The Den and Loft {Before & After}

It’s finally here! The FIRST before & after post on our house. LET ME REMIND YOU. Back in September we closed on a sweet little fixer upper. The first time we saw it, it was full to the brim of the previous owners’ belongings. They were the original owners when this home was built in 1949, and after they passed away, the house sent without occupants for nearly two years. Finally, it was sold…to us!

We have done A LOT of work. Some Many pieces are still in progress. The first section I want to share with you is our den and loft. This space was originally a garage, and sometime in the late 1970s or so, it was converted into a den and loft, complete with dark wood paneling. Let me show you, and then I’ll tell you…

THE DEN:

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THE LOFT:

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THE BIG PICTURE:

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What we did:

  • My husband did ALL the demo while I stilled lived in Ohio, which included tearing out wood paneling, plaster walls, Berber carpet, and itchy insulation.

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  • Leveled the den floor. Because it had been a garage, the floor was at about a 30-degree angle…and they hadn’t fixed it when they converted it.
  • Wired surround sound. New electric work. New insulation. New drywall. New paint.
  • We laid the wood floor ourselves, the day after Thanksgiving.

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  • Removed the railing (don’t worry, we will get a new one someday), popped off the steps, and made new steps. They are dark grey to contrast the light grey on the walls.

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  • Painted the loft floor, which had previously been covered in carpet. AND completely on his own, Jonathan painted all the dark brown beams in the den WHITE, which meant about three coats…but they are beautiful and I am so grateful!

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We are loving both of these cozy nooks in our new home…it’s really starting to feel pretty homey! What do you think?

 

The Great Book Purge

Somewhere along the way, I developed a love of books. It probably started in the days of Goosebumps and Choose Your Own Adventure and The Baby Sitters Club… And then it was only multiplied in high school when Doc Cass introduced me to Our Town and Solace of Open Spaces and The Grapes of Wrath. Yes, I loved them all, and then some.

But THEN I went and minored in English in college. “WHY OH WHY did I do this?” I asked myself on the regular. But by the end, I was glad I had. All of this, though, has produced quite an eclectic collection of books…and this week, I decided, it was time to purge.

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This is a portion of the outgoing pile.

Why purge? First, because my books have become more of a clutter than a nice library or refuge. Second, because I promised myself when we moved into our new house I would get rid of things I did not need or use or love. Many of these books fall into those categories.

A few rules. I didn’t get rid of any of my husband’s books – those are for him to look through. I didn’t get rid of any children’s books. I didn’t get rid of anything I LOVED or that I’ve read more than once.

A sum up of what I found on my shelf:

  • Monster Books. I took a class in college on “Monsters in Literature.” Think: Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, Lord of the Rings, Frankenstein, etc… I admit, I kept a few of these that I may indeed read again.
  • Bibles. Between my hubby and I, we had FIVE BIBLES. I decided to get rid of one – why? Because a) it was mine, b) it’s a version neither of us read, and c) someone else could use it more than I do. I did keep each of our study bibles, our huge family bible I bought for our wedding, and one other that we use. Also kept my favorite devotional and faith-based books, like Screwtape Letters, My Upmost for His Highest, and Power of a Praying Wife.
  • Caribbean Lit. I also took a Caribbean Literature class in college. I loved it. I remember these books well. But I’ve never read them since, and probably won’t read them again. Let it gooooo…
  • The Reformation. Yes, I took a class about literature during the Reformation. It was miserable in SO MANY WAYS. But the books are so pretty and fat and make me feel smart. And I DID learn an awful lot about the Reformation. But seriously, I will never read all of the 1248 pages of The Faerie Queene. I didn’t even read them in college.
  • Art. I fundraised for the visual arts at one point, and managed to collect a few great art books. The problem is, I don’t have much of an appreciation for them. A few that I loved have now landed in my office.
  • Poetry. I pretended to write poetry a lot in high school, so then I took a few poetry classes during my English Minor. I was TERRIBLE. But I loved the books. These are still on the fence for me… I always tell myself I’ll read them, but I honestly haven’t. I may end up keeping them. I CAN’T DECIDE.
  • Neuroscience. Majored in Psychology and Neuroscience. Resulted in books like, Guns, Germs, & Steel and Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy and Emotional Intelligence. Loved them. Will never read them.
  • My childhood. THESE ARE THE KEEPERS! The whole Chronicles of Narnia series. Anne of Green Gables. BFG. Things I will read and my children will read, and then we will all read them again.

