Monday, August 31, 2015

pillow talk

Why are pillows so expensive y'all? And why don't the covers also come with inserts???

Etsy is my favorite place to "window shop" for pillows. There are so many "stores" to browse through with all different size pillows, usually organized by color! And I've found them to be generally less expensive than, say, Pottery Barn, though that's not saying much...

I'm holding off on any new pillows until Hunley learns to stop chewing on the ones we have. But once he does... below are the pillows I'm lusting after (and currently have waiting in my Etsy shopping cart) for our couch and living room seating.  I love the mix of patterns and textures in the green/blue family and think they will nicely pick up those colors in the new rug.

Now I just need to figure out where I can find inexpensive pillow inserts, preferably down so I can karate chop them like the pros.
 {1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 }

Thursday, August 27, 2015

It changed us

I remember clear as day where I was, and how it felt, when my mom called to tell me Anna had cancer.

And it still makes me fall to my knees when I remember the sight of my dad on the floor of the airport on the phone with his brother, when he got the call telling us to prepare for what was coming.

And then that final call. Not enough time and yet the longest nine months, the exhale, the fallen shoulders, the no words, there will never be the right words. Anna went home to Jesus.

Now it's four years after that first call and it's still as raw and unreal. Sometimes I forget she's not here, because she should be! And like a sucker punch I know that my aunt and uncle wake up every morning and have to swallow that truth and face another day, month, year, without their only child.

Our family changed forever. My aunt and uncle are not the same people they were before. They do not look the same, holidays do not look the same, family get-togethers do not look the same. If you were looking in from the outside you might not see it. But even if we learn how to wear our grief underneath each hug and smile exchanged and milestone passed together, there is always, and forever will be, a cousin, daughter, granddaughter, niece, missing.

This year it seems like bad news just keeps piling up, one heartbreaking story after the next, reminding us this world is not our home. I have a friend whose 4 year old nephew, named Justus, is terribly sick. And it's amazing how fast and furiously their family was surrounded by a shield of believers. Family and friends and strangers are storming heaven with their prayers and pleas. Just like with Anna.

I believe in miracles and a compassionate God in control of it all. We still have this sure hope that God will heal Justus, one way or another, and He will use this mess for His glory. He could wake up tomorrow a completely healthy normal 4 year old boy. But it's hard not to look for answers that just aren't here to find. The desperate whys, aren't for me to know yet. Why wasn't Anna healed on Earth? Why did our many, many, many prayers seem to go unanswered? God, this is your chance, I selfishly thought, to show off your power, everyone's watching. And the doubts creep in because the miracle I was sure was just around the corner didn't come... or did it?

In one of the Justus' family's updates they said "the moon is always round" and I love that! It means that even when all we see is a sliver of the moon, it is still always whole and round. Even when all I see a sliver of goodness, just a tiny portion of a plan, God is always Good, He is always faithful, He is always in control. He never fails. So my faith will never fail, and my hope is never too big, and my prayers are never too bold.

The hard circumstances can be just that, really stinking hard. Or they can reveal the magnitude of God's love for us. I have seen the pain of a parent who has watched their child suffer and I know that, if they could, they would trade places with them in an instant. It's a heartache I don't wish on my worst enemy. And yet God sent his Son, his only child, to be a sacrifice for us. He handed over his son to save the worst of us. Would I hand over my child, or anyone I love to suffer for strangers?


Yet, while we beg God to let us keep our lives, to heal the sick, to spare the weak, He says, "I already have!" (John 16:33)

God defeated death when He raised his son Jesus from the grave. Anna lives, eternally healed in heaven. And Justus, is known and loved by the Maker of it all. The war is won, there is no more fear in death, or in life, with all it's unknowns and unanswerable questions. So of course, we are changed, for good, forever.

O Joy that seekest me through pain, 
 I cannot close my heart to thee; 
I trace the rainbow through the rain, 
And feel the promise is not vain, 
That morn shall tearless be.

