Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Carolyn Westbrook: HUGE SALE at the plantation

 For all of those who have been asking when our next sale will be....this is it. It is this Saturday the 24th. One day only from 8am-2pm. The address is 3043 NE CR 1030 Chatfield, TX. 75105. GPS does not work so good out here. Take I-45 to exit FM 1603 and it will loop back up over the hwy. When you come to the stop sign on FM 1603, make a left and head 5 miles.

There will be signs from there pointing the way.
If you are a quilter, a sewer or just a lover of fabrics, then this is your sale. There are bolts and bolts of fabric for sale, CHEAP! We all know how expensive fabric has gotten, and these are amazing vintage style prints, toiles, tickings, and also bolts of my vintage- replica childrens prints, for anyone that does children's wear or product or just likes beautiful fabric. This is from my days of manufacturing children's wear. Most of these fabrics will be $2 a yard. Also, there is antique furniture, architectural, garden, concrete, wooden filing cabinet, frames, old prints, oil paintings, huge old wooden columns, lamps, lampshades, small showcases, and on and on. There is also some of the linen clothes that I made that are left. They are the long, linen, duster jackets and vests. They are one-size-fits-all. You just have to come see for yourself. Don't miss it!
xo Carolyn
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Carolyn Westbrook: Congratulations.

 Here are the pics from the last post. Enjoy!
Photography by:                           Sarah Williams Photography in Corsicana, Texas.






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Carolyn Westbrook: Wedding Time

 Finally, I have time to finish this off. So, the wedding day was there and so were the clouds. I kept saying, don't worry the weathermen are never right. I was of course still decorating an hour before the wedding. I had the vintage metal couches, the outdoor furniture and loaded them with white linen and aqua print pillows and placed them outside of the tent. Everyone was upstairs getting dressed. Nick came out in his tux and he was in charge of setting up tables on the side yard that were topped with aqua metal washtubs filled with ice and bottled water for our guests. Joe was helping me and playing meterologist. We ran in to get ready ourselves and I ran upstairs and there are people in every bathroom. One of Nick's friends is in the shower. I was in a panic. Nick banged on the door and had him," Get Out!" I was thinking, this is not how this part was supposed to go. I was
 putting on make-up and looked out the window and the skies let loose and the rain poured down. The bridesmaids all came running in screaming, "What are we going to do." It was 30 minutes before the wedding. Obviously, they were not going to be able to come out from the side of the house, like we had practiced. I told them to calm down...there was always a back up plan. Now, they would come down the stairs and out the front door. If things did not let up, we might be having the wedding at our church down the street. It was five minutes to "go" time, and the clouds parted, the rain stopped, and the sun shined. Joe and his friend were busy with towels wiping down the chairs, as the guests made there way outside to claim a seat. I had to stay upstairs and tell the girls what order to go
down the stairs, as they were in a panic.
The preacher signaled me, the music started and here we go. Joe and I looked at each other, and it all sort of hit us. He looked so handsome in his tux, and as he looped arms with Alexandria, it was so touching. Christi of course was downstairs cuing the music, and then it began. As the girls looked beautiful as they descended the stairs, and Carrington dropped flower petals for the bride. As Alex and Joe made there way out the door, Christi and I raced out the back door, around the side of the house and quielty claimed our own seat. It could not have been better. The preacher started the ceremony, and then the vows. As soon as the vows started, a blast of shotgun fire. Not just one time, but over and over. All the guests looked at each other, as the filming was catching all of this. The gunshots stopped, I was thinking, just a fluke. It was as if on cue when Alexandria started her vows, so did the shotgun fire. You could barely hear her the shots were so loud. Joe and I were whispering what should we do, and then my brother says, "Guess y'all have never heard of a shotgun wedding." Everyone laughed, and the wedding carried on. After that, at the end of the wedding, more shots, and at that point I am thinking that this is what makes the country so unpredictable, and something that we would look back on and laugh. 
The ceremony was done,and everyone was on to the tent. Alexandria could not believe the tent, when she walked inside. She was stunned.
