Wednesday, May 30, 2012

thankful thursday {link up}

{Link up your own Thankful Thursday post below...}

This Thursday I am thankful for...

1) Blue Bell ice cream.  Being a Texas girl, I've always been a fan of Blue Bell.  But just recently have I reacquainted myself with that old familiar Blue Bell Cookies'n'Cream.... soooo good.  Blue Bell does it right with the cookies'n'cream... it's not unlikely that you will find entire Oreo cookies within your bowl... and that, my friend, makes me very happy.

2) Pretty, pretty flowers.  I mean, what girl doesn't love flowers?  Especially a ginormous, fragrant bouquet delivered right to your front door on your anniversary!!  Even though my husband is currently on the other side of the world, he still managed to completely surprise me with flowers on our anniversary this week!  These flowers smell AMAZING... I'm pretty sure if you stick your nose close enough to your computer screen, you will be able to smell them... go ahead... try it.

3) This little thankful community.  Aka... YOU.  I absolutely love to read your lists.. how you are thankful for big and small... it's a constant reminder .  I'm grateful for the other blogs out there that also host Thankful Thursday link up parties, and I love how a few of us (Cami, Kate, Sarah, Carina, and Heather)  manage to all be thankful together every week.  

I always love reading all of your Thankful Thursday link-ups each week... some make me laugh, some make me nod in agreement, and some just simply warm my heart.  Last week Jennifer, from Jennifer Dawn McLucas, wrote a beautiful post about grace... about how grace frees us from our list of "shoulds."  If you didn't read it last week, I'd definitely encourage you to go read it today... beautifully written, as all of Jennifer's posts are.

What are you thankful for this week? Grab the Thankful Thursday button from the right sidebar and link up your own post below. Be sure to visit the other Thankful Thursday participants and share the love!!

Also linking up with:

dear may

Dear May,

Such an exciting, fun-filled month... you are by far one of my favorites. Second only to December (you know I've always had a thing for Christmas). You pack so many special events in your fabulous 31 days... my birthday... Lance's birthday... our anniversary... I mean, really... How do you do it?

How in the world did you manage to contain so much happiness within the squares of your calendar page?  Birthday shopping sprees... amazing care packages... Cincinnati field trips... weekend flea markets... colorful new bedding... sushi send-off dates... traveling the world... amazing elephant safaris... family time in Houston... a redecorating whirlwind... drinks with the girls... lessons in gardening... friends tying the knot... surprise anniversary flowers... and the list goes on...

Goodbye May... Top that June.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

my parent's house... redecorated. {part 1}

Last week my parents flew both my sister and I into Houston so we could redecorate their house.  Ummm... yes, please.  I mean, who doesn't love shopping with someone else's credit card??  I love the challenge of trying to use what someone already has to change a space entirely... switching bed linens... trading furniture from room to room... rearranging decor... eliminating decor... you get the picture.  

But my parent's house was a little different.  I guess because I've seen it "as-is" for so long, it made it difficult to envision something entirely different.  And unlike my own home, they have a bunch of really nice furniture... so it's not like I can just start spray painting and distressing stuff.  

And speaking of stuff... they have A LOT of it. I don't think even they realized how much stuff they had until we piled it all in one space...

And the faux foliage... holy.plants.

There is no way to describe the amount of greenery that was collected from around the home... most of it was just forgotten in some lonely, dusty corner of the house.  My parents agreed that it was high time to return the fake greenery to it's proper decade, 1993.  Thank goodness.

We did a little something to almost every room of the house, so instead of one massively long post, I decided to split this one up.  Today we'll focus on the family room... this is where my parents spend the majority of their time.  Here's what we were working with... (sorry in advance for all the iPhone photos)

And here's what we ended up with...

Another "before" photo from a different view...

And the "after"...

It wasn't really all that bad beforehand... just needed a little declutterizing (that's totally a word... look it up).  We changed the furniture arrangement to create a cozier space.  I love having those two over-sized chairs side-by-side.  My favorite parts of the room??  Definitely the new updated lampshades (Tuesday Morning)... and those adorable numbered pillows (Stein Mart).  I feel like both of those elements helped to modernize the room a little... bringing a little bit of whimsy into a mostly traditional space.

Here's a close up of one of the lamp shades...

Some of the major changes were the brand new rug (Tuesday Morning) and taking the large glass table (previously behind the sofa) out of the room entirely.  We cleaned out the bookshelves over the bar area and put (gasp!) books in them... occasionally showcasing one or two special items.

One more "after" shot, just for kicks...

So, there you have it.  Part 1 of the parent redecoration project.  More to come soon...

Monday, May 28, 2012

eight years.

Dearest Lance,

Seeing that it's almost May 29th on your side of the world, I wanted to be the first to wish you a very happy anniversary.

