News from the week || Friday

bookprocess1 bookprocess2 bookprocess3 bookprocess4 bookprocess5It has been a busy, busy week. Lots of planning, sketching, painting, photographing, meetings, consultations, and inventory purchasing………but I was just telling my husband, that I have come to realize I enjoy big projects. When I say “big projects” I am mainly referring to the book….since it is huge, and all encompassing at the moment…..but I get so inspired and feel so creative when producing content for the books. So much time and thought goes into projects, and I am pushed creatively to produce things that are fresh and new…..and that, to me….is just plain old fashioned fun. There are times where I am scared, and tired, and frustrated as well……but usually a good cup of chai, a hot bath, and a good nights sleep have me ready to hit it hard again the next day.

I am truly excited to complete this book. There is so much goodness to share…with lots of color palettes….shooting on location in homes…..styling…..and water color sketches. I look forward to the reward at the end of the work……it’s going to be so great!

I am pleased to introduce you to my team for book two:

Paige French is the photographer for the entire book two project, and is responsible for all of the behind the scenes shots featured in this post. Check out her website……it’s absolutely gorgeous!

Jessica Barley of A Darling Day is assisting me with styling , props, and site planning for the on location styled shoots……and Julie Dodds of Willow Florals is in charge of all floral styling for the entire project.

So….can you see why I am excited? These girls are great at what they do and I am thrilled to be working with such a talented team.

Have a great weekend…and enjoy Spring Break!

xo,

Barb

Shop Happenings

candleteakwood candlefigjasmine candlecampfirespecial candleambermoss

We are busy bees around the shop these days! All of our new Spring merch is rolling in, and it is so fantastic! I love being a shop owner, and picking special things that I think are perfect for both my home and yours.

These new soy candles came in yesterday, and are already on the shelves and in the online shop. With scents like teakwood and tobacco, campfire special {you know that campfire smell that soaks in your clothes after a good bonfire? yeah….that smell}, fig and jasmine, and amber and moss….there is sure to be a scent for everyone! We are hooked!

The clean and timeless apothecary packaging makes these candles easily suited to any environment they are placed in.

Light em up!

xo,

Barb

Fantastic Friday

FridayFlowersgorgeous floral arrangement by Julie Dodds of Willow Florals

Today was a fantastic day…all around. I got my hands so dirty that my fingernails are solid black underneath, I finished my first furniture piece of the new year { I know…. I barely squeaked out one piece this month, but there are good reasons….promise!}, two more pieces are getting freshened up as we speak, and I feel so creatively inspired and challenged right now.

The best part of my day though, came when I got a call from my husband saying that he had just been offered a wonderful position with a new company. You see, my husband lost his job 2 weeks before Christmas {yikes!}. It was shocking at first, especially since he had been at the same company for the past 17 years. He started this job, when my now 17 year old son, was just a mere 4 months old. December 19th would have been his 17 year anniversary and he was let go on December 5th. It was a great job, it was a flexible job, and it met our needs. The company went through a buyout and many changes over the last 5 years…and we knew it was a matter of time……but two weeks before Christmas? It was a hard day….let me tell you…..

When that phone call came….there was a moment of instant panic, and my heart dropped to my feet… there were tears, not for me, but for my sweet man…as he dealt with his own fear…..and then complete and utter peace. These words: “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul” flooded my own heart and soul in that moment. The strength that came from this peace, fortified my being with the knowledge that the One who created us knows exactly what is best for us, and He loves us……and everything He does is good.

One of the coolest things about being married to this man that I love so dearly is that in times like these….knowing how to love each other and loving each other well  make all the difference in the world. The desire to love someone even more…the desire to pour yourself out completely. Sometimes one of us is strong, sometimes we both are strong….but at all times, we have each other….and that is all that matters. We could smile through every day, plan, dream, be excited about new beginnings, talk about our fears, and look back with great appreciation.

We are celebrating this weekend. Celebrating a new start, Celebrating goodness……celebrating family. We will be heading to the mountains tomorrow with our kids and a few of their friends….it will be good to get outside….to smell the freshness of the earth….and to stretch our limbs and imaginations.

See you on Monday….with some {more} exciting news, and a new furniture friend!

xo,

Barb Blair

Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry Cranberry Sauce

pork2+copyI have been trying lots of new recipes lately and it has been fun to challenge myself in this new venture. Cooking and I have never been great friends….I tend to cook things to death, get stuck in ruts, and lack any kind of flavor in my dishes. Those times are a changing though…..and I can honestly say there is something so satisfying in working a long hard day at the shop and then coming home and creating a meal for the family that is delicious, tasty and intentional.

The other great thing about these recipes that I have been trying…..is that they all can be made pretty quickly. So, the food stays moist, is flavorful, and doesn’t take hours of slaving away in the kitchen to prepare. I love that it looks like it would take forever, and sounds fancy….but it actually is quite easy to prepare. Win!

I am so thankful for Pinterest, and for all of the amazing chefs out there who not only experiment and prepare food well {understatement!} but also photograph their food well. Just like with most things for me…I am very visual…and good food styling and photography make all the difference in the world. I choose recipes sometimes based on the photo alone……no joke.

