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


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.


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!


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.

Snow Day_16Snow Day_17

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.

Snow Day_40.JPGSnow Day_39.JPG

“And delight reigned.” 

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


Soultatos Baby Shower

Lisa, Kaytlyn (friends from church), and I threw a baby shower for a couple in our “life group” at Long Hollow Baptist. 13903221_10155156465097796_7784223863330451777_n.jpgThis couple is obviously so loved; just look at this turnout!

Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Sweet tea, lemonade, and water were all available to cool off on the hot summer day.

Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

We went with a tea party theme. I found sweet little teapots at Target and from a friend and used them as flower vases. The hydrangeas are from our yard, and the other flowers seemed just right for a baby girl. IMG_3284A generous co-worker, Nancy (or Queen Nancy as I call her), let me borrow this beautiful bunting! She actually loaned us the majority of the items for our shower. So grateful to her!

The little teacups were inherited from my grandmother. IMG_3293-1We gave sweet baby Sailor a children’s Bible called “The Jesus Storybook Bible.” It’s my very favorite children’s Bible as it is jam-packed with good theology and truth! Guests signed the book and addressed it to the already-much-loved Baby Sailor Elise.

Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Then, they wrote notes of encouragement for Mom and Dad to read on those weary nights. IMG_3295The goal was to make every inch of the space girly. IMG_3297This was snapped before I nestled the last of the flowers in place.


Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

And here they are in place!

Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

My friend Kaytlyn’s ultra-talented mother in law made us treats in the mint-and-pink theme.

Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios
Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

We served chicken salad croissants, pimento cheese, and fresh fruit.

Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Love seeing these ladies laugh and giggle. They couldn’t be kinder or sweeter!

Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios
Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Ever-gorgeous Brittney.

Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Ever-smiling Jonathan.

Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

This little lady is destined to be a happy little beauty like her folks! Soultatos family, we hope you know you are always supported as you seek to raise up this little one well. We are here for you and praying for you!

Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Our Life Group ladies with the parents-to-be in the center. Sweet Cheryl on the left has seen many of us through a lot of stages of life! From college to marriage and children of our own.


Your Sumner Magazine

Our home was featured in Your Sumner magazine this month.

It was a fun, unexpected adventure thanks to the sweet and smart Hollie Deese.

I had just about no time to prepare (clean and decorate), which I think made things more authentic for sure. 🙂

Screen-Shot-2016-08-11-at-2.52.22-PM-768x568.pngThis was the header they made. Though I grew up here in Sumner County, this was a warm welcome as new homeowners in the area.

Sources: paint color, Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray | dish pantry, Joss & Main | striped chair and foot stool, Ballard Designs | side table, World Market | tabletop, metal tray from Magnolia Market | turned-base lamp and copper lanterns, Red Tulip Gifts in Gallatin, TN | white chair and ottoman, IKEA Ektorp | Dresser, painted by me with Annie Sloan Old White | glass lamp, World Market | painting, me | mirror, Leaf & Petal | planters and lemon cypress, Long Hollow Gardens | tobacco basket, Antique Tobacco Barn | seagrass rug, Pottery Barn
Screen-Shot-2016-08-11-at-2.51.36-PM-768x509.pngOur room so far. Lots I’d love to add to soften this space someday, but I’m waiting patiently for just the right things at just the right price, not to mention waiting for our youngest pup to grow up.

Sources: paint color, Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray | thumbprint tree, Me | vintage mailbox and shutters: Southern Accents Architectural Antiques | nightstands, Target | lamps and bird pillows, Homegoods | demijohn, Hobby Lobby | bed, Restoration Hardware | buffalo check pillows, IKEA | boxwood wreath and linen duvet, Target | euro shams, Then & Again Home MarketplaceScreen-Shot-2016-08-11-at-2.51.04-PM.pngI thought it was sweet that they highlighted this quote, especially because it may have been the only time I effectively and concisely conveyed my meaning. 🙂 I’m the absolutely worst speaker, and my thoughts spoken aloud are often a jumbled mess. However, I hope and pray each person who comes into our home feels just like this,

Sources: paint, Sherwin Williams Sea Salt | tin vase, Then & Again Home Marketplace | concrete canisters, Tracery Interiors | floating shelves, Target | potted boxwood, Kirkland’s | wooden, whitewashed S, Target | twine and spool, Crate & Barrel | carved elephant, travels overseas| tissue box, Amazon | wooden bowl, Tracery Interiors

Screen-Shot-2016-08-11-at-2.52.36-PM.pngA little bit of my office (which I have since deconstructed).