Eight whole years...

I remember our wedding day like it was just yesterday... how my heart raced with excitement as I walked down that aisle... how that beautiful little church in Troy, Alabama seemed to come to life when I saw your smile... how I could hardly wait to to slip that ring on your finger and say 'I do.'  At that very moment, I thought that I could never love you more.

I was wrong.

Lance, I love you more and more  Thank you for all you do and all you are.  I am beyond grateful to have you as my husband.  I love you forever and always.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

love notes...

A little love note can go a long way.  

They can be short...

...or they can be long...

They can say "good morning"...

...or they can say "good night."

They can be for safe travels...

...or for happy birthdays.

Just a simple way to tell someone you're thinking about them.  Lance and I emailed hundreds of love notes to one another when we were dating and he was living overseas for a year.  I've scribbled notes on bathroom mirrors.  He's hidden index cards in bathroom drawers.

Before Lance left for Nepal, I collected various cards and stationary and numbered the envelopes for the dates he would be gone.  Initially, I thought I would just do one card for his birthday and another for our anniversary.  But then I decided to do something similar to this.

Some notes are short and sweet... a simple verse maybe.  Others are more lengthy... love notes straight from the heart.  I stamped the envelopes with my awesome vintage number stamps... one for each day he is gone...

 Then I stacked them up... tied a pretty bow... and hid them in his backpack.

Happy travels Lance... I miss you like crazy.

What about you?  Do you write love notes?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

thankful thursday {link up}

{Link up your own Thankful Thursday post below...}

This Thursday I am thankful for...

1) A 2-day work week.  Ummm.... yes, please.  I took Monday-Wednesday off this week for my whirlwind Houston trip... so today is technically my Monday... and my Thursday.  Can't beat that.  Especially with a holiday weekend right around the corner.  2 days on... 3 days off... sure!  Sign me up!

2) My sister.  It was so great to get some quality time with my sister this week... we moved furniture together... we rearranged bedrooms together... we shopped for rugs together... we used Dad's credit card together...  We.had.a.blast.  Just an FYI... it's way harder to move heavy furniture while laughing hysterically.  We were able to enjoy one last dinner together in Dallas before we both had to go our separate ways.  I feel spoiled... quality-sister-time... twice in one month!

3) Home sweet home.  As great as it was to see my parents and sister for 4 days straight (and great it definitely was)... it's still nice to come home to your own bed and your own routine... (and Little Cat was completely stoked to have me home:)  The older I get, the more I realize I am definitely a creature of habit... and habit is hard to come by when you're traveling every month.  But regardless... routine and rhythm (and my own bed) make me very happy.

I always love reading all of your Thankful Thursday link-ups each week... some make me laugh, some make me nod in agreement, and some just simply warm my heart.  Last week I about died when I read Esther's post from Lovingly Thrown Together.  Her thank you note to Hoarders (the show) about made me pee in my pants... mostly because it's so spot on.  I swear... I watch that show and immediately start making lists of closets that I need to clean out... pronto... for fear that I might now day be on the show.  Hilarious.  Thanks for linking up last week Esther!

What are you thankful for this week? Grab the Thankful Thursday button from the right sidebar and link up your own post below. Be sure to visit the other Thankful Thursday participants and share the love!!

Also linking up with:

Monday, May 21, 2012

weekend festivities...

Our weekend was a little crazy.  It mainly consisted of last minute errands, packing suitcases, and catching flights.  Friday night Lance and I had dinner at one of our favorite sushi joints and tried to soak up some quality time before he left for Nepal...  

Then we had a little pre-birthday celebration for Lance... his birthday is actually today (happy birthday love!!) but he opened a few presents before he left for his trip:)  The rest of Friday night was spent running around Louisville like crazy people... trying to make sure Lance had everything he needed for his 2 week stay in Nepal.

Saturday we both hopped on a plane and went our separate ways (insert major sad face here)... Lance headed to Kathmandu, Nepal...

 ...while I skipped on over to Houston, TX.

When I got to my parent's house, I was greeted by a big party (and my best friend, Christi).  They were hosting a big wedding party for some of our family friends (Christi's little brother) and everything was already rockin' and rollin' when I got there:)

But let's not forget the MAIN reason why I am here in Houston... TO REDECORATE!!!  Woop! Woop!  My parents basically flew my sister and I out to Houston for a few days so we could do some major updating in their home.  So yesterday was mainly spent gathering all of their "stuff" from various parts of the house so we could start with a fresh slate...

And... holy.freakin.stuff.  The amount of "things" I collected from around the house is out of control.

