Saskatoon – Meat Lover’s Dream

If you’re looking for a special dinner destination (and craving red meat), you have to try Saskatoon in Greenville. Around here, Saskatoon is renowned for their exotic meats (think ostrich, antelope, alligator) as much as their prime aged steaks (or “tame game,” as they like to call it). Saskatoon has been a no-brainer for my family for years when it comes to special occasions, which is why I treated my husband to a dinner there last night for his 23rd birthday.

Birthday dinner

The new location is huge, and has countless fun and surprising details. Check out the gorgeous mural on the wall behind us.

Though I’ve been to Saskatoon on multiple occasions, last night was a new experience for me as we dined at their new location. Though only just down the road from their smaller Haywood Rd spot, the transformation is remarkable; the new restaurant is a full-fledged lodge, with their customary rustic elements balanced with elegance. The roaring fireplace with strings of Edison bulbs criss-crossing the vaulted ceilings makes for a dramatic and cozy atmosphere.


You’d expect good bread from a steakhouse, but Saskatoon kicks it up a notch with their flavored butters–berry, cinnamon, and honey butter, to be exact. Mouthwatering.

Obviously, Saskatoon is an automatic “yes” for anyone who loves red meat or trying something new, but the service is also a big plus. The staff at Saskatoon are markedly attentive, gracious, and knowledgeable about the menu.  You’ll really get a personalized experience and great service.


I ALWAYS fail to take a photo of my meal before diving in. This time, though, at least my impatience let me show off that incredible color inside my sirloin.

Saskatoon is an excellent choice for a special night out.  You get top-notch food without the stuffy atmosphere.  Be sure to peruse their excellent list of wines and beers (Benjamin ordered a locally-made ale from Thomas Creek Brewery…it made for a killer combo with his elk chops), and save room for dessert, too. The chocolate mousse pie is a famous hit, though I have to say that our personal favorite is the bread pudding.

front doors

Go check out Saskatoon’s new location–you won’t be disappointed. 

Hochstetler’s Country Store – Seneca’s Hidden Gem

Though it may not look like much on the surface, Hochstetler’s Country Store in Seneca, SC is a neighborhood gem and a long-time favorite among my family.  The Hochstetlers set up shop in 2006, and in their country store you’ll find all the old-fashioned charm and friendly service you’d expect.


Hochstetler’s has an intimate setup, with the store leading directly into the deli. I love traditional places like this!

Being only about a five minute drive from my childhood home, I’m well acquainted with Hochstetler’s.  They’re your one-stop shop for bulk and local foods, in addition to their bakery and deli.  The variety of goods nestled in that tiny store is impressive; you can find anything from baking ingredients and supplies, spices, candies, tea and coffee, snacks, and much more.


They carry a HUGE variety of snacks and candies, anything from gingersnaps, peanut butter cups, yogurt-covered pretzels, sour gummy worms, spicy snack mix…you name it!

The prices at Hochstetler’s alone are reason enough to drop by.  My father, a self-proclaimed foodie, buys all his spices there: not only are they cheaper, but he swears by their freshness, too.  Before I got married, I stocked up on all sorts of spices and seasonings from Hochstetler’s; their all-natural lemon-pepper seasoning is my husband’s favorite.


Hochstetler’s stocks all kinds of spices and herbs, whether common or more exotic.

For you Christmastime bakers, please do yourself a favor and get your ingredients from Hochstetler’s.  You’ll find an excellent variety of nuts and dried fruits (which add up to $$$ at most grocery stores) at a fraction of their normal price.  Furthermore, you can find specialty flours (gluten free, anyone?), gourmet sugars and salts, different cooking oils, and more to fit virtually any recipe.  Take a peek at their refrigerators, too; Hochstetler’s stocks local meats and cheeses, as well as raw milk.


Hochstetler’s has “bake days” three days a week, churning out delicious breads, pies, and sweets.

After you’ve collected your basket of amazing snacks and ingredients, be sure to get a sandwich and bowl of soup from Hochstetler’s deli.  Everything is freshly prepared, with meats cut right before your eyes.  Did I mention you can also purchase deli meats and cheeses there?  They’re absolutely delicious, and (you guessed it) way cheaper than at the grocery store.

store front

What a great hometown treasure. Hochstetler’s is a relaxing, fun place to shop and eat.

