5.24.2011

Road Trip!!!

My family is about to enjoy some SERIOUS, real-life beauty hunting...the kind that takes your breath away...the kind that's impossible to pin down or fully capture. {But you better believe I'll try!}

{The Grand Canyon}

On Thursday morning at the crack of dawn, my husband, my girls, my parents and I are piling into a rented RV {looks more like a bus} for a two-week adventure to the Grand Canyon. I've never been. Have you?

My husband loves to drive and has been talking about this idea for years. My mom loves adventure and said, "count me in." And my dad, well...let's just say he's not a roadtrip kind of guy, so he hunted down the biggest, best looking RV he could find to make it a little extra special. {Fine by me...I'm my daddy's girl!} And my girls...they are beside themselves! At 8 and 10, they are the perfect ages for this kind of trip.

So over a great bottle of wine {while my mom was out of town and oblivious to what these men were doing in my kitchen}, the trip was planned. {Good thing my mom loves adventure!} My dad with his books, my husband with his maps...

{These guys were like two little kids!}

Things fell into place within 48 hours...RV rental, places we wanted to stop, park reservations {we got the last spot at one of the RV parks}. It felt meant to be from the start. My mom and I have some serious grocery shopping to do {we'll eat as naturally as possible on the road}, and I still have loads of laundry to tackle and lots of clothes to pack. What in the world will the weather be like?

But I did manage to find a few fun things for the girls:

{All from Whole Earth Provision}

{American Girl quiz books + all natural gum and mints}


{Just discovered these all natural picnic lunches
at World Market. Bought a few for the girls.}

I'm also working on a road trip mix...some songs for singing out loud {like Rolling in the Deep, Lay 'Em Down and some oldies but goodies like Everyday, Sweet Caroline and of course, On The Road Again}. And then some songs for my personal, quiet heart pondering {like Garden and Gratitude}. What are some of your favorite songs?

And books. Always books. Any last minute recommendations? I love everything from the classics...


{I love the covers of these Penguin Classics.}

...to historical fiction
{like the Josephine B series},
to well-written but light-hearted fun...


...to the spiritually challenging...


{my bedside pile}

...and finally...
 
...brain candy!

And of course I'll pack my journal and my camera...my beauty hunting companions. This beauty hunting is why I journal, why I blog, why I photograph even the simplest of things. It's all a part of what we were designed to do: to take in all the glory our hearts can hold...in the little moments and in the big...until we explode with joy and thanksgiving! Worship in its purest, most genuine form.

I've never stood on the canyon's edge, but I'm told that no matter how many images you've seen, nothing compares to the real life view. I don't know if I'll even be able to stand. Not from dizziness or fear of heights, but from total awe of what God has made. I may just fall to my knees in quiet, misty-eyed worship. I Can Only Imagine.

Grand Canyon {and Marfa, White Sands, Hoover Dam, Sedona, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Santa Fe and Fredricksburg}...here we come! I'll look forward to sharing my beauty hunt with you when I'm back, Sweet Friends!

 Joyfully,

P.S. We'll gladly take your road trip prayers...safety, health, good bonding time, growth in our love of the Lord and one another. You know...the basics!

P.P.S. I'm seriously considering re-reading this book on the trip. It's that good!

5.21.2011

Garden Update...And A Doll Farmer's Market

Since joining Pinterest, I've discovered that my wine box garden is all over the place! Who knew? I'm not famous, but my first-ever garden is! So I thought it might be time for a little update.

We're learning as we go in the garden. I like my garden books, but real life, digging in the dirt experience is the best teacher. Here's what our garden looks like today:


{We added casters so we can chase the sunlight.}

Not quite as plentiful as when we started...


{Photographed the weekend we planted.}

...but we enjoyed lots of fresh greens and were able to make more salads than I expected thanks to good growth before the heat descended upon us. This was one of my favorites:


{greens, roasted blue potatoes, grilled chicken + feta
tossed in olive oil, lemon and sea salt}

Lettuce season is over in my garden {too hot}, but I'm encouraged by what Chef Randy Evans {who gardens outside my favorite restaurant, Haven} has taught me:Texas has one of the nation's longest growing seasons. {Too bad I don't like peppers and okra; they grow well in the summer.}

As far as new plantings go, my husband decided to stick a couple red onions in the ground {since they were sprouting green tops in our kitchen!}. Probably the wrong season or wrong way to plant, but it can't hurt to try!

{Experimenting. We'll see what happens!} 

Did I mention that we've hardly had a drop of rain in Houston all Spring? It's the driest Spring I can remember in my life. I've been trying to water twice a day to keep my tomatoes from looking like this:

{Poor babies. They need some rain!}

Here they are on a good day:

{Newly caged and outgrowing already!}

I finally had to stake {or cage} the tomatoes. Not as pretty, but absolutely essential. {Note to self: this would be MUCH easier to do in the beginning...before the plants grow.} I had no idea they'd grow so quickly!


