Fall Around Here

Friends, I am yearning for Autumn to arrive. It has been a long, sometimes difficult Spring and Summer (whose lessons I wouldn’t trade for the world), but good things are in store, Lord willing, in this season.

Before Mr. S came along, this summer-loving “brown” girl couldn’t stand Fall. It meant the end of summer, no more of that sunblock smell (the best perfume there is), and the beginning of Tennessee winters. You may laugh if you’re from the North and think our winters are mild, but my Southern California roots couldn’t disagree with you more. Over 15 years in Tennessee and I still don’t like the cold.

My fair-skinned, blue-eyed man, though, LOVES a crisp chill in the air. He enjoys jeans, jackets, blankets, bonfires, s’mores, hot chocolate, and homemade pumpkin anything. Somehow, his adoration of the season has totally changed my mind.

Sorry for the dark pictures. In low light, my iPhone just doesn’t cut it.

IMG_4308.JPGI resisted going full-out Fall until mid September, but caved today and picked up these pretty little pumpkins. IMG_4310.JPGI swung by Mom and Dad’s on the way home to lop off some Japanese Maple and Magnolia branches for my little wooden “toolbox.”IMG_4306.JPGI nestled the pumpkins into the foliage. I love the slight tinge of purple just being revealed in a few of the maple leaves and the lovely rust on the underside of the magnolia leaves.

Magnolias are truly a favorite of mine. I adore driving by Vanderbilt’s campus downtown and admiring the majestic, giant ones lining the streets. IMG_4312.JPGIMG_4314.JPGIMG_4316.JPG

IMG_4196.JPGIMG_4318.JPGIMG_4304.JPGLooking forward to scarves, boots, plaid, cozy sweaters, knit throws, nature walks, cooler afternoon runs, apple cider, and all that loveliness.

Birch Branches

Birch Branches“Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.” Ralph Waldo EmersonDSC_0219 “Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.” ― Robert Frost

Math Classroom Tour

Since this blog is meant to serve as a sort of record of sorts, I wanted to be sure to include a few photos of my current classroom.

I began my career with a couple of years in Kindergarten, and I’ve since moved up to First and Second grade. A [school] year later, I already regret not taking and keeping more photos of my first-ever classroom!

So as my third year draws to its close, even though it’s not the prettiest, fanciest room, I’ve decided it’s time to snap and compile some pictures.

I teach two subjects to two grades and actually have two classrooms. I get to focus exclusively on Math and Science while the rest of our team covers Reading, Phonics, Language, and Social Studies. I happen to think I ended up with the two best, and luckily for us, I think my team teachers feel the same way about their respective subjects. 🙂

Today, I’ll share my Math room.


It was most important to me to create a cheerful-yet-relaxed environment. I chose a blue-and-green scheme because I love the tranquility of cool colors and think they’re rather “gender neutral.” I also have a (hopefully not in-your-face) bird theme for sentimental reasons. My family and some of my closest friends have referred to me as “Birdie” and “Bird” since my childhood, and I’ve always adored that name.

I added some hanging lanterns from World Market above the cabinets separating my classroom from the rest of our Learning Community. Our school was built in the 70s during the “Open Classroom” craze, so walls and doors are a coveted commodity. It seems the space was subsequently divided into pod-style learning communities, so many rooms are still open to others.


Upon entering, I have a little welcome table. It houses a homework “drop off” area (sorted by grade, then time of day), PLENTY of hand sanitizer, bits and pieces for our morning calendar board, and a chalkboard from a sweet parent. Today, the quote reads, “Math gives us hope that every problem has a solution.”


Above that is a “Fact Family” house made of simple poster board. Creating fact families is part of our daily routine, and we alternate between addition/subtraction and multiplication/division. I try to keep a seasonally-appropriate quote or picture on the left side of the board. What better time to celebrate the seasons than Calendar Time?
IMG_1802I’m in the middle of fixing up this too-busy calendar board. The truth is, they come with too many pieces.

This is a temporary fix until we order some new butcher paper. 🙂 The welcome sign was made with donated construction and scrapbook paper, and the outdoor rug was a Target clearance item I purchased at the beginning of the year. 