This no-fuss, no-frills store is a true delight to visit, and I’d be there weekly if I still lived in Seneca.  As it is, I drop by and stock up on spices, dried fruit, popcorn (Benjamin loves their “mushroom” popcorn–you know, the kind of huge popcorn kernels that they use for caramel corn!), and more whenever I visit my parents.  Take my advice and drop by Hochstetler’s, pick up a fresh-baked pie or loaf of bread for dinner, and make it your regular destination for all foods fresh and local.

Unforgettable Christmas Gifts

This time of year, it’s so easy to get into a gift-giving rut. Personally, I think revamping one’s gift list is important so that gift-giving returns to being something meaningful instead of merely obligatory.  Plus, it’s fun to discover new options!  Below, I’ve outlined 6 one-of-a-kind gifts from small businesses that would please any number of people in your life.

Milltown Leather – Passport Wallet

passport wallet

For the man in your life, be it father, brother, or significant other, you can’t fail with quality leather goods.  Even no-fuss men insist on good quality, and I have yet to meet a guy who doesn’t love the smell and feel of genuine leather.  This passport wallet by Milltown Leather would make a classy gift that only gets better with age.  Check out Milltown Leather’s new Etsy shop to explore their other listings, too!

Casting Cares – Weighted Blanket

blanket variety

Have a hard-to-shop-for family member? Yeah–everyone does. Instead of going with an ambiguous gift card again, consider gifting a weighted blanket. They’re helpful for conditions ranging from insomnia to anxiety to sensory issues, and everyone who tries them finds them instantly comforting. Casting Cares has dozens of blankets ready for purchase, but Kathy can also customize the weight and look in a flash.  These make truly heartfelt gifts!

Oak Leaf Pottery – Garden Fairy House

fairy houses

I can’t think of a more fun or unique gift idea than a fairy house from Oak Leaf Pottery.  This would make a wonderful gift for the avid gardener in your family, as these little clay cottages look great nestled in a flower patch. Allison’s fairy houses would make an equally lovable gift for any imaginative little girls in your family.  You’d be remiss if you didn’t browse through Allison’s other gorgeous ceramics, though, so check out her website!

Local Coffee – Give a Cup ‘o Joe


Who wouldn’t love to receive some fresh, high-quality coffee for Christmas? This is a guaranteed win for any coffee-drinker in your life. Virtually all local coffee shops sell their own house blends, and they’re a treat to brew at home.  I’ve got a soft spot for All In Coffee Shop‘s java, but here in the Greenville area, Due South is very popular (for good reason!). We’ve received coffee as gifts on multiple occasions–and I have to say, it’s one of my favorites.

Lauren Sumner Pottery – Christmas Tree Ornament


Benjamin and I have already received several Christmas ornaments as we enter into our first holiday season together, so I can testify that ornaments make really sweet, personal gifts, especially for young couples or families who are starting off.  Lauren Sumner makes all sorts of ceramic ornaments commemorating births, marriages, special events…anything you can think of. I especially love her ornaments shaped like U.S. States!

Local Activities – Classes, Seminars, and more

tasting class

For the people who have everything, sometimes the best gift to give is actually an activity. You can find tickets or gift certificates to local events, classes, and seminars that create fun experiences and memories for your loved ones.  If you’re in the Upstate, check out wine & beer tastings from Sweet Sippin’, purchase show tickets from a local theater, or explore Skillpop class options (like intro to brush lettering!). Once you start searching your area, you’ll be surprised by how many options are available. There’s truly something for everyone!

Always think outside the box

At the end of the day, a gift is meant to be a loving gesture, so pull together something special for your loved ones.  You can support small businesses by purchasing handmade items or giving patronage to local restaurants, but you can also support small businesses in unexpected ways. For example, if one of your friends really wants a particular board game, try searching a community gaming store before heading to Target.  Gaming centers are popping up everywhere, and they always sell a great variety of board and card games.  That’s just one example–take a look around, get creative, and find something special this Christmas season.

Christmas Giveaway Box – All the Details

If you’re reading this post, then that means you’ve discovered Ivy&Branch’s first Christmas giveaway box (enter on Instagram to win).  The sneak peak photo, while tantalizing, doesn’t give each item and shop the detail they deserve, so here I’ll be showcasing each shop + their donated item, so you can know exactly what you’ll be getting if you win! Let’s plunge right in, shall we?

