Sunday, November 25, 2012

1000 Gifts - Part Six

This is part six of my own journey to list my 1000 gifts; blessings to be thankful for every day. 

It really does make a difference in my outlook when I realize how much splendor surrounds me on a daily basis.  There are so many things to be thankful for…all the little things that make me smile.

My mission is based on a book by Ann Voskamp titled One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. I plan to complete this journey by June 3o, 2013. Should you also feel inspired to remind yourself of all the things you have been blessed with (things that make you smile every day), please join me.

And so my 1000 Gifts journey continues... 
One Thousand gifts I have been blessed with Part Six:
121.   A day spent with girlfriends at the Marist Craft Festival
122.   Helping Ella secretly shop for her Mom's Christmas Gift
123.   Warm corn chowder on a chilly day
124.   New creative inspiration and motivation after the craft show
125.   Attending the Bone Garden Cantina Day of the Dead celebration
126.   Receiving a sugar skull made by Cory
127.   Playing with Stout, the beautiful German Shepard puppy. All teeth and paws!
128.   Being invited to a dinner party at Debbie's house.
129.   Fellowship with my best friends
130.   Warm apple cobbler with ice cream
131.   Rescuing a toddlers table and chairs made in the 50's from the trash heap. 
132.   Fuzzy slippers on a cold Monday morning  
133.   The freedom to vote for leadership of this country
134.   The staff at Bone Garden Cantina who always make us feel welcome
135.   Being able to give the gift of reading/books to our oldest Granddaughters
136.   Having a shopping budget that we can manage for the holidays
137.   Finding the perfect gift at 50% off...woohoo
138.   Giving the tools needed to succeed at school
139.   Seeing Bulldog puppy Winston out for his morning walk in a new plaid coat 
140.   Knowing that after the messy construction our front porch will be level and safe
141.   Earplugs to block the jack hammer noise
142.   Plans for our winter road trip to Indiana
143.   Working on handmade gifts for Christmas
144.   Time to prepare blog posts for the busy weeks ahead
145.   His and Hers Closets
146.   Realizing that I'm not sniffling today, knowing the head cold is gone.
147.   A quiet week at work due to the upcoming holiday
148.   Five days off work in a row!!!
149.   Thanksgiving day spent in jammies beacuse the kids are going to "her" house
150.   Seeing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. I love the giant ballons
151.   Knowing that my handwritten letters will be delivered to military personnel today 
152.   Helping cook Brunch for a crowd
153.   The smell of bacon in the smoker
154.   Hugs from the grandkids
155.   Puzzles to occupy the little ones so they stay out from under foot in the kitchen
156.   Fuzzy throw blanket and cozy couch in the keeping room
157.   New coat to keep the chill out
158.   The first snowflakes
159.   Four wheel drive
160.   Kitty litter in the trunk...just in case.
Too be continued….
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Handmade for the Holidays

This holiday season I’m trying to give handmade items as much as possible.  I believe that a handmade gift expresses so much more than something pulled off the end-cap display of a mega store. Hopefully the gift recipient will realize that I care enough about them to seek out something as individual as they are.

Even if you aren’t the crafty type, you can still gift fabulous handmade products this holiday season.  I love looking through the handmade shops on Etsy.  It is absolutely unbelievable the amount of beautifully crafted one-of-a-kind gifts that are available. I can find almost anything on Etsy and the items are delivered right to the front door. No black Friday shopping for me!

Many of my gifts this year will be handmade jewelry that I created, but I’ll need a few other items too. I put together a list of great Etsy shops for you to check out- just a teeny tiny sample of what is offered.

Also, when you shop handmade, you are supporting the future, family, confidence, mind, body and soul of that artist. It creates an amazing relationship between 2 people: the buyer and seller. You are not just a customer; you become a supporter, a fan, a collector of their art.

Etsy, the place for all things handmade...Cheers!

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Challenge of Color Blog Hop

WooHoo! I’m one of the 80 participants in the 3rd Annual Challenge of Color.

If you’d like, you can read about this challenge in detail HERE.