I made this pork recipe last night for dinner, and it comes from the Delicious Shots blog {which I am now a follower of} and the photograph is from there as well. {I am not a food stylist or photographer of food…so I defer to the experts here.} I followed the recipe to a tee…and I used fresh raspberries and cranberries. It was really, really tasty and a hit with the entire family.

My score is four for five….we are on a roll.

xo,

Barb

The good, the bad, and the …..UGLY

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My goal this week is to get the back work space in the best shape it’s been in since I moved in. I like to think that I am pretty organized….but these photos will tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I am organized compared to some…..but right now….my “organization” looks more like a whole slew of rock stars threw a party and trashed the space. Granted, I took these photos at the height of emptying out drawers and bins….so it kind of elevates the “piles” mess….but regardless….It.is. a. mess.

I have some exciting projects on the horizon that I will share with you over the next several weeks, and two new interns starting next week…{yay!}…so it is crucial that I get everything organized. It is time to focus and produce quality creativity. I have been so busy with year end stuff, and the business side of Knack that I have not painted in weeks. I think if I don’t paint soon…..I will shrivel and die.

I have had plenty of time to dream and paint in my mind though….and I am really excited about all of the new ideas I have up my sleeve. New finishes that I want to get out of my brain, new colors, a little mixology action, a look book, a lifestyle brand development…….

It’s going to be good, so hang with me….and we’ll have us a good time.

xo,

Barb

Living Room Shenanigans

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My living room is the next room on my “demolition list”. It is going to get stripped down to the design studs and completely made new. There will be new paint, a new rug, new seating, new window treatments, new shelving on the walls, and a shifting of artwork and accessories. I love bringing in a bit of new and fresh, but also working with all of the great accessories that we already have. I am most excited about the “new” couch, which is something I will be able to share after a while. It is a collaboration between me, and one of my favorite artists…and I am stoked!

I have already started the process of elimination, so the old rug {that was falling apart and too small} has been removed, store bought artwork {from almost 20 years ago} has been removed,{thank goodness!} and yesterday…I bought these two new stool/ottoman/side tables from…..wait for it…….TARGET! The wooden legs will go nicely with the new shelving for the walls, and I love the gray wool stitched tops. Very multi-purpose, very utilitarian…and absolutely moveable from room to room on an as needed basis. I looked and looked for these on the Target website and could not find them…so you may have to go by your local store to find them….and if you are here in Greenville…I already bought two of the three! {but there are a few Target stores!} At 39.99 a piece….they are kind of a steal.

I am excited about these new little additions, and I do promise to share photos along the way of how the living room comes together……promise!

Thank you to my kitties, Bleeker Olive and Newsie Mae, for being amazing {and super cheap!} models for this shoot.

Have a wonderful weekend!

xo,

Barb Blair

I’m starting to cook…..for real

83f17620fb18788d47de0068232616e9image via Alida Ryder of Simply Delicious

I have always cooked…decent…..or maybe horrible….I don’t know. But seriously, I dream of being an amazing cook who can whip out a delicious dish using skittles, chicken, white wine, and bread crumbs. Have you all seen Chopped? One of my daughter and I’s favorite things to do is watch cooking shows, and Chopped absolutely freaks me out and amazes me all at the same time. If you can cook with the crazy ingredients in those baskets …you. are. amazing.

One thing I want to do more of, and get better at, is cook…and bake. So, for Christmas I got a new pot, a KitchenAid mixer, and a pie book {because I ate their pie in NYC, and I did want to slap my granny it was so good!}. I totally and completely love all of my new “tools”, and it makes me want to try new recipes….and then when everything tastes amazing…it makes me want to try even more! I have a feeling I am going to be buying more pots and “such” of this nature……It’s like having new paintbrushes and tools for furniture and design…I just can’t help myself. Another perfect example of when having the proper tools makes all the difference.

Anyhow….the whole point of this post is to tell you that I tried a new recipe last night for dinner. I made Nigel Slater’s, Cog au Riesling…{pictured above}…and let me just tell you…It was fantastic {and super easy to make!}! Everyone in my family devoured it, and that just doesn’t happen around here. I originally found the picture on pinterest, and it led me here where I found the recipe. The recipe is in grams and ml, so I just used “the google” to look up the  the conversions and was good to go. The only thing I did differently was left out the mushrooms…..I just can’t go there. I served rolls, rice, salad, and roasted asparagus as sides….and when I plated {see how I said that? fancy.} the chicken, I had fun pouring the sauce and creating some presentation goodness.

I’m telling ya…..it was wonderful….and this recipe will become a regular.

xo,

Barb Blair

 

 

Creative Homes

Creative1 Creative2 Creative3 Creative4 Creative5 Creative6 Creative72014 is here! Ready or not, it’s time to make it happen! I hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas, and that you were able to spend time relaxing, enjoying quiet moments, contemplating, planning, and just enJOYing the life that you have.