Being Sara Dixon – Lantern print, stationery, and ornament

sarah's items

Shop more of Sara’s work on her Etsy!

A perfect trio: Sara’s signature woodblock printing skills shine in both the lantern print as well as the pack of four holiday stationery cards.  And let’s not overlook that sweet little wood-round ornament wishing “& to all a goodnight.”  Sara’s rustic yet clean style fits in with all kinds of decor themes.

The Artful Sojourn – Druzy earring studs

druzy earrings

Check out all of Lisa’s jewelry on Etsy!

What more could you want to add some sparkle to your Christmas party ensemble?  These druzy earrings catch lots of light and go with just about everything.  And, should you find yourself browsing through Lisa’s jewelry gallery on Etsy, remember that 20% of your purchase goes to help orphans in India.

Grace Under Pressure – Inspirational canvas

nancy's items

Shop for paintings and more calligraphy on Nancy’s Etsy shop!

This small canvas would be perfect propped up on a desk, or is lightweight enough to be hung on a Command hook (perfect for that dorm-room wall that won’t allow you to install picture hooks).  Nancy’s calligraphy is always a thing of beauty!

The Vintage Home Studio – Holiday tea towel

vintage home towel

Michelle has a whole line of adorable Christmas tea towels out–go look on her Etsy!

How festive is this tea towel?  I love the woodsy pine cones + berries + leaves.  This towel would be a darling draped in the kitchen to add a little Yuletide spirit (along with all your Christmas baked goods!)

Sunny Mullarkey Studio – Feather print

feather print

Enjoy more of Sunny’s work on her Etsy shop.

Sunny’s linocut prints have caught on like wildfire here in Upstate SC, and for good reason.  The creativity and precise details she puts into her work are unparalleled, as shown in this gorgeous feather print.

Modern Forestry – patchouli teakwood candle


Modern Forestry has some AMAZING holiday scents. Have fun browsing their Etsy!

This hefty 16-oz candle is a universal crowd-pleaser.  Modern Forestry’s patchouli teakwood scent strikes a perfect balance between delicate and woodsy (i.e., would make a great gift for anyone, male or female!)

Cotton and Cursive – pencil case, scrunchie, and notecards

Rachel's items

Head over to Rachel’s Etsy for more!

This trio from seamstress + calligrapher Rachel highlights the fun range of items you’ll find in her shop.  Scrunchies (yes, scrunchies!) are coming back big, and not just for the kiddos. This festive tartan scrunchie would make a fun accessory for your holiday outfits.  The pencil case is made in Rachel’s signature quilted style–as for the print, you’ll just have to wait and unwrap it! The note cards come in a pack of three, and showcase Rachel’s pristine calligraphy (Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!)

A Gilded Line – pair of three bangles


Personalize your own cuffs on Allie’s Etsy.

I love Allie’s stamped cuffs–so much that they were part of the gifts I gave to my bridesmaids!  These three cuffs, each with their own inspirational phrase, showcase the range of metals and fonts you can get from A Gilded Line.  Lightweight, adjustable, and (when worn together) make a cheerful jingle!

I Say Grace – set of post cards and tree ornament

Meg's items

Have fun exploring Meg’s Etsy shop!

For the watercolor-love (ME!), Meg’s shop is a dream come true.  These set of three post cards make a darling vehicle for this beautiful seashell painting.  And take a peek at that adorable Christmas tree ornament–I love the fun little drawing, and the festive striped string.

January Jewelry – $25 Shop Credit

january jewelry

Definitely check out Melissa’s Etsy and start daydreaming on how to use this gift card!

Melissa’s jewelry is truly one-of-a-kind. As a trained metal smith, Melissa crafts every element of her breathtaking pieces, and offers all kinds of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and more.  This coupon card awards you $25 of store credit, which can be used on any item you like–so have fun browsing!

Joe’s Place – Literary and Community Hub

As a long-time bookworm and former English major, bookstores have a special place in my heart.  As I’ve been scouting out exemplary bookstores in the upstate SC area, Joe’s Place Bookstore has marked itself as a must-visit, must-support, must-love location.

sunny window

There were lots of cozy rooms at Joe’s Place, but this sunny room with the window seats completely won me over.

