Exterior Progress

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When we bought our house, there was a lot of work to do on the exterior.

We hated the wheelchair ramp and the gravel in the flower beds and the white metal hoods over the windows.

The ramp was ripped out for us before we even moved in and Ben tackled the gravel in the first few days of me moving in, too. But the hoods have remained. We aren't DIY people, really. I think maybe we want to be sometimes.. but it's just not who we are and how we want to live (constantly building things) and we're okay with it. But that meant we had a lot of fear when it came to removing the hoods. We were afraid the whole window frame would need replacing when pulling off the hood. But after almost a year and a half, enough was enough. We decided we could just try one hood on the side of the house and see what happened. and before we knew it.. they were all gone.

Let's check this out with some photos of our home's exterior from over time.

Hip, hip, hooray! We are totally thrilled about this big change. we have 90% more natural light in our home now, and that has dramatically improved my quality of life. That sounds so silly but it really is true. I love having sunlight streaming into our home. Our kitchen and dining area used to demand the use of overhead lighting all the time and now its easy to go without. The change is amazing! We've also been dreaming about painting the brick a medium gray and adding black shutters... ee! That will probably be awhile down the road, though!

What do y'all think? :)

Our Home's History

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In the past two weeks, the median age of visitors to our home hopped up quite a bit.

As you may or may not know, when we purchased our home, it looked VERY different than it does now. If you'd like some of our original before and afters, check that out here. More coming soon!

Our home was built by a couple when they got married, and they lived here until they passed away. We bought the house from their grandson. Even for me, scrolling through the original photos of our home never gets old. I cannot believe the transformation that has taken place.

A few Fridays ago, the grandson of the builders of our home came back in town and wanted to see all that we had done. Ben and I had both been looking forward to this. It's really fun when people who had been here before see the changes we've made. Due in part to our visitors being distant relatives, somehow our home ended up packed with people and even more snacks. Everyone brought something! We had a visit from a 104 year old lady who was trooping around the casa and kept telling me how lovely it was. That was fun.

The thing about small towns is, the majority of people in a certain age group that have ties to our town have spent time in our home. Ben's grandmother's brother and his wife were in town this weekend and stopped by for the first time in many years. By this point, we've gotten into a rhythm of touring people around. We stop and show them a before photo of the fireplace and talk about how we love living here and how much help we've had. We tell them which rooms we think have changed the most and which flooring is original. But this time was really different for me. Carol (pictured above) sat on our couch and remembered having her bridal shower in that very room.. 57 years ago. Just looking at it, you wouldn't guess, would you? I was beyond thrilled about this. Our home has been entertaining for nearer three times the duration of my life. People have been welcomed and loved here. There was something about the legacy of this that captured my heart. I loved it. We took a photo to record my joy. I'm clearly beaming with happiness! This is just a fun and sweet story that is close to my heart, so I wanted to share it! :)

Do you have any stories of legacy in your family or home that mean a lot to you?

When I Changed My Look on Social Media....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Recently, I had started to become drained by social media. I think everyone gets to that point. Especially with following tons of different bloggers and creatives on Instagram, my feed is always a buzzing. I don't think it's good to be constantly looking at my phone and feeling like I should keep up with what's happening. I don't like how much social media lends to "fear of missing out". I don't like seeing people portray their lives in a false way. I don't like the assumption that a number of followers or likes on your photos gives you any kind of worth or identity.

Something that is often discussed is comparing our lives to other people's groomed, social media lives. I know you may read this and immediately think it's a TOTAL LIE.. but that just isn't something I've struggled with. It's an aspect of interaction with social media that my heart just hasn't responded to. But I know for so many people, looking at a photo of someone's family/husband/house/job/clothes/anything can bring a heart of longing.  The way that I struggle with social media is feeling too connected and wasting time on something that can very easily mean nothing. If I'm seeing every single post that anyone ever publishes, something about it leaves me feeling lonely and empty. It's yuck. It's gunk.

