Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Framed Recipes

Hey Yall:)

Although I'm NOT a recipe follower, I DO adore cookbooks. I could seriously curl up with a blanket and read a good cookbook like a novel, provided that I ever was blessed with that kind of time in my life!

I use them more for inspiration and ideas for meals and I think it always works out best to combine 2 or 3 recipes to make the dish my own. Recipes should be merely suggestions in my opinion! Unless, of course, you are baking. My favorite cookbooks are local ones featuring recipes from relatives and hometown friends.

Because I like to fill our home, especially the kitchen, with personal touches, I framed a few of my mom's recipes from an old church cookbook to display.

When you read the instructions and personal comments in a recipe from someone you know, it's almost as if you can hear them telling you what to do...like they are cooking in the kitchen with you.

These were simply photocopied and printed, but one day I will find the time to sift through what I believe is the BEST way to pass down recipes for generations...the handwritten 3x5 index cards with personal comments and only the most special of recipes. It's a special way to showcase someone you love whom, in sharing a recipe, also shared a piece of themselves.

Very few intangibles can be passed down and inherited through generations for all the family to share.

Only one relative can keep that priceless hand-painted piece of grandma's after she is gone, but everyone can share grandma's special spaghetti sauce recipe. And even fewer things in life remain constant and eternal, as everything in life changes with its season, but that sauce will remain the same for eternity when the instructions on that little piece of paper are followed. It can be comforting, when you think about it.

One night while living in Conway for college, in my little one bedroom apartment shared by only myself and a 22 pound puggle, I craved the smell and comforting taste of Nonnie's spaghetti like never before. NOBODY's spaghetti tasted like hers and I've yet to taste a sauce that even comes close to it. I pulled out the little square recipe and listened to every word she said. It simmered and bubbled and I wondered if I could ever do it the same. With my first taste of the wooden spoon, I yelled, "That is Nonnie in a pot!" Every little ounce of flavor was exactly as it was the thousands of times I had tasted it before. I was taken home.

I'd love to eventually accumulate a wall full of special family recipes. I'd love to see how the project grows over the years. Oh the stories they could tell!

Have a great day,


Friday, October 21, 2011

The Gardners

He was sitting a row over from me in Mrs. Carter’s 2nd grade class.
She was two thousand miles away and we were yet to know of her existence.
We were also yet to know that she would one day be a best friend to both of us.

Devin and I have a long history together that dates back to the year 1993. A year we would both luck out by being placed in the classroom of Mrs. Verna Jean Carter, who had been around long enough to have been MY DAD’s teacher in grade school as well. And my Dad was in his thirties when I was born!

Mrs. Carter had such seniority that she was allowed to do anything, thus, we were allowed to do anything with her…

We didn’t read about fictional stories and characters; We put on costumes and acted out the plays in the classroom. We didn’t bring a note home telling parents to send magazines for an art project; We WALKED to a friendly neighbor’s house to collect them from their garage (yes, the entire class of 7 years olds). We didn’t have a 45 minute Christmas party in the classroom; We WALKED to my grandma’s pool house 4 blocks away during the school day to have our party (no permission slip necessary). We didn’t talk about photosynthesis and the science of growing plants; We planted a tree on the playground that still stands 18 years later.

Metaphorically, our friendship still stands 18 years later.

After college, he introduced me to Nina on that fateful canoe trip to Spring River just a few years ago.

“Katie, this is my girlfriend, Nina.”

“Heeey Nina! (Pronounced “Nay-na” when coming from my mouth) So nice to meet yooou!”

{‘-Hmmm.’ I thought. ‘Nina. That’s a different kind of name. I might have to get used to that.’}

“Hi! It’s nice to meet you too,” she said.

{-‘Hmmm.’ I thought. ‘That voice. That accent. I’m definitely gonna have to get used to that.'}

She might not have sounded like me, but we spoke the same language. 3 campfires, 13 rapids, and 10 floating miles of river later and we were best friends. And I am not a “you’re my new best friend” kind of person.

And now a few years later, we can't remember what life was like before the four of us were friends...And I'm finally getting used to the way she talks. Except "you guys". I will never get used to that.

Sean and I see the two of them in our future just like we would our family. We see “can you pick up our kid from school because I’m working late?” and “let’s take the families together on summer vacation again this year”.

So it was a special moment for Sean and I both to be a part of the day their future began as a married couple.

