January 30, 2010

For Love of the Game (and Other Happenings)

Every now and then my job gives me the opportunity to spoil my husband. I'm always thrilled when that happens. I found out last fall that one of the artists I work with had the chance to perform for the Indiana Pacers. Upon sharing the news with Todd, he quickly pulled up the Pacers schedule for 2010. We then found out that the Pacers would be playing the Cleveland Cavaliers, which meant we would have the chance to see Lebron James and Shaquille O'Neal play together. That's a big deal in my house.

I'm not a huge sports person. I appreciate sports because my husband is obsessed with them, but even I know Shaquille O'Neal is a big deal. As our trip got closer, I might have been just as excited as Todd. We packed our things and hit the road before one of the biggest snow storms in Nashville's history hit.


I had just realized where our seats were at this point - 5th row courtside. It doesn't get much better than that!

My handsome husband was like a kid in a candy store.

Special thanks to the man sitting beside me (Phil Stacey) for making the night possible.

The Dream Team: Lebron James, Shaquille O'Neal, Anderson Varajao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

Shaq before the game...

Shaq after the game...

We had a blast!


It was a long drive home through the ice and the snow, but I think I love our house the most when it's covered in a blanket of white.

I love the pops of red against the white. Todd and I picked the colors of our house when we bought it, and for a long time I went back and forth over them. Snow makes me so happy we chose the way we did.

In baking news, the girls and I experimented with a new recipe. It was so good I came home and made it again for Todd. Super easy and delicious, I'll be working on perfecting this one.

Recipe here.

I can't believe it's already the weekend! I'm so glad it is. I'm looking forward to spending the next day or two stuck inside waiting for the ice to melt.

Stay warm!

January 26, 2010

Wide Open Spaces

Remember the Dixie Chicks hit "Wide Open Spaces?"

Who doesn't know what I'm talking about
Who's never left home, who's never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

That song can sum up my thoughts and feelings about 90% of the time. I have a problem. I know I'm not the only one, but for me, it can be a real problem. I love the idea of running away. I think starting over is one of the greatest options a person could have. At any moment we can pick up and move, start a new job, live in a new city, join a new church and make new friends.

One of the questions I despise is "Where do you see yourself in five years?" My answer (and sometimes I'm shocked I'm employed because I honestly answer this way) is I don't know. I'll be wherever God wants me to be.

I think this has a lot to do with my childhood. My mother had the amazing luxury of living all over the US and Europe when she grew up. She can name off all of the cities where she attended school (Chicago, Denver, ROME). She was a superstar to me. I would just sit and listen to her talk about her days skiing in Switzerland and her all-girls boarding school in the heart of Rome. I used to get so angry that she got to experience the world, yet she kept us in the same town from kindergarten until we graduated high school. I think I was angry because her desire to experience other places was passed down to me. It's in my DNA. It's who I am.

On the flip side of that, my blood starts pumping and I'm ready to run when things aren't going the way I would like for them to go. When life gets messy, relationships are falling apart or my job is too much to handle, I'm ready to sell our house and hit the road. Just this week I asked Todd what he thought about moving to Charleston. Or maybe Washington DC. I have fallen in love with Raleigh; I think we would like it there. I'm not afraid to start over. In a sense, that's good because I'm never glued to the place I'm in. If God says go, it won't take a whole lot of convincing for me. In another sense, it's not so good. I don't want to stick around to work things out. On a bad day, I'm not willing to fight. If this place isn't for us, we'll try another.






I have really been struggling with this lately. Fortunately my sweet husband lets me talk his ear off about possible job opportunities and cute neighborhoods in cities hours from where we are. Then he talks me down and reminds me why I love it here. But do I? The music industry isn't what it once was, folks. There are no guarantees record labels will be around in the years to come.  Am I missing out on opportunities that are waiting for us in Denver or Boston? Have I seen all there is to see? Do I want my child to spend K-12 in the same school district? I just don't know.

Unfortunately this post doesn't have an "ah, that's the answer" ending. I'm torn. Maybe I'm just restless. Maybe I need a vacation. Maybe I need to be still and let God speak truth into my life. Maybe I'm scared of what He will say.

