Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Elizabeth's Wedding

My favorite pic above: a soft shot of her vintage style shoes trimmed by the magnificent lace skirt.

My dear friend and former retailer, Elizabeth Maxson, got married in St. Louis on a lovely fall afternoon, November 8th. We have been comrades up and down I-70 ever since customers would tell us, "Your store looks similar to Elizabeth House" (or vice versa). Many of you know of her and have visited her blog over the years. Currently she is shooting and writing for Romantic Homes Magazine along with designing, painting and writing (and being a newlywed). She met her husband, Randy Walker, while running in Forest Park and over a year later, I was privileged to attend their lovely wedding.

Of course we talked a bit about the details ahead of time but nothing could have prepared me for the venue: an incredible 1900 carriage house with wood plank ceilings, brick walls and thick glass windows. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Oh to build something like this one day. To look around was another story: surrounded with comfort, ease, style and charm- it was easy on the eyes and good for my soul. This is how to do a party. In fact, the reception was held before the wedding! Guests ate, drank and visited over an hour before Elizabeth even showed up! Randy worked the crowd and introduced us all and finally she appeared. Take a look at her amazing details- and know, she did all this herself. There was no fancy art director or wedding planner involved. A trip to Sam's Club, the florist, her antique stash- and she was ready. I have attended fancy, expensive weddings that were not nearly as perfect...

Nobody does the drapey fabric thing better than Elizabeth. This was my first look and I knew something special was in store.

Note the amazing colors of all the flower arrangements throughout.

Burlap and candles were used everywhere and the perfect juxtaposition for the event.

This vignette to the left of the entrance.

Another one of her specialties; loading the chandeliers with dried flowers.

Elizabeth brought in all the props: iron sconces, candles, dried arrangements, benches, ironstone, old silver and lace tablecloths to transform this former horse stall into a warm, charming gathering.

They said their vows between two of these columns.

Clusters of lavender and small bottles of olive oil were given to each guest as they left.

Perfection! Layers, shapes, textures, lighting, floral and FOOD!

Note the fork with sign: Scattered throughout, Elizabeth wrote sweet stories about her and Randy and some of the things they have learned about each other since they met.

I loved how she sat this large ironstone pitcher on the floor to catch the water dripping from the baby bathtub.

Above, my gift to them wrapped with kraft paper, burlap ribbon, vintage paper trim, tallow berries and a W charm. Who knew it would match the decor!
My gift below: an antique wedding wreath I found in Round Top. I removed the old photo and added a picture of the two of them with the wedding date.

They had a monogram made which they used on their invitations and also on the wedding cake above. The striped ribbon on the cake matched the fabric from her jacket.

Elizabeth designed both outfits. His, a fine wale corduroy suitcoat and her skirt made from an antique net and lace bedcover.

It was an amazing day!
Lots of love and God's blessing to you both!


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Christmas '08 Reveal

.The (snow) dust has finally settled on our Open House weekend and even though I left the city for St. Louis on Saturday (for Elizabeth's wedding- WAIT until I post those pics!) the crowd just kept on coming. In the end we were blessed with 16% more business than last year- Praise the Lord! The staff is wiped out but it is also energizing to see the reactions of all our customers. The staff helped many regulars and greeted newcomers all the while bagging, straightening and still bringing out items we couldn't get to because of the sea of boxes. I have finally been able to sit and load the pictures I shot before we opened the doors, so take a look at our Christmas wonderland. Many items have come and gone and newer product has appeared. Check back for more pics as the month goes on. Whew... It never ends really. I am already planning Christmas for next year!

From the 'What was I thinking?' category: When the paper icicles I wanted to cut for all the windows didn't work out, I had an 11th hour thought to order peel and stick snowflakes for the windows. When they came, they were half the size I expected and they were not completely punched out. I had to peel off and pick out holes (with a seam ripper) of 640 plastic #%@$#&*!! snowflakes.
After an inspirational dinner at Peasant in New York, I decided I wanted four cords of wood piled by the front door as customers entered the shop. On the day of the Open House the guy I had ordered it from never showed. I called every guy with firewood on Craig's List that day saying, "Uh yea, I need to rent wood for six weeks and can you deliver it right now"? They all thought I was nuts. But I finally found a good 'ol boy and his fiance who made two trips to load it in before the guests arrived. I may keep it all year I love the look so much.

