Monday, March 29, 2010

Good Times

Today is a down day. It really is pathetic why. I am having an ugly pity party. I don't like pity parties so instead I have decided to reflect on a much better party - my 30th birthday party. My favorite party ever - well, other than family birthday parties when I was little and Mom made my favorite food and everyone was around the dinner table. I could go to some of the most exotic places in the world but my favorite memories will always involve my family around the dinner table.

My favorite ADULT birthday party was my 30th birthday party - a luau. This party was almost seven years ago and I still remember it with fondness. My friend went all out. Two of my best friends were married the same year and went to Hawaii on their honeymoons and recreated it for my birthday. First, they flew in an authentic double-orchid lei from Hawaii. That's love, people.

Then, they landscaped the food to look like Hawaii.  It was ridiculously fun.

I called my team the 'BLT' or Bethany Luau Team. They were not afraid to get dressed in their Hawaiian finest.

My sister flew in which was so isn't a major life event without my sister...she lives in a far off land...well, in the North at least.

And we had cake...lots and lots of cake.  Did I ever tell you that if you only gave me one choice of food at a party, I would choose cake? Good cake.  Delicious cake. The only thing that would have made this better was if my sister-in-law had made it. She makes the world's most delicious birthday cakes.  I dream about them.  She has a talent.  Unfortunately, she did not come and make cake because I think she had a toddler at this point and the chances of my brother letting her get on a plane and leave him with the three kids was slim to none at that point.  "Don't leave me with the babies!"  The rest of my friends could come and design such an elaborate party because their babies were yet to come. 

Now, wasn't that much better than a pity party?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

While She Was Out


I never thought I would still have a roommate at 36.  However, mine is the BEST - second only to a future hubby.  She is sweet, helpful, caring and compassionate.  Living with her is easy.  Case in point - we have shared a bathroom for FIVE years and never had a conflict.  How does that happen with two women? 

Last year, she was in St. Lucia doing some missions work.  She was going through a hard time and was living in a cramped little bedroom piled high with junk.  I started to concoct a plan.  What if I redid her room while she was gone?  I had two weeks.  Her furniture was green/yellow whitewashed furniture. I asked her what color she would choose if she could. She said, "Black."  I started noticing the patterns she was drawn to when she bought purses, scarves, pictures, etc.  Then, I mapped out a plan. 

Unfortunately, I do not have before pictures.  WHY?! WHY?!  I didn't want to paint the walls but (with the help of my friend, Brad), I did paint the furniture and get new bedding, a new rug, and a new bench for more storage. Here she is seeing the room for the first time:

And here is the room - well, the bed at least.  The pictures are just black and white frames with red wallpaper inside. I figured she could change them quickly and easily when inspired.  The bedding is from WalMart.  Bed in a bag, baby.  The comforter is actually super soft and comfortable and was a STEAL.

Here is a bigger shot of the room (the room is tiny so it's hard to get it in).  The bench came from Stein Mart and is perfect for extra books, magazines, her hair blow dryer (she gets ready in her room).  If you notice the dresser in the corner, I added white knobs to the black furniture to keep with the black and white theme...otherwise, the dresser was too plain.  The rug is from Target.  Love Target!

This was so much fun to do myself that I wish I had 100 rooms to decorate. I know it's not high dollar design but it looks pulled together, is well-organized, cheerful and MOST OF ALL - comfortable.  She loved it. She cried! Then she crashed after two weeks of helping orphans - she deserved it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trouble Spots

Real Simple has a call out to readers called, "Show Us Your Mess".  Oh, I will show you my mess as soon as I get home and snap a picture of it. 

I am going to enter but only if that means they will send a crew to 'change my life' by organizing the doo out of it.  I have visions of their work in my:

Bedroom - I don't have a dresser. I need a dresser so I can get the 1980s Rubbermaid out of my closet.  I would just sit and stare at my underwear drawer if it looked like this:

That would then free space to organize my shoes so I could actually see them instead of falling to all fours to root around in my closet for 20 minutes every morning. That is why I am late to work - don't tell my boss.

Well, that's not totally true. I spend 10 minutes rooting around on my tip toes in my pseudo spice cabinet.  Where's the garlic salt for my eggs. Wait, it is behind the honey. Oh no, the honey is sticky. I stop, wash my hands, go back and touch the honey, AGAIN.  Wash the honey, Bethany. I stop, wash the honey and my hands.  I put it back, close the cupboard. Wait. Where's the garlic salt.  I take down the honey and discover the garlic salt is actually smoked paprika.  The garlic salt is nowhere to be found. Forget it. I'll have cereal. Wait, I have already whisked the eggs.  Ugh. If I had this spice cabinet, oh the life.

