The Violet Waffle

Posted in business-a-go-go, Look What I Can Do Wednesday, Main, Mind Wanderings, NC, Raleigh at 10:59 am by carrie


I used to be a prolific blogger back in 2006 before Facebook & snap-tube and all those social networking services came around. You had Friendster and Myspace. Period. And you were happy to have that.

But now there’s SO many platforms to explore, it’s surprising we talk to each other at all. I’m secretly hoping blogging will make a comeback… but most of them have ads every 2 inches. I promise not to do that.

So now I will ramble on about the last few years in retail. I tend to like to do that. If you’d like to just scroll down to the pictures, I’d totally get it.

After our first store called Violets are Blue closed in La Crescenta, California in 2007, I thought maybe retail was not in the cards for me anymore. But in 2015… I wandered into a really cool mixed-vendor store in Raleigh that I had found on Instagram (more social media!), met a charismatic, adorable store manager named Dale and signed up to be a vendor on the spot. A 10′ x 10′ spot. Not a huge commitment. But it was definitely a “did that really just happen?!?!” moment.

Then I expanded into the extra large window space, and then another space. And I was spending more time at Inspirations and getting to know everyone, and started doing some of their marketing.

As of January 2019, I was set to occupy even more floor space and then suddenly, we lost Dale. And… I wasn’t sure if I wanted any of it. Dale was the icing on the cake at the store and now it just felt like a muffin. (Dale and I used baked good analogies a LOT, actually.)

After a month of me basically feeling sad, waffling back and forth over wanting to stay, handing in my letter of intention to leave then retracting it… I decided to stay at Inspirations. The other vendors and the owner were so supportive through my indecisiveness, so it was clear that I needed to stay. The new store manager, Edward, had a vision for each vendor, and for me it was for my space to be more cohesive. And spread out. Because we all know I like things to look like a jam-packed Willy Wonka wonderland (it appeals to some!). So being spread out has been a huge challenge for this happy-cave-making merchandiser.

So, here are my sketches…

And this is how it turned out… (always a work in progress!!)

And Dale looking over us…

And even a video!

It doesn’t look exactly like the sketches, but close! Here’s a little behind the scenes…

Willy Wonka what now?

Starting to scare everyone…

It took WEEKS to get this all sorted out. It’s like moving your home while wearing a ball gown haha

Goodbye window booth… you were so good to me, thank you!

I definitely had a larger following and knew more of my customers at Violets are Blue in Los Angeles, but that’s slowly starting to change. I’m getting to meet my regulars in Raleigh because people are slowly starting to discover us, so it’s been fun to see familiar faces come back in. So now I have my West Coast retail memories and my East Coast ones and they sort of converge in the middle (where there is some doppelgänger activity going on! Ohmigosh, there was one day where I had about 7 people come in who looked and acted JUST like friends/customers I had in LA… got me all nostalgic and choked up!).

If you’ve read my older posts, I frequently talk about retail being an emotional roller coaster, very high highs, low lows, so much fun at times, a huge challenge others and like a “baby cemented in the ground” all the rest of the time. For some reason, you put so much of yourself into a shop like this. Maybe if you have a store you can elaborate… but we all do it. I think it’s like a lot of genuinely rewarding things in life, really.

One day there’s so much love, the other… total frustration and maybe even a huge loss to stop you in your tracks. Every January, as you are packing up Christmas trees you ask yourself, should I keep doing this? Can I really do this? Then something gets you excited about a display or a customer tells you how you touched them emotionally and you’re all in again.

Always a back and forth labor of love. It’s a violet waffle.


Bobby “Dale” James

Posted in Main, Mind Wanderings, Raleigh at 3:13 pm by carrie

Most of you already know, but we lost our store manager suddenly at the end of January to a heart attack.

Dale was incredibly friendly, silly and just… fun. Everyone wanted to be his friend, people came into the store JUST to see him. It was hard not to gravitate towards him. He was beyond thoughtful and took genuine joy in your joy. I can’t tell you enough how wonderful this person was. To all of us.

He loved dogs the most. If you happen to be looking to donate, he would recommend your local SPCA or perhaps one in NC called Saving Grace Animal Rescue where he got his dog, Chloe.

The store will forever feel different… we are well aware of that. He was so proud of Inspirations and worked so hard on it. You couldn’t turn around without seeing a special touch of his.

So many people have expressed their unbelievable sorrow over his passing. His adorable hat, sometimes a bow tie, his love of wine… serving and partaking, his laugh, animated hand waving and mannerisms… the Dale-isms… all going to be missed so much. (You can see some of that in the video below).

I am so honored to have known him (especially at 3am when he’d send the funniest texts!) and I will find ways to remember him and carry on his legacy. We could all benefit from more Dale-inspired kindness, thoughtfulness and silliness in our lives.

