the diamond that started it all

the diamond that started it all


welcome to my mission is to give you a glimps of my life as a mother, wife, decorator, painter, and active woman. my inspiration comes from traveling, my education, and my family and friends. i have to admit upfront, however, that my "education" does not include a background in english, so please be patient with my grammar and spelling. i am, however, happy to share on this blog what i learn in my daily life from painting and decorating. here you will also find a real account of my struggles, my experiences, and my many reasons to rejoice. april, or the month of the diamond, is when my first and only daughter, mollie, was born. she is the reason i am a joyful mother, wife, and person today. i appreciate your time, and thank you in advance for your advice. perhaps one day you will be reading from my website but for now this homemade blog will do:-)
love, laura

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

merry christmas

our hope is that your christmas is filled with as much joy as ours

and a happy new year too!

Monday, December 21, 2009

sequence of structures

in 2006, a friend asked me to paint from a photo a picture of her family's summer home in michigan.  i didn't give it much thought and painted it in a month or so.  it was a gift from her to her husband for christmas (they began a tradition of giving each other art work each christmas--great idea!).  anyway, the point is...this little painting of a house started a trickle of other meaningful paintings.  soon after mollie was born, a girl called after seeing the michigan painting, at my friend's house, wanting me to paint perkins chapel at the smu campus.  of course...i went to school there and how meaningful a gift to her husband for their anniversary!  currently, i am finishing a painting of a first home (it just sold) for a client.  it's also a gift to her husband, so i will wait until he sees it first to post it.  stay tuned.

i owe it all to my PR friend (the michigan painting girl!) who got the ball rolling.  it's been so much fun doing something i love.  obviously, i'm not painting for the $.  i figure 5 paintings a year is reasonable since i only have the time to paint when mollie is sleeping.  each painting usually takes 1 1/2-2 months, depending on size. landscapes and houses are my passion and i don't have any paintings hanging in my house (hey, people ask) because that would be weird.  i am taking a break until mid-jan but have nothing lined up for 2010...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

a moment for moms

if you're a mom or ever thinking of becoming a mom one day, please read the mission of motherhood by sally clarkson. i don't take these words "has changed my life." the last book i said that about was the praying gods will for your life. i read it in college during my crazy years and it (along with god's grace) brought me back to reality.

i guess these sorts of "mommy books" don't really click until you're in the boat. i have been in the boat 8 months and this book made me realize my purpose as a mother. not only for now in this baby stage, but it set my goals for a life of motherhood. i am no dummy; i know not all mothers have the desire or the ability to be a stay-at-home-mom, either way this is an enlightening read. i believe we shape our children from day one and the one main point i learned from her book is that it's the everyday choices we make as mothers that make lasting impressions on our kids. furthermore, knowing the privilege of having the blessing of children is one thing, but the way that clarkson relates to being a mother of 4 herself after having a thriving career is beautiful. she is one wise woman.

i have to share a preview of what i underlined so far:

the mission of motherhood is strategic in providing the next generation with whole-hearted, emotionally healthy, and spiritually alive adults. it is not simply a lifestyle choice. it is a divine calling that will indeed affect eternity.

• making this choice ahead of time means i will expect problems and needs to arise and be ready to deal with them in peace instead of impatience and resentment

• "they will learn that my joy is not circumstantial but real because i have an endless source of strength through the power of the holy spirit in my life"

• the minority of mothers who choose to devote their lives to the nurturing of a godly heritage by focusing on their home as the center of life find themselves unsupported and unaffirmed by a culture that does not value their contribution

• the most important factor in being successful as a mother is to turn our hearts to God, seek his will, and to allow him to begin making sense out of the messes we've made of our lives.