Erin of Treasures-Found randomly assigned me two uniquely different color palettes based on satellite images of the planet earth. The challenge is to use one of the pallets to design and create a piece of handmade bead jewelry. Here are the two images I was sent:

 From the two options I selected the Lakes District for my jewelry design.  I love the vibrant colors and immediately thought of beads in my stash that fit beautifully into this color mix.  Since there will likely be more than one person using the same palette, it will be interesting to see how the same image and palette produce different results.

Now I need to get busy selecting beads, clasp, findings, and the technique I want to use for this challenge! I think I’ll make a necklace with matching earrings. Stop by my blog on Friday November 30 to see my finished design.

If you're interested in seeing some of the other stunning pictures that inspired the color pallets for this challenge, check out the Earth As Art image gallery.


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Monday, November 12, 2012

Turkey and Cranberry Monte Cristo

I ran across this great recipe for Thanksgiving leftovers and thought I should share; it sounds yummy!

Leftover Turkey and Cranberry Monte Cristo
  • 8 slices bread (potato bread, challah, or any other soft bread)
  • 1 cup fontina cheese, grated
  • 8 slices cooked turkey breast
  • 1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup baby arugula leaves
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Lay the 4 slices of the bread out on a cutting board.
  2. On each slice, place 2 tablespoons of the fontina, followed by 2 slices of the turkey, and 2 tablespoons of the cranberry sauce.
  3. Equally divide the arugula leaves and place on next layer.
  4. Top with the remaining fontina and remaining bread slices.
  5. Press down firmly on sandwiches to seal in the filling.
  6. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and nutmeg.
  7. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter.
  8. Dip each sandwich into the egg mixture coating both sides.
  9. When butter is melted in skillet, add the sandwiches and cook until golden brown.
  10. Flip sandwich and repeat with other side, adding more butter if necessary.
  11. Remove from pan, drain on paper towels, and let sit for a few minutes.
  12. Cut in halves and serve.
  13.  Recipe found on AreaderZ; many other yummy recipes available... 
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Giving a Hostess Gift...

The holiday season is quickly approaching and with it comes a lot of seasonal social obligations: cookie exchanges, open houses, dinner parties, and cabin weekends away. We still live by this simple rule: never arrive at someone’s home without something more to contribute than our company. No matter what the occasion, a considerate guest never arrives empty-handed.

When we do remember to bring a nice little something, it’s invariably a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine from the corner liquor store. Really!?! Can’t we do better than that? I’m on a mission to plan ahead and purchase meaningful gifts for this social season. 

Here are some of my ideas… click on the picture if you’d like to go to the seller’s website.

 Party wear is a great choice for hosts that frequently entertain in their home. This unique cheese board is also a 'lazy susan', making it easy for guests to help themselves to appetizers or a selection of artisan cheese.

For the cookie exchange, handmade pot holders are a functional and fun hostess gift.

This gift is perfect for a formal dinner party, a high quality stainless steel cake serving set with hand worked bead and pearl embellishments.

If your host for the event is a gentleman, an organic vegan shaving soap gift set might be a good choice. The ceramic cup is a nice touch.

If the event is an afternoon open house, cookies in a pretty tin box would be a nice gift for your hosts. Not your ordinary chocolate chip cookie, but something like the Brooklyn Market Cookie. It’s fully loaded with chewy dried cherries, crunchy macadamia nuts, rich chocolate and white chocolate chips, oats and cocoa nibs. Yummy!

A great hostess gift for almost any holiday occasion is a set of handmade screen printed tea towels or a set of handmade coasters.

Remember The Rules of Appropriate Gifting:
A hostess gift doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be thoughtful. Consider the types of activities your hosts enjoy, and gift accordingly. As a general rule, your budget should be around $15 to $30, depending upon the formality of the occasion.


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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wet Feet...

Standing in line to vote was miserable this morning!
Hope your weather was better.


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Saturday, November 3, 2012

1000 Gifts - Part Five

This is part five of my own journey to list my 1000 gifts; blessings to be thankful for every day. 

