La Vie en Rose

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Every time my better half goes exploring the world, I pretty much hunker down with the beagles at home and just watch the world go by.

So I was excited as could be when, Rick decided to plan a trip for us. The plan changed quite a bit. At one point, it was going to include scaling mountains to see ancient ruins. I was ready to just be thankful for the trip, but he read between the lines and finally said, “I think France is probably somewhere you’d really like to go,” and, with tears in my eyes, I heartily agreed. So France it was!

We heard a lot of things when we prepared for our trip. One was that Parisians were unfriendly and wouldn’t help us. I’m happy to report that with only hopeful, pleading eyes and the words, “Bonjour. Parlez vous anglais?” we got around everywhere just fine, and found Parisians to be more than helpful when we were in any sort of need. We also found the word “Pardon” to be more than enough for subway bumps or when we were getting in the way with our touristy distraction.

On the way to the airport, bags packed, pups kissed, passport in hand, I became suddenly nervous. We had to pause the pop and sing some worship music for me to even be able to slow my racing heart. Once we boarded the flight, I was totally fine.

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After leaving on Saturday morning, we arrived on what was Sunday morning the following day local time. We were red-eyed and disheveled, but ventured from our hotel to the heart of Paris to pick up our Museum Passes anyway. The excitement of being somewhere new carried us through the day.

After a bit of confusion and a lot of trial an error with public transport, we managed to make it to our destination (were I to give any piece of advice to a first-time traveler to Paris, it would be to take FULL advantage of the underground Metro. It was the best, most affordable, and often fastest way to get around town).

Everywhere I turned, I was dazzled by the architecture. Styles from many centuries mingled harmoniously. There wasn’t a detail that didn’t enchant me. I found everything from louvered shutters to lampposts to be exceptionally beautiful.

We had so many experiences that first day that remain undocumented by this jet-lagged pair, but the blur of wandering through Paris, seeing the Jardin des Tuileries for the first time (it brought tears to my eyes), getting caught on the wrong side of the street thanks to mobs of marathoners (we loved it), eating at a sidewalk cafe for the first time (and frustrating our waiter by not understanding how to order a breakfast), and deliriously checking into our hotel for a nap were things I’ll never forget.

Paris_1ParisWe concluded the first night with a dinner cruise on the Seine River and grabbed these quick snapshots despite our weariness.

The next morning, we awoke refreshed, ready to tackle the subway system, and were greeted by a cool, hazy morning.

Paris_2Our first stop was the Louvre. Forgive the photo quality; visibility was pretty low that morning (it was the perfect, chilly morning to spend in a museum). Paris_3Paris_4Paris_6Paris_5Paris_7Paris_9DSC02224DSC03082Paris_17Paris_13Paris_14Paris_15Paris_17Paris_18As incredible as the works of Art were, much of the building itself was just as impressive.

Paris_10Paris_19I can’t quite put into words the enormity of this museum. Had we been determined to explore it entirely, I imagine we’d have to dedicate many full days. We later explored Musée d’Orsay and found it to be much more manageable (and a treat for this impressionism-lover).

Paris_20The Jardin des Tuileries was by far where I felt the most ecstatic in Paris. It just felt like the sort of restful, friendly environment where you’d want to spend the day. From the many fountains to children’s playgrounds, it was a delight to spend a couple of mornings in these gardens.

Paris_21Paris_26Paris_25We spent the next few days exploring the city and its sites.

DSC02122DSC02133Paris_28We trotted to Notre Dame in the pouring rain, and it only got heavier as we walked.Paris_29Just as we sought shelter in a quiet cafe, this procession of men mounted on horseback rode by. It was an impressive display.

Paris_30We eventually reached Notre Dame. Paris_32DSC02334DSC02338DSC02350Another afternoon of walking around followed our visit to Notre Dame, and we were rewarded with the sun peaking out from behind the clouds.

Paris_36Paris_37Rick journeyed out that evening and captured so many gorgeous shots of Paris at night.DSC03152DSC03147DSC03130DSC03139DSC03144DSC03148DSC03118This photo is a favorite of mine.DSC03121DSC03116DSC03169DSC03159I hate to admit that I twisted my ankle many times on streets just like this one.

