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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ringing In the New

Happiest of Christmas wishes and happy 2015, too! Still noodling through what cards (new years, we've moved, new address...?) we might ever get to, so until then, we're sending our best.

And to all a lazy two weeks. It sure feels restful here and I hope the same for you, too. We're grateful that the Mister is not only on the same continent that we are, but is also taking lots of time off and we're all better for it. Fully ensconced in our break, I fear the challenge of alarm clocks and uniforms. But that is still a little too far away to worry about properly. It is next year anyway (ha!). And worrying seems really contrary to the concept of a holiday.

We're busy playing new games, reading new books and introducing our new dollies around. Eating and drinking at odd hours and really happy to be doing so en masse. We're loving our sweet little Christmas cocoon. We managed to get out to be tourists for a bit, to a museum and of course for various tune ups -- haircuts, new shoes and routine appointments. But otherwise, for days on end we have happily palled around at home.

In between unregulated fun and Skyping cousins, we've also visited the new house lots. Things there continue to move along at a rapid-fire pace. It looks great and every visit there brings something new. Also seemingly more questions and to-dos but like everything else, it is on a deadline so it will be done soon. Hooray!

I know boxes await us before very long. Before we know it we'll be undoing our household here and unpacking again in our new home. I just put lots of exciting 2015 dates on the calendar (Big Brother starring as Peter Pan in the school play!, Big Sister making her First Holy Communion!, school getting out at the end of May!), so I know in the months ahead we'll be thrilled to have rested during these weeks. I think we're smart to store up our energy a bit.

So that's where we leave this year. In a bit of peaceful disarray and lots of togetherness. We should be so lucky to find ourselves in this same blessed position next year and every year in the future.

Happy new year, one and all!  xo

Monday, December 22, 2014

The House That Jack Built

I've been such a lousy correspondent lately and haven't told you very much about our new house. Like all of our homes, this, our umpteenth in 15 years, seems to have been waiting just for us.

It will be worth the wait.

It is the house that Jack Daniels built. With Saint Henry's help.

The Saint Henry piece is because our realtor, contractor and banker are all tied to St Henry school and church. Then there's Jack Daniel's part. Bless him. Our house's former owner was Jack Daniel's first marketing executive and made his over 40 year career there.

Along with this waycoolerthanIam legacy, I feel sure we bought a bit of TN history. From a couple that built the house in the 50s and raised their four children there. I took our also having 4 children as a sign. The Mister might say the house being way under budget was his sign.

I'm in awe of anyone who can maintain a lovely home for nearly 60 years. Not to mention raise a family (and entertain lots of grandchildren, friends and neighbors if the growth chart in the kitchen is any indication) and leave this charming stove and beautiful bathrooms in Smithsonian preservation quality condition.

There is this wall in what I suppose we'll call the breakfast room (which sounds really pretentious but I'm not sure what else to call it. It's honestly going to be our all day room..) that has the shadow of what must be dozens of picture frames. I'm just sentimental enough to not want to paint over those whispers of family history. Of what were surely baby, wedding and graduation photos lovingly framed and displayed.

I cannot wait to meet the former owners. When the renovations are through and we're settled, we'll have them over to return that growth chart and a piece of wallpaper unearthed in the renovations. And thank them for passing this legacy to us. I hope they'll like that we're maintaining much of their mid-century modern, exposed brick and wood beams. We're just updating a few spots. Making the kitchen bigger. Of course, we're keeping their fantastic booth. The kids' blue bathroom is staying exactly as is. A mid-century tribute. I have to drink more booze or start smoking to do it all justice, tho.

The house is very cool. I confess that the family's connection to a brand that puts Tennessee on the map is also endearing to me. It speaks to my latent corporate historian. Long before people talked about "branding," our house's owner was doing just that. And it wasn't long ago that I was looking at bottles of Jack Daniel's at Selfridges on Oxford Street. All the way across the Atlantic. How weird is my life sometimes? How blessed am I? Just when I was succumbing to becoming a cliched AllDaySoccerSaturdaySuburbanAmericanMom, we stumbled into this treasure of a home.

Surely lots of interesting things (corporate and otherwise) went on in the pub in our basement. I feel a bit unworthy. Seen the elephant and heard the owl, I'm sure.

But worthy or not, the whole super shebang is ours and we can't wait to get into it. And not just because we can finally paint walls again. (Which ones will get chalkboard paint?!) The workmen are plugging away and we're grateful for their labors.