Monday, August 24, 2015

weekend wanderings

On the weekends when T.J. doesn't have call (the rare, beautiful, golden weekends, when all is right in the world) we mostly veg out, catch up on sleep (him, not me, I get plenty of sleep during the week), and venture out once or twice for donuts or to walk the dog.  But occasionally we also try to go and do and explore our area.

This past weekend was one such weekend so we drove into the Snoqualmie Pass, parked at Ira Springs trailhead, and hiked up Bandera Mountain. Or more like, Hunley dragged us up the trail and I learned just how out of shape I am. Still it was worth it for the incredible, albeit smoky/hazy, expansive views.
I learned a lot on that hike. One, Washington is stunning (actually I already knew that but it was doubly confirmed). Two, walking the dog twice a day around our neighborhood does not a hiker make. And three, I cannot be trusted to load the protein bars and pizza combos in the backpack before we head out on the trail. Sorry hun! Since we were food-less we turned around a little bit before the summit. After making it back down to the car we decided to make a stop at the Snoqualmie Falls before heading home.
Washington is something else, y'all! And I love getting to adventure around this beautiful world with T.J. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

the fireplace

So it's another home decor post. Hope you don't mind, but I said I had this idea for our fireplace that I wanted to run by y'all.  You might have noticed in my last post the big corner fireplace in our living room. I don't love that it's in the corner, or that it's really quite deep, and the mantle runs right up to the window on the wall next to it. I have to make my peace with hanging curtains slightly over top of the mantle and in general it's just hard to style.

When I first saw pictures of our house on the online listing, before I even put a big toe inside the door, I declared boldly and ignorantly that I was going to paint all the trim and all the doors white. That included all the windows and the fireplace mantle and surround. I thought the plain wood trim made the house look more dated so I wanted it all white, right now please!

Well I've mostly let that go because that was ridiculous and not practical, and who has the time or the patience to do that? And one day I'll have my dream house with all the updated features and white trim that I want, but for now I see this is truly the most perfect and lovely home because it's ours. It will always be special because it's where we are started our married lives together. So the non-white trim suits me just fine.

Except... the fireplace. I still can't quite settle that issue and I still wonder if there is a way to have a more "my style" fireplace.
But.... can I have a white fireplace if all the rest of the trim in the entire house is not white? I'm leaning towards "screw it, I do what I want!" At the same time, I don't want to do something totally weird that will hurt us down the road when we sell.  I saw this blogger, with basically my exact same fireplace, painted her's white and I think it looks great! She still has wood trim everywhere else but just that one change makes the room look brighter and fresher.
I'd also really love to add white tongue and groove planks above the mantle like this bloggers' fireplace makeover. It will make the mantle a little less deep and I love the farmhouse feel and the interest it adds to that space. It would create a clean but rustic backdrop for whatever I decide to display up there.
So what do you think? Can I get away with this? Will it look weird or wonderful? Will future owners thank me or hate me for making this update?

Friday, August 7, 2015

living room inspiration

I've been pretty slow with getting our house decorated. Up until two weeks ago we still had an "office" full of boxes of books that I hadn't unpacked yet that taunted me every time I'd walk past the door.  My sister's visit helped motivate me to check some things off the list and now I feel like I've been bit by the decorating bug! 
The biggest challenge to me was our open floor plan on the ground floor. I love that our kitchen/dining/living space are all open to one another but it was hard for me to find a way to make the spaces compliment each other but still have some sort of division. 