I just created these calendar bits on Word and a precious parent volunteer spent TONS of time cutting and laminating them.

IMG_1804The little birds in the tree are labeled with each child’s name as a special welcome, while the table below always houses a hands-on manipulative of some sort (it rotates all the time) and our “Pencil Hospital.” This fantastic idea was introduced to me by my student teaching mentor teacher. Students simply drop their broken one in the green bucket, and grab a replacement from the blue bucket. There is hardly any time wasted and no disruptive pencil sharpening during class.


This is our classroom Word Wall. The students choose the words that end up on the wall. The bunting banner above was made from more donated scrapbook paper.

photo 2 I inherited this amazing block feature from the previous math teacher. It draws students in like you wouldn’t believe and I adore the bright colors. IMG_1808My beloved Erin Condren lesson planner. They’re a worthy investment.
IMG_1811My personal bulletin board behind my desk is full of quotes that bring me joy and photos of people I love.


My desk area. The speakers on the right are essential components of our day. I love to play fast-and-silly music during speedy fact practice, soothing classical during tests, and sing-songy kid music during center time. Plus, they allow me to blast my Dr. Jean (if you don’t know who she is and you’re an Early Childhood teacher, look her up)! IMG_1812This simple set of plastic drawers from Lowe’s has been upgraded with plain old paper to house office supplies out of sight. Atop sit a framed photo of our class on a recent field trip, and two thoughtful parent notes that remind me that what I do is appreciated. I love to send them as much as I love to receive them. 🙂 If you feel the same way, you can download a free thank you note, or join me in creating student Valentine’s Day cards while you’re here.

IMG_1809These file folders are labeled to store daily materials (along with the ubiquitous coffee mug, of course).

photo 3Pictured above are my cubby stuffed full of manipulatives (I picked up the blue plastic bins at Walmart for a song) and my reading center. The Ikat pillow was from World Market. You can see a little bit of my overhead cart in the photo, too.


Our little writing center (freshly wiped down, but it’s normally covered with materials). I adore my students’ paintings on the board above.

That’s it for the Math room. Hope you enjoyed the tour! I’d love hear about your classroom’s organization if you’re a fellow teacher. 🙂


That was the “where” part of my teaching. Now for the “why” part, you can refer to the post “Prayers for My Students,” which rather embarrassingly included a couple of typos until recently. 😉

Gallery Wall and a Few More Updates

Renting has its advantages. I thank my lucky stars every time something breaks and I can just call maintenance. Broken things are always someone else’s problem. Still, it has its disadvantages. Along with feeling like you’re throwing your money away month to month, it also can be tough to make a rental space feel like home. 🙂 I am striving to accomplish that one (CHEAP) update at a time. Because the last month or so has been filled with a few of them, I thought I’d share the “progress.” photo (4)   Not too long ago, our dining area looked like this. And it was cute! Our table was a $100.00 moving sale score. However, it was a bar height table. Great for grownups, not great for visiting children. 🙂 Also, the leaf was chewed up by the previous owner’s puppy, so it was limiting. With hopes of opening up our home to more loved ones, my dad and brother have agreed to build a new one for us (I get to be the glorified assistant). 🙂 DSC_0002   For now, we’re rocking the above look. You can read about the chairs here. I MISS the warmth of the wood, but we have plans to reintroduce that ASAP (though perhaps a little cooler). You also may have noticed the new gallery wall. It’s important that you know what a challenge that was. Because it just looks “so-so” now, but it was some WORK!