Sources: wall color, Dovetail Gray by Sherwin Williams | chalkboard, World Market | lamps, painted by me, shades from Target | metal tool bin, Then & Again Home Marketplace | dresser, family piece, painted by meScreen-Shot-2016-08-11-at-2.52.49-PM-768x532.pngA view of our kitchen with the table Dad and Brother built.

Sources: coffee bags (framed), Southern Accents Architectural Antiques | lamps, Barn Trash from The Strawberry Patch Festival | side table, World Market | turned wooden flower pot, JBS Mercantile from The Country Living Fair | light fixture, Lowe’s | vase, Summer Classics Home | pedestal, Scarlett Scales Antiques | upholstered chairs, T J Maxx | end chair, Restoration Hardware

To read the article, click here!

Happy New Year: Goals and Changes for 2015

IMG_6672Happy New Year, Friends!

I want to share some changes, dreams, and goals around these parts. Forgive me as I don’t even bother to proofread and let my dreams take the reins for a few minutes.

First, Mr. S enjoyed a (well-deserved) military “leave” recently in which he was able to grow a beard. Ha! This is nearly impossible for a police officer and soldier, so he took advantage of the opportunity. The bright-red beard bit the dust in the final days of 2014. Bye, beard! See you after retirement or on a future deployment!

IMG_6684 Secondly, I’ve begun a process I am calling “The Great Un-Decorating of January 2015.” Yep! I’ve realized that, though I love home decor, I will forever be terrified of clutter and knick-knacks. Have you ever been in a decor-lover’s home that was such an unrestrained jumble, you couldn’t focus on anything, but just the magnitude of everything? Friends, I realized I have the potential to be that friend. Yikes!

I love homey, cozy, and inviting. I don’t love unedited rooms full of everything that’s ever caught my eye. I love to share and donate. I don’t love to hoard. I don’t want to love our living space, I want to love living in our space.

Does that make a lick of sense to anyone else but me? Basically, unless it’s functional or irresistibly lovely, it’s going into storage until it can be used in our first home or donated to someone else who can enjoy it now. Silly and trivial though it may seem to some, I take homemaking seriously and am praying over these decisions. I pray our home is a sanctuary for friends, family, and strangers alike. A place of peace and restoration.

OK, now I’m ready to share some scary New Year’s goals and plans. I say scary because writing them here makes them feel more concrete.

This year, I plan to read My Utmost For His Highest from cover to cover. It’s a classic, and I think it’ll be a precious starting point to my quiet time. I also want to read the One-Year Chronological Bible to improve my Bible history knowledge.

I want to commit to doing a workout three days a week, and will change my routine drastically from what it’s been in the past. Running distances truly hurts my knees, and after talking to our chiropractor and my fitness-loving husband at length, I’ve decided I will stick to 2-3 miles or running for me (it’s still my favorite) or 20-30 minutes of cycling paired with strength training. It’s a modest goal so I know I can stick it out. I will also eat fried food only one day a week. Again, not a drastic change but a realistic change, and a change worth making!

I want to intentionally pour into a girlfriend every day. I have been hugely blessed with many sweet women I just love to pieces from childhood, college, church, and work. I want to invest in other women the way older women have invested in me.

I am going to cut down on coffee. I’ve already cut back to a daily two-cup limit (another order from our chiropractor) and hope to reduce that to one. Let’s be honest, I’ll never quit completely, friends.

I want to intentionally continue my education. I am truly a lover of reading, learning, and listening, but haven’t chased after my areas of interest with purpose. I want to pursue the things that interest me with vigor. From U.S. history to Geometry to Spanish, I want to learn it all!