We basically had zero furniture for our living room when we moved in to our house. T.J. had a futon and on my first visit there we purchased a neutral rug from Target just to have something. But that's it. I was really eager to start decorating and turning the room into a space we could relax in, watch movies, and have friends over to hang out (once we made friends). I had so many ideas swirling around that I just didn't do anything. But now I think I finally have a clearer vision for the area of the house that we will inevitably spend the most time in.
When I moved in I brought a few more pieces of furniture and then the first thing to go was the futon. It now lives in our garage (along with several other items from T.J.'s dorm room) and we're hoping to eventually make one side a sort of exercise space. We ordered a small sectional to replace it and T.J. had to finally agree that a couch is more comfortable than a futon. It's a neutral color fabric with a little gray undertone to it and I love it. But now I feel like everything in there is a little too neutral; the couch, the rug, the walls, all the many different shades of wood. It's doesn't quite make for the cozy warm space I want.

These are some of my favorite pins on my living room board.
(sources: 1 | 2 | 3 )

I love that they combine several different elements in a really seamless way using rustic/farmhouse, traditional, and some modern accents throughout. Plus they're not all white, all over. I love me a good white wall and really wish we had white trim in our house but I also think there is a tendency these days to do too much white and to me it looks a little sterile and cold. I like the neutral to be balanced out with layers of color and texture and patterns. I want it to look cozy and liveable and like us.

So here's where we're at now...
Greatly improved, I think. But still not quite finished, though T.J. would disagree- in fact he'd probably say we're all done. (Ha. Ha. Ha.) And so here's what I have planned:
  • A new rug (something with color and a traditional pattern)
  • More seating and some brighter pillows to coordinate (T.J. wants a leather recliner... I'm hoping to talk him in to a leather arm chair and ottoman instead)
  • Curtains (I ordered long white cotton voile curtains that I think will really lighten up the room and I plan to diy some gold curtain rods)
  • Fireplace "makeover" (I have this idea... we'll see...)
Can't wait to post an update soon! I want to get it all done right now! I need to exert a little self control and spread things out over the next few months so my wallet doesn't hate me. But it's fun seeing everything finally come together and move farther away from just two people's stuff thrown together, to a proper home. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

vacation dreaming

T.J. and I started casually talking about when and where we would take leave this year since he only gets a limited amount of time off. (fyi. When I say "year" around here I mean residency year, so in this case our second year.) Our plan is to use half of that time to go home to South Carolina and see all the family and the other half will be for just the two of us to reconnect and relax together.

So... in approximately 8 months T.J. and I are going to HAWAII!!
Of course, first he just has to request leave and get that approved and then we have to wait 8 long months (not that I'm counting).... but I am so excited and all I want to do is talk about it and scour pinterest and hotel sites, and picture myself in a bikini, ordering a pina colada from the swim up pool bar, with my love next to me, and all our cares left back at home.

We knew we wanted to go to Hawaii at some point during our time on the West Coast since flights are shorter and generally less expensive from out here, but I was just about knocked over when T.J. said "how about this year?" And he was actually serious!!

Um... you don't have to ask me twice. Pretty much that very second I started googling flights and texting my friend who went there on her honeymoon for suggestions on which island, and which hotel. I even set a price notification on Kayak. I may be getting ahead of myself but.... y'all.

I cannot wait!

Hawaii might just be the next time I even get to wear a bathing suit as I'm still figuring out how to make the Pacific Northwest jive with my definition of a proper summer.

Don't get me wrong, summer out here is beautiful! It reminds me of our summers in England. We get to enjoy a break from gray skies and rain and basically have sunshine everyday. And it stays light outside until 10pm and then the sun is up again at 5. It's all blue skies and evergreens and no humidity which is it's own version of wonderful, but I can't help but miss a real summer day. Summer used to mean lounging at the pool all day long, or weekends at the beach (which had sand, not rocks). Summer smelled like sunscreen, and tasted like freezee pops, and it sounded like cicadas buzzing, the ice cream truck, and that perfect quick thunderstorm that rolls in and out and leaves steam rising off the sidewalks (we've had exactly one thunderstorm since I moved out here, you notice these things).

So since I haven't figured out a way to recreate those summer memories out here, I'm embracing the new summer, where I'm still wearing jeans most days, and satisfying my summer cravings by drooling over Hawaii pics.

