Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Crush

Let's wrap up this week of amazing ideas from Caspari with this blue and white specimen. No, that is not a fancy fine china dinner plate - it's an AMAZING placemat. As in, a set of four will set you back less than $40. I think one of my favorite tabletop items is my Imari placemat set so I think I need to add these classic blue and white ones to my collection and use them on my Christmas table.

I hope you got some good nuggets of table-setting inspiration this week...godspeed if you are planning out your table this weekend. See you next week!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Paper Plate Thanksgiving, Caspari Style

I had just about the best time putting together this Thanksgiving table.

After my visit with Caspari, I came away with so much inspiration that this table practically set itself. Welcome to Thanksgiving chez AO:


- Yay for hoarding tableware! Nothing I already owned was off-limits for this table and I mixed and matched my little heart out.

- Centerpiece vase is the iconic Tobacco Leaf that my mother-in-law was going to toss! It's really shining bright in the center of my Imari tray. And the silver service was my mom's. Crystal is our wedding crystal. The little black eggs are a collection that I've had for YEARS and never see the light of day. Love shopping my house when setting a table and pulling out items with history to use as accents.

- Black candles! I had squirreled away this idea for four years and I love it here.

- I beat Kate and team by using SIX layers on my head place settings. Note that the head place setting (last picture) and side settings (first picture) are slightly different. I only had enough Imari placemats to go around for four since I doubled them up to create more of a rectangular placemat. But I LOVE the result of having the two head settings slightly different - especially with that touch of silver peeking out from behind the plates!

- Yay for hoarding fabric! I have had that green stripe fabric since we moved into this house and have never found a place for it...using it on this table was my nod to my recent Greenbrier escapades. 

Now, if you do the math, you'll notice Thanksgiving is still a week away. Meaning that I will now need to dismantle this table only to recreate it next Thursday as little hands were eager to experience the Gilded Gobbler:

Oh, Ana Claire.

I want to give a huge thank you to the Charlottesville Caspari team for loading me up with tips and inspiration and the paper products I'm using here. Such a phenomenal brand that is my holiday go-to. I'll be posting some more Christmas inspiration from the store in the coming weeks. 

Get the Gilded Gobbler Look:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Caspari Style

This Thanksgiving, I'm going with paper plates. I'll be about four weeks from my due date, so I'm not trying to complicate things by having to hand wash a service of fine china after dinner.

Naturally, when contemplating paper plates worthy enough for entertaining I immediately think Caspari. You know I'm a HUGE fan of this brand...huge. And lucky for me, not only does Caspari have a flagship store in Charlottesvile - a frequent stop for us - but I also know a gal, Sarah, who went to UVA with me and now works for them. 

A while back, I reached out to Sarah to ask if the shop might be interested in collaborating with me on some holiday entertaining posts. The answer was an enthusiastic yes, so last Saturday I made a stop in Charlottesvile and met up with head merchandiser and store manager Kate Wade who walked me through the glorious holiday displays currently gracing the store.

Kate is wicked talented and shared a wealth of information with me which I'm attempting to pass on to you via cleverly named (by me) tablescape ideas, photos, and tips.

Today, it's all about turkey.

I was so drawn to this table in the shop because that centerpiece is so eye-catching in person! All of the traditional colors and motifs of the holiday are present, but accented with unexpected details like animal print and feathers.

Takeaway Tips:

1) Height

Don't forget the vertical space of a table! Kate says that they always try to work upward when designing their tables to give the eye various levels to enjoy. Although a tall centerpiece may not be practical when it comes time to actually eat - no one says you can't have one to display and delight your guests and then move it to a sideboard during the meal, especially if you need the room for serving plates. 

2) Vary your place settings

Who says your plates have to match? I know we are all comfortable mixing a dinner plate with a different salad plate, but why not vary your dinner plates? Something that is quite easy to do when you go with paper. I love the various dishes and flatware used at this table - the look is still cohesive but feels rich with so many elements.

3) Napkins are your friends

Napkins are your secret decorating weapon. Kate and her team use them everywhere to add bits of color, pattern and texture to their tables. Look how a dinner napkin is displayed hanging under the turkey place-setting. Or how two napkins are used to cradle a soup bowl. My favorite trick is to use a cocktail napkin in a coordinating pattern under wine glasses. They are inexpensive and usually a great accent of pattern to use around the table.

Get the Wild Turkey Look:

This table was calling my name with its pop of plaid and use of Imari, one of my all-time favorite Caspari patterns. I loved the very traditional feel created by the whole look and this table directly inspired what I'll be creating in my own home.

Takeaway Tips:

1) Layer

Y'all, that one place-setting has five layers to it. FIVE! A red placemat, an Imari placemat (offset to peek out on the left), a rattan charger, a napkin, and a dinner plate. But it by no means feels overdone - it feels rich and lovely. This is when your hoarding tendencies can benefit you. I know I love to collect these items and by layering them, I get to use several of them at once.

