but you will gasp at the sight - but not in a good way...), my handsome barber of a husband had his dream come true when he bought his own business, a barbershop, a little over a year ago. Randy has been cutting hair for about 23 years now and is a licensed cosmetologist (he cuts and colors my hair - sleeping with your stylist is one way not to lose them) and he now "barbers," as he calls it, and so he also a business owner!

He bought Big Bend Barber Shop, from a gentleman named Clifford, who had owned the shop for 35 years. But the shop has been around for about 45 years, so Randy is the third owner. Clifford now works for Randy two days a week (Friday and Saturday) and it turned out to be a beautiful relationship. But it didn't start that way. Clifford (everyone calls him Cliff except for me, I love calling him Clifford) pretends to be a gruffy kind of guy who is short on words and smiles. He did NOT like the idea of "retiring" at all and certainly did not like the "young" guy taking over his shop. His children had been asking him to retire for years due to his health and age. He is 72, I believe.

When I first met Clifford, he would barely look up when I walked in the shop. He was not happy that someone else was cutting "his" clients' hair - who could blame him? But, Randy did pay for the shop after all, and it was bound to happen some day, and he knew it, but it still was a bitter pill to swallow. So, I made my way over to the shop a lot in the beginning and I would head straight for Clifford and give him a big hug every time. I could feel him bracing up for the embrace and the more he braced up, the longer I embraced. He lived on peanut M&M's and diet Pepsi and nothing much more. He is single and has his truck, and his TV, his buddies, and he cuts hair. So, I would bring him in cooked meals in Tupperware and put it on the back bar by his chair and tell him to eat it or give it to Randy and I would walk to the back and have lunch with Randy. He always grumbled that he wouldn't be eating it. But, sooner or later, he would hobble to the back (he had a foot problem) and place the empty Tupperware on the desk and mumble "that was good" and go back to his chair and read the paper.

His foot problem needed surgery and he finally gave in and had surgery. He was out for six weeks. He was worried that all his customers "forgot him" and no one would need him. The day he got back from his surgery, I swung the door open wide and stood there with a big smile on my face and said loudly, "There he is!!!! NOW we can finally get down to business!! Finally!! Someone who knows what is going on around here!! Clifford, I am counting on you to keep Randy in line for me, you know. He got out of hand while you were gone. Do you realize how hard it has been on me not having you around to keep him in line???" I went and gave him a hug and he seemed to slowly over time warm up to the idea of retirement.

How is he now? Well, let's just say that if it is too cold for him, he has no trouble taking off for Florida. And when I come in now, he actually opens his arms just slightly, because he knows he can't get away from me, and he actually makes me laugh with some of the stuff he comes up with. Randy is such a character he had Clifford almost falling out of the chair with laughter just last week. Clifford now volunteers at the hospital, takes off early on most Friday's and Saturday's and retirement isn't so bad after all. He fills in for Randy when we go to the lake and that helps Randy get some much needed time off. I hope we get to have Clifford around for a long time. I might even get a photo of him smiling for the "after" shots that I post!

This past year, we have slowly been making improvements to the shop. We have painted, put in new floors, and we finally just ordered two new barber chairs. We would love a new back bar, but that will have to wait, so, I am hoping I can do my "magic" and paint it - my next project. I have never done a back bar so this will be interesting. I am not sure about the sinks either. We have no budget after getting the chairs - have you ever priced barber chairs? Geesh!

You can take a gander (and a gasp) at the before photos below on the day Randy bought the shop and our friend, Debbie, stopped by to congratulate him:

Our friend Debbie - she is the one who had the cute, cute living room and dining room that I did for Romantic Homes (and bedding) with the hose nozzles garden theme table....her daughter, Caitlin (sorry if I misspelled that) just bought a home - that will be a big "before" and "after"... but I digress...this is suppose to be about Randy's shop...

Notice the yucky floor and old chairs. These chairs are old, but not in a good way. They are too big in the back which makes Randy lean just slightly forward all day while cutting hair. This gives him a horrible backache. Hopefully the new chairs will help because they will be smaller.

Also, notice the back bar - it is such a mess - it will be a real challenge for me to paint this with all the cords and the all the equipment that is needed daily....the sinks may have to stay - not sure yet. But all of this will be done very soon...so you will get "after" photos soon!

Here is my business owner of a husband who is just too happy for words to be sitting in his very own shop after 23 years of cutting hair for someone else - now - he cuts for himself. You know, when it comes down to it, even though most of you who read this blog, are boutique owners, or use to own shops, or want to own shops, or just like to shop....the pride in owning and running a business crosses all trades and even a barber shop, even an old, dated barber shop, still has a very happy and proud barber sitting inside thinking: "I did it!"

But Randy is no different than most of the rest of us. He didn't do it alone and he is very grateful. While he is the one that studied and had to pass his exams and get his permits and work all these years he always credits his paternal grandmother that put him through his tech school. He hunted for several years to buy a shop and almost gave up on this shop until I suggested he write a letter to Clifford. I drafted a letter for him and he sent it without much hope and to his much surprise he got a positive response. His mother graciously and lovingly assisted with the sudden financing needed and lent help when Clifford suddenly decided to sell his shop to Randy. And now, the very unexpected passing of his (step)father's (Jim) mother, Mary Benitz, he now is able to purchase two new barber chairs.

