A Simply Spooky Halloween Table Set Up

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One of my favorite things to do is to gather around the table with friends and enjoy a meal- it’s just a plus if the table happens to be a really pretty one. When thinking about what we wanted to do for this table scape and where we wanted it to be, we knew that we wanted to try our best to keep it simple and practical.

My parents live in an early 1900s house in Brentwood. There house has a lot of history and I’ve always loved that about it. Many of their neighbors houses are the same way. In the 1800s the land the houses are on now was originally owned by one person and it was a large farm, the land has since been broken into smaller slices of land, but slices large enough that it still feels like you are out in the country. Many of the houses on their street have small houses in the backyards which were originally used to house people who worked on the original property. Many are now run down- the one in my parents yard, for example, has been used for storage for many years.

One Halloween when I was younger, the parents all made mini haunted houses in these small houses in their backyards. All the kids hopped on a trailer that was hooked to a four wheeler and went from “haunted” house to “haunted” house. I always think about that experience around Halloween time, and all the nostalgia comes rushing in… the childhood memories, the history of the homes, all of it.

When I was thinking about this shoot, I knew I wanted to clear out the little house in my parents back yard and use it. I felt like it was the perfect setting for a halloween inspired dinner.

I knew I wanted to have some type of hanging installation over the table- My original idea was branches with leaves that were changing colors, but Tennessee’s leaves aren’t doing much color changing yet. Then I thought of corn stalks. I arranged two bundles of corn stalks in an organic, asymmetrical formation and suspended them from the ceiling. I was really pleased with how it all turned out.

I knew from the start that I didn’t want to use flowers for this shoot, and pumpkins seemed like the perfect, appropriate substitute. I used only white pumpkins in varying sizes to almost act as a runner for the table. I also used a single, small white pumpkin at each place setting.

The plates, water glasses, wine glasses, candles, and candle holders all came from Target. I chose the plates because I loved the hand made feel of them. The black wine glasses (which aren’t actually the glasses I decided to use for wine) are also a favorite. They are funky (I love a little bit of funk) and a nice change from the traditional wine glass. The water glasses ( which are holding wine ) are also a new favorite. I love using them in my house because they stack for storage, they are a good size, and I love the shape…I also really loved them as a wine glass. The black speckled taper candle holders had a bit of a spooky look to me and I wanted to incorporate them somehow. They also add a bit of a modern twist, which I’m a fan of. I always love using as much candle light as possible. It just makes everything feel better.

The flatware is vintage from the local flea market, and the napkins are flour sack towels that I hand dyed with Ritt dye. I love mixing different dyes to get the colors I want. Flour sack towels absorb the dye really well and can be used for lots of things. I use them for napkins, hand towels, dishtowels, etc. For the color of the napkins- I mixed Tangerine and Dark Brown dyes. I can do a tutorial on this later. It’s super simple! I also gathered a few leaves from around the yard that were showing a bit of color and placed one at each place setting, and a few scattered on the table and in the pumpkins. The chairs and table were ones that we had.

This table was simple to put together and would provide a great stage to come together with some loved ones for a Halloween or Fall dinner. Be sure to tag us on Instagram (@theneweclectic) if you decide to incorporate any of these tips into your Halloween or fall tables!

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The New Eclectic

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A few months ago, I was sitting with a fellow event planner talking about what we wanted our businesses to look like. She asked me, “what do you think about when you think about how you want your business to look?” I responded in that I thought of the word “eclectic, but not in a way that’s vintage or outdated, but modern and innovative.” She said, “like NEW eclectic,” and I said, “I think that’s what I want to name my business.”

From there, it somewhat snowballed. I suddenly could envision what I wanted my business to look like. The truth is, from the time I started Alexandrea Cantrell Events, a small facet was missing. I knew I liked events, I knew I liked interiors, I knew I liked designing spaces and helping people achieve looks they wanted… I just wasn’t sure how to marry the three of those things under the name Alexandrea Cantrell Events. It was time for a change. I feel as though The New Eclectic not only does a better job of reflecting what I want my business to reflect, but also does a much better job of reflecting me as a person.

When I decided on a name, I knew it was also time for a rebrand. I looked around a little, but then a friend reminded me that a very talented classmate and friend of mine from college was now doing branding (sometimes we overlook what’s right under our nose). I decided that Laura Bennett Design was a great fit for me. Laura absolutely blew me out of the water with the elements she came up with. There are several I will be implementing slowly. She is a brilliant designer and I honestly don’t think I could have found a better fit.

I also had one of my favorite photographers, Eden Ingle, do a little rebranding shoot for me. I feel like this shoot is a great representation of my style, this brand, and the direction we are heading. I will do a separate blog post going into more detail about the shoot and how wonderful Eden is in the next few days.

