6.30.2013

Rescue Operation

As much as I love our family worship in the barn, I felt inspired to go to church this morning. {I'm drawn by the humility and authenticity of a pastor who has reached out and spent time with us, despite our spotty attendance and my propensity to cry anytime I talk about our move. Brave man!}

When I show up with an open heart, God always does more than I expect. And today was no exception. Only this time, He added something new to the mix: a rescue operation. Not His rescue of me, but the kind of rescue you'd least expect at church on Sunday.

{Abandoned kittens.}

When the facilities manager arrived early this morning, there was a brand new pet carrier next to the church sign down by the road...with three kittens and a jug of cat food. Strategically placed.


We were already in the car and leaving when my girls asked if I had seen the kittens they were giving away. Um, no. "They could be our barn cats, Mama!" Um, right. I don't know what compelled me to do the crazy thing of pulling back into my parking spot and walking over to those kittens.

They look like house cats {clean, gentle and well fed}. And we can't have house cats {husband and youngest are allergic}. But here we were some of the last people at church and not a soul had offered to take them home. And we really have been wanting barn cats {to control the mice}.

So I asked the facilities manager if he thought it would be cruel to turn them into barn cats, and he said not as cruel as taking them to an animal shelter.

Well, that line did it.
So here they are...on our farm.




This one, which I promptly named Boaz,
is the only one we've been able to hold.

I have to say, I'm a little worried about the pretty white one. She doesn't have the gift of camouflage. In these parts, there are predators. The kind that swoop down and airlift sweet pets into the sky. When we see a Lost Cat or Lost Dog sign, it's often a small white one. Buddy and Bella are our only hope. But they sleep all day and are alert all night. Not sure if they know about daytime predators.

{Our dogs don't have a clue that we have three new barn kitties.}

I've never said yes to a rescue before. Never even come close. I'm the girl who thinks through things. Scratch that. I overthink things to the point that the opportunity has often passed by the time I make a decision. But today was different. I don't know if it's that my heart was in a tender place {I was feeling lonely this morning; still happens from time to time...even after a year}...or if it's that leaving everything familiar and comfortable behind in exchange for all new and unknown has taken me to a whole new level of brave and crazy! Either way, it feels right.

Operation "Rescue Three Kittens" is complete.
Happy Sunday!
P.S. In other rescue operation news, I fed 74 children today. It was easy! I went to Target to buy cat food, and saw the brand new FEED Project line. {And of course, no one goes to Target and comes out with only the needed things on the list!}

Great items for a great cause.
{You even buy online!}





6.27.2013

The 2013 Southern Living Idea House: Rustic Meets Refined

Yesterday, I traded my barn boots for white jeans and gold flip flops...leaving dust, ducks and chickens behind for a more refined farmhouse experience. I got to tour the 2013 Southern Living Idea House at Fontanel with interior designer Phoebe Howard and Southern Living's Editor In Chief, Lindsay Bierman. What a treat!

Classic farmhouse style.
{Inspired by a 150 year-old farmhouse in Leiper's Fork.}

Here's the official photo from Southern Living:

{Photo by Laurey W. Glenn.}

It was an invitation only sneak peek for design bloggers. Can you believe anyone still considers me a design blogger after all these posts on dream chasing and farm living? I was honored to be included.

I may be a farmgirl now {who shares too many raw emotions on her so-called design blog}, but one thing is for sure: I know beauty when I see it...and my beauty loving heart was overflowing after yesterday's tour!

We were allowed to photograph the exterior...
and only a few interior spaces.

The guest house stands alone, but is connected by porch. 

Darling little "bunkies" flank the main house.
{Love the limestone base.}

Board and batten shutters painted in SW Porpoise.
{The siding is SW Intellectual Grey.}


I loved all the exterior lighting from Bevolo.


I wanted this French Quarter Yoke for our farmhouse,
but my budget said this one from Ballard will do for now.

