Beach Vacation 2014



Such a lovely idea, no?

A few weeks ago, we packed up our gang and headed to a place we’d never been– the beaches of Pass Christian, MS. Neither of our children had ever seen the ocean before, so we were excited and nervous about how they would respond.

Honestly, I had pretty low expectations for how relaxing the trip would be because we were bringing small children along. We met my sister along with her husband and daughter at my brother-in-law’s family’s beach house. I must say, the whole trip was a welcomed surprise.

July was a crazy month for us at the end of a busy season, so having a chance to relax with people we love was such a gift!

Wonderful weather (cool and sometimes overcast when it was predicted to rain each day). Happy, napping children every day. A practically private beach. Total flexibility to change our plans according to how the kiddos were faring. I can see why people love beach vacations, especially with young kids!







We dined out one night, visited a local playground and bookstore, and one day rode with a fisherman out to Ship Island, which was a breathtakingly beautiful and uninhabited beach island. Other than that, we just stayed in our little corner of beach house, pool, and ocean. Bliss.





photo 2


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Overall, the perfect getaway. It really is too bad you can’t be on vacation all the time😉



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Door Drama: Part Three

It’s been a long time since I wrote about any progress to our front door, and any of you who’ve kept up with this blog for a while may have thought we’d forgotten to finish our  “plan”. (I assure you, I had not!)

But…the time has finally come!

I’m really excited about this post because, not only was it a heck-of-a-lot more work than anything we’ve tackled before, it has also really helped to update the exterior of our home.

Okay, so if you’ll remember, here’s how our front entry looked June of 2012:


We painted the doorway white some time shortly after that and then attached shutters in July of 2013:

Fast forward another year, and here we are!IMG_0753


The process began months (or, really a year or two) earlier with plans for our roofed pergola. I cannot stress this step in the process enough. Sometimes it felt like we were beating a dead horse, but since we were (are) amateurs, it was critical in minimizing our stress once we entered the building phase. We talked about what each of us was envisioning. We researched ideas and sketched out our plans. We tried to anticipate what problems we could face. We priced lumber and supplies online. We talked with people in our lives who knew how to build. We made an exhaustive list for our Lowe’s trip.IMG_0967

Then, we set a date to build and recruited some help. This came in the form of my brother-in-law who helped with the manual labor (my dad threw out his back days earlier but still graciously managed to come and help out for a while), my in-laws who brought lunch and helped with just about anything else we needed, and my mom who kept the chilluns so we could actually focus and get stuff done. The hubs and I were talking about how DIYers get all the glory for rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty, but (in our experience) it takes a village to get the job done. We’re so grateful to everyone who helped us out!

The first step was to tear out the old awning, see what was left underneath, and power wash the area before we built over it again.IMG_0696

As in true DIY form, we did experience a few hiccups in our plan. The biggest one was the way we attached our posts to the concrete slab. We unsuccessfully tried a couple of frustrating methods before using L brackets and bits designed to drill into concrete.IMG_0721

The second most frustrating step was the way our corrugated steel bowed. IMG_0730

Even when we drilled it to the pergola while pulling it taut, the front bowed. We remedying it by attaching 1×2 pieces in between each rafter. In the end, we like the look better than without it.IMG_0755



One of the hardest parts about the project both in planning and in execution was building around that little corner. It was a pain because that affected the 3 inch slope on the last rafter. Let me tell you, math is an important skill in building!IMG_0751

Because we used pressure treated wood, we have to wait a while until we can stain it. But the plan is to stain it the same color as the shutters and then paint the concrete gray.

August 2011:DSCN0512


July 2014:


We had many moments of frustration, but we knew that we’d feel pride once we were finished. And we do. One of the areas where I feel most accomplished is in anticipating the cost and sticking to our budget. We built this puppy (including the painting and staining that have yet to be completed) for right around $250. IMG_0755



One thing is for sure: it was a learning experience. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s still standing!🙂


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DIY Twin Duvet Cover

Our three -year-old is now an old pro at sleeping in a “big bed”. When we first transitioned him out of the crib, I realized that he was used to only sleeping with his blankie. Even the pillow at the head of the bed was new for him. So, I slapped a fitted sheet on his bed and called it good.

Lately, though, I’ve been feeling like he might be ready for covers. The blankie barely covers his legs and he is *better* about staying covered while he actually sleeps. I have a twin down comforter that I saved from when the twin bed was mine in college, so the only real question was how to cover it. (Notice the pun reference?)

I headed to Goodwill with my mom one day in search of some inspiration. We decided against blue and gray (that I was thinking of doing) since it could clash with armoire if it wasn’t just the right shade. There wasn’t a great selection, but my mom found this cute patterned sheet at the last minute:

IMG_0676We paired those subtle green circles interspersed in the pattern with a vibrant solid green sheet. We liked it because it was fun, coordinated well with the colors in the room, and wasn’t too babyish. (since he is three afterall!)

After throwing them in the wash, I simply put the “right” sides together and sewed across one side and the bottom. As it turned out, the sheets weren’t exactly the same size, so I laid it out and pinned the opposite side with both sheets flattened out:


After sewing that side, I cut off the excess and sewed it once more (in case the green sheet frayed at all).

Then, I flipped the whole thing inside out and stuffed it with the duvet. I really wanted this thing to stay put (as sometimes the comforter can move around inside the cover), so I opted to tie a few knots with embroidery thread to secure the whole thing.

IMG_0670As for the top, I folded the green side over and did a wide hand stitch with embroidery thread. I’ll have to take all that apart whenever I wash it, but it made for a nice temporary fix, anyway.


For a simple afternoon project, I’m pleased!



