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.


Art Journal #113 – #120

Posted in Art Journal, Main, Mind Wanderings at 12:19 pm by carrie

There goes a tumbleweed!

Blogs are becoming abandoned ghost towns on the internet… so, I chose to put most of my new art, adventures etc on our Facebook page and Pinterest boards.

But then, something funny happened… Facebook is hiding posts, requesting payment to show said posts to followers and overall… regulating everything I do there. And Pinterest is turning into a similar world of promoted pins and things you can buy. It’s getting overcrowded and claustrophobic over there, metaphorically speaking.

So, I’m going to come back to my little blog a bit more…

Here are some art journal posts from 2014…

Art Journal #113 – Basset Hound bridesmaid without glitter

Art Journal #113 with glitter

Art Journal #114 – Christmas door with skates

Art Journal #115 – Christmas tree room

Art Journal #116 – Christmas door wreath with cute dog face

Art Journal #117 – Old barn Christmas door

Art Journal #118 – Christmas Carmel CA beach cottage

Art Journal #119 – Vintage Christmas bungalow

Art Journal #120 – Cotswold English country house


Sad News…

Posted in Main, Mind Wanderings at 1:59 pm by carrie

The day I’ve dreaded for years has come and gone. It all happened so fast, but it still feels like everything was going in slow motion. How can cancer move that quickly? How can she be spry, happy and wagging one day and not be able to walk the next? I wish she could have told me how she felt, what hurt… how not to touch her… what drugs to stop giving her or which drugs she needed more of.

She was taken by Osteosarcoma. A very aggressive bone cancer that doesn’t show up until it’s usually too late. When OS is detected, it usually means the disease has been present for almost 2 years. She started limping one day and after multiple xrays, ultrasounds, a leg amputation, splenectomy, 3 different chemo protocols and almost 4 months later, the cancer had moved into the lungs, kidneys and her back legs. To go from no visible signs of cancer on November 10, to a huge mass in her lungs by mid-February… we’re in shock. Our vets were perplexed at how her cancer was spreading, and by how fast it spread. Dr. Shaw and Dr.Staatz at Sage Veterinary Clinic in Campbell, the UC Davis Vet School Oncology Department, Dr. Juergens & Joanne at Trivalley Mobile Vet Clinic, Dr. Ruslander and all the staff at VSH… I can’t thank you all enough for your help through this incredibly hard time.

The fact that we are treating these animals better, letting them live inside and making them such a big part of our lives means that they are living longer and more folks are willing to pay big bucks for more treatment options if their pet gets sick. New canine cancer specific drugs are being developed and we were able to try one of those drugs. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for us, but it’s exciting that they are making new breakthroughs. We also tried to get Meg into a few different Osteosarcoma studies, and because her cancer was acting so “strange”, we did not qualify… but if you are battling dog cancer, I urge you to look into it. One such ray of hope is a groundbreaking study that started recently that focuses solely on Golden Retrievers called the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. They are looking for 3000 purebred Goldens under the age of 2 to participate. They want to follow these 3000 dogs throughout their lives and see if they can get some clues to why 60% of Goldens die of cancer. Goldens are the 3rd most popular dog in the country, and along with Labs and German Shepherds, they are used as therapy and working dogs. I had wanted a Golden since I was a teenager and I can attest that they have a wonderful even temperament, are great with kids, love to go on adventures and are a universally well-loved breed. But, they are prone to cancer… which I didn’t know when I picked her out of a pile of puppies in 2003.

It took me a long time to even talk about it and even as I write this the intensity of the last few months is starting to creep in. Most of our friends had no idea she was even sick. I just couldn’t bring it up. I didn’t want it to be true. Denial is one of the steps that I kept reverting back to, I suppose.

With the care-taking, changing our entire first floor to accommodate a “tripawd”, lack of sleep, hoping, praying, researching, contacting other oncologists on top of “normal” life stuff… work etc (oh, and we moved across the country… AGAIN)… we’re exhausted over here. But not having her here… cuts deeper than any of it.

I have never loved a creature as intensely and deeply as I love this girl… her face makes my heart skip a beat!

We will miss you every single day, sweetheart. Thank you for the best 10 years of my life!!



Posted in Main, Mind Wanderings at 12:59 pm by carrie

I’m not naming any names (but the finger is pointed at myself) but I somehow confused the renewal of violetsareblue.net and violetcottage.com and violetsareblue.net expired this morning :(


So, all my pictures are broken, my email is going out to spaceland and I’m feeling very stupid and panicked about it.

I’m behind on stuff… obviously. But I have something FUN to share today!!!! (Well, I think it’s fun, anyway).

Hope you are all having a great day… :)


One of Two-for-Tuesday

Posted in Main, Mind Wanderings, two for tuesday at 11:59 am by carrie

The other night we watched the film Play Time by Jacques Tati.

Well, I have to admit, I actually fell asleep for some of it… but it’s so dream-like anyway, it kind of felt natural. (My film teachers would hate that I said that! lol)

The sets were amazing… cartoon-like yet futuristic and surreal. It’s a satirical “slice of life” film that doesn’t really have a plot. You sort of breeze in and around characters doing everyday and tourist-y things. It completely reminded me of the circle vision film at Epcot Center (again with the Disney) at the France pavilion (I bet that they copied Tati!). Both films take you on a journey… you don’t really get to know all the characters but you get to see beautiful settings, everyday things happening and you get a “feel” for a different country or lifestyle. Very cool… and even better if you have a solid attention span!