Last but not least… This one is scary to put into words, because I don’t know what it is… I have a vague goal and I am still praying through it. I want, and almost need, to have a creative outlet. I don’t know what that will look like! I have so many dreams, from refinishing furniture to doing wedding invitation calligraphy, to selling prints, to helping friends decorate and organize their homes, to someday owning a little shop of my own. I want to help make other people’s lives beautiful. I truly just hope the Lord will show me what to do and how to add that to full schedule and my first love (teaching). For now, I’ll cultivate these things and wait.

Thanks for letting me share with you in this little dream space! ❤

Mr. S, Daddy, and Momma on New Year’s Eve in Nashville
The final, splendid sunset of 2014. Revealing glory!

What are your dreams for 2015? Thanks for stopping by!

Christmas Preparations

Battling week 4 of a rather brutal cough/cold I simply cannot beat and almost healed from whiplash from an automobile collision.

I finally gave in and have taken two days off from work after much deliberation and have been feeling such a strong longing to be there, but know I will not get better if I do not rest. On pins and needles wondering how the day is going, but know that I have the best team teachers in the world.

Sadly, Mr. S has caught “the funk” from me, too. I suppose it’s the time of year in which that becomes an occupational hazard for all teachers. We are giving thanks for generally good health and for no serious injuries from the car accident. IMG_6300-1The day after Thanksgiving, we brought one of our nephews home for a slumber party. We watched Christmas movies, drank hot chocolate, and decorated for Christmas. We cherished the one-on-one time with him.

I sure was thankful to have two great helpers!

We got the place ready for celebration. Mr. S specifically requested plenty of classic red, and I happily obliged.

I got it in my head that we’d use a galvanized tub instead of a tree skirt for our tree, and it meant poor Mr. S was basically all on his own to find one and to situate the tree safely in the tub. Isn’t love grand?

Little ironstone pitcher full of Christmas goodness. IMG_6312

Our simple little nativity scene brings me joy and makes me feel like a little kid again. I just play with the figures, scoot them around, and imagine what those present must have thought and felt! IMG_6303

We tied pine branches to our chairs to add a little something, too.

Merry Christmas to you, wherever you may be! Letting the true reason for the season fill my heart. No need to focus on events, parties, and fancy gifts.

Enjoying time with my dear Mr. S while he is home.

Now to get well!



Fall Break Friend Time

I’m a little behind in sharing these photos, but that’s OK!

Our school’s schedule is “balanced,” meaning we’re somewhere between year round and traditional. We enjoy a short-but-long-enough summer break, then three two-week breaks throughout the school year.


I was blessed to spend Fall Break enjoying long, lazy days with girlfriends. IMG_4978These two lovely red heads have been my friends for fifteen and six years respectively. Friends for life for sure! We enjoyed grilled cheese, tomato-basil soup, and pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting for dessert.
IMG_4979Afterward, we sipped hot apple cider. I love to simmer cider with spices and orange zest. It makes the whole house smell like a dream. IMG_5054We celebrated the birthday of the beauty in black.IMG_5053Love these smart, sweet girls.  
IMG_5058IMG_5105This bride-to-be came for the day. We caught up on her new job as a counselor in a school, and talked wedding plans. She picked out some pretty cute bridesmaids’ dresses for her upcoming nuptials in May! IMG_5015And of course I crammed in lots of time with my travelling best friend–here she was fresh off the plane from NYC and then heading to Florida.

I love that the Lord has woven the lives of this women with mine. Praying special blessings over each of them as I type away.


I’ve been keeping busy by sewing cushions for momma’s blue guest room, writing escort cards on silk leaves, arranging flowers, teaching an early-morning Bible study, attending a wedding, chatting with girlfriends, doodling chalkboard signs for my Bible teacher’s parents’ 80th birthday celebration, organizing/hosting a bridal shower, visiting with life-long friends, sewing a desk skirt (small space storage for free from a drop cloth), nestling found ginkgo branches in a demijohn, and serving up so much hot chocolate.
So thankful for every bit of busy blessing. Feeling the close and comforting hand of The Lord through it all. IMG_5609-0.JPG