House Tour 2015: Downstairs

30 September 2015

We’ve been in our home for about two and a half years now. Decorating progress, as ever, has been slow and steady. Sometimes slower than we would like, due to the budget and my tendency to overthink home purchasing decisions (there is NOTHING that I overthink more than home purchasing decisions). However, sharing these yearly-ish tours helps me see that there IS progress being made, that our home is inching closer and closer to the vision we have for it, and that we have much for which to be grateful. I hope you enjoy this peek into a home in progress!

All photos are by the lovely Anna Routh, first shared in our home tour on Southern Weddings, except the obviously worse-quality ones, which were taken by me :)

red-front-door

Here’s a good look at the true color of our red front door!

antique-rug

what-good-shall-i-do

Jack always wants to do good :)

colorful-living-room

I am SO excited to say that since these photos were taken we’ve purchased new dining room chairs!! The ones here, the same ones we’ve had since starting out, were free hand-me-downs, and though they’ve served us well, I didn’t love their color, they had some glitter and fluff stuck to them from their previous owners, and there were only four of them. It took me so long to figure out what we wanted, but I’m happy to report I’m very pleased with our decision. Will share more soon!

teal-bar-stools

metal-shelving

daily-bread-print

colorful-latte-bowls

Our plan for replacing paper towels is still going strong!

kitchen-chalkboard

rainbow-book-shelf

custom-family-crest

colorful-family-room

coral-living-room

I shared my plan for re-working our big wall of art last year, and here’s the final result! The four photos are ones we took on our last four big vacations.

pastel-gallery-wall

caitlin-wilson-pillows

blue-mason-jar

driftwood-wreath

red-side-chairs

vintage-trunk-coffee-table

We didn’t get a great pulled-back shot of the master bedroom, but here are a few details!

blue-bedroom

devotionals

vintage-armoire

coastal-painting

blue-bathroom

For more photos and more sourcing information, check out last year’s tour! You can also see a few “before” photos here. And if you have any questions about sources or paint colors that I haven’t already answered, just leave a comment — I’m more than happy to help.

Back with the upstairs soon!

Baby Girl Thomas!

22 September 2015

I think many of you may already know, either from conversation or Instagram, but I wanted to share the news officially here: we are welcoming a little lady to our family in January!

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To back up a little, we knew pretty much from the beginning that we would find out our baby’s sex before birth. I know several folks that have been so happy with their decision not to (my sister and Nancy, for two), and the frugal side of me really liked the idea of loved ones gifting us practical, gender-neutral gifts over tons of pink or blue outfits. However, I didn’t really buy the argument that the surprise of the gender would provide any additional motivation to get me through labor (it seems unlikely anything could top the idea of simply meeting our baby!). I also felt that the waiting and wondering over many months would make me more anxious than excited. Finally, we thought that knowing whether we were expecting a boy or girl would help these two non-baby-lovers wrap their heads around everything that’s going on.

So, when we went in for our twenty week ultrasound, we asked the doctor to hide anything pertinent on the screen, and write the sex on a note sealed in an envelope. I like that he signed the outside — very official, like the Oscars :)

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That was a Thursday, and we kept the envelope in our hot little hands until Friday evening, when we opened it at dinner on our first night in Greenville.

From the beginning, I thought we were having a girl. Actually, it was less of a thought and more of an assumption — I have two sisters, 90% girl cousins, and almost all of our close family friends have all girls. We just don’t do boys in my world, as evidenced by my Dad’s response when I asked for final guesses:

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Our families were pretty much 50/50 on whether it would be a boy or a girl. The vast majority of online friends thought it would be a girl. As I said, I thought girl from the beginning until the last week or so, when I started to think it might be a boy. John didn’t have a strong feeling until the last week or so, when he also started to think it might be a boy! We even consulted Joanna’s old wives tales round-up, and my answers leaned towards boy.

Still, I wasn’t surprised when we opened the envelope and saw girl! The beautiful thing is that even though for years I’ve always thought I’d prefer to have a girl, and especially a girl as the oldest child, by the time it actually came down to our actual child, I can honestly say I would have been equally as happy either way. All of the things you hear about just wanting the baby to be healthy are 100% true, but more than that, I think my happy ambivalence was due to the fact that I’ve gotten the chance to know some lovely little boys (my nephew and Perry!) over the last few years, and have been reminded that they are equally as wonderful and fun as little girls!

That being said, I think John will be an amazing Dad to a little girl. Also, let’s be clear — I’m pretty excited about the two sets of pink cat pajamas I’ve already bought her. For the most part, though, our registry is pretty neutral, and you might be surprised to see the nursery design I’m working on. (More on that soon!)

Finally, since many folks have been asking, I would say at this point we’re about 95% set on a first name, and 60% set on a middle name. We will be keeping both under wraps until she joins us!

I would love to hear: If you’ve had a baby, did you have a strong feeling about the sex, and were you right? Did you find out beforehand? For everyone, if you want to have children, would you rather have boys, girls, both, or no preference?

