12.21.2009

parallels


One of the things that made me fall head over heels in love with my husband was this lacksadaisical happiness he has to him. He always has a smile on his face, he is very slow to anger, he is a total goofball, usually is oblivious to when I or anyone else is upset with him- he just loves life and looks at the glass as half full. When first getting to know his family, they told me he was their "sunshine". They told me that from the time he was a baby, he has always brought joy to people through his gentle spirit. He is truly my sweet heart.
Every day I look at my son and I see my husband in him. He is just as happy as a clam the majority of the time. All you have to do is bat your eyelashes at him and he busts out the sweetest little grin especially for you. It is as though he knows it will make you smile if he smiles at you. He has a gentle and loving spirit.
Tommy and Preson connect effortlessly. It is a beautiful thing to have a man who's favorite thing in the world is to interact and play with his baby. He is constantly grabbing him away from me to squeeze on him.
I now have my very own- not one, but TWO sunshines in my life. Preson is my little Tommy.

12.18.2009

Keep Calm and Carry On


Things are coming along very quickly with our new house. In the last 2 weeks we have cleaned every inch of it, knocked down walls, pulled down ceilings, pulled up floors, had a new roof put on, new a/c installed, electric is in the works and we have discovered some very cool features. We have had moments of giddiness of what we hope it will be, and moments of overwhelming discouragement when we run into more work than we anticipated being needed- which we actually anticipated happening.
This last Saturday, we had a team of people from our church community donate their day to us and this house. I mean to tell you they got down and dirty! It was such a blessing that it actually brings tears to my eyes to have such wonderful people in our lives to come alongside us to see this thing get done! We got about a week's worth of work done in a day! I dont take a single one of em for granted.


My mother in law came down about every day last week to help me with cleaning and it has been so awesome to just have her motivating me to keep on keeping on! She has been on board with this crazy idea of ours since we first told her about it and she has backed it with some elbow grease to prove it. My hubby and I decided that encouragement is definitely one of her gifts.
I am in the process of designing the kitchen. I am doing the entire kitchen from Ikea and let me tell ya, they provide you with all the tools for a DIY kitchen including trained people to assist in making sure you get it right. One thing I have run into is that the kitchen is much smaller when you put cabinets in than meets the eye- which I also anticipated. I am loving the design we came up with and am so excited to bring it into existence. In the meantime, I was able to get a couple of things for the bathroom. A rain-can shower head and this is the new vanity we got for our bathroom!
We have had a few setbacks. A couple of the ceilings we started to open up just enough to repair the visible damage from the leaky roof (shown below), has turned into a beast of a project (you have no idea). We had to completely remove the ceilings in both the kitchen and the bedroom. Upon opening the ceilings up we discovered that there are termites and mold in some parts. I was pouring my heart out to one of our elders at church the other day about the mold issue and he explained that he specializes in mold and is helping us now with getting it out of there! Wow! God is good! Its amazing to watch him take care of us.

Another shocker was that the electricians have pretty much demo-ed all the walls to get the wiring in the walls and to remove the old knob and tube wiring. We did not realize how messy it would end up looking when they were finished. Surprise!
In spite of all the stress, I am realizing that God has a funny way of giving us time-outs. I am officially at a stand still with hard labor on the house until the drywall work is done- which should be after Christmas. In the meantime, I have welcomed the break to do some design work, catch up on some christmas baking and christmas cards, and *HELLO!*- start packing up this house(!)
I love this poster and I have posted it up in my house as a constant reminder. Though not necessarily its intention, I am reminded through it that God is on the throne. He is sovereign and he knew every detail of my existence before there was time. It will all be ok. It will all pan out. I will not worry and fret, because I know my God will take care of me- even if I cant see how and it isn't how I envision him to.
God, thank you for this amazing opportunity and I give it to you every morning.
Each day his blessings are new.