Champagne was flowing, candles were glowing, the doves were cooing, and there was the sound of laughter in the air. The food was served with southern pecan chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, French green beans, and a fabulous salad with pecans, feta, grapes, and such. We had a dessert bar with lemon bars, pecan bars, cheescake bars, brownies, each one set atop small individual white porcelain cakestands, and of course iced tea with mint, lemon and orange slices.
After the dinner, people gathered in groups everywhere, and it was such a romantic and happy night, as the music played and the candles glowed from everywhere. Joe and I were of course the last to eat, as we were trying to make sure that everything was taken care of. In fact, I really did not even get to talk to the bride and groom, and then they were leaving.The wedding couple made their getaway with bird seed being thrown and well wishes were cheered. A "Just Married" sign was on the back of their convertible Mustang done in of course mint green writing. As they drove off, Joe and I walked back to the tent and sat there for a while just surveying what we had accomplished. It was sad that it was over for me, I wanted to be able to enjoy the surroundings longer. It was so magical and we had worked so hard.
I asked Joe if he thought Alex had liked what I had done. He asked if I was kidding. He said that anyone would have to be crazy not to think it was amazing.
We both were happy, but also kind of sad, as our baby was now married. About that time, Nick calls, "Mom, telephone." He brought the phone to the tent, and it was Alexandria.
I could not believe it, as Alex is never one for words. She said, "Thank you Mamma, it was the prettiest wedding that was ever done. I cannot believe that you did all that for us. I love you."
I cried. She told me, "Tell Daddy that I love him, I have to go."
It was just like Father of the Bride, I thought.
That made every bit of it worth it. Joe and I looked at each other and toasted with a glass of champagne, as Nick and Victoria and friends were starting the fire pit, as the music played on into the night.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Carolyn Westbrook: More Wedded Bliss

 Here is a shot of the arch that I was telling you about. It was stunning. My beautiful daughter pictured here underneath it. So, last we talked, I was in the middle of getting the flowers done. It was Friday, the day before the wedding, and Eric gets here from New York, ready to start firing off photography for the new book. The problem is that we still have to get everything set up...tables, chairs, and the serving space where the food is to be served. So, really nothing to shoot. We walk around and talk about what the shots will be, as the cake is delivered. We ordered the cake from Romano's Bakery in Dallas. I of course, was worried sick because I am such a control freak. I tore into the cake box, carefully of course, and the cake was fantastic. I mean AMAZING! It was a Tiffany blue icing with gorgeous garlands of flowers swagged around the cake in a pearlized white, and an enormous amount of detail, and looked even better than I thought...that NEVER happens. It was white cake with raspberry filling. I wondered if it would taste as good as it looked, and it did!! Every bite was gone. Except for the top tier, which we had to put in a box and wrap and wrap it, so that they could eat it on their first anniversary. That is the tradition.  If you need a cake, then I would highly recommend. I had to get busy with my crew. Christi had spent the night, along with a bunch of other guests, so it was full steam ahead. We took French doors and hinged a pair together on each side of the front of the tent, which created a doorway to the tent. We took several vines of "hops" which you can order online, and strung them over the doors and across the entrance way. We added branches that we had cut, as well. Tomorrow, there would be flowers added in. In front of each door we would have different features. On one side, we had a fountain with concrete doves (love birds) spilling out water into the bowl of the fountain. I colored the water with a tinge of blue food coloring to make the water the same aqua color as the wedding. Then we staggered ferns and white hydrangeas underneath the fountain, so it would look like a garden. On the other side, there were staggered bird cages. Nick (my son) comes out, and says, "What's with the bird cages?" I then told him that I had to be off to meet my friend Rebecca, who had been on a mission to get me 4 white doves. Nick looks at me and rolls his eyes and says," Like thats not over the top." I had to take off to go meet Rebecca on my "covert dove operation" and get back in time for rehearsal.
