Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

We’re actually in! For real in! Letterpresses are already positioned: 10,000 pounds of antique print equipment ready to rock and roll. Last week, we received a final stamp of approval for occupancy from the city, and we spent the week loading and unloading furniture, design samples, desks, products, and basically our entire lives. We held wedding consultations that had been previously scheduled for the first week of September, and while we may not be fully operational and officially open quite yet, there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. 

I’ve spent a lot of time this summer answering this same question: “Now, where exactly is your new location, again?” (Of course, this was all before our amazing exterior signage went up, which should now clearly direct anyone in our area to our spot.) I found myself saying over and over again, “We’ll be in Bearden, next to Firestone Tire, grow salon, and Est8te.” Usually, one of those businesses would register—I’d watched their eyes light up with recognition.

My new neighbors were one of the reasons I was so excited about the possibility of this space. I can’t tell you how important your neighbors are when you own a business. You need your neighbors to make sense with what you do; there has to be a mesh. In a perfect world, you want neighbors that sell a different product or service than you do, but who serve a similar clientele. Your neighbors, in some ways, can actually reflect your business.

Can I just tell you: I hit the jackpot with this new neighbor situation.

If you’re local, I’m sure you’re already familiar with these businesses—both are established Knoxville staples. I’ve actually had the joy (truly, a JOY!) of designing letterpress wedding invitations for both Nell of Est8te, and Shane of grow, so I had the tremendous opportunity to get to know them both a bit before we ever landed in this new space beside them.  I’m delighted to make an introduction:

Photography of Est8te by H. Davis Photography

Photography of Est8te by H. Davis Photography


Welcome to Knoxville's house of style! Mother-daughter duo Mary Ellen and Nell continue to create a curated collection of top designers as well as emerging including Alice + Olivia, Eileen Fisher, Krewe, Chan Luu, Amanda Uprichard, Tory Burch, Shoshanna, Marie Oliver and more. Est8te prides itself in a high level of customer service with personal shopping for every customer. A one-stop shop for daughters, mothers, and grandmothers to all shop together.

While clearly fashion is their focus, I have to comment on their interior. To step into Est8te is to step into a retreat. White marble, clean lines—it’s calm, quiet, and peaceful. It is beautiful and polished. Let me just exhale and stand here for a bit, please.  I’m a mother of 3 and a busy creative. Life feels like one big hustle and bustle…I need more Est8te in my life.

Photography of Est8te by H. Davis Photography

Photography of Est8te by H. Davis Photography


Their mantra: each and every woman deserves to look as beautiful on the outside as they feel on the inside. This should be an affordable, luxurious experience that women receive while they are in the salon. grow is not only for regular beauty maintenance, but also an escape from the world, if even for a moment. From the beginning, Shane wanted to provide a relaxing, warm, and inviting atmosphere for guests that make them feel right at home, unlike mega-salons where it can feel like you’re just a cog in the machine. grow focuses on healing haircare and products and is one of less than 40 L’ANZA Healing Centers in the US.  

Also, all of their products are sulphate free, paraben free, and cruelty free. They are a green salon, recycling anything and everything down to the hair clippings. grow is also all about promoting what is local. Inspired Design. Award-Winning Service. Naturally. 


Last week, I sent out an email to our calendar pre-order customers. In it, I mentioned our official opening Monday (tomorrow), which I must now sheepishly recant. As I look at my enormous to-do list, I laugh at my own totally unrealistic expectations. This whole moving process has been much… well, bigger than we ever anticipated. We’re close, but I’m hesitant to give an official day (Fool me twice, shame on me). I promise I’ll pop out an email once our doors are open for business.

In the meantime, mark your calendars for an official Open House Bash on Friday, September 27th from 4-7pm. Drop by to check out the new (and much expanded!) retail shop, peek into the pressroom, grab a nibble, and celebrate with us!

When I need a break from pulling together the creative vision, I’m definitely going to pop over to Est8te and pick up something special for our Open House night! As G.K. Chesterson once said, “We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next door neighbor.” 



10 Things You Need This Summer

Summer Success versus Summer Failure… It all depends on your nail polish color. (Okay, that might not be entirely true, but I’ll let you be the judge after reading #6.)

