2014: A year in review

31 December 2014

Friends! I hope you had a truly marvelous Christmas. Ours is 2/3 of the way over – my whole family still hasn’t been able to get together to celebrate, so we’re reconvening over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend! :)

John and I are looking forward to a special date night on Friday, where we’ll do our own look back at 2014 and dream a bit about what we want our 2015 to look like. I can’t wait! In the meantime, here are a few of the highlights of the year on EFM and in our lives!

2014-year-in-review-january-february

2014 dawned with SNOW! More snow than we had ever seen down here – about six inches in one storm! It was fun to see our house dusted in white. We also snagged last-minute tickets to a Duke game at Cameron, and in February trotted out to Asheville for a tour of the Biltmore (amazing!). I posted two of my most popular posts ever, about my homesickness and paying off our debt. In February, I shared our love story and my 60 Before 30 goals!

2014-year-in-review-march

March was so fun! We took a weekend trip to Charleston that we both remember as being just about perfect. We also welcomed best friends to North Carolina and checked off goal 49, canoeing down the Haw River!

2014-year-in-review-april

In April we started our garden! As the weather warmed up we enjoyed more warm weather activities, like Bulls games and sitting on our own front porch. I wrote two posts about what we eat.

2014-year-in-review-may-1

We did a few things in May (including strawberry picking at the farm across from our neighborhood!), but by far the most notable was our week-long trip up the California coast and out to Yosemite! I covered it in seven posts: Malibu, Ojai, Montecito / Santa Barbara, Montana de Oro, Cayucos / Cambria, San Simeon, Big Sur / Monterey and Carmel / Yosemite / San Francisco.

2014-year-in-review-may-2

It was an AMAZING trip and we would recommend it to anyone!! Our roses also burst into bloom at home.

2014-year-in-review-june

Whew! In looking back at past years-in-review, it seems June always kicks my tail, and this year was no exception! I can’t complain, though, because it was all such good stuff – I traveled to Charleston and Nashville for work (which included Jeni’s for the first time – bliss!!), to New York City for a baby shower for Marget/bridal shower for Natalie, and to Boone to camp with friends!

2014-year-in-review-july

In July we headed back to New England for Natalie and Joe’s wedding! We also harvested loads of tomatoes from our backyard.

2014-year-in-review-august

August! Always one of my favorite months, because it’s usually when we spend a week at my favorite place in the world, the island in Maine where we have our cottage. This year we got to go sailing with friends while up North, and it was definitely a highlight! (I posted a short video.) We also invited friends over for a porch party and I shared a home tour in two parts.

2014-year-in-review-september

We kicked off September with a Labor Day visit to Asheville (two in one year – lucky us!!), this time with my Dad in tow. We bought him a white water rafting trip for his birthday, and it was a hoot to do it together! September also marked our first trip to Monuts, after which I shall never be the same again. I wrote about six years of blogging, our marriage advice, and our friends’ wedding.

2014-year-in-review-october

In October, we really stepped it up fitness-wise – I hope to write about that a bit in 2015. We combined a trip to Connecticut for a wedding with a trip to NYC to meet our new nephew (!!), I took a separate trip to New York for work, we went to the State Fair with my parents, and we hosted our second annual pumpkin carving night!

2014-year-in-review-november

Ya heard what I was saying about those donuts, right? :) We balanced them out with short runs and long bike rides, and a few walks in the woods just because. I loved traveling to Grand Cayman for work and being featured in Emily Ley’s Simplicity series!

2014-year-in-review-december

December was sweet and relatively slow. It was a joy to share our home with my family at Christmas for the first time!

It’s good to step back and be grateful, and grateful I am. It was a great year. Friends, it has truly been a delight to be a small part of y’all’s lives this year, and to have you as a part of mine. I’ll be back soon with more on my plans for 2015!!

Tinsel stirrers in the limelight!

23 December 2014

I have been working overtime the past few weeks, making and sending piles of tinsel stirrers for sparkly NYE parties and weddings! I don’t usually get to see photos of these beauties at their final destinations, so when my friend Maddy sent me photos from an editorial she asked for my assistance with, I wanted to share! I love the navy, gold, and silver together.

athena pelton photography

athena pelton photography

athena pelton photography

athena pelton photography

tinsel-stir-sticks

athena pelton photography

You can see much more on Green Wedding Shoes. Hugs to Athena Pelton for these lovely images!