One day when I was still in college, I was driving down a road in my hometown (Fremont Road in Ozark for you Missouri followers) and I remember feeling like the town was literally closing in on me. I almost couldn't catch my breath. I won't forget that day as long as I live. In that moment, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had outgrown Ozark. That night I wrote out my plan for moving back to Nashville.

I don't want to get to that point again. How do I tear down the walls I feel closing in on me? I'm working on it. I'm waiting for answers.

Stay tuned...

Side note: I do love Nashville. I just like having options. Also, this post isn't coming from any specific conversation or situation - I don't want anyone thinking, "Oh, I wonder what happened." I unfortunately just need change on a regular basis. Always have, probably always will. That's why you will see more posts about us updating our house! Ha!

PS - It has been brought to my attention that a baby would add a lot of change. True, but isn't packing easier than late-night feedings and diaper changes? :)

January 23, 2010

Guest Bedroom: Before & After

We started designing our guest bedroom last summer and I'm finally ready to reveal photos of its new look. It has become my favorite room in the house because one, it's the only room that is actually "done" or done enough and two, we were able to stick with our budget and because we did a lot of the work on our own (we made the headboard, repurposed furniture we already had, etc.) I don't feel like the room left a big hole in our pockets.

Before Photos:

As you can see this room had lots of mismatched furniture, random bedding, and no color on the walls. I was pretty embarrassed to have our guests stay in this room.

But after a new coat of paint and some elbow grease, the room now feels like a retreat, which is what our friends and family deserve.

After Photos:


I never imagined this room being blue. In my mind, it was always going to be green. I had walked into Restoration Hardware and the store was painted the prettiest color of green (Silver Sage), but I knew I wanted the bedding to play off the wall color and I just couldn't find anything to match. So when I saw this bedding at Target, my paint choices had to adjust and honestly, I really like the blue.


This chair was one of the first pieces of furniture ever given to me. It was my step-mom's and she gave it to me when I moved into my first apartment in college. It had been in the master bedroom and almost made the Goodwill pile a couple of times, but thankfully I kept it around. This chair was the inspiration for our headboard.

I'm pretty proud of this headboard. I think we spent less than $50 for everything. We used tips from two great online tutorials to make ours and they can be found here and here.

I had all but three of these frames just sitting around the house. I found the two small square frames at Ikea for 50 cents for the pair. Can't beat that! The others were originally black, so I just spray painted them white and then painted a few of them brown using a free paint sample I had been given. Paint samples like I used are really inexpensive and great to have around the house. You never know when they will come in handy!

The photos are from our wedding. This is the first time in the almost five years that we have been married that we have had our wedding photos on display. I would say it was about time.

This table was given to us as a wedding gift. We just spray painted it white and used one of the pillow shams that came with the bedding to tie it all together. The vase and floral arrangement are from Michaels.

I wanted a little word of encouragement as our guests went out the door. I chose this one because I feel like it represents our whole house. Todd and I moved out here because we had some big dreams to chase (and are still chasing). I strongly believe that nobody should stop chasing their dreams, regardless of age, location or situation. We serve a big God. Nothing is impossible with Him.

Overall I have been really pleased with how everything came out. The room still needs some accessories and a few more photos on the walls. If we ever have extra money come our way, I would love to put a flat screen TV across from the bed to give it more of a hotel feel. Plus, when we decide to start a family, our parents will camp out in that room and it would be great to give them their own private getaway. Maybe one of these days!

I have officially become addicted to finishing the rooms in our house. I think the laundry room might be next. Just don't tell my husband!

Happy Saturday!

January 21, 2010

Southern Flourish

I had a surprise in my inbox this morning. At first I thought it was spam, but I'm glad I took a closer look. It was an invite to check out a new online magazine, Southern Flourish, that just launched its first preview issue.  It took all of 5 minutes to get me hooked on this new publication. The first issue is a 40-page preview, (it's being used as a tool for advertisers) but the first full edition, with nearly 150 pages will be available March 15th.

Think Southern Living for women in their 20s and 30s. It obviously targets us women in the South (Nashville, Charleston, Atlanta, New Orleans) but the photos and articles are appealing for all.

Hooray for free (yet really good) online magazines!

