Sunday, August 23, 2009

Carolyn Westbrook: Cannot Wait....

I cannot wait any longer. I have done my best to hold it in as long as I could...does any of this look familiar? It is coming up on the time for the most fabulous show on earth...REALLY! September 25th will be the start date at Warrenton/Roundtop Antiques week, and we will be getting ready for the show at Zapp Hall. For those of you who have not been, then all I can say is, why not? I don't care how you have to get here, just get here. Once you go, you will be hooked. This show consists of miles and miles of the most great junkin that you have ever seen. You never know what you are going to find. Add to that, live music, the fabulous Royers Gourmet Comfort Food, and throw in your best friends, and you will know why they say, Come for the Shopping, but Stay for the Party. Let's not forget the "Bubble Lounge" at Zapp Hall or the Famous, "Junk Gypsy Prom." Hope to see you there!
XOXO Carolyn
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Carolyn Westbrook: Lazy Days of Summer

This is a shot from my Summer Sale in July. This is my friend Wendy's Baby, Sophia. She is truly a little doll baby. Thank you Wendy, for letting me share this beautiful picture.

I thought that I would also share this with you, as a late summer project. This swing was the hit of my Summer Sale, and I was proud to not only be able to think of it, but to implement it, as well. You know, when you visualize something, and it does not turn out as good as you think or you simply cannot get it to work. Well, this was easy and worked perfectly. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to lay on this, under the trees, and gently rock back and forth. It is HEAVEN! You gotta have one!

Here's How To Do It:
I took a sheet of 1/2" plywood and put the twin mattress on it and drew off around it. Then I cut the pattern on the plywood out with a jigsaw. Don't be afraid, jigsaws are very easy to use and remember, GIRL POWER! I bought some heavy duty rope at Home Depot (was in with the swingset supplies) and you will need quite a bit, if it is a tall tree. I bought a 50 ft. piece. I drilled holes in each corner of the plywood ( being careful to put them all in the same spot, so it would hang level. Then I threw the rope over the tree limb and doubled it with a loop, then pulled the rope through the loop, and tightened it up around the limb. I then ran the rope down to either side and put several knots in, to make one big knot, which held great. Now for the fun part. I bought some pretty floral sheets ( using the flat sheet to cover the box springs)and then we hoisted the box springs and mattress on to the platform, and Voila!

Can't you just imagine yourself, lying about, gazing up through the trees, and even on the hottest days, under the trees it is nice (with a breeze blowing). Everyone had to try it out for themselves at the sale, and it is surprising how sturdy it is. Hope that everyone gets a chance to savor these late summer days in your very own swing bed!
XOXO Carolyn
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Carolyn Westbrook: Let Them Eat Cake

Today, is my Mother's Birthday! For her birthday she wanted me to go see Julie and Julia, since she has not seen it yet. I was kinda hesitant since I usually hate seeing a movie more than once. No was just as good the second time around. You gotta go! It makes you want to go home and cook something delicious and while your at it, to remember to follow your dreams. Even when doing that comes with obvious obstacles. Hey, that's just the way it is. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy. Victoria thinks that she now wants to go to culinary school, she was so inspired. Actually, we have talked about that, before this movie. Talk about putting in your dues. That is a tough job being a starter cook.

So, when we get home, I decide to make my grandmother's chocolate cake recipe, for her birthday. This is the best cake that you ever put in your mouth. I think that there are many versions of this, but to me, hers is the best, because it comes with a hunk of family tradition and lots of memories. The recipe card is covered with chocolate thumbprints and smudges from so much wear. For those of you, who have my Carolyn Westbrook Home book, the photo of this cake can be found on pages 132-133. And yes, it is even better that it looks. Talk about revealing a family secret, I am going to share that recipe with you, my closest friends, so grab your pen and paper and take this down, and try not to drool on the paper...

Grandmothers Fudge Cake

2 Cups sifted All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 stick Oleo aka margarine (I use butter, cause ya know, butta makes it betta!)
1 Cup Water
1/2 cup of Crisco ( Again, used butter. O.K. I didn't say it was lowfat)
1/4 Cup of Cocoa
1/2 Cup of Buttermilk
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder (make sure it is fresh)
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Sift together flour and sugar. In a saucepan begin melting butter, add water, cocoa and shortening, and bring to a rapid boil, while stirring. Pour over flour and sugar mixture and stir. Combine remaining ingredients into the bowl and stir. Pour into rectangle cake pan, that has been oiled. I spray mine with cooking spray. Put in the oven to bake until a tooth pick comes out clean in the center.