Watercolor painting of Chloe I gave Dale for his Birthday on January 3rd

Watercolor painting I did of his sweet Say-D… his heart dog. If you watch the video below, he’s opening these two paintings at the end of the video. He absolutely loved them and I’m so incredibly grateful that I had the chance to give these to him.


Pet Portrait Commissions

Posted in Art Journal, business-a-go-go, Main at 12:54 pm by carrie

Starting at $40, you can get a watercolor and ink drawing of your pet. I can also do landscapes, homes, still lifes etc, but no humans, please! The cost will depend on the complexity and detail in the photo you select.

Finished piece will be roughly 5″ x 7″ on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of card stock.

To get a cost & time estimate, please send me an email with the photo you wish to use. Please make sure the lighting is good and all the details are easy to see, especially the eyes! I’ll get back to you with the details.

To see more of my art, check out my Pinterest board.

Here are a few more…

Friends and Family Event 2018

Posted in business-a-go-go, Events!, Main, NC, Raleigh at 11:43 am by carrie

It’s our 2nd Annual Friends & Family event!

Join us while we don our Holiday best and shower our closest supporters with gifts, festive food and a great atmosphere as a huge THANK YOU for your support! You’ll get the store all to yourself while we mingle, shop, nibble and sip.

Friday, November November 2nd, 6:00pm – 8:00pm.

For more info, visit our event page on Facebook.

Hope to see you there!

Inspirations Home Decor and More, 8601 Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh, NC


Art Journal Catch Up!

Posted in Art Journal, Main at 7:48 pm by carrie

The VC blog has been… a little neglected since the Facebooks and the Instagrams took hold of our lives. But, I think it’s time to start blogging again :)

(oh, how do I html again?)

Watercolor art journal pages as of recent:


Asheville Adventure 2 of 2

Posted in Main, outings, Weekend Adventure at 8:11 am by carrie

The Biltmore Estate…

A fifty dollar ticket into the Biltmore gives you a self guided tour of the large house and access to the adjacent gardens, a lake and a shopping area with wine tasting, food and live music. We were there on a rainy, hot and humid Tuesday. It was crowded, very crowded. Wall to wall people from all around the world.

The house was an impressive time capsule… rooms with Haunted Mansion-like wood finishings, velvet tapestries and ornate wallpaper, fancy hand carved furniture, hallways packed with portraits, a large spiral staircase and the kitchen/pantry/laundry wing was fascinating. There’s an indoor pool in the basement with zero windows that everyone swears is haunted. A cinderblock basement room was festively hand-painted by a younger Vanderbilt for a New Year’s party. The art was taken from a Russian circus troupe’s flyer and it looked like a mash up of the Tim Burton signature spiral background, Dr. Seuss’ spikey bear-like creatures, matryoshka doll drawings mixed with some light opiate use. And to round out the 80+ rooms, there are many specific rooms for changing, smoking and sitting. Apparently, people used to change their clothing several times a day. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but if it was allowed, we’d all be trapped in a sea of selfie sticks and tripods.

There was a lightning storm passing overhead as we toured the house. The moment the booming stopped, we rushed over and had the gardens to ourselves before the masses descended behind us. We were so lucky to have a bit of quiet time with the flowers.

Afterwards, we ran up to the Deerpark lodge and had lunch at Cedric’s, named after Cedric, George Vanderbilt’s St. Bernard. How cute is he??

It was a whirlwind tour! I think we saw more of Asheville in 2 1/2 days than most people see in a week! :)

Next up… Hillsborough and Charleston.


Asheville Adventure 1 of 2

Posted in Main, outings, Weekend Adventure at 2:48 pm by carrie

You know how your family would plan vacations months in advance? You’d research and read reviews, get a feel for your destination, plan out each day accordingly and budget your time at each place, right?

Not us!

My Mom said she was coming out from Los Angeles fairly last minute and we decided to go to Asheville for a few days and the rest of the week was up in the air!

So, we rented an adorable duplex cottage house in Asheville from a lovely couple. Upon our arrival, we were told that we had just missed a mother bear and her 3 cubs, steps from the front door of the rental cottage. Bummer. Instead, we saw turkeys (and baby turkeys!), lots of lightning bugs and a few deer. Here’s the view from our back deck…

We went into town one day and did some window shopping, but missed the Pinball Museum being open! (dang it!)

With little warning, my Mom declared that she wanted to see waterfalls. We both only brought sandals… go us…

At the pace we were moving, I can honestly say that I can’t really remember where those waterfalls were… it was exhausting.

Next up… The Biltmore Estate…

Art Journal #133 – Ranunculus On a Wood Table Time Lapse

Posted in Art Journal, Main at 1:38 pm by carrie


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