Especially since Making Things Happen last year, I've tried to be more intentional about who I follow on social media. What am I filling my mind with when I do click on that seductive instacamera icon on my phone? I want it to be truth and joy and inspiration and a look into the perspective of people I admire or care about. I have lots of thoughts about how I need to be taking more time off social media (our Europe trip is going to bless my heart in so many ways!)  and about who I should put on my feed... but recently it occurred to me that we are often going into our social media viewing with the wrong perspective.

The reason I mentioned comparison above is because I think it really is easy for us to look at someone's photo and see a glossy look at their life. I have decided that I think there are two options when looking at photos, I can develop a heart of jealousy and discontentment, or I can try and pinpoint something that I can truly learn from this person. How can I look at an Instagram post that appeals to me and let it become a meaningful (and let's just be honest.. fun) thing in my life? I want all aspects of my life to be about love and strength and creativity and the light that Jesus brings.

Our world has been invaded by social media and I refuse to believe that God can't use it. He can. I believe that our time can be fruitful when thought about intentionally. (Although I 100% believe time of fasting from media is extremely beneficial and probably more fruitful!) Even if it's something silly like seeing someone's meal and deciding to make something similar to add some fun to the week... When thought about through the lens of the Lord's power and of thanksgiving and of joy I believe that the time we seem to find ourselves spending online can be an encouragement.

I thought that the best way to communicate this new way of thinking would be to talk about a few of my favorite instagram accounts!

1. @nancyray

I could be jealous of the balance that Nancy seems to have in her life or of how quickly her and her husband paid off their house. I could think about how I wish I could read as many books as her or be as pretty as she is. I could think about how she appears to have so many more friends than I do and how that must be nice. 

OR I could think about WHY Nancy must appear so balanced.. and like she does, start my day with scripture, prayer, and 15 minutes of a good book. I could follow her example and be overwhelming with thanksgiving at the life God has given me. I could take some time to speak life into and encourage friend and build those relationships. I could spend a few minutes tidying up my office space because I noticed that hers always looks very peaceful and would create a wonderful work environment. I could take my sweet puppy for a walk to love on her after seeing photos of Nancy with her dog. I could simplify my life and be content with what I have because of her inspiration. I can stick carefully to the envelope system and work towards financial goals because I'm encouraged by seeing Nancy and her husband a few steps ahead.

2. @heygorgevents

I can think that my house will never be as pretty as hers and that I'm not talented at arrangements. I can think that my outfits will never be as put together as hers or that my words will never be so put together. I can think that my top knot always falls out and looks weird. I can think that her bathroom has double sinks and oh hallelujah how much would we love a legitimate master bathroom with double sinks and no blue tile!! 

OR I can notice that Rhi's beautiful come always appears well kept and decide to hop away from the phone and dust a few surfaces and vacuum our floors in order to let our home be welcoming to others. I can notice that through her lens, ordinary things become beautiful and be encouraged to look through that same lens at my own life each day. I can look at her gorgeous ;) tablescapes and pray for the Lord to lead me to who we need to invite into our home to gather around our very own table for nourishment of the belly and the heart. I can look at her account and see bold, glorious creativity flourishing and think of a few action steps of working towards how I can thrive with the talents God has given me.

3. @livefreebefit

This one is kind of different, because it is the account of a real life friend. Chelsea's fitness account (and blog coming soon) is a complete game changer, ya'll. You need to be checking it out and having your life blessed by reading her perspectives! She is eloquent and encouraging and joyful. I adore her!

I could look at Chelsea's photos and become jealous that she's making progress in her fitness journey and gaining strength. I could think that I'll never be like her and that her healthy lifestyle is something I'll never have. 

OR I could read her sweet words and encouragements about the body that God has given me. I can be inspired by her food posts to work on healthy meals for Ben and I. I can see her post about a workout and be reminded to get my sweat on. I can read the scripture she posts and think about how it applies to my life and how I should respond to it with action. I can see the changes that she has made in her life and make a conscious decision to work towards positive change in my own life.