DSC03171DSC03156The next day, we traveled to Versailles and were greeted by huge crowds and long lines.Paris_3Paris_2Paris_4The hallways and servants’ quarters were my favorite parts of Versailles.Paris_38Paris_37Paris_36Paris_35Paris_6.jpgParis_33While other tourists clearly preferred the more-is-more interiors full of gilded moldings, marble, and dripping with crystal.

Paris_12DSC02418Paris_5More is more was certainly the philosophy for construction.

While we both found Versailles in June to be quite crowded and uncomfortable, we found the gardens to be delightful. In fact, we consider it one of our top five moments of our trip.

Paris_59Paris_58Paris_57I preferred these organic paths to the perfectly-manicured grounds closer to the palace.Paris_56Paris_55This goofy many posed like Hercules. He wanted me to know that Hercules copied him, not the other way around.

But I let it slide because he rowed me around in a boat that day.Paris_52And it was as magical as it sounded. I was sure to capture these hard-working hands that were so happy to treat me to a ride. Paris_53Paris_54DSC02537Paris_51Paris_49Paris_46Paris_45Paris_44Paris_43Paris_42Paris_41Paris_39Paris_31DSC02480DSC02468Paris_32Paris_30Paris_26DSC02454Paris_66Paris_65Again, one of the sculptures. This man never stops. Paris_64Paris_63Paris_62Paris_61

That evening, we traveled back to our first hotel and then walked to a cafe for dinner.

We set off for Nice on our fourth day. There was a great deal of uncertainty because, though we had planned to ride the TGV, we had to wait until the day before to book tickets thanks to an ongoing strike. Thankfully, we were able to book tickets and to travel on time (however, we were later unable to go to Giverny as planned thanks to the strikes).

We were glad to arrive in Nice. What a charming, vibrant city! After checking into our hotel, which was thankfully ready early, we hit the pavement and walked to an early dinner and then out for some preliminary exploration.

Paris_117Paris_114Paris_69Paris_70Paris_71Paris_72Paris_73Paris_74Paris_75We found a path and spontaneously began quite a memorable hike. Can you spot the pigeons taking flight?

Paris_76Paris_77This guy is definitely our gas pedal.

DSC02699And I am the brakes! I think I felt ready to read a book by the ocean rather than continuing to climb.DSC02708But our efforts were rewarded!

DSC02722The stunning view of Nice and the coast of the French Riviera was a refreshment.

Paris_79It revitalized us and carried us right back down.

Paris_81Paris_82DSC02764The next day, I was determined to visit the open-air market and Rick faithfully navigated us there.Paris_102Paris_101Paris_99Paris_96Paris_100Paris_98Paris_97Paris_95Paris_94Paris_93Paris_92Paris_91Paris_90Paris_89Paris_88Paris_87Paris_86Paris_83Paris_80Paris_84It did not disappoint! The charm peonies, lavender, and olive trees was all I could have hoped for after traveling through Provence. I would have loved to have spent more time in the region, particularly Aix-en-Provence.

After our morning at the flower market, we headed to the beaches soak up a rare glimpse of the sun.

Rick helped a couple of ladies out of the water; the rocky beach made it easy to slide back into the water.

We traveled into town and loved the fountain splash pad at the Promenade de Paillon.Paris_122DSC02785DSC02793Paris_115Next, we ventured into Old Town, or Vieux Nice, and were absolutely enchanted by what we saw and explored. This was also a “Top 5” moment for me on our trip. The locally-owned shops, winding streets, clothes out to dry, and wonderful bakeries made the day one of my favorite afternoons.

Paris_119Paris_120Paris_116Paris_113Beautiful moments were at every turn (like these gorgeous public fountains). Paris_110One of these baskets (along with a table throw and a pillow cover) came home with us. Paris_109Paris_112After some exploration, we headed to dinner and opted for the beach front.

Paris_123Paris_124Paris_129Paris_131Paris_127Paris_130Paris_125Paris_132Paris_133We were surprised to eat one of our favorite burgers of all time in France! The waiter made us laugh by apologizing for it not being a big, American burger. But we assured him this was actually much better. Paris_134We were so sad to bid Nice goodbye, but we’re happy to return to Paris.