12.06.2009

Homeward Bound


Well, here she is. Our new home sweet home.
We are so excited to purchase our first fixer upper! We just recently closed on this house in Seminole Heights. When making the decision about this house, we walked away saying "no way is that house something we are ready to commit to"-It is not so bad on the outside, but the inside is a whole 'nother ball game.
We revisited the idea of it after a whole lot of prayer and lost sleep dreaming of the pottery barn, magazine-worthy home this house had the potential of becoming. It is 2400 sq ft and I am excited to see how God will allow us to use it to further his name. We know we want to have a big family- so perhaps this is confirmation? :) Not only that, but I cant tell you how many times I have wished to extend more than a sofa to a friend in need. I look forward to many bonfires, potluck dinners, parties and house churches.
From the moment we closed I have been over there cleaning it and trying to get it prepped for painting in the day and Tommy goes over at night when he finishes his work for the day. The "artsy" folks that lived there before had a very colorful palette and chose to paint every room a different primary color...The brightest shade of each primary color. In high gloss. The walls. The ceilings. The trim. The moulding. The doors- Everything.
The house has been vacant for about a year and a few of the neighbors told us that the last folks to live there were slumlords- basically about 15 people were renting from her and she just totally let it go- not keeping it up or making repairs when needed.
I never knew filth of this magnitude existed. I have been tempted to pressure wash the walls with trisodium phosphate.
We have about a month to get it in living condition and there are many things that need to happen before we can even think about moving in. New roof, new plumbing, new wiring, central heating and air, wall and ceiling repair, paint, floors, kitchen- everything needs to be done. We will basically be rebuilding the house without it being torn down- all in a month or two!

So hold your breath- here are the "before's" and of course I will be blogging as we renovate the house. Prayers are appreciated- we are going to need it.


This is the living room and dining room

The front porch was windowed in and divided into two rooms- The mud room outfitted with utility hookups and all- and a tiny room at the far end. We hope to open up the porch and restore the historic charm with large columns
This is one of the bedrooms. This is the room I hope to make into Preson's nursery/little boy room.
A bathroom right off of Preson's room. The tub is historic and cast iron (takes about 8 dudes to remove it) We will have to gut this room, replace the subfloor, knock down the wall (right) to extend this bathroom to make it bigger. The room we will be extending it into, used to be a second kitchen. This bathroom will eventually be the primary bathroom.
This is the 2nd kitchen- massive hole in the ceiling. This will be the other half of the bathroom reno I mentioned above. We will probably not even be able to start on this part of the house until after we move in.

This is the main kitchen...functional in no way whatsoever. There is about an 8 foot radius hole in the ceiling. The cabinets (rotted) are already gone and we hope to eventually open this wall up to the dining room (first pic- green) Can I say IKEA? Yes, please.


One of the bedrooms upstairs. We found some pretty decent wood under the nasty carpet. We hope to restore the floors and put a glaze over the top of it. Nice mini fan- and yes, this room is black.
The other upstairs bedroom. We crawled in the crawl space to find about 6 more feet of bedroom past the walls. So we hope to open the walls and expand the room. This is another part of the house we will not be getting to right away.
The stair way leading to the two rooms above. The ceiling of this landing was very low with several holes in it. Tommy pulled open one of the holes to reveal beautiful wood rafters and beams. So the ceiling is no more. We just pulled the whole thing out to expose the beams.
Tomorrow we get a new roof :)

11.18.2009

Dont Waste a Day




This week, Tommy is taking a break from teaching to get caught up on some tedious church projects, work toward his ordination and to just spend some much needed quality time as a family. We spent the first 2 days of the week taking turns sleeping in while the other cared and tended to the baby. We have made it a point to just relax and do whatever tickles our fancy at that moment! We took an afternoon to go see the movie, "Where the Wild Things Are"- this was actually Preson's very first movie theater experience. It was interesting to say the least! :) Why did I ever think he would possibly sleep through the movie? And Tuesday we went on a beautiful drive to a highly recommended destination, called Barn&Stable (snaps for Cyndi for sharing this treasure with us!). I felt like I had taken a trip to Amish country. They had a christmas shop stocked full of twinkling christmas trees and scented candles. It was precious watching Preson take in all that beauty - and for the first time it sunk in, that this is Preson's 1st Christmas! I hope it will be so special for him!
After exploring the Christmas shop we had a picnic lunch on a veranda overlooking a pond full of lily pads! It was so cute- they bring you out a little picnic basket with your order!
There was a beautiful antique store with the most extravagant furniture and stained glass. We decided we would come back when our next house is renovated and replace the upstairs dormer windows overlooking the street with a stained glass one as the finishing touch! Before we even get started it is something to set our sites on as we venture into this new chapter of life. All in all, it was a great time of rest and fulfilling time with my family.



