5 Tips for Choosing a Wedding Venue

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I got engaged on January 1st. David and I are super excited to make it “official” after being together for so many years. As soon as we announced our engagement we began receiving the expected questions, When and Where?  I will admit that we are a little intimidated about planning a wedding. I plan a lot of events, so this should be easy, right? Planning a wedding feels different and a little overwhelming. I know the key to planning any event is to take it one step at a time, and so we began! Its always gratifying to start with what you know, and you always know more than you think you do. I spent time talking to married friends about their wedding experiences and researching online. I started a secret Pinterest board, and David and I started a wedding vision board. I will share more on this later.

After coming up with a reasonable budget and a list of “must haves” we started looking for a venue to reflect our vintage “camp style” theme. I researched a ton of summer camps, retreat centers and state parks before someone mentioned Sugarboo Farms. We planned a visit on a Saturday and fell in love. Love is dangerous, and booking a venue is no small decision. Give yourself some time before making it official. We gave ourselves a week, checked out some other options and ultimately chose Sugarboo!

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We are SO excited!!

Here are my top 5 tips for choosing a wedding venue.

1. Decide what type of wedding you are planning. How many guest will you invite? You might not have a total at this point but you probably have a general idea. What style are you going for? Vintage, Rustic, Traditional, Minimal? When would you like to get married? What is your budget? The answers to these questions will help you narrow your scope and focus your search.

2. Talk to people about their weddings, what worked and what didn’t. You will be surprised about what people remember most. Plus, weddings make people happy and it’s so awesome to hear their stories.

3. Utilize wedding blogs and sites. They house a TON of information including databases of venues in specific areas, capacity, cost, amenities and photos. This could be extra helpful if you are planning a destination wedding.

4. Think outside the box. There are so many non-traditional venues out there from old barns, art galleries, theaters, restaurants, and warehouses. These places can be worth the extra effort to find, so ask around and keep an open mind. You might be surprised where your search takes you!

5. Once you find a location that you like, ask a million questions. Visit during the time of day that your ceremony will take place. Will you need additional lighting? Is there enough parking? What will you need to provide? Is there lodging nearby? You probably will not think about everything, but try. Once you decide on  a venue so many details will fall into place like magic, and that is what it’s all about.

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Paint Dipped Pots

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I keep little pots of herbs in my kitchen most of the time. It’s convenient, economical, and it makes such a difference in my food! You can pick up a small plant for under $3.00.

The weather is changing here in Atlanta. The warmer temperatures are getting me excited about Spring and gardening. Last weekend when the highs were in the 60’s I dipped some terra cotta pots in bright white paint.

I love the dipped look. It’s something that you can only get with dipping an extra thick coat of color.  I think it would also be fun to try some bright colors or neon.

I used a satin finish interior paint that I had leftover from another project, terra cotta pots, masking tape, and bottles from my recycling bin to keep the pots elevated while they dried.

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Wash the pots and allow to dry. Tape the drain hole on the inside of the pot, this will keep the paint from seeping inside when you dip. I poured the paint into an old plastic container to allow for more space. You can dip either end of the pot. I also experimented with letting the paint run. I love the way they turned out!

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5 Things to Look for in a Business Partner

Today is our Shannon’s birthday – Happy Birthday, Shannon!

I’ve had the privilege of being Shannon’s business partner for over 9 years. I say privilege because she truly is a joy to work with, and I feel blessed to have her in my life. We didn’t know each other very well when we first started collaborating so this whole thing had the potential of fizzling long ago, but instead 2014 is positioning itself to be our biggest year ever. There was also potential for just being business partners, but instead I list her as one of my very closest friends.

Truth be told, I’m not a natural collaborator. I tend to not trust that other people will pull their weight. I assume that they will be unorganized, flakey, inefficient and not take things as seriously as I do. I’d rather do it myself (whatever “it” may be) than deal with the repercussions of someone doing it wrong. I also hate asking for help (HATE.) and usually try to go it alone where work is concerned. I’m a very social person and thrive off interaction with others, but I tend to be a lone wolf when it comes to work. This isn’t necessarily a positive thing, and being overly-harsh or critical towards others is a character trait I’m not super proud of (but I’m working on it!). I share this to illustrate how great Shannon is. I don’t collaborate with her begrudgingly. I do it because it’s fun! And over the years, I’ve learned that we can accomplish way more together than I could ever do on my own.

