I’ll Drink to That!

Better health, that is!

This fall marks the beginning of something I’ve neglected for years; self care.

I am sometimes consumed with the idols of work, busyness, and people pleasing. I need to begin with that confession. 

I have neglected caring for my body and my mind these last few years. As I inch (more like race) toward thirty, I am beginning to feel that lack of care. A less trim waist is one thing, but tired eyes, an achey body, a weak immune system, and a scattered mind are not acceptable. I have too much good work to do to let my body become a hindrance.

I realize that these years before children will set a precedent for the rest of my days and the way I care for the well being of my whole future family. 

So, I have a few specific goals:

  1. Exercise moderately. 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of strengthening just three little times a week. This may seem like a small goal, but for me, it’s a far cry from where I have been
  2. Make meals at home, eating out only twice a week for any given meal. I always choose health groceries, but I always choose unhealthy options away from home. I may also have to skip eating with those who will make unhealthy choices until I have practiced self discipline, since I always fall off the wagon when others do. I will instead recommend little coffee dates, walks, and hikes. There are many reasons to get together besides food. 
  3. Sleep. 8 full hours a day. I want to go to bed in time to do that. I think a big part of this can be accomplished by simply leaving my phone on my dresser instead of scrolling through it before bed time.

So, onto the eating front for now:

I know how good fruits and veggies are so good for us, but I could always incorporate more. Especially vegetables!

Their nutritional value and lower sugar make them so healing for our bodies, but if I reach for any healthy snack on the go, it’s much more likely to be a piece of fruit than a veggie.

But you can fit the nutrients of so many veggies into a single glass by simply juicing them. 

My favorite juices  are veggie heavy with just a little fruit, but there’s no harm in easing your way in with extra fruit until your palate adjusts.Now, this is no substitute for the fiber found in whole foods, but it sure makes a nice supplement.

Look at all the gorgeous, fresh-washed produced that fit into my glass.

I can hardly wait til Mr. S is home and I can surprise him with a glass of veggie juice. He would love it!


I had a quiet day of solitude, bluegrass music, hymns, hot coffee, and laundry. Between loads, here’s what I did: Reworked these shelves to include just a few decorative touches.Did some serious online shopping to prep for future guests (and switching slowly to more faux flowers for a little less maintenance in this life)Took in Brother’s girl, Remmington, for the week. Played with things that have been in storage since we moved.The rug is only gone because of the extra pet around here and my desire for easy clean up.Washed the soap dishes I hoard (I’m too ashamed to show you how much hand and bar soap I have).This.
Thanking the Lord for the blessing of peaceful days. For bills to pay and work to be done. And for the beauty to be found right here without ever leaving the comforts of home. 

The Start of Something Beautiful: Women’s D Group Binder

Our church is focusing heavily on discipleship, and I couldn’t be more thankful for this!

I wanted to share a few materials I created to keep my little group (and my silly self) organized. I first want to tell you that, though I love my church, I am not an official representative of it, and don’t feel I have any authority to represent it publicly, so I’ve included a million links in this post to more “official” sources.

Second, I want to share the D Group materials I created tonight based on materials from our church. What’s a D group, you ask? Well, I’m so glad you did.

The process goes something like this:

We individually read the F260 reading plan. Our pastor and his wife designed is as a Biblical overview that can be completed in 260 days. You can read right along with us here.

Then, each week, Pastor Robby chooses one scripture reading from the week and preaches an expository sermon based on that passage. If you want to know what that fancy-pants word means, you can click here. To watch one of our messages, you can click here.

We have Life Groups that meet each week. These are sort of like Sunday school classes, and we keep rebranding¬†them. I am giggling as I type (for the record, I like all of these names).¬†Through the years I’ve been at LHBC, they’ve been “connect” groups, “small” groups, and “life” groups. We’re flexible people, y’all. But, just because the name changes,¬†it doesn’t change the heart of Life Group! You can read about life groups here.

