Family Road Trip- Charleston and Beyond

May 8th, 2015

Growing up, we took a lot of family road trips. My parents pulled the seats out of the family minivan, filled the back with blankets and piled the four of us girls in. We would leave at 10:00pm so that we would sleep the whole way, which in hindsight was genius! When I became a parent, I romanticized these trips and envisioned all of us driving merrily to our various, fabulous destinations (in the light of day) singing songs and counting cows. Love and joy just radiating from the family car. Well, that didn’t happen.  Family road trips, at least for our little family, are more like cage fighting in a Volvo. I do not know how in the world parents maintained sanity before the portable DVD player was invented or without pharmaceuticals. It’s all I have on these trips. Literally. All. I. Have.

These trips are not unlike childbirth. You forget how painful they are after it’s over and somehow you want to do it all again! This spring, my husband and I decided to load up the chickens and head to Asheville, Charleston and Savannah. Here is how that went…
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We began the week of too much togetherness with Asheville. I hadn’t been there since I was a young teen and thought it would be great for the kids. I looked into both airbnb – as well as hotels – and decided we would go ahead and spend way more than we wanted and stay at The Grove Park Inn. The hotel is gorgeous. It’s huge and the grounds are beautiful but the rooms… not so much. We rarely stay in large hotels, instead opting for boutique hotels, but this time we decided to go big or go home. This was BIG. And dated. And expensive. We stayed one night and it was fine but I would absolutely stay somewhere else next time.
Hannah Crowell
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I have heard so many wonderful things about Asheville and had we had more time, we would have branched out and explored all the fair city had to offer. Instead, we were shameless tourists and went to the Biltmore Estate. It’s enormous and gorgeous and the grounds are just phenomenal.
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The highlight for the girls was this. Bouncing Andy Bear in my scarf. So while it was a total waste of money as far as they were concerned, I got to see all the Downton Abbey costumes on display and obsess over how freaking tiny Lady Mary’s waist is. I mean…. it’s actually criminal!Hannah Crowell
After the Biltmore, we headed to Charleston. I told my husband it was a mere 2 hour drive when in fact it was 4. I am no longer allowed to navigate on family trips. But the drive there was beautiful and it was so gorgeous getting there just  as the sun set on the harbor!
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We had never been to the beaches of South Carolina and decided to rent a house on Folly Beach instead of staying in Charleston proper. Through airbnb, we rented an adorable cottage on Folly Beach that was a few blocks from the ocean. I am not much of a planner and prone to making decisions based on whether I think its pretty or not, which is very telling, I know. So I basically planned the trip around the fact that I thought this beach cottage was so cute.
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Al fresco breakfasts in the morning on the surf board bar. Lost Dog Cafe is also such a great breakfast spot!
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Folly Beach is a very eclectic community that reminded me of some of the funkier beach towns of Southern California. Shacks and million dollar homes on the same block. Surfers and retirees bellied up to the bar together. We loved it. The beach was lovely and still a bit chilly, so we virtually had the whole thing to ourselves.Hannah Crowell
…with the exception of the 5 Amish women who made me their new BFF and personal paparazzi. This is me juggling 5 iPhones (I thought the whole internet/ smart phone thing was kind of an Amish no-no. No?) for their group photo op.
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Every morning, we would come down to hundreds of starfish. I am a total sissy and will only touch a dog and maybe once a year a cat, so I did not handle these sea creatures but rather made my child do it so I could get a good photograph.
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My little beach dancer.
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The first night we got to Folly, it was late and we needed supplies — and by supplies, I mean wine and cereal. Staples. We were directed to the one local market on the island and it was one of the best places I have ever been! There was a guy being arrested outside as we walked up (for being drunk, which we explained to two curious little girls was a terrible thing to do to your body, while buying a bottle of wine) and the kid working the register was definitely high and not wearing shoes. And the sweetest guy ever! They never close, coffee is free and on the shelves you are likely to find organic, ancient grains and carob cookies displayed beside Cheetos and pig skins. I feel like Bert’s perfectly personifies the quirkiness that is Folly Beach.
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We usually go to the beach pretty well prepared. This trip I was apparently in some sort of a packing black out and didn’t bring a bathing suit, a hat or any sort of beach paraphernalia. I assumed I would pick up some amazing little suit and a few Turkish towels to lounge upon in one of the many beachside boutiques Folly was sure to offer. As it turns out, Folly Beach is NOT the place for that, though I will say I was impressed with the vast array of fringed bikinis and straw cowboy hats. Ultimately I decided to forgo the confederate flag bikini (yep, there were many), though I did pick up this one drinking vessel as a token of my undying love and affection for my husband.
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We spent two days on the beach and due to bad weather, two days wandering around the city with the girls. If I were to have to create a new resume for myself, in the skill section it would read something like: “Professional shopper. Expert cocktail drinker. Eater of all things fried.” As it turned out, the only one of these skills that I was able to showcase on this trip was the eating of fried foods. In fact, children are terrible, impatient shoppers and after the second cocktail, people start judging. Within 10 minutes, we turned to each other and agreed we were coming back as soon as possible sans children so we could do all the fun grown up stuff. So we  followed our fellow tourists to a spot where you are herded on to a horse drawn carriage and are pulled about the city for 2 hours. And while we became all too aware that what ever cool we once possessed was most certainly in the past, it was perfect for the kids and we actually loved it.
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Adeline’s cemetery strolls
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On the carriage tour, we passed the Civil War era city jail which our children subsequently became OBSESSED with. They later insisted on taking  a night time ghost tour. I am a pretty lax mom but I was convinced I was about to traumatize my children for the rest of their lives and if therapy hadn’t already been a definite, this was going to seal the deal. But the girls loved it. At one point the tour guide asked if anyone had any questions and our seven year old’s hand shot up. “I do. Have any children ever died in this jail?” The guide proceeded to tell her that indeed there had been many children and that when they were hung their heads just popped right off. That’s when I sent my husband that parent eye contact signal that says “I have failed as a mother. You have to raise the children now as I am clearly unfit and my participation in their life will not even be an option once I kill this tour guide and I am spending the rest of my life behind bars in an orange jumpsuit which, by the way, is a terribly unflattering color for me.” He took all of this in, and I believe was prepared to continue on without me. But she just nodded her head with a very reflective and quizzical look and just kept walking. It was about 3 weeks before she stopped telling strangers about how children’s heads are much more prone to pop off on the gallows than, say, on their own.
This is the prison in the light of day…