11.16.2009

Little Peanut




Sweet Baby Boy.
Having you in our lives has completely rocked our world in the most amazing of ways. These last 8 1/2 months have flown by way too fast. Sometimes it is a little sad to see you graduate from one milestone into another. I try to seize every day-taking note and savoring all your little changes as they happen.
The last time we went to the pediatrician, I found out you were in the 1 percentile for weight, which of course I worry about way too much. You just dont have much of an appetite and every time we sit down to nurse or eat (really, from the time you were born), we do this little song and dance routine with each other. In fact when you are sitting in your high chair, sometimes daddy has to stand beside me with his silly faces, just to distract you to get a few bites in! We think it is hilarious that you just mindlessly "open up" when he is there doing this! I pray over you before we go to eat, that God will give you a hearty appetite and that no matter how little you eat you will be well nourished. You are my little peanut.
You creep around as fast as you can on your little tummy! You have been doing this since you were 5 months old and have mastered this little army crawl. Every once in a while you will get up on all fours and teeter back and forth only to splat out on your tummy again! I have about the most non baby proof home there is (changing every day!), so I just follow you around all day while you explore.
You are standing up on everything that is within your reach. What is so very sad, is that you have started doing this in the middle of the night and you dont know how to get back down. Its ok! Daddy to the rescue-though we are starting to wonder if we need to impart some tough love and let you learn how to do this on your own.
One of the funnest things you do is babble da da da da da whenever daddy comes around! The other day in bed, you rolled over onto daddy and in a very matter-of-fact tone, said "DaaaD". Though you probably have no idea what your saying, it just means the world to him and keeps us cracking up!
It is fascinating watching you explore every object that you come into contact with- slowly turning it in your hand and then on to your default sense- shoving it in your mouth. One day I will tell you of all the objects that I have swiped out of your mouth, but for now it is much too disturbing to share.
Among many other milestones, your starting to clap your hands; you are having major separation anxiety (thats a post for another day); your cruising 2-4 steps at a time; you can feed yourself finger foods; your developing quite the sense of humor and your starting to combine more syllables.
I am loving watching your little personality blossom. You are my best buddy and there is no one I would rather spend every waking moment caring for. I love you, Little Peanut!

10.21.2009

New Life in Cast Iron


As I was going through my kitchen the other day searching for items to put in my yard sale, I came across this old cast iron pot my grandmother had given to me about 5 years ago. I have never used it once and frankly, I have never really known how to use it. I was thinking I could get $5 for it, but just for kicks decided to look up the branding name on the bottom (Lodge). In my research I came across several websites not only claiming the suggested value of my pot being $80-100 (!!) but also teaching the value of a good cast iron pot.

My pot had spots of rust all over it, but with a simple solution of sea salt and cooking oil was able to buff them right out. I cleaned it up, seasoned that bad boy and now it sits proudly on top of my stove to add some rustic ambience to my kitchen! I now use it for everything: stews, sauces, stir fry, skillet meals and more. It is FABULOUS!

Some benefits of a cast iron pan are that foods glide out of it as from no pan made with Teflon; it goes from stove to oven; no special utensils are needed to cook in it; it won't warp, and cleanup is a cinch. A well-seasoned cast iron pan will only get better with age, and will last you for a lifetime.

So if you have an old cast iron pot stowed away somewhere, I would encourage you to bring it back to life and give it a place in your family for years to come- to one day pass down to your children's children.

10.17.2009

discoveries.




One of the sweetest parts of my morning is when I am still fast asleep and my alarm clock- otherwise known as my sweet baby Preson- goes off. My husband goes and gets him from his crib and brings him into bed with us. I nurse him and then he is off into his own tiny world of imagination- exploring through the sea of covers and mountains of pillows! Not to mention the grand canyon between my husband and I. But his all time favorite thing to do is to peep through the little cutout square in our headboard that looks into our backyard through a window. It is so sweet! He climbs all over us and our pillows, grunting and as determined as ever, while grabbing handfuls of his daddy's hair to gain leverage to hoist himself up to the little window that was specifically design for him. Once he gets there, he grabs the string of the blinds and shoves the little hanging wooden bobble into his mouth. He is at that time totally content for an all time total of 3 minutes! (Thats a long time in baby-time!) Needless to say that despite my attempts to finish off those last few z's, I cant close my eyes as I embrace every moment of this first year of discoveries.



10.03.2009

autumn lover


I love fall. Doesnt everyone?- especially us Floridians despite the late start. The first whiff of crisp dry air sends me weeding through my winter clothes in search of a light sweater to cozy up in. The air gets turned off and all the windows and doors come open and Tommy turns on his bluegrass.
I get slightly giddy over how Seminole Heights (our little historic urban neighborhood) comes to life in the fall. Everyone is almost magnetically drawn outdoors for a walk with their loved ones and puppy dogs. The parks become flooded with children playing tag and the Starbucks on the corner becomes unusually busy. It's probably just me, but it feels just the slightest bit like a northern town.


One of the things I look forward to most are the long drives my husband and I make a point of taking every few weeks along
the countryside. Dade City and Tarpon Springs are usually our destination while stopping off along the way at antique shops and fruit stands for some hot boiled peanuts. The sounds of Anathallo, Devendra Banhart, Jon Foreman and Cocoon bring back these wonderful memories.