2) Limit a theme

I think this is more pertinent when entertaining with paper products, but it's easy to let a theme get out of control. Turkey plates, turkey cups, turkey napkins, turkey napkin rings. But Kate and team kept the turkey in check, only using this lovely turkey motif on the dinner plates. This way the table feels cohesive and on message, but doesn't overwhelm.

3) Break out the fancy with your paper

Like anything in life - your home, your clothes - mix the high and low. There is no reason not to use your crystal when you're entertaining with paper plates. Break out the vintage silver. Decorate your table with your heirloom vase filled with fresh flowers. The beauty of paper plates is they let you use a fun pattern for that moment in time, but the way to truly pull the look off is to use the same pieces you would use with your china.

Get the Tartan Turkey Look: 

Later this week, I'll bring you what I am doing with my own table for Thanksgiving. I'm really excited at the pieces (and LOADS of inspiration) that I brought home from Caspari - below is a preview of what I'll be pulling together to serve my own holiday meal:

Get This Look:   

Don't forget to check out the entire Caspari collection online - SO much to choose from for the upcoming holidays.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Crush

My absolute favorite find of the whole Greenbrier trip was this BANANAS cherry wallpaper by Carleton Varney called Kate's Mountain Berries. They had it for sale in one of the gift shops and I wanted to bring rolls and rolls of it home with me and paper every single surface with it. And let's discuss how perfect it is for Christmas! It might be inspiring my Christmas card this year. I'm adding it to my dream wallpaper wishlist (imagine a powder room with black and white tile and a red pagoda lantern!)

As you can see, I'm still riding my Greenbrier high and plan to do so as long as humanly possible. Grateful for a nice weekend at home, though. Hope you have a great weekend...see you next week!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Back from Heaven

Carter and I are back from a wonderful weekend away.

It's going to take me a while to sift through what I think are hundreds of photos from the Greenbrier so, for now, I'll leave you with a taste of our weekend via my Instagram feed (I know, lame if you follow me there as you've seen these but I'm offering some additional commentary):

First stop was the Caspari store in Charlottesville where I met up with some of the team for a little Thanksgiving collaboration that is coming up on the blog next week. LOTS of holiday entertaining inspiration coming your way! I couldn't resist posing with the cheetah. God bless that maternity vest, as I basically wear it every day.

Next stop was the University of Virginia to meet up with old college friends for a mini-reunion that was incredibly fun. I took this picture at Pavilion X on the Lawn as the shutters have the most sublime shade of green that I'm thinking may need to go on our own house.

After Charlottesville, we made our way to White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia - home of the Greenbrier. THERE ARE NO WORDS. Inspiration for days. I took a picture of everything. Even the toilets. Seriously.

A dapper Carter Shuffler enjoying a mint julep before dinner. Fun fact: he wears bow ties every day to work. And we all know how handy he is. Handy and handsome = score on my end.

Likely my favorite photo from the weekend. My delicious cup of coffee in the Main Dining Room the morning we left. The breakfast brunch was bananas and the pink china was stunning. 

All in all, it was a stellar experience and completely lovely to spend some time with just Carter but we were pretty stoked to get home to this nutty human:

I'll share LOTS of Greenbrier images as soon as I go through them and look for holiday inspiration from Caspari next week!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Crush

Crazy week = 2 blog posts. This week has been a doozy.

I am beyond thrilled that it's over AND that the weekend is beginning as Big C and I are taking a little time away for the next couple of days to soak up some quality time before we become a family of four (in about 7 weeks).

First stop is Charlottesville and our alma mater, the University of Virginia, to spend some time with old friends at a reunion. There will be a stop at Caspari HQ, obvi. More to come on that...

And the next stop...y'all, the NEXT for it....THE GREENBRIER.


My brain and soul have yet to take this in.

I've been yammering about the Greenbrier for years and although it will only be a 1-night engagement, it's all I need. Just to gaze upon its finery will be enough to delight and inspire me for the foreseeable future.

Per Pinterest, the photo above is from the Greenbrier. My plan is to hunt down this staircase during our visit to confirm.

Enjoy your weekend...see you next week, when I hope to be back a little refreshed and definitely inspired!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Barn Door

Now that the Shuffler children are going from 1 to 2 players, our thoughts have turned toward a further basement renovation. You'll recall that we already renovated half of our basement into our family den. It was perfect for mini Ana Claire.

But now AC is a rambunctious (almost) two-year old that needs space for some big girl toys and the soft play area we have now in the den will be claimed by baby brother for rolling around, chewing and spitting up.

The space we have deemed worthy for this upgrade is across the hall from the den and we'd like to give it a nice wide opening so the two rooms flow a bit better. But this means that a normal door likely won't cut it and I want to reserve the option of shielding the mess room from visitors on occasion.

