The Hot List: My Secret Weapon

Walking into a flea market, auction, estate sale, barn sale, or antique mall and being face-to-face with all the amazing goods scattered about on tables and in booths is so exhilarating. I can feel my pulse quicken and have to fight the urge to skip around in giddy excitement!



But that adrenaline and the sheer quantity of goods can sometimes lead to visual overload and feeling overwhelmed with where to start first and what to look for. 

So today, I'm sharing one of my favorite secret weapons for picking of any sort, at any venue.

This one item is always in every bag whenever I'm out sourcing. Beyond my phone, some business cards, a sharpie pen, and some business cards, I never leave home without it. 

And the secret is... (drumroll, please....) 


What's the purpose of a hot list, you ask?

For me, as a shopowner, it is the sure fire way to keep focused on items that I'm either hunting personally for my own collections, for the shop's merchandise, or specifically for clients and regular customers who have shared something(s) they want. As much as I would love to spend the day meandering the sale at a leisurely pace, I need to stay hawk-eyed and on point. (An old schoolhouse portrait of George Washington will never be purchased out from in front of me, again! *cue the Gone With The Wind theme music*)

Everyone has their own methods that they love, but hopefully there are parts to the Hot List that you can implement in your own personal shopping and sourcing. 


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1. Start with a notebook of your choosing. Do you crush on Moleskins? Prefer something spiral bound? Whatever your choice, find something that is the right size to fit comfortably in your hand and will easily stash away while you're shopping. Too large and it will become bulky. Too small and you'll find yourself squinting -- or apt to misplace it.

2. Repeat after me: THE HOT LIST IS ONLY FOR THE HOT LIST AND NOTHING BUT THE HOT LIST. This isn't a notebook to scribble down grocery lists or appointment reminders. This is going to become your tried and true encycolpedia. You are going to want to have plenty of space to get specific and organized.

3. Fill 'er up -- or at least start! Don't feel pressure to fill every page instantly, but start putting pen to paper. Here are my favorite ways to divide my personal hot list. I cover the corners of certain pages with washi tape so I know where to flip for each section. (I keep a second book with only my client and customer requests that I jokingly refer to as my "little blue book".) The sections listed below are MINE and just suggestions. Feel free to tailor yours to personal preference.

COLLECTIONS: This is where I list out my loves. The must-have's. The can-never-walk-away-from goods that make my heart sing.

MEASUREMENTS: When you're looking for a piece of furniture, it's important to know just what space you have where. Knowing if it really WOULD fit will help you make a decision one way or the other and eliminate the guesstimating. This will help you avoid the regret of buying something that doesn't fit or being haunted by the ghost of a "perfect" piece that got away.

SKETCHES: When in doubt, draw it out. Floorplans. Furniture. You're not going to cart around a photo album and we all know how hard it is to scroll through a photo roll in a hurry (or in bright sunshine) on your cellphone. Keep visual aids to help you envision what you already have or an object you're hoping to find. 

INSPIRATION LIST: Did you see something on a blog, social media feed, or in a magazine feature that you thought was superbly charming? Record it in a quick snippet. "Champagne bucket to hold glass fishing floats." "Birdcage turned terrarium"

WHITE WHALES (OR UNICORNS): The dream bucket list of once-in-a-lifetime finds.  

FRIENDS AND FAMILY: One of my major love languages is gift-giving. It is a huge pillar of my personality and there are few things I love better than gifting a friend or loved one with an item for a collection or something personal to them. One dear friend collects antique copies of Pride and Prejudice . Another loves religious lithograph cards and objects of faith.

PICKERS AND SOURCES: Your own personal "Where To Find It." More details on this section when we get into how to utilize your Hot List.

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So you've started your Hot List. Now comes the most fun part -- using it. I find that I use it differently, depending on where I am in the picking process.

PRE-HUNT PREP: I spend time reading back through my notes in key sections before I go shopping. Either the evening before, morning of, or even while traveling if I'm not driving. I keep the information fresh. This isn't a cover to cover read. More of a cram session to just put it back in front of your eyes one last time. I tend to specifically go over my INSPIRATION, WHITE WHALES, FRIENDS AND FAMILY, and PICKERS AND SOURCES sections.