Let’s not sugar-coat it: bookstores often struggle to stay in business.  In my hometown, two used bookstores I visited frequently both abruptly shut down due to patrons doing more browsing than actual buying.  However, I’ve noticed several small bookstores beginning to revamp their business by pairing book selling with using their space for social and educational opportunities.  Joe’s Place is a great example of this store/community center hybrid, and they’re hitting it out of the park.


Benjamin bought a stir-fry cook book from Joe’s Place, and we enjoyed picking recipes while sipping cappuccinos on the porch.

You’ll find Joe’s Place’s new location in a beautifully transformed home on Williams Street.  I was absolutely smitten with this place not just because of the incredible variety of books, but because the owners at Joe’s Place have maintained a true homelike feeling in their new space.  In every room, there are comfy chairs and sofas or spacious tables where you can spread out your bookstore finds.

coffee station

All the snacks, coffee, and yummy teas you could want after you’ve selected a good book.

Downstairs, you’ll find a little cafe with pastries and local chocolate treats, plus excellent coffee drinks using locally-roasted Due South coffee beans.  Directly across from the coffee station is Joe’s Place’s beautiful wine bar, with rows of gleaming bottles and plenty of vintage charm.  Whether you have a glass of wine or a steaming cup of java, the outside covered porch is a serene place to sip, chat, and enjoy flipping through a book.

wine bar

Joe’s Place’s wine bar; just look at that beautiful architecture, plus those poofy armchairs–perfect for leisurely sipping.

Joe’s Place also hosts a variety of weekly events, anything from topical crash-courses, introductory classes on wine, book club meetings, and trivia nights.  They’ve formulated an excellent business model that blends merchandise, food and beverage, and resources for the community.  Their comfortable environment and spacious rooms offer the ideal place for coffee dates and study spots, and they’re filled to the brim with excellent books–a true delight to discover.  Follow them on Instagram, and definitely go visit…and when you do, browse AND buy!

Mona Does Concrete – Time to Rethink Concrete

When you think “concrete,” you probably think of sidewalks, industrial floors, etc.  When Mona Patel thinks concrete, she thinks kitchen ware, wall art, and even jewelry.  Prepare to see concrete transformed into elegant merchandise that beautifies and offers a refreshing aesthetic when you browse Mona Does Concrete.

Small Geo Planters- Display (1 of 1)

These petite geometric planters beg to be placed in a sunny window, or would be perfect to cheer up a desk.

When Mona met her husband Mike, a jack-of-all-trades, she was introduced to several skills from building to carpentry, but she took a special interest in his work with concrete.  Mike used concrete to make polished kitchen counter-tops, but Mona saw an opportunity to take this diverse material and make items that were smaller, more affordable, and useful in the home.


Mona certainly thinks outside the box when it comes to concrete, and her products are unexpected, chic, and fun.

People are often surprised with the kind of items that can be made of concrete, and often mistake Mona’s products as stoneware.  This is because of Mona’s special process in forming and finishing her products, particularly her kitchenware, to make it both smooth and food-safe.  Mona uses a beeswax seal on her concrete wares that not only makes the items kitchen-friendly, but also gives them a smooth finish–very different from bumpy sidewalk!

cheeseboard_context (2 of 1)

Mona stains her cheese boards with tumeric, giving the concrete that beautiful amber streak.

Mona loves the unique advantages of using concrete, one of them being the immense diversity of the material.  According to Mona, if you can make a mold, you can make almost anything with concrete.  The key, though, is making a mold that can be removed from the final product without shattering, thus allowing the mold to be reused. For her standard items, Mona likes using rubber molds, though she’s always willing to experiment for the sake of creating something unexpected.

Lauren_geometric necklace (1 of 1)

Ever considered concrete jewelry? Mona has lots of beautiful concrete necklaces, and says people are surprised to find that the pieces are no heavier than normal pendants.

For concrete kitchenware, you’ll want to hand wash in order to preserve the beeswax seal, but otherwise concrete products are very durable.  Mona likes to tell her customers to expect the concrete to change colors over time, much like leather taking on a patina.  Each product adopts an individual character over time and no two items are exactly the same. Check out Mona Does Concrete on Etsy or follow her Instagram!