January 16, 2010

Notecards & New Recipes

We live in a digital age and I'm personally a fan of digital communication. I've never been a phone person. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter and text messaging have been wonderful for me. I have met new friends and renewed friendships with people from my past. But as great as those things are, I love getting a handwritten note. Knowing that someone cared enough to take the time to write a note, lookup my address and mail a letter to me means a lot. This year I want to write more handwritten letters. Especially to those who don't live near us. My roommate from college just delivered her third child a few weeks ago. I sent her a Facebook message. Unacceptable! She will be getting a card in the mail from me very soon.

So I've been doing a little research. I pored over several Etsy stores and stumbled across these beauties:

I visited one of my favorite go-to paper sites: Paper-Source.

How about this one by Vera Wang?

I'm thinking this one might be the base of our Valentine's Day cards this year. Todd and I started the tradition of sending V-Day cards the first year of our marriage. I want to try to out-do last year's cards!

In other news, I started working on my goal of experimenting with new recipes. The first was an easy, delicious dish I found on Kraft foods. I grew pretty tired of their recipes last year, but they are stepping up their game. I made 'Shrimp, Tortellini & Spinach.'

Then later in the week my good friend Allison came over and we dug into our Pioneer Woman cookbooks. With her help I made my first recipe from PW's book, 'Simple, Perfect Enchiladas.' I don't know about the simple part, but they were definitely delicious! The trick with these is that you lightly fry the tortillas before you fill and wrap them. Yum! My grandmother makes the best enchiladas and I really think PW's come close. This will be a new staple in our house for sure.


For dessert Allison made white chocolate chip pizookie. She got a little stir-happy and somehow managed to snap the wooden spoon in half. Who knew she was so strong?!

I also made some homemade chocolate chip cookies. For Christmas Todd's mom bought me a Silpat liner. It will change the way you bake cookies. I can't believe I went this long without one! Perfect cookies everytime and NO sticking.




Stationary and cookies seem a bit trivial in light of everything going on in Haiti. I have had several friends visit on missions trips in the past and know that this country was hurting long before the earthquake hit. It has been incredible to see so many step up to help. Organizations like Compassion and World Vision are great resources for donating money to those aiding the victims of this tragedy.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

January 11, 2010

Not Just For Looks

I just got back from my first work trip of 2010. I spent a couple days in North Carolina to help with Winter Jam, but I was also able to visit my mom and my sister. It's not really much of a visit when I'm working the entire time, but it was still good to see them. Plus I got my Foster's Market fix!

When it comes to traveling for work, I'm always torn. I hate leaving Todd. Hate it. I don't like sleeping alone, and it's not the most comfortable feeling to be a young woman traveling airports and interstates by myself. I have been able to visit some great places, although I only get really excited when Todd is able to go with me. But, the more I travel, the more I understand what God is doing in this season of my life. Will I always travel? I sure hope not. I can't even imagine leaving when we have a child, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

I understand this season of travel because I believe my soul needs it. My life can be hectic. I am constantly moving. My job is demanding. I've learned there is really no such thing as a day off. On top of that, I like having a clean home, spending time with friends and family, and fitting in a workout when I can. Quiet time gets overlooked frequently. When I'm traveling, my alone time with God takes first priority. I read Christian literature. I journal and spend the lonely hours in the car talking to Jesus. When I'm home, the busyness of everyday life often gets in the way. That's not the case when I'm in a hotel or an airport terminal. When I'm away I dig into His word and always come back with new knowledge of who He is. This weekend I started reading an advanced copy of Joshua Harrison's Dug Down Deep. Four chapters in I'm already being challenged. Statements like this one grab me:

If I love the Cross only for what it does for me, I will have reduced it to a monument to myself. But the greatest glory of the Cross is what it tells me about God. A God of justice and mercy. A God who loved helpless sinners like me so much that he came to die so we could be free to know and worship him for eternity.
Like I said, I'm only a few chapters in, but already I would recommend this book.


While I was in North Carolina I set a new goal for myself. It came out of a conversation I had with my mom. She asked if I had made anything from the Foster's cookbook she gave me for my birthday.

My answer? Nope, not yet. I haven't made anything from my Pioneer Woman cookbook either.

They have been reduced to coffee table books. That's not what they were written for! So, I'm going to cook my way through those books, as well as a new cookie cookbook that Todd's mom gave me this year. They're not just for looks. They contain recipes that I'm sure will change my life. So, you might see a few more posts about food in the weeks to come. I'm going to put those books and my pots & pans to good use.

