inspired palette {london, 2005}

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Happy Friday everyone! I’m here to share this lovely palette with you, and a flashback image from my travels in Europe a few years back. I love the contrast of subtle neutrals and bright, bold pops of color that appear here. I remember wandering the streets of London and finding this flower market tucked away beyond the “touristy” areas. I think if I lived in a city with such a sweet little flower shop, I would treat myself to a bouquet a week… just something bright and fresh to cheer up any cloudy day.

I’m so looking forward to this weekend. I have plenty of chores to do, but I am also ready to spend some time with my husband and relax and prepare for company arriving next week. If you have some extra time today, head over to the The Sweetest Occasion. Cyd contacted me awhile back and is featuring my Autumn Flavors party on her blog today! Thanks Cyd!!

I hope you all have a great weekend… ssee you Monday!

curious thoughts {the wedding picture}

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Almost three and a half years ago, I married my best friend. We lived in a small apartment in a charming neighborhood in St. Paul. We spent many wonderful days there before we bought the cottage almost a year and a half ago. When we moved in, we set about settling in and making it our own. All the rooms were painted, and together we built a master plan in our heads for how it would/could/will be updated and remodeled and tweaked over time. When we sit in the small dining room, instead of a window, we see french doors leading out to a deck. In the living room, we envision a new fireplace. When we look at the attached garage, we see the space that could someday be a roomy studio for Emmy Lu.

I’m a dreamer, and I’m very goal oriented, so it’s quite normal for me to have a vision in my head of what I am working towards–be it at home, in my occupation or otherwise. I like to have a picture of where I am headed. This tendency has served me well as I have accomplished several of my lifelong goals by focusing on the finish line. However, a very real danger lies in always looking towards the future. When I begin to see tomorrow as my hope, and as the place when everything will be right, I know that inevitably I miss so much of what is happening NOW in my life. I offer this story as an example of this lesson being learned in my own life.

Our bedroom is a cozy room with a dormer and three windows. It’s bright and spacious, and I really love it. However, it’s really far from being “finished” in my mind. I would love to remove the carpeting and add a new light fixture, perhaps add some other pieces of furniture and get some new linens. For the past year a half, the room has been pretty bare bones. No pictures have been hung, and we haven’t done much to make it ours. Every time my husband has said, “We should hang up our wedding picture,” I have replied “No, I just want to wait until we can do it all and finish this room the right way”. In a nutshell, I wanted to wait until I could complete the whole room as I envisioned it. What was the point of hanging pictures if the room wasn’t going to be close to my vision of how it could, or SHOULD look. Why hang pictures when I wanted new art and a new room arrangement. And so, on the floor, our wedding picture has sat, leaned against the wall for a year and half, collecting dust.

Over the course of the past month, I have been slowly learning the lesson that I cannot live my days in the future, always ten steps ahead of the present. When one lives with the attitude that “life begins tomorrow”, or “I’ll be happy when _____”, they miss so many things in the here and now. A couple weeks ago, I realized in a moment of absolute clarity, that I only have today. Tomorrow is not a guarantee, and I don’t want to get ten years down the road and regret that I didn’t live TODAY. And so, on a date with my husband, I poured out my heart and shared that God was showing me, that I need to live today, so that I can live tomorrow without regrets. Life will never be perfect. We will never arrive. Instead we are given a series of moments, and in them, God is always there, teaching us lessons and forming and shaping us to who we are supposed to become. And so, with those lessons in mind, tonight, my husband and I grabbed a hammer and a nail, and hung up our wedding picture.

The book of Ecclesiastes talks about “a time for everything”. I know that there will be a time to remodel the house and see our visions become reality. But for now, it’s the time to enjoy what we have–a lovely home, each other, and this moment in time.

top 4 {instrumental artists}

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In keeping with the theme of yesterday’s post, today I’d like to talk a bit about one of the ways that I purpose to make room in my life for moments of peace and reflection in the midst of the chaotic holiday season. I am a firm believer that music is a medium that speaks to the soul. There is something powerful in word and song as they mix and rise and fall and touch us deeply within. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, I like to drown out the clutter and the stress by filling my home with the sounds of quiet, reflective, instrumental music. It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy traditional Christmas music, but after awhile the holly, jolly, jingle starts to jangle my nerves. So in the midst of baking or wrapping gifts or trimming the tree, I find that the soft notes of a saxophone or piano bring an atmosphere of calm and peace. Above are four of my favorite instrumental artists. I can’t speak for these albums specifically, but I can say that each of these artists has a place in my collection, and I greatly enjoy their music.