• what we have gained in lifestyle options and material goods we have lost in terms of time, flexibility, peace, and personal attention

• instead of being rocked and nursed and sung to by a mother who has time to stay until all childish fears are at rest, they tens to be rocked and nursed and put to bed by a loving mother who is desperate for them to go to sleep so she can sleep too

• in the absence of biblical convictions, people will go the way of their culture

• "instead of seeing fusses and messes as irritations in my day, i am more likely to see them as opportunities to train my children to be peacemakers and to learn to be responsible for their own messes"

"...but it's the way that i respond to my children in everyday moments that gives me to best chance of winning their hearts"

i am only half way through the book; however, i couldn't resist getting the message out as soon as i could. i strongly encourage you to buy it, borrow it, rent it today...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


 i have mixed emotions about the word "nesting." when i was pregnant i anticipated my nesting stage. when it never came i thought mollie would be forever stuck in my belly. the truth is, i constantly "nest." i am always cleaning, rearranging, and obviously i love decorating a space (any space, even 2 sq ft of my kitchen). i found this neat spot today on henderson in dallas-the wooden house. what a unique area in general.  on henderson you will also find a collection of stores carrying local vendors, consigned items, and rare antiques (consignment heaven, again &again, the gypsy wagon). i got some new pieces at the wooden house that i thought would make my life more orderly-one for my jewelry collection, one for the kitchen to organize my (small) wine collection, and another for the dining room to better display my china.  this place just opened and i highly recommend it.  the owner was very friendly and if you need furniture to de-clutter your life you will find what you need...and more.

on a totally different note, ash and i visited a couple of new finds on lovers lane a few weeks ago that are worth noting. area 25 and arteriors too.

jewelry box for me...or a box to organize whatever you need in your life.  one question-it's simply drawers, no dividers, how do i seperate the individual pieces of jewelry?  i'm sure container store can help me out. our wine is easily accessable and perfectly stored:-)

do not ask me why a sense of organization brings me so much relief but i think my sleep tonight will be more peaceful because of this new piece of furniture.

Monday, December 14, 2009

plan, prepare, punt

more decorating ideas:
i love the use of burlap all year around but especially at christmas.  i copied this tear out from a magazine last season and used burlap last christmas myself.  I tied bows just like the photo shows.  i also used burlap to tie around flower pots for outside use.  i would also use burlap as curtains if i could.

a few words about holiday decorating though...

christmas can be overwhelming if you let it, and i want to state the importance of simply counting your blessings. i am a proponent of decorating, but only to the extent to which it doesn't stress you (or anyone else in your family) out! i'm not going to pretend like i coined the phrase, "plan, prepare, punt", but i have been thinking of a way to express my feelings about decorating for holidays and here goes. plan-come up with a theme (or not) for your home. go outside of your front door, ring the door bell, and walk inside. how do you want your house to smell, feel, look? prepare-anytime guests or family are invited over, plan ahead so that all of the work doesn't pile up the day before. (for ex, i take mollie to my mother-in-law's home for a day a few days before the anticipated date to get all of my shopping done. the next day i set the table, the next day i arrange the flowers, and so on). punt-perhaps the most important point. whatever is leftover after you have planned and prepared, punt it out! get rid of any worrisome thoughts and enjoy your holiday. as my yoga teacher said this morning, "down dog, exhale it out...". let us not lose sight of the true meaning of christmas.
wrapping tips let me make one thing clear...wrapping gifts stresses me out. i am horrible at it. if you are not like me check out this month's real simple magazine for 21 different easy ways of packaging your christmas gifts this year. i just like to open the gifts:-)

treats: if you are one of those very lucky people who receives yummy treats from friends like a trio of flavored popcorn, a "harvey wallbanger" cake from next door, a box of fresh pears....please do us all a favor and savor every bite. don't take those gifts for granted.
speaking of eating...
oreo truffles: 1 package room temp cream cheese + some oreos (sorry kids, i'm not too exact) in your food processor, roll into balls, place on greased parchment paper. in the frig they go. meanwhile, melt white chocolate over a double boiler on low heat. remove cold balls and roll in white chocolate. messy but worth it.  I tried these out on a friend.  Her husband cornered me at a party this weekend and raved over them...

other simple ideas...