Enter the barn door. Like this one I saw on Etsy:

That's a fun color. I don't embrace barn doors so lovingly as to have one in my bedroom but I understand their appeal - and cool that this one leads into a pretty bathroom. For my taste, this new play space seems like a good fit for one...especially since the sizing can be flexible.

The photo above is from this Etsy listing which is for the hardware only, but the shop seems to have some cool doors and hardware to choose from...I definitely bookmarked it for the future.

I'm thinking our door might also be a good place for Ana Claire's masterpieces that she's creating on an almost daily the moment they are a cluttered stack pinned to our fridge but a big door like this one might be a fun display opportunity. All TBD...

What are your thoughts on barn doors? Awesome inside? Best left on barns?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from our doll!

Hope you enjoy lots of treats today and throughout the weekend. See you next week!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Catalog Pick: Purple and Pink Mirrors from Horchow

IMO, Horchow is for sure and for certain one of the best places to get beautiful mirrors online. Some are more budget-friendly than others but the site also runs a number of sales so there is a good possibility even the priciest mirror can be bought at a discount.

I was perusing the mirror selection once again and two FANTASTIC options caught my eye. Hello aubergine, plum delightful Moroccan situation:

That one is the Patrice Scalloped Mirror and I want it something fierce. And check out this feminine beauty:

That one is the Rosemeade Mirror. Are you most delighted by the blush pink, the gold edging, or the scalloped silhouette?

These are the kinds of pieces that can really make a space feel special...yes, we all use mirrors but a purple or pink mirror? Now that is an unexpected place for those colors. Love.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New from Megan Young

I love checking a favorite designer's website and finding new photos in their portfolio. Just did a little sweep of Megan Young's (such a talent!) and found some pretty images where she is really working the jewel tones:

All photos via

Love the tones of berry aubergine with chartreuse. It takes a very trusting client to say yes to a "purple" couch but I think the result in that second picture is stunning. Feels incredibly fresh, yet traditional so the colors are not overpowering. A great balance.

Check out more of Megan Young's work here...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Crush

I've noted that I'm pretty equal-opportunity when it comes to design - I can find something I like in every style. But I have to say that "industrial" is usually not one of them. I can do modern but I tend to struggle with industrial (they are similar, yes? no?). The above photo is part of a collection of industrial interiors that I found online and although I can see the "industrialness" of it, I also think it's wicked awesome in a modern way. I love when a designer is really able to turn the structure of the room into the design. And that floor is ridiculous. Juxtaposed with so much white and what is clearly an amazing outdoor view. Wouldn't want it for my home but would love to spend a weekend here...especially if the final layer of furnishings offered lots of contrasting textures like linen and fur.

I turned 33 this week. Happy to count another year of life and I must say the 30s have been excellent. Thanks to all who made it a special week. Hope you have a wonderful weekend...see you next week!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Getting Straight Paint Lines

A recent Pinterest jaunt led me to a clever DIY done by a mom and her tween daughter:

Essentially, painter's tape was put on the wall at random, varying angles and each geometric shape was painted a snazzy color to create a cool, colorful wall. Easy little project that had a fun impact for a tween bedroom.

But what caught my eye most was the product they were using, as it's new to me but I would have loved something like it when painting my own dining room's stripes - FrogTape now has a sealer that you can use as a second step after applying your tape.

Especially helpful if your walls have some slight texture to them which can cause messy paint lines.

My old technique would be to paint the base color, apply my tape, go over the seams with the base color to "seal" it, and then paint my stripe/line/shape color. That did not work so great, but it did help.

This doesn't cut out any work but if it achieves a sharper result, it's totally worth checking out. And no, the FrogTape people haven't reached out to me. This one just made sense, especially since I can guess that almost all of us will encounter a painting DIY at some point where this might be useful - I don't have anything on my radar but I'll remember this tidbit next time I do.

Have you used it? Good or bad results?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shuffler Lowcountry Boil

Every year, right around my birthday, we host what we like to think of as our signature event as a family - the Shuffler Lowcountry Boil. It's always mid-late October so the weather is usually perfect for being out the in the backyard with great food, drinks, a fire pit, family and friends.

This year we marked our 6th Lowcountry Boil and my friend Crystal brought her camera! And when Crystal has her camera there are delightful results so I have some fun pictures to share of this year's event.

The spread of goodies and disposable tableware:

All photos by Crystal Downs

The cook (Carter does all the cooking! It's great!):

The main event - shrimp, potatoes, sausage and corn boiled up with some Old Bay and served with cornbread and cocktail sauce:

My friend Lauren has a bounce house. And Ana Claire can't get enough of it:

More Ana Claire, in her smocked scarecrow suit:

Lots of adorable children:

And, finally, Paige (Crystal's daughter) and Ana Claire eating cupcakes:

These little nuggets have known each other since Day 1:

They were born one week apart. I can't take the cuteness.

A hearty thanks to Carter who pulls the majority of this event off! This year was one of the best yet...hope you enjoyed the pictures!

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