Anyway, I left Eric to scout around as we got ready for the rehearsal. We had the bridesmaids dresses made by one of my seamstresses. We searched all over for bridesmaids dresses and they were horrible color choices. We did not want dark eggplant or chocolate brown for a late spring wedding, and Alex had her heart set on Mint Green and Aqua for the wedding colors, so the dresses were to be in that color. I found beautiful satin in the perfect shade and had a simple strapless dress made for each of the girls. If you cannot find the bridesmaids dresses that you love, then it is easy enough to find a seamstress. You can pick out the exact dress pattern, the exact color of fabric, and a seamstress can usually make a dress anywhere from $75-$125 each. This way it is more special too. So, the dresses were made and the flowers were done, and the cake was good...things were going well. Everyone showed up for the rehearsal, and since my cousin's husband was driving quite a distance to serve as the pastor, he would not be there until the next day. We were so happy to have David do the ceremony, as he had married Joe and I...a million years ago. The girls were to line up on the side of the house and walk around the crowd and down the isle, and that is how we rehearsed it. Little did we know that when they said 80% chance of rain, the following day, they meant it. Most of the time they are wrong. I have always heard that it is good luck if it rains on your wedding day. Maybe that is because it rained on mine and Joe's wedding day too, and it has been good so far. Anyway, we were all so excited that we could barely sleep. The next day was complete chaos. There were people coming and going in every direction. The bridesmaids showed up for mani-pedi's after they had all had their hair done. We had three photographers. I was rushing out to the tent to decorate the food area. We set up long tables for the food and drinks, and added fabric to cover the tables. I then had 4 rod-iron mid century porch posts that we used at the end of each table and a metal scrolly flat piece was added across the top to create an arbor. We screwed into the table with a small screw and wired the post to the table and then wired the top to the side posts. Here is the great part. I had seen that my neighbor has three gigantic rose bushes, and they are blooming. I was praying that the rain had not knocked off all of the petals. I grabbed Victoria, some gloves, and several clippers, and we were off in my black FBI suburban on another covert operation...get more roses. Those things were so prickly it was unbelievable. We cut and cut branches. Then we tossed them into the back of the SUV, and were off back to the tent. We ran tulle all across the "food arbor" and then wound the branches of roses all about. Then we added in our vines of orchids too. Gorgeous!! I love it when a plan comes together. Then I had found a very gorgeous antique curly-que thing. Not sure what it was, but I made a sign out of it. I cut an oval piece of masonite, painted it aqua, and screwed the fabulous scrolly thing to the top. I had masterminded this plan a couple of weeks before, and my good friend Pam, who is part of the "Girls Gone Junkin" made marvelous script lettering that said the couple's names and the date, which I adhered to the wood. It would hang over the cake table. Here's the deal...I treated the tent, much like I would any show, and that meant bringing in some "walls." Walls are masonite sheets which come 4'x8' and are braced with a surround of 1x2's. I wire the walls to the top of the tent frame, so no chance of them blowing down. I had the walls up and placed a round skirted table in front, which would be for the cake, and hung the sign from the wall. Joe was then bringing in an antique buffet, that I had painted aqua (of course) and put it in front of a wall in the center. He then brought in a huge ornate white mirror and hung it over the chest. Stunning. We then topped it with a vase full of white lilies and roses, silver trays, candelabras, and a pitcher of limeade in the perfect shade of mint green. A spooner was filled with mint green and white straws, for the perfect effect. It was all starting to come together. The caterer had just arrived and so had the storm clouds. Check back for more...