Hannah Crowell
Apparently I was very fond of taking pictures of the tops of buildings.
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Rainbow Row was so amazing I almost cried. Yes, because it was so pretty, but also because I begged my husband to let me paint our house this shade of Haint Blue and he denied me. I told him I would never be able to achieve optimum happiness unless this color surrounded me day in and day out. Over time, when he asks me what’s wrong with me, I can now refer him back to this image (and then of course later tell him the 75 other reasons on my short list).
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The food in Charleston was amazing! Everyone told us to go to The Ordinary and we ended up having to cancel two separate reservations due to either exhausted children or meltdowns, both the child and adult varieties. In any event, The Ordinary is definitely top of the list when we go back, sans children. We had a great lunch at Brasserie GiGi one day and an even better lunch the next at Cru Cafe. We also made a stop at Sugar Bakeshop for cupcakes because I was not quite satisfied with my vacation weight gain and felt certain I could do better.
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Our last night on Folly Beach was pretttttttttyyyyy heavy. My husband took this picture of our seven year old pondering the end of life as she stands before a fallen tree. I am not making that up…. it got real.Hannah Crowell
I, on the other hand, was more interested in getting the perfect selfie with my husband.
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On our way to Savannah, we stopped at the Angel Oak Tree. 1500 years old and 65 feet tall, it was so beautiful. Tons of tourists, but definitely worth seeing. The best part was there was a couple getting married. Just the two of them and a preacher on a Friday morning. I wanted to run to them and congratulate them on the simplicity of their wedding as it’s the love between two people that matters and anyhow 50% of marriages don’t last and you just regret having spent all that time and money and who cares about place settings you never even wanted to invite that bitch Aunt Marie anyhow! But I kept it all inside.
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Sadly, I only booked one night in Savannah and would have loved to have stayed longer. Within 10 minutes of arriving, my husband had convinced our 9 year old to attend SCAD and had selected the square where we will be purchasing our retirement home. Another 10 minutes went by and he simply told us to go on him without him, he would be staying in Savannah. It’s just that gorgeous! Or he just really wants to get away from us. I’m not entirely sure.
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One might think a carriage ride and jail tour in Charleston would be sufficient, but nope! We took it to the Trolleys in Savannah. If you ever need to know where Forrest Gump sat with his box of chocolates or where Kevin Spacey stayed while filming Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I’m your gal.
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SCAD’s involvement in the city is pretty remarkable. Over the years they have been buying up historic buildings throughout the city and and using them for housing, classrooms etc. Playing a big role in the preservation of the city.
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We stayed at the CottonSail Hotel which was great for a family (though they did not have room service which did spawn a bit of a diva melt down on my part and some serious eye rolling on my husband’s). When we go back without the kids, we’ll stay at The Brice. We also had a wonderful lunch at The Collins Quarter where the owners are beyond gracious and the avocado toast is the best ever.
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On our last morning we played in Forsyth Park and strolled through the farmer’s market. We also found the sweetest little book shop, E. Shaver Booksellers,  where we picked up Alice in Wonderland and Mathilda.
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The most important part of this trip for me was going to Back in the Day Bakery while in Savannah. I have a borderline obsession with the owners of said bakery. Some ladies Google image Channing Tatum shirtless, I Google search “Cheryl and Griff Day.” I have cooked my way through their cook book and did a blog posts on their best ever chocolate cake. So you can imagine the absolute delight mixed with crippling anxiety I experienced when we pulled up to the bakery to discover they were having a book signing. That’s when it all went dark. I remember having a serious come to Jesus talk with my children about the wrath that would befall them if they acted out and then rushing the signing table to tell them 75 times how much I love them. I think it’s safe to say that I am no longer allowed within 100 feet of the bakery. Before they fled into their safe room, we bought cupcakes and cookies and brownies and they were all absolutely delicious.
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You know a family vacation was successful when no body parts are broken, the college funds have not been drained, you have avoided the ER and no one has added a divorce attorney to speed dial. So I declare this trip a success. And now that we have given our children this lovely experience, I can not wait to do it all over again without them!
All a girl needs. A night-night, a stale bag of pretzels and a blanket wall built to keep her sister on her own damn side of the car! Just like the old days.
Hannah Crowell