Visiting the Eiffel Tower was a bit of a surprise to us; the park felt like a giant, relatively-tame, college frat party with a few families mixed in. There were people selling wine, beer and cigarettes all over the park, and we stepped on plenty of bottle caps and corks.

Everyone was festive and friendly to say the least.

We walked from the buildings you can see at the far side of the green lawn up a long ways for this photo.  We climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe after a rather eventful trip down Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

The spiral staircase climb upward was a bit taxing, and even dizzying, but we were again rewarded for our efforts with stunning views. DSC03066DSC03065DSC03069DSC03073We lingered for quite some time and enjoyed a sunset before a night stroll back to our hotel. DSC03071The next day, we set out to visit Montemarte: the hilly, Parisian neighborhood of my dreams. First, though, we dedicated the morning to my favorite spots. I insisted we have a leisurely morning without cameras (well at least after grabbing the fountain photo below).

We stopped in a natural bath shop, and I was pleased to come home with a hand soap, bath wash, and perfume without artificial fragrances.

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After a leisurely rest in the Louvre Gardens (duck watching was a must-do on my morning itinerary), we stopped by Musée d’Orsay and I soaked up all the impressionism my heart could drink in. While we didn’t get to visit his home and gardens in Giverny, I was still able to see many Monet paintings in person.

On the way to Montemarte, we encountered a fabled bridge. It’s said that if two people leave a lock on the bridge, their love will last forever. We embraced the whimsy. DSC03199Paris_4Paris_3We symbolically threw away the keys. 🙂 Paris_2DSC03198

After completing our last detour, we hopped on the Metro and walked/climbed the rest of the way to Montemarte.

By this time, I was no longer surprised to see throngs of people concentrated in a touristy area like this, so we did our best to push our way to quiet alleys and the outskirts of the area as quickly as we could. Paris_7The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was the most notable landmark on the hilltop overlooking the city below and the area immediately surrounding it to the South and West were especially crowded. Paris_8Street art was a theme all over Paris. Paris_9I loved the view behind the restaurants, though just around the corner was a flood of fellow tourists. Paris_10DSC03242Paris_12Cobble stones; multi-story, narrow homes; operable shutters and lush window boxes made this area feel extra French. Paris_13Paris_14Paris_15Unbelievably, there was a vineyard called Vignes du Clos Montmartre tucked away in this hilly, urban environment. I snapped a photo through the chain link fence. Paris_16Another aspect that delight me throughout our time in France was the plant life the pushed through every manmade crevice. Paris_18Paris_17Well-tended gardens and climbing vines galore added so much charm to this area. Paris_19I loved this little pocket park, Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet,which was full of locals enjoying the park with friends and children. It is just North East of the Basilica, and was so quaint and restful.  Paris_20Paris_22This guy does the best glare every time he reads. Here, we were navigating our way back to the hotel. Paris_21After a day of zipping all over (from our hotel near the Eiffel, to the Louvre Gardens, through a museum, and Montemarte), we took a short rest in our room. Then, we grabbed dinner (more like sat down and enjoyed a meal; I’m not sure the American idea of quickly grabbing a bite to eat was something we experienced once) and Rick took us on one last adventure.

We bought tickets for the Montparnasse Tower to get a panoramic view of Paris at night. Rick was able to take the most incredible photos from this vantage point.

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ParisI don’t have the words to summarize our trip and what it meant to me.

I do know the world sure feels a lot smaller. I do know I love the idea of allowing travel to touch your heart, change you, and become a part of you. I learned how much I adore observing cultural difference, and I realized just how little World History I know.

I know I will treasure this experience forever. It was bittersweet knowing we may never come back, but that only grew my adoration for the trip. Not only was this, perhaps, once in a lifetime, I realize that some folks never even dream of a trip like this. I am forever thankful.

I also know I love this man, that I cherish alone time with him, and that every bit of our life together has been, and will continue to be, a grand adventure.

Surprise!

When my folks moved to their last home years ago, my brother immediately fell head over heels for Jenna, the girl next door.

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Jenna’s friend, Casey, joined us Sunday morning to prep Mom and Dad’s place for a surprise birthday party. Only a few of us knew  that a bigger surprise was on the agenda.

