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Dolls & Daylight

Lately in our little corner of the world, we’ve been catching tiny glimpses of spring. While parts of our country are still trudging through a constant flurry of snowflakes and torrents of rain, here in Tennessee we are seeing longer, brighter days as the sunshine makes an early debut. All I can say is it has been glorious!

DollsandDaylight (4)

The other day, I received my West Elm catalog in the mail. If you haven’t discovered West Elm you should head over to their website for a peak at hundreds of lovely home decorating ideas. When I opened the front page, I was met with this image of bright, cheery, sunshiney goodness.

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It made my day and only affirmed what I’ve known in my heart these past few days, spring really is coming!

In the few moments of spare time I’ve had lately, I’ve been working on a trial doll project for my niece’s birthday. I recently finished my doll’s body and thought I would share the results. I have seen many doll patterns floating around the internet but they all seemed too complicated to attempt until I found this Black Apple Doll pattern on Martha Stewart’s website.

fabric doll pattern

The pattern is from Emily Martin who is well-known from her Etsy shop, The Black Apple (be sure to check out her blog too). I am also working on a few clothing items to fit the doll–a hat, scarf, dress, apron, etc. As you can see, Ms. Dolly has no face yet, I can’t seem to decide what type of face she should have but will be sure to post pictures when I do.

fabric doll pattern

I am also working on backdrops to fit into a suitcase so Ms. Dolly has a home of her own. Check out these wonderfully creative doll suitcases at Hart & Sew.

Fabric doll pattern

Guest Post: DIY Lace Sleeve Sweatshirt

Hello Friends! Jack and I are working hard to wrap up this last semester of school which, unfortunately, means very little time to share fun projects with you. Luckily, I have a wonderfully talented and creative friend (Kira) who was willing to help me out with posting. Kira and her husband are both incredibly talented photographers based in Oregon. Head over to her website for a peek at her work. Today Kira is sharing a super easy and fun lace sweatshirt DIY. Enjoy!


So excited to share this super easy DIY with all you lovely Sweet Peonies readers!

Every winter, just before spring, I always seems to pick up Pride and Prejudice and read it through in a week. I don’t really re-read books, except for this one. It’s lovely. And comforting. And it inspired me to add a little more lace to my wardrobe and tea to my afternoons.


Inspired by this little pin on Pinterest, I scored this $3 sweatshirt  (at Walmart) and some lace and went to work. I really LOVE how it turned out. Super simple and pretty much no sewing skills required (I literally followed the directions in the Pinterest caption). And very cozy. Perfect for reading.

One of my favorite spots to read is the local Public Library. It is so peaceful and has so many gorgeous windows that the place is always flooded with light, even when it’s dark and rainy like today.


Do you ever find yourself coming back to a certain book? Do tell!

{Thanks to my husband Matt for taking these photos during his study break. Straight up gentleman that one.}


Welcome to our new site!

Welcome to our new site, Sweet Peonies! This past year I’ve been talking with Jack about all the changes I would like to make to the blog if only I knew how. He, being the wonderful husband that he is, decided to learn all the coding necessary for making my blogging dreams come true! I think the design of our new blog is much more in line with my taste and style and it will open the door for some fun new post themes in the future.

Since Jack has put so much time into the little details of this blog, those that may be overlooked, I thought I would take a moment to point out and explain a few changes.

Of course, the first thing you’ll notice is our name change. Although The Kitchen Curtains served us well this past year, I think our new name Sweet Peonies is more my style–simple, concise, & sweet. Growing up, my mom had nicknames for my sister and I. Kendra was mom’s “sunshine” and I was her “sweet pea.” I decided to combine that with my love of flowers and nature and so, here you are reading this post at Sweet Peonies.

Next, we changed the blog colors a bit. I like the bolds that were prevalent on the old site but, at heart, I’m a simple girl who likes neutrals colors, clean lines, nature, western-themes & delicate details. That seemed like a tall order to design for the entrance page to the blog so we chose to focus on clean lines and simplicity which I think shows through our colors, title, and layout.

Jack has managed simple highlighting behind each section of text on our pages. I think my favorite technical aspect is probably the blog color wheel that you’ll see when you hover over each category on the menu bar—isn’t he clever?

Also, for those of you who may enjoy reading on-the-go, the blog has reactivity to screen size. Check us out on your iphone or ipod to see what I mean. Of course, there are still a few kinks popping up with this one but it is working more consistently now.

Another neat addition is the muted post sections. Roll your mouse over the social bars on each post (pin, google, facebook, etc.), you’ll notice the bars come to life when you roll over them. A simple addition but I think it helps make the overall design.

There are many other “behind the scenes” design treats coded into the site that I’ll be honest I don’t quite understand but I am ever so grateful to my husband for including. He is still working on our new gallery viewing format for the “Photos” tab but it will be a few more weeks before we can incorporate the new layouts.

I hope you enjoy the changes we’ve made, take your time and take a look around. Let us know what you think about the new site and please leave a message for Jack letting him know his hard work has paid off well. I’ve been told to expect some intermittent “blackouts” for the first 24 hours so if you get an error message, just try reloading.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing new posting categories with you in the next few months.

