Wednesday, January 30

New Job Title: History-loving Proprietress...

...and much more coming soon!

The past few weeks have been a blur as I get ready for this new chapter in my life. The website is almost finished, and my branding is getting close as well. I'm excited and nervous to put my hopes and dreams out in front of the world. This has been a long time coming. In some ways, it feels as though I've been preparing for it my entire life. I'm drawing on my strengths, passions, memories and inspirations to create a business of my own. Maybe that's the reason I'm not scared of failure, or maybe I'm not scared of failure because I'm surrounded by love and support. Most likely, it's a combination of both. :)

As I get ready to launch my website, I have been using Pinterest as a way to clear my mind and get even more inspired. There are so many talented people in the world!

Here's some of my favorite eye candy. What's inspiring you these days?

Thursday, January 24

Support my friend Diana Kelley this Saturday!

As you've probably guessed from my recent blog posts, I'm really into stories about people who are making their passions into their day jobs. As I've traveled down this path for the past month, I've been fortunate to meet many people who are taking chances by pursuing their dreams. It's truly inspiring and keeps me motivated whenever doubt tries to creep into my mind.

Diana Kelley is one of those people. She moved from Branson, Missouri to Nashville several years ago to make the transition from music theater performer to singer-songwriter. Last year, she signed with the Creative and Dreams Music Network. Now she's doing gigs, making friends on Facebook (like her here!) and gathering material for some new songs. This Saturday night she is hosting an online show -- you can buy a ticket for 10 cents and hear 30 minutes of her original music in a live concert format. How cool is that?

If you like songs about real life, then you'll appreciate Diana's music. She tells it like it is. Click here to hear some of Diana's songs, and click here to buy a ticket to the show.

It's this Saturday, January 26 at 6 p.m. CST.

We'll be listening in as we make dinner on Saturday night. I hope you will be as well!

Monday, January 21

Happy Birthday, Nonna!

Today my Nonna turns 90 years old. We were fortunate enough to Skype with her this morning to help celebrate this milestone birthday. She had just finished lunch that included all of her favorite foods, cake and champagne, and she's surrounded by her children, most of her grandchildren and her best friend. She looked happy, healthy and so much younger than her ninety years.

I hope we'll be able to visit her again soon. Travel to Italy is so expensive, and the ticket prices have crept higher and higher since we visited in 2010. I'm grateful Jonathan and I were able spend a little time on Capri with her. We will always have these beautiful memories.

And then there are a few old photos for posterity as well...

That's me meeting my Nonna and Nonno for the first time in 1983.

And my dad, Nonna and Aunt Tina at our wedding five years ago...
She traveled halfway around the world at almost 85 years old to see us get married.

 And here she is on Capri in the '40s. Look at that perfect summer dress!

Nonna, I migliori auguri per un buon compleanno!

Maybe next year I'll actually be able to write that without Google translate!

Thursday, January 17


Throughout my life, my family has been scattered all over the world. In the early days, we enjoyed sending cards, letters, photographs and packages to stay in touch. Tons and tons of handwritten communication was punctuated with the occasional phone conversation that cost a small fortune. This was our life, and we treasure the letters and memories that remain from that time period.

I have recently joined the world of Skype, and I have spoken to my family on the other side of the world three times this week. While I realize I'm very late to the party, I can't get over the fact that I'm talking to people who are half a day away, and it doesn't cost us anything. I can be sitting at my computer, working on a project one minute, and then talking to my dad, aunt, cousins and grandmother the next.

Plus I just skyped with my 90-year-old Italian grandmother -- I mean, how cool is that? 

Sometimes technology is a really good thing.

Tuesday, January 8

You Gotta Eat

It's a new year and a new chapter for us, so I've been cooking up a storm. I made this soup last week, and it's delicious.

In case you're interested, here's my slightly modified vegan version. Enjoy!


-1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
-2 onions, peeled and quartered
-A few pieces of garlic (I used five)
-4 cups of vegetable broth
-2 cups of water
-1 bay leaf
-1 tsp of brown sugar
-A few tsps of mild curry powder
-1/2 tsp of dried oregano
-A few tsps of cinnamon
-A little dash of salt
-A few dashes of pepper
-A few tbsps of Tofutti cream cheese

-Prepared Quinoa


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Place cut squash and onions on the baking sheet. Wrap garlic in foil and place on the sheet with the other veggies.
3. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes or until the squash is tender. Enjoy aroma of onions. Mmm. Remove veggies from the oven and let them cool.
4. Squeeze garlic out of its skin (this was fun!) and place in your food processor. Scrape the flesh of the squash (not as fun) and place in the food processor. Place the onion in the food processor. Add vegetable broth and puree until smooth.
5. Place pureed veggies in a stock pot. Add remaining broth, water, seasonings and Tofutti. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Serve hot over a bed of quinoa.