She wrote her heartfelt words to her soon-to-be husband. And then we all looked on in silence and cried as she read Devin's words to her.

Devin and Nina were married in Memphis at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral on October 1st, 2011.

The grand, castle-esque church was the perfect setting for a fall ceremony reminiscent of the royal wedding.

We celebrated their union with hymns and communion before the newlywed couple descended Poplar in their horse drawn carriage.

The Balinese Ballroom, with it's white brick walls, abstract artwork, and fabric-swagged ceilings, was eclectic and swanky.

She glowed like a runway model. Beauty and Grace.

Lindsay and I waited for the bride and groom's arrival.

Mr. and Mrs. Devin Gardner!

I think they both looked the best they've ever looked. Oh, what love can do!

Their cake was delicious. So said Dev's nose.

And for my favorite...

We had the time of our lives dancing.

And making memories...

{Me and Sean, parents/in-laws}


Hah...jk. Love ya!

To a beautiful future! Yours, mine, and ours.

Love "yall",
The Grays

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Old Fence Wall Art

Hey guys:)
One of the last dining room projects before the reveal has been finished. A large wall in the dining room was begging for a big statement piece...

When we first moved into our home, the lot was unfenced, but there was a shaded area fenced as a dog run. When Sean and his dad fenced in our yard this past spring, we tore down the dog pen and dragged the remains to the street. Something told me I should hang on to at least one part of the fence to eventually use, (and for sentimental reasons) so I carried one section...all 70 pounds of it...back up to the house.

I started, screwed up, and restarted this project several times...wood working is still not my forte!
It was too hard to separate the planks from the 2x4's so I jigsawed the pieces between the 2x4's. I placed them together in a pattern I liked, changed it a million times, and finally settled on one.

I connected all of them by nailing a board to the back...

...installed the hanger hardware and wire, and hung it on hooks.

I was already out of breath just from lifting it to hang, but when I stepped back to see it for the first time, I gasped with surprise and awe.

It turned out amazing! I did nothing to the wood other than spray a little clear gloss sealer just for protection and sheen. It has such a gorgeous gray, weathered color and even some silver metallic places. Rustic but chic and SO perfect all on its own!

I painted a G for our last name initial and added a tiny quote beginning with the G. I wanted the words to barely be noticeable so I used a light gray paint that blended well with the boards.

It's such a statement and so beautiful.

Pretty proud of myself with this one:) Better pics to come when I finish the whole room so check back with me.

~The Grays

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Featured on Better After!


It's been a personal goal of mine to be among the way cool before and after posts on the amazing blog Better After. If you don't follow this blog, you should get with the program. Nothing but endless amounts of ugly duckling to swan transformations to enjoy! I've submitted a few projects in hopes of landing on the site and it happened TODAY! SUCH an honor. I was exhausted from a project filled weekend and struggling to keep up at work...clinging to my coke can of caffeine for dear life...when I got an email notification of a comment on my blog that said they found me on Better After. Whaaa?? Fo-real?? You sur-ious?? Seeing it was an instant jolt of energy to make it through my day.

I haven't submitted some of what I feel like are my best before and afters so hopefully this won't be the last. Check out my feature on the vintage telephone table makeover on Better After.

Have a GREAT day!
~The Grays

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spray Paint Organization

Any DIYer knows that spray paint is a project staple. I use it for SO many different things and always have a surplus of colors at any given time. I try to keep them contained, but nothing has ever really worked before. Until...

After a marathon weekend of project productiveness, Sean started picking up after us and clearing out the garage. He hung an old shoe rack on our shop door, with no specific purpose at the time. When I saw it, then glanced at my near 30 cans scattered around...Lightbulb!

I can keep over 30 cans organized with every can visible at once, taking up no floor space or cabinet space!

I keep all the materials needed for spray painting too; old rolled up towel drop-cloths, my spray nozzle, painter's tape, etc.

It was so simple, but I had to share!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte...At Home!

It's that special time of year...Our pumpkins are scattered on the front porch steps. Our town is adorned with scarecrows on every corner. And our Razorbacks have all the neighbors ordering pizzas and cheering on a Saturday night! The air is crisp in the mornings as we head out to work and I've got to have that cup of comfort coffee to warm my insides...And get me going! Nothing sums up fall in a drink quite like Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte.

You know I would rather do something myself if I can find a way. This is my own little Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte that's been keeping me company every morning on the way to work.