Unfortunately for me (since I make bed), Liam informed me that he’s not ready to get rid of his side rail just yet.🙂


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A Priest and a Prince

I haven’t been able to finish hearing this song lately with dry eyes. Such encouragement for a weary soul:


It’s so easy to cash in these chips on my shoulder

So easy to loose this old tongue like a tiger

It’s easy to let all this bitterness smolder

Just to hide it away like a cigarette lighter

It’s easy to curse and to hurt and to hinder

It’s easy to not have the heart to remember

That I am a priest and a prince in the kingdom of God


I’ve got voices that scream in my head like a siren

Fears that I feel in the night when I sleep

Stupid choices I made when I played in the mire

Like a kid in the mud on some dirty, blind street

I’ve got sorrow to spare, I’ve got loneliness too

I’ve got blood on these hands that hold on to the Truth

That I am a priest and a prince in the kingdom of God


I swore on the Bible to not tell a lie, but I’ve lied and lied

And I crossed my heart and I hoped to die, and I died and died


But if it’s true that you gathered my sin in your hands

And you cast it as far as the East from the West

If it’s true that you put on the flesh of a man

And you walked in my shoes through the shadow of death

If it’s true that you dwell in the halls of my heart

And I’m not just a fool with a fancy guitar

No, I am a priest and a prince in the kingdom of God


*Fool with a Fancy Guitar from Andrew Peterson’s album Counting Stars

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Memorial Day Fun

We had such an enjoyable Memorial Day this year! I am grateful for all of the men and women who have lost their lives serving our nation. And in honor of their memory (and Hub’s day off of work), we loaded our crew and headed down the Natchez Trace. Our good friend, Micah, joined us in the fun.

We drove all the way to the furthermost point and then made all of our stops along our way home. (Furthest point for us, anyway. The highway stretches 444 miles) The kids did surprisingly well on our little excursion. I think it was all the fresh air😉

First stop: Jackson Falls. A beautiful little spot just 900 feet from our car

First stop: Jackson Falls. A beautiful little spot just 900 feet from our car

Micah at the top of the falls

Micah at the top of the falls

Liam soaking in some time with Micah. What a guy, that Micah.

Liam soaking in some time with Micah. What a guy, that Micah.

Daddy and Ellis girl

Daddy and Ellis girl

Finding a little snail friend

Finding a little snail friend

The kiddos enjoying some pretzels at Baker's Bluff Overlook

The kiddos enjoying some pretzels at Baker’s Bluff Overlook

Gordon House

Gordon House

The clearing at Gordon House

The clearing at Gordon House

Skipping rocks, creek stopping, and picnic-ing at Garrison Creek

Skipping rocks, creek stopping, and picnic-ing at Garrison Creek

The girl just loving the water (and the rocks). The scab on her nose is from a recent climbing misadventure.

The girl just loving the water (and the rocks). The scab on her nose is from a recent climbing misadventure.

It was such a beautiful day. The water and shade were therapeutic to me, and the kids were so curious about everything. It was just lovely to be in a secluded spot on Memorial Day. And to think, we almost didn’t go because of forecasted rain!


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DIY Scrapbook Paper Wreath

As much as I have enjoyed the winter wreath that graced our door the last 5 months, the warming weather reminded me that is was time for something springier.





The problem was, there are a lot of [spring time] wreaths I’m not crazy about. So when I came across this one, I thought I’d try it out. I bought a metal wreath (at Hobby Lobby for 2 or 3 bucks), 5 sheets of scrapbook paper (at 50 cents per sheet), and 1 piece of felt (to make the flowers). We’re not talking much money here. At that cost, I figured it was worth the experiment, even if it didn’t go well.


I cut a leaf template from a piece of cardboard (a toothpaste box, if you must know) and then traced it about 60 times on to the scrapbook sheets. Then, I overlapped them all the way around with hot glue until the metal was completely covered. It looked alright, but pretty boring and flat.


The one that inspired me used scalloped scissors. I didn’t have any–neither did my neighbor–and I didn’t want to buy any, so I folded each piece in half to create some dimension. I grouped them in pairs and fanned them on top of the existing leaves.


Muuuuch better.


I played around with a couple of ideas for flowers. These are made from circles cut from felt (about the size of a quarter), then cut in half and hot glued into funnel shapes. I think I need a few more on there (maybe a total of 5). One day, I’ll get to that. In the mean time, I’m pretty happy with it.  The purple is nice, but I think yellow would’ve been really cute, too. Overall, worth my effort, I think!


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Walnut Zucchini Pasta

Last week I put together a little vegetarian dinner for some friends, and I figured I’d share it here since I haven’t shared a recipe in a  while (mostly so I can have record of it when we want to replicate it!)

This is a summer time pasta dish with nice color and wonderful flavor. We’re not even vegetarians, but the artichokes and walnuts contribute such a nice heartiness, it can easily stand alone as a meal!


Walnut Zucchini Pasta

serves 8-10

1 16 oz pkg linguine pasta, cooked and drained

2 large zucchinis, thinly cut into half moon shapes

1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup olive oil soaked sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

4 oz crumbled feta

3-4 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

fresh oregano, for garnish

grated parmesan, for garnish


Cook linguine according to package. Drain and set aside. Heat walnuts with salt and pepper in large skillet until lightly browned. Remove from pan. Add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil until heated. Saute zucchini with salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and artichokes, cooking another 1-2 minutes. Add mixture to drained pasta, stirring to combine. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, feta, and walnuts. Add balsamic vinegar and olive oil, increasing oil amount if dry. Garnish with parmesan and oregano.

Serve warm to room temperature.


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