Kitchen Love {And The Story Of Our House}

I love my kitchen...every single thing about it! So I did the crazy blog thing of taking more photos than you'd ever care to see and am thinking about sharing a few.

But first, a little back story.

Five and a half years ago, I got the house bug...like any house loving girl does from time to time. Nothing too serious, but I was beginning to wonder what life might look like outside of our little 1950's home.

Not so good. I didn't see anything I loved, and certainly not for a price we were willing {or able} to pay. We'd been house poor before, and had no desire to do that again {not sure a marriage could survive that twice!}. We were celebrating our new debt free status {thanks to Crown Financial Ministries, faithfulness and steady plodding} and were feeling content to stay put and enjoy what we had.

Until my mom called...on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon. "I found your kitchen!!! You have to hurry. People are already writing contracts."

Huh? What? Where? I went to appease her, not thinking for a single second that it was really MY kitchen...or that we were moving anytime soon!

But there it was...in all its glory...with our names written all over it!

Here's what we saw that day:

...a 15-year old, well built home with a brand new,
to-die-for, French inspired kitchen!


The floors...

{hardwood with inlaid travertine}

The sink...

{hammered copper}

{love the ever-changing, always beautiful patina}

The chandeliers...

{never dreamed of crystal chandeliers in a kitchen
5 years ago, but loved it when I saw it!}

The glazed cabinetry and hardware...

The hidden spice racks...

{one on each side of the range}

And gasp...the La Canche!

{imported from France}

I couldn't believe my eyes! I had seen one of these in Provence years ago and have held it in my dreams ever since. But being the practical girl I am, I never imagined having one in my own kitchen...and wouldn't have dreamed of importing it. But she did it for me!

And let me tell you, when she saw that I knew what a La Canche was, her eyes widened. To this day, I think it's that little thing that separated us from the other offers that came in that day...the fact that we "got it" when we saw the French range. {Did I tell you the house was For Sale By Owner...for one day only...and my mom happened to see the sign while she was out and about???} So meant to be!

I was sad to hear that she wouldn't get to spend a single day in her dream kitchen {her husband's job moved them to California}, but I will always be grateful to her for this kitchen. It's as if she knew all of my wildest dreams {half of which I'd never even allowed myself to dream} and put them into place...just for me. THANK YOU, Jill!

A few more details...just for fun!

In Provence, there are always furniture pieces in the kitchen.
She had this custom built for this spot.

Found the lamp base at Marburger. The peeled
away places reveal a color similar to the armoire.

Replaced the bulky brown chandelier with this one recently...
after letting it sit on my floor for eight months!
Sometimes life is like that...and it's okay!

Bought this for a song years ago, but now see them for $$$.
I'm a sucker for tiered stands. Just feels so orderly.

My first shot at custom window treatments. Sketched some ideas,
played around with options and had them made.

Bought these at the Maine Antiques Fair.
{Silver frames with linen mattes from West Elm.}

Need some serious help here!
The old, dried flowers from a friend's wedding
need to go. Any new ideas? A topiary?

One last look at a kitchen I feel grateful to call my own.

Enjoying everyday beauty
with a thankful heart!

P.S. Holly Mathis did a great post {HERE} on kitchen lighting. I'm honored that she selected my kitchen as an example, but also enjoyed all of her other images and ideas. Have a look!

P.P.S. Since I'm often asked...the wall color is Manchester from Pratt and Lambert; ceilings are half formula; cabinets are Sherwin Williams' Alabaster with a glaze on top. I couldn't have picked better colors myself! Thanks again, Jill!


Happy Things

Thank you for such kind words following my last post. Blog friends are so sweet! My grandmother is still in the hospital {and my mom is home now pulling most of the load}, but I'm happy to report that I'm much braver now than I was on that first day. Celebrating that small victory!

Hospitals aside, there are lots of happy things delighting my eyes these days. I thought I'd share a few with you!

My very own peaceful retreat...

...with newly hung Belgian linen panels!
{More on that another day.}

Sunlight streaming in the windows...

...and a stack of inspiring books.

Pink, ruffly peonies.

{Too hot to grow them in Houston, but I'm happy for all
of you whose gardens are bursting with these beauties!}

Clean clothes.

{Finally got around to hand washing...three moths later!}

Snow cone fun.

{Purchased today at World Market.}

Happy girls.

{We love summer...the freedom, the extra time together...
even the heat is bearable when you have snow cones!}

A crisp treat for grown ups.

{Try the middle one...light and easy for only $12!}

Pinterest happies...

Source: slimpaley.com via LLH Designs on Pinterest

My bunny loving daughter would flip over this!

Word happies...

Thankful for so many happy things!