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Martha Stewart Weddings

January 14th, 2015

2014 was the year of the wedding in the Crowell Family. My sweet sister Carrie married Dan Knobler, a fine young man that we all love and adore. Their wedding was so spectacular it garnered the attention of the folks at Martha Stewart Weddings and is featured in their January issue. Rightfully so! Everything from the music (our Dad wrote a song for them that had us all ugly crying) to the beautiful little details were absolutely perfect. Carrie carefully and thoughtfully curated every facet of the wedding and the result was a beautiful day that truly represented who they are, what they value and how much they love each other. May Carrie and Dan enjoy a long marriage filled with love, laughter and lots of babies!
(to read more click here)
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Holiday Shopping Guide 2014

December 8th, 2014

I really don’t care what anyone says, October, November and December are the jolliest, happiest, most festive months and nothing can get me down (it doesn’t hurt that my birthday is right in the mix there). Of course then the January blues set in and all is lost and my husband has to give me gentle shoulder pats and remind me that Easter isn’t too far away (it doesn’t help). But now that we are right in the thick of these magical months, let’s celebrate by buying presents for our near and dear (and those we are obligated to buy gifts for because of social norms)!

Hannah and I take shopping pretty seriously and we find this years’ list to be a no-nonsense, perfect gift-giving-guide – be it for yourself or others. As consumer-conscious shoppers, most items are locally made or found at our favorite mom and pop shops. Also, as a Gender Studies major I would like to apologize for categorizing these gifts into the confines of gender norms but sometimes The Man wins a round; we just have to keep fighting the good fight.