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Carolyn Westbrook: More Wedded Bliss

Ok...so the saga continues with my daughter Alexandria's wedding, that was held here at the Plantation in May. We got the tent up and the ceiling of the tent was now sheered with 300 yds. of fabric and hundreds of twinkling lights, now it was time for flowers. I had a good friend of mine, who has a business in faux flowers. I know what you are thinking, but hers are fabulous. I had her do the arbor where the bride and groom would stand on the front veranda. It was absolutely stunning. It was overflowing with hydrangeas, and roses, and all sorts of vines and white flowers. I had real white hydrangeas in urns that sat right up against the arch that she had done, and you could not tell the difference. Sharon rents the arbor for weddings, and you choose the colors and flowers, and she will come to your location and set it up. The name of her business is "Rose of Sharon" located in Sulphur Springs Texas. It was gorgeous. Anyway, for the reception, I rented silver candelabras, which can be seen in the prior post. I decided, at the last minute of course, that I would do the fresh flower arrangements. I have done lots of flower arrangements in urns or vases, but never an "official" type arrangement in floral foam. I was having nightmares about all of the white hydrangeas wilting and their huge heads were laying on the table because of the heat. They were to be in a round "ball" shape, and would sit atop the candlelabras. Then we would have urns of flowers, as well as several garlands, and bouquets for the wedding aisle, not to mention the brides and bridesmaids bouquets.. I called the wholesale florist that I deal with 2 weeks prior and placed my order. I got the floral foam balls and soaked them the Monday before the wedding. My friend told me, let them sink...do not push them under the water. Thursday before the wedding, I went to pick up my haul. There were hundreds of white Vendela roses, and bucket after bucket of white hydrangeas, white lilies, white Baby's Breath, white carnations, and white Stock. It was getting hot, and I was worried about keeping them alive. The lady told me...put them in the coolest room in your house. As we returned back to our country home, which is not always so cool, I got a portable AC unit and stuck it in Nick's room, and turned it up full blast. All of the flowers were carted upstairs to Nick's meat locker. Of course Nick was loving his new meat locker room. It was crazy looking, hundreds, maybe thousands of flowers in plastic buckets all around Nick's room. I absolutely adore flowers, so I was in heaven. But still a bit worried that I could lose them all.
 Christi came to the house early the next morning for operation: Flower Fantasy! I started the first arrangement. I have to admit, I did get some tips from a brilliant floral guy and he told me to cut the stem, dip it into the floral preservative and then dip it into "Quick Dip" (which opens up the flower so that it can drink the water in" and then immediately place in water that has been treated with preservative. He said that if I followed his directions, then the flowers would last a week. So, I did exactly as he said. I made the first "floral ball." I used a ton of Baby's Breath to fill in amongst the gorgeous roses and hydrangeas. I did work in a florist, while I was in high school, so I did know to wire the stems. Just stick the wire under the head of the flower and wrap it several times down the stem, to give the flower better support and it keeps it from drooping. The first one turned out absolutely gorgeous. Even better than I had envisioned, which never happens.
 Christi sat down and copied it exactly, using the same techniques. We sat for hours making the arrangements, until they were all done. Then we made the bride's bouquet. I took 3 dozen white roses and wrapped a wired about midway down the stems. Then I cut all of the stems the same length. Then I had bought gorgeous silk ribbon to go around the bouquet to cover the wire. Then I ran an outer piece of ribbon, through a rhinestone buckle, that I got a fabric store, and tied it off and tucked the ribbon under.
It was stunning. Now I am going to tell you what the florists do not want you to know...anyone could do this. Leave the stem longer so you can put it in a pitcher of water, until the wedding, and then cut it at the last minute. I did the same thing, only smaller for each bridesmaid. Guess what the biggest surprise was...the flowers lasted a week after the wedding. These tricks with the "Quick Dip" worked. You have no idea how worried that I was about doing the flowers, so if I can do it, so can you. It was actually quite fun and Christi and I felt so proud that we were able to pull this off. It didn't end there.
Look for more wedding tips and advice on the next post.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Carolyn Westbrook: Wedded Bliss Pictures


 Ok...hopefully the pics work this time.

Enjoy!
Carolyn
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Carolyn Westbrook: Wedded Bliss at the Oaks Plantation

 Finally...I had time to write the blog that I have been wanting to write since the last piece of cake was eaten and the last glass of champagne was gone. I wanted you to hear all of the details and tips that I learned along the way, to make this day a fairytale for my daughter, Alexandria. I wanted this wedding to look like a million dollars, without having to spend a million dollars, and if I do say so myself, I think it turned out rather great. The tent went up on a nice May day. We had alot of tornadoes right before, and more storms were predicted, so they had to put extra reinforced anchors on the tent, which meant an all day construction. We were anxiously awaiting, so that we could get started. It was a family affair, of course, like everything we do around here and the troops were gathered. I have never tented the top of a tent before, so I was really nervous. I had made at least 10 trips to Home Depot and had sketched off my version of how I thought it would work. I had Plan A, Plan B and a back-up plan, as I have done many tradeshows and shows in general, so I have sort of become the queen of improv.