Okay, if you read all that, kudos. Is your bookshelf like this? Did you finally part with some of them at some point? HOW DID YOU DO IT AND NOT CRY? All advice welcome.

A Note On Christmas Trees

This Christmas marks me and Jonathan’s third married Christmas. THIRD. That’s crazy. As you probably know, we spent our first two years of married life living in Ohio, where we knew no one (at first) and had no family. It was extremely important to me that our house there felt like home for both of us. And for me, that meant some serious and intentional Christmas decorating.

Our first year, we decided to cut down our own Christmas tree, so the day after Thanksgiving, with my visiting in-laws in tow, we drove 45 minutes away to do just that. We even named it Tenny, a nod to the state we planned to end up in.

The next year, my mom visited as well, and again we made the trip to cut down our tree. Tenny 2.

These trees were special to us because they were OURS. Jonathan sawed them down himself, and then I decorated them. These trees made that house feel like home at Christmas, especially with all of the ornaments that represent so many memories from both of our lives.

This year, we have been so busy with remodeling parts of our new house in Nashville that Christmas decorations became an after thought. But last weekend, we knew we HAD to go get Tenny 3. So we went to a tree farm, and no offense to Tennessee, but it DID NOT live up to the Ohio farm we had visited the two years before. So after stopping a few places, we ended up buying a pre-cut tree (hey, we still went to a farm. we TRIED), and put it in our practically empty living room and decorated it.

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Tenny 3 is pretty much just for us. We aren’t having any parties this season, like we usually do. We haven’t invited friends over yet, because our house is still in pieces (but getting very close!). So it’s pretty much just us, enjoying it in the evenings, and watering it every day. It’s not technically as nice of a tree as Tenny and Tenny 2 were, but it’s just right for where we are in life: it’s just what we need.

So cheers to all the Christmas trees that have sat in this window since 1949, and cheers to the many trees our little family will bring in. Merry Christmas!

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Thanksgiving Recipes for All Your People.

Over the years of my adult life, I’ve really come to LOVE Thanksgiving. I wasn’t a big fan as a kid – we ate a meal and then my boy cousins made jokes I didn’t understand and fell asleep on the floor, while my girl cousins were more than five years older than me and got to sit at the adult table. But NOW. Now I love Thanksgiving. It’s all the food and family and cooking without the stress of gifts and snow and travel that Christmas time brings. Don’t get me wrong – Christmas is still the BEST – but Thanksgiving season means 1) the year is wrapping up soon, 2) more holidays and days off of work are around the corner, and 3) SNUGGLING. Plus wine. Now I can drink wine. Cheers to you, 8-year-old self.

So anyway, in the years of this blog, I’ve managed to write about lots of different recipes, from desserts to health foods to main dishes. And so today I present you with a summary entitled:

Thanksgiving Recipes for All Your People

#1 Three (or less) ingredient appetizers that even your cousin who can’t cook can make.

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Pear and Prosciutto Wraps

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Baked Brie with Green Pepper Jelly

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Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

#2 Paleo and vegetarian dishes for your health-conscious Aunt Jo,       depending on what camp she’s in this year.

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Spicy Swiss Chard and Zucchini

Turkey stuffed peppers

Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers

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Garlic Mashed Cauliflower – IT’S SO GOOD.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chili

#3 Traditional-ish desserts for your in-laws.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Peanut Butter Pie (7)

Peanut Butter Pie

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

Katy’s Strawberry Cake

Let me know how it goes if you try any of them out! And enjoy the kickoff to this holiday season with your family and loved ones. Blessings!