These past two months have been less than productive or happy. First, Randy's grandmother, Mary Benitz, very unexpectedly passed away recently. It was a shock to us all. She is pictured below. She attended our wedding, and I am so grateful that I had a chance to get to know her. Knowing her such a short time only makes it all the harder to say good-bye because I was so looking forward to finally having a "grandmother" in my life for once. I never had a grandma. And she was the perfect one. And I mean perfect. She made me feel like I have been a part of the family all along. And obviously, she loved Randy and felt he was her grandchild as well because she loved him enough to think of him and because of her loving and giving nature, he is now able to purchase two, very good chairs, that will hopefully save his back from aching so much.

So, when Randy cuts his father's hair (Jim), Jim will be sitting in the chair that his mother bought while his son cuts his hair. Mary will be a part of the barbershop - which I find so wonderful. A day won't go by that she won't be thought of and when the chairs finally arrive and when the customers comment on them, Randy will get the honor of telling customers who bought them for him. Mary will be missed and I am grateful to have known her. Her funeral was a testimony of how a life well-lived is rewarded in the end. She lived for others and not herself. The love she showed others is an example for us all.

I have one private and special memory of Mary that took place at my wedding. We were about to have our picture taken and she and I were alone together. She was holding on to my arm while someone was finding Randy for the photo. She patted my arm and looked up at me and just simply smiled and said, "You are a beautiful bride, Elizabeth." And she patted my arm again. What was so nice about that moment was that she said it with her eyes, not just with words. With all the bustle, the laughter, the noise, the people, and activity all around me, when I looked down into her eyes, I could see so much love in them. I never had that given to me before. I never had a grandma and now I finally did. It was a really nice moment. And how lucky I was to have it captured. The photo of that very moment is below. No one knew about that moment until now. And if you look closely at my eyes, you can just tell by my eyes and by my smile that her words and her look just touched my heart so deeply. It was such a simple little moment, but it meant the world to me. I am so glad the photographer just happened to snap that moment.

She was my grandma for a moment.

(I love you, grandma.)

Also, this past past month or so, my health isn't what it should be for now. My headaches are back and I am tired a lot. I am having some complicated female matters that are being looked into that are causing a lot of other issues that I won't go into. Tests are being ran and I am taking care of myself, but it is tiring and at times, I will admit, a little scary. Nothing conclusive at this point, but sometimes, you just want to get on with life, you know what I mean? It seems if it isn't one thing, it is another. But, I will keep you posted. Some days I feel just fine and dandy, and other days not so much so. That is what is so tiring - the up and down of it all. That and the headaches.

Also, I have decided to take somewhat of a sabbatical. What is a sabbatical exactly? Well, the college professors take them and researchers take them, and even pastors take them. It is suppose to be a time of renewal and exploration. Actually, I think it is just a fancy word for, "I aint' working for a while." Call it what you will, but what I am really doing is what a friend of mine called: mining for new gold. I really liked that when she said it. Because that is what I am really doing. I am "mining." But I am doing it slower until I feel better. Actually, I have been mining slowly on something new for some time now, and I can't wait to share it with you all. I am very excited about it, but not feeling up to par lately and have put that little gold mine on hold for a bit. But it is a fun gold mine. :-)

My other news is that I will not be participating in the December Miss Frenchie Show as a vendor. If I am up to it, I may help out in other avenues, if needed, but for now, my sabbitical or rather, my mining is taking priority. I will certainly miss it though! I love, love, love putting my little booth together - but, if the ladies need any help, and if able, I hope I can help them in some way. I do hope to attend one way or another, those vendors have lots of goodies that I never get to shop!!

However, I do plan on writing (sans deaths, illnesses...who knows what lies ahead lately, geesh!), I do plan writing a shop talk, I will be adding more wedding photos - more news on that to come...and more photos on "before" and after" projects. I hope to offer encouragement when I can and inspiration as well. You inspire me, you know! The things I read, see, and hear about are just wonderful and I am so honored that you share your accomplishments with me.

Also, one last thing, and I will let you go - and kudos to you for reading this far down - I am not sure I would and I am the one doing the writing! But, if you have any particular subject, or idea, or project, or topic, or theme that you wish I would write about or address (design wise or not, it can be anything), feel free to drop me a line. I am not saying I will address it, but I have been getting some interesting emails lately requesting some topics that I never would have thought of.

For example, do you have any interest at all in my thoughts or opinions on how to live simply but elegantly and on a budget? I had a reader ask my opinion on bed making. She (or he) didn't specify exactly about bed making she wanted to know. I had another reader, inspired by my kitchen, ask me what I cook and how I serve it (she liked my ironstone...).

If you have a thought or two, please feel free to pass them along. I hope your summer is safe, fun, and happy. And I will leave you with this:

"No matter what you do in life, stand up for yourself because no one can do it for you." Alfred Maxson (as said to me at age 10 by my father)

From my house to your house,


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