Wedding Day

Almost 16 years ago, this sweet and serious
little guy was the ring bearer in our wedding:

JD's little brother in 1998.

And today, he's all grown up and getting MARRIED! We are so proud of the man he's become: honest, wise, responsible, faithful and servant-hearted. {He's currently serving our country in the Navy after graduating from the Naval Academy.}

But what really gets me about his heart today is that he asked his big brother to be his Best Man. Such an honor. {Just thinking about it makes me misty-eyed.} My husband didn't get to spend a lot of years at home with his brother {he was a junior in high school when his brother was born}, but he has always adored him. I'll never forget watching them interact when I first met JD. So sweet and tender.

A cute story: when JD bought my engagement ring {only a few months after we met}, the only person he showed it to was his 7-year old brother. He told him to keep it a secret. And he did!

JD tying his brother's shoe on our wedding day.

As I sit in the same church where my husband and I were married so many years ago, I know my heart {and eyes} will swell with admiration and thanksgiving. The bride will be beautiful and radiant as only a bride can be, but my gaze will be upon these two brothers as they stand side by side all these years later.

With love and joy,


Cue The Angels {An Early Christmas Present}

Remember what I said on Monday about the power of words in your home? Well, here you go: beautifully crafted words from an amazing woman and her husband! When Tara of Between You and Me asked if I'd like to feature one her new Christmas signs in my home, of course I said yes! A handmade, distressed sign made by a kindred spirit hanging in my farmhouse? What's not to love?

{A discount code just for you at the end of this post!}

If you've read Tara's blog, you know she loves words. She writes them, she reads them, she gets the power of them. And then she makes art out of them! I love this girl, and I've never even met her. {Hopefully that will change now that we live closer!}

It takes a LOT to inspire me to enter a hot attic in August and dig out Christmas decor, but when Tara's sign arrived, I was over the moon. My girls laughed as I shouted "Cue the angels!" and went straight to the hottest corner of the attic to gather a few accessories. Down came the mirror. Up went these beautiful words...right next to my front door:

O Come All Ye Faithful is one of my all time favorite hymns. {A choir sang it at my wedding, and it truly sounded like the angels were singing over us!} Joyful & Triumphant are my two favorite words, but I also love this invitation to come and behold the king of angels:

With words like that,
I couldn't resist an angel and a crown.

One last look as I come down the stairs:

Soft lamplight and a glowing candle would've been a nice touch. Oh, well...I'm doing good to know where my angel and Christmas books are this time of year! One thing I might add in December: some fresh greenery. But other than that, I'll let the sign do the talking.

Tara, I can't tell what a blessing it is to have this sign in my home...and so early! As I gear up for my 10th Christmas card season, you have given me just the inspiration I needed to start designing!

And sweet readers, you may not be feeling the Christmas spirit just yet, but maybe a 10% discount from Tara's Etsy shop will inspire you! Your coupon code is LLHDESIGNS. {Good through Nov 15.}

Joy to you!
Check out all 12 Christmas signs featured in the homes of these fabulous ladies:

{That girl in the ball cap laughing as she rides the tractor
for the first time...that would be me. Total farmgirl moment!}


Simple Little Happies for Your House

What does a girl do when she doesn't want to fold laundry, empty the dishwasher or make dinner on a Monday evening? She walks around the house with a camera in search of little things that make her happy! Totally normal, right?!?!

OK, maybe not normal, but I thought I'd share because there might be a few of these little "happies" you could use in your own home.

1. Fresh herbs in place of flowers

My youngest daughter gets all the credit.
She started this tradition, and I just follow in her footsteps.

Green adds life to any spot.
And the scent is better than any contrived fragrance.

Basil grows like crazy, so you can part with some for your house.

We always keep a little vase in the kitchen, too...
for beauty, scent and to liven up our dinners.

2. This book

Simple, helpful and funny.

3. These mugs

$10 for a set of two.

For those "I need a BIG cup of something" mornings.

4. Favorite photos along the stairway.

I've used these frames in my house for years. Love them.
{Lucky for you, they're on sale at the moment.}

This was a HUGE feat for me, so I have to say a little more about it. I haven't printed photos in almost 8 years. {Crazy, I know.} And gallery walls overwhelm me. But the handprints on the wall weren't the artwork I had in mind. I needed something pretty to enjoy and finally found the inspiration to make this happen. We all four LOVE this wall now. So my point for you: go for it! Print your favorite photos, frame them, and hang them in an otherwise boring spot that you pass by every single day. You'll LOVE the difference it makes. {These frames come with hanging templates that makes it super easy!}

5. A large family canvas

Had this portrait taken 3 1/2 years ago and finally printed it!
I couldn't be happier! With gallery wrapped edges, you don't need a frame.
{I ordered mine here using a 50% first-time order coupon.}

6. Life-giving words

My sister and I made this chalkboard when she was here this summer.
{I had the vision, but needed her skills!}

Words are so powerful. A worthy addition to your home decor for sure...and for so little expense. You don't have to make a cute chalkboard or have any skills to add life-giving words to your home. There are all kinds of creative people out there who design great looking signs and prints that you can order for a very reasonable price. {You'll find lots on Etsy.} 

I hope you enjoyed my procrastination efforts tonight! And more than that, I hope you'll find one of these things useful for adding a little life to your own home.