So in honor of Shannon’s birthday, I thought I’d share five things to look for in a business partner in case you ever find yourself on the hunt. This list is not definitive, and I could (and maybe will!) expand on it a lot, but these are five things that make working with Shannon a joy!

In no particular order……….

Generous – If Shannon knows I’m interested in something she brings me what I need. I’m about to start a garden in my backyard (exciting! terrifying!) and she brought me books to read and actual SEEDS. And not just a few seeds, she brought me an amazing assortment of seeds to choose from and only presented me with options that can be planted right now…because she knows how ignorant I am! This generosity is something that extends into our business practices and has helped us build a loyal following.

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I posted this photo on Facebook a couple of years ago with the caption, “Christy and Shannon have a new idea for ICE. Davis is not amused, haha.” The photo was staged and in reality Davis, my husband, is very supportive of everything we do, but it’s true…we have new ideas that require a lot of hard work ALL THE TIME.

Full of Ideas – OMG. There are times when I have literally said, “No more. I can’t take any more right now.” Shannon always has new ideas. This is wonderful for a business. It means we always have new things to try. We’re never standing there like, “Well, I guess we’ve tried it all. Better shut it down.” Ideas are what has kept us going this long and will help us succeed in the future. I tell her I can’t take any more with a laugh. I always want more ideas. There are just occasions when our plates are full to overflowing!

Hardworking – I’m a hard worker and I need to feel like the person I’m working with is working just as hard as I am. If this isn’t the case, I start to feel resentment and the arrangement just isn’t going to work out ultimately. Shannon and I have both maintained full-time jobs for the last 9 years while working on ICE, which is…really hard work. We both juggle a lot. I never have any doubt that Shannon is taking care of what needs to be taken care of, and if she says she will do something, she does it. Lucky for me, she handles a lot of things that I have no desire to take care of, which makes this dream job I’ve created for myself dreamy. We both magically gravitate towards different tasks. Yay!

Fun – If you are picking a business partner make sure they are pleasant and fun to be around. You are going to spend A LOT of time with this person. I get sick of everyone when I spend insane amounts of time with them but it’s very, very rare with Shannon. When it does happen it usually means I’m exhausted and would hate any human I had to deal with at that particular moment. It isn’t specifically about her. We always make each other laugh and find ways to make even grueling tasks more fun. There are few people I would sing classic rock hits to for an extended period of time while driving through the mountains of Tennessee on the final stretch of the drive home from Chicago after a long craft market weekend in hopes of not only keeping them awake while they drive but also hoping to offer some silliness to lighten the gravity of the sleepy situation! And there are few people who would want me to do this. Shannon is one of them.

Enthusiastic – I’ve always felt that enthusiasm is infectious. If you aren’t enthusiastic about your business or project or whatever then no one else is going to be either. Shannon and I are both enthusiastic (and passionate for that matter) about what we’re doing. This is particularly important when you have to work really hard to make something happen. Enthusiasm can wane. Luckily, we are able to share the burden of keeping enthusiasm up by taking turns during tough projects. There have been times when tears were shed (like when we set up our first pop-up shop and had too little time + didn’t know what we were doing) and sometimes you need to take turns remembering why you got into a project in the first place. Shannon is always able to get me back on track with loving what we’re doing.

Thank you for being my business partner, Shannon.

-Christy

Homemade Granola

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Making Granola is easier than you might expect. Store bought granola tends to be high in sugar and other fillers. When you make granola at home you decide what goes into the mix.  You can customize the dry ingredients using whatever you have in your pantry.

I love the combination of lemon and ginger.  It translates beautifully to this recipe. If you love the spiciness of fresh ginger add more. Granola is an easy recipe to make at the beginning of the week so you have a  grab and go breakfast option for days. Let’s get started!

Lemon Ginger Granola

1 1/2 cups oats

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup  crystallized ginger, chopped small

3/4 Tbsp freshly grated ginger root

1/3 cup honey or agave

juice from 1 lemon

lemon zest from 1 lemon

1 Tbsp  vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 250F

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside

In a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients, except the crystallized ginger.  Add the honey and coconut oil stirring well with a wooden spoon or mix it with clean hands until all the dry ingredients are well coated.

Spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet and bake at 250F for 30 minutes or until the granola looks golden brown and toasted. Remove from the oven and add the remaining ingredients and mix well. When cooled transfer to a jar or container.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

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2014 has brought 5 snow days for Atlanta, so far. This is EPIC weather for us. David and I were snowed in for 2 days this week, eating way too much, getting into snowball fights and watching the Olympics. We had a blast.