Above, the famous 10' zinc covered oyster shucking table from New Orleans I schlepped back from Round Top. All the hurricanes were from a customers wedding I helped with. I had this vision months ago and it is exactly as I had wanted it. The chairs were frantically found over the weekend and the angel wings were a last minute thought of mine as we were setting up. The table and all the wings sold in 12 hours.

My special room of Thanksgiving Americana.

THE LODGEI called this the Ralph Lauren room for months until all the elements started to come together. It was not nearly as polished as Ralph would have done so it ended up being called the Lodge! Last minute cowhide rugs and an antler chandelier were borrowed from Tracy at Cactus Creek. Below, a faux fireplace I found on the curb.

THE GARDEN SHEDWith six of us manning the ship, we carefully moved the garden shed to the middle of the store and prepared it for the outdoor snow palace I had envisioned. Donnie was responsible for putting this together with Jess by his side.

A custom scent designed for us by local Pickwick Candles: First Snow.

THE SNOW CASTLESMy famous football benches from home came in to display our house collection.


To add height everywhere, I went overboard making banners for the store. Above, this Peace On Earth pennant I made from our flag wrapping paper; cut into sheets, letters added through the printer with glitter edges glued for sparkle.

The toy piano and majorette hats also found at Round Top.


Thick felt snowflake garland hung over the bed with last years favorite polar bears.

Special signage I made throughout using our postcard art.

The French flag shown in back I also made for the Junior League show.

FRENCH MARKETAbove, our new fabulous item: Bamboo mats with Spencerian script.


I was really happy with this pennant: Religious sketches screened behind the words EMMANUEL. In the reversed area, a scripture quote about the birth of Christ.

This great blackened antique angel from a friends stash.

My year long project: Collecting antique crystal and silver salt and pepper shakers, wired as ornaments and then adding the verse.

ANOTHER REASON FOR THIS SEASON! Below, my glorious, hardworking staff. Thanks a million you guys. It would not have been possible without each and every one of you! I am blessed.
Back row, L to R: Ruth, Abby, Heather, Dana, Cindy, Katy
Seated: Jess and Donnie

As usual in the first week of November, the store is full, inviting and magical and I am so pleased to walk around and see the variety that is offered this year. We have traditional greens and wreaths along with glitter or snow items to change things up. I am also happy with our large supply of jewelry, accessories, books and objects for gift giving- and more is still on the way. Please add us to your list of 'must see' shops this month.

This week I am on the midnight project bandwagon as I prepare a van full of merchandise to showcase at the Silver Bella Show in Omaha this Friday night. This is the brainchild of Teresa McFayden and followed by many fans of Somerset Studios. I was fortunate to get a booth after a cancellation and will be taking a great variety of goods from the store for a Friday night Market Fair. Hope you can make it.

Above, from the Open House, my friend Amy Barickman (aka Vintage Workshop see Women Entreprenuers, Country Living, March '07) will tag along with me to Silver Bella to help me set up and scout for new talent.

Also, we are thrilled to announce a special event Saturday, December 20 featuring Sally from Widgeonwood Farms. She is known in KC for her Marche 'de Jour farmers market that is offered every Saturday, March- October. Sally and her husband produce homemade quiche, cheeses, breads, chocolates, gazpacho, mixes and organic goods. I have been begging her to move her business to our center and this March she is! But every December she chooses a store to do a special Holiday Market of homemade goodies and I jumped at the chance to host this event. The store will clear out an area for her presentation along with our array of entertaining paraphernalia. This will be the last minute place for fresh gifts and entertaining foods. Mark it down.