Saturday, January 5

Today's Estate Sale Vintage Finds

Now that I'm starting my own business (ie not bringing home a steady paycheck), I'm not shopping for me, but that doesn't mean I'm not doing a little shopping.

Today Jonathan and I hit up an estate sale at a really funky old farmhouse in Bartlett to search for vintage goodies for projects I have underway.

Four dollars spent, and I left with three adorable vintage Christmas cards and a box filled with tons of vintage ribbon, tulle and embroidery goodies (a hoop and little scissors).

Here's a little peek at the loveliness...

Although you can't see it, the cards have glitter on them. Swoon.

Is it Christmastime yet?

Thursday, January 3

Studio Sneak Peek

I've been dreaming about the perfect workspace for months now (see my Pinterest board here). It's finally starting to come together, so I thought I'd share a few photos:

Expect more in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, January 2

A New Year

In fall of 2009, Jonathan gifted me with an iPhone. I didn’t want it at first, as I was very proud of my $50 phone that had served me well for almost two years. I never imagined the iPhone could be a source of inspiration, but within a matter of days, I had bookmarked at least 20 lifestyle blogs. By the next month, that list had grown, and I had started a blog of my own. 

At the time, the blog was a way to share my thoughts and photographs with family and friends, but it also served as a creative outlet. Jonathan and I had a new house, a cottage built in 1950 that we purchased the previous spring, and we were slowly making it our home. We painted, and I posted pictures on the blog. We began bringing vintage finds home that I photographed for the blog.  We traveled to our favorite places (California, England, Italy, Mississippi), and I posted our trip photographs on the blog. Jonathan and I cooked together, and I shared recipes on the blog. The blog became a way to document my young married life, but it also allowed me (and Jonathan) to develop our passions.

At the same time, I had a job I loved as the communications and events coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. Not to sound cheesy, but it was a dream job – every day I took photos, wrote stories, planned events and designed graphics for a non-profit that helped so many people. I worked with staff and volunteers who liked me and respected my ideas. The only downside to my job was that it wasn’t 9 to 5. There were many busy nights and weekends, and I couldn't stop thinking about work. For that reason, I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer during my free time. I had a head filled with ideas, but I didn’t have the heart to make my blog bigger and better.

I am fortunate to have the most incredible husband in the world. He knew I loved to write, and he also knew I had a special love for design, one that had grown stronger at Habitat. For my 27th birthday in October 2010, he gave me CS5. I was so excited to be able to design from home, and I began editing photos for the blog in PhotoShop. My passion for design and the blog grew.

The following Christmas, Jonathan took things a step further, when he purchased a laptop as my Christmas/anniversary gift. Now I had a computer and the software to make my dreams a reality. Starting on January 1, I began blogging every day. In July I stopped my daily blogging, but I didn’t stop thinking and dreaming. I really wanted to use my creativity to do something that inspired me.

These thoughts were rolling around in my head when Jonathan and I made preparations for a vacation to California at the end of October. It was our first vacation in more than a year. We stayed by the ocean, hung out with one of my dear friends and mentors from my first job and soaked up tons of inspiration from nature, antique stores, flea markets and a shop in Hermosa Beach called Wicked. We visited Wicked because of the cool window displays, but after walking in and talking to the owner, we learned that the he and his partner were both from the South (Georgia and Florida), and they were graphic designers by trade. They had moved to the West Coast a few years earlier, and they set up their studio in Hermosa. Because the weather was always so amazing, they kept the door open, and people would walk in and ask to buy their (personal) stuff. They took that as a sign, so they became a general store, stocking and selling locally made things they loved.

I knew it wasn’t coincidence that I met the guys from Wicked, but when a friend emailed me that same day with a design project, I realized something special was happening. On our hotel balcony, I drafted a business plan in a moleskin notebook. My business would combine my love for vintage, history and design. It would be called Gerald & Joan, after Jonathan’s grandfather and my grandma. I returned from vacation, and I created a logo and a Facebook page for Gerald & Joan. While I was really focused on party invitations, I was also open to working with crafty businesses that were interested in a vintage-inspired look.

After the page was created, I posted my second blog post since July. I was so excited about my little business and the nine family and friends who liked Gerald & Joan. I had taken that first step, and my dream was now a reality.

Fast forward to January - Jonathan, the always supportive husband, is allowing me to pursue this dream full-time. While the business is still taking shape, I will focus heavily on vintage-inspired design. I also have plans for vintage-inspired event coordination and an online shoppe that specializes in vintage home goods and ephemera

In the coming weeks, I will launch a website and a separate blog for Gerald & Joan. This blog will continue to serve as my personal blog where we will share photos, recipes and our life story. I hope you'll continue to follow along as I make this long-time dream a reality. It is because of Painted Pink Roses and my family, friends and mentors that I am here today. I am grateful, happy and so excited. 

Here's to a new year and a new chapter!