I think I'll start with a new recipe tonight! It's so good to be home.

January 5, 2010

Cleaning Out the Clutter

The past few days my mind has felt like a jumbled mess. I've had a hard time processing my thoughts on just about everything. Without getting into details, this year has been off to a rough start. The people close to us are hurting. Really hurting. I'm trying so hard to be a good friend, but I have found myself swallowed by my own hurts and fears. This isn't how I imagined 2010 beginning.

I called my dad because I always call my dad when I'm feeling "blah." I'm truly blessed to have him. Besides Todd, he's my very best friend. Is that strange? I guess I don't really care if it is. Anyway, I told him I didn't feel good about this year and he told me to stop saying that. Apparently I said the same thing in 2007 and it was one of the hardest years we have had. I let those words come out in January...my dad was in the hospital in April.

Am I saying that because I said it would be a bad year bad things happened? Of course not. What I did was set myself up to expect the worst. Would my dad have needed surgery to repair his heart no matter what I thought? Yes. Would I have faced his health issues with more hope if I had said "this is going to be the BEST year?" Probably.

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to take my dad's advice and I'll stop saying it. Yes, 2010 has been a bit tricky and it's only the 5th day of the new year. But God is good. He is already bringing healing and hope even when I think everything is headed downhill. He's pretty great that way.

So today I'm turning a new leaf. It's going to be a good year. No matter what happens, I know that the things we face will draw me closer to my Savior. Plus I get to face this year with the greatest husband in the world, the most supportive family and the best friends a girl could ask for.

Todd has been teasing me lately, saying I must have OCD because I can't stop cleaning and putting things in order. Maybe I do have a slight case of OCD, but having everything in its place helps me focus on what is important. A clean slate is always better than a big mess. It's good for the soul to be organized - whether at work, home, or just in our thoughts.

One of the things I love about the new year is the January issue of home magazines. All of them strive to get their readers organized. I love it.

Who could stay in a bad mood if their home looked like the photos above? You know I'm right. Watch Hoarders and tell me those people are happy!

My house doesn't look quite like that and probably never will, but I'm working on it. I'm currently finishing our guest bedroom that I've been working on for months. I'm excited to get a post up about it soon!

So here's to cleaning out the clutter. To looking at the year ahead with hope and anticipation of the great things God will do. To getting organized so that I can see clearly God's perfect plan. To looking at this post in 2011 and laughing at myself for being worried over nothing.

2010, bring it!

January 1, 2010

It's A New Year!

A new chapter is beginning. It's crazy to think we're beginning a new decade. I woke up this morning feeling different. I can't really describe it. I just sat in my bed wondering what this year would bring. While many things will stay the same, a lot will change too. I have a love/hate relationship with change. I love it when I'm the one changing things, but the unknown scares me. I think this year makes me a bit anxious because I know things will change that I'm not even aware of yet.

Last year was pretty calm for us. I think that's because we needed to be stable so that we could carry those who were facing change (Todd's mom's cancer, my sister's challenges, etc.). The older we get, the more change scares me. I wasn't afraid of moving to Nashville. Buying a house didn't worry me a bit. But this year I'm unsure. I'm not expecting anything big and scary, but because life has been on auto-pilot lately, I have this feeling God may shake things up a bit.

This morning I read my devotional, seeking some insight into how I should face 2010. The first sentence: "Come to Me with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed." Yep, that's what I was afraid of. Tears streamed down my face because I think that change needs to begin with me. I need to give more, serve more and be a better friend. I need to listen more and think about myself less. I need to be aware that my kitchen being clean is far less important than my sister trying to move on from her first serious relationship. I need to change so that those around me are blessed. I need to change so that I can accept the big changes that God brings our way. 

I'm also a bit excited. While change can be hard, it has also always brought abundant blessings. I have no reason to be afraid. Why? God says so. "I know the plans I have for you: plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." That is exciting!

So here's to 2010 and the changes it brings. Maybe they will all be internal. That's okay too.

Enough seriousness. How about a recap of our New Years Eve festivities?!

We spent the evening with our closest friends. Dinner began at our place. One of my favorite places to be is at the dinner table surrounded by those I love.

It also doesn't hurt to attend parties with the most handsome man in the room. (I might be a little biased!)

Happy New Year. Let's make this one the best yet!