I took this shot for all of you School House light lovers!
{Also from Bevolo.}


Doesn't it look great mixed in with the copper lanterns and ceiling fans?


Lots of outdoor seating and dining thanks to 2800 SF of porches!
All outdoor furnishings are from Ballard Designs.

{A trick from Phoebe Howard: nail those outdoor rugs into place.}

Even the swing came from Ballard Designs.

I think I "need" one of these for our farmhouse porch.

We weren't able to photograph much of the inside,
but here are a few shots:

{Photo by Laurey W. Glenn for Southern Living.}

Love the barn door!

I've always wondered what these Ballard shelves looked like in person. Great!
{I love it when a renowned designer uses pieces available to the public.}

Love the detail at the base of the cabinets.
{The colors are a little off because of the lighting, but the cabinets
are SW Accessible Beige and the walls are SW Moderate White.}

Phoebe Howard surprised even herself with that red ceiling!
{That's Rachel Halvorson in the doorway. Love her style.}

I was so enjoying my little visit with Rachel and her cute friend
that I failed to take my usual detail shots in the guest house,
but here's one from Style Blueprint I wish I had taken:

Ticking is an obvious choice for a farmhouse, but I never would've thought
to use it in so many ways! Very cozy. {Photo by Wiff Harmer.}

I could go on and on about the inside of the house had I been allowed to photograph all the details that caught my eye, but we'll have to wait for the August issue of Southern Living to see more. Wait until you see the main living room with its high ceilings, reclaimed beams, wide plank floors, oversized lanterns, planked walls and serene color palette {inspired by the surrounding Tennessee hills}...all graced with plenty of natural light and sunshine. While designing the interiors, Phoebe said she imagined a big, strong, rugged farmer and his petite, very feminine, blonde-haired wife living there. I loved that! What a strong visual for the rustic and refined balance she created in this house. 

While we wait for the August issue, I'll just come right out and tell you that Phoebe Howard's work is flawless. As I toured the house, it was so obvious that she's doing what God made her to do. And when you do what God made you to do, it's so inspiring and life giving to others. I made a point to tell her so when I met her. {Not that she needed to hear that from a farmgirl in Franklin, but she received my encouragement ever so graciously!}

Phoebe Howard sitting in the library.
{Photo by Reed Brown for Southern Living.}

The book signing line had dwindled by the time I discovered it, so Phoebe and I had a few minutes to chat about farmhouses, the perfect blue-gray-green of my chicken eggs, and being a beauty lover turned designer later in life. Did you know she didn't start her design work until she was 38? She has four children and wanted to to that job well. I so admire her for that. It's proof that your passion can wait and that your gifts and talents aren't limited to your younger years. They'll still be there in spades when your children grow up!

I can't believe we got to come home with these two beautiful books.
I can't wait to flip through them on my porch swing
with a big glass of green tea lemonade!

A huge thank you to Dana Tucker, who stumbled upon my blog, loved my photographs, read the heart behind my words, reached out, and invited me to attend this event with her. Our conversations on the way to Fontanel and back were as inspiring to me as the house itself.

On the front porch of the Idea House with Dana Tucker.

Here's a better look at the beautiful door we're blocking:

{Photo by Wiff Harmer via Style Blueprint.}

If you live anywhere near Nashville or are visiting Nashville anytime between June 29 and December 29, treat yourself to a tour of this house and its surrounding gardens. Especially if you like farmhouses with a rustic meets refined style. The magazine photos are sure to be fabulous, but there's nothing like seeing beauty in person!

Your ticket purchase will not only bless you with beauty and inspiration, but it will also bless precious children who are fighting for their lives. Part of the ticket sales will be donated to St. Jude.

This is sweet Mae. {Photo courtesy of Southern Living.} She's the patient ambassador
to the house...and just so happens to be the daughter of a college friend. 
You can learn more about her story here

When the August issue of Southern Living comes out, let's flip through and talk about this house as if we're sharing the same porch swing! I've got more sources and details to share when the official photos are released. Until then, you can get a few more sneak peeks here.