P.S. I almost forgot!
My girls and I have been cracking UP
over this Whole Foods Parking Lot rap!
Soooo funny!!!


The Body Remembers

There are so many fun things I've been wanting to share with you this week {rain, organizing like a crazy lady, drapes hung 10 months later, food and wine...and yes, Grand Canyon photos!} but because writing helps me process, I know I have to write about this today: my fear of hospitals.

After a long day in the ER and a very late night in the hospital with my 93-year old grandmother yesterday, I'm very aware that the body remembers.

Holding my grandma's hand yesterday.
She doesn't remember who I am anymore,
but her body remembers how to hold my hand.

My body remembers that it hates hospitals. In a big way. I still freeze up and hold my breath. Remember the ambulance ride in November? God showed up, but it was a HARD day for me emotionally. Brought back all kinds of trauma. And yesterday, I was so frozen that I forgot to eat, drink or even use the restroom...until I got home at 1:00 in the morning!

And so it's time to face this fear...to unpack it and let the Lord free me from it. If it would bless you to know more, read on. If not, I'll be back soon with pretty things.

The first time I remember being afraid of a hospital {or even in one at all} was when my grandpa was sick and dying. I was 10. I remember the smell, the beeps, the coldness. I practically held my breath and stood frozen that day. And decided hospitals were the last place on earth I wanted to be.

Other than a few visits to welcome the new babies of very close friends {because hospitals scare me, I only did this for three friends} and one visit to a teenage girl I love, I managed to stay away from hospitals.

Until I gave birth to my own children. {I seriously considered a home birth because I hate hospitals so much, but it turns out I needed that hospital...especially with daughter number two.}

Daughter Number One: 46 hours of labor. Fetal distress. Exhausted mama. But a perfectly petite and sweet Hallie Cecile made every single one of those 46 hours worth it....and left me certain I'd do it again!

Daughter Number Two: 21 hours of labor. Natural childbirth {as in, no pain relief...ugh!}. Another perfectly healthy baby girl. But 45 minutes after Laura Finley was born, just as I was trying to nurse her for the first time, I was in more pain than I had ever experienced in my life {even more than the natural childbirth part...unthinkable!}.

I clenched my teeth and groaned {I'm not a big yeller or screamer}. I remember the nurse saying, "That's just your uterus contracting, honey. I'll get some Vicadin." With teeth still clenched and about to pass out from the pain, I exhaled with great intensity and force, "It's NOT my uterus! Get. A. Doctor. NOW!"

Turns out, I was bleeding like crazy on the inside...where no one could see. A tiny little vein ruptured silently during childbirth. Thanks to my drug free birth and heightened sensitivity to pain, I was able to feel the hematoma building...though I had no clue that's what it was.

{Looking back on this experience, it's a HUGE blessing that I arrived at the hospital too late to receive an epidural, because had my pain sensors been even the slightest bit numb, I might not have noticed the pain quickly enough...making a silent death very likely. Thank You, Lord.}

I needed emergency surgery...fast. One of the best docs {and one of the most precise, perfectionistic surgeons} was jogging around the Rice University track...right across from the hospital. He sprinted to the hospital and scrubbed in...still in his itty bitty running shorts and sweating when he arrived at my side...apologizing for the way he looked. He looked great to me...confident and no sign of fear on his face.

Maybe because he hadn't seen the size of the hematoma. {I'm told it was huge.} By the time he saw it, I had passed out from the pain and the meds. I still don't really know the details, but my body remembers. Cut in fourths down there, hundreds upon hundreds of stitches...all sewn furiously to prevent me from bleeding to death. Lots of uncertainty even after the surgery was complete...did they stop it all?

He saved my life. Right there at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas...the same hospital where I was born...the same hospital where I sat by my grandmother's side yesterday.

I survived, but I was barely living for so many years after that day. I gave birth to this life-loving, energetic, funny and passionate little Laura Finley {we call her our "sparkle and shine"}, yet I was buried somewhere beneath anemia, adrenal issues, chronic fatigue, migraines and hopelessness. I had forgotten the promise of abundant life...forgotten that God's promise was for ME...the broken yet fully capable of being restored ME!

Eight years later, I am LIVING AGAIN...in the present moment, alive to all that God has for me, counting His daily gifts. I am so thankful. Sometimes I'm still a broken thing, but I'm learning to trust that God makes broken things beautiful. 

So while hospitals may not be my favorite place, today I can go back. And I can sing old hymns to my grandma and beg the Lord to take her home soon. Surely He could use a fried peach pie chef in Heaven! She makes the very best!

Thank you for letting me tell my story. I've never written it out before. Our stories matter. YOUR story matters. Words give our stories their place.