The sheer volume of faux greenery was absolutely ridiculous.  My parents definitely agreed... especially after seeing it all together in one spot.  I mean, seriously... you could get lost in that faux jungle... lost, and never found again.

My sister flew in yesterday afternoon... and we wasted no time!  We hit up a few favorite spots (Tuesday Morning, TJ Maxx, and Target) and bought rugs, bedding, lamp shades, and shower curtains... Redecorating with someone else's budget is WAY more exciting:) 

But we still have TONS more work to do... I mean, did you see that pile of stuff up there?!?  Don't you worry... there will be plenty of before-and-after photos!!

What about you?  How was your weekend??

Friday, May 18, 2012

he & she... {summer edition}

he is traveling to Nepal and Turkey this summer.

she is traveling to Texas and Alabama this summer.

he is just days away from his 33rd birthday.

she just celebrated her 31st birthday.

he brought her flowers this week... just because.

she made him cookies this week... just because.

he is finishing papers and book reports from his spring classes.

she is finishing editing photos from her spring photography sessions.

he is planting a vegetable garden in their backyard.

she is just trying to keep her potted plants alive.

he is reading books for his summer classes.

she is reading the Hunger Games series.

he helps the neighbors with yard work.

she brings the neighbors brownies.

they are making this community more and more like home everyday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

thankful thursday {link up}

{Link up your own Thankful Thursday post below...}

This Thursday I am thankful for...

1) Havarti cheese.  Have you had this stuff before?!?  This is my new favorite sandwich cheese.  Sooooo good.  Munster cheese used to be the favorite in our house... until Lance brought home a package of Havarti one day.  Yum.  We buy it for sandwiches, but I usually end up eating it straight out of the package as a late night snack:)

2) My online writing class... which starts today!!  As a birthday present to myself for my 31st birthday, I purchased a spot in Ali Edwards online writing class, "31 Things."  I basically get a one-word writing prompt everyday, for 31 days.  I'm hoping that this class will encourage me to write more... to capture those little details... to transfer those memories to paper. 

3) My upcoming Houston trip.  Woop!  Woop!  My sister and I are both flying into Houston to hang out with my parents this weekend ...the best part?  We are redecorating their entire house while we are there!!  I am pretty pumped (in case you can't tell)... my sister and I have been putting a serious game plan together.  My parents already had most of the house (interior) repainted... so Jenna and I will be changing out some bedding, rearranging furniture, and sprucing up the decor.  Don't worry... there will be pictures!!

I always love reading all of your Thankful Thursday link-ups each week... some make me laugh, some make me nod in agreement, and some just simply warm my heart.  Last week I loved reading Christiana's post over at Sixth Lens... I love that she gave a shout out to REAL books on her list last week.  In a high-tech world of Kindles, Nooks and iPads, sometimes it's just nice to hold a real book... with real pages.  What can I say...  I'm a sucker for turning pages... I know, I know... call me old fashioned.

What are you thankful for this week? Grab the Thankful Thursday button from the right sidebar and link up your own post below. Be sure to visit the other Thankful Thursday participants and share the love!!

Also linking up with:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

top 10 :: tips for writing

I am by no means a "writer."

When you hear the word "writer," and you start thinking of some introspective person that sits in front of their farmhouse window all day scribbling out manuscripts and novels... then receives fat paychecks for said manuscripts and novels... then I am definitely not a "writer."

But I do like to write.

I like the smell of new paper... I get giddy about handwritten letters... I love a freshly sharpened pencil... I get excited about a new pen... but more than all of that, I love that simple task of putting words to paper (or computer).  I recently signed up for an online class titled, 31 Things, taught by Ali Edwards.  This "class" will basically give me a one-word-writing-prompt for 31 days.  This is totally out of my comfort zone... but  I'm looking forward to the challenge of "just writing" everyday.  Some entries might be lengthy and deeply personal... while others might be short and humorous.  Either way... I will be writing... and that is pretty dang awesome.

Here are my top 10 tips for getting started...

1) Start a journal.
Jot your daily thoughts down... it could be a ten-page entry, or it could be a one-word entry that sums up your day... either way, you've captured your day.  (Marta's Mini Diaries are perfect for jotting down those little moments.)

2) Practice your handwriting.
Whether it's writing your name over and over... or going from cursive to print.  You'll feel like you're in fourth grade again.

3) Buy a fancy pen.
I prefer the Pilot G-2 series, extra fine for daily writing... but if I want to go really fancy, I shop here.

4) Write a letter to an old friend.
To me, this is the easiest way to start writing... grab some stationary and a stamp and just start writing.

5) Pick a word or theme... and then pick up your pen.
This is essentially the basis for the 31 Things class I'll be starting soon.  Pick a word... any word... and just see what comes of it.  For example "lunch" ...this could be what you had for lunch yesterday... your favorite person to eat lunch with... memories of your high school cafeteria... or the contents of your lunch box in third grade.  One word... so many stories.