Beauty and blessings to you!

P.S.
After the touring season,
this fabulous farmhouse will become a bed and breakfast!

P.P.S.
You might enjoy this interview with Phoebe Howard
and Lindsay Bierman over at Interior Canvas.

One last photo...

The design team and a handful of design bloggers.
What a honor to stand near this much talent!


6.26.2013

I Just Ordered My First Ever Photo Book!

I'm flipping out just a little bit because I finally made a photo book for my family! This has been on my mental to-do list for 8 years, so actually getting it done feels like a huge feat.

When you have thousands of unprinted photos spanning nearly a decade, knowing where to start is half the battle. My advice is to pick an occasion, event or year that inspires you and go from there. Our one year anniversary on the farm was it for me.

Here's the cover:


A few pages:

{The panoramic pages are my favorite.}





And the back cover:


After all the change my family has faced, all the faith and courage we've mustered up, and all the highs and lows we've waded through in the last year, I thought we deserved a book. Something to hold in our hands that honors our leap of faith move from the city to the country. We'll tell the stories as we turn the pages. Again and again and again.

Here's to living your story...and finding time to record it!


P.S. One of the biggest obstacles for some of us is our fear of imperfection. The designer, photographer and beauty lover in me wants a stellar book. The perfectionist in me wants it to be perfect on the first try. But we all know where that leads: no book! The recovering perfectionist in me finally won. I didn't research all the companies, create my own design or spend weeks agonizing over it. A recovering perfectionist knows that an imperfect book is better than no book at all!

P.P.S. I went with Shutterfly because of a timely discount. I added a matte cover and extra thick, lay-flat pages. I'll let you know how it turns out. I've also heard Blurb is good. Have you found a great photo book source?

6.20.2013

The First Real Egg

Hope did it again...for real this time!
Look at this beauty!


Isn't it glorious?!?!
 My favorite color in the world.
{We picked this breed for my beauty loving heart!}

A funny story: when I was agonizing over the paint colors for the farmhouse, my good friend in Houston said, "Stop stressing! Just take a bunch of those pale colored eggs to the paint store and tell them to match the colors!" {This from a friend who loves bright colors, but knows my style. And she's so right: most of my house looks like pale eggshells!}

The first eggs are so sweet and petite.

{Hope's egg compared to a neighbor's egg.} 

And I just have to show you...


...how great these stoneware egg crates look filled with farm fresh eggs.
{Our new glass-front refrigerator allows us to admire our eggs all day!}

Thanks for sharing in our excitement!

P.S. Thanks for the tips about added calcium and oyster shells to help harden the shells. Hope's first egg was soft and squishy, but this one was perfect! No added calcium yet, but we'll keep an eye on that. And she laid this one in a nest of her own making...not in the coop, but in the barn. We'll try the golf ball trick in the nesting boxes.

6.18.2013

The Golden Egg

The girls dashed from the barn
and burst through the kitchen door with wild excitement!

"Hope laid an egg! Hope laid an egg!"


Finding the first egg was like finding gold.


We took turns holding it...


...and were careful not to break it.

Because this wasn't your everyday egg.


It was soft and squishy...missing its hard shell.

{Apparently, that's normal for the first few eggs. Who knew?}

And while we were admiring the first egg,
our girl Hope laid another.


Just like that. No shell at all.
{Learning as we go!}

And here's our golden girl:

{Hope. The one we prayed over. So proud of her!}

Checking for eggs has brought a whole new
level of excitement to our farm duties!

Hopefully, our girls will learn to use the nesting boxes in the coop.
Any tips on how to make that happen?

P.S. Finding an egg was especially exciting during a week when we're losing yet another chicken. We've lost half our flock to an incurable disease. They've all been exposed, so it's just a matter of waiting to see who will survive. A slow and painful process...made brighter by the HOPE that we might have a few who make it. Once again, farm life is teaching us how to hold both the pain and the glory.
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