IN THE FRAY: Once my cross-body bag is slung in place and I've got my market cart rolling, it's go time. There are delights to find and things to see. Having your nose in a book is totally counter-productive. I only pull out my Hot List if I need to check measurements or want to check a sketch or floorplan. This is when it comes imperative that your notebook is a good balance in size/weight. Because the one time you decide to leave it at home or locked in the car is the time that you're begging a dealer to hold a large item for you so that you can trek back to the car to get the book or phone someone to find the book at home and check it for you. (Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything....)

AFTERGLOW: Once the hunt is over, now is the time to refine and refresh the Hot List. Add or remove things as needed. The Hot List is always open to editing as some things are found or new inspiration strikes. I'll try to add anything from the day as soon as possible so as not to forget it, and then keep the Hot List handy during my day-to-day life for new inspirations and ideas. If it isn't in my bag, it is on the side table beside my favorite chair where I'll read magazines or browse inspiring websites or social media platforms.

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This is probably one of my most critical sections, personally. If I stop at an antique mall on a whim and fall in love with a certain booth, I make a note of it. Met a vendor at a flea market or show that I just adore and love everything in their booth? Once I'm done making my purchases, I ask them for a card or their contact information. Inquire what their show schedule is like and if they will be anywhere else close in the near future. Summarize what sorts of things they specialize in. I'll even call some of my favorites and sources-turned-friends prior to a trip to confirm they are going to be at a specific show and if they are, where they are set up. And it is so unbelievably handy! I had acquired a vintage marquee letter A for my display behind the cash wrap a few years ago. When a customer came in recently and admired it, remarking that she wanted something similar, I could go right to my Hot List and give the dealer a call to see what other letters she had in her stash. 

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So there you go. I've shown you behind the scenes on my process and given you all the specs on one of my favorite go-to secret weapons for shopping. I hope it is helpful to you during your upcoming trips out to find amazing things for your home. 

Happy shopping, lovelies!  

~ Adair

'Tis the season...

I heard that phrase the other day. Two women were talking about the hectic pace these next few fleeting days will hold. The stress. The striving. The crash that inevitably follows.

"Well, you know... 'tis the season..."

It wasn't said sarcastically. Instead, it seemed to hold a sense of weariness. And then I realized how those words have left my very own lips.

It stopped me in my tracks. One of those all-the-gears-click-into-place epiphanies. Too often we hear people gripe about the rampant commercialism of the Christmas season. Or we know people who put on brave faces and false smiles to get through one more holiday with a broken heart, a longing left unfulfilled, a strained relationship, shame, financial struggles, grief or some combination thereof. We shrug our shoulders and resolve ourselves to just keep pushing through, hauling all our hurts through the motions of celebration.

We talk about surviving the holidays. The odd gifts we receive that instantly go in the re-gifting pile. The strained, shallow conversations that might happen at work holiday parties. The mountains of pressure and effort to clean, cook, bake, host and make sure we have the holliest jolliest Currier and Ives Christmas EVER. 

Yet I know better. This sacred season isn't about my piety or perfection, giving manicured Martha Stewart a run for her money in the kitchen, having a magazine feature worthy home, or giving gorgeous gifts. 

The Advent -- this expectant waiting -- is all about salvation. About restoration. About grace.

Have you ever had something just stick in your head and refuse to leave? A line or phrase that just keeps popping up throughout a season of life -- sometimes even multiple times a day? Just me? 

We are in a sermon series at my church called Christmas At The Movies. The first week tied between Miracle on 34th Street (one of my personal faves) and the God who performs miracles (Psalm 77:14) and the season of miracles that is Christmas.

If you want to listen to the sermon or the entire series, you can stream them online here.

The point that has seemingly been plastered to my heart ever since is this:

The miraculous is certainly messy. It was for Mary and Joseph. It is for us. And yet, in spite of how hard and foreign it can seem, God is at work in all of the circumstances and through all of what appears to be obstacles.

Can you even imagine how disheartening it had to feel for Mary and Joseph that first Christmas? What do you mean -- my fiance is pregnant?  that we have to pay more taxes? we have to travel so far away from home?  this stable is all that is available to us? 

Can't you picture them cold, exhausted, worried, harried.... and looking anything but how most artists have displayed the Nativity throughout the centuries? 

Yet God's plan was in motion and from the midst of the darkness and strife, the light of the world was about to dawn and change everything. 

If I know in my knower and believe in my heart that the miracle of Christmas is Christ-with-us, Emmanuel, then this season is really about what has already been done for me. For all of us.