We’ve gotten to enjoy being in the same Life Group¬†with a few of the same people for about 8 years now. This means that, when I show up, I am known and loved! When I’m away, people check in on me. When I’m having a hard time, these are the friends I can text or call any time. And we actually like each other enough that we hang out, call, text, Facebook stalk, and pray for each other (even on days besides Sunday, hence the name Life Group).

Fair warning. This was not automatic. It took time, trust, patience, and many years of loving each other well to build our little community. I hope it continues to grow! Also, only kindness¬†intended, but if you hate absolutely every life group you’ve walked into, it’s time to take a good, hard¬†look in the mirror (Are you giving as much grace as you’d like to receive? Or are you just judging everyone harshly, sensitively being “offended” about every little thing, and generally being a bit egocentric? If so, I guarantee you won’t find the right group for you… I know this because I have foolishly done all of these things).¬†

Life Groups are mixed gender and up to about 30 people. If they grow too much bigger than that, you start to walk in and feel anonymous again, defeating the purpose. So, at that point, our church encourages groups to multiply (not divide) into two different groups.

Life Groups engage in open-ended discussion based on the sermon. Everyone is encouraged to contribute, and we always end the discussion with applications and real-life takeaways.

From those Life Groups form real, authentic relationships. After praying (for months) and talking with our college pastor, a group of girls were highlighted to me who were growing already in their relationship with the Lord, who consistently attended and served in our church, and who were eager to learn more. I approached them and invited them to be a part of a Discipleship Group (D-Group)

D Groups are much different than Life Groups. D Groups are intentionally closed, small, single-gender groups. This means I get to walk closely alongside those few, precious girls. We get to go through The Word together, pray together, enjoy accountability, pray together, share insights, memorize scripture together, and so much more! You can read about D Groups here. Then you can get information about the books we chose here.

So, in summary, we have a large-group sermon/message¬†with teaching and worship on Sundays where everyone is welcome, small classes called¬†Life Groups where we talk about that week’s message and where everyone is welcome, D Groups with single genders that are itty bitty and exclusive so people can be totally transparent and grow deeply, and one-on-one time with the Lord (which I¬†call “quiet time” but which you may have heard called “devotionial”) which consists of daily praying and reading ¬†His word (and, for me, includes worship).

Poor girls.

The girls in our¬†group have totally different schedules, from full-time students with part-time jobs to a recently-graduated night shift nurse! We are using an app called “Group Me” to keep in touch during the week. With it, I can send the girls videos (like one today of me fumbling through my scripture recitation), reminders to keep up with their reading, encouragement, and even photos of daily journal entries. So cool! Best of all, they can mute me (Haaaaaaa! Sorry, Ladies.)!

But, as much as they probably will want to throw their phones across the room and kill me after I bombard them with messages (on the daily), how cool is it that we can touch base all week (without everyone’s¬†phone going off all the time)?

I was blessed to be mentored by a couple of incredible women during college and my first year of teaching. My walk with the Lord, my marriage, my professional life, my home, and my heart itself all grew so much from those times (more than I can say in a tiny little blog post). So¬†I’m so grateful to be able to do the same! However imperfect I may be (which is VERY, in case you were wondering) and however much I don’t know (which is a LOT), I get to rely on The One who IS perfect and all-knowing!

I wanted to help the girls, who are living VERY busy lives, stay on track and organized. So, like any (former) teacher, I created a binder with a little too much glee.

The content of each¬†item is straight from our church publications, but I made things a little… Girly. Because, to me, that is worthy. That’s right. Fancy-shmancy notetakers, pretty fonts, and doodled embellishments excite me, and I can’t lie about that.

I’m giving each girl a binder with a pretty cover, a copy of the covenant they’ll sign, a copy of the scripture we are memorizing (the girls voted to learn the ENTIRE book of Philippians; go big or go home, amiright?) a reminder about the daily disciplines, and a weekly notetaker to help them remember how to pray for our group after all the inevitable gab is done.