Keep this inspiration fresh in your mind. You might need it when you see how my areas look right now.

Photo credits:  All photos from Real Simple by William Abranowicz

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Handpainted Eggs

I have some of the most amazing hand painted eggs from St. Bart's in New York City.  My sister gave them to me as an Easter gift one year. She explained that it was an annual fund raiser. Why do fund raisers in my area always involve almond filled chocolate?  I never seen any devastatingly beautiful Easter eggs for charity here. Oh well, New York is especially unique with its concentration of gifted artists. I am blown away (pardon the pun) by the intricate detail that I have never been able to adequately capture with my point and shoot. 

Every Easter I try to come up with a way to 'showcase' them - usually using long branches and a giant vase.  Last year's attempt was a little pathetic. I will show it here and hopefully update you later in the week with this year's attempt. If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them!

By the way, this is my living room before the redecoration began...that will be a later post.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Pop of Color

I am originally from a coastal town in Florida. I moved to Georgia in 1991.  There is a part of me that craves bright pops of color.  My home has become very neutral - shades of cream, blush, brown, etc.  I had a full can of sample paint from Benjamin Moore in Baby Blue.  Where in the world did I think I was going to put this color?  Why did I pay for a pint of this color? Anyone in Atlanta want some? I am happy to share.

I had to give my poor candlesticks one more makeover. This is number four. They started out dark brown, were painted silver for a dinner party, were painted gold for a Christmas display, and are now baby blue so I can have a pop of color. I think they may need a little something else. Any suggestions?  For my type A friends, I am so sorry about the leaning tower candle..I know you want to straighten it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Southern Spring

Deep breath in. Deep breath out.  Hang the Easter wreath.

Plod outside, sit in the grass and watch nature do its thing.

I cannot wait for it to really 'do its thang'.  I am blessed to live in a neighborhood with TONS of amazing trees.  When your house is 50 years old you get trees and your neighborhood looks like the animal kingdom. That comes with its own special challenges. Who needs aeration when the squirrels dig one inch holes all over your lawn looking for nuts?  Just throw those seed in and call it a day people. 

If you have never seen a Southern dogwood in full need to at least once in your life. Once won't be enough. That is exactly why Atlanta's popluation is RIDICULOUS. A short visit is never enough once you experience a Southern Spring.

Grab some sweet tea and sit a spell.  Y'all come back, too because we are just getting started.  Be prepared to be dazzled - it isn't just Southern women who shine.

Tablescape Thursday: A Wedding Table

If I could make a living setting tables, I would. It is BY FAR one of my favorite things to do.  When I saw a link party on Between Naps on the Porch called Tablescape Thursday, I was in and I knew just the table to feature.  The Wedding Table.  The fun part is that it wasn't for an actual wedding.

This tablescape was for the Women's Christmas Tea at my church (this explains the gawdy number and the odd appetizer on a plastic plate).  We built our table around the verse about the bridegroom (Jesus) returning for her bride (that's us, by the way).  I cannot take credit for the idea - it was my best friend's idea but I was part of the execution - the very fun execution.  The best part of this table is that everything was borrowed.  Everything.  This supports my theory that not everything has to be owned to be enjoyed!

I apologize for the horrible photography. I only have a point and click - I keep praying I will win a Pioneer Woman camera giveaway...but no dice yet.  Let me show you another picture and then share the details.

The cake was a 'mannequin' cake from a local bakery.  This is where my best friend bought her wedding cake and she asked if we could borrow it for a day. They agreed. I love agreeable people, don't you?  I picked it up in the pouring rain and was scared to death it was going to melt.  Maybe someday I will pay them back by using them to make my wedding cake.

The chargers, roses, vases, and tea lights were donated from a local, Atlanta florist.  (In the future, I will share their information - it escapes me in this moment).  We were hoping for little arrangements but were thankful for the free roses, too.  The china was a friend of ours.  The silver was my best friend's mother-in-law's silver.  The presents were the only thing we bought and they were  a gorgeous multi-dimensional cross ornament from Hobby Lobby. Here I am modeling one for you after a long day of Christmas madness.