Spoon rest (2 of 1)

Stylish, whimsical pieces for the home or to wear–clearly concrete is a medium worth noticing!

Good Juju Herbal — Mindful Skincare

Natural skincare is a trend that is quickly catching on, and for good reason.  As people do research into what is in their commercialized skincare (and the side effects all those chemicals bring), you see more folks turning to natural options.  For Judith Jones, the need was even more urgent: born with eczema, Judith already struggled with sensitive skin, but at 19 she began to develop dramatic allergies to some of the most commonly used chemicals in commercial products.


Judith’s compassion shows through in her warm smile and bubbly voice.  You can tell she cares about the people who use her products! [PC: Three Regions Photography]

Even in dermatologist-recommended skincare lines and products advertised as “natural,” Judith repeatedly found the artificial ingredients and chemicals that she was allergic to.  As a result, Judith began making her own products.  What started out as soap for her own use rapidly caught on with friends and family, until soon folks began insisting she make her products available for purchase.


Judith’s soaps are simple in their ingredients, but dramatic in the way they nourish your skin.  

Today, two years later, Judith is running Good Juju Herbal as a full-time business, with a hopping Etsy shop as well as partnering with West Elm and other North Carolina-based businesses. Judith quickly found that natural skincare–we’re talking 100% natural, with no complicated chemicals–was not only popular, but much-needed for many people.

When asked about her favorite product, Judith admits that she’s tremendously proud of her soap.  While you’ll find lots of other artisan soap makers at on Etsy, Judith is one of the only ones that doesn’t fiddle with artificial colors, fragrances, and chemicals.  But that doesn’t mean her soaps are boring–while some are purposefully unscented, many have a bright, natural scent that comes from essential oils, spices, and flower petals.

Good Juju

Not only are Judith’s products all natural, but ethical as well.  She is conscientious about the packaging she uses, and regularly donates a portion of her proceeds to charity.

Because of her passion for helping others, Judith initially had intentions to become a nurse, but through Good Juju Herbal she’s found an entirely different way to practice healing.  Judith spent months crafting her own skincare line that includes a facial soap, toner, and moisturizer.  Judith finds the skincare line most rewarding to make because she receives dozens of testimonials from customers who have been rid of conditions ranging from acne to dryness.  Judith painstakingly developed this skincare routine to not only be friendly to sensitive skin, but also to suit a wide variety of skin types and issues.


When Judith calls her skincare line “Skin Food,” she’s not joking–that stuff’s jam packed with nutrients to make your skin happy!

There’s no shortage of products at Good JuJu Herbal, and no end to the goodness Judith’s creations provide.  A couple months ago I ordered one of her gift sets (which includes a bar of soap, lip moisturizer, a cedar soap dish, and felted soap) and fell in love with her products.  Whether you have sensitive skin or not, once you try Judith’s soap you can never go back to liquid pump soap; her products are deeply moisturizing, luxurious, and tastefully scented.  Especially if you suffer from acne, eczema, or other difficult skin issues, Good Juju Herbal is an essential to try out.

City Scape Winery – Local Wine with Innovative Twists

Benjamin and I have only recently been introduced to wine, but we’ve come to enjoy an occasional glass after work.  At the same time, we were painfully aware that we knew almost nothing about wine and had only tried (very) inexpensive brands from the local grocery store.  We’ve mentioned several times that we ought to actually attend a class or wine tasting, and when I discovered that Greenville county has a winery in Pelzer, I knew right away that we’d be making a visit.


The staff at City Scape are all friendly, informed, and passionate about the wines they sell.

City Scape Winery was originally owned by Wayne and Anita Tamm, but they sold the winery to a young couple, Josh and Deb Jones, in 2015. Josh and Deb had first experimented with wine making as a mere curiosity, but over the years they began to really hone their craft, even making 125 bottles of wine for their own wedding.  Since the Tamms had been acquainted with the Jones over the years and had followed their rise in expertise, they had little reservations in passing the baton.


The outdoor area is so lovely that it’s become a popular venue for intimate weddings.