So what else is new?… I decided to add a member to my team, my friend Izzi. Izzi is a mover and a go getter who I not only fully trust to carry out what I have established for this business, but also am so excited for her to bring so many new elements to the table. Izzi makes up for me in the places I lack. She is a perfect addition to my team and I am so excited to see what she does for this business.

Sooo what can you expect? I am going to keep planning and designing weddings, but not quite as many as before because we are offering so many new things under The New Eclectic. Izzi will also be available as a month of coordinator. We also would LOVE to get into other events as well- specifically music industry events, so if any of you reading this have connections, hit me up!

We are also going to start offering interior styling services. Maybe you have a space, and a lot of furniture, but you want a refresh and also want to add a few new pieces. We’re your girls. We will take what you have + a few new things and give your space a full face lift.

Another new service we will be offering are our design board services… maybe you don’t want to hire an event designer because you feel like it would put too much of a strain on your budget. We have an extensive questionnaire we will send you that will tap into your style and your overall vision for your event. From there, we will create a custom design board which gives you the tools to achieve the overall appearance you want to achieve at the fraction of the cost of an event planner. More details will be coming on this soon.

Finally, you can expect more blog posts- DIYs, real weddings, styled shoots, event advice, home tips, you name it. We are really excited about this. If you have anything in particular you’d like to know about or learn about, send us an email and we will see what we can come up with!

Thank you for sticking with me as my business evolves. I am thrilled about the direction it is headed, and to have Izzi as a part of my team. We have lots of exciting things brewing and we cannot wait to share them with you guys!

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David Arms // Conversations with Creatives

 Photo by  Jeremy Cowart  (all other photos are by me, which is why they look less professional ;) 

Photo by Jeremy Cowart (all other photos are by me, which is why they look less professional ;) 

As I walked into David's studio it was filled with the aroma of a perfect blend of pachouli, coffee, and the sweet scent of pipe tobacco. David's studio greets you with a warmth, just like his gallery in Leiper's Fork. Both are more like meticulously curated museums than anything else, but not the cold and sterile kind.  They almost hug you into them. Not only is David an amazing artist, but he also has an eye for antiques and carefully crafted artisan items, and his hand picked collection is nothing short of marvelous. 

I have had the pleasure of knowing David for years.  I grew up with his kids, living next door to their family. I have had the honor of watching his creativity as it's manifested in so many different ways over the years.  When I was young, my sister and I would go over to their house what seemed like daily.  There was always an art project and freshly baked brownies.  These are some of my favorite childhood memories and I truly believe that growing up with the Arms has had a huge part in why I do what I do today.  

When I began to think about creating a series where I document conversations with creative entrepreneurs, it's no surprise that David was the first person I thought of. 

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What do you do and how did you get started?

My path has been so windy and crooked. Everything I have been in to a large degree, I didn't pursue.  There was company in town putting on an event, and they realized the person they had doing all the visual aspects for the event wasn't going to pan out- so they started asking around and someone said " I know a guy " and they ended up recommending me- Why? I had no idea. We had a very short time to do it, and pulled it off.  Then they called me into their office and told me they wanted me to take all of their next year projects.  The clients were big, Acura, American Honda.  Somehow I ended up starting off with huge clients.  This was the late 80s, early 90s, and the amount companies were spending on events was ridiculous, but it was the norm. It was crazy the events I got to do.  It pushed me hard and was the most stressful work I ever did.  Once the concept and budget were established, I kind of just got to run with it, but you better get it done and exceed expectations.  My favorite project was for American Honda.  We created a snow village inside all these a joining ballrooms- it looked like you were walking through a town.  The coffee shops, restaurants, and bars all worked- you could go in them.  We were inside and had horse drawn carriages inside.  It was snowing outside and it was incredible.  I felt guilty because I didn't know a thing and was getting thrown into these huge projects. I didn't know anything about events, but I had to act like I did.  I showed confidence.  You had to make sure that you got everything done and when they opened the doors, it was magic. 

At that point were you painting?