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Some people are naturally great at things like this, but I’m not. It took lots of gathering, moving, measuring, and editing. So, it may evolve over time, but it’ll stay put for now. 🙂 Gallery Wall Close Up   It’s full of items I love. The leaves aren’t sentimental, but they do remind me of home. The white grate was a gift from my Mother in Law, and I love every scroll-y inch of it. Wedding Photo   My favorite wedding photo is finally up in our home. It was taken by the very talented Kyle Gregory who you can look up here. ChalkboardThe chalkboard is from World Market and currently features an Easter verse. while I love this scripture, I plan in changing it as soon as I get new chalk. A certain beagle pup ate my last piece. You can buy this chalkboard here. Right Side It also includes the thumbprint tree I drew for our wedding day. Instead of a guest book, we asked guests to stamp their thumb onto our “tree” and to sign our family Bible. I have occasion to look at these sweet reminders of our loved ones every day. 🙂 The “S” was on our gift table. Tree Close Up 2 All those teeny, tiny crosshatching marks in pen were a PAIN. Whew! (Our names have been removed thanks to the magic of Photoshop). 🙂 Buffet Close Up 2 Also updated in the dining area was our sideboard. It was once in the home of my maternal grandmother and grandfather, then my childhood home, and is now in ours. When Mr. S. and I refinished it as newlyweds, he didn’t think it important to mention that he had no clue how to paint. Imagine the horror when I came to view his side of the project. 😉 Buffet Close Up     The lamp and picture were once in my parents’ home, and the ruffled, linen runner was a too-fun sewing project of mine. Living Room ektorp farmhouse pillows blekinge white slipcoverThe art that was in our dining area has been moved to our living room. It was purchased only a couple of years ago at Kirkland’s and was an already-dated shade of blue and brown. It’s got a new coat of white and a “ASCP French Linen” wash to make it good and grimy. Sofa Left I’ve tried to “cozy up” the white slipcovers with the yummy textures of this knit blanket and scratchy pillow. 🙂 P.S. If anyone tries to tell you that slipcovers like this are a pain, they’re liars. Just unzip, wash with bleach, and tumble dry low in case of a spill. The end. You can’t do that with a beige one. Sofa Right The tan-and-white mitered pillow was a Home Goods steal, while the blue-and-white, ticking stripe pillow was sewn by yours truly… ’til 2:00 a.m. with pin pricks and tears. Mitered stripes may have been a tad bit ambitious for a newbie like me, but I ended up with the look I love for just a few bucks. Desk Area This is our desk area, where I’m hunkered down right now. You can read about the ASCP chair makeover here. I’m happy to report that the soft wax means the finish is holding up way better than I imagined! I added a blue mason jar of white roses, a newly-placed lamp, and a fantastic ball of twine from my folks (you can grab it here). Desk Close Up This book brings to mind Mr. S. and was the inspiration for this steamy love letter. 😉 Just kidding, guys. But seriously. The man deserves a love letter. Lucy Stare And here’s little Lucy lounging away on our ottoman. You can read about that lunatic of a dog here if you’re in the mood to cry over a dog story. I always am. The red-and-white loveliness was a quilt sewn by Mr. S’s grandmother. I keep it freshly laundered and proudly on display. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by for a visit. 🙂

As they say around here, “Y’all come back now, ya hear?”

I’m linking up to:

Sweet Haute
French Country Cottage: Feathered Nest Friday
My Romantic Home: Show and Tell Friday
Driven By Decor
Tidy Mom
he Shabby Nest: Frugal Friday
hic on a Shoestring: Flaunt It Friday

One Day, Two Makeovers

photo 1 (6)Hi there, Friends!

It’s been that kind of delicious Spring day. The kind where you fling open the windows and are greeted with blue skies and puffs of warm air. Kids were laughing, birds were chirping, and it was time to put cream and sugar in my usually-black coffee.

If you’re anything like me, a day like that means it’s time to whip out a paint brush and put some pretty in the world (you get that, right?!).

When Mr. S came onto the scene a couple of Septembers ago, we realized that our little apartment, just perfect for one, needed some upgrades to accommodate two. Alas, my sweet little bedside tables were stored away and replaced with a pair of nightstands with real drawers. Though it sure was a good choice for our little family, I missed those pretty cottage-y tables with their curvy lines (Home Goods steals).

Armed with some French Linen Chalk Paint, whose fateful purchase you can read about here, it was time to bring one of them back home. I found the perfect spot for it and transformed it from a deep green to a lovely taupe-y gray.

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I am in love with this matte color. It’s definitely a gray, but somehow still so soft and warm! photo 4 (2)photo 5 (1)

My favorite reading nook just got better!

