Stanley Fall Festival

This past Saturday we spent the day peddling allisonest wares in downtown Stanley, NC at Country Fest. Our schedules for the week leading up to this yearly street festival were jam packed and in the end both my husband and I were nothing short of exhausted. Despite the eventual aching feet, we enjoyed the opportunity to share my creations.

We have a 10 month old daughter which adds an extra challenge to any endeavor. The Monday prior to the festival, Ke flew out to spend his workweek at a conference in Germany. Preparing for a festival isn’t something that I cannot handle myself, but to do so all whilst wrangling the ever-wriggling, curious rounder that is the Mag-Bird is difficult in itself, especially without the evening relief that Ke provides after his workday. To further complicate matters, Continue reading

Indrid Cold

I went swimming today.
Yes, it’s almost November.
Yes, the water is cold.
And yes, I might be crazy.

My husband and I have made a pact to attempt to swim in our pool through the winter, exercising our version of a Polar Bear Club experience.

Cold-water swimming is supposed to be good for you… right?

At first we talked about it jokingly, but here we are, well into Autumn and still swimming, while most pools are closed for the Winter- but we never close our pool anyway, so why not use it?
We assume that as long as we take a dip at least every few days or so then we will gradually get accustomed to the chilly waters and eventually won’t even notice.

YEAH RIGHT. Continue reading

‘X’ Marks the Everything

It’s coming up on 2 years since I changed my name, ie. 2 years since I had to start spelling, repeating, spelling again, and explaining how to pronounce my last name.

    Me: “It’s pronounced ‘shoe’, but spelled X-U.”

    Unsuspecting victim: “Ok, S-H-X-U?”

    I repeat: “No, X-U.”

    Confused, unsuspecting victim: “Oh ok, S-X-U?”

    I insist: “No, X-U.”

    Mindblown, unsuspecting victim: “Ok, (pause) X-U-what?”

THAT conversation occurs at least once weekly.

THAT is not an exaggeration. Continue reading

Memories Not Included

My husband exclaimed today, as it began to drizzle outside, “I’m gonna compose a song for you for our anniversary!” (A prospect which, by the way, is hilarious.)

My response? “Well, not in here. I’m listening to my Bleeding Vag Pandora station.” (Maybe that wasn’t the most appreciative answer, but it was blurted out before I gave it thought.)

He scooped up a guitar and said, “It’s cool, I’ll go to the BirdRoom… it gives me inspiration.” (I did end up following him eventually. Perhaps guilt was a factor.)

The BirdRoom is my whimsical escape, being the culmination of my ‘hope chest’ tendency and the result of a small obsession with the Avian kind. Continue reading

Vase of Base

I have a serious passion for inexpensive but interesting glassware and pottery.

Colored glass? Yes please.

Vibrant pottery? I’ll take it.

But after trying to find a place for my, I dunno, hundredth (?) ‘had to have it’ vase-type item, I realized that interior decorating should be less about displaying clutter, and more about beautiful functionality.  In an effort to break myself of the tendency to simply collect and display pieces, I began focusing on finding a function for those interesting but useless beauties that I had acquired. This shift in mentality awoke me from an apparent stupor, during which I had managed to transform my entire house into an unusually large hope chest.

In essence, I saw the sign. Continue reading

Handmade Basket from a Different Vine

Every few weeks we spend a night or two at our family mountain home. Although only 70-odd miles from our home in the foothills, when there, it feels like a world away.

We use our time there to recuperate; we spend most of our time there either bird-watching in a rocker on the wrap-around, or exploring the grounds.

Exploring presents a wonderful opportunity to gather materials for upcoming projects, and to scout out new possible mediums with which to work. While exploring, I’m always on the lookout for fallen limbs or dead saplings to use as sticks for paper flower stems, as well as for expired vines to use as the makings for baskets.

The handful of baskets that I’ve made up to this point have mainly been comprised of Muscadine vine and green sweetgum limbs, but this on this last trip I ran across and gathered new potential material.

Meet Mr. Wisteria’s limbs. Continue reading

Wedding Cake? Let Them Eat Pie!

Wedding cakes are absurdly expensive, and often times  don’t end up being worth the price, neither visually nor taste-wise.  I was inspired to seek creative wedding cake alternatives in reaction to a cake tasting appointment during which my mother and I were presented with a platter of an array of chocolate options. This, you should know, was after I had indicated that I do not like chocolate. I walked away from that ridiculous experience knowing immediately that the traditional wedding cake, stacked high in it’s stilted glory, was not for me.

After exploring the options, we decided that we would instead serve pie.
Pie, that old friend, is closer to my heart anyway.
Pie, to me, embodies southern hospitality.
The price of pie doesn’t lead one to hope that it’ll arrive slathered in gold.