GIFTS FOR HER

Shortstackeds
I give these as gifts constantly. I saw a display of them at White’s Mercantile in Nashville and fell in love. A celebrated chef or food-person curates a small cookbook on only one food – i.e. grits, apples, honey, and so on.
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Mociun Double Triangle Ring
This is such a sweet little trinket for the one you love or the one you want to love you back. I obsess over Mociun’s pieces so much that half the photos on my iPhone are screen-shots of their Instagram account.
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Grace Lee Rectangle Stud Earrings
The perfect diamond studs. Subtle, interesting, and still classic.
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Rachel Comey Tote
I love this bag! It’s not something one would buy for themselves – which happens to make it the perfect gift.
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Katsufumi Baba Teapot
You know how the steam from your teapot burns your hand? Well I think this beauty solves that problem.
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Tambourine
A tambourine, but a beautiful tambourine. What fun!
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Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food
A classic! Anyone who lives in their kitchen will love to have this on the shelf.
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Board & Bread cutting/serving board
Such a lovely cutting board – always a thoughtful gift for a hostess or those who love to curate a beautiful cheese spread and then panic whenever someone sullies your work by enjoying the food you’ve provided.
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John Patrick Organic Slip
My mother-in-law got me this as a surprise gift a few years ago and I live in it. I’ve got my eye on the long navy version currently. Surely an appreciated gift. Surely!
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ABC Carpet and Home mini bud vases
Hannah brought her whole family to New York for Thanksgiving this year and found these mini bud vases at ABC Carpet and Home. She now spends her days instagraming her tiny floral arrangements (I would use them for small potions). At only $6 a piece they really are perfect little gifts.
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GIFTS FOR HIM
Ursa Major Face Wash
Let’s get honest. My husband, Daniel, stayed at Hannah’s husband, James’, old house and sneakily used his (well-stocked) Ursa Major facewash and was then hooked. I do have to give a disclaimer here – this stuff is the real deal. If Dan takes a break from using it for more than a week and then starts up again, he breaks out like crazy – but that is because it is pulling out all the gunk he let rest in his face. Or maybe Ursa Major has figured out how to keep their customers loyal. Either way – we love it!
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The Hill-Side tie at Hickorees
A Hill-Side tie will always be one of the greatest gifts (besides world peace, a puppy, or a military parent popping out of a box on Christmas morning).
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Pocket Change Dish
Every night, Dan unloads his pockets on his bedside table and then restocks in the morning. Is this something men do? I don’t know. But anyway – I found a dish just like this at an antique store in Nashville and thought it was just about the perfect gift. I wish I had saved it for Christmas, actually.
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Void Analogue Watch
Hannah’s husband James has this watch and she loved it so much he bought her one of her own last Christmas. A beauty of a watch that is actually affordable. And according to Hannah, unisex.
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Tan Flap Wallet
I spent a festive October weekend in Nashville with the owner of Joinery, Angela. She is so pretty and has such great taste and I spent a lot of time staring at her that weekend. Her shop is one of the best in Brooklyn and this money clip is a delight.
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Brass Bottle Opener
A beautiful, albeit illuminati-esque, bottle opener. May all your bottle-opening be bright and solid brass.
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Tivoli Radio
Hannah and James are a little bit insane and have one of these in every room in their house constantly tuned to NPR. But let us not judge this holiday season and instead purchase this one in bright yellow for a loved one and make one room in their home a little bit brighter.
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Ridley’s Chess and Checker Set
Really a gift for the whole family. I am a firm believer that owning a chess set makes you smarter even if you don’t know how to play it. When I was young I would set up the whole board and then invent dramatic and romantic story lines between all the pieces – so clearly this is the gift that keeps on giving all year round.
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Belle Meade Bourbon
Not a gift for the whole family but a great one for a bourbon drinker. A four generation family-owned distillery in our beloved Nashville that makes a mighty good bourbon (I’ve been told). I gave James a bottle last year for his birthday and felt very proud of my choice in bourbon.
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Hill-Side Socks from Hickorees
I can always be counted upon to give socks as holiday gifts – I am currently looking at three wrapped pairs under the tree. And if we’ve said it once we’ve said it 400 times – we love everything the Hill-Side makes including these perfect socks!
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As Is Shop
Hannah’s husband, James, runs an amazing online men’s clothing and accessories shop. He was once named the 42nd most fashionable man in New York City so you know it’s good stuff. I would venture to say he is now the 2nd most fashionable man in Nashville (after our father, Rodney, who somehow manages to make Ugg boots look cool). Vivian and June readers get 20% off until Dec. 20th with the code CrowellGirls.
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GIFTS FOR CHILDREN
Fisher Price Record Player
Let your child discover the joy of laying on the floor and crying while listening to Blue by Joni Mitchell earlier than his/her peers.
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Sun Prints
I love sun printing so much that I had to stop for awhile because the whole living room was set up as one giant sun-print-studio. I fancied myself an expert – because it is so easy your children could do it. So let them!
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Sailng Ship Kite
Wow!
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Harmonica Necklace
Possibly annoying, but precious.
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Our dear friend, Day, is having a baby in February and Hannah and I have been given the task (albeit the best task ever) of designing her nursery! This mobile (also a Joinery find) would be so cute over little baby Lehning’s Oeuf crib, even though it might induce carcosa dreams.
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 Little House Books
These were my absolute favorite books growing up. I “learned” how to make maple candy out of snow, churn butter, use potatoes as hand warmers, and cope with my sister, Mary’s, impending blindness (it’s called method reading). I also had an intense crush on Almanzo Wilder (I was a delusional child). Give your children the gift of imagination (or delusion) with these amazing books.
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Twoolies Handmade Wool Lion