Duck Happenings

Oh, how I miss my farmgirls! Taking care of 42 animals each morning isn't nearly as delightful when you're on your own. I keep wondering if they could just skip all this school and homework business...or maybe just go to school three days a week and boycott homework. Wouldn't they turn out just fine with all the real life lessons on the farm? {Crazy thoughts from a once overzealous school girl who prized academic excellence above all else.}

One of the things I miss about having the girls here {aside from their help} is that there's no one to witness the glories of everyday life with me. So here I sit, sharing these little wonders on the blog...where my farmgirls will get to see them with you.

This week's glory belongs to the ducks. We started with 10 surprise ducklings in February and are down to three. The losses have been hard for sure, but the Mallards have filled us with so much wonder that we decided to buy 13 more a few weeks ago.

No matter how many we've had, they always stick together, so it's easy to do a head count each morning.

One, two, three.

But this week, as I do the morning headcount...

...there are only two.
{Their sideways stares crack us up!}

When I see one missing, my first thought is always predator. I wasn't in the mood to walk the entire pasture in search of feathers, so I started looking around the back yard. The chickens and ducks have been wandering out of the fence line the last few weeks, and I've seen them in the brush, so that's where I started. {They're getting brave. This morning, our male Mallard was on the back porch right at our door!}

I walked a circle around the first patch of brush and didn't see anything. But then I walked around again, this is what I saw:

Do you see her in there?

I almost missed her! Isn't amazing how perfectly camouflaged she is? I've always wondered why God gave the males all the beauty with their green heads and silvery feathers while the females were just blah and brown. But now I get it! God made the female that way so that she could disappear while sitting on her nest. Otherwise, she'd be a "sitting duck" who makes the perfect target for predators! 

When she left the nest,
I went back to see what I could see...

Hidden behind the thorns...

Truth be told, the eggs weren't this visible. I moved a few leaves and twigs aside not knowing that she intentionally covers them each day after she lays. {Thank you, Google, for teaching me about the nesting habits of Mallards! I won't mess with those twigs again!}

Here's how her nest looks this morning:

Can't see a thing unless you lean in real close:

And even then, only a hint of an egg and a duck feather.

I can't help but wonder if this girl will be a mama...

We have no idea if these eggs are fertile or not, but it's possible. We've seen some mating action. {It's a little rougher than I imagined.} But it's not exactly springtime, so who knows. Learning as we go and leaving her "clutch" of eggs alone just in case there are babies in there.

Happy Weekend, sweet friends!


Not Your Average Sunday Morning

When a farmgirl shows up at a city church, she may look "normal" by the time she gets there, but let me tell you, her morning was anything but normal! At least compared to a city girl's morning routine...which was all I knew until this year. I clean up well {I even wore a dress yesterday!}, but you should've seen me for the first three hours of my morning!

When I lived in the city, I couldn't have imagined life on a farm if I tried. Oh, I thought I knew: front porch rocking, beautiful views, peace and quiet. Sure sounds dreamy! But wait until you add animals to the mix! I never dreamed of cleaning duck troughs before church. Don't try this in a dress. Or finding rotten eggs at the bottom of the water-filled trough. Who would've known? Or rounding up chickens who've wandered far beyond the fence. It's like herding cats. Or waking up to three otters in the pond. What? Otters in Tennessee? 

Yes, there are otters here. River Otters to be exact. The ones you think of as cute and playful...until they're in your pond. I've done some research on river otters since yesterday morning, and here's what I've learned: they are protected in most cases. Endangered species type of protection. Unless they're in your private pond eating every fish you've stocked in that pond...and going after your duck eggs. Then it's game on with the otters.

But we don't have fish yet. Because our pond has some problems. And until we have the extra cash to fix it, well...it looks like this:

Green because it needs aeration; low because it's leaking.

See the three otters in the middle of the picture? {They look tiny because I'm standing on the opposite side of the pond and this is as far as my zoom would go, but they're pretty good sized.} My dogs saw them, too. And at 5AM, they let us know something wasn't right on the farm. They sounded the alarm with a booming bark...the kind that lets us know there's an intruder of some sort.