1 stick butter
3 1/2 TBSP. of Cocoa
1/3 cup of milk (I used cream)
1 lb. sifted powdered sugar.
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup of chopped pecans (optional)

Melt butter in saucepan. Add in cocoa then milk. keep stirring. I add powdered sugar, while stirring until it thickens to frosting consistency.
Ice the cake while hot and it will pratically ice itself. Recommend adding some Homeade Vanilla Blue Bell to go with.
Now sit back with a glass of ice cold milk and let this melt in your mouth. You will be thinking you died and gone to Heaven!
Bon Appetite, My friends!
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Carolyn Westbtrook in Romantic Country magazine

So, here I am perusing the isles of Barnes and Noble. Actually, I was standing at the magazine isle, then I was sitting, I was there for quite some time, as this is my mothership. You cannot get this in Corsicana, TX. I love Barnes and Noble. Every kind of magazine in the world, from around the world, and I had not even hit the decorating book section, yet. This is my idea of heaven. Anyway, looking through the Romantic Country, and there is one of my good customers, Candy Moger, and there is our signature bedding and pillows in the shot of her bedroom. LOVE IT! There was more...she loves our lampshades, and sure enough they were there in the living room shot, along with more pillows. Looking great, Candy! You know, I saw Jo Packham a few months ago, she is the author for the "Where Women Create" book that I was in. Now she is heading up the "Where Women Create" magazine. She showed me a copy, and I was very impressed. I was flipping through and saw Candy in that magazine, and I was surprised. Turns out Jo knows her well. I have spoken with Candy many times, and always fun to see a face to put with the voice.
Then, kept looking and saw our friends, Robin and John, from Magnolia Pearl. A feature on their wedding was in this issue.
Just when you think it cannot get any better, then I see an article on one of our California customers, Lucy Torres from the Paris Flea Market.
Happy to see that this magazine was filled with some top talent and of course, I bought it.
I could not find Jo's new issue of Where Women Create. I was disappointed about that because it is really good. We are going to try and work on something together for the magazine, hopefully we will be able to put something together.
I continued on with my hunt for more fabulous magazines. The other issue I liked, was House and Garden. Completely different from this style, but I do love diversity.
I am sitting there tearing through these magazines, one after another, I am in my element. People come and go, and here I am, still there, having the time of my life. Does not take much for us, does it girls. Just
give us a fabulous selection of inspirational magazines, and we are in Heaven.
I did eventually make it up to the book section. I like the book, Blue and White. I know it has been out a while, but the photography in that book is excellent and I am a fool for blue and white. It is so crisp and clean.
There are many books here, including the "Where Women Create" book, which we are fortunate enough to grace the cover is really weird to go into a book store and see your own stuff. Also, the, "Vintage Vavoom" book was front and center, which I was lucky enough to be a part of, which made me feel really special.
So, all in all, a great day at the Barnes and Noble. You gotta love Barnes and Noble. There is just something about that store, that you do not find anywhere else. It is so peaceful and calming, and the smell of coffee wafting through the air is devine. Makes you want to go have some, even in the middle of August, even if youre not a coffee drinker. Finally, had to go before my family sent out a search party.
Thinking about books on the way home and wanted to share a secret...
There is a new book coming out called William Yeoward: Entertaining...I was able to get a sneak peek from the publisher and it is a wonderful book. More about how I got a sneak peek, when I have more to tell, but keeping my fingers crossed. In the mean time, get out to your Barnes and Noble, and Enjoy...I did!
XOXO Carolyn
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Carolyn Westbrook: Summer FIreworks

Ahhh. Smell that morning air. Hope everyone is having a good Thursday morning. I had to share this with you. Actually, I meant to do this last week and didn't make time. The crepe myrtles are in a majestic glory, in the middle of August, can you believe it??? Usually, this time of year everything is dead and dry. I walked out this morning, to a gorgeous sunrise and this huge burst of color that reminds me of fireworks. They are absolutely gorgeous. I began to think about how when we first moved here (15 years ago) that I would have coffee outside in the morning, and really appreciate the birds, the trees and all of the beauty that life has to offer. Now, I get so busy and stressed, that I forget to appreciate life and all of the beauty that surrounds each and every one of us. Whether it is in our yard, our house, our loved ones or in whatever form, let's remember to appreciate the good things in life. Especially, the things we love like junkin, decorating, and just a good project in general... nothin wrong with that! Here's to the GOOD STUFF!
XOXO Carolyn
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Carolyn Westbrook Home: Reality Check