{Look how tiny the plants were when we started!}

Speaking of tomatoes, we've got a problem. Some of the leaves and vines aren't looking so good.

{healthy vine...unhealthy vine}

Help! Is it a pest of some sort? Once I saw a teeny, tiny little spider that was light-colored and the size of a pin head.  Do any of you know what's going on and how to handle it naturally? I've tried spraying Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap and water {my version of dishsoap and water...works for aphids}, but can't tell if it's helping.

Speaking of pests, I had to get creative with the strawberries. The birds or squirrels were frustrating my girls by eating them just before they fully ripened!

{homemade tent with supplies we had on hand:
tulle, plastic hangers, clothespins}

My girls like to say the strawberries are getting married. {Smile!} Thanks to my husband for what he calls "Aggie Engineering" {His saying for "jerry rigging." He went to Texas A&M.}

And a HUGE thank you to my husband for helping me reconfigure the top of the garden table. He wasn't thrilled about the task, but when he saw me trying to do it myself, he swooped in knowing he could do it in minutes {instead of the hours it would take me}.

{My husband...cracking himself up! I love this guy!}

To prevent the top of the table from being so exposed to water, my sister and I added aluminum flashing to the top. But because the surface wasn't completely flat {the table has a raised edge}, it looked like a poorly wrapped present.


That bugged me. So my husband removed the nails,
I trimmed as neatly as I could, and voilĂ !


{I'd love to know how to make the shiny metal
look more like weathered zinc!}

I've already started collecting new wine boxes from the wine merchants where I am a most loyal shopper {some give them to me and some want to charge me}. I've found that the higher end the wine, the higher  quality the box {and you usually have to pay for those}.

I'll be sure to rub the next set of boxes down with Danish Oil {as advised in one of my garden books}, but until then, my girls have found a fun way to use them.

An American Girl Farmer's Market!


{100% imagined and organized by my girls.}

Isn't it amazing what children will do when you give them the free time and space to use their God-given imagination?!?! And I don't mind telling you, those doll-sized gluten free biscuits were amazing! I wanted to buy every single one!

I hope you're having a FABULOUS weekend, Sweet Friends!


P.S. I feel refreshed in both sleep and perspective since my last post, but I will say: the beauty hunter in me is LOVING Pinterest. My blog will still be a place for me to "talk out loud" and share original photos and designs, but I love having a place to gather beauty and dreams.

Here's a Provence dream I pinned today:




I admired this hotel during my first visit to Provence
and would love to stay there someday!


To see what else I've pinned...


5.19.2011

Beauty Hunting

Houston, we have a problem. After months of being still and learning to spend less time at my computer, here I am PINNING like a crazy lady!

Consider yourself warned: Pinterest is beyond addictive...as in, I stayed up until 3:00 in the MORNING addictive! {I probably shouldn't have admitted that, but I'm kind of an all or nothing girl.} I mean, who can sleep when there's so much beauty floating around?!?! It was beauty overload!

Just a few images I pinned:









Source: None via LLH Designs on Pinterest


So what's the fuss all about? Well, if you love to organize and have a passion for design, photography, creativity and all things beautiful...Pinterest is your playground!

You can read more about how it works here and here, but this is what I love: instead of emailing myself hundreds of links, bookmarking hundreds of blog posts and saving hundreds of images, I can gather inspiration all in one place!

Pinterest is a great way to organize online beauty, but I don't plan to give up on my old school ways! Sometimes beauty just has to be gathered with your own two hands!

{my "real life" design files for my home}

I've always loved gathering beautiful images. I'm a natural born beauty hunter! {Read One Thousand Gifts to dig deeper into that idea.} And in the truest sense, a beauty hunter isn't one who stays up all night pinning pretty pictures. A beauty hunter opens her heart wide and free to this present moment.

Pinterest, blogging, photography, writing...all are an attempt to pin beauty down...to take it in and make it last. Nothing wrong with trying to pin beauty down, but the present moment is where the richest beauty lies, so off I go...ready to hunt...and eager to enjoy real life TO THE FULL!

Happy beauty hunting!

5.17.2011

Our Sitting Room

I've designed each room in our home with love, so it's really hard for me to pick a favorite, but both my husband and my friends have a favorite room. It's situated at the very front of our house and is full of sunlight and color.

Welcome to our sitting room:


{As much as I love neutrals, color makes people happy.}

Most people would call this a formal living room, but we aren't very formal people, and unlike formal living rooms, we actually use this room...so the sitting room it is!