I hope you enjoy the wedding table as much as we did setting it. There were some women really blessed that ways that will ring into eternity!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


You did this to me. Your blogs inspired me to buy a sewing machine.  Well, I have owned a sewing machine for 24 years but it was never used and does not work. My parents gave it to me on my 12th birthday.  I have no idea why I never used it but I am sure it crushed them. Oh goodness, I wish I could go and take back all those self-absorbed teen moments. 

They bought it for me because my mother is an amazing seamstress and I was following in her footsteps.  I loved my sewing class in school and took up just about every needle craft known to man.  Then the teenage years hit and I was too cool for homemade arts and crafts.  I lost a small part of myself.  Have you ever done that? There is something you love that you don't do (for whatever reason) and you find yourself longing for that part of you to be riled from its slumber? 

It reminds me of a recent conversation with a friend who loves music.  She wants to take piano lessons. Apparently she played several instruments as a child and wants to get back to experiencing that joy of making music. I knew she was a music lover but I never knew she was a musician.  What a huge part to have buried away.  That part needs to be expressed.

So, here I go.  I will chronicle my craziness here - a Single Sewer!  Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Artificial sweetener scares me.  I have avoided it for about six months.  Occasionally I end up using it because the only other option is sugar.  My issue with sugar is that it takes a ton of sugar to properly sweeten a drink. However, the bottom of the glass is like sugar sludge. When I do consume an artificial sweetener, I am shocked with its chemical flavor. 

I needed something to sweeten my morning coffee. Honey was my choice.  After much research, I decided that the more raw, the better. My local health food store carries Really Raw Honey.  I started adding it to my morning coffee and evening cup of tea. It is delicious.  The best part is that it has strengthened my immune system.  Those around me have been sick several times this Fall/Winter/Spring and I have not been sick.  I share a bathroom with my roommate and she has had aggressive colds and nothing.

I write this post with the greatest trepidation because "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."   I feel BLESSED that I have not been sick - not proud. That is why I want to share this product with you.  I get no compensation - they do not even know I exist. Shoot, with two followers, why in the WORLD would they compensate me?!

The website also says it is phenomenal for alleviating seasonal allergies.  I say the proof is in the pudding.  Give it a try.  I can't give you your money back but I can assure you it has worked for me.  A single girl needs to stay strong for her active social life ; )

Monday, March 15, 2010

Who Knew?

Who knew that I could need something I never knew existed?  I do.  I want it. I have to have it. I never even knew about it until ten minutes ago when I should have been working. Instead, I took a few minutes to find a website I saw on a billboard.  Their things are cute - some fairly affordable. This, however, takes the cake.

It is a butter slicer.  What in the world? How have I lived my life using a knife to cut butter?  It says it cuts chilled butter.  I am a little tentative because what if it is like my egg slicer - perfect on soft substances but easy to snap on something with a little more heft - like a strawberry or a mushroom.  Can you imagine serving perfect little slices of buttery goodness to your guests?  I need a break before I buy it.

Greek Chicken Soup

What did people do for recipes before the Internet?  Oh yes, cookbooks. The Internet has made me a better cook because I can read the recipe and comments from people who have made the recipe.  Their tweaks are invaluable.  A recent favorite recipe from the web is Greek Chicken Soup from Cathy Heck Studio.

This soup is delicious and economical.  I found a whole chicken on sale for $2.00 and only had to buy the lemons - so I made a huge pot of soup for about $3.00. 

The one change I made to the recipe was refrigerating the broth overnight to skim off all of the fat.  There wasn't that much fat in the broth so I wouldn't worry about it if you aren't following a strict diet.  Shoot, I am not even sure why I bothered with skimming the fat when I ate two boxes of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting. The pants don't lie.

I agree with Cathy - this is a great soup for sharing with friends.  I must share most soups with friends because the definition of eternity is a single girl and a huge pot of soup - even if it freezes well.  I shared this particular soup with a friend who is undergoing chemotherapy. She said it was soothing and delicious.  An A+ in my book!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This Single Girl's Sleep

This is what I look like when I blog.  Glamorous, right?

All of you mothers out there think we single girls sleep blissfully and wake-up ready to take on the world. I, unfortunately, do not.  I tossed, turned, woke-up three times, reprogrammed the clock, ate a cracker, took some Aleve, stared into the dark night and prayed for random people who popped into my head.  I wanted to wake-up this morning just to end the misery that was last night's sleep. 

Next time this happens (most likely tonight), I should put on my slippers and march over to someone's house with a newborn. No need for both of us to be awake. 