My next victim was one of the most used items in our little apartment. In fact, I’m sitting on it now. I wanted to lighten up our cheap-o Target desk chair. This baby is not heirloom quality by any means, so I felt no guilt or hesitation when painting it Duck Egg Blue.

The only before photo I could find (smack to the forehead for forgetting to take one) is this one of Mr. S who while fist pumping to “Eye of the Tiger” completing a research paper. I am positive that everyone is secretly as weird as we are behind closed doors… At least I hope we’re not the only ones.

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I feel like the chair is much happier herself in her new shade of blue. It was the first piece of furniture I’ve ever waxed, and I was somewhat surprised by the process even though I’d read about it before. It was a LOT of elbow grease, but well worth it! Today, a few hours after the last coat, it’s surprisingly hard and not at all soft or tacky.

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Last but not least, I thought it was worth including my loyal companion, keeping guard against the outside world as I did some reading in bed this morning. My fellow dog lovers can read about little Lucy’s less-than-smooth transition into our family here. Pet adoption is tough but worth it!

She was a great defender with her distinctive beagle baying directed at each passerby (our neighbors love us, guys).

Thanks for stopping by, friends!

Linking up to:

Savvy Southern Style: Wow Us Wednesdays

Miss Mustard Seed: Furniture Feature Friday

Domestically Speaking: The Power of Paint Party

Sweet Haute Link Party

The Shabby Nest: Frugal Friday

My Romantic Home: Show and Tell Friday

French Country Cottage: Show and Tell Friday

A Pretty Life in the Suburbs: Our Sunday Best Showcase

A Peek Into My Paradise: Happiness is Homemade

Lamb Around

DIY Showoff: That DIY Party

Catch a Glimpse Button

Let’s Go on a Treasure Hunt Part 2

Hello Again! I am so glad you decided to join me once again for some more window shopping, my one and only “sport.”

If you missed Part 1 of our Asheville adventure, you can find it by clicking here.


I have to begin with my big “splurge” of the trip. We visited Southern Highland Craft Gallery just to kill some time. It features work by local artisans who have incredible talent. Featured artists include exceptional woodworkers, jewelry makers, painters, sculptors, quilters, and more.

Truly on a whim, we decided to purchase some wooden cooking utensils. I love the idea that everyday objects can serve as beautiful, functional art. They require a little more gentle care than my steel utensils, but they’ll put a smile on my face every time I use them. Though we both agreed to purchase them, I know Mr. S just wanted to see me smile.

IMG_0999The next two items were found in a Biltmore Village antique store. Not only did I love them, I actually felt that I could replicate at home.

If I ever decide to make over our buffet, I think I’d do a painted pattern like the one on the left. Can you make out the red and white leaves and birds? Though I am a fan of light whites and soothing neutrals in our home, I love the contrast a dark focus piece like this provides.


The chair on the right was one of a set of four. They made my jaw drop. I loved not only their classic shape but the unusual, muted, inky-blue fabric with pops of orange and red. Together with the dark wood finish, it stole the show.

The rest of the shop included many beautiful, fussy things I’m not quite sophisticated enough to appreciate. 😉

We actually even found some furniture and light fixtures equal in price to my entire salary at a nearby store. Can you just picture me holding my breath, praying not to knock anything over?! We couldn’t stop gawking like total tourists at every price tag and yet couldn’t help feeling quite relieved when we left!

We next stopped at “Screen Door,” and we are so happy we did! It is sort of a co-op including MANY dealers and a variety of vintage, re-finished, re-purposed and hand-crafted items.

Though I am picturing items that suit my personal taste below, believe me, there was something for everyone at this place, from mid-century modern, to mountain-cabin rustic.


This huge sign caught my eye right off the bat! I would estimate that it is about 7 feet wide.


Antique tobacco baskets with missing pieces are a common sight here in the South. What is uncommon is to see such baskets artfully repaired with another material.


We laughed together as we agreed that this would be an excellent way to finally protect our little plants from our ruthless Lucy. If you don’t know who Lucy is, you can read about her here.


This table is great inspiration for our soon-to-be-built table (to pair with the chairs featured in I Snagged A Deal, Y’all!)IMG_1010

I know someone is crying because this booth’s owner decided to paint over wood, but I think the result is beautiful! IMG_1014

Mr. S. was frustrated that all these teeth and gears had no function, but we both appreciated the industrial look of this “bar cart.”