{The room was designed around a bold, red armoire
with a turquoise interior; purchased from a friend.}

It's the most colorful, yet also the most peaceful room in our home. When my girls want some one-on-one talking time, this is our room. {We can close a pair of French doors, which is really nice.} When a friend comes for tea or when my husband and I share our day over a glass of wine, we kick off our shoes and cozy up in one of our favorite chairs:

{All the cozy chairs in my house are slipcovered
and purchased from Quatrine, my favorite!}

And as we sit in those chairs, we love to admire
the newest addition to our home...a real work of art!



This is the real reason I'm proud to share this room with you today: because my amazingly talented sister painted that gorgeous masterpiece on the wall...just for me...just for this room...and I absolutely LOVE everything about it!

A close up:


I love all of the layers {flourishes, dots, writing}, the colors {perfect in my room}, her attention to the details in my room {see below}....

{My crown and keys made it into the painting.}

Holly loves to layer words and numbers into her work:

{view from the side of the painting}

And because she is UBER talented and can paint a landscape as fabulously as an abstract work, look at the little painting within a painting she added for her Provence-loving sister:


{I'm in love!}

Isn't she amazing?!?! All I did was give her the dimensions then step back and tell her that I trusted her entirely! It helps that she knows me so well {sisters are awesome like that}, but I don't discount for a second that all of her training, experience and God-given gifts as an artist are in full swing here.

Holly has a little Etsy shop {here}, and everything she does is wonderful, but as her big sister, let me tell you that she has her hands full with two precious baby boys {and one on the way!}. So if you'd like her to do something for you someday, give her a little extra time and grace! It will be worth the wait!

Admiring my sister today,

P.S. My song of the day: How Great Thou Art. I'm no Carrie Underwood {WOW!}, but I sang from the heart over my little nephew as we sat together today, and he was captivated. Sweet thing!

5.14.2011

Table Switcheroo

Switcheroo. Did you even know that was a real word? Check it out. {My daughter thought the audio pronunciation was hysterical!} I digress....

After an intense season of card design, a quiet season of learning to be still and live in the present {which required taking a break from my business}, and a spring filled with food chatter and gardening, I needed a little switcheroo!

The creative, design side of me was itching for an outlet!

So after nearly eight months of feeling uninspired and not at all motivated by necessity {more on that here}, I finally got the itch to do a little nesting around the house!


It all started with a demilune
{that literally came to my doorstep}.


Too beautiful to resist and perfect for only one spot:

In the corner of my dining room.

I love the French wine crate idea, but they were too low, and I never got around to having a base made. That could take a lifetime the way I do things {back to that necessity vs. inspiration concept}!

So the demilune took the place of the wine jugs...

{Something else has changed since you last saw my dining room.}

And the wine jugs found a home in the opposite corner:

{These could also be used as end tables flanking a couch.}

And because one thing leads to another
{and because this didn't cost me a single penny}...

A little switcheroo at the front door.
{Gathering options from around the house.}

From this...

{First arranged here last August.}

...to this...

...all to satisfy a creative urge!
{Side table pulled from the sitting room you see in the background.}

Two details I love:

An agricultural prize and antique paperbacks.
{Both French and both found here.}

And then I got an even crazier, creative urge.
Remember the game table?


I tweaked the accessories last August {here}, but the honey colored pine has always felt like a mis-fit in this house. We've lived here five years {I've had the table for 12 and the chairs for 8}, but back to inspiration vs. necessity! Neither was compelling me...until now.

Inspiration kicked in:


I darkened the table and Tamara painted the chairs.
{Tamara also painted the chairs in my kitchen.}

{For the table: I soaked steel wool in vinegar for a few days.
Brushed on two coats. Too dark. Sanded. Added lime wax.
Sanded again. Thanks, Maura, for your ideas and inspiration!}

I knew I wanted the chairs to be more than French antique gray...
different than the desk you see in the background:

I love the way the chair color ties in with the lamp shade!
{Tamara is amazing. You can meet her at Urban Market today!}

If you haven't read my necessity vs. inspiration post, here it is in a nutshell: I only do things when I'm inspired {as I was with the table switcheroos} or forced by necessity {laundry}. Sometimes I go many, many months without feeling inspired, and that's okay. I give myself lots of grace to JUST BE these days. And when the inspiration does finally come, I'm thankful and enjoy it!

Now if someone could just convince me that
hanging these bathroom mirrors was a necessity!

{Mirrors have leaned against my bedroom wall for 8 months!}

We've been mirrorless in our master bath for nearly eight months...mostly because the new mirrors don't fit beneath the current light fixtures...and I'm not a huge fan of the current lights anyway...but haven't found any new ones I like. I'm about to ditch the lights altogether and just hang the mirrors!

I've already got a chandelier that makes quite a statement...

...so maybe I don't need more lighting/sconces/distraction.
Good enough! Time to hang those mirrors!

Happy Weekend, Happy Nesting!

P.S. It's a great weekend for Urban Market!
I don't need a thing, but with weather like this...
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