The decision to go with pie was the easy part, how to display them was the real challenge. I saw this as yet another way to step out of the industry’s icing-covered box. I prepared a simple drawing and set out to my parents’ farm to make it happen.

After studying my schematic, my father cut an array of large-diameter cross-sections from the skeleton of a large Oak tree that my grandfather had put down and hauled to their land. These were to be the serving surfaces. With a saw in tow we then marched out into the woods to find the perfect forked tree to serve as the weight-bearing portion. Continue reading

DIY Wedding Money Saving Tips: Rules of the Game

There are various reasons why one might choose to execute a DIY wedding and use do-it-yourself decor, the most novel being the desire for a unique, handmade touch.  Cost can also be a motivating factor, however if not selective about the way in which materials are purchased, cost can quickly exceed that of traditional decor.  If planning on attacking a project from a DIY stance in order to save money, then I would advise setting for yourself and respecting some basic ground-rules.

First, scout out your materials, make a wish-list, and begin investigating where to buy. Multiple retailers sell the exact same items, but at varying prices.  In my case, I was on the hunt for red glassware, of any size and any type.  I found that craft stores are the best options for small colored glassware.  I had to expand my search to Pier 1 Imports for larger and specialty pieces.  Pier 1 did stock the same small items as craft stores, but even when on clearance, they did not compare in price to everyday craft store prices. IKEA also keeps an array of colored glassware, and they usually have unique shapes that other places do not carry.

Second, never buy materials without a coupon or other discount applied.  Paying full price is simply unnecessary, and can be easily avoided.  Craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby usually have a useful weekly special and always have coupons available.  Make sure you check their websites weekly for sales applicable to your needs and stock up whenever possible.  Coupons for Michaels and other such stores can be found by simply searching on Google for store coupons by using the keyword coupon along with the store name.  For example: “Hobby Lobby coupons”.  You’ll find plenty of trustworthy websites on the first page of the search results that offer coupon codes to use online as well as printed ones to be used at the store.  Pay attention to the fine print, and alter your shopping strategy accordingly.  Some coupons may discount individual items rather than the entire amount, therefore when using these you should target the big-ticket items on your wish-list.  Coupons for percentages off an entire purchase should be used for the inexpensive items on your wish-list that you might need in great numbers, and for those that would otherwise not be worthy of use of a single-item-discount coupon. Continue reading

Growing into Gardening

In preschool my peers and I put on a program about nursery rhymes.  Each of us was assigned a rhyme, about which we were instructed to dress in order to personify.  In our garbs, one by one we had to recite our assigned verse in front of a crowd of proud mothers and prehistoric-camcorder-toting fathers.

I was assigned Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.  I’m not sure whether there was a underlying purpose to the assignment of characters, but as it turned out, my rhyme was quite appropriate for me.

It’s been fitting for varying reasons throughout my existence.

Until recently, the word ‘garden’ reminded me primarily of summer air so humid you could chew it… and sweatbees.  Not to mention the feeling of dried red mud splattered up to my knees, and backbreaking tasks like weeding, and hoeing, and fertilizing, and watering, and all the while looking out for snakes, and Wheel Bugs, and Squash Bugs… and… and I hated it.

I did nothing to hide the fact that I hated it.

As an adult I am remorseful for being so transparent and potentially disappointing my grandfather with brat-like, ungrateful behavior.

Perhaps my open attitude toward growing edibles at this point in my life is a subconscious attempt at compensation for all of those years of reluctantly pretending to pull my weight.

At any rate, I now grow some things here and there, but in a rather unconventional way.  My method would drive my grandfather bonkers. Continue reading

The Red & Black Blues

No one ever speaks of this, but I think it has to be a common circumstance, for it seemed so natural for me even though I had no idea it would hit.

It… the Post-Wedding Blues, struck me almost immediately.

It wasn’t that the experience lacked beauty and a whimsical nature, I just couldn’t help but feel that the free-fall after the climax wasn’t, well, as exciting as the buildup.

I should have expected this eminent crash, but had not had the time to consider the color and consistency of life after the wedding.

Soooo… what now?

I had been super hands-on throughout the planning process, and was now left wondering:

What do I do with myself? What do I do with my time… and my thoughts? What do I do with my hands?

I now felt misplaced, having emerged from an immersion of crunch-time tasks and bold decisions, to be now left with precisely



to do.

Since we had virtually made all of our decorations, and bought our own glassware, e.i. red glass vases and votives by the droves, we had to now either find a place for these items as decor in our newly purchased home, store the cache, or give it away in pieces. We did some of each of those, but not necessarily in a timely fashion. After dismantling the handmade centerpieces, the giant paper flowers lain untouched in our spare room for weeks. Ok… maybe it was months. Some of the pieces were ruined because the petals rested on a hard surface for far too long (shamefully, it was the floor).

Bummer. Continue reading