It really does make a difference in my outlook when I realize how much splendor surrounds me on a daily basis.  There are so many things to be thankful for…all the little things that make me smile.

My mission is based on a book by Ann Voskamp titled One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. I plan to complete this journey by June 3o, 2013. Should you also feel inspired to remind yourself of all the things you have been blessed with (things that make you smile every day), please join me.

And so my 1000 Gifts journey continues... 
One Thousand gifts I have been blessed with Part Five:
80.   Dinner at Bone Garden - love the cheese dip!
81.   Being able to stay in jammies all day on Saturday until our date night
82.   Hot rollers that actually stay in my hair instead of sliding out before set
83.   A special night out for our anniversary at Bacchanalia
84.   Roasted beets with goats cheese and pumpkin seeds
85.   The most amazing selection of artisan cheese for a cheese coarse at dinner
86.   Warm gooey chocolate cake with mint ice cream
87.   The car right outside the door when it's raining
88.   A clean kitchen sink
89.   An invitation to a fun pig roast at our favorite place
80.   Knowing the Bourbon we tasted has been made by the same family since the '20s. 
91.   Having the opportunity to meet the chefs, farmer, and the brewer of our meal
92.   Meeting new friends in an unexpected place
93.   Getting a little kitty love from the social  butterfly neighborhood cat
94.   Fun decorating for Halloween 
95.   Being able to buy the "Good" candy for trick-or-treaters
96.   Seeing colorful pansies in the porch containers, a sure sign of fall in Georgia
97.   Getting an unscheduled break this morning because of the fire drill
98.   Finding dollar bills in the fall jacket that I haven't worn for a year
99.   Watching the kid's Halloween parade at work, so cute!
100.  Seeing the rolling cribs filled with babies in animal costumes on parade; it was like the Ringling Brothers main street parade only much sweeter, baby elephants, baby lions, baby monkeys, and babies in every other animal costume you can think of......
101.  Having our own daycare right here at work; wonderfully convenient for families.
102.  Mini BabyRuth bars
103.  A visit at my desk from the cutest little girl in a lady bug costume
104.  No more conference calls this week!
105.  Project timeline on track for my construction project
106.  The end of the day and it's Friday.
107.   An emergency flashlight that goes on when the power goes off
108.  No trees down in our neighborhood after the storm passed
109.  Quick power restoration after the storm
110.  No family or friends in danger (so far), most of my family lives in the Lake Michigan area which is still under storm watch and flood warning due to Hurricane Sandy.
111.  My cozy throw blanket to keep the drafts away
112.  Seeing the little red fox and knowing that she survived the flooding near her den
113.  Finding that lost sock from our last camping trip, it's my favorite pair, so warm
114.  Tuna Tacos at our favorite Cantina
115.  Carving a great pumpkin
116.  Handing out candy in our neighborhood; it is known for it's Halloween decor/celebration; car loads of kids arrive from all over the city.
117.  Gazing at the full moon and wondering how many others are gazing at it too
118.  Reminiscing about the childhood costumes that I sewed by hand; I was unusually tall for my age so I had to make my costumes so they would be long enough.
119.  Sick-day spent relaxing on the couch.
120.  Puffs with lotion...aahhh....
Too be continued….
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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Christmas Catalogs on Halloween?

Yesterday our mailbox was stuffed full of Holiday catalogs…really... on Halloween! I’m curious; do you start your Christmas shopping/decorating on Halloween?  This morning the coffee shop was promoting their newest coffee flavor “Christmas Cookie”.   What happened to the “Autumn Brew”?  While some shoppers may welcome early holidays, I’m not one of them. I believe the fun-size candy bars in the little plastic pumpkin should be gone before candy canes hit the shelves.

It's a phenomenon called Christmas creep or in the project management world scope creep. It’s when holiday sales, shopping and decorations show up earlier and earlier each year. This year, it's more evident than ever. Starting well before Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), which is the traditional start of the holiday shopping spree.