Raising a glass here until you come see it for yourself. It is yet another sign of providence in our life. If you're keeping track, so far our homes have been host to the Junior League of Richmond, La Grange's beloved football coach, WWII and now, Jack Daniel's.

I can hardly stand it.

Here's to mid-century modern turquoise front doors. And retro pink guest bathrooms. Havana's got nothing on us. Come see.


All Decked Out, Part II

School's out, relaxing has begun and all that is left is to wrap, tie ribbons and bake. And do the Christmas cards. But we're knee deep in choosing paint colors for the new house, so mailed greetings continue to get pushed down the to do list. It may be that this year's are new year's cards with a new address enclosed.

Cards or not (and thanks for sending them even when we've not), it is very festive here.

Big Brother made this beautiful nativity set for a school project. It is both contemporary and classic. So him. It will be a big part of our Christmas decor from now on.  I'm so proud of his efforts and thrilled we get to keep it.

Some of my favorite decorations are a blend of new and old. We collected plenty of treasures when we toured Cologne at Christmastime a few years ago and no matter what the season, I can always find a special spot for a few toy cabs and buses.

I made this boxwood wreath at the base of the pitcher at a Kayce Hughes craft night. The others boxwoods are ones we've kept from last year (and used again at Easter). With a little TLC they manage to stay bright and cheery.

It will be fun to find a home for all these treasures again next year!  As much as we'd like to think that "things" are not important to us, we are all so thrilled to see these goodies get unpacked each year. Sometimes our things can help keep us grounded and create a sense of place. Souvenirs.

And it isn't decor, but I made this pretty appetizer for a party last week. I served one to my family as dinner, too. They would want you to know it wasn't hearty enough to be a main dish but I think they gave it style points! 

This seems to be the season of cheerful deliveries, too. It is "so Nashville" that my FedEx man was happy to report an earlier delivery was for Keith Urban. And just last week he'd been to Vince Gill's house. I wonder if any of their decorations were quite as glittery as ours?

I hope everything at your house is pretty, festive and delicious (and maybe even twinkling with a bit of stardom!). Stay warm and well, merry and bright!  xo. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Decking the Halls, Part I

'Tis the season, friends. We're well into our advent here. Well into the season of mailboxes exploding with greens, candles in the window, spotlights on the door. Just this week, Baby Sister was an angel in the Kindergarten play and the boys beautifully banged on drums at the Christmas concert.

We're making lists for Santa and and decking our halls. It is magical and festive. It is also the season of travel (10-11 hour drives are blessedly behind us!) and school projects, baking and wrapping gifts.
We are keeping a close eye on all the changes happening fast and furiously at our new house. Meanwhile, we're hanging the greens in a rental house for what we hope is the last time in a long time!

Still not remotely close on Christmas cards, tho. They might be "Happy New Year and We're Moving!" at this rate. Meanwhile, I'm sending Christmas cheer and these festive pictures your way.  Next Christmas we won't have such tall ceilings, so we decided to get a very big tree this year. It might be our prettiest one ever. 

There is some debate about my mailbox decor. Actually, less debate and more hysterics that it appears a bit overfed. Or perhaps ready to attack. But I love it!

Other cause for great celebration is that Big Sister actually spoke to Santa for what we think is the first time. I'm sure it is a first to have the four of them sitting with Santa.

I promise to update you on the new house shortly. It is coming along swimmingly! Every time I'm there I am more excited about moving in. Thinking about being in boxes once more gives me hives, but I cannot wait to be settled and start to make it our own. It is a Christmas dream of sorts to think that this time next year we'll be baking cookies in this kitchen. And not just because the kitchen counters are going to be stainless steel.  Bless her heart - Baby Sister asked if that scaffolding was the bunk bed I'd promised the girls!  Ha!  She's surely caught onto my vintage/industrial/salvaged decor at the shop.

Things at the shop are going well, too!  It has been a great problem to have that sales are busy enough that I've had to scurry around like a little elf ensuring that there's plenty in stock. Just this week, Baby Sister (still dressed as an angel) helped me get ready for a busy weekend of shoppers. 

Not trying to rush the season, but I confess I'm eager to get the "to dos" done and mailed so we can all relax together. Enjoy not traveling, roasting marshmallows in the fire, games and puzzles, casual dinners with friends, lazy pajama days, mulled wine, and maybe a little touring around Music City. 

We're celebrating the peace of the season. Reminiscing and looking forward. 

More soon and always, xo.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Go Spartans!

I flew to Virginia for a quick overnight last week for a tiny version of my 25th high school reunion. There were a few folks who missed getting in this shot and even more who were there in spirit.