Y'all. Just typing through that transformed my heart. I truly believe that if you grab a journal the next time you look at your news feed, and write through things like I just did.. there will be a shift. And I want to hear about it. Our world has been invaded by social media and I refuse to believe that God can't use it. He can. I believe that our time can be fruitful when thought about intentionally. (Although I 100% believe time of fasting from media is extremely beneficial and probably more fruitful!) Even if it's something silly like seeing someone's meal and deciding to make something similar to add some fun to the week... When thought about through the lens of the Lord's power and of thanksgiving and of joy I believe that the time we seem to find ourselves spending online can be an encouragement.

A Family Dog

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The other day we were driving and a pickup truck in front of us had three golden retrievers in the bed. They were rather ombre, with one being a dark one, one a traditional golden color, and one almost white light blonde. They were precious, and for some reason really stuck in my mind.

We LOVE our bulldog Matilda. LOVE LOVE LOVE HER. We've talked about only having bulldogs and only naming them Matilda (Matilda II, Matilda III, etc) and just been ridiculous. I'll be devastated when our sweet pup passes away one day, but the reality is bulldogs don't live near as long as many other types of dogs.

Seeing these beautiful family dogs scurrying around the back of the truck got me thinking. For some reason, I got bit by the "American Dream" bug and started fantasizing about our future children unwrapping a big box with air holes in it on Christmas morning and saying goodbye to that same dog when they go off to college. It just seemed like a lovely thing.

What do y'all think? Did any of y'all grow up with a family dog like this? Any good dog stories? Why am I so weird and daydreaming about buying a dog in 8-10 years!?!

Thoughts on Personal Style

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lately, I feel like I've come into my adult self.
I feel like I've figured out a skin care routine that works well for my skin type.
A lipstick shade that puts a bit of pep in my step.
I know the fastest, most thorough ways to clean our home.
I don't know why I connect that with growing up.. but I do!

By no means do I (nor will I ever) have it all figured out.. but recently, personal style has been something I've really thought about. Obviously we're all different and have variance in our thoughts and opinions, but I've come to think personal style is rather important. What do I mean by personal style? I guess I just mean that for the first time in my life, I know what clothes I think are cute and what styles will feel flattering and give me a little bit of confidence. And I love it.

I've shared in bits and pieces about my journey with health and fitness. Bits and pieces that I hope are read with grace in your hearts. I think it's connected, but maybe it's not. Being active and eating mostly clean foods has left me energetic and happy and ready to go. It's given me a little boost of confidence and I've really had fun with trying different styles of clothing. I recently bought an army green military style jacket. WHAT? I know. I'm wild. I love it.

I really think that people get caught up in embodying a particular style, fueled by pinterest and magazines and things like that. I hear people talk about it all the time with their homes. I love neutrals but I love color and I love modern but I love classic and which one of these styles should I have? I really just think it's important to wear things you like, to put things you like in your home. So am I going to wear my army jacket one day and a Lilly Pulitzer dress the next? Absolutely. It's also notable that no one pays near as close attention to you as YOU do. People say that often, but it's something I've thought about a lot recently. It's humbling. It's freeing.

Moral of the story is, I want to encourage you to try on a shirt in a new style or go to Sephora and try all the different blushes until you find one that's a perfect fit. I've come to believe that embracing femininity is important. I think it's important to feel confident and beautiful and exactly as God created you. If a new lipstick or a favorite shirt helps you embrace that... I just think it's good.

These are a lot of thoughts from all over the place. I just think that we go through such a journey.. starting in elementary and middle school we want to look like everyone around us and wear the same things and fit in. And then people want to be hip and different and unlike anyone else. I've finally wrapped my head around the fact that I can dress like myself, be like myself. I should wear something because I like it and not be afraid if someone else likes it too and I'm not original or if everyone else likes it. Live life, people! :)

What are your thoughts on personal style? Isn't it funny how we constantly change.. even photos from a few years ago I'm dressed so different!

These random thoughts wouldn't be complete without a photo of my ultimate style icon,
Kate Middleton:

Lessons from the Homes of Others

Monday, April 7, 2014

Over the past few weeks, I've had the blessing of being in the homes of others. New people. Spring and Summer are my favorite for one clear reason: the celebration. I want my life to be filled with showers, weddings, and birthday parties. I eat it up. I love watching the large milestones of others.

