CARTERVILLE -- The Pauls girls staked out their corner of the gymnasium at John A. Logan College this past weekend at the annual Autumnfest celebration. They set up the pegboards and display crates, and festooned their booth with an impressive collection of handmade home and holiday decor featuring decorative signs and pillows, stuffed snowmen, fabric Christmas trees and stockings, and a full-size flocked tree covered with their handmade ornaments.
Sweet P's was ready for AutumnFest, their third since starting this unlikely arts and crafts business, and the Pauls girls were nearly giddy with anticipation as the show opened Saturday morning.
Teresa Pauls of Marion is the matriarch of this trio of women, which includes both of her daughters-in-law, Rachel and Amanda. They've been in business as Sweet P's Decor for about three years, but all three share a lifelong love of creating crafts for their homes and loved ones.
Teresa was raised on a farm in Southern Illinois where she learned to appreciate all things handmade. After she married Robin and they had their two sons, Cody and Kirby, Teresa's creative urges often took a back seat to the responsibilities of being a wife and mother.
She'd be the first to tell you that she would not have had it any other way, that she kept practicing her crafts and that Robin has always been supportive of her creative work, up to and including setting up almost all of her craft fair displays over the years.
Then Cody and Kirby married Rachel and Amanda -- within a year of each other -- and Teresa discovered that her daughters-in-law shared her love for creating and crafting and decorating. That's when
Sweet P's Decor was born.
For the past 18 months, since Teresa's first grandbaby was born, Rachel has assumed a more home-based role as "Christmas consultant." But Amanda has stepped up with her own line of crafts, featuring stenciled signs, many of which reflect her strong faith.
"My favorite of Amanda's signs this year was one painted on a weathered piece of barnwood," Teresa said. "It read, 'True love was born in a stable.'"
"I look for sayings and quotes that move me," Amanda said. "I get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest."
But she also has a "real talent for decorating," according to Teresa.
"She designs and sets up most of our show displays, and you should see her home," Teresa said. "She and Kirby have a log home, and Amanda decorates it from top to bottom for the holidays."
"My mom (Teresa Eblin) loves decorating," Amanda said. "And my father loves decorating for Christmas," including setting up 36 Disney Christmas characters for their yard each year. "They passed on that love of decorating."
Amanda also serves as Sweet P's "home lifestyles blogger" on their website, sweetpsdecor.com. (You can see a lot of photos of her home decorating there.)
Still, when pressed, neither woman would call herself an artist, despite all the evidence to the contrary on display at AutumnFest.
"I'm not artistic," Teresa said. "I just make a lot of handcrafted items."
Hmmm. Well, that's one of the reasons that AutumnFest is one of biggest arts and crafts fair in the region, year after year. For the visitors, it's a real treasure hunt. You never know what you'll find in the booth around the corner. It might be a hand-painted silk scarf, or jewelry with intricate wire wrappings, or it might be a couple of reluctant artists whose fantastic and festive creations may be just what your home needs.
For more information on Sweet P's Decor, visit sweetpsdecor.com or their postings on Pinterest, Facebook, Etsy and Instagram.