I recently was researching local pumpkin patches and came across Sweetfields Farm-an organic pumpkin patch up in Brooksville. Later this month, when the weather cools down a bit, we will take a day with close friends and family for hayrides and pumpkin pickin'!

Hopefully this fall we will be able to take a trip to the mountains at some point. I dream about bundling Preson up in his knitted teddy bear beanie and putting him in his sling for a hike. I cant wait to share with Preson all the fall activities that I grew up with and begin giving him some wonderful memories to take with him in life!

God is so good- he draws my undivided attention to him as he changes the seasons. I sense Him in nature and he renews my spirit each year at this time.

9.19.2009

Apartment Therapy

One of my favorite and most inspirational decorating websites strikes a cord with me once again. Apartment Therapy never ceases to put an tingle of creativity in my fingers and gives me an itch to do my own version of their ideas with existing pieces in my home. Before and Afters to come!

How To: Create a Visual Vignette

Any lackluster wall of your home can become a masterpiece when you know how to group objects for impact. Here are a few tips for creating a potent display out of your random collectibles and thrift shop finds…

1. CREATE A THEME
It can be as general as an idea — "travel" or "vintage" — or as specific as a color OR the object itself — clocks, mirrors, teacups. But having an identifiable motif keeps the grouping from appearing too arbitrary. Once you have placed 3 or more objects that tie into your theme, you can accessorize with more loosely related items.

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2. BEWARE OF FLOATERS
Objects don’t have to be perfectly equidistant or arranged in a grid, but clustering objects in close proximity heightens the visual drama whereas items with too much space in between them have the tendency to look random and lonely. To create a collage-like effect, overlap a few pieces (as in the first photo).

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3. LIMIT YOUR NUMBERS
While it’s easy to go overboard, the strongest statements are usually made with less than 15 items. Our friend Grace, who has a special talent for visual vignettes, created a rich display with just a few aptly placed nostalgic pieces: a coat tree rack, a picture of an antique sewing machine, and a silhouette portrait.

grace-vignette.jpg

9.18.2009

Growth Spurts

My baby boy is 6 months now and I am overwhelmed with how many changes are happening at once. He is on the verge of crawling- he is scooting everywhere! It is exciting, but my house is in no way babyproofed! No longer confined to his play blanket on the floor, I blink and he is across the room and attempting to eat dust bunnies under the couch. He is a quick little bugger and I am fearful of the curiosity of this little one.
His top two center teeth are here! It changes his face from the baby I am used to, into a peek of what he will look like when he becomes a little boy. It is almost too much.
He started eating solids- first organic whole grain rice cereal and now he is very reluctantly eating apples. Next week- sweet potatoes.
I sold out and bought him his first artificial source of entertainment-a Johnny Jump Up. He is addicted and cant stop bouncing in it once he gets going. Today he fell asleep in it and was still jumping!
All this energy of a 6 month old along with eating some hearty carbs has put him into a deep sleep into the night and thus he is now sleeping through the night. 8pm to 8am.
He is my sunshine and my life and I never anticipated this child bringing me this much joy.

Photo Credit:: Rachel Copple

All the Pretty Little Horses

I always thought lullabies were just quaint little cute songs for quaint little cute babies. Its amazing how a lullaby really DOES work when putting our little ones down for the night! haha! Every night at the end of Preson's bedtime routine, I go to nurse him one last time before putting him in his crib for the night. He is, without fail, always restless and anxious and not ready to go to bed- so he thinks. The moment I begin softly singing this classic lullaby, he calms down and dozes off every time! It leaves me with a warm fuzzy at the end of every night and I will treasure this sweet little memory always.



All the Pretty Little Horses

Hush-a-bye don't you cry,
Go to sleep-y, little baby.
When you wake you shall have
All the pretty little horses.
Blacks and bays, dapple grays,
Coach and six white horses.
Hush-a-bye don't you cry,
Go to sleep-y, little baby.

9.01.2009

mama sara- her namesake, I am.