And with that, I’m signing off until after Christmas! My family is here and I’m excited to hunker down and be cozy and lazy :) I’m not really much of an NYE celebrator myself, but I’ll meet you back here for my 2014 in review post on December 31st – one of my favorite traditions. Until then, I hope y’all have the merriest Christmas!! xo

Christmas Cards 2014

19 December 2014

Usually I like to make a fun little graphic showing how the voting on potential Christmas card designs panned out, since y’all are so generous to give us your opinions! This year, however, there was a landslide winner, and it was the favorite in our household, too…

minted-christmas-card

We chose the Snowy Love and Joy card by Tuleppe from Minted. We don’t get too many flakes down South, and I just couldn’t resist adding a few flurries to our card!

minted-holiday-card

Thanks again to our dear friend Meredith Perdue for this lovely photo of us! And thanks to Natalie and Joe for having a wedding in 2014 and making us look good :) (By the way – stay tuned for a peek at their celebration in January!)

christmas-card-newsletter

I love creating our newsletter because it gives us a chance to look back on our year and share our favorite parts. Unsurprisingly, our California trip took pride of place in 2014!

love-and-joy-christmas-card

Thanks to Minted, however, I feel like the scene stealer this year was the envelope! I LOVED their new designed options. Though I didn’t take advantage of their free (!) addressing service this year, I can guarantee you I will in the future!

minted-envelope-addressing

Though I enjoy hand-addressing our envelopes at the moment, it’s not a deal breaker for me. There are two things, however, that are. First, it’s important to us that our Christmas cards are not all about us. We send them out at Christmas to share our joy at the birth of our Savior with the people we love the most, and we want to remind people of that in a personal way. That’s why we include a few thoughts on what Christmas means to us, and a favorite piece of scripture.

Second, I refuse to send cards out without a handwritten note. I know a lot of folks do so, and I can understand why, but I view our Christmas cards as a touchpoint for friends and family that I don’t get to see or talk to as much as I would like, and I want it to be a truly personal one. And don’t worry, I didn’t forget y’all :)

christmas-card-with-note

Hope you love them!

P.S. Our 2013 and 2012 Christmas cards

Gifts for Em

15 December 2014

We finished up our Christmas shopping for one side of the family this weekend, and so far have been pretty good about not buying things for ourselves in the process. Still, there are a few things I’m wishing for this year, and I thought I’d share them, as it’s become a bit of a tradition!

gifts-for-em-2014

A. We bought a king size bed and new sheets a month or so ago, but are still using an old blanket. I’d love to upgrade to this quilt!
B. I’ve only ever asked someone what jeans she was wearing once, and these were the answer. These might be at the top of my list this year.
C. We cook at home six nights out of seven. These three cookbooks come highly recommended by friends and look like they’d keep us busy!
D. I bought these pumps for my sister as a birthday gift, then borrowed them, and now I want my own pair.
E. Still haven’t replaced my Toms – hoping someone else will do it for me! :)
F. Love the cognac color of these classic flats
G. Sigh – I know this scarf is sold out, but maybe they’ll restock it? It’s back in stock!! The J.Crew fairies read my blog! :)

What’s on the top of your wish list this year?

Our new red front door!

10 December 2014

While I really adore our home’s curb appeal, the one thing I knew I’d want to change down the line was the color of our front door. When we bought the house it was maroon – already not my favorite color, but on top of that, our door is set back under a big overhang, so it kind of looked like a dark hole.

maroon-front-door

I wanted something brighter and more fun, and considered poppy red and haint blue. Y’all gave such thoughtful comments back here, but I think the gold star goes to our friend Nancy: I think red would look beautiful and patriotic and New-Englandy, which represents your roots. Also, we share hearts of patriotism, and I think that a red door would be well suited in the Thomas household. (Not to mention it would tie in perfectly with that pretty American flag!)

Between her convincing arguments and John’s dislike for anything that even approaches Carolina blue, we decided a cheery red was the way to go. We pulled paint chips, and ended up liking California Poppy by Behr the best. That’s it over on the left:

red-paint-chips

We bought the top of the line Behr exterior paint, which is primer and paint in one. Prep was pretty easy – we taped the major parts, including the handle/lock; filled in one gouge from moving day with wood filler; and wiped down the door to get rid of any dust/pollen. Then we waited for a not-too-warm, not-too-cold, dry day, and brushed on the first coat!

painting-our-front-door-red

After which, it looked… pretty much the same, except dingier. All told, I ended up doing four coats with several days in between each, and in the end, I think it looks pretty good! A few tips I learned along the way:

1. I liked using an angled brush, no foam roller.
2. As Sherry recommended, I painted the inside of each panel first, then the flat planks around them and between them, always going in the direction of the planks. I worked upward to do the vertical and horizontal planks in the middle, then at the end dragged from top to bottom to do the vertical parts on each side.
3. I figured I could get away without priming since we used an all in one paint and the color we were painting over was fairly similar, but in hindsight, I might have been able to do fewer coats if I had started with a separate primer.
4. When I removed the tape around the hardware, a few chips of paint came off (very annoying). This probably could have been avoided if I had removed the hardware instead of taping around it, but since I painted over several days, I think it would have been more annoying to remove and replace the hardware four times.

before-and-after

This was a fairly easy project, and I’d definitely recommend it as a little front porch pick-me-up! I’m especially enjoying our new red front door dressed up for Christmas :)

christmas-bungalow