IF: Gathering 2014

This past weekend I was a part of an amazing retreat here in Grapevine, Texas. I also had the privilege of creating the "mood/ambiance" for the Saturday night dinner.  

 Anytime I get to use my gifts to serve, I'm the one who is blessed.  It is always an honor to serve along side such amazing people.  Serving is also a great way to make new friends that enrich your life.

The mood that the leadership team wanted for this event was the feeling that you were at a gathering in your back yard.  So,.we did our best to create that feeling (on a budget, of course).  I placed a vignette on the left side of the stage mimicking the feel that you were in your yard and could curl up and read underneath the hanging lights with your cup of tea and a good book.

Do you remember the pink bike we painted from last years retreat (see that post here). We used that again propped up against the wall. One of my friends found the rustic palettes so we used them as the backdrop for the vignette.  I blew up an air mattress and gathered some pillows and quilts from here, there and everywhere to make it feel inviting, cozy and colorful. 

My girls game room pillows had a new home for a few days because they had that pop of green I was after.
I purchased a bolt of frilly white fabric for the curtains and hung them with 3M removable hooks (my new best friend).  They acted as a frame behind the vignette.
We added christmas lights to the vignette and got creative by tying them to the microphone stands.

I ordered these cute little milk jars from Saveoncrafts.com.
I filled them with moss and wildflowers.  I wanted a bit of fragrance too so I added fresh lavender as well.  The kitchen smelled absolutely fabulous while we were making the arrangements.  100 arrangements in all, whew!  My poor intern Audra, broke out in an allergic reaction.  I wonder if she will ever help me with an event again!
Lots of helping hands made all these natural beauties!  8 hours later and we were all set up and TIRED!
We placed 3 arrangements on each table.  Of course, we made them nice and low so people could talk to each other without the arrangements distracting them.  Nothing like trying to talk through the centerpiece. I'm sure you have been to an event where the centerpiece blocks you from talking to your guests.
It's the details that makes a gathering come together and that doesn't have to be expensive.  Tying the tablecloths with burlap that matched the moss in the jars, brought the table colors and textures together.  We were into simplicity for this event!

Also makes it look more casual and less formal and pretentious.  
Sorry for the terrible lighting in the picture.  Hard to take a picture with spotlights shining down.
We also had this wrought iron table from last year.  We repainted it a nice pale yellow.  I layered a lace curtain panel (found at a thrift store) and a small pink floral quilt as the tablecloth.  I always love to add a shiny element to my designs, so the wild flowers were in a LARGE silver vase.    It makes a casual atmosphere have a little glam to it.  The vase really looked fantastic with the flowers and branchy, whimsical  arrangement. A bit of "shiny" goes a long way don't you think?
Each napkin ring had a bit of bling too.  We added a little dried flower to each wrapped napkin.  The details take a ton of work but they are what make the guests feel welcome.You want your guests to feel as though you thought about every little thing to make them feel comfortable and invited in.
We placed a few rocks running along the center of the table too.  If you look closely in some of the above pictures, you can see the mossy branches we added to the center of each table.

During the weekend, we all gathered in different homes in the metroplex.  We watched a live broadcast that was streamed live over the Internet all over the world (IF Gathering).  It was so much fun to have a variety of speakers.  Nothing like having a bunch of woman in a room together sharing life experiences and encouraging one another.
This was the first IF GATHERING and I'm sure there will be more of them in the future.  It was a powerful event for woman all over the nation.

I believe that we woman do better in small group situations.  I also think that meeting in HOMES is the key to us being vulnerable with each other.  It is more relaxed, comfortable and creates a feeling of safeness.  Doing life together is the best thing ever when you do it with woman you love and respect. We are all in different stages of life and when you get us all together it's amazing.

I encourage you to get involved in a group with other woman.  It is the best medicine for your soul.  Our bodies grow old and weary but our souls continue to strengthen and grow strong.  I truly believe that is what keeps our hearts beating.
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Christmas Decorating 2013


This year I was determined to decorate my home before the season began and I actually did it!

This is my front door swag and my Christmas tree.
I always place my tree in a garden urn to make it taller in my entry.  Fortunately I have a willing hubby who rigged this up for me to make it easy each year. 
He actually screwed the Christmas tree base into the top of the urn for easy installation.
I love admiring the ornaments my kids have made throughout the year.  I also have a collection of crystal ornaments that sparkle beautifully!
Each year I frame a photo of our family representing a significant event from that year.  It's so much fun to go back and look at each one and reminisce.  Last year we were at Disney and it was a Christmas of a lifetime.  It's fun to see our photo hanging on the tree.
My birdies always get their berry wreaths on their tails each year.
I love placing ornaments throughout my home, especially in my entry arrangement.
I filled my bowl on my dining room table with all my favorite large ornaments.
The gold deer is a new addition this year.
My cabinet in my kitchen got all decked out too with oversized ornaments, large pinecones and birds.
I did it in about 4 hours and said a sigh of relief when it was done!  Especially since about 1/2 our lights weren't working and had to be replaced.
 One of the tapestries I purchased in Paris even got a touch of sparkle.  My bust got a swig of pine too!
After I finished MY HOME, I was off to do our Church decorating.
Deck the Halls is literally what we did all day a few weeks ago.
I recruited about 7 teenagers that willingly decorated their fingers to death!
We had some fantastic lady volunteers that joined us too!  Didn't they do an amazing job on the tree?  This was at the end of the day so you can see the exhaustion  written all over our faces.

I just love the fireplace in our lobby!  You feel like you are in a mountain lodge!  Now that it is all decked out with sparkly icicles and snow covered garland it is even more fantastic! 

My hubby and his friend spent a few hours on this lift fluffing wreaths and swags! That's dedication! They actually have a little "decorator" in them - Shh don't tell them I said that. They also took great instruction as I yelled and pointed from below.
I found these great big ornaments this year and they look amazing on the rustic mantel! The stockings were made last year by a grandma in the church.  I gave her a blanket I loved and asked her to make great big stockings out of it. She added black velvet to the top of each one and they look fantastic on this huge mantel.

My philosophy behind good Christmas decorating is to have large items and fewer of them.  Big ornaments always make a tree look fantastic! 
A fresh wreath is hung in my living room and smells divine.  Just hope it lasts till Christmas.
We also decorated a business lobby a couple weeks ago.
 Lots of work but so rewarding to see the finished product.  Such gorgeous colors to match their corporate banners in their waiting area in the lobby.
I've been extremely busy the past few weeks and am looking forward to some down time this holiday season.   I've been enjoying my Christmas mugs each morning when I do my quite time by the fire.
Hope you are enjoying your season!
One more week and it's time to "check out" for a while!
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