Because I love interiors so much, or because I love hospitality so much, I thrive when people open their doors. Without realizing it, I soak up knowledge in each home I enter. How do they prepare a powder bathroom for visitors? Does their home represent their personality? How is this person loving the people that walk through their door?

First, was my good friend Michelle's bridal shower. Her wedding is on May 3, and I'm giddy about it. She is too. Her shower was hosted by the mother of her longtime best friend. Michelle put it this way, "the first time I met a southern belle was when I met Suzie, she walked in from outside wearing a long dress and a big sunhat, coming in from working with flowers and said, daaaarrlin, nice to meeeet you." That story is so iconic to me, and everything about attending this shower was consistent. I left feeling like I would be welcome anytime. I loved seeing the apothecary jar full of soaps. I loved the open layout of the home, just inviting people to come inside and stay awhile. I can't put my finger on why, but I left that home feeling encouraged. I felt like I had learned things about how to carry myself as a woman. I learned about fresh flowers and monogrammed towels. I learned about greeting every person as they walked through the door and making them feel valued.

This Saturday was my sister in law Kayce's first baby shower. Each little detail of this event was done beautifully. The dispenser full of water contained mint and blackberries. Labels had been written in gorgeous calligraphy. Everything had just been done with immense care. The home was clean and light and sometimes when I'm in a home I feel like I can really imagine people enjoying the life that is lived there. This was one of those homes. You could see where people would feel comfortable leaning on the kitchen countertop or watching a movie on the couch or letting the puppy in and out of the back door. It was styled perfectly but communicated that it was a house that wanted you to live. A house that was enjoyed by it's owners. A house that friends loved being in.

I so deeply desire for our home to be a sweet sanctuary to those who enter. I want our friends and family to always count on being able to relax and be nourished in their hearts and their bellies. I want it to be real, I want people to feel loved and valued as they walk in the door. I crave for people to see Jesus in our home. I want others to be able to picture themselves seated at our table or on our sofa, laughing and crying and everything in between. I want people to feel comfortable getting a glass of water or asking for one or to be offered one in good timing. I want Ben to live in a clean, natural, pretty house. I want healthy, filling, enjoyable food to be served.

Every time someone opens their doors, I truly believe there is something to be learned. Starting with their willingness to house company. People love and serve and style in different ways and every single one seems perfect to me.

What are some things you love doing to make others feel welcome in your home? What do you believe defines your home? What have you noticed in the homes of others?

April Goals

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Image by Zac & Kaitlin Photography

Y'all. Can I just say that I've needed an extra dollop of grace lately? I came into 2014 with my imaginary boxing gloves on... ready to take on the world and accomplish a ton. (Remember my 2014 vision?) It's turned out to be a really discouraging few months. We've dealt with struggles we never thought would be even slightly on our radar. In the spirit of full transparency, we're in a hard season. We've been in a hard season. I can see that it has really strengthened our marriage.. but let's be honest. Sad times stink. But I am so truly grateful for the joy and hope that comes with a new month. To me, it seems like "his mercies are new every morning" on a slightly larger scale. I'm welcoming April with open arms, and praying that Spring will be a major turning point for us. 

Also, about zero March goals actually happened. 

March Goals
Finish reading Alliegant by Veronica Roth
Start Love Story by Nichole Nordeman started reading an old favorite instead!
Attend Hope Spoken 
Enjoy Ben being off work for a full week!
Travel to College Station for a basketball game 
Organize our desk junk drawer, and dining room cabinets (a scary land)

I did just go back to an abandoned goal from February, I found some incredible pillows for our bed! They can be seen in this instagram.

Organize our desk junk drawer, and dining room cabinets
Compile a book list for the rest of the year
book the last few things for our Europe trip
get photos back from a REALLY fun project (sharing more soon!)
attend my sister in law's first baby shower
take some time to snuggle my puppy
add a few more sets to my strength training routine (more on this, soon!)

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