"speedy turtles": 1 lb package small pretzels, 3 packages rolo candies, 1 cup pecan halves. place pretzels on cookie sheet (spray sheet prior with cooking spray). place rolo on top of pretzel. bake 5 min on 350. remove and place pecan hlaf on each melted rolo.

"naked men": take store bought, "naked" gingerbreadmen. melt your favorite chocolate in a double boiler, even add peanut butter in the choc if you like. dip the men in and give him pants, then roll in your fav topping, like crushed oreos, give him buttons and a bowtie. then, let dry before wrapping a few in cellophane with a festive ribbon and distributing them to neighbors:-)

cake balls: combine box cake mix plus your favorite frosting, literally mix them together. roll in your favorite flavor melted chocolate and set on baking sheet in the refrigerator. done.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

the help

as i was faced with the challenge of dressing miss mollie up this morning for her first visit to see santa claus, i was reminded of a book i finished a few months ago. the help. the book was set in the city i grew up in, the neighborhood i grew up in, and on the street i grew up on. i have a signed copy, by the way, if anyone wants to borrow. anyway, the pain i felt as i was preparing mollie for this outing astounded me. I WAS DRESSED THIS WAY EVERYDAY OF MY CHILDHOOD. mollie, on the other hand, wears her pj's all day, most days.

the sweet memory of our first of many housekeepers, thomasine, swept through my mind. what a neat lady. one of her many quotes is one i will never forget: as my mom chose from my closet what i was to wear that day (a handmade smocked dress, patent leather shoes, and a huge bow, i'm sure), thomasine looked puzzled and declared impatiently, "mrs. v, i don't understand why i got to do this day after day, laura's not going nowhere but down in the kitchen...". what a profound statement. i think all modern mom's can appreciate that.

another memory that popped in my head was from another housekeeper named lucile(or as i called her, wuuucile). i was probably 3 or 4 years old at christmas time. when my parents asked me on christmas eve, "laura, guess who's coming tonight?" (meaning santa)...i answered, "wuuucile?".

back to the help, i am not to be judged based on the characters in the book. it was set before my time or my mother's. we all used the same bathrooms etc. in fact, big ann has been with us 25 years, so that should shed some light on how close we are to our "help." she is literally like a another mother to me. also, the characters are based on real people but their names were changed. for example, patricia vandevender has my maiden name but i am not related to her, nor do i know her.

anyway, more importantly--what book should i be reading next??

the santa visit was worth the trouble

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

learn from creative friends

have you ever met someone so insanely creative that the thought of what goes through their mind scares you? for me, that person is a very close friend. megan adams. she is a very talented fabric designer currently finishing her masters in Fibers. one question that will only be answered in does God appoint megan to get her masters in "fibers"? kinna like, why is my sister driven to obtain her masters in computer science? megan may not know why, but as she states on her website, she has intention:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Col. 3:23

often, friends ask me how i know what to put together in my own home. honestly, i tell them that if you are true to yourself and go with your instinct then your own home, office, yard, etc. will naturally come together. if, however, you second guess yourself and worry over silly decisions over design then your space will not only have a chaotic feel but also it will reflect someone elses taste. for example, in my home i went with an over stuffed, slipcovered sofa and chair in the den because i want people to feel comfortable and at ease. the fabric i wanted to feel soft and the colors warm but besides that i didn't overthink the den. now other rooms in the house, i put more thought into for decorating purposes. if i made my den fancy with sharp edges it simply would reflect another person, not me.

we could all learn a tremendous amount about color in our own home just by checking out megan's designs. do not be shy when playing around with fabrics, colors, and textures. of course, we would all love to own a pillow, lamp shade, or just a square inch of her fabric but the point i am making is...i think sometimes we take for granted the creative friends we have around us and just decide to hire someone else to do it (i give you grace if you have 10,000 sq ft house). friends can also be a local art museum, by the way...