No, never.  Only as a child.  I would draw every now and then, but that was about it.  The event industry was extremely stressful- extremely.  I would be gone chunks of time- it was nothing to be gone two weeks.  Michelle and I lived in Inglewood, and we had a big wall and couldn't afford a painting that large at that time, and I thought, "I can do something." We had a great, big frame, and I thought, I'm just going to piddle at this.  Soon after, people started seeing the work and becoming interested in it. I had a woman that wanted to start repping my work.  After that, I started selling my work at Bennett Galleries and some shows, and it was really just like, "where did this come from." I was literally burning the candle at both ends. I was working two more than full time jobs at once.  We hadn't had children yet because I couldn't imagine having a child and then being gone for weeks at a time, so it just kept delaying us having a child. We finally decided to have a child, and the art career was going so full time. It's funny, there's a GALA awards where events are nominated for these things- I had won a few over the years. They had had me design the GALA that year, and I didn't realize they were giving me the "award of excellence" that year, and the same night I said, "I'm leaving the industry." My last event was the Swan Ball in June and Shelly, my first daughter, was born in July. God always always had a plan and was one step ahead.  Just like that first event, I had no idea it would open an immediate door to all those events I could have never gotten if I'd tried. I was full time artist as of that June, and it's been almost 22 years since then, and then the gallery came along almost 6 years ago...and none of that started until my mid- 30s

I've got a close friend who is one of the top songwriters in town, and it all came later for him too.  You know, he talks to all these 20-somethings who think if they haven't made it, it's over, and at 20-something, we had no idea where we were going or what was coming. If you would have asked me what I wanted to do when I was a child, I probably would have said artist, that would have been like a dream, but in that generation it wasn't an option for a man to raise a family and be an artist.  It wasn't even a consideration, but you guys have that as an option.  There are so many creative fields, or if there is something you want to do that's not out there, you can just kind of make it up. But I think the pressure of that would be strong. 

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In your work, where do you tend to draw most of your inspiration, or how do you stay inspired?

Sometimes thats hard, and other times it's easy. The no-fail place is nature, it always gives ya something.  The hard part is stopping to get out in it.  I am a move forward kind of guy and can just keep going, and going, and going, but there's a downside to that, and Michelle pushes me often saying "stop and go somewhere different." One time she got me to do it, and Lilly (daughter) and I got out and went to the Frist. There was a small area of a work of art where the shapes and colors really inspired me.  It changed my thought and gave me something fresh. 

With your Gallery, when did you decide that you wanted to do that, or did that kind of organically come into play also?

It's organic too, my whole life's organic, honestly. It's kind of the way I even do business- organically, not everything at once.  I was showing at multiple galleries in multiple states, and it was good to me- I mean, Atlanta was so good to me and Nasvhille has always been good to me.  It was in the back of my mind because I knew I always wanted to show art how I wanted to, and I knew if I created a gallery, it wouldn't be conventional.  I thought, " wouldn't it be fun to show art the way you wanted to do it". I didn't want a stuffy gallery, I wanted it to be friendly and warm.  So I started listing parts of town I'd consider and I'd go drive around or walk in those parts of town and I started checking things off, and Leiper's Fork is the only one that stayed on the list. I'd go visit Lisa Fox out there and I told her I was toying with the idea of a gallery.  One day, she called and said, " I don't know what you're doing, but whatever it is, drop it and get out here right now." So I did.  That barn, the people who were originally renovating it were pretty far along, and Lisa went down to look at it.  I think she knew it was a perfect fit and when she walked in, she thought, "this is David Arms."

It was pretty sparse at first really.  As I could afford it, I would invest in the next piece and the next piece. Now it functions like it really needs to.  I wanted to do just a little bit at a time and let it take care of itself instead of going out and getting the money.  I've just let it pay for itself as it's went along. I tell the staff, pretend like someone is just coming in your living room.  I want it to feel warm and welcoming.  The stuff in there is totally curated- its quirky, but it's very authentic.  It's only stuff that I love.  We make as much of the product as we can and then fill in with things that I love.  

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What does a normal day look like for you? 

It's really inconsistent.  In some ways I am a very routine person, you know, my family laughs at me because I eat the same bowl of cereal every night before bed.  I always try to be out in the studio every morning by 5am- that's my read, pray, write time.  It's a great painting day if I can spend 10-12 hours at the easel, but that's rare. That's something I always tell young people who are wanting to do what I do- "are you willing to put in the time."  I really don't get days off.  I wouldn't have it any other way, though.  I can be in here and do what I want to do, but I am willing to do the work.  You've got to be willing to do the work.  I think if I had to work away the hours that I do, I couldn't do it. You've got to be able to adapt.  From the outside, people look at what I do like, "man, you can just get up when you want to- you can paint when you get inspired" and it just doesn't work that way. You have to be disciplined to get anywhere in anything.

Are there any times that you failed or made mistakes business-wise that you feel like have made you better?