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6.3.18_62.JPG6.3.18_1.JPG6.3.18_7.JPG6.3.18_8.JPG6.3.18_4.JPG6.3.18_54.JPG6.3.18_56.JPG6.3.18_60.JPG6.3.18.jpg PRESET.jpgWe filled the house with pretty details to mark the special occasion.

6.3.18_106.3.18_116.3.18_12We knew Jenna suspected SOMETHING was going on for her 25th Birthday, but we hoped that seeing her friends as a surprise was enough to put her off the trail.

6.3.18_706.3.18_716.3.18_66.JPG6.3.18_9.JPG6.3.18_16.JPGDoesn’t he look like a guy with a big secret?6.3.18_13.JPG6.3.18_14.jpg PRESET.jpg6.3.18_64.JPG6.3.18_19.JPGWe sang to the birthday girl, then we forced her to open presents in front of the guests so everyone could be gathered together in one place.

6.3.18_20.JPG6.3.18_22He declared his love, the joy Jenna brought him, and asked her to marry him.6.3.18_236.3.18_246.3.18_256.3.18_266.3.18_276.3.18_286.3.18_296.3.18_90Then it was time to take a LOT of fun pictures and celebrate!6.3.18_926.3.18_88.png6.3.18_94The precious Galvins gathered with the happy couple for a photo op!6.3.18_95Jamie did a WONDERFUL job keeping the big secret. She was proud to remind us that she called their future marriage years before the rest of us. 6.3.18_966.3.18_1046.3.18_1056.3.18_117.JPG6.3.18_118.JPGThen it was our turn to gather around!6.3.18_102.JPGThe mommas. 6.3.18_99.JPGThen the friends! These two are certainly blessed with some good ones!6.3.18_100.JPG6.3.18_896.3.18_1066.3.18_1076.3.18_1086.3.18_1116.3.18_1126.3.18_1136.3.18_115

6.3.18_31The ring is just STUNNING and I didn’t get to see it until after he proposed and she accepted. It so added to the surprise! 6.3.18_326.3.18_346.3.18_396.3.18_406.3.18_416.3.18_426.3.18_436.3.18_446.3.18_456.3.18_466.3.18_476.3.18_486.3.18_1196.3.18_1206.3.18_1216.3.18_1226.3.18_1236.3.18_1246.3.18_1256.3.18_1266.3.18_1276.3.18_130.jpg PRESETI’m so thankful my brother is so happy and that this sweet one is joining our family!

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Easter 2018

Easter 2018 was lovely.

It began with the early service at Long Hollow Baptist Church followed by Easter lunch with a dear friend’s beautiful family, and ended with my own family.

Only my best guy was missing. Easter 2018 Mom and Dad.jpgEven though everyone had changed back into comfy clothes, everyone cooperated when I showed up (late) and asked them to halt dinner production so we could snap a few photos. Easter 2018_1.JPGEaster at Momma and Daddy’s house was wonderful. Jenna joined us after she and Brother brunched with her family. Easter 2018_5.JPGJenna graciously swapped places with me so I could be in a photo, too. I still introduce this guy as my “little” brother. Easter 2018_12.JPGMomma set a simple, pretty table (like she always does). Magnolia at Target to the rescue.Easter 2018_18.JPGThese bunnies have been with us since the house on Branham Mill.Easter 2018_20.JPGA neighbor brought my parents these cheery tulips. Easter 2018_22.JPGI laughed to see this little mouse keeping guard on the edge of the table. Easter 2018_24.JPGHappy Easter from us to you. Maybe next year, that man of mine will be with us.

Taking a lot of pictures is well worth it when you cram months of living into weeks. Lots of togetherness gets packed into a tight space of time. And the precious moments of knowing he’s home, even if asleep in the next room, are worth documenting.

I treasure each hour of togetherness, and I have learned a sweet letting-go love that involves loving with your whole heart even when you know someone’s slipping through your fingers.

It’s knowing that love still counts, even miles and time and oceans apart.

Beagles January 2018_2.JPGLimelights.JPGIt’s the limelights he helped you plant in the hard, unyielding soil, that you’ve carefully dried and set proudly on display.