Kind of like the McGyver of decorating.  I reserved a "pole tent" against the wedding rental lady's best advice. She wanted me to get a frame tent, but they are twice the price and the frame is LOW, and they are not nearly as dramatic looking. Three words...Alexander Tent Company. They brought a beautiful pristine white tent that was gorgeous, and they had the best price, and I checked with EVERYBODY!
I only had two poles to work from and the ceiling was 17 foot tall. WOW! I might have to become an acrobat, as well. You know me, never afraid of a challenge, which makes me brave or crazy or maybe both.
I realized right away that another trip to Home Depot was in order to rent a ladder tall enough to reach the top of the tent. I was afraid that a "cherry picker" would smash the grass. Off I went, yet again. The tool loan commander convinced me to get this folding ladder sort of thing...much lighter he convinced me and easier to haul. You know when you look at something and your gut tells you, "Don't do it," but you ignore your gut and off I went with this contraption in the back of the trailer. As soon as we unloaded it and set it up, we quickly found that it would not work. It was not 17 foot tall and flimsy. I went to hook my trailer back up to my Suburban, and Nick had taken my hitch off of the Suburban and put it on his truck. I then had to track him down (no easy task) get my hitch, hook up the trailer, and back I go to Home Depot. This time getting the much heavier 17 foot ladder that my gut told me to get in the first place. Then I enlist the help of two sales guys to help me come up with a contraption that would make 200 yards of voile and lights drape elegantly in the top of the tent. We came up with metal cables and another contraption that holds a clothesline wire. After paying for that, I headed back to the site.
Another friend, who has done many weddings told me to use fishing line, but I was not convinced that fishing line would hold that much fabric and lights without sagging, and what about the chandeliers for Pete's Sake? Then the rental company comes and Ms. Marsha tells me to use parachute rope. She swears by it. This is the tip of a lifetime that I am giving you today, if you are planning a wedding and feeling like sheering a 1500 sq. ft. tent ceiling. USE PARACHUTE ROPE...it works. So, I get back in my truck (without the trailer) and I drive back to Home Depot, round up my guys to find the magical Parachute rope. Everyone looked and called everyone else, and they took me from one part of the store to another. One had me convinced that something else that wasn't parachute
 rope, was. Finally...a guy that knew of the magical parachute rope, found it. It is white and like a nylon cord. I bought 20 packages of it, so I would not have to come back to Home Depot, and off I went, back to the site. Victoria, Luis, my son Nick, Victoria's friend Nick, and my mom of course...oh and Teddy (schnauzer)were all assembled and ready to help, but no one wanted to climb the ladder to the top.
 Oh, here;s another tip...almost forgot, have the tent people run your extension cord from the top of the tent down to the side, so that it is secure. You will need a white extension cord, so it will not show up and a white multi-plug. I looked online for white extension cords and they were up to $50 each. One word, Wal-Mart. They have white extension cords (25 ft) for $11.97 and they also had white multi-plugs. Woo-Hoo!
So, the extension cord was at the top of both poles. I taped the cord to the pole with White Duct Tape. Here is another thing that you will need, and plenty of them is zip ties. Fairly long ones. We started with the white twinkle lights. Here is another tip...I looked all over for white twinkle lights, and they are hard to find since it is not Christmas, and unbelievably expensive. Two words, Garden Ridge. They have them for a 100 strand it was around $6. We plugged in three strands of lights to make it from the pole to the corner pole. Another tip: after you plug three strands together, I ran zip ties around the cord plug that plugged into the multi-plug, otherwise the weight would pull them out, and we did not want that. Kind of tricky but gets easier after a few. After we had the lights up, I took the bolt of sheer fabric up the ladder and sheered it up at the top and tied it with a zip to the pole. Then we ran the fabric down to the corner, and then down the pole. We zip tied the fabric to the corner on the tent ropes and then cut it at the bottom. You just keep doing this until the one side is complete with lights and fabric.