Maybe I should have put this in the “gifts for her” section because I need one of these little fellas for myself!

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 Maileg Matchbox Mouse

It’s a big sister mouse who wears a little outfit and sleeps in a matchbox with her very own pillow – what more could you ask for? The company has many mice to choose from – including a mouse in a tower which seems exciting.

 

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From me and Hannah to you (with our confused sister, Chelsea, in the middle) Happy Holidays!

– Carrie
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Back in the Day Bakery

November 4th, 2014

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My sister got married this summer and they took a road trip with stays in both Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC eating their way across these two great states. They visited Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah and it’s all I’ve heard about since! I picked up one of their cookbooks last month and immediately fell in love with the couple (Cheryl and Griffith Day) that own the bakery. I have since done an unhealthy amount of internet stalking and I am convinced we would be BFFs, unless they read this blog and discovered I have boundary issues when it comes to baked goods and those that prepare them. They just seem so lovely and happy and she was a Soul Train dancer for God’s sake! Most importantly, their recipes are AMAZING. My sister won a bake off in Brooklyn with the Bourbon Bread Pudding and the Blueberry Buckle is just so so good. But the be-all and end-all is their Chocolate Heaven with Chocolate Buttercream cake. I’ve NEVER had a better chocolate cake and I have been acquainted with many a chocolate cake. Bottom line, buy this cookbook! Even if you never bake anything out of it, I am convinced it’s mere presence imparts happiness. But you would be a fool not to take an afternoon to make this chocolate cake. I have just given you the gift of significantly snugger jeans. You are welcome.
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I just loved this interview my other culinary obsession, Lynne Rossetto Kasper from the Splendid Table, did with Cheryl Day. You will find the Chocolate Heaven recipe here!
my best friends Cheryl and Griffith.

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A Garage Reformed

October 27th, 2014

I met my dear friend, Gina, when our children were in preschool together. She and I have been practicing Pilates together for years now, and sometime last year she called me up and told me she was getting her Pilates teaching certification and converting her garage to a studio. So in addition to her existing professional career and child rearing, she is now a certified Pilates instructor. Over achiever! 

She called me and my husband James and asked that we design and build out the studio for her. It was a fun project that turned out to be beautiful; not to mention she is now forever indebted to me and has made it her life’s mission to transform me in to the perfect Pilates specimen. That last statement is wildly untrue and in fact impossible, but I like to pretend. Here are some pics of what we did!

We started with a normal ole garage in Nashville’s Sylvan Park neighborhood filled with bikes, yard supplies, the family car, and the sacred beer fridge. 
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Obviously we needed a massive cleaning and a lot of fresh paint. We painted the whole thing (trim, ceiling and walls) with Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White; stained the floors and added a coat of polyurethane; and had to add heating and cooling lest we freeze in the winter or sweat to death in the summer. Then finished off with new lighting, trim and hardware.
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James built us a giant wall of sliding doors to hide the garage items that could not be relocated, still freeing up enough space to have 4 reformers. With a ton of reclaimed wood from Woodstock Lumber, James whitewashed it all and up it went along with two giant mirrors.
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James took his job and compressor very seriously.
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I honestly never thought I would love a garage door so much. But I LOVE IT. I use to dream of a vintage Birkin bag, and now I would take this door over that little beauty any day of the week. For real.
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The best part of all of this is that I now have my own personal Pilates maven and a beautiful little playground for when I actually get a minute to do something good for myself, which now that one of my BFF’s can teach me, I am much more likely to go. I also happen to know that Gina keeps a surplus of beer and wine behind those sliding doors. You know, just in case!
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For more information email Gina Brooks at gina.t.brooks@gmail.com. Girl will whip you into shape!