It was shot on 70mm film, and I’ve read that you must see it on the big screen in 70mm to truly be absorbed by it’s beauty… So perhaps we’ll get that chance, someday! :)

You can really see the heavy-handed use of gray in this film… very much reminds me of all the monochromatic home furnishings that you are seeing everywhere these days (Pick up the Restoration Hardware catalog… you’ll see what I mean). All gray, blue, tan, brown with hints of modern silver and lots of glass… beautifully melancholy decor ;) (Which is making my home and blog look more and more like a circus in contrast! hehe).


Getting back to normal…

Posted in Main, Mind Wanderings, outings at 10:19 pm by carrie

The last month (+/- two weeks) has been sort of a blur. Between getting some bad news from the West Coast, and having to deal with some things going on with our girl, Nutmeg.

Meg had a lump in her hind leg that got incredibly large in the span of a few months. We were told this lump was a lipoma and that the only way to remove it was through surgery.

The day of her surgery, though, the vet told us it was an “invasive” or infiltrative lipoma. It was burrowing into her little muscle and wrapped up in there so tight that our vet couldn’t get it out. She said it was beyond the scope of what she could do… and had to sew the leg back up. At this point, they weren’t 100% sure it was even a lipoma.

About a week later, we got the news that it wasn’t cancerous and we should see a specialist. A doggie oncologist, actually. So, we scheduled surgery #2.

In between the two surgeries, we had our girl at home… resting comfortably in little outfits that would cover all of her legs (so she wouldn’t be tempted to get to them). Not only was she interested in her sutures, she was interested in where the IV had been. Very interested.
I didn’t think our girl was capable of removing 8-10 sutures out of her own leg. She is our little princess, after all. Alas, our princess removed all of those sutures… in less than 10 minutes. And, she was super happy about this… wagging while displaying the new hole in her leg. She was oh so proud. Oh, to be reminded that she is a dog ;)
So, we rushed back to the vet, they were kind enough not to say “I told you so”, and we implemented the cone… and some antibiotics. Meg did not like the cone.
Meg went in for a second surgery, where they successfully removed the fist-sized lipoma from her back left leg. Our surgeon was amazing… she got in there and got the whole thing out in one shot. The relief… was a bit overwhelming.
So, déjà vu… we’re here again… sutures and healing. This time, we kept a very close watchful eye on her at all times. She refused to sleep while wearing the cone, so instead we put her in an outfit that covered her legs and then wrapped her up like a burrito in a sheet and clipped all the ends. She actually really liked this and slept really well (I think some of the drugs helped with this, too… but these drugs also did a number on her tummy. Emergency vet visit #2, more antibiotics. Yippee).
The weekend before her first surgery, we managed to get in a little day trip to the outer banks. We got really close to the Currituck lighthouse on Corolla (Near Kitty Hawk!). We ventured down a little rickety deck nearby, which opened up to a gorgeous little marsh and a perfect view of the lighthouse. There were signs everywhere saying there were wild ponies nearby, but we didn’t see any. Maybe next time :)
Meg had her head out the window… almost the entire trip out East. Wearing her doggles, of course!
So, the first half of September was stressful; venturing into the unknown… getting other sad news from home… so it just felt like our little doggie world was sort of closing in on us. The last half of September was filled with a little bit of stress, a whole lot of healing (in every sense of the word), not very much sleep and I missed a very important wedding. A very bittersweet month, to say the least. But, through it all… all I can say is that we are so grateful Nutmeg is healing so well and getting back to her happy, joyful, sweet self.
So now Meg can get back to mothering the two new puppies across the way :)

Needless to say… she’s got her hands full ;) :)

Please give your pet(s) lots of love tonight… they deserve everything they give to us… and so much more!!!!

P.s… The emergency vet (which is also the specialty vet… in the same building) got to like Nutmeg SO much, they may put a picture of her in their annual calendar that they send out to their clients. Yep. Our girl might be the vet’s new spokesmodel ;)

Life… it’s funny. And so unpredictable.


Ink Correspondence – The “Week of Ink”

Posted in Main, Mind Wanderings at 6:42 pm by carrie

When I want to say “hello” to someone… I don’t pick up my phone or a pen… I go to Facebook, send them an email or text message.

How forgettable.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve gotten really lazy when it comes to connecting the proper way with the friends I care about. I hide behind the online social networks and say my hellos in bulk… or with a simple “thumbs up”. I need to be re-trained.

Not to mention that those online comments will be there for all time… so you better get it right! (The pressure!!!)

I own two large shoe boxes (A Van’s and a Doc Martin’s Box… thank you very much) FULL of little hand-folded, hand-written notes on notebook paper from all my friends in elementary, jr. high and high school. I treasure them. I served detention for a few of them. I EARNED them.

Do kids even pass notes anymore? (Maybe it’s a good thing they don’t, I dunno).

I got this crazy idea… this week… I’m going to not check in on Facebook. Instead, I’m going to send postcards and letters to my friends. Shocking, isn’t it?!?

I invited my Facebook friends to send me their snail mail addresses so I could do just that. I’ve only heard from one person so far, so… maybe my enthusiasm and idealism is creepy or something ;)

Care to join me in the throwback “week of ink” ? :)

I’ve got a stack of old postcards that were supposed to go out to friends & family while at the destinations where they were purchased. Better a decade or two late than never? Instead of “wish you were here!”, I can say… “wish we were both here!” :)

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