Friday, June 29, 2012


Now that you have seen the construction of the fireplace and arbor, the last major overhaul of the backyard project was to remove all existing ground cover and lay new sod. I don't know whose bright idea it was to install our new sod when temperatures in Alabama are in the triple digits, but so be it. I just hope we can keep enough water on it to not dry out! Lets keep our fingers crossed. 

Down to the nitty gritty!
 tea olives along fence have been planted - these will eventually grow together to create a privacy hedge
plants and flowers have been lined up in the beds
gardenias along the back, hostas and lambs ear scattered along front, and a few peony plants in the front
And then ... 
No more pea gravel!
Now it's down to the furniture, lighting, and some odds and ends. Some of you that follow me on instagram may have seen a sneak peek, but I will post final pictures in the next few weeks - just waiting on a few items to call it complete! What do you think so far? Remember the before ...
SO much better, right!? I can't wait to enjoy our new yard! Thanks for following the progress - final post to come!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I stumbled upon this beautiful book, Woodcuts, the other day and as I flipped through the preview I started to think that the pages would be perfect for framing in a grid. Unlike the predictable botanical or Audubon book (which I love as well), these woodcuts are unexpected and intriguing - they aren't your typical pressed flower or nest of robin eggs. The Connecticut-based artist Bryan Nash Gill created large-scale relief prints from cross sections of trees. Their rings create the most unique, detailed patterns that have always been a beautiful mystery. Here is how he creates the prints,

"The artist rescues the wood from the property surrounding his studio and neighboring land, extracts and prepares blocks of various species—including ash, maple, oak, spruce, and willow—and then prints them by carefully following and pressing the contours of the rings until the intricate designs transfer from tree to paper."

I know buying a collection of nice prints can be pretty pricy, so a great alternative is finding a gorgeous book and carefully removing the pages to frame yourself. You can arrange them like these to make a dramatic statement and occupy a lot of space without paying an arm and a leg for a piece of large artwork. Here are some snapshots of his beautiful work:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


With all the excitement of the backyard project, I really haven't put much thought into my birthday next week (July 2nd in case you forgot). I realize a lot of people are over their birthdays and dread turning another year older, but I love them - I love a reason to celebrate and throw a party regardless whose bday it is! I have completely come to terms with the fact that the bakyard renovation is my birthday, Christmas, New Years, St. Pattys Day, Anniversary, etc. for years to come, but I always look forward to getting a little something special from my family. Brandon usually begs me to just tell him what to buy, but I like knowing he picked it out something himself! So, just for fun (and in case Brandon happens to check my blog) here are some goodies I currently have on my wish list. Some items will help beautify the backyard and some will help us enjoy it, while a few have just been on my radar. What is on your wish list!?
ONE: lush peach square pillow - I am imagining two of these outside in the "pool" lounge chairs.
TWO: horseshoe set
THREE: croquet set
FOUR: white planter - one of these on either side of the fireplace with rosemary topiaries.
FIVE: black and white stripe pillow - I really want these in the chair cushions but I need to make sure they will fit, otherwise the pillows will work!
SIX: leopard sandals
SEVEN: bangles - I love all of her jewelry!
EIGHT: robinia pot - wouldn't this be perfect onthe dining table with a few succulents? the whole robinia set of planters is super cute.
NINE: pizza peel - I am dying to make some home made pizzas in our new fireplace. this grill stone with built in thermometer would be amazing as well.  

Friday, June 22, 2012


The pergola is up! What do you think? I wanted a basic pergola with just one tier of top slats and arched corner brackets to spice it up. I think the size is perfect. We centered it in front of the fireplace, but left a little of the patio uncovered so there is still room to pull some lounge chairs into the sun for those early (and late) summer months when you can actually stand the heat. Here's how it all went down:

Now we are on floor level - removing the current grass and pea gravel, planting, and laying new sod! It is slowly, but surely, coming together! I'll post another update asap. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WEDDING INVITATION SUITE: anna pate vanderbleek

Here is a recent wedding project for a sweet bride's "destination" wedding in Santa Rosa Beach. She wanted a vintage, rustic vibe so we used kraft paper envelopes, twine, quirky calligraphy, and shades of gray with cream. The wedding suite is very simple, but pretty using hand-written calligraphy to focus on the couple's important day. I designed an invitation, response card, and direction card - all bound by a self-addressed belly band with twine to replace an inner envelope. This is the second wedding suite I have designed a belly band for and it is such a fun and unique addition to a traditional suite. Here are some pictures of the final design.
The suite was printed on Mohawk's Loop Feltmark in natural white by Communication Arts, Inc. in Birmingham.

If you are interested in custom design services, please feel free to contact me!

Friday, June 15, 2012


See, this is how late I am on photographing my design work -- I just posted pics of the baby shower invitation and the baby was actually born last Friday, June 8th!! But none the less, I am super excited to share with you my first nephew, Coleman (Cole) Allen Shirley! He was born at about 10 in the morning weighing 7 lbs 5 oz and measuring 21.5 inches. He is such a doll and I just couldn't get enough time with him over the weekend. I am beyond excited for my brother and his wife and he is such a blessing to us all. Congrats Allen and Taten! Here are some pictures I snapped of him!

When I first arrived at the hospital, Cole had just been born and Taten was in recovery. I immediately got to see his precious face through the nursery window and it just made my day!
They put this sweet little crocheted hat on him that was donated for the new babies.
My first time holding him!
My brother, Allen, holding Cole.
I can't get enough of him in this adorable hat with ears! 
My Mom and Dad
Three generations of Shirley's - My Dad, My Brother, and Baby Cole.
My little bundle of joy!
Cole loves his Uncle B all ready!
 You can tell Allen was exhausted after being up all night!
 My two favorite boys ... wink, wink!