Thankfully there are still holdouts. Nordstrom is adhering to its long-standing policy of no holiday decorations until Black Friday, I just love that policy!

Here are my two firm rules:

First, and this goes for all holidays, no celebrating until the previous holiday has passed. This means you should wait until at least Nov. 23 to put up the tree, but feel free to give yourself a couple more days to digest all that cranberry sauce.

Second, Christmas evokes thoughts of snow, ice skating and ugly sweaters. If it’s too warm for all those; then it’s too warm for Christmas.

The first rule is the most important, but if a warm December is a possibility (like here in Atlanta), at least wait for all the leaves to fall.

I hope you don’t think I’m a Scrooge. I really do love Christmas! I don’t want to take away Christmas; I just want to make the preparation a bit shorter. Besides, you don’t need more than a day to shop anymore, go to Amazon, they’ll even wrap it for you (wink). Happy Holidays!

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Need Cookies Stat....

Do you ever get a craving that you just can’t let go of?  I had a craving for those mini gingerbread cookies that are served on airlines (i.e. Delta).  I’d had this craving for weeks. Since I wasn't going to be flying the friendly skies anytime soon, I turned on the computer and started the search.   

It turns out they are made in Belgium and distributed in the US by a company in San Francisco. There is even a retail store on Pier 39 that sells the little two packs of gingerbread goodness. Little did I know, Biscoff cookies come in all shapes and sizes and there is even a gingerbread spread that got rave reviews on their website.

I’m a long way away from San Francisco so this discovery was fabulous, but it didn’t help me with my craving.  Looking at pictures of the packaging actually made the situation worse.  My mouth started to water like pavlov’s dog.  I had to find a Biscoff cookie stat!

UPDATE: Well guess what my sweetie found; Biscoff cookies at the local Publix grocery store.  Hallelujah!  Life has returned to an even keel and I’m ready to face the trick-or-treaters!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Pig Deal - Hogs, Bourboun and Music...

First Annual Roast a Fatty - Local Three Atlanta
Last Sunday we were invited to a good old fashioned pig roast at our favorite place ITP (inside the perimeter) - Local Three.  We spent the afternoon out on the patio at the first annual “Roast a Fatty” pig pickin’ party. Chefs Hall and Muss spent the morning slow roasting a home-grown hog from Gum Creek Farms south of Atlanta.  They used a roaster that I’ve never seen before, the La Caja China Roasting Box.  The aromas coming out of that box were delectable and the unveiling of the finished fatty was quite a spectacle.  Camera flashes, oohs and awes, and a crowd of hungry guests awaiting the first taste of the pork goodness.

First Annual Roast a Fatty - Local Three Atlanta

The Local Three staff whipped up some of the delicious sides they are known for and special guest Charles Nelson of Nelson's Greenbriar Distillery brought down a load of his smooth Bellemeade Bourbon; they use an old family recipe that was developed during prohibition in the '20s. It was so....good!  If you like Bourbon, you must try this one! Kevin (our favorite barkeep) kept the crowd happy with his crowd pleasing bourbon concoctions.

First Annual Roast a Fatty - Local Three Atlanta

We met some great folks, David and Claire who were seated at our table. David took the pictures in this post because I forgot my camera…again. Hope to see them again at another Local Three event.

And to top it all off, we got commemorative “Roast a Fatty” T-shirts ….love the back of the shirt…see the design below.  We’ll see y’all out on the patio again real soon…Cheers!

I Like Pig Butts

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

No Hot Dogs or Baked Beans!

Franks and Beans on the grill.
Franks and Beans over the fire...not!

It’s finally starting to feel like fall here in the south. Temperatures have dropped below 80 degrees and the leaves are starting to get some color. Fall weather means it’s time to plan our “Glamping” trip and suddenly all I can think about is dinner.  The highlight of any camping trip for me is the food.

Giant Family Tent? Check.  Lantern? Check.  Wool Socks? Check.  Air Mattress? Check.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil? Check.  Huh?

