DIY: Chalkboard Plant Stakes

May 17th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Chalkboard Plant Stake, image courtesy of Design*Sponge

If you’re challenged at identifying plants like I am, raise your hand.  It’s ok if there are people around you… just raise your hand anyway and tell them you’re stretching.

I can’t tell the green of a vegetable from another, let alone a plant from a plant.  And herbs?  I have no idea… the only way I know that I’ve got cilantro in hand instead of Italian parsley is by smelling the leaves.

But fortunately, the creative minds over at Design*Sponge have done it again.  These people are serious about their chalkboard paint and they are all about planting and growing vegetables at home.

Now that we’re in planting (well, even some are harvesting) season, these plant stakes are great… You can eat as many popsicles as you want (or you can steal a handful of tongue depressors when you’re at the doctor’s) and paint them with chalkboard paint.  Then just write away and identify your growing greens without ever second guessing what they are.   It’s also nice to eliminate those little plastic ones that you see in planters sold at stores.  Just make sure you buy a water-based, non-toxic brand of chalkboard paint for this project!  For the full how-to, click here.

Friday Eats: Milk Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

May 14th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Have you ever used the box mix to make pancakes?  You know, the kind that you just add a little water to?  Yeah, been there and done that.  But this Friday Eats is about inspiring you to wake up a little earlier than 11:00 tomorrow morning and try your hand at making some pancakes from scratch.

For me, cooking and baking from scratch has become a bigger part of my lifestyle and sometimes it’s way easier than the preconceived notions we might have.  Part of the reason why I’ve switched to making pancakes from scratch is due to none other than Joy the Baker.

I mean, look at these pancakes.

Milk Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes, image courtesy of Joy the Baker

So, if sometime between tonight and Monday you’re able to squeeze a few extra minutes into the kitchen, you can come out with a plateful of these.

Milk Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes, images courtesy of Joy the Baker

For full recipe, please visit here.  And a full-stomach thank you to Joy for sharing a perfect weekend recipe and these eye candy photos.

Featured: Roula Rallis

May 12th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Scarlet Blouse by Roula Rallis, image courtesy of Roula Rallis

You could say that Roula Rallis’ new venture is a product of fate.  A gradual building of small pieces of time and opportunity, adhered together by a relentless knowledge that talent should not be wasted, and excitement should not be forgotten.  We are proud to feature an interview with Roula, who is one of our newest clients and has a story that is inspiring to anyone who is lingering between pursuing their dream or putting it off for just one more year.

Having begun a few months ago, Roula has started small (continually growing!) and proven that it is possible to work a day job, stay married, and pursue your first love, all the while blogging about the adventure.

Interview with Roula Rallis:

Beth: First off, tell us a little about yourself.  Where are you from and what do you do?

Roula: I am married and live in the New Hampshire area. I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Colby Sawyer College. I work for a Health Care Management company as an Operations Project Manager.

B: When did your interest in fashion begin and why did you not pursue it as a career (if you don’t mind me asking)?

R: My interest in fashion began from a very young age. My sister and I used to dress up in my mom’s clothes and pretend we were models walking the runway. Growing up I also had the opportunity to spend many summers over seas in Europe. My summers abroad exposed me to cutting edge trends and cultures where people pride themselves on how they dress. It was always really cool to come back to the states wearing fashion trends that were 2 or 3 years ahead. (This was before the internet).

I decided not to pursue a career in fashion because I thought a business degree would give me more opportunities and the experience needed to start my own business.

B: When did you start sketching and outsourcing your designs?

R: I think I was 16 years old when I really started to sketch clothes and outsource their design. My first design was for a prom dress. My grandmother sewed it for me and I remember feeling so proud when people admired it.

Apple Blossom Blouse designed by Roula Rallis, image courtesy of Roula Rallis

B: Was part of your desire to outsource designs because you wanted to wear your own fashions?  Do you design because you see voids in the fashion market?

R: Yes I have always loved wearing unique clothing that no one else has.