And as always, many thanks to Q Avenue Photo for always taking such perfect photos!

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Designing Women: Gilda Midani

September 11th, 2014

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My sister, Carrie Crowell, is one of my favorite humans on earth. She is the creator of Big City Grits and runs the most fantastic shop, lf8, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She is going to be a recurring guest blogger and this one is from her…

Is there anything better than being super comfy? When I get home at the end of the
day I immediately take off my horrifying and encasing “street clothes” as I call them
and put on my “comfy cozies” as my mother and sisters call them. Well ladies (and
actually gentlemen!), let me introduce you to the comfy cozies you can wear out and
about and not look like you’ve given it all up – which I actually have no problem
with; I can’t wait to give it all up, but Gilda Midani is thankfully slowing that
process down.

The Brazilian designer creates the most beautiful hand-dyed cotton clothing. Many
of the pieces are fashioned by using beeswax to create really cool relief prints –
from simple stripes to more Jackson Pollack-esque prints. The pieces are perfect for
layering; long tank tops looks amazing under her “trapeze” long sleeve tee-shirts.
Her dresses are so easy to wear it’ll be like donning your nightgown to that business
lunch! Except people will give you approving smiles and possibly gentle applause
instead of worried glances.

Do yourself and favor and just buy one of everything and thank me later. Congrats
on your new comfy-cozy life y’all!

Gilda’s Collection is currently available at lf8 in New York City until September 25th
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my girl Carrie in her comfy cozies. You can see why I love her.
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Nashville Skyline: a modern point of view

September 5th, 2014

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Last year a young professional athlete came to me in need of design help for a Midtown Nashville penthouse he was in the process of buying. One of Nashville’s swankiest addresses with 180-degree views of the city and purportedly the Nashville base for Taylor Swift, we embarked upon transforming the space from traditional to über modern. Far more befitting a young Swiss transplant.
The apartment had been professionally decorated and done well, just not in my client’s style. Nor mine. A LOT of beige, far too many earth tones and not much personality.
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We began, as I always do, with paint. We repainted the entire apartment, walls, trim and ceilings, and replaced carpeting where it existed. My tried and true Farrow and Ball color, Cornforth White, was used throughout the main part of the apartment which instantly brightened the already sun drenched rooms. We worked with one of my favorite stores in Nashville, Nouveau Classics, on many of the pieces. We chose an Eilersen Tub sofa and ottoman. I cannot convey how much I love this company. Handmade in Denmark with the utmost regard to quality and craftsmanship, they are beautiful and so very comfortable. Tomesella Podio coffee table, Nuevo Living marble side tables, Nuevo Living Conner Chair and my favorite little West Elm white task lamp.
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This area of the apartment was staged as an office, which I doubt was ever used. When presented with the option of a reading corner or bar, my client just rolled his eyes at me and I took my leave to go begin designs for a bar.
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At the time we were selecting art for this project, we were personally buying a few of Gray Malin’s Á la Plage prints. I brought my client hundreds of art options and it was Gray Malin’s Prada Marfa series that he immediately said yes to. It couldn’t be more perfect above the white lacquer bar.
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My client did not want to incur the expense of replacing the backsplash or granite in the kitchen, so we opted to update the seating and pendant lights.
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The smallest changes can have a huge impact. Tom Dixon Mirror Ball pendants and Calligaris New York Swivel counter stools gave the kitchen a much more modern look.
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The previous owner had used a round dining table which was ideal for the space. I campaigned heavily for a round Saarinen marble table but in the end, I lost.
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My client was set on this Restoration Hardware table which I actually ended up loving. I did, however, manage to convince him to use the Knoll Tulip chairs. The light is the Brera Suspension Lamp by Creative Mary, a beautiful custom lighting company based in Portugal.
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My client loved the Warhol gun prints and I ended up just buying them on art.com for next to nothing. We had them framed nicely by Midtown Gallery here in Nashville and they look great.
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The guest room was dark and not at all welcoming.
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We used Farrow and Ball’s Dimpse on the walls and thick linen draperies. We upholstered a Camerich bed in a deep navy with all white linen bedding. Artemide Tolomeo sconces and mod loft nightstands. My favorite is the Brooklyn Bridge mural by Flavor Paper.
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It’s the little details that give a space its personality….
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An aerial view from the second story. All in all, the apartment feels modern, bright and infused with character. Now I just need to figure out which apartment Miss Swift owns and slip my card under her door.
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Ever so many thanks to Brad + Jen of Q Avenue Photography for their beautiful (as always) photos. And to James Wilson and Carrie Crowell for their help on the shoot and throughout the project.