I have to go spackle now so I don't scare fellow churchgoers.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Baking Writer

I did not realize that changing the color of my home would impact everything else in my home.  When I moved into my house five years ago, the living room was green and the dining room was red. I didn't have the money to paint. All of my decorating pieces were green and red.  Now my home is blush and chocolate brown and it is not really jiving with my green and red accent pieces. 

Poor me.  I have had to set out in search of new accent pieces. I want pieces that tell a story about me and I want them to invite my guests to sit and stay a spell. 

Below is a picture of two of my recent favorites.  The first is an old dough bowl.  I love to bake.  I would rather bake than do anything else in the world.  The second are the antique books bound with rough ribbon.  I am a writer and an editor.  Not just on this blog. In real life. That is my job. It is who I am.  I must write to relate to the world.  I love that they fit together because that is how I fit together. 

Amazingly enough, this is one of the first things people have noticed as they walk into my home.  Who knew  a dough bowl full of books would be such a draw!

I think I will go take a snooze on the white couch you see next to the bowl. It is a rainy Saturday and I am tuckered from a birthday party.  Nap on!

Friday, March 12, 2010

My First Blog Party - Slipcovered Sofas

Two white slipcovered sofas.  The one on the left is a dark green Norwalk sofa that has been covered in a white IKEA slip cover. The sofa on the right is the matching sofa I bought at IKEA to provide more seating space affordably.  Everyone seems to think I would not have chosen white slipcovers if:

1. I had animals
2. I had children

They are wrong.  I would still go with the white slipcovers because you can pop them in the wash. I would rather know, see and deal with dirt than pretend it isn't there with a darker sofa. I have to say, I love, love, love them.  The room is still a work in progress but I wanted to join the Slipcover Party over at Pink And Polka only if I could learn to sew so I could make me own!

Salad With a Side of Beautiful

Salad tastes better when it is served with a side of beautiful.  In this case, it is this beautiful little cruet.  It makes me want to build a salad so I can pour the dressing out of this dainty little container. I get excited when I see it in my refrigerator.

I love making new and creative salads.  I also love creating and trying new dressings. Pre-bottled dressing has lost its appeal to me. Between the preservatives, sugar, and questionable oils, I would prefer to make my own and know exactly what is in it.  I will post some of my favorite recipes in upcoming posts.  The one in this bottle is a balsalmic vinegarette dressing. Olive oil.  Balsalmic Vinegar.  (2 to 1 ratio).  Dried herbs and garlic to taste.  yummm...yummmm...yummm...

I also have a love affair with baby lettuce/herb mixtures. I love the peppery flair of argula.  Move past romaine, spinach, and iceberg into some of the baby lettuce/herb mixtures....but watch for slimy batches.  Those can ruin a salad mood faster than you can say, "Girl Scout Cookie". 

By the way, why am I not bothered by the preservatives in Girl Scout Cookies?  Something to ponder this Friday.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Life is Like Painting - HELP ME!

An oil painting instructor once said, "The way you approach a painting is the way you approach life.  You, my friend, believe you can't paint and become extremely frustrated, but you almost always turn out a beautiful work of art."  Yes, that does tend to be the way I approach life with one tweak.  I get a vision, believe it can be done, but as soon as I have sullied the perfectly white canvas - that is when I panic and become frustrated. I'm not great with the transition period.   

Right now I am in the middle of a renovation/redecoration project.  So far I am happy with most of it - although there are places that I know are not right.  The kitchen is one of them. 

Exhibit A & B

Please ignore the appliances that I cannot afford to upgrade right now.  I replaced a tiny white tiled floor with travertine and hunter green laminate countertops with these countertops. LOVE THEM.  Not sure they are photographing that well.  I have this chocolate brown on my fireplace wall in the living room. 

Exhibit C

Please ignore the bookshelves and the lack of a rug that will ground the sitting area.  They have not been addressed yet.  I love the chocolate brown.  The rest of the house is a creamy pink/peachy neutral.  It is soft, soothing, and downright dreamy.  However, the kitchen looks like a dark cave with that dark color on the backsplash area.  I like the dark brown above the cabinets and on the refrigerator wall but not below the cabinets.  Here's my dilemma.  I think I need a backsplash to bring in some interest BUT I can't afford it right now.  So, what do I do in the interim? 

Any and all suggestions are appreciated! One caveat - all of these pictures were taken at night - I have tons of windows so I get a lot of light during the day.
Oh yes, check back because I will provide before and afters when the whole project is finished.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Mental Break...