Yes, my husband and I are cheerfully called “foodie snobs” by our camping buddies because I refuse to eat hot dogs on a stick with a side of canned baked beans. There are always groans and protests when I ask for help carrying the heavy iron skillet and Dutch oven.  It’s not that our friends don’t love a good meal while enjoying the great outdoors; they just seem to lose all memory of how to cook when faced with a couple of iron pots, a campfire, and some aluminum foil.  I’ve never understood why cooking should be any different when you’re camping.

Live to Eat - Glamping Dinner
Example of Our Glamping Dinner

I’m a firm believer of the “Live to Eat” philosophy of life, and I don’t lose sight of it just because we’re camping.  There is something special about a meal prepared under the stars far away from the buzz of city life.  Everything seems to taste better outdoors and there is a natural ambiance; stars twinkle overhead, the flickering fire casts a romantic glow, and the cool fall breeze makes subtle background music as it passes through the trees. 

Glamping tablescape

Over the years we’ve learned that campfire cooking doesn’t need to be elaborate to achieve stunning results.  My favorite chef’s mantra applies to cooking over a campfire too:  good food, simply prepared, tastes good. So, while our camping buddies are debating where to go camping this fall, we’re already busy planning the menu.  And when dinner rolls around at our campsite, the groans about having to carry the ironware will be forgotten and they will no doubt appreciate having a “foodie snob” on the adventure.

Happy Glamping my Friends!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Help pick the ornament design...

Sitting on the front porch with my Sweetie, enjoying a glass of wine after work, is one of my favorite ways to relax.  Looking at the large pile of wine corks that we’ve collected over the years, you would think we must be very relaxed by now…  Not with that pile of corks just begging to be turned into something cool!

Wine Bottle Corks

Inspiration for repurposing the corks came by looking at cork projects on pinterest and Etsy. There were many cute ideas, but I was most captivated by the Christmas ornaments. Donna Patton (not a relative for those who know my maiden name) has a great way to display the ornaments on her Etsy site: an ornament tree.  

Here is how I need your help: If you were picking out a tree decoration for yourself or for a gift, which design would you choose from the following designs…

Wine Bottle Corks
Garland - $25.00

Wine Bottle Corks
Simple Button Ornament - $8.00

Wine Bottle Corks
Holiday Ribbon Ornament - $10.00

Wine Bottle Corks
Fancy Ornament - $14.00

Thanks in advance for your help and input. Cheers!

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

1000 Gifts - Part Four

This is part four of my own journey to list my 1000 gifts; blessings to be thankful for every day.

It really does make a difference in my outlook when I realize how much splendor surrounds me on a daily basis.  There are so many things to be thankful for…all the little things that make me smile.

My mission is based on a book by Ann Voskamp titled One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. I plan to complete this journey by June 3o, 2013. Should you also feel inspired to remind yourself of all the things you have been blessed with (things that make you smile every day), please join me.

And so my 1000 Gifts journey continues...
One Thousand gifts I have been blessed with Part Four:
60.  Snuggling with my sweetie before the alarm clock sounds
61.  Biscoff cookies to take to work
62.  Finally a reduction in the swelling from my broken ankle
63.  A new keyboard that doesn't have the letters rubbed off
64.  Seeing the first Pumpkins at the grocery store
65.  Second in line upon arrival at the post office (very rare indeed)
66.  An email from a friend who moved to Mexico
67.  The mailbox full of Fall catalogs
68.  Seeing a little boys excitement when the volcano erupted at the Hibachi Grill
69.  Driving the scenic route home, not having to take the highway
70.  The smell of freshly baked bagels
71.  Being able to walk down the stairs normally; not step-hop, step-hop
72.  Knowing that it's date night, something to look forward to during my day
73.  Five o'clock on Friday...WooHoo!
74.  Zero aaggravation or stress at the dealership ( I love CarMax) 
75.  Knowing that my Husband will be safer on the highway in his new car
76.  Discovering a little independent BBQ restaurant with amazing pulled pork.
77.  Having Chef Hall (Local Three) make me a special short ribs plate "just because"
78.  The ease of finding the perfect outfit for work the day after laundry day
79.  Easing into Monday at the office before everyone else arrives
Too be continued….