6) Start a blog.
For me, this little blog has been the catalyst of writing... Blogging has been an enjoyable way for me to "just write"... whether it's a simple top 10 list, or a more personal "dear diary" entry.

7) Write a list.
Feel stuck?  Write a list.  This is the easiest way to break free from writer's block.  Cut out all the fancy-schmancy wordage and just start bullet-pointing away:)

8) Email your grandparents.
This is a 2-for-1 tip... you are writing, all while building your relationship with your grandparents.  This is a great way to learn about your family history and stay in touch with the ones you love.  My Pop and I exchange emails every once in a while, and I love it.  We talk about life, God and writing.  My Pop is a writer... a real one.  

9) Get a pen pal.
I used to have a pen pal in middle school... she lived in Malaysia.  Man, I would get so pumped whenever I received anything from her.  I loved the simple exchange of questions... (How old are you?  What's your favorite food?  Do you have a boyfriend?) and to see how those simple questions eventually evolved into rich conversations.

10) Just start writing.  
You don't have to be a "writer" to write.  Just write something... anything.

Anyone interested in doing the 31 Things class with me??  It starts on Thursday (May 17th) and is $31 bucks.  You get one prompt a day for 31 days... but you have unlimited access to the class... so if you get behind (which I probably will) it's no big deal.

Linking up to Angie at Many Little Blessings today!

Monday, May 14, 2012

field trips for grown-ups

When's the last time you went on a field trip??  Fifth grade maybe?  Yeah, me too.  

I remember visiting the Blue Bell factory in fourth grade... which was awesome.  But who said field trips were just for fourth graders??  I've decided that is a stupid rule... and I'm now declaring that field trips are for grown-ups of all ages. 

Last week Lance and I made our own field trip.  We went to Cincinnati for the afternoon... visiting a few key field trip locations along the way.  It.was.awesome.

First stop: IKEA
I haven't been to an IKEA in years, and I've probably only been 3 times total in my entire life.  I almost forgot how awesome it was.

Probably my favorite thing about IKEA is how they have all these "rooms" set up... just ready to go.  Kitchens, bedrooms, offices, dorm rooms, living rooms, libraries... ideas galore.

I loved the wall-length floating shelf idea.  I saw this in a couple of spaces and loved the look.  How cool would this be to showcase your travel photos and mementos?

I mean, you could seriously just go crawl under the covers and I don't think anyone would find you until closing time.  I loved the natural bedding in this room.

They had duvets galore... and some really pretty ones.  But the bohemian comforter from Target still has my heart... (just ordered it!) 

The lighting options were awesome too.  I mean, seriously... where else can you get a super cute lamp shade for $5??

And what a great place to shop for affordable art?  So many choices...

We grabbed the Expedite bookshelf before we headed to the checkout line... well, I'm not entirely sure if Lance is heading towards the checkout or the $0.50 cent hotdogs...

Second stop: JUNGLE JIMS
What?  You've never heard of Jungle Jim's??  Yeah... me either.  But everyone told us we HAD to go.  So we did.  And it did not disappoint.  Hmmmm... how to describe?  It's like a ginormous international grocery store meets creepy circus fair.  They have food from every country you can think of... and these bazaar ceramic zoo animals scattered throughout the store.  It's weird.  But so-totally-awesome at the same time.

This is the entrance... That giraffe greets you with a low creepy, "Hello boys & girls!! Welcome to Jungle Jims!" with a weird chuckle at the end.  Told you, weird.

But once you bypass the weird ceramic zoo animals, you come across the most impressive cheese selection I've ever seen.  It's sorted by country and it seemed to go on and on.  I don't know much about cheese, so I just poked around in the France section and found one that looked pretty tasty... and it was.

The beer section was equally as impressive... and overwhelming.  They had every beer imaginable... from every country imaginable.

 Yummmm... baked treats.  I had to quickly walk past this section before I asked for one of everything.

 Even their produce section was enticing.  Everything was so fresh and colorful.

They made sushi fresh-to-order... which we did... for dinner. 

Third stop: CHICK-FIL-A
Don't freak out... we have Chick-fil-a in Louisville.  But sometimes it just tastes better on the road, no?  We stopped specifically for milkshakes... and were surprised to see that they were doing some kind of mother/daughter special event.  They had pink table cloths on all of the tables, a pink stretch Hummer limo (making rounds around the parking lot), and the princess chick-fil-a cow.  I totally cut in front of a 3 year old girl for this picture.  

So, there you have it.  Our grown-up field trip.  We'll definitely be doing it again.  Where are you going on your grown-up field trip?