Folgers Caramel Drizzle K-Cup
If you have not yet jumped on the K-cup bandwagon, you might be the only one left! Seriously, one of the best inventions ever. So easy and so fast. And there's so many flavors available.

Coffee House Vanilla Caramel Creamer
I've seen this pumpkin pie spice creamer online but haven't yet seen it in stores. It would be YUM!

And of course, a few shakes of Pumpkin Pie Spice.

If I'm feeling dangerous, I'll add a dollop of whipped cream and a little drizzle of caramel syrup. But only if I really need a pick me up!

It's so easy. The perfect way to greet the autumn days ahead.



Monday, October 3, 2011

Princess Nina is OFF the market!

Hi Friends!

Today, I'm resting my bones from the weekend's wonderful and exhausting events. My precious, dear beautiful best friend Nina wed another of my dear best friends, Devin, in a ceremony fit for royalty inside a breathtaking cathedral. We wined, dined, and danced all night in celebration at the Balinese Ballroom in Memphis. Today, we inhale a deep, relieving breath that yet another wedding has successfully gone down in the books.

The weekend before Nina was to wed, we gathered her girls to show her a good time on Beale Street here in the home of the Delta blues. Armed with purple mens ties for a little sass, whistling lips, and a photo scavenger hunt to complete, we crossed the bridge for a LONG night ahead.

The night began at Alfred's for dinner and drinks on the patio with Alicia, Lydia, Shawnna, Amy...

And Nina and I.

A rose for the bride to be...And all of her friends! The first of many perks to a bachelorette soiree.

Round 1 at the bar with the whole gang.

Cheers...To Nina's last single night out, best friends, and free drinks!

This is just a shot in the dark, but I think she was having a blast! My beautiful friend stands out wherever she goes.

She joined a fellow bachelorette...

...who actually lived in my dorm freshman year at U of A. Random blast from the past!


And friends.

LOVE these girls!

Our photo scavenger hunt had us perusing Beale for some fun.

"...The participant with the highest heels...Cheers with a stranger...kissing the bride to be...standing on a barstool...with someone's tattoo...with someone wearing 'Memphis Tigers'..."

"...With a guy's muscle..with a guy while wearing his hat...with a couple married over 25 years...with Elvis..."

"With a Memphis Cop."
She wanted a challenge. So we found a hardcore spiky-haired lady cop who seemed like she might look at us like we were ridiculous and resist a fun photo.
"Oh SUURE!" She said with a smile.
Nina and I stood with her for 45 minutes chattin it up about life as cop in the downtown precinct. She dashed away 3 times in the midst of our conversations to fight crime, then came back to our spot when the problem was solved. Props to this strong woman for what she does!

"Your whole group under the bar sign"

Midway through our night, Nina was arrested for public intoxication.

No. Of course not. This cop was way too cute to do such a thing.

Back inside Alfreds after our stroll, the antics continued.

Yes Nina. You are the bride.

And this girl will gladly give you an eskimo kiss. Check!

Alicia picked on her.

And so did Amy.

I laughed hysterically. Then cheered her up.

The two of us hit the dance floor for just about any song that came on.


For a change of scenery, we decided to head to 152. In a slight moment of drama, however, the bouncer ripped off Nina's wristband and through it on the ground. Jerk. So, as an alternative, we decided to make the ENDLESS hike to Rehab. It seemed like a good idea at the time...

All of us! Someone knew someone who was someone...you know how that goes...so we were able to go up/downstairs (I still can't remember which floor we went too) to get away from the laser lights and thumping music to a bar with pretty much just us.

Never ones to turn down something free (how rude would that be?) we didn't argue.

Preparing for Nina's wedding photobooth...

Just like an all you can eat buffet, it seemed like heaven at first...but our eyes might have been too big for our tummies.

After all that, some genius asked for champagne.

Our wish was their command.

Halfway through my 2nd glass, Nina asked me to take a picture of her and...who knows.

Someone apparently wrapped my purse straps around my ankles, made the floor uneven, AND my feet unsteady. Who would do such a thing? With my camera in one hand and champagne in the other, I was hitting the floor by the second step. But don't you worry. The 70 inch flat screen broke my fall:)

Finally back safe and sound on Alfred's patio...

Nina enjoyed Amy's leftover nachos. Classy, that one. Always classy.

We rode home to a warm bed, just beating the sunrise.

We were able to give Nina a night to let loose and forget about the worries and stresses. And took home LOTS of priceless foggy memories.

Mission Accomplished!

~Katie Gray