We both headed back to work on Friday, but opted to celebrate Valentine’s at home. I made these mini tarts, varying the filling with the addition of espresso, almond butter and mint. I made this plush, heart shaped kitty using some scraps from my stash. Handmade gifts are the best. I made a lasagna for dinner, served with dark and stormys, our current cocktail crush.

How did you celebrate?

xo

Shannon

Homemade Black Bean Burgers

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I have attempted many veggie burgers over the years, some from recipes and others made up on the spot, never with amazing results. Recently I  found myself with a cup and a half of leftover black beans. With dinner fast approaching I decided to try another burger.

This time the stars aligned and my patty turned out perfect. I think a big part of my success had to do with cooking it low and slow. This prevented the stereotypical mushy burger. This recipe also holds together amazingly well with the addition of flax and chia. Give this version a try next time you have some beans on hand. I am pretty sure it will work with any variety.

Serve it on your favorite bun or skip the bread all together and throw it on a bed of greens.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups black beans or one 15 oz can, drained and rinsed

1 tsp chile powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1 carrot shredded

1/2 fresh jalapeno

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 small onion, grated

2 Tb chia and 2 Tb flax soaked in 4Tb water

cornmeal for dusting

Directions:

1. Combine the chia and flax with water in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Grate the carrot and onion and set aside.

3. Add the garlic, jalapeno, cilantro and half of the beans to the food processor and process until smooth.

4. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. Do not puree everything, texture is your friend.

5. Transfer your mixture to a bowl, if it seems too sticky add a sprinkle of cornmeal to bring it together.

6. Preheat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and add a generous Tb of coconut oil.

7. Divide the mixture into equal parts and press into patties about 1/2 inch thick.

8. Cook patties over low heat for about  5 minutes on each side, gently pressing down with a spatula, adding more coconut oil as needed.

Enjoy! Stay warm! And Happy Valentine’s Day!

-Shannon

Make a Gratitude Jar

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Even on the hardest, crappiest days I can find so much in my life to be grateful for. I have kept a gratitude list for many years now, usually in a small calendar that I keep beside my bed. It’s a great way to end the day on a positive note especially since we have a tendency to recall the less than perfect aspects of our lives.

Making notes is a lovely way to make your gratitude practice more tangible. Dedicate a large jar or vessel and record your gratitudes on small pieces of paper. Watch your jar fill as the year progresses!
-Shannon

Get your juice on in 2014!

Make Fresh Juice

Juices and Smoothies are an excellent way to consume a load of nutrients all at once. There are no hard and fast rules. Experimentation is key. I think it’s best to start simple and juice 2-3 items at a time. Try carrot, apple ginger or pineapple, cucumber, kale.

I use a Breville Juicer, but you don’t need a juicer to make amazing juice. Try this blender method.

Don’t throw away the leftover pulp!

Add it to soup to create a base
Saute it with rice or quinoa
Mix it into veggie burger or fritter recipes
Use it in baked goods
Dehydrate it into homemade fruit leathers
Add it to compost

Want to explore the world of green smoothies? Check out this awesome e-book created by our friend Becky Striepe of Glue and Glitter.

Happy Juicing!
xoxo
Shannon

Making your calendar work for you

ImageMy favorite way to start the new year is with a fresh calendar. A clean slate to fill with new adventures and experiences. A good calendar also keeps me in line and focused. I know what’s coming down the line in future months. In the past, I have tried to cram my entire life into a single calendar. I thought it would be easier to have everything in one place. The results were a cluttered mess. Now I use 3 calendars, one for work and creative pursuits, one for home, and one for daily appointments. Today I want to share my my home calendar.

I like to choose a fairly simple utilitarian calendar and then customize it. You could also make your own. My favorite tools are washi tape, post it notes, sharpies and pencils. I start by transferring information from last year’s calendar, special dates and birthdays. Then I fill in appointments and dates that are already scheduled. I like to use washi tape and a sharpie. Not only does this fancy up my basic calendar, I can remove the tape if plans change. Lets face it, at some point they always do.

My number one tip is to write your future self notes. Little reminders to keep your life headed in the right direction. I like to use post it notes for this. They are easy to move around if needed. I write myself notes to think about future vacations, send snail mail to people I love, and check in with my goals. I also schedule mundane tasks like changing the air filter. This year I am reminding myself to think about the holidays in August. Last year I scrambled to get everything accomplished. I hope to stay ahead of the curve in 2014!

Here is to an amazing year!
-Shannon