We just got back from Hilton Head, SC and I’m already missing the sand between my toes and the salty air in my hair. Growing up in Rhode Island (a.k.a., “The Ocean State”), the beach was a forgone conclusion—a part of the landscape that I never considered being without. In high school, my friends and I would grab a coffee after school (at Dunkin’ Donuts, of course, because there is one on Every. Single. Corner) and meet on the beach to dish about our day. Once school was out for the summer, we brought towels and practically spent the season there. We drove our cars up to the edge of the parking lot at night and let the headlights illuminate the waves. The way that beach air smells is one of my favorite smells.  (I’ve met people around Knoxville who tell me that they feel this way about the mountains, and I laugh. That’s preposterous. We’re talking about THE BEACH, people.)

Now I’m back in landlocked Tennessee and staring down the ocean-less summer ahead of me. I’m feeling a bit hemmed in. Also, as you know from previous posts, we currently have five people all day under our little roof: two adults working from the dining room table and three kids with little to no organized summer activities in sight. On further thought, perhaps that’s what’s actually making me feel a bit unnerved. 

Regardless, in the spirit of pursuing contentment and gratitude this summer, I’ve taken the liberty of preparing a list of some of my summer delights. These are not really in any particular order, but each and every one is worth sharing. It’s a mix: a few favorite products that I’m loving, a local shop you need to visit, a show I’m addicted to, and even an event I’m looking forward to… I do hope that you’ll drink them in slowly and perhaps find a few that can thrill you over the coming months. Sometimes, a little facial oil is all it takes!



This one is for local peeps. I recently popped in to Meagan Puckett’s glorious shop on Northshore and was delightfully surprised by the boho summer style I found inside. A cute little scalloped, rattan clutch immediately grabbed my eye and almost forced me to buck my self-imposed “no more tiny purses” rule to secure it, but never fear: I stayed strong. I did, however, come home with a blonde wooden necklace that goes with just about everything. Summery vibes run high here with embroidery, woven textures, and plenty of splashes of color in the right places. With price points across the board, there’s truly something for everyone. (9430 S. Northshore Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37922)

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If Downton Abbey and the Cohen Brothers had a love child, it would be The Durrells. This PBS Masterpiece Theatre program has had me giggling and grinning from Episode 1, and with multiple seasons under wraps, I have the entire summer to look forward to marathoning the rest! Set in 1930’s, frazzled widow, Louisa Durrell moves her four children from England to Corfu, Greece for a supposed simpler, more cost-effective way of life. Her practically adult children are insufferable idiots, until they charm their way into your heart with every episode. Quirky and dry British humor will delight all summer long and beyond. And the gorgeous Greek Isle scenery may just carry me until my next beach trip.


– Prosecco (chilled)
– St. Germaine
– Luxardo cherries

Serve in a champagne flute. Prosecco with a heavy splash of St. Germaine. Two Luxardo cherries dropped in and sink to the bottom, with just a single splash of Luxardo cherry juice. Sip on a front porch somewhere really wonderful, or perhaps with toes in sand—even better. Chilled, bubbly, sweet… all the right things. (Clearly from the fairly uninspired name, I made this up but I’m sure there is some kind of real cocktail with a classic name in this same spirit—let me know!)

7. WW

In the words of a friend, “Hello, Weight Watchers. We meet again.”

This past fall, I signed up for the online Weight Watchers program, rebranded as “WW” (probably to take the unfriendly “weight” word out of it). This revamped version has enabled me to lose the post-baby pounds I wanted to shed, while maintaining a very normal life of eating. I’ve focused much more on a healthy lifestyle than just losing a few pounds.  I keep track of my choices throughout the day on their easy-to-use app, and I have a weekly coaching session via phone with Eleanor out of Florida who lost 75 pounds TWENTY YEARS AGO and has kept it all off. Go, Eleanor! Sometimes it feels like two steps forward and one step back, but then I look at my journey over the last six months and I’m floored. Summer is a lot more fun when you can fit into those sundresses again.



I have an on-again, off-again affair with gel nails. The shine, the finished, polished look (pun intended): love, love, love. The time it takes to get them done, and the cost to do it basically twice a month: hate, hate, hate. That feeling that I’m trapped once the first nail starts to peel or crack… like the countdown has begun and I now have to find my way into a nail salon in the next 24 hours or everything will fall apart around me—the worst.  Perhaps I’m the only one, but somehow if my nails look great, my life feels just the tiniest bit more under control. Welcome to the perfect summer shade, Put It In Neutral by OPI. It’s basically like a clear gloss, but richer, so when one goes to pot, you can barely even tell.  Short, neutral nails for the garden, the pool, the beach, the lake?  Put It In Neutral is your new best friend.