Master.JPGLove is that room painted a little darker than I’d like and a lot more feminine than he’d choose because it’s ours.

Beagles January 2018_8.JPGBeagles January 2018_7.JPGBeagles January 2018_4.JPGBeagles January 2018_1.JPGIt’s that pup drifting off on a chilly day on a bright, sun-warmed bed, abiding securely after being surrendered by the last family.

Feb 2018-2.jpgFeb 2018_1.JPGIt’s the safest, most restful place to be.

Beagles January 2018_3.JPGIt’s persevering and choosing to bless when it doesn’t seem to be deserved…

Beagles January 2018_5.JPG… But forgetting all about those faults and loving that bad dog anyway. Beagles January 2018_6.JPGIt makes the domestic and mundane extraordinary. It’s the very best of all.

Snow Day

Mr. S came home for a few weeks before traveling overseas for work. The days were full of sweetness, family, the beagles, visits, and much hustle and bustle.

One of our FAVORITE days was with family in the snow.

Snow Day_3.JPGThis handsome man made the day a lot more fun for our niece and nephews who came to play in the snow.

Snow Day_4.JPGBelieve it or not, this was his FIRST snow angel. Snow Day_5.JPGHe laughed. Snow Day_6.JPGAnd got some unexpected help.
Snow Day_9.JPGWe declared it a success.

Snow Day_14.JPGThis guy had three desires: hit his uncle as much as possible with snowballs, tackle everyone, and go FAST on the sled.

Snow Day_15.JPGWell, I’d be intimidated. How about you?

Snow Day_19.JPGSnow Day_20.JPGThis guy got pegged once or twice… Snow Day_31Snow Day_32Or maybe more than once!

Snow Day_33.JPGSnow Day_35.JPGSnow Day_34.JPGBut I have a funny feeling he didn’t mind.

Snow Day_43.JPGNow, I don’t want to leave you thinking there was only one victim. Snow Day_28.JPGSnow Day_26.JPGSnow Day_22.JPGSnow Day_21.JPGIn fact, everyone got hit (besides me, that is; it pays to stand behind the camera)!

Snow Day_23.JPGSnow Day_2.JPGEven Harley Girl and Lucy Pup got in on the action. Snow Day_37.JPGSometimes, things got a little TOO rough.

Snow Day_38.JPGBut Uncle changed his mind.

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Snow Day_27.JPGSpending time with family we love (three of whom are growing up MUCH too quickly) was the best part of the day. Snow Day_36.JPGSo proud of this beauty.

Snow Day_42.JPGSo thankful for this sister.

Snow Day_41.JPGSo much love for this incredible man.

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“And delight reigned.” 

Christmas 2017: Living Room and Kitchen

The dark and gloomy weather outside has been made infinitely better by Christmas lights, flickering candles, layers of cozy fabric, and pops of cheery red. But it’s also proved a challenge for snapping quality photos, so my iPhone captures will have to do.

I snuck in a bit more red to welcome my husband Home. He’s spent several months doing some contract work away from home in the UAE and has been dearly missed.

That candle is from Rosy Rings, and I believe it’s in its second Christmas with us. It smells like cranberry and is looking like we’ll get to enjoy it for a third. After the addition of a couple more chairs, the gifts needed to find a new home. We give gifts to our niece, nephews, a couple of other young relatives, parents, and siblings, so there is always plenty under the tree.

A little snow village and some paper whites add a bit more cheer.

This year, Momma and Daddy sold our childhood home on Branham Mill Road, so several treasures came home with me, including this wagon from our childhood. I have fond memories of packing up to head to the pool, park, or garden in this trusty radio flyer. For now, it’s the perfect way to keep packages away from a certain misbehaved beagle (I’m looking at you, Harley).I dug out the tartan pillow cases for another year of use. Fair lights were the secret to this year’s mantle. With the addition of our built-in bookshelf, last year’s outlet was hiding. 🙂 I have slowly become a more-is-more girl when it comes to garland. I layered my faux eucalyptus with fresh cedar, juniper sprigs, the fairy lights, a string of galvanized bells, and finally, our simple little nativity. This year, I flocked our tree, painted some ornaments with a bit of french blue, and used these little platforms to house a precious church and a couple of Christmas houses. The theme for the tree this year was definitely “more is more” with gold, silver, mercury glass, sparkling snowflakes, and little bits of champagne- and blush-colored ornaments.  Fresh cedar on the chandelier, wreaths in the window, little candy-can-striped bows around the rosemary and lights made it feel like Christmas in the kitchen. We may not be due for a white Christmas as this is typed on Christmas Eve, but I can at least imagine it trough a snowy canister and cloche.