I design because I really enjoy doing it even if I don’t make any money from it. There is something to be said in this day and age about learning a craft that allows you to work with your hands. It feels great to be able to take a piece of fabric and mold it into something that wasn’t there before.

B: You talk in your blog about two catalysts that caused you to seriously pursue this venture.  You say, “Two things: realizing that I had officially lost my Kefi (the Greeks define Kefi as someone’s joy or passion) and coming across a random business card for sewing lessons at my uncle’s pizza place.”  How did you know that you would find your Kefi by pursuing your own business (albeit still small) in fashion?

R: I actually did not know that I would find my Kefi from starting a business. I’m a total planner so this was a nice surprise. All I knew was that I really enjoyed being creative and I felt that I had lost that part of myself (because there are no creative opportunities in my line of work). Once I started my sewing lessons I realized I had tapped into an existing passion and from there everything else seemed to fall into place.

B: What has been the most intimidating part of actually branching out and sewing your own designs, as well as publicly selling your clothing?

R: That I have no real sewing experience (I have only been sewing less than 2 months) and I know I have a lot to learn. That the designs that I think of in my head I can’t execute yet. For now I rely on basic patterns and modify them to make them my own. My goal is to eventually feel confident enough in my sewing skills to create my own patterns. For now I like to think of myself as a sponge I am continually soaking up as much sewing knowledge as I possibly can.

B: Where does your inspiration come from and who are some of the fashion leaders and icons who you look up to?

R: I get inspiration from everywhere and with anything that has color, texture or print.

A few fashion icons/leaders that I look up to are Diane Von Furstenberg because I love her use of contemporary prints, Michael Kors because his designs always flatter a woman’s body, ABS because I think it’s amazing that every year he takes couture Oscar dresses and re-designs them so they are affordable for the masses.

Bird Blouse designed by Roula Rallis, image courtesy of Roula Rallis

B: How would you describe your style and design?

R: I would describe my style as a mix between traditional and contemporary. I love clean and simple lines with romantic touches that make a woman feel chic and feminine. There has to be a good balance between classic and trendy. My motto is that less is sometimes more–you don’t want the clothes to wear you, you want to wear the clothes.

B: You also mention on your blog that in the process of buying your sewing machine, you had to promise to use it and not let it “collect dust somewhere in the basement.”  Do you ever feel, especially now that you’re up on Etsy and have the new blog, that there is a chance the work you are so charged about will not continue through this year?  I think one of the biggest challenges to new ventures is getting burnt out or bored.  How do you feel you can overcome things like that now that you’re already moving full speed ahead?

R: No I don’t think there is a chance that the work I’m doing will not continue through this year  because this is my dream and I am committed to setting reasonable goals and expectations for myself and my new business. For example a few goals I have in mind for the next 6 months are to attend at least 2 local craft fairs/festivals, present my designs to a handful of local boutiques in my area, and begin sewing off of my own patterns. I know it takes time to build something and I’m willing to put that time in.

I believe I will overcome the risk of getting bored by continuing to love what I do and by making sure the work I am doing is challenging.

To see Roula’s work, you can find her on Etsy, here.  And, you can find Sewcialite on Facebook, here and the blog, here.

Nashville Fusion 10

May 10th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Our trip to support of the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation

In case you didn’t know, we love to hear about our clients’ success stories and the causes they are a part of.  We thrive off the creativity and the adventurous spirits of the people who entrust us with the task of providing their labels.

A few months ago, Linda was chatting with one of our dearest clients, Alain Patterson.  What started as a label order turned into a sparked interest in his pursuit to blend couture fashion with the fight against cancer.  Alain’s latest collection, inspired by a Southern favorite: red velvet cake, was to debut at the Nashville Fusion 10 Festival.  And before we knew it, Linda was signed up as a guest judge for Fusion’s fashion competition for up-and-coming designers.  We were not only so pleased but also tremendously excited for this opportunity, as Linda has always wanted to tailor the business into a vehicle for promoting young artists and designers in product, textile, and fashion industries.  Equally important, having the chance to interact with some of Nashville’s finest to benefit the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation was truly an honor for Linda and the whole company.