Several weeks ago, I discovered a new band, Page CVXI. The name comes from the C.S. Lewis work, The Magician's Nephew, and page 116, where Aslan, the lion, sings Narnia into existence from the darkness. {Confession: I LOVE all things C.S. Lewis and read The Chronicles of Narnia every January. So, they sort of had me from the name.} Well, ever since, I've been listening to their album,  Advent to Christmas, almost non-stop. It's available for purchase on iTunes or you can listen to the entire album online from Relevant Magazine here.

And as happens, in the shop, with music playing in the background, I always seem to hear certain snippets of songs and lyrics at various moments. Yet the song that seems to usher in this swelling in my spirit, this blossoming of hope and peace is Comfort, Comfort My People.

Comfort, comfort now my people. Tell of his peace with no end. Comfort, comfort those in darkness. Tell them that God's pardon waits for them.

The Glory of the Lord now on earth is shed. In deserts far and near, he will raise what's dead. His peace has been spoken. His word is never broken. The Kingdom of God is now here.

Straight shall be what's crooked. Making all the rougher places plain. Let your hearts be humble befitting our God's glory and his reign

Let the valleys rise to meet him, the hills all will bow down in praise.
Let the valleys rise to greet him, the hills bow down in praise.
Let the valleys rise to greet him, the hills bow down in praise

The Glory of the Lord now on earth is shed. In deserts far and near, he will raise what's dead. The Glory of the Lord now on earth is shed. In deserts far and near, he will raise what's dead. His peace has been spoken. His word is never broken. The Kingdom of God is now here.

His peace has been spoken. His word is never broken. The Kingdom of God is now here.

I am firmly convinced that all the hurts we haul around with us and try to hide at the holidays are the hard, miraculous circumstances through which God is working and dawning not only in us -- but through us. The moments in our life where He wants to speak peace and let glory shine.

That's my prayer for this next week. For all of us. That we would be obedient to the miraculous things God is working around us. That joy would well up and overflow our hearts.

And that, underneath all the packages and presents, each one of us would find that peace has been our gift this Christmas.



We want to make your holiday merry and bright! Take a family photo, a selfie, or a group shot in front of the shop and upload the entry to Facebook or Instagram -- and you could win a $100 Alice Adair & Co. gift certificate!

Here's how to enter:

1. Go to our Facebook page and give it a "like". The winner MUST be a Facebook fan of Alice Adair & Co.

2. Upload your photo directly to our Facebook page and tag the photo with #aliceadairnoel. Entries shared on Instagram must have the hashtag #aliceadairnoel and tag @aliceadair. { That will make it easier for us to track all the entries so we don't miss one! }

3. Submissions will be open from Small Business Saturday, November 29th through Monday, December 15th, 2014. Once the submission window has closed, I will select my five FAVORITE entries.

4. On Tuesday, December 16th, the finalists will be announced on Facebook and voting will commence! Voting will remain open from December 16th to December 21st. The winner will be announced Monday, December 22nd and win a $100 Alice Adair & Co. gift certificate redeemable for merchandise or design services.

5. Get creative! Silly, glamorous, serious... as long as it is family friendly. Multiple entries are allowed, however contestants may only submit 5 photo entries while submissions are open.

I'm looking forward to seeing all the entries! Good luck!


Reflections, gratitude, and grace...

It happens every year. And still I find myself caught awestruck and humbled every single time. As the glitter settles, I catch up on some much-needed sleep, and the days seem to scream by in a flash of tinsel and twinkle, the realities of oh-my-world-what-just-happened sink in.

I wish I could tell you that the days and even hours before the shop opened for Merry & Bright 2014 were lighthearted and easy. That everything fell into place as if in some Disney movie sequence. That I didn't have to call poison control because I drank out of a plastic cup I'd used to measure out cleaner for mopping all my floors and baseboards by hand. I wish I could tell you those things, but I can't. (Though the poison control story now ranks right up there with one about the time I drove a 4-wheeler into the side of my uncle's brick home.)


What I can tell you about is the sense of calm and peace that anchored me this season more palpably than ever before. How my plans and leaps of faith in the weeks prior were met with providence and provision in huge God-sized heaps. About the kindness and grace I received from my brother and sister-in-love, who gave up portions of their vacation to come down to the shop and help. About my grit-and-glam sister-from-another-mister Jodi who gave up her day off to come down and help me behind the cash wrap and in those frenzied final hours before we opened. About my mother who stood shoulder to shoulder with me throughout it all and let me push her to the brink of exhaustion with late hours and early mornings.