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Balancing Act: Scandinavia by way of the South

June 1st, 2014

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Once in a blue moon a client comes along who possesses impeccable taste, is a joy to work with, trusts you implicitly and you adore them. Two years ago, just those people came into my life. My clients purchased a new build in my favorite neighborhood of Nashville, a mere five minutes from my own house. A dream for those of us that find driving to be the most loathsome task on earth. Without a piece of furniture to their name (they are Scandinavian transplants), we started with a blank slate. Their only real requests were keep it black, white, grey and modern. And off we went. As the interior progressed, they decided to take the design outdoors and we added a pool and outdoor living spaces.The pictures (thanks to Brad + Jen of Q avenue photography) mask the mayhem and bumps that ensued along the way. Nothing showed up when promised, painters were fired, I have 10 yards of of insanely expensive fabric collecting dust in my garage because of my own error, brand new irrigation systems were destroyed by rogue digging equipment and my children’s faith in my abilities was seriously questioned. I took my girls over to the house with me one day so they could see the pool we were putting in. They looked in the backyard, which was a disaster at the time, and my youngest said, “You did this to their house?!?? Mama, you aren’t very good at your job”. This is also the child, who when asked what her mother did for her job, told her class “she has lots of men clients and she goes to their houses for work”. Which might explain the noticeable lack of play date requests. But I digress. Some how it all turned out and these clients have become dear friends of mine. Here are a few photographs of the finished product.
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One of my favorite paint colors is Farrow and Ball’s Cornforth White. It is a true grey that does not read brown or blue as many do. I used that and Farrow and Ball’s Blackened throughout a majority of the house. We chose Verellen sofas in organic white linen with Schumacher and Designers Guild fabrics on the pillows. Arteriors marble coffee table and Patterson Flynn and Martin carpet. Painting by the endlessly talented James Wilson.

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This is an old table I found at an antique store in Franklin, TN. We had to alter the legs a bit but it fit in the space perfectly. And the old camp stools from a thrift store are a perfect fit.

crowell_vosswood_0026Everything in the house was brand new so in the interest of frugality we were selective about what to replace. I have a strong personal aversion to granite but this was brand new so we had to work around it. We painted the cabinets a fresher, brighter white and tiled over the builder basic tile with this hexagon marble from Mission Stone & Tile. Just those small changes made a huge difference.

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We painted an accent wall Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore, which has a slight brown undertone and was perfect in the kitchen with the earth toned granite. I found an old farm table at Scott in Atlanta and used white Eames chairs and a sisal rug. Christopher Farr is one of my favorite fabric designers and I love the look of this muted print, Breakwater, in this space.

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These German educational botanical prints were little etsy treasures.