Alain Patterson and his models, image courtesy of Rob Lindsay of Metromix Nashville

Linda tells us a little bit about her experience in the wonderful city of Nashville, Fusion 10, and being a part of the fight against cancer:

Nashville is a beautiful area, from the city to the surrounding suburbs of Brentwood and Franklin.  Since this was my first time there, I found Creekwood, the American Impressionist Museum, and the botanical gardens to be especially memorable.  The art was incredible and the gardens were a continual treat to the senses.   And the nightlife was brimming with excitement and a great upbeat feel.

Let me start off by saying that I was truly honored to be able to attend Nashville Fusion 10 and I look forward to watching the festival continue to flourish in the coming years.  It was a well-organized event, with artists offering an array of photography, portraits, metal art, altered art / mixed media, film, and fashion!  The fashion shows—there were four of them—were wonderful expressions of the designers’ hard work and talents, and really captured their creativity.  Alain Patterson—featured designer and our client—showcased a line full of elegant styling and all kinds of lovely accents.  I was amazed that he could come up with all those different designs and even make the models look even more beautiful!   An unexpected but very pleasant surprise was to see another client of ours, Karen Hendrix of Karen Hendrix Couture, attend the event and show her support; I was thrilled we had the opportunity to get better acquainted.  I am thrilled our company is making Alain’s labels, but more importantly, I feel blessed to know a man whose heart seems to be as big as Nashville.

One of Alain Patterson's models, image courtesy of Rob Lindsay of Metromix

Judging for the first time was an exhilarating experience, especially realizing the weight of our input as judges and the criteria by which the contestants were judged.  They had to balance creativity with wearability, make the garments flattering and still interpret their concepts flawlessly, and of course the construction and materials had to be of the highest caliber.  Of course I had my own ideas of whether or not I would wear the garments on display, but I was diligent to judge based on the market demands and not my personal preferences!  I was thrilled to donate custom woven labels to the winning designer and help her move forward in her entrepreneurial endeavor of creating her own clothing line.

CEO Linda Bryan with Fusion 10 coordinator Heather Harris, image courtesy of Thirty Seven West

Last, but definitely of the utmost importance, was the cause that inspired Fusion 10.  For me, to be part of the move towards a cure for cancer was truly the most moving part of the experience.  Cancer has touched everyone in some way, and we should never forget the stories of the victims or the testimonies and encouragement of the survivors.

Big thanks again to Alain Patterson, Heather Harris, and Heather Karls, as well as the entire team of artists, designers, partners, and planners who were able to make Nashville Fusion 10 a success!

Friday Eats: Mother’s Day

May 7th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Eggs En Cocotte, image courtesy of Ceramic Canvas

Is anyone else out there wondering what to make their mom for the perfect Mother’s Day?  Whatever it is, I can tell you that you won’t find it at a fast food chain or your local steakhouse.

Seriously, we’ve rounded up a couple different recipes and resources for you to create the perfect meal for your mom, whether a light breakfast, a hearty brunch, or even a dinner to remember.  Whether you have an hour or three hours to prepare a celebration for your family, you can find something wonderful in here.  Our feature recipe is Eggs en Cocotte: a savory combination of bacon, eggs, potatoes, and cream baked in a ramekin.  If you’re any semblance of normal, I had your attention at “bacon,” I know.  This dish comes courtesy of Ceramic Canvas, who I immediately became a fan of for his wonderful photography and the personality of the food he cooks–vibrant, comforting, exciting, and second-helping, please!  For the full recipe, click here.

But, if somehow bacon and eggs and potatoes and cream are not your thing (is there such a world?) and you’d like to try your hand at something healthier, or even a lunch or dinner dish, check out twelve great ideas from Southern Living here.  They cover the gamut from a low country boil to a rack of lamb to a towering chocolate cake.

And if you’re still set on the restaurant thing, or if you have a recipe already in mind for your main course, try out this recipe for Blackberry Jam Almond bars from 17 and baking (one of my favorite new baking bloggers).

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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