Can’t you hear it?

“Where the love circles around us,
Like the gifts beneath our tree.
Well I know there’s more snow
Up in Colorado
Than my roof will ever see,
But a tender Tennessee Christmas
Is the only Christmas for me.”

That little dough bowl is now filled to the brim with Christmas cards. I’ve enjoyed looking through them with my morning coffee.  Speaking of beagles who eat gifts, how appropriate is this pillow for our guest room?

Merry Christmas!

Long Hollow Baptist Life Group Christmas

We are blessed beyond measure with a kind-hearted, Jesus-loving group of friends in our Life Group at Long Hollow. We’ve been friends with some of them for nearly a decade, and they’ve walked with us through college, engagement, marriage, deployments, illness, highs, and lows. They always point us to The Lord through sound doctrine and loving kindness. 24991174_10214709606359651_4752229180655399114_nBut, in addition to all of those things, none of us take ourselves too seriously.

These friends know how to laugh, and that adds joy to our days and refreshment to our bones. 24993649_10214709606959666_9030649206177871034_nI think this “Speak Out” picture may be a better representation of us than our normal grins.

A friend for seasons of hardship, of joy, of love, and of laughter is a gift.

Christmas in the Bedrooms 2017

I’ve been having such fun this season investing in some Christmas decor for the bedrooms, hopefully to be enjoyed year after year.

I’ve been on a mission to find timeless elements I’ll still like in 10 years (with a trend or two for fun). It makes me smile to think of future guests or future children enjoying the Christmas cheer all over.

Guest room 1Our larger guest room, which faces the front of the house, has been CRAMMED full with the addition of our oversized arm chair and ottoman. They had to be removed from the living room to make way for the Christmas tree. Guest room 1_2Pops of red (and a sweet little skiing mouse snow globe ornament) add some vibrant color. Guest room 1_3I grabbed these velvety shams at the Pottery Barn Outlet in Georgia. The duvet was from French Laundry Home and is good and HEAVY. It’s filled with cozy comforter, too. These things are musts for our guests because we keep our home nice and cool during the winter. The standard striped shams were also from PB a few years ago, and the quilted accent pillow was handmade and purchased at the Country Living Fair. Guest room 1_1This World Market basket is the perfect place to house a tiny flocked Christmas tree. The little frame is a welcome with our WiFi log in. Guest room 1_4Guest room 2_5Having a neutral backdrop has made it easy to incorporate vibrant Christmas reds in the tiny guest room. I even like the pale-blue Magnolia against the reds.Guest room 2_6This red quilt is from target, but it’s just folded over a fluffy comforter. I added a little extra mattress pad over each bed, and I can now say these beds are truly comfy. Maybe next year I’ll add some flannel sheets to our winter bedding rotation. Guest room 2_7Wreaths from Magnolia add a little more festivity. Guest room 2_8And yet another felt mouse snow globe. He makes me grin when I pass by the rom. Guest room 2_9The Santa signs were handed down by my Mom and Dad. 

And last but not least, our room got some holiday bedding. This quilt was a find on Joss & Main. The extra-wide pillow cover was purchased from the Hoosier Sisters booth at the City Farmhouse Pop Up Christmas Sale last year in The Factory at Franklin, TN.  master_1The other two fern prints that wouldn’t fit in the tiny guest room have found a home in our room. masterI sure hope Mr. S feels happy to be home when he walks in the door.

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving is always such a beautiful occasion around here.