 

New Baby Bashton

I haven’t taken many newborn photos – okay, only once before – but my sweet friend Karla let me practice a few lifestyle photos on her family after the recent arrival of Baby Bashton. Little Bash did not sleep while I was there…but we did the best we could! And big brother Soloh was a total rockstar…The most beautiful family! For all my favorites, pop over here.

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Bye Columbus!

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“What?? I’m going with you, right? RIGHT??”

As excited as I am for the next chapter that my hubs and I are beginning, today’s post is about the chapter we are closing. I want to express my gratitude to the people we’ve met and the city we’ve lived in for 2 1/2 years.

Bye Columbus.

I must admit, in the beginning, we had very low (if any) expectations of Columbus, Ohio. Our first impressions were drab – dreary weather and run down houses around campus. But for a million reasons, it was the right choice. And as time went on, the city grew on us. The Columbus Adventures have been many.

We loved our home here, in the summers and in the winter.

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We loved our friends here, and hosting them in our home whenever possible for parties, girls nights, movie nights, brunches, and grad school work groups…

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We got Ryman here!

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Winter SUCKED A LOT, but we got through it, and celebrated our first two married Christmases here.

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The National Championship in football didn’t hurt either – it definitely made it a fun time to be at a fun place.

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The people though…THE PEOPLE is always the thing hardest to leave, isn’t it?

The way God put the right people in our lives at the right times… I can’t even. Right off the bat, I met Laura, a fellow Vandy grad. LAURA I WOULD HAVE BEEN LOST WITHOUT YOU. And we met other Vandy friends along the way.

Then we made our friends through Jonathan’s grad program. ALSO LOST WITHOUT YOU GUYS.

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And then out of the blue, I went to a Stella and Dot party that a coworker was hosting, and met another girl, who introduced me to lots of girls, and through them I joined an incredible women’s bible study. This group of women taught me so much, and they don’t even know it.

Along the way, many of my coworkers became friends, and the hubs and I continued to meet awesome people out of the blue. Like I said, this city grew on us, thanks to the people who’ve made it feel like home these past few years.

All this to say, I am so thrilled for the next chapter, but today I’m a little sad saying good by to this one. Bye Columbus!

And just because I love it, here is the “one second a day” video I made from July – December of 2014… Captures a lot of favorite travels and Columbus moments!

Big News {The Time We Moved Back to Nashville}

I realized that I have started many blog posts over the years with “big news” or “good news” or “exciting news” so I’m going to start adding subtitles. Hence, today’s Big News: The Time We Moved Back To Nashville.

The most recent (and final) big event is that I have happily accepted an exciting job offer. In just a few short weeks, I will start in my new role as Director of Development for the Make A Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee. This is a bittersweet announcement, as some of you know, due to the fact that I absolutely love my job and my coworkers at Ohio State. Going to work every day with a team that works so hard but yet is so fun to be around has opened my eyes to what “work” can really be. As sad as I am to say goodbye, I really hope I can take what I’ve learned here and help make the MAW Foundation a fun and meaningful place to work for myself and my colleagues.

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I say this is the most recent bit of news, because in case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s how the summer has gone down.

  1. My hubs got an awesome job, after graduating with his Masters from Ohio State, working as a Transportation Planner with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. This is basically exactly the type of work he had hoped for. FOR THE WIN.
  2. Not long after, we bought a house. It needs love. It’s torn to pieces at the moment. It’s stressful. But we are doing it – we have an ADDRESS.
  3. Now, after several months of living apart from my husband, I got a job! A job I am excited about!!

All of this about 2 1/2 years after A DIFFERENT “BIG NEWS” POST about the OTHER biggest change in our lives. But seriously – WHERE DOES ALL THE TIME GO?!

It is truly yet another reminder of how God has His hands in everything. I worry, I doubt, just like the rest of us, but as soon as I take a step back and say, “I don’t need to be in control of this – God’s got this,” everything seems to come together a little more easily and with a lot more grace.