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This shade of grey (Amherst Grey by Benjamin Moore) pulls just slightly purple, which is beautiful with the Bryan Nash Gill wood prints and the Patterson Flynn and Martin rug we designed, which took forever but was so worth it! Arteriors chandelier, Verellen host & hostess chairs, Restoartion Hardware dining table and my favorite Carl Wegner wishbone chairs.
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My client is beautiful and sings like a bird. If she wasn’t so damn sweet, I would hate her. Music is such a pivotal part of both their lives so we turned the front room into a music room and Library. This might be my favorite room. All black and white with the books being the pop of color, it is so bright and fresh and endlessly inspiring. The oversized Amanda Means light bulb prints are stunning.
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I found these chairs in Atlanta at a “Palm Beach” themed flea market booth. They were dirty yellow with fabric I was convinced housed several thousand bedbug families. After serious extermination, we lacquered them black and reupholstered the cushions in Designers Guild fabric. Madeleine Weinrib pillows, a jielde floor lamp and élitis fabric for the draperies.
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I covet their library. COVET.
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The same Kendall Charcoal we used on the kitchen accent wall we also used in the master bedroom. We had the bed custom made and used Restoration Hardware linen bedding with Designers Guild throw pillows. Visual Comfort sconces and bedside tables designed and built by James Wilson.
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My clients and I share a love of Frida Kahlo and as soon as we saw this print, we knew it was a must have.
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Patterson Flynn & Martin carpet, Noir bench, ro-sham-beaux chandelier and Bart Halpern fabrics.
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This is perhaps my favorite furniture piece in the house and the most likely to mysteriously disappear. BDDW Lake oxidized maple credenza and a Bill Rastetter print. swoon.
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Anthropologie bench and painting by James Wilson.
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An office with a view of west Nashville and a jielde table lamp is all you need to persevere through the paying of bills and other monotonous office tasks. My sister asked me if the typewriter sent emails and now that’s all I want in the world.
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Emeco office chair, Restoration Hardware desk, Madeline Weinrib rug. Etsy and Ikea prints on the wall (we spared no expense!)

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This Taylor Scott grey velvet sofa with Madeline Weinrib pillows is about the most comfortable thing on earth. Marimekko fabric for the roman shades and Designers Guild fabric on the benches. Mooi lighting and Nuevo Living foos ball table.

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The lovely and talented Michael DeMay did all of our concrete work.
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I love this Gustavian Bed with Coyuchi bedding and pewter task lamps, both from ABC carpet.

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Cole and Sons Woods wallpaper is one of my favorites. Noir bed, Designers Guild bedding, Visual Comfort sconces and Keith Richards photographs by Ethan Russell.

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We did a very simple white linen roman shades with a black ribbon. West Elm dresser, Noir abacus chair with Designers Guild fabric and 1930’s astronomy illustrations I got for a steal at the Brooklyn Flea market.
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A vintage Parisian hotel sign that is apropos as the entire second floor becomes just that when both families descend at the holidays.
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Green Tolix chairs with a wood and metal table we designed is perfect for a lush Tennessee back yard.
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Acapulco Chairs

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Schumacher outdoor fabric, Mod cement tiles from Mission Stone around the fire pit and custom redwood benches by Michael DeMay.

To see more images or to purchase to the trade furnishings and textiles please visit Crowell + Co. Interiors.

Also, endless thanks to Brad + Jen. Check out their website! Q Avenue Photo

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Hers and His : Spring

April 16th, 2014

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The only thing I like about winter is when people give me presents at Christmas and let’s be honest, that takes all of 10 minutes and I am back to cursing the cold. Only difference is, I am doing it with a Williams Sonoma gift card and new scarf in hand. This winter was long and brutal and threatened to bankrupt me with enormous heating bills. Thank god it’s spring! Here we have the Hers & His Spring edition. James Wilson of Secret Forts lending a little help with the “his”.

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Rehab : East Nashville Project.

March 31st, 2014

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My love and frequent collaborator, James Wilson and I embarked on a project together a little over a year ago to renovate the kitchen and bathroom in a cute little bungalow in East Nashville. What began as a pea green, unsightly (I am being kind) laminate nightmare turned into one of our happiest places on earth. Not without a fair amount of work. We are now set to close on a new home soon that makes this kitchen renovation feel like a walk in the park. The new house’s crawl space is absolutely infested with black widows, rampant electrical issues exist that could surely have it condemned if caught by an inspector having a bad day and the master bath is so small that the toilet is practically located in a shower. So either we will end up with a little gem that is all ours…or there will be blood. Honestly, it’s hard to tell which way it’s gonna go at this point. Stay tuned for rehab pictures and if you don’t hear anything from me soon, please write to me in prison.

Here’s the one we made it through without killing one another…just barely.

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