Before the hustle and bustle of the day, it was just the pups and I as I sipped coffee, tidied up, and baked a couple of pies. Husband still isn’t home, but I have high hopes he’ll make it JUST in time for Christmas (barely, but Lord willing, we’ll have that man home soon). Thanksgiving 2017Thanksgiving 2017_1Harley has mastered the beagle sorrowful side-eye, a topic of conversation at dinner tonight. Thanksgiving 2017_2Thanksgiving 2017_3Sweet Shari on the right the oldest child in our “chosen family” with whom we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Both of our families moved to Tennessee and don’t have family in the area, so we’ve enjoyed a long-standing tradition of celebrating together. She and her husband have two beautiful girls. Thanksgiving 2017_6Momma and I stayed up WAY too late setting the table, but this is one of my favorite traditions that I cherish every year! We have such fun making a mess and being creative with the resources at hand. I’ve been hoarding Park Hill candles since before my time at Then & Again, so 4 of the 6 florals were plunked into former candle jars.Thanksgiving 2017_22My sweet momma, Robb’s Mom, and Cindy. Two of Cindy’s girls’ and their spouses/kids are out of state this Thanksgiving. We’re so thankful to have some of the family here. Thanksgiving 2017_21Beautiful Rebekah just married Brad, and we’re so thankful she’s part of the Sample family now (and therefore, ours, by extension). Thanksgiving 2017_4Candles glowing, lake views, and fresh greens from the yard mingling with store-boought flowers brings me joy. Thanksgiving 2017_15The little girls could not wait to use the binoculars to search for critters hanging around the lake. I’m not sure if they spotted the deer, geese, or turtles which frequent Momma and Daddy’s backyard, but I do know this smart girl found a nest. Thanksgiving 2017_14Thanksgiving 2017_25Cindy and Dad, who I’ve just realized have been friends for around 18 years as we met them soon after making Tennessee our home through mutual friends. Thanksgiving 2017_18Momma made Special K, an essential treat in the Nelson household every Thanksgiving and Christmas (think chocolate+Special K cereal+peanut butter). Thanksgiving 2017_5Thanksgiving 2017_19Thanksgiving 2017_12Thanksgiving 2017_24This child never stopped posing and giggling and it delighted me.  Thanksgiving 2017_23Thanksgiving 2017_10I tried to force a smile and photos out of Big Sister, but let’s face it, sometimes a girl really needs to go play and really doesn’t want to smile for photos. Thanksgiving 2017_9Adorably over it, but trying to comply. Thanksgiving 2017_17Thanksgiving 2017_13DELIGHTED with the special kids’ table. She kept exclaiming, “Is this for me? It’s so beautiful!” Thanksgiving 2017_20Thanksgiving 2017_7IMG_5302.JPGRebekah kindly agreed to help me with making place cards and more than one laugh was shared. Not the least of which was over the world’s longest, most ridiculous pair of scissors of all time (there is a fabulous story about these, which I hope to record here one day). Thanksgiving 2017_26The little girls’ table. My sweet friend Wendy (whose blog you can find here) found this precious vintage tablecloth and passed on it while we were shopping at the Country Living Fair in Georgia recently. She didn’t mind that I picked it up after she passed, and boy did it delight those girls. The tablecloth was found after my precious friend Patsy (blog here) exposed me to the online shop Everyday Occassions. Thanksgiving 2017_27IMG_5313.JPGIMG_5324“Ooh! Make us RAINBOW!”Thanksgiving 2017_34Thanksgiving 2017_33Overheard tonight:
“Did you know I am married to Daddy?” Pure sweetness! Thanksgiving 2017_8Thanksgiving 2017_11Thanksgiving 2017_31We may be into silliness. Thanksgiving 2017_32Like, really. Thanksgiving 2017_28OK, extremely into silliness. It’s our love language in the Nelson-Sample Conglomerate. IMG_5320.JPGThe only picture I have of Eric. Oops! He and Dad visiting like they do. This man is the gravy master every year! A big responsibility to be sure, but he always knocks it out of the park. Thanksgiving 2017_29Fun fact: Mom is almost always the chef, but on Thanksgiving, Dad is King of the Kitchen. He makes the same recipes year after year. Here, Brother and Dad carefully carve the bird. Thanksgiving 2017_30These girls and their dresses. Love. Thanksgiving 2017_35My beautiful Momma and I. She makes every occasion a celebration. Thanksgiving 2017_16

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