Yes- it's hard to remember specifics.  When I started painting I had no idea.  And then when I went on to open the retail space, I really had no idea what I was doing.  You just kind of have to figure it out on your own and you just have to know that you're going to make some mistakes.  I don't think you beat yourself up over it, you can be disappointed that they happened, but it's what you do with that. You better yourself in that area.  It's when you don't learn from them that I think it's a problem. You just have to throw a little grace in there, and that's hard for me because I'm really hard on myself and have high expectations for myself.  But I almost just have to plan on them.  If you're thorough on the front end, you have a lot better odds on the back end.

If you were giving a couple lines of advice to someone who was trying to start a business, what would you tell them?

The first that comes to mind is to be sure to be passionate about whatever it is you want to do.  It's going to be hard work.  The passion will make up for a lot.  I can get so much energy and fulfillment off the passion side of my work that it makes up for the hard work and long hours.  It sure is a nice cushion to have that.  And it keeps you going, it really does. 

You have to be willing to work dog-gone hard.  I always try to teach my kids, go above and beyond, do more than is expected, and always be early.  It's going to pay off.  It just is.  The law of averages say that it just is... And you've made someone else's life better, you feel good about what you've done.  In the event world, I would just think, "I'm going to make it better than they even think it can be." Now with painting, I've done all these paintings, but I still want to make my best one.

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My conversation with David was nothing short of inspiring, and so encouraging as a young entrepreneur.  If you want to learn more about David and his work, you can do so here.  If you have a chance, take the time to go out and visit his gallery.  You won't regret it! 

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How to Galentines with Your Gal Pals

If you've watched Parks and Rec, you are probably pretty familiar with the idea of Galentine's day.  I, for one, am all about it.  Who doesn't love a chance to celebrate with your gals.  I wanted to put together an easy and affordable "how to" on how to have an epic get together with your girlfriends.  I tried to use a lot of things that I had around my house, but I also purchased a few things. In coming up with this blog post I made a few things priority: a beautiful table scape, a great charcuterie board, and a custom cocktail (who doesn't love a drink unique to the occasion!).  

We'll start with the charcuterie.  Trader Joe's is my favorite place to get all the fixins' for a good cheese board.  I went for three different types of cheese, some prosciutto and salami, a baguette, some crispy bread sticks, as well as some blackberries, pomegranate seeds, truffle oil almonds, and some fig jam for garnish.  We also decided to put our desserts on the same table.  I was trying to keep things simple so we snagged some heart shaped shortbreads with raspberry jam from Trader Joe's, as well as some delectable pistachio and raspberry macaroons from Whole Foods. 

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Next, we move onto the table scape.  I wanted to put together a table scape that was girly, but not too girly.  I also wanted to keep it affordable.  The first things I found that kind of set the tone for the whole table were the placemats and place cards from Hester & Cook.  Hester & Cook is a really fun local store here in Nashville.  If you are planning a party, definitely go check them out.  They specialize in unique paper goods and everything in their store is AH-MAZING.  

I used matte black plates that I bought a couple years ago from World Market.  I also purchased the napkins on clearance at World Market, as well as the gold rimmed goblets (not on clearance, but still a good deal!).

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The antique gold flatware was a flea market steal a few years back, as well as the antique champagne cooler holding the flowers.  I wanted to mix modern and antique and I think the two matte black candle holders that are Hearth & Hand by Magnolia for Target really helped do that. The jewel cut glasses also came from Target and I love them!   

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I wanted to keep it on the cheap with the florals so they all came from the grocery store:) . I decided to knot the napkins for a bit of a more casual look.  I decided to go with the black tapers for a bit of a moodier vibe. I was so happy with the way this all came together.  It seems like the perfect place to host your gal pals to me! 

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We wanted to create a custom cocktail that you can easily create at home to celebrate! We are calling it the l’Eau de Saint-Valentin:

l’Eau de Saint-Valentin

((The Water Of Valentines))

Yield: 2

INGREDIENTS

3 oz Eden Mill Love Gin

1.5 oz Berry Syrup*

1 Lime

2 Small Cucumber Wedges

Tonic Water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Muddle gin, lime & cucumber until fully juiced.
  2. Fill glasses with ice, strain and divide juice.
  3. Top with tonic water and drizzle Berry Syrup.
  4. Garnish with a cucumber spear, a blackberry and a sprig of thyme.

BERRY SYRUP RECIPE

5 Blackberries

5 Rasberries

2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

2 Tbsp Water

  1. Place all ingredients in saucepan on low for 10 minutes.
  2. Press juices from berries and stir intermittently.
  3. Strain and chill.

Recipe curtesy of my friend, Bede Benjamin-Korporaal.  Also wanted to give a shout out to his amazing wife and one of my best friends, Izzy for being awesome and helping me all day.  You guys are the best <3 

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Happy Galentines, y'all.