Let me just tell you, that it was about 20 degrees hotter at the top of the tent, and you kindof have to be an acrobat to make this work.
Then you get 3 people to move the GIANT ladder to the other side, without tearing down the lights and fabric that you just put up. After we finished both sides, we ran more parachute rope in the center, between the two poles. At this point, we had used all 200 yards of  108" wide sheer fabric, so I would have to get more. How much more...100 more yds, for a total of 300 yds. of sheer fabric.
The rope in the center had to be tied off really tight because it would hold the three chandeliers. Here, we ran the fabric and lights from side to side.  The last thing was to drape the tent poles from the top to the bottom and cover any unsightly plugs.
Then, I had ordered 150 yds of gorgeous "wired" aqua ribbon to hang the chandeliers and the wreath candelabras from. One word, "Etsy." This ribbon was gorgeous and only $20 each for 50 yd bolts. I love Etsy!!! We hung the three chandeliers and the wreaths, that are a fabulous idea from my good friend Rebecca, who has a business called Heaven and Earth, in Lindale Texas. Her wreaths are AMAZING!! These are like a wreath chandelier, that were filled with candles. Let me just say that my friends are so talented and did I say, Amazing? She has a website... how's that for a shamless plug. She hand harvests the honesuckle that they are made from. Then, I bought a paint sprayer and painted them white. I do love the natural color. Let me just tell you, that I found the whole paint sprayer thing more than a little annoying, but it worked. I could get one wreath painted on both sides, and then I would have to go fill up again, and the paint has to be watered down considerably, and it runs and drips everywhere as you take off the cannister thing, not fun. Now my black and pink Nike's are peppered and spotted with white paint. ANYWAY, back to the story, I cut a circle out of masonite to cover the hole of the wreath. Then painted it...with a roller, not a spray gun. Then I drilled holes in the masonite, at four point to wire the wood circle on to the wreath to create a surface for the candles. Here is the tricky part, I measured 3 really long strands of ribbon and tied them on to the wreaths at three points to create a tripod effect. The ribbon had to be long enough to tie on to the magical parachute rope and have a bow at the top. It took a considerable amount of time to get the wreaths level, and by the end of it, I was pretty much pulling my hair out. THEN, I had to add the candles, which made them have to be leveled again. I could not decide whether to use flameless candles or the cheap-o church candles from the grocery store. You know the ones that are glass and come in white. I tried both, and I loved the look of the real flame better, but I was concerned about the weight of the glass ones. And, me being me, I had to have varied sizes, which would include votives and medium size white candles. Candles are expensive, especially when you have 8 of these chandeliers. Two words, Dollar Tree. I love that place too, but my kids refuse to go in, and are completely humiliated that their mom would go into one. Whatever...get over it,  my mom used to drag stuff off the curb that was out for garbage pick up. I thought that was emabarrasing when I was a kid. Now... love it.
So, went back with all of the candles, put a very liberal amount of the florists putty on the bottoms, and I put the collection of candles in the very center. That way, if they toppled over, it would land on the wood...hopefully. We tried one to make sure it would work. BE CAREFUL or use the flameless to be on the safe side. You dont want your tent going up in flames.
So, just like magic... that part of the tent was done. Would Alexandria ever know the lengths that I went to as a mother to make sure that this fairy tale wedding was truly a fairy tale? Probably not, but I knew that even she had to be amazed, when she saw it.
Oh, and one more thing. We had been talking of doing another book. I wanted an entertaining book, the publisher wanted a decorating book, so we had gone back and forth. I do love my publisher though. So, the week before the wedding, we decide to do another book, and include the wedding. No pressure...right? Now, this wedding really had to be something, you know...over the top. Ok, like it wasn't going to be  that way anyway, with me involved. I always seem to have to go the one step over to make it "just right" and fully exhaust everyone in the process. They might be so tired, they don't even make it to the wedding..nahhh. They were all able bodied, but I'm not gonna lie, I did take a whole bottle of Advil Liquigels that week.  I figured that I had made it through my acrobatic tricks and the heat of the tent, so the rest would be a piece of cake...right?? Check back and find out as the saga continues.