How about you, what music puts you in the mood for the holidays? Do you have any songs or artists that you like to listen to as part of your holiday traditions? What music do you use to set a calm and quiet mood in your home?

pieces of life {meanwhile…}

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It’s amazing how out of touch I felt during my blogging absence. I mentioned this yesterday, but will reiterate that this has really become a valued part of my life. Anyways, I wanted to just catch you all up on what I’ve been up to the past week. Beyond rebuilding the blog and working out details of our upcoming product launch for December, I managed to squeeze in a trip up north to visit my family. It was a quick trip, and if you were following me on Twitter, you might have noticed a few comments about a certain dental procedure that included the removal of one very stubborn wisdom tooth. Beyond that bit of unpleasantness, I was able to enjoy two mornings at my favorite coffee shop, sipping cider, eating a muffin and chatting with my parents and a few of the locals. I caught up with my driving instructor, who still manages to stay up to date on most of his students. There is something so great about going home. While I was recovering from my visit to the dentist, I snuggled on the couch with a quilt and watched the fire burning in the fireplace, while my mom made dinner and the dogs snoozed on the floor. My brother was visiting from out of state, and it was the first time I had seen him in over two years. It was so, so good to see him, and we had a great time catching up. We really enjoyed spending time together as a family, eating well, playing games and snuggling in while the snow fell outside. Oh yes, that’s right. We had a lovely little snowfall while I was up north. Although it’s much too early for snow in my opinion, it sure looked beautiful.

I can hardly believe that November is half over. I’m always surprised at how quickly time goes, and how often our days are filled with so many small things that take up much time, but sometimes have little value. During this holiday season, I want to purpose to spend more time paying attention to people, and not things. Accumulating memories, instead of gifts and “stuff”. I want to spend more time reflecting on the Reason we celebrate Christmas, instead of the multitude of small, busy things that make for a hectic and harried month of shopping and going and eating in a frantic state of mind. I want to take moments to pause, to breathe, to be filled with the wonder of a child at the beauty and the meaning of this special time.

How do you plan to spend this holiday season? Are you doing anything different this Christmas to bring more meaning and put less emphasis on “stuff”? Please share… I’d love to hear from you.

welcome {b*spoke}

Hello! The day has finally arrived, and I am thrilled to be introducing you to the new blog, b*spoke! Thank you all for your patience as we rebuilt and rebranded the blog this past week. It was a long week, and I really missed blogging and sharing my life with you all. It made me realize how important this has become to me, and how much all of you have become a part of my life. So here we are; new blog, new name. What on earth, right?? I ‘m sure some of you felt a little lost when you clicked over today. I hope that I will be able to show you around a bit, and help make you feel at home in the new digs. Also, we have a few more tweaks to make, so keep your eyes open for additional features, and a new blog header that I will be updating regularly!

why, again, did you have to make the switch?
I got several emails from readers letting me know how much they will miss the old blog and how much they loved Emmy Lu {Pretty in the City, Lovely in the Country}. I truly loved the old blog too, and many things about it. However, with the launch of our new products, we were forced to rebuild the blog due to some technical glitches in the structural setup of the old site. During this process, we made the decision to give the blog its own identity, related to, but separate from the stationery side of the company. I wanted the blog to take on its own personality and become more mine, personally, and also to grow on its own, while still being connected to Emmy Lu. That’s the story of the switch (in a nutshell).

what is b*spoke?
The idea for the name came out of a conversation with a friend. We were bouncing names back and forth, and quite honestly my ideas were getting worse and worse (and worse). In a moment of brilliance, the word bespoke was mentioned (not by me), and instantly I grabbed hold of it. The word bespoke can be defined as made to individual order; custom-made; dealing in or producing custom-made items. Of course, this fit perfectly with the custom nature of my work, and of the business itself. Emmy Lu is a dynamic company, and defining what we do is often difficult, but the foundational element of our work is that it’s custom, made to order, suited perfectly to the desires of the individual purchasing our products. As I played with the word bespoke in my head, I began to look for ways to give the name a deeper, layered meaning. During this process, b*spoke was born as a name that ties together the custom nature of my work, my love of the spoken and written word, and my own identity as an individual (with the use of my initial, B).

what will the content be like?
It is my intention to bring you a healthy, well-balanced mix of content here on b*spoke. I will be the only author on the blog, and I will continue to bring you snippets of my life at the cottage, recipes, DIY projects, glimpses of what’s going on in the Design Studio, and personal ponderings and writings. I will also hopefully will be picking up again with some of the old features of Emmy Lu. For example, I would like to begin doing Designers Sketchbooks, Crafty Girl projects, and Thrifty Thursday tips again. If you have anything you would like to see me write about, feel free to let me know!

housekeeping
Just a reminder that if you have Emmy Lu on your blogroll, please update all inbound links!! The new blog address is http://www.bspokestudio.com. You may refer to the blog as b*spoke or b*spoke by Emmy Lu, or any variation therein.

talk to me
One of the things I want to change on the new blog, is I would really like to see more conversation happening between and among readers. If you haven’t left comments before, I really encourage you to start doing so. Not so much for my sake, but because I would love to see a community begin to develop here, brought together by common interests. I know that my audience is spread across the globe, and there are many age groups represented. I can’t help but think that we can all learn so much from each other. I am going to be making a point to stay on top of comment moderation, and chime in as frequently as I am able. I am also going to be asking more questions, in hopes of sparking conversation. If you would like to reach me directly, you may email me at bethany(at)bspokeblog(dot)com.

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