Pristinely dressed in her suit with that signature silk scarf tied perfectly around her neck. Red lips with a soft spritz of Chanel No.5. Proper and classy, yet never snobby. A warm smile and cheerful spirit. A genuine love for those less fortunate than herself that always inspired one to be a better person. Unconditionally loving, with a genuine desire to know her grandchildren for who they truly were. The list goes on and on.
If you can imagine such a woman- my grandmother.
The loving woman of whom I am proudly named, recently passed earlier this year. It was a bitter-sweet time for me as it happened right in the midst of the birth and homecoming of my first baby boy. I was able to laugh and cry with her in her last days as well as introduce to her, her first great grandson. Though unable to speak in her final moments of life, a beautiful picture is engraved in my mind of her touching her fingertips to her mouth and placing them on her great grandson as representation of a kiss. I am so happy he was able to meet such an amazing woman in my life.
I was very close to Mama Sara- especially in my childhood through my tween years when I lived close to her. Every other weekend, it was "off to grandmother's house we go". Her home was a large, traditional home in Atllanta, reminiscent of a beautiful southern plantation. I was recently given some of the artwork that once adorned it's walls. I will always treasure them and remember her through them.
Those weekends on Hillswick Court, we would wake up to the smell of eggs and bacon. Always served up with warm buttered toast and orange marmalade with a small glass of orange juice served in her special "grandchildren cups".
She would give us little chores to do around her home, but somehow had a way of making them fun and always infusing life lessons along the way. When we completed our chores, she rewarded us with a small allowance and always allowed us plenty of playtime. There was a fantastic swingset in her back yard and the most magnificent magnolia tree in the front. Both perfect for climbing all over and swinging from. She always taught us to be polite and engage the neighbors in small talk.
Later in the afternoon, she would load us up in the car for an afternoon of meals on wheels, where we would deliver meals and spend quality time with the elderly. Helping and loving the less fortunate and displaced, was among the highest priorities in her life and was her way of being Jesus to others. A lesson she always made clear through her life.
After meals on wheels, she would take us on a journey of our favorite consignment shops. This is where I originally developed my addiction for cheap boutique clothes and a stubborn unwillingness to pay full price for anything. It was always the highlight of the trip for a young granddaughter. Ill never forget one consignment store in particular called "Reruns". It was a quaint bungalow with lots of rooms and windows - and full of the most beautiful little girls' dresses! Anything I batted my eyelashes at, she would swipe up and add it to the tab...of course after explaining to me the importance of proper saving- A penny saved is a penny earned!
There were many occasions I bonded with Mama Sara on a very personal level. I will never forget the time we sat in her sunroom. I was at a place in my life where I expressed myself through rebellion to my parents and all authority. I wore my hair over my eyes and didn't smile much in those days. I can remember her conversing with me about her own life as a teenager and her struggles. That day, she broke through the hard barrier and from that time on I have always known I could talk to her about anything. She would relate and then lovingly point me in the right direction. She was one of the few I felt I could talk to and I will always remember that particular day that I poured my heart out to her and she loved me all the more for it.
She was a dream grandmother to grow up with. Though many years have passed since these childhood memoirs, my treasury of memories make it feel like it was yesterday.
As I sit here with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I hear her voice as she introduces me with the utmost pride and a warm smile, as her namesake.

8.22.2009

then out of your sovereignty you called me out



It has been quite some time since I last reminisced the place that God has brought me from- my redemption song if you will. Sometimes it feels as though it was a lifetime ago. In a sense it was another life.
Thank you, God for picking up this once limp, filthy ragdoll; for brushing me off and setting me back on my feet. Thank you for loving me despite myself. "Go and sin no more"- this rings in my ears when I am reminded of your grace. Even though I once rejected you and everything I once thought to be affiliated with you, I can't understand how when one hits their rock bottom time and time and time again, they don't-or rather wont- turn to you. Thank you for casting my sin so far east that it touches the west...wow. Come to think of it, this is just about the same time of year you drew me into yourself 13 years ago. I am so rich now....
My cup overflows with blessing and gratitude toward the life God has given me. I praise you, God, for my wonderful, loves-me-just-as-I-am spouse. He is my soul mate and as a result of his life, my life is complete as well as is more humble. Humble in the fact that I am always reminded of how undeserving I am of an unconditional love that I never knew could exist. I praise you for my baby boy who soaks up every teeny bit of love he can get from me, and then just melts my heart by naively and openly giving it right back. These loves, I crave. I somehow feel as though they were given to me to remind me of you and how you love me. Thank you for new life in you. I praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

8.18.2009

more creativity in her pinky finger...

I have a love for beautiful textile design and I am so easily inspired by creative people. I am not by any means a pro-sewer, but when I come across such brilliant designers, it takes everything in me not to go get my sewing machine on the spot to make my own version of their creations. One of my favorites is no secret- Amy Butler. I unashamedly own my border-line obsession to this talented designer! Her patterns are filled with color, unique punchy designs and are just bursting with creativity. She has a perfect balance of vintage and modern to which scheme I am obsessed! Her website is chock full of free patterns and beautiful creations that she has developed from her fabric collections. www.amybutlerdesign.com Go staightway and enjoi!!