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Friday, October 5, 2012

"Southerners" and "Floridians"...what's the Differnce?

I moved from Florida to Atlanta, Georgia in 1995.  Prior to the move I was not considered “southern” even though I lived in the southernmost state in the Continental United States. It has always puzzled me why Floridians are not considered “Southerners”.   For gosh sakes, the state was part of the Confederacy during the civil war, you can’t get much more southern than that.  And until recently (Jeb Bush reign), the Confederate flag flew right next to the American flag at the state capital building in Tallahassee. Florida seems to be thought of as “way down south of Dixie” instead of “way down south in Dixie”.

Thinking about what is different about living in central Georgia (Southerners) vs. central Florida (Floridians), I came up with a few differences but not enough difference to discount the whole state of Florida’s southern connection. Here are some of my observations….

Georgia Fall vs. Florida Fall

When I moved and became a Southerner I was amazed by the change of seasons.  Fall has become my favorite season! Florida just doesn’t have seasons, it’s hot and muggy, then rainy and muggy, and hot and muggy again. My friends in Florida don’t know what they’re missing.

Yes Ma'am, Yes Sir, No Ma'am, No Sir - and the use of them are not optional to Southerners. To Floridians it comes with respect for age.

Georgia Driver vs. Florida Driver

Southerners don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway; they just say, "Bless her heart" and go their own way. Floridians are not as forgiving and use the horn, screaming, and hand gestures more often. I’m not defending this approach, but there are a good deal more little old ladies on the road in Florida to contend with.

Southern "Dinner" vs. Floridia Cocktail Hour

Southerners understand “dinner" and "supper" are both meal times and know the appropriate time to use them. Floridians understand “early bird” and “cocktail hour” are also meal times and know the appropriate time to use them.

Georgia Front Porch vs. Florida Backyard

Southerners slow down and sit in rockers on the front porch, they wave as neighbors and strangers pass by. Floridians sit by the pool in the back yard away from all the traffic and gossiping neighbors.

Georgia Funeral Procession vs. Florida view of Funeral

Southerners will respectfully pull over for a funeral procession, but not discuss the death for fear of wandering souls. Floridians know that death is part of life and plan for it with very detailed directions. One of my friends in Florida makes a full-time living coordinating the funeral before it is needed.

Being Southern means many different things to many different folks. What does "Being Southern" mean to you?


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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rust, dust and an aging crust!

I've mentioned before that I'm a big supporter of buying local and an even bigger enthusiast of buying handmade merchandise.  I also make an effort to upcycle odds and ends around the house giving them a second life as it were.  

I was recently introduced to an Atlanta artist named Rodger Thomas of Benclif Designs. Rodger’s creations are right up my alley (literally, in Atlanta) and his use of up-cycled materials is refreshing.  Relics that would otherwise collect dust are repurposed into useful household lighting, giving them a new life, function, and keeping the original designs nearly intact.

From Rodgers Website…

"Rust, dust and an aging crust! That's what I look for when I am out there hunting for my lighting inspiration."

 “My art creations are all about upcycling. I take vintage and antique relics from the past and give them a new purpose.  Chrome percolators, plastic rotary telephones, metal sprayers, lunchboxes, Thermos bottles, vintage tin cans, jars, adding machines, projectors and a myriad of others, all make for some pretty interesting and exciting lighting creations.  Those are things I search for when junking.”

 “Obviously, my percolator lamps are my favorite! But I am always on the hunt for that vintage relic in a basement or closet…that certain thing in which or on which a light bulb will shine new life.  Sometimes, I don’t have a vision for it initially but just a sense it can become a light or lamp. I’m the upcycling guy (or at least one of the upcyclers)!  My passion is lights and lighting, but repurposing and upcycling speak to my sense of efficiency and practicality.”

I love this local artist’s work, you can view his recent designs in his Etsy shop at:

Lori in Atlanta
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