Be So Happy

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/03/Be-Happy.png "Be Happy")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/03/be-so-happy/be-happy/) Courtesy of Elisandra Sevenstar

All the beautiful sunshine this past week has made me a very happy camper. Nothing brings a smile to my face more quickly than waking up to rays of sunshine streaming through my bedroom window in the morning–nothing except maybe this sweet little poster from Elisandra Sevenstar’s Etsy Shop.

I have seen this popular design popping up all over Pinterest and was finally able to trace it back to the source. Elisandra’s ETSY store has some wonderful designs that are both colorful and cheerful.

The “be so happy” whale is definitely my favorite and, along with the sunshine, never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Be sure to stop by her ETSY site or website and show her some love.

Be happy!

Guest Post: Photographing Details

To continue our weekend focus on those pretty little details, here is another incredible guest post from Kira of Kira Noble Photography. This article teaches the amateur photographer how to turn those decent pictures into works of art. Be sure to head over to Kira’s website and show her some love.

Details, details, details! I have noticed that in the past few years the detail elements of a wedding day have become increasingly important to brides, wedding planners and photographers. If you look at any wedding style blogs, like Style Me PrettyOnce WedGreen Wedding Shoes and countless others, the photography featured revolves around how to implement fantastic detail and intricacy into a wedding or event.

As a wedding photographer I realized that I needed to learn quickly how to take the kind of photos that would highlight and pay tribute to the details every bride, florist and wedding coordinator spend countless hours creating.
Of course at the end of the day, the photo of the “first kiss” is more important to my client than the cool photograph of the cupcake tower or bouquets. However, details seam together the story of the day, revealing something about the bride and groom, and hopefully reminding them of the depth of their wedding day.

Although I have certainly not mastered how to take detail shots, I have learned a lot in the past few years and thought I would share some specifics of what I’ve learned here with you. Even if you’re not a photographer these techniques can apply to any detail photo you may want to take. From taking photos of your latest creation in the kitchen, to the flowers blooming in your garden to the next event you attend or host.

1) Find good light- The first thing to do is make sure you have great natural light. Seriously, light can make the difference between a mediocre photograph and a photo that makes you sigh! Sometimes this will mean moving the object of your photograph from its original location (if possible) to a location with better light. The photo below is from a wedding I recently shot. I was taking photos of the reception details and took this photo of the tiered cookie stand. The first one was taken in the afternoon (before anyone came into the reception) and I didn’t have time to move it to better light. It is dark and although it works, it is not the best photo. Later in the evening the room was filled with lovely light and I got this photograph of the same detail.

2) Remove anything distracting- I learned this tip from Jasmine Star in her first creative live workshop. She encouraged photographers to move anything that would “cheapen” the photo. Feel free to move things like salt and pepper, serving utensils and sugar packets from a table. And of course, put them back after you get the photo you need. Before I heard Jasmine talk about this, I was too afraid to touch or move anything on the wedding day. I didn’t want to mess anything up. However, once I had the confidence to remove distracting items from my frame, my photos of flowers and tables settings started looking more like something you could find in a magazine. Holla!

3) Use surrounding environment- Use your environment to add interest to your photograph. First take a few photos of your object and then take a step back. What else in the room can you use to your advantage? Is there a window that can act as a natural frame for your object? Are there other elements already in the room that you can add to your photograph to make it tell a story? An example of this is in the photos below. I took these photos this summer at Jackson and Shayla’s wedding. Shayla got ready at her parents beautiful home. I started out the day taking photos of her jewelry, shoes, dress and makeup. I wanted close-up photos of her hair-piece and rings and I started out in a spot I thought had good light, but the background was a little boring. Then I saw the antique books sitting on the coffee table. I moved the rings and hair-piece and immediately the photos took on more life. The books, wood tray and burlap added texture the photograph was missing.

4) Lower your perspective-- This one is simple. To diversify your the kind of detail shots you take, simply change up your angle and perspective. At first, I simply shot a table setting by standing above it and shooting down. While this type of perspective can yield good photos, changing your angle or getting “low” can capture the setting and mood in a much stronger way. The photos below are from Dani and Tyson’swedding last summer. One was shot from above, the other I shot by getting on my knees and getting “eye level” with the table.

5) Shoot wide-open- In my opinion, one of the best ways to get strong detail shots is to shoot with your camera set at a low f-stop. (Click HEREto read a great explanation about aperture and f-stops.) By shooting “wide-open” you not only get the most out of all the pretty light, your detail will stand out and you’ll achieve that cool “drop-off” effect. Below are a few detail photos that I shot wide open and the settings.

85mm 1.8 1/30 and ISO 250

50mm 1.8 1/320 ISO 400

Grab your camera and start shooting!

{the cute vintage fabric tape is from Pugly Pixel. Find them HERE.}

Blog Love: Oh Happy Day!

Oh Happy Day! Simply reading the name of this blog lifts my spirits. Since it is Friday, I thought what better way to celebrate such a happy occasion than by introducing you to a cheerful, creative, and inspiring blogger.

Jordan from Oh Happy Day! is my hero. She is smart, talented, and super creative. She and her family recently moved from San Francisco to Paris for one year. Her posts are filled with breathtaking photos of Parisian scenery, shops, and fashion. She is a party planner and letterpress printer with tons of creative DIY projects and home decor ideas that are sure to inspire.

Here are a few of my favorite Oh Happy Day! projects:
Giant Confetti Bags
DIY Alligator Pinata
Flag Sculptures

Happy Friday!
Graphics: Oh Happy Day!