I sent her home at 1:30 Thursday morning, with the intention of working all night in the building. And as she pulled away, it seemed insurmountable. So much felt unfinished and scattered. But I squared my shoulders and started to the task at hand. We were opening our doors in 16 hours. At 3 am, I sat down in a chair to rest for 15 minutes and the next thing I knew, my eyes were opening at 5:30 am.



Yet instead of panic, I remember praying that God would help me to be more productive in the next 8 hours than should be humanly possible. I left the shop silent and just kept praying as I worked. And He is so good and so faithful to answer in huge ways. I'd glance down at my watch and expect hours to have passed, only to find minutes had. Vignettes and displays just flowed with a sense of ease that I can tell you didn't come from within me. At 9 am, my brother came down to the shop with coffee for himself and a couple bottles of Cherry Coke (and a large cup of slushy ice) for me. The adrenaline I was running on needed a large jolt of caffeine. And pardon me while I brag for a moment on my baby brother who let me direct him with boxes that needed to be carried into storage, mirrors and glass that needed to be cleaned so that it gleamed, and vacuuming the shop spotless. He'd even worn an old work shirt from his days as the warehouse manager of our family furniture store.

When Mama arrived a little before noon, her reaction to the shop's transformation is one I shall carry with me always and replay in my heart at those moments when doubt and worry threatens to creep in. Even just thinking about it now, the tears start to well up.


I'll spare you the rest of the play-by-play, because really, the rest of it flew by in a blur. My talented friend Barb, of Barbara Jo Photography, showed up right as I ran home to get ready and captured these gorgeous photos of the shop before the doors opened. To see the entire gallery, check it out here.


As the season has continued to unfold, the gratitude has just continued to swell. A shop without custom (I love that phrase, don't you? I've been watching The Paradise and Mr. Selfridge too much), is just a museum. New merchandise has been brought into the shop daily to refresh pockets and displays as so many dear faces and new faces found treasures they just had to take home.


Alice Adair & Co. is the sum of my passion, my heart's joy, and a physical expression of the story and journey my life has taken to this point. And as I've said before, design and display is tangible storytelling. That someone would want to incorporate an Alice Adair & Co. find into their home and tale is exhilarating. I am always asked how I can bear to part with all the things I've discovered and brought into the shop. Honestly, that is the most fun part! When I find an object, I know that I love it -- but to then see someone else who loves it? Icing on the cake. (Or whipped cream on the pie!)

So as you gather today with you're dearly beloved to reflect on the gifts and blessings you've been given, I wish you every happiness and bright blessing imaginable with a heart full of thanks. My cup has been filled to overflowing with all of your support, encouragement, compliments, and excitement. I am immensely grateful for each and every one of you.

The very happiest of Thanksgivings, lovelies!

All Images: © 2014 Alice Adair & Co. and Barbara Jo Photography. Images may not be used without express permission.

Merry & Bright 2014 ...

... is just three weeks away. 

Can you believe that is even a thing? That your friends are sharing photos on Facebook of Buddy the Elf announcing only 10 more Fridays until CHRISTMAS?!

I can't believe it either, except for the fact that my calendar and to-do list are staring me in the face as I finally find a small wedge of time to write this.

But as often happens, every year, after weeks of late nights, little sleep, meals grabbed on the fly, and a good amount of drive and adrenaline (aka stress), it all comes together and I'm left to observe and experience the holiday open house  in a cloud of wonder that this is my life.

And you're invited! So grab some good friends and come explore all the treasures that I've been holding (alright, I confess, hoarding) back for the event.

I am so proud of this year's event invitation. Along with the shop, I do all of my own graphic design as well as some freelance work for other merchants. But c'mon now -- a sweet cherubic French angel with glitter and paper lace and scrolls... and did I say GLITTER? I'm totally saving this design back to make Christmas cards.

Anyway, this darling girl will be going out to all of the local customers who prefer to get real mail once-a-year from the shop. I hope it makes them as happy as it does me.

She'll also be showing up in e-mail inboxes for our monthly newsletter

The shop is closing and I'm going to get home so that I can grab a quick dinner before working on more projects and price some new merch that I can't wait to display.

Christmas is coming... let the count down begin!

Have a blessed evening, lovelies!