 You Can Purchase here


On social media recently, I’ve seen the same desperate cry for help again and again: “Leaving for a trip: what are some good, easy to read books I should take with me?!” I’ve always got a few recommendations up my sleeve, and then I pause and think, “What would I do without my book club?!” I love reading, but with a full-time business to run and 3 kids to raise, who’s got time? Thanks to Book Club, at least I know that I’m going to have one good book per month. Book Club forces me to read. And not only that: it forces me to read things outside of my normal comfort zone, and if that weren’t enough, I then actually discuss those books with other people! AMAZING. Our Book Club has been meeting for around ten years, since our kids were all tiny. We share hosting responsibilities, we do dinner and drinks, and we have a full hour of discussion on every book we read. We’ve had members leave, and others join in. There’s been an ebb and flow over the years. It’s open and friendly and energetic— a divine evening and one I’ll consistently make time for. May I make a summer suggestion? Start a book club! With neighbors, friends, girls from church or other school moms… just make sure that someone is ready to lead a discussion, or else it will digress into a supper club, which is not at all the same. Go get your reading on!


My sister in law had these at the beach. At first sight, I thought they looked like a dumb, informercial product, but my distain shifted into jealousy as I was fixing my slouching towel *again* and hers was perfectly straight and unwrinkled. Pool chairs, I’ve finally got your number. These are on their way from Amazon and going straight into my pool bag.

You can purchase them here


A friend told me about this facial oil that she uses. I ordered it. I’m obsessed. My skin stays soft all night long, and the beautiful, subtle floral scent is just enough. I’m envisioning myself this summer, surrounded by two teenage girls who are *maybe* yelling and arguing amongst themselves, and one toddler baby who is climbing my leg, saying, “up, up, up peeeze, up, mommy, up, up, peeeze,” and I’m all zen and calm because I feel soft and smell ever so slightly of tropical flowers. It will all be fine.

You can purchase them here

T.H.E. Notepads - Click image to purchase

T.H.E. Notepads - Click image to purchase


We come home from vacation. I open our refrigerator, and a blast of hot air and unmentionable fumes descend upon me. It was a lovely conclusion to a 7-hour drive with aforementioned toddler and teenage girls. So, fridge repair is top on our list.

In the meantime, we had to throw it all away. Everything. Every condiment that had been lurking in the door compartment for the last two years, hidden behind the maraschino cherries (although yes, those do get used up, and often… see above paragraph on WW).

I put my grocery list out on our counter where we keep it. It’s one of our own products, and I’m going to toot my own horn here and say that unequivocally, our list pads are the best I’ve found. They’re slightly wider than other list pads, and I think that the lines are perfectly placed for a readable grocery list that still maximizes the page. The thickness of the paper is just right. Oh, and of course, they’re all pretty.

Our grocery list is about to be very, very full, and I’ve got to bring a few more home from the studio. In the spirit of an organized and pretty summer grocery list, use the code FRIDGEFIX for 30% off all of our list pads this week only. And say a prayer for our fridge while you’re at it.

You can purchase them here

You can purchase tickets by clicking the image.

You can purchase tickets by clicking the image.


RT Lodge, just up the road from Knoxville, is one of our very favorite date night places. Also, it’s one of our favorite places for weddings! We work with a lot of brides getting married there, and I always tell them that they are lucky… it’s a beautiful place with a lot to offer. Chef Trevor Stockton knocks it out of the park every single time with specialties like house-cured meats,  homemade pickles, and fresh fried chicken.

Ty’s 40th birthday is this summer, and we’re celebrating together by going to a fantastic weekend event at The Lodge in August. Chefs, drinks, tours, pottery, workshops… it’s going to be AMAZING and I’ll be looking forward to it all summer. See details below and I hope that maybe a few of you will purchase tickets and join in the weekend!

You can purchase tickets here

That’s my list of 10 things that will make your summer better. While none are miracles, there’s a lot to love here. Happy Summering!