*etching damask pictured above

Monday, December 7, 2009

my favorite things(at christmas):

these chocolates are amazing. look at the box they come in too! they aren't just any chocolates--pictured are hazelnut/coffee filled dark chocolate or something tasty like that. honestly, i just started liking chocolate (like plain nibbling chocolate) only a couple of years ago but now i'm hooked. it's the perfect ending to any day. especially a holi-day.

my mom's friend, kerry parker, obviously a chocoholic herself, makes these delicious confections in her garage. let me know if you want her number-they are perfect for gifts, parties, and if you notice the box...they are also great for eating yourself...

vintage christmas ornaments. if you live in dallas, march yourself to curiousities in lakewood shopping center. there you will find this and that.

a menagerie of tree toppers also grace the aisles of consignment treasures at curiousities. vintage, glittery and requires a red light bulb. i think it's hilarious and genius at the same time.

you will probably only appreciate this one if you know a hunter or you yourself are a hunter. deer antlers. perfect to mix in with garland above the mantle, stick in the tree if you actually spend the money to buy a sturdy one, or i just lay them around on tables during the holidays. become good friends with your local taxidermy.

this is a "lenox" nativity scene. not sure what lenox means exactly but it sure is perrrrdy. tommy's grandmother kindly passed this down to us. i put it in a mccarty pottery bowl on our farm table...up high so miss mollie can't eat baby Jesus.

i guess i'm into vintage christmas this year because most of the above is an old find. i like a relatively different theme at christmas every year. for example, last year we didn't get a tree (because we went to MS for 2 weeks), so the theme was "sparse."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

dinner in december

I thought i would share a few pictures from a recent dinner party at our home...
mimi's glass

the idea of wilted garland above our often used fireplace closer to Christmas Day made me sad, so i decided to use my grandmother's old fashion glasses and fill them with tea lights.
Plus, i am trying to simplify clutter in my life recently (thank you, garage sale) and this did the trick.

Using clear floral tape, i attached tiny bud vases to the legs of our chandelier. then, i used a syringe to fill them with water and each a small white rose. that idea just popped in my head and decided to try it. i did get a few compliments, so i suggest you try it. ahhhem, i also was complimented on my beautiful gold leaf chargers....$5 at Target...

i broke out our china (no, not "broke" which did happen once when our electrician knocked over the whole china cabinet), bernardaud elysee pattern, and after 3 years i still adore it! this is a photo of the breakfast room table needed for guest overflow from our dining room table.

(Below) my sweet mama found these elk figures and i thought they would look more unique than just using the typical flower arrangement as the centerpiece (they would also be perfect later as bookends). the place cards, if you can see them, were made with card stock, folded, then each person's first initial was added with a sticky gold letter peel off. then a fake sheer leaf hot glued in the corner (all from a local scrapbook store i had stored away-the store has since closed).

here's the real story....

So, I decided to host a holiday dinner party at our home last week. i sent out invitations to a few couples that we have been meaning to have to our home for some time. i would do the decorating and he would cook. THEN, i informed my husband. why i do these things i know not. he is an excellent cook, so i assumed he would be more than happy to cook for a group of 12. well, that wasn't exactly the case. so, we decided to go the sandra lee route. picked up the meat from kuby's, stole the potato casserole secret from the cooks at my parent's farm in MS, ripped the green bean recipe from a magazine, and shopped at festive kitchen for the chocolate chip pecan frozen cookie dough to bake for dessert. whew!

All of the food was prepared ahead of time (since it was the first week in Dec I didn't feel obligated to have everything decorated for Christmas quite yet)so that Tommy and I would have a chance to mingle with our guests. the group didn't exactly know one another ahead of time, per say, but it ended up being a blast thanks to semi-homemade cooking and the simple decor. oh, and it ended up being 30 degrees, so a warm pinon wood fire added a beautiful touch!

The moral of the dinner party story is preparation in advance makes for happy hosts and a more entertaining party all together. I am all about budgeting my dinner parties as well--we used a bouquet of flowers and broke it up into a few smaller arrangements, using garland and greenery from the yard. I also used my crafting materials from other leftover craft projects. i have a few boxes full of supplies(or junk)--i will save my organization tips for that another day!

PS-a new camera is in the works for Christmas, so stay tuned for crisp pictures....