Since then, Josh and Deb have traveled to wine-making heavyweights like Italy, Spain, and Portugal, as well as US wine hubs like the Napa Valley.  At City Scape Winery, you’ll find an intimate establishment that feels more like a home than a stuffy winery.  The shop is cozy yet stylish, with a beautiful patio outside overlooking the vineyard.  The atmosphere is laid-back and inviting, with City Scape’s favorite pet, Pinot the Pig, and a group of friendly goats available for visits.


Just beyond the vineyard is a pen with these friendly guys–who have been known to sneak into the vineyard to snack on tasty grapes.

City Scape specializes in incorporating local fruits into their wines, and you’ll find seasonal wines such as the Blackberry Merlot or the Strawberry Sauvignon Blanc (so delicious that Benjamin and I brought a bottle home).  You’ll find other unique blends like the Carolina Nights, featuring local Carolina muscadines, or the Müller-Thurgau, a mild German wine with a nectar-like taste.

City Scape is more than a producer of wines–they are a community hub.  The place was brimming with people during our visit, some popping in for a quick purchase, some lingering for a tasting, while others wandered the grounds with a glass of their favorite wine.  City Scape hosts regular events to promote community; coming up soon, they have a “Girls Night Out” event (Oct. 19) as well as a Farm-to-Table dinner (Oct. 6).  Josh and Deb also offer one-on-one wine making classes for those who, like them at the beginning of their wine career, have an interest in making wine at home.

city scape

We were able to try a wide variety of wines, including a scrumptious port-style wine.

You can find City Scape wines at The Fresh Market (S. Pleasantburg and Woodruff locations) as well as many Greenville restaurants.  Whether you’re local or not, you can always purchase their wines online, as well, though I would recommend stopping by the winery itself for a tasting (starting at only $6.95, which gives you about 9 wines to sample–a great deal!).

Small Businesses in the Big Day

Ever since receiving our wedding photos a couple months ago, I find myself looking through the album every so often, reliving what had been a preciously happy day.  Then it occurred to me that we had incorporated the products and services of several small businesses in the wedding, and we were so pleased with each and every one of them.  So whether you’re planning a wedding or party yourself, or just like discovering what’s local, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to some top-notch small businesses in the area that we used for our wedding.

Ginia Worrell Photography

I would be remiss if I didn’t start off singing the praises of our photographer, Ginia Worrell.  Ginia is such a warm person, and she did a great job capturing not just the physical details but the happiness of everyone that day.  She did an excellent job putting everyone at ease, and knew just how to both provide direction while also letting us be ourselves.  She was both speedy and thorough–the ideal combination in a photographer!  We have been so pleased with her photos and how she captured all the little details and sweet moments of our day.

View More:

I love this detail shot, and Ginia really helped us to feel natural and relaxed while she worked.

The Bleckley Inn (Anderson, SC)

This was our venue for both our wedding and our reception.  With portions of the original inn over 100 years old, the Bleckley had beautiful charm and character that won us over immediately.  The staff were all very accommodating and helpful, and their wedding package was wonderful, including rentals, 4 suites, and multiple spaces throughout the inn.  We were nothing but pleased and delighted with our choice of venue!

View More:

We used the walled-in courtyard for our ceremony.  The area is beautifully landscaped (and check out those amazing old doors!)

View More:

The carriage house served our reception needs perfectly.  It was spacious, bright, and had plenty of that old-age charm with the exposed brick, wood beams, and original stucco.

Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill (caterer)

Planted literally across the road from the Bleckley Inn, Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill has a reputation in Anderson as THE restaurant in town.  Because of this, I was initially intimidated by taking them on as our caterer, but we found out early on that Sullivan’s was amazing to work with and worked easily within our budget.  The food was outstanding, and people still come up to me and talk about it, particularly their bacon-wrapped quail and the exquisite desserts.  You can’t do better than Sullivan’s if you’re looking for a top-notch caterer in the Upstate!

View More:

Sullivan’s knocked our socks off with their food. Shown here is their blackberry-lemon cheesecake–and it’s every bit as good as it looks!

Solid Gold (jewelers)

I bought Benjamin’s wedding band here, and he also used Solid Gold to resize my rings (both my band and diamond first belonged to my grandmother).  We were really pleased with the prices they offered and their service was quick and very satisfactory.

View More:

Even though my diamond and band are over 60 years old, Solid Gold was able to offer us a men’s band that matched my set beautifully.