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Be kind to your future self

Today I’m delighted to share with you a post that I wrote for my friends at Help You Dwell a few weeks ago. Help You Dwell is an incredible local company specializing in organization, which is pretty much the primary thing that I lack in my life, so I appreciate them all the more. It takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round!

When the ladies of Help You Dwell reached out about writing  a guest blog for them, I was just a week or so away from having to box up our whole studio and move it into our garage slash onto our dining room table. It was actually the perfect time to write about organization, or chaos, or something in the middle, because I was staring into the face of it.

Yes, this is our garage, and yes this is only half the madness.

Yes, this is our garage, and yes this is only half the madness.

Now, it’s a few weeks later and we’re no longer facing the chaos, we’re living in it. We are making the best of it, and actually trying to enjoy it.

May you find ways to show your future self kindness and grace. Enjoy!

“The only difference between a mob and a trained army is organization.” –Calvin Coolidge

A friend once told me about her mantra to make choices that would be “kind to her future self.” When taking off your jacket, for example, you can hang the jacket on the hanger in the closet, or on the hook by the door. You can also just throw that jacket over the arm of the chair as you walk into your home, or set it down across the kitchen table. You can wear it up to your bedroom and crumple it onto the chair there, or hang it up in your bedroom closet. Which decision is kind to your future self? Placing your jacket where you know to look for it when you need it next: that’s kind to your future self. It may take five seconds more energy now—from your present self—but it will potentially save many minutes of wandering around the house asking aloud, “Has anyone seen my jacket?” as everyone in your family is becoming more and more annoyed with how late we’ll all be because Mom can’t find her daggum jacket. (Perhaps this scenario has happened before… with jacket, keys, sunglasses, regular glasses, a purse, diaper bag? Maybe it’s just an example: you decide.)

Creative people are often stereotyped as disorganized, harried, and discombobulated. I wish that I could defy the stereotype, but unfortunately, I elevate it. I don’t like to be surrounded by chaos, and I actually love when everything is clean and peaceful and beautiful. I’m visual and I care about aesthetics. I’m just not kind to my future self, and things can get out of control quickly. And within just a day or so, even putting the clothes away is no longer a one-basket job, but now a three-basket job and I begin to feel overwhelmed.

At home, I can get away with this. It’s not like we live in a pigsty; it’s just not as organized and tidy as I’d like, and it’s my own fault. But translate this character flaw to work and it’s an entirely different matter. Clients depend on me. Organization of proofs, time-frames, delivery dates, checklists… these things are crucial to timely deliveries and happy customers. Organization is actually critical for business success.

This past year at the studio, we’ve implemented a few wonderful tools that help us all stay more organized and on-track together as a team. We’re working on a Training Manual. We’ve started using Adobe Sign for all proof approval contracts. We’re trying to clean up our Dropbox. But my favorite is Basecamp, a project management online software. While each project used to feel like herding cats, now the entire project scope from start to finished is filled with checklists, due dates, people held accountable, job tracking, and even file organization. It really has been a game-changer for our entire staff. So, I’m growing. Baby steps.

We’re getting ready to move our studio again, sort of quickly.  As I look around my desk area and bookshelves, I’m already starting to feel the dread. The temptation for me is always going to take the easy, kind-to-present-self way: literally throw everything into one big box, label it, “Sarah’s desk” and tape it up. Out of sight, out of mind! But how will my future self feel later this summer when she’s trying to get her new studio set up and she’s opening up disorganized piles of junk thrown into boxes any old way? I’ll tell you: Future Sarah is gonna be overwhelmed and stressed and she’s gonna cry a lot. I don’t want that for her.

Instead, I’m planning to actually make decisions as I go: do I really need this book of paper samples from 2004?  No? Then it doesn’t come with me.  Hopefully, when all of our construction and build-out is finished later this summer, Future Sarah will open up a few clearly labeled, simply organized boxes and get her desk set up with a smile on her face.

Read to original blog for Help you Dwell Here



PS We’re moving to 5605 Kingston Pike right around the corner in Bearden. We’ll be nestled in between Grow Salon and Firestone Tires. Please come pop in to our much bigger space once it’s finished later this summer… you can watch the presses in action through windows, just like the taffy-makers in Gatlinburg! In the meantime, find us online and at the Market Square Saturday Farmer’s markets.