It was a gathering of friends who've known each other since we were children. Since we were younger than many of our own kids are now. We enjoyed each other through teenage years, college and those innocent, early days of careers and families. Christmas cards, the internet, shared international postings and all too infrequent visits keep us connected. But never enough. So to spend 6 or 7 hours dedicated to reconnecting was fantastic.

I don't know when I have spent that many hours smiling so hard. If laughter is the best medicine, we are surely cured and inoculated for a very long time to come.

We always felt that ours was a special class. Diverse in interests and activities (and in my case, aptitude!) but always eager to celebrate each other's gifts. Among us were class leaders, academics, sports stars, writers and a few dramatic players. But not many wallflowers. We've pursued equally varied lives after graduation. It was fun, then to learn which of those childhood talents we've kept and sometimes passed along to our offspring. Or turned into avocations or professions. I mean it as a compliment when I say that many of us haven't changed all that much. (I can still high kick with the best of them. But that didn't come up...Maybe next time.)

I feel richly blessed that the very people I was devoted to 25, 30 or more years ago are ones I'm still proud to call my friends. This is exactly how we would have predicted it at our high school graduation. But now I know how fortunate we are to remain close. To share not just a past, but to be each other's cheerleaders across miles and years. To still be rooting for the same team.

I am incredibly proud of these people. Those in that room and those who we missed that night, too. They are all very successful. Sure, many of them preside over important and interesting ventures. But that hardly ever came up (unless we were trying to brag on each other's behalf!). What kept coming up was their pride in fulfilling personal lives. Their happily busy days, dedication to children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, creative endeavors. And a genuine interest and joy in being together.

Laughter filled that room. We glowed. With a warmth and admiration that will sustain us until our next visits.

If success is being so happy and grounded your own life that you eagerly celebrate others, I know some of the most successful people on the planet. And in exchange, the years have been very good to them.

Those 25 years have seen us study, travel, marry and take new and exciting jobs. We have endured disease and loss, rebuilt and renewed ourselves and welcomed an extraordinary number of babies into the world. There are teenagers among us now. There are also a few hard-earned grey hairs, wrinkles and reading glasses (And maybe it is because I was young for my grade, but I am still battling blemishes. It wasn't all perfect, that night!). But we wear it well. Life has happened to everyone in that room and etched character onto those faces and bodies in the most beautiful ways.

So to the Class of '89, I send my many thanks for a wonderful evening. For ongoing friendship. For laughter that still bubbles up when I think about it days later.

We always were a great team. And while it stings a bit for this Drill Teamer to say so, I am really happy to be your cheerleader.

Monday, October 20, 2014

All Shook Up

The best of our Fall Break was spent in Memphis (and Tupelo, MS too. It was a real Elvis tribute, our break.).

I still haven't told you about our travels to Chattanooga or all about the new house but meanwhile, you must get yourself to Memphis. Walk, drive, take a personalized plane. However you go, you'll love it.

If you live in Nashville (or maybe anywhere) Memphis gets a bit of a bad rap. So expectations were low but determination was high.

BBQ at Rendezvous was amazing. The boys are now fully indoctrinated in the art of ribs. They're becoming so Southern.

Let's just say Baby Sister took this snap of us with our legendary waiter.

The ducks paraded for us at The Peabody.

We toured the Lorraine Motel and the balcony at Room 306. It was like traveling back in time.

We rode a bus with Rosa Parks.

Later we drove to Oxford and toured Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's home and then onto Tupelo and a beautiful drive home along the Natchez Trace Trail.

But. Of course, in Memphis we went to Graceland.

Maybe it is our having just purchased a hip 1950s house, but we felt right at home here.

Life's funny like that. A year ago (or let's be honest, really ever) I would not have thought the Mister and I would seriously be lingering in Elvis and Pricilla's kitchen getting decorating ideas.

I fell in love with the Mister all over again when we were swooning over the TCB (Taking Care of Business - In a Flash!) room. Call our contractor stat. We want this recreated in Nashville.

I'm not a big fan of white damask, but the sheer size of his living room couch is enviable. Truly, this couch sums up Memphis. Maybe a little beyond its prime but somehow amazingly cool and very okay with itself. Wow. If that's the case, I think I aspire to personify Memphis!

As always, unsung heroes of the trip are adjoining hotel rooms, elevators, breakfast buffets and a swimming pool. To the King, and all of Memphis, for all we learned and enjoyed we say, "Thank you. Thank you vuurry much."