We've decided on Maui but we might spend one night on Oahu at one end of the trip, since that's the airport we'll most likely fly in and out of and we both want to see Pearl Harbor. But our plans for the rest of the trip include pool, beach, pool, beach, sunset, repeat. I think picking a hotel is going to be the hardest part since they all look AH.MAY.ZING! I've been reading a bunch of bloggers' Maui recaps for a more personal insight but I imagine it's hard to pick wrong.  Still,  if any of y'all have been before, I'd love some suggestions/reviews/things to do. You can bet this won't be my last post about planning for and dreaming about this trip. Can't wait till this is our view!

Monday, August 3, 2015

sister time

I finally got to see my sister after 6 months of separation, which is far too long! She finally arrived in Washington last Tuesday for an entire week together. Having her to visit is different than other company. I don't have to entertain her and we didn't care about doing touristy things. We just wanted to catch up and be near each other. On our way home from the airport we got Popeyes, and that's how I know she's my sister.

It was technically her last week of summer, since she gets back into her classroom this week to start getting ready for the new school year. So while we did get out and about some, we also just allowed ourselves to relax together at home, eat yummy food and watch re-runs of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Making the Team....naturally.

I loved getting to show her our little town and the base and finally introduce her to Hunley. I also enlisted her help in making some decorating decisions around the house. On her first full day there she came with me to work for a bit then we hit up Olive Garden for lunch (I can always count on her to be game for bread sticks and fettuccine). Then we hit up some home goods stores and tested out arm chairs and looked for curtains and mostly window shopped. It's so much more fun and helpful to go shopping with my sister and I have really missed having a best friend around to just go and do things with. She tells me when my ideas are stupid in the most loving way and she lets me use her Target Red card so I can get free shipping.
On Thursday I had to work again so she stayed home with the pup and I came home around lunch time. I had to pick up camp t-shirts from the silk screener in Gig Harbor, a really adorable waterfront town nearby, so we made an afternoon of it and had a long lunch outside. We stayed in for dinner that night before heading back to the Young Life office together where I enlisted her teacher/field-trip skills to help me check in and send off 60 high schoolers to camp late that night.

Friday I didn't have to work so we slept in a bit and then sat out on my deck in our pjs and drank iced coffee and watched Hunley dig holes before heading out for a long walk on my favorite trail to the water. We spent a good bit of time on the beach teaching Hunley to swim and I think he's finally discovered his love for the water!
When we got home sister made us lunch and we vegged out for the rest of the day and then got take out Mexican food for dinner when T.J. got home. His schedule was hectic this week but when he was home it made my heart so happy, having my two favorite people under the same roof, sitting around our dining table, even if it was just for a couple hours before he fell asleep (on the floor) at night.
Saturday T.J. was on call and sister and I headed back out on the water. We rented kayaks from the marina on base and enjoyed a beautiful morning on the lake. It was actually quite a lot of work battling boat wakes and the wind but we got a good laugh at our lack of any sort of tan and any sort of kayaking skills.
And that was all we did that day. We were tuckered out after that unexpected work out, so we stocked up on way too much candy and spent the rest of the day on the couch which is what I would have done even if she wasn't here but it was a million times more fun and totally shame free with her on the couch next to me.

Sister had come from South Carolina hoping to escape the heat and enjoy some cooler Pacific Northwest temps. Of course we had a slight heat wave the week she was here but on her last day in town we finally got some cooler weather. That day we headed to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium while T.J. caught up on the sleep he didn't get the night before. I've never met a "grown up" who loves the zoo more than my sister and this one is particularly fun. We treated ourselves to dipping dots and I spent the rest of the day in denial that she was leaving me that night. 
We had a farewell dinner at Dukes Chowder House before I had to reluctantly take her to the airport. I'm really hoping it's not another 6 months before I see her again. My dad used to joke about us all living on a big compound one day with all our families... doesn't sound like such a bad idea now.