I took 10 days off from the shop and studio, and wow was it wonderful! I lolly gagged, rolled around in my pj’s, tried new recipes, organized, spent time with family and friends, partied like it was 1999 {oh wait}, bought and read new books, and wrote down dreams and goals for this new year. It was awesome…..totally awesome. {insert clapping cheerleaders here}

One of the new books that I purchased {and read} was Creative Family Home. I absolutely love this book because the spaces are original, playful, and most importantly…….lived in! I really appreciate the fact that while definitely modern in appearance, each home is unique and special because of the people who live there. The artwork on the walls, the collections in the corners, the mismatched chairs, the glorious book shelves with treasures galore, the random garland, the rocky horse in the dining room……I mean how refreshing is that?

For someone like me…this book is preaching to the choir. Amen? Living with who and what you love, and letting your home tell your story speaks volumes to me. This is what I strive for in my own home. It is not all about having the latest trend in home decor….and it is absolutely not about having the same thing everyone else has……but rather picking, collecting, and displaying things that you love and are meaningful to your family. Boom.

I love when people are eating in my dining room and I get to tell them about the antique table they are sitting at. It is over 100 years old, belonged to a retired minister, and we bought it at an antique store about 16 years ago. It was our first big furniture purchase, and I cried when I walked in and saw it… because it was exactly what I had been looking for. It was way out of our price range…..but we made it work…and it will NOT get painted! I can only hope that one of my children will want it in their home one day. I also love to tell people about the ” I Suwannee” print that was made by me, for my husband, out of a print that we inherited from his grandmom.{we would never have used it if it hadn’t been for Pinterest! Shawew!} Then, there is the artwork that we have collected over the years…each one with a story…each one purchased from artistic friends, interns at Knack, or picked up at the goodwill for the simple reason that I was drawn to the geometric water color in the wheat {only to find out they are famous prints worth thousands}! There is also the bowl that I made from a car break drum, the recycled window “hutch” that I designed, and the car mirror candle stand whose candles light the room with their soft glow {you would never know I had to make friends with a little pit bull named “red bones” at the junk yard to get those mirrors!}…….These are fun stories to tell…..

We had more people in our home over this past holiday season, than we have had in a while….and it was refreshing and fun! I loved opening the doors to our home big and wide! Sharing the stories of my home, and hearing over and over again that people felt comfortable and loved here… was an extra special blessing.

I hope to share more and more of our home here this year….it is a big part of who I am and why I do what I do. I want to continue to make it unique and special for those who live here, and spend time here. After all, this is what home should be about right?

xo,

Barb

A look back at 2013 – and a Merry Christmas to you!

2013 collage

How do you even begin to try to capture a year with just a few images? It is impossible to do, so I will quit trying.

These images hold just a few {a very few} of my treasured memories and people from this year, and include my family, my Knack family, and my furniture friends.

This year was so full…..so full of life. There were so many firsts, a few lasts, tears, fears, joys, cheers, growth, friendship, love, challenges…….

….like I said…...full…..

…and as we end this year of 2013 and look forward to the new year of 2014….I hope you can look back and see movement forward, change for the better, risks taken, love given, extreme generosity, cherished family, strength, and gratitude.

May we give ourselves away even more in this new year, and seek to continue life based on the truth of the gospel, and all that it calls us to be….. courageous, without fear, powerful in mind and spirit, generous, quick to forgive….showing love to all.

Merry Christmas

With much love,

Barb Blair

I Heart New York

New YorkCollageI just got back last night from a quick and very spontaneous trip to New York. My husband and I decided last Tuesday that we were going to head to the US Open, and were on our way by Friday morning!

I have to say that this trip will go down as one of our favorite trips ever. Spontaneity was the key word of the entire trip, and it just made it so much more special…..and because we wanted to be there so bad….we enjoyed and squeezed out every minute that we had.

This trip was about great tennis, new experiences, the generosity of friends, meeting new friends from far and near…..and really good food. This little collage of pictures is just a snippet of what we enjoyed….and if you want to see more….go to my Instagram page .

Here are a few of my favorite highlights:

* Good Fork- This little restaurant in Red Hook Brooklyn has the best pork and chive dumplings + the watermelon salad is delicious.

* Bakeri – This sweet and amazing little bakery is a feast for the soul and the belly. Go.

* Brooklyn Flea – Always a favorite for me, and the first time to this location. It was fantastic! Grab a hot dog from Asiadog and a donut from Dough…….word.

* I really enjoyed Red Hook, Brooklyn. Red Hook was hit hard by hurricane Sandy, and the shops and businesses there are still rebuilding and opening their doors….but these people are fighters and I loved meeting the people in this community….. people like Jane from Foxy + Winston. 

* US Open tennis. Even with a 4 hour rain delay one day {where I was soaked for the entire rest of the day!} …we saw some great tennis and had a ball.

* Friends Michael and Grace {think Pink Olive genius} who spent an entire day with us driving us around the city and showing us the best time……love them.

* Gracious friends who let us stay in their apartment while they were away. If you find yourself in Park Slope Brooklyn, and need a great haircut…. Slope Suds salon is the place to go! Ask for Karla…she will take care of you!

I am so glad that we have such memories to hold onto….truly great! Hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend!

xo,

Barb