Emerald Road (live band)

I love Celtic music, so we brought in Emerald Road, a local Celtic band, to play for our wedding and reception.  They brought new life to the music we selected, and made the reception lively and fun.  Each of the musicians have a lot of talent and play so well together.

View More:

We had a cellist, violinist, and guitarist at our wedding, but different members of Emerald Road play multiple instruments.

Bridesmaids Gifts

For my bridesmaids, I ordered them each a cuff from A Gilded Line with a line from their favorite hymn stamped onto it.  I chose this because, more than being a drift from the current trends in bridesmaids gifts, it was personalized and meaningful.  Alongside the cuffs I also gave them a bunch of pampering goodies, among them a bath bomb from Tiny House, Big Farm.  I got texts from the girls a week or two later saying how fun and luxurious the bombs were–always a nice component to a girly gift.

a gilded line

Check out the blog post I wrote on A Gilded Line here.

Floral Bouquets

I’ve had several people ask me who did our bouquets–well, I did!  I follow SO many talented florists on Instagram and would have loved to use any number of them…but as a bride you have to choose how you portion your budget.  We ordered blooms (primarily roses) from Ingles and picked the majority of the greenery from blueberry bushes and ivy in our backyard.

So, while this isn’t a small business promotion, I hope it’s a tip that can help another thrifty bride.  However, if fresh flowers are one of the most important things to you for your wedding, there are lots of highly talented florists in the area (message me for references!)

View More:

I really enjoyed assembling our bouquets (floral arranging is one of the few crafty things I can actually do).

There are a TON of amazing venues, caterers, shops and products in the area that you can incorporate into a wedding to make it special, but these were the ones that we chose, and we were so pleased.  Everyone worked graciously with our budget and provided excellent service and quality.  Our wedding could have been bare-bones and I still would have been on cloud 9, but all the details and special touches made it absolutely beautiful.  I hope you’ll take advantage of the talent in this area and use them, too!

View More:

A happy, happy day!

Lauren Sumner Pottery – Imaginative Accents for the Home

Something I so enjoy about running this blog is seeing a medium or craft interpreted in drastically different ways by each different artist.  I follow several different ceramics shops, each with their own unique style, but Lauren Sumner Pottery has stood out again and again, which is why I’m so tickled that I had the chance to interview her about her beautiful ceramics.


Lauren has so many fun shapes and details in her pottery, and I love the high gloss finish.

Lauren and ceramics have a history that goes back twenty years, though it was only in 2011 that she opened her Etsy shop.  In 2015, Lauren took the plunge to run her ceramics business full-time, and has been creating like crazy ever since.  Her origins as a graphic designer definitely translate in the polish and precision of her work–another feature that makes her ceramics stand out.


It’s amazing the transformation that pottery undergoes, from the initial shaping and carving to the final touches.

Like any artist, Lauren had to experiment with different techniques, shapes, and ideas in order to find her own recognizable style.  Early on, she developed the idea for her Montsera leaf bowl–a signature that has stayed in the shop ever since and has set the tone for much of her work.  Lauren’s technique is time consuming in order to produce this stunning piece; by using a real Montsera leaf, Lauren molds her clay into a bowl shape and painstakingly carves out the unique leaf details.


Lauren’s teardrop wall hangings are an eye-catching alternative to traditional frames or paintings.

The eye-popping glazes Lauren uses are as distinctive as her unique shapes.  Drawn towards deep greens, teals, and aquas, Lauren’s work definitely promotes a serene, almost tropical feel.  You won’t find anything plain-Jane at Lauren Sumner Pottery–along with her bright colors, Lauren is drawn toward fun details, such as her cat-shaped ring dishes or lace-patterned bowls and wall hangings.


Lauren’s signature Montsera leaf look, made miniature for these darling ceramic necklaces.

When asked what her favorite piece is, Lauren had a true artist’s answer: “Whatever is newest!”  I love that answer, because I think it expresses the universal passion of a creative: we are always enamored by whatever is new, fresh, and expressive.  For Lauren, this means that she is particularly excited by the ceramic necklaces new to her shop.

Follow Lauren on Instagram and Facebook, and be sure to also check out her website and Etsy shop.  Whether you’re looking for a wall hanging, dish, or necklace, Lauren will definitely have something unique, beautiful, and stylish to offer.