I am just sitting here reminiscing..
about green grass, warm temperatures, sunny skies, and bare feet - maybe even a quick push of the lawn mower...with shoes..and protective eyewear...and...well nevermind...that's not important right now...
my mind wanders to a quiet float down a hidden creek somewhere in middle Georgia
as I remember the days when I felt confident about how I looked in a bikini and hung out with my friends and felt footloose and fancy-free. be a free-wheelin' child during the lazy days of Summer.  Not a care in the world.  The only thought was, "Where's my shovel?" 

I needed that little mental break today.

The Dish on Dinner Parties

Sit, relax, break off a piece of crusty french bread and EXHALE. 

Last night I had five women over for dinner.  I served Greek Chicken Soup, crusty French bread, an herb salad, and brownies for dessert.  We had a wonderful time catching up and then they rolled home. 

I LOVE setting the table for a dinner party.  I want people to feel special and loved in my home. Don't get me wrong - sometimes I just grab a papertowel and a stained placemat and call it a day....but I find the times that I can set a beautiful table so fun.

I am a big fan of eating out but nothing beats a dinner at home for connecting with people.  No waitresses.  No time limits.  No issues with the check.  No noise. Just good food with good friends, served at your leisure.  The food portion of this party cost me about $20.00 and I have left overs. However, I have learned a secret over the years.  Gather 'round.  You get in 10 seconds what it took me 10 years to learn.  Fix something that is ready to go and can simmer while you enjoy your guests. Unless you are a mad multi-tasker and completely confident in the kitchen, cooking will take your attention away from the most important thing - your guests.  The soup was simmering, the salad was tossed and the bread was browning. That left me to sit and enjoy an appetizer instead of observing the party from the kitchen.

Do you have any go-to entertaining secrets?

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Simple Treasure

I found this pot at Home Goods.  There are tons of them stuffed in the seashell section. Say that five times really fast. Seashell section. Seashell section. Seashell section. Seashell section. Seashell section. Thank God for speech therapy at a young age. No more lisp here. Why are there seashell sections everywhere these days? They used to be isolated to beach shoppes and coastal areas.  Now you can live in upstate New York and find a slew of beach shells. Sigggh..the globalization of the world.

I am not 100% sure this pot is seashells. It looks like mother of pearl edged in silver - seashells from another planet.  What drew me to it was the slight blue cast and the size.  It was screaming to be turned into a centerpiece on my dining room table.  Lilies. Roses. Mums.  It is the perfect height and size. It will not obstruct conversation nor will it take up precious table space needed for serving dinner.

You will never believe what is anchoring those flowers.  I will save that for my first 'how to' post. For now, let's just enjoy my first arrangement of lilies and roses. It's the beginning of Spring so I chose a soft peach - a color I swore I would never use after the 80s.  It seemed fitting.

Home Goods Goodies

Home Goods is a time warp.  What feels like five minutes is actually two hours of crackly pots, fluffy pillows, angel soft throws, sisal rugs, and nubby sweaters.  Home Goods is my Target.  I only go in if I have $100.00 and two hours to spare. I have spent countless hours there over the past three months. I am knee deep in a home redecoration project - one that I thought would take four weeks but has instead consumed the better part of three months.

It should have been simple - just the kitchen floor.  But wait!  The new floor must be coordinated with new countertops.  The new countertops clashed with the paint. The new paint clashed with the furniture.  The new furniture clashed with the placement of the light fixture.  What was once a snow ball redecorating project has rolled on to become Frosty the Snowman.  I can't lie - I was itching for this project.  I wanted it all to clash so I would have this project.  Now I want it finished so I can move on with my life. It's Spring.

This week's trip to Home Goods was for new placemats for my  new tablescape.  I spent an hour staring at the placemats.  I knew they weren't right but I kept standing there and staring, hoping against hope that what I needed would appear.  It never did.  Instead, I grabbed three bags of surprisingly delicious Dancing Deer Brownies for a dinner party on Tuesday.  These things were OUTRAGEOUSLY good.  Yes, I did open a bag and ate a brownie the size of my head.  I had to check out their website.  I paid less than half price for these gourmet bad boys.  Don't think I'm not going back and buying every last one of them.  A single girl with an active social life can never have too many go-to treats.

Maybe they'll have more placemats when I get there.  Maybe I'll just stand there for another hour to be sure. I'm single - I have the time.