So, I have been dying to go see that new movie, "Julie and Julia." The critics gave it a C+ in the Dallas paper, so I was sure that it would be good. Finally, Victoria is finished with heading up her retreat, so she went with me. I loved it. It is my new favorite, right up there with, "Somethings Gotta Give." I love the house in that movie and I love Diane Keaton. She actually came shopping in my friend Gina's store. Anyway, have hit the rewind button a hundred times looking at the house in that movie.
This movie was adorable. I laughed, when they were talking about a book deal, and maybe the advance would be a hundred thousand dollars. I remember when I thought that authors became rich from their books. Maybe if you are Mary Higgins Clark or Danielle Steele! I love to watch cooking and they showed Julia living in France, and it made me want to be there. I could totally move there, it is that fabulous. The attention to detail is not missing in Paris. They never gave up on gorgeous packaging and attention to detail, like we have here. My girls shop at the "Pink" store in Victoria's Secret, and I am convinced part of their success is due to the fabulous bags and tissue paper. It is like opening a present, which who doesn't love that?

I was watching this sweet movie and noticed that the apartment, where Julie lives, is not super clean. In fact, there was one scene where I noticed the light switch plate in the kitchen was dirty (like mine gets from teenage handprints). I came to a realization. I spent yesterday out in the heat, plucking grass from the front walk, that had somehow managed to grow up through the concrete. How's that even possible? We have dead spots in the yard, since the huge oaks were torn from the ground during the tornado, so the grass is now in full sun, but it manages to come up through the concrete and thrive. Anyway, just started me thinking...part of the charm of a home, is to be enjoyed and lived in with all of it's imperfections. The things that sometimes drive me crazy, I would actually miss if I moved into a new home. Seeing this in the movie, the handprints were actually charming. Sometimes I forget that the best part of our home is that it is filled with family, from the dogs that leave stray hairs on the stairs that look like they always need sweeping, to the toothpaste oozing out of the tube on the counter... and how I will miss all of this someday. So, going to try very hard to see the charm of my house and all of it's imperfections, because it really is what makes a house a home!

XOXO Carolyn

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Carolyn Westbrook Summertime

This time of year is always leaves me looking forward to getting the house spruced up. The kids have been home all summer, and school is right around the corner. The house looks like a bomb went off after a summer of the kids being here 24/7 and the pantry is bare. In just a few short weeks, it will be back to getting up at the crack of dawn shuttling kids to band, football, and dance team. I always love to do my Spring cleaning and re-freshing. Thinking that I need to do a fall re-fresh, as well. I have had a week of being able to spend some time at home, and seeing all kinds of projects begging for my attention. Thinking that I need to do some serious paint touch up and start preparing for a fall decor. For some reason when the kids go back to school, makes me think of freshly sharpened pencils and new backpacks. Not only that, but it also makes me think of how I am bored with what my house looks like. Time to pull up the straw rugs and bring in some fall colors. The hydrangeas are long gone...time for a big bowl of apples or perhaps some monogrammed napkin rings. I know it is early in the season, but can't help myself. Once they go off to school, in my mind it is time for fall. As these long hot days of summer drone on, I am ready to move on and see something new.

I have said a million times how I love the smell of clean. I am ready to smell that again, for more than an hour, until it has been cancelled out by the kids being here. First, got to get it clean. That means a thorough dusting, mopping, and lots of Pine-Sol. Ahhhh, the smell of Pine-Sol in the air, is almost as good as Chanel, when it is clean that you seek. Then on to a fresh coat of paint. Amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do for your soul. I love to feel like I have accomplished something. Then moving on to bringing back in my chocolate velvet bedspread, landscape paintings, brown transferware, and cooking up some new color combos. Don't ya just love it. Would love to hear from y'all to see what you do to bring your home into the fall season. I am putting up the Ironstone and bringing in my blue Spode. I have not had it out in a while and have missed it. I am a hoarder of transferware. I think that I have every color, and there is something about the beautiful blue with the cows that reminds me of when I was a child. Not only this, but I want to bring in some more French pieces. In one room that has upholstered walls, ready to strip that down and do some paint, while one of the upstairs bathroom is in need of some more modern looking wallpaper. It is currently painted black and I am growing tired of that. Don't worry, pairing it with a 9 ft. white linen shower curtain and a Venetian mirror, thinking that will be fabulous.
It's like before the first autumn wind starts to blow, which we know will not be for another couple of months, that I begin nesting. Instead of storing up nuts and seeds, I have to redecorate and re-fresh the nest. Then when the cool breeze begins to take over this warm air, I hope to be ready...until Christmas decorating begins, of course.
XOXO Carolyn
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