I could see this piece being utilized as storage in a foyer or play room (Although, watch out! I imagine a scratch from this baby might require a tetanus shot)! IMG_1024 IMG_1022

Pretty cool pillows for sale as either insert and cover, or just cover. IMG_1017

Another, more Santos Figure like those found in Part 1. IMG_1025

I am in love the with texture and print on these textiles! IMG_1026

Another neat textile display featuring lovely cobalt blue.IMG_1027

Beautiful frames made with scrap wood and beadboard for a cause. You can find them here.

To understand how awesome these next three finds are, you must visit Restoration Hardware’s wooden mirror collection.

Then, compare the products featured online with these in the Screen Door booth for a fraction of the price!

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I think this craftsman did an incredible job. He/she had other finishes available, too!

I Snagged a Deal, Y’all!

I’ve got a confession.

I’m completely obsessed with a chair. Would you be surprised if I told you said chair is from none other than Restoration Hardware? Of course you wouldn’t! Because nearly everything in that store is a lovely mixture of tasteful, refined, and bold. Meet the Vintage French Round Upholstered Side Chair (that’s a lot of adjectives).

Splurge Chair

This drool-worthy beauty comes in several color options, and I happen to adore every single wood finish and fabric. It’s feminine and traditional, but the casual linen fabric saves it from being too stuffy. This is just the look I’m going for in our home (I bet I don’t have to tell you that we’re still pretty far from achieving said look). Though it has a lot to offer, it comes at a price. Literally. These things start at around $200.00 and creep their up to around $400.00 with shipping and tax. Yikes! I don’t judge anyone who forks out that much for a chair, but there’s not room in our teacher/police officer budget for such a splurge. Could we? Sure. Should we? Nope!

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Steal Chair

I had resolved that, while I’d never own such a lovely chair, I could be sincerely happy for whoever’s home was filled with such delights. Then lightning struck. I saw this beauty at T.J. Maxx of all places! Along with all three of her perfect sisters! I am not the girl who magically finds the “perfect thing” often. So when I say lightning struck, I really mean it!

She has the pretty pickled-pine finish, linen cushions, oval back, and carved legs of my dreams! And I got all four for about the price of a single chair from RH.

We currently have a bar-height kitchen table. It was an awesome moving-sale steal, so I’ve been thankful for its sturdy build for years. But as we’ve increasingly had toddlers visiting our place, we’ve discovered they’re not ideal for company with young children. Additionally, the leaf is destroyed beyond repair, so hosting more that two other folks is a challenge for us.

We have plans to build a new table with the help of my handy dad, but we definitely don’t have the time/talents to build chairs, too. I’m so thankful for this economical alternative that I truly adore as much as the RH version and can hardly wait to build a table for them. If anyone has a suggestion for a specific wood finish to pair with these beauties, I’m all ears!

For now, they’re scattered all over our tiny one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment, so we’re a little cramped. 😉

photo 1 (2)Another relatively recent change is the addition of this little seafoam pillow from World Market on our bed. I know, it’s not very attention grabbing. But to a neutral-loving girl like me, this is quite the pop of color. 😉 I love that the soft velvet is such a contrast to the rumpled, rough linen duvet and shams.

Our room sure doesn’t look professionally decorated, but it is filled with things we love (like the thumbprint tree pictured left signed and stamped by guests at our wedding in the church where we met). I walk in the door after each busy day and feel such peace and comfort.

Little Valentine’s Day touches also abound thanks to some roses on clearance at our local grocery store. Flowers can feel like such an indulgent treat, but I’ve learned to make the most of single bouquets by spreading out small groupings of the flowers in little clusters.

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Thanks for stopping by to tour our little home! It’s not grand, but it’s full of love and a whole lot of happy, that’s for sure. Hope you felt it, too!

 Lastly, here is a shot of our cute, wet, miserable puppy after her bath:

1555329_10152216413363987_574203825_nWe love you, Lucy. But you REALLY needed that bath. Stinky girl.