The best way to reheat pizza

18 September 2015

On one hand, this seems like an entirely inconsequential topic to devote a blog post to. On the other hand, it is a seriously genius trick that has revolutionized my leftover life, and I’m committed to sharing all things marvelous, inconsequential though they may be in the grand scheme of things.

margherita pizza

Margherita pizza recipe and photo from Annie’s Eats

So here it is: if you have a slice or two of pizza to reheat, pop them into a skillet (I use stainless steel). Put on the lid and turn the stove on to medium heat. (No need to preheat.) After 6-8 minutes, the bottom should be crispy and the cheese on top should be melted. Emphasis on crispy — the revolutionary thing to me about this method is how delightfully crispy the slice gets! It’s amazing, and so far superior to microwave reheating the results don’t even compare.

I would love to hear: am I late to this party? Have y’all been using this method for years? Even so, if there’s at least one friend out there who hasn’t heard, I’ve done my job :)

Thanks to The Kitchn for enlightening me!

Weekend trip to Greenville

17 September 2015

One of my very favorite things about living in North Carolina’s Triangle is how many opportunities there are for weekend trips. Our home base is perfect for exploring Virginia (Richmond, Charlottesville, Williamsburg), South Carolina (Charleston, Beaufort), Georgia (Atlanta), and, of course, the Old North State (Asheville, Wilmington, Beaufort, Boone, Highlands). Those are just a few of the spots we’ve been lucky enough to travel to over the last six years, but one that was not on the list until a few weekends ago was Greenville, South Carolina.

We didn’t know too much about Greenville until our visit, but I have to say, we were blown away. We did read a few guides to prepare, including this one and this one.

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We stayed about fifteen minutes outside of downtown Greenville, at Hotel Domestique in Traveler’s Rest. Hotel Domestique really does feel like a transplant from Tuscany (not that I’ve ever been, but it’s what I imagine Tuscany looks like!). It has a cozy, rustic vibe, perfect for fall.

hotel-domestique

The view is not half bad, either.

hotel-domestique-fountain

We ate dinner and breakfast onsite at Hotel Domestique both nights (Restaurant 17), and everything we tried was delicious! The only downside was that we didn’t get many chances to visit other restaurants. We did have lunch at the Lazy Goat outside on the patio, which was the perfect place to munch and people watch. If we were returning, I’d love to try American Grocery and Soby’s.

greenville-downtown

Before and after lunch we wandered around Greenville’s downtown. The shopping district reminded me of Aix-en-Provence, actually! It’s lined with trees, has a great mix of independent shops (like M. Judson, a bookstore in the historic courthouse) as well as desirable chains (like Anthropologie), and was bustling with people when we visited.

greenville-downtown-park

The neatest thing about Greenville’s downtown, though, is that there’s a waterfall running through it! A few years ago, the area underwent a huge revitalization, including moving a four-lane highway to reveal the river and then building parks, a suspension bridge, an ampitheater, and other fun things around it. It is really beautiful, and clearly beloved by Greenville’s residents!

greenville-suspension-bridge

Our last big adventure in Greenville was a hike just outside of town. Greenville seems to be a town of active outdoors lovers — it’s a big training ground for cyclists, and there are tons of trails and greenways to explore. We chose Falls Creek. It was rather steep for this pregnant lady, but with a beautiful and worthwhile payoff. The round trip took us about two hours. Recommended!

falls-creek

Finally, we always try to attend worship when we’re traveling, both to, well, worship, but also to experience new ways of doing things that we might be able to bring back to our church. While in Greenville we chose Grace Church Downtown. It’s in a beautiful old building that’s been retrofitted, and they are doing lots of interesting things. If you’re in your twenties and looking to get connected to a community, Grace also seems like the place to go :)

grace-church-greenville

Weekend road trips like this are my favorite, so I’m eager to hear the city or town you most love to visit in the South! Or, if you’ve had the chance to visit Greenville, what did you love about it?

Three years of marriage

15 September 2015

Friends, today is our third wedding anniversary! We had the most beautiful weather yesterday – crisp, clear, warm, blue skies, low 70’s – and it reminded me so strongly of the weather on September 15, 2012. You’d better believe I’m still grateful for that!

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I challenged myself to include just one favorite photo in today’s post, and I did, even though it nearly killed me. Tanja Lippert is and will always be my hero — I think she is beyond compare in the realm of wedding photography. Having her by our side on that day is another thing for which I’m still grateful!

Earlier this year, to mark our ten year dativersary, I ruminated a bit on our ceremony reading from C.S. Lewis. I was just reading over the post where I shared all three of our readings again, and a different one is standing out to me at the moment — our reading from Colossians 3.

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From where I’m sitting right now, these verses make my heart feel a bit swollen and my throat a bit lumpy. Put on compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, patience, love… forgive… let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… and be thankful. This is the reading our pastor chose to draw his message from, and in it, he told us that these words were telling us that we’d have to put on our “work clothes” every day of our marriage.

I have found that this is true – doing those things that Paul commands is not always easy, and sometimes requires work. But it is unlike any other work I’ve ever experienced. It is a JOY to do these paradoxical things, to make myself meek, to be kind, to forgive. It’s a joy because it’s in the service of one who always does the same for me. It’s still hard — my most basic instinct is always to care about myself above everyone else — but it is so sweet.

And I am so very, very thankful. (That part is easy.)

P.S. More wedding photos and a film here, two year anniversary post here, one year here.