These are not meant to form a legalistic checklist for the girls. However, they are meant to help wandering minds (like mine) stay focused and encouraged.

Click on each item to download it yourself. Feel free to print and reproduce the items for your own D group.

D Group Binder Cover.png

Click on the above image to save the Binder Cover

D Group Covenant.pngClick here for a PDF version of the D Group Covenant: d-group-covenant. I took this right from our church, but modified it a little just because of the scriptures I personally wanted to read with my ladies as we read each item.
D Group Weekly Note Taker.pngClick here for the Weekly Note taker: d-group-weekly-note-taker

The above resource is only expected to be used as it is useful. Not every area has to be filled in each week.

HEAR Journal.pngClick here for a daily H.E.A.R. journal: hear-journal


Daily Disciplines of a Disciple.pngClick the above image to save a copy of the Daily Discplines of a Disciple IMG_4331.JPG

I hope this is useful to someone. If this blesses even one lady, it was worth frantically typing at nearly 4 in the morning. ūüôā




Painting the Door with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Like all poor bloggers, I forgot to take a before picture. But it was BAD. The white paint was chipping off our fiber glass door in large, hard, sharp, flaky chunks.

I had been dreaming of replacing our door with a wood-and-glass entry like this: 
From farmhousetouches.com

I’m always a fan of natural wood and traditional, simple style. I’m also a big fan of natural light. Since this side of the room faces North to a covered porch, an extra window would do us good! 

However, Mr. S (wisely) has insisted that we need to protect our privacy, and that our typical, tract home neighborhood isn’t the ideal setting for a view straight through to our home.

Also, this kind of door is a real budget buster. They’re expensive! 

So I decided to go with a classic black door. 

Source: Pinterest, uploaded by another user

While I haven’t gotten around to the outside, I really felt our interior needed the contrast most of all. 

I knew I didn’t want a true black, but more of a charcoal color. 

Then, a sweet neighbor gave me her left over Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite as a surprise!

I wasted no time and got my door knocked out the next morning (my birthday). It took two coats to get all-over coverage, but three to get every last stubborn corner.

 This image has only chalk paint, and you can see the door is lovely and dark, and also matte (one of my favorite qualities of chalk paint). 

As great as it looked, I knew it would get some serious wear and tear, so I needed to protect this finish to make it more durable. 

I considered using Annie Sloan clear wax, but because this door gets intensely hot from exposure to our swampy Tennessee summers, I knew I needed to go a different route. 

I chose General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat in the Flat formula from Then & Again Home Marketplace, the store where I work. 

I already had used this product to reseal my kitchen table and loved it. 

Even though I was carefully to use long strokes, the top coat dried and gave the appearance of short, choppy strokes. 

I poked around online and found that the chalk paint probably is absorbing the product unevenly before it dries, resulting in this spotty look. 

However, the great news is that this unsightly layer acted as a barrier for the next two. 

Here it is after two coats. A huge improvement! The imperfections you can see are actually present in the door itself, not a result of the finishes I chose. 

The topcoat dried pretty rapidly in my house, whose thermostat I set right at 70 degrees. I turned on the overhead fan after each application, and the process flew by. 

And finished! Such a huge improvement from chippy, flaking paint, way cheaper than a new door, and some much-needed masculine contrast in this space! 

Early Fall

Fall is our favorite season.

This year, it’s far too hot this September, and Mr. S is away, but rather than pouting, I figured I’d just make believe. 
My first batch of dried limelights turned out beautifully! Next year, I hope to have plenty to share with friends. I adore them beside white pumpkins.I found this sweet orange plaid throw at Michaels while grabbing fabric for a client. I used a gift card to grab two of those sweet pumpkin pillows from Pottery Barn. I went a little crazy and even grabbed some curtains at World Market with a bit of turquoise, burnt orange, and brown in them. 
Same orange pillows as last year. I made them out of Target kitchen fabric (can’t remember now if it was a tablecloth or dish towel) when I couldn’t found an orange plaid I liked. Grabbed the gray throw from Pottery Barn, too. 