I'm glad this story has finally found its place.


P.S. My mom is flying back home today. Please say a little prayer for her heart. It's not easy to see your own mother slip away for so many years {my grandma has dimentia}...and to feel so helpless despite doing all you can. I think we're all giving thanks for my grandma's 93 years, but are praying that she'll soon enjoy abundant life in a better place.


Send Some Rain

This is my simple prayer today:

Send some rain,
would You send some rain?

{my dead rosemary plant}

I've lived in Houston my entire life {minus four years in college} and can't remember a spring and summer this dry...ever. We Houstonians are used to some Texas-sized thunder storms. I miss the sound.

I find myself listening to this song on repeat and singing it like a prayer...because the earth is dry and needs to drink again.

{the cracked edge of my front yard}

I sing and pray Nicole Nordeman's words:
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty.
And yet there is mercy, because despite the increasing number of dead leaves on the vine, these little guys keep finding a way to burst forth  in my garden {though the skins are a little thick and tough}.

{my thick-skinned cupid tomatoes}

I know it's not just my piece of earth that's cracked and dry. I saw thousands of miles or dry earth on our epic road trip.

{West Texas...middle-o-nowhere}

Yet beauty finds a way...in a town where it hasn't rained for an entire year.

{Prickly Pear cactus in Fort Stockton, Texas}

As I consider the small cracks around my house, I'm reminded of the largest crack in the entire earth...which also happens to be the most breathtakingly beautiful thing I've ever seen.

{The Grand Canyon, Kaibab Trail}

I'm still trying to process God's majestic display of beauty in the middle of a desert. Words escape me. {More photos to come soon!} And so on this dry day in Houston with no rain in sight, I sing and pray some more:
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways 
And if that's the case... 
We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain.
And yes, He has provided another way. To add some levity to yet another rainless day, He has provided something good to drink...

{Stag's Leap Cabernet}

This was one of our favorites from the trip. {My husband stocked the RV with incredible wines in exchange for my Dad buying the gas. I think we got the better end of that deal!} And would you believe this wine was on sale today at Central Market? And that I just happened to be there meeting my husband for lunch today? What a gift!

I'm off to enjoy a glass in our sitting room...with my husband...while the girls are with grandparents. The only thing that would make it more perfect: the sound of thunder, long and loud. Lord, send some rain.

Happy Friday, Sweet Readers!


Clean House Love

I haven't switched gears from house cleaning to photo editing yet, but when I do, I'll have some real life beauty hunting that will make today's beauty hunting look shabby! {Pretty houses don't have a thing on the Grand Canyon!}

I've been cleaning and organizing in between trips to the neighborhood pool and reading Anne of Green Gables to my girls {don't you love this edition?}, but yesterday, I didn't want to clean. I just wanted to escape the mess, hide in my bedroom and dream of neat and tidy places. So I pinned a few!

Because nothing says "order" like a
clean entry with perfect symmetry!

Because even laundry is fun in a room like this!

Source: thingsthatinspire.net via LLH Designs on Pinterest

Because sunlight and white monogrammed

towels are so fresh and clean!

Source: housebeautiful.com via LLH Designs on Pinterest

Because my girls would love this:

{and because I love order and symmetry}:

Source: nurserynotations.com via LLH Designs on Pinterest

Because it's immaculate with clean lines...

even if it isn't exactly my design style.

Sometimes peering into clean spaces inspires me to get up and get back to it, but this time, it inspired me to doze off and take a little nap! All was quiet until I heard the vacuum cleaner. What? Who???

Would you believe I came downstairs and saw this?

{My girls cleaning!}

And this!

{My husband creating a master list.}

He started them out with this:

Then refined it on his beloved Macbook Air.

{A printable list the girls can use each week.}

And all the while,
my girls were working hard...

...with cheerful hearts...

...as their crazy mama stood around
taking pictures!


Daddy paid them...

...$2.00 plus a $0.25 bonus for a job well done.
{Surely they deserve a little more next time!}

It looked SO GOOD when they finished...
almost magazine worthy! Way to go girls!

All is clean except for my little corner...

...but there's always tomorrow!

Time for dinner...
a fresh and easy meal.

{frittata + mixed greens}

Followed by two more chapters of Anne of Green Gables.

What a perfect evening! And maybe it's just me, but when the kitchen is clean, the whole house feels cleaner. Thank you, sweet girls. You made this mama's day!

Oh, Happy Day!

P.S. Remember the chandelier that sat on my floor for eight months {here} while I waited for inspiration to strike? My husband spoke my love language when he offered to hang it over the weekend!

{Oh, the little things!}

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