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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā 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!

Long Time No Talk.

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last updated this blog. So much change, so much newness, and so much life has been lived since I last wrote here.

I suppose a lot of it has been because, while this is supposed to be a family blog, it’s just me here.

I have no high-reaching goals of becoming a pro blogger at the moment. No¬†big projects are underway. I suppose it has felt¬†a little narcissistic to do another post about me, decorating, or the house, but right now, that’s all that I have to report.

You may have noticed that I just use Mr. S as a nickname for my husband. That is intentional, as I never want to invade on his privacy as long as this blog is public. Unfortunately, the same applies to his job and the way he spends his days, and so I’ve got nothing.

However, looking back on all that’s happened these past few months, I realize I truly regret not recording more.

I quit my job, Mr. S left for some more long-term work, we had a precious college student living with us, I started two new jobs, I’ve taken a great girls’ trip, and none of it is documented¬†here.

I guess I’ve been so caught up in everyone else’s sweet, precious, excited wishes for the next¬†steps in life (“When will your husband be home?” “When will you have kids?” “Are you starting your own business?”), that I’ve begun to believe the lie that the life I’m leading right now isn’t quite good enough.¬†Directionless though it may be, is important and OK and good. And maybe even worth sharing.

I can’t quite explain¬†how hard, draining, and hopeless these last three-and-a-half years have felt at times. But it would be harder still to fully express¬†how exciting, new, gratifying, fruitful, growth-filled, horizon-expanding, and refining they’ve been, either.

There have been days where I don’t want to get out of bed or shower or take care of myself. But there have been days when I’ve woken up with more drive and determination than ever before.

There have been days when I’ve doubted nearly every choice I’ve made. But there have been days when I’ve¬†felt excitement and such a clear calling. I love that life is full of variety like this.

Every once in a while, I fight the feeling that I’m an island and alone, and then the Lord sends me sweet friends who insist on inviting me, hanging out, and encouraging me.

Nearly every prayer I posted as one of my “26 aspirations” has come into fruition in such a short timeline (even if I still am no cook), and I can’t express how much I’ve seen God’s goodness in¬†this season.

None of the many blessings lavished upon me have been shared, and that needs to change!

With that said, I’m re-committing to posting on this silly little blog, because I still do long for a record of our days. Even if only one half of the story is available, I’ll tell it here anyway.

So, my news may not be a baby on the way, or a homecoming, or a new career, or anything particularly impressive or accomplished. But it will be mine. And I believe wholeheartedly that life is good right now, that it’s OK to be figuring things out, that it’s OK to be waiting, and that I’ll be ready to step out into the next adventure soon. I just don’t know what that looks like just yet.

I’ll keep being the nerd who is elated to share success in planting peonies or hydrangeas, deliberates over paint colors as seriously as others deliberate over investments, and who experiences life in an unusually-emotional way (and then overshares as always right here on this blog).


I’ll have a few catch-up posts in the next few weeks, then I’ll begin sharing updates and new content as I’d always intended. It may be boring things like moving around the artwork, or setting a table just right, or reorganizing a room, but it’ll be things I love. ūüôā

Thanks for your patience if you read along. Thanks for caring even if it’s just me. Thank you to you precious people who say things like, “I miss your posts! I want to know what’s happening with you!” I can’t express how undeserved that kind of care feels.


March and April

This month has brought another hard goodbye, sweet time in the family of God, home projects, and precious blessings.

I’m weary in my body and mind, but joyful in my soul.                     One of the two porch dates we squeezed in. Coffee, gardening magazines, and my favorite company.  Incredible, authentic college students.         

 Last day of feeling like a “normal” family for a while.