I wish I had a picture of the dogs in action. Tails curled tightly, eyes fixed intently, ears perked, standing at the edge of the water looking like they were going to dive in. Those otters didn't stand a chance...

...until I walked over and the dogs ran around the pond to greet me. Sweet, gentle puppies. But when the otters tried to make their escape, the dogs took off like racehorses. Part of me was horrified and fearful for the otters; the other part of me was in awe of what my dogs could do if our farm was in danger.

I'm sorry to tell those of you who have a thing for otters, but one of them didn't make it. I wish the dogs could make a distinction and just run them off the property, but I don't know how to train them to do that. The truth is, they did their job.

One day when our pond is filled with fish, we'll be thankful that our dogs can keep the otters away. Because when you stock a pond only to find that otters are eating all your fish, it feels like you've been robbed. {Unless you're stocking the pond to attract otters...who eat up to 2.5 pounds of fish a day and leave the smelly carcasses for you!}

Once the dogs knew their job was done, they returned calmly to the barn and assumed their position at the front of it. Then passed out until they were needed again.

Buddy and Bella, our gentle giants...
having a chat about the river otters before their nap.

Check out those dirty paws!

As I pulled in the church parking lot all cleaned up in my dress and lip gloss, I had to laugh at all I had seen and done before putting on my "church look" that morning. If we went to a true country church, I'm sure we'd all be standing around sharing crazy farm stories, but in the city, I'm thinking my farm stories are a little much for quick hallway chatter. {Still my least favorite part of church.} And so I share it with you here! Thanks for listening, sweet blog friends!

In other farm news, one of our Buff Orpingtons {the yellow ones} started laying this week!

Our first brown egg.
They start out so small and cute!

The more animals we add, the more interesting things are around here. It's a lot of work and a huge learning curve, but we're all four working together in a way we never did in the city...and that's a blessing!

I hope your week gets off to a great start!

P.S. It's posts like these that make me laugh at my blog name. What started as a normal behind the scenes look at a designer's inspiration has turned into farmgirl chronicles with the occasional design post. You just never know where God is going to lead you in this life!


Celebrating A Happy Return + Friendship

It's been just over a year since we left the life we knew in Houston and moved to a small farm in Franklin. I remember this time last year so well: nothing felt familiar, comfortable or easy. We dropped our girls off at a new school trusting in the story that led us there, but we really had no idea how things would go for them. {Girls, you were so brave. And I am so proud of you!}

Fast forward a year, and for the first time since we've moved, we get to return to a familiar place...and a place we love...even if it does mean homework! {I'm so not a fan. What happened to free play and family time?}

Fun to see how they've grown since last year.

It's hard for me to give up the simplicity of summer {no activities, no camps, no schedules for us...just lots of family time and freedom} to the confining schedule of school, but the truth is, I couldn't ask for more in a school. They embraced our whole family with open arms. It really has been the easiest part of our move.

And it's through our school that we've found friends who feel like family. Last weekend, a school family spent the night at our farm. The whole family. Who does that?!?! I never imagined anyone whose own home is only 30 minutes away would pack up and stay with us, cook with us, clean the chicken coop with us and even iron the 10 shirts we've ignored for months, but this family did. We never experienced anything like this in Houston, but living life together under one roof is the sweetest thing. We're hoping to make it a quarterly tradition. {I'm still pinching myself!}

And then there are the two school families who happen to be our neighbors. Really? In the country? Yes! Blessed beyond measure with these two families. One of these families was the first to greet us when we moved in. This sweet woman walked through our overgrown pasture with hugs and bag full of snacks and household necessities. She was literally the heart of God to us that day. We've spent lots of time chatting at the fence, sharing a glass of wine and driving each other's children to and from school.

And the neighbors behind us...we didn't meet them until about five months ago, but we made up for lost time this summer! We are kindred spirits for sure...raising our families in similar ways. Like our other neighbors, they have boys, but that doesn't stop our kids from spending hours together enjoying good, old-fashioned fun. It has brought so much life and joy to our hearts to connect with this family. We've even cleared a pathway from our house to theirs!

All of this would be more than enough {I'm a girl who thrives on just a few heart friends vs. a big crowd}, but God keeps giving more. Friends to walk with, friends to meet for coffee, friends who can handle my tears, friends who relate to our story...even friends who love beauty. We've been blessed beyond anything we could've asked or imagined. {Ephesians 3:20 is one of my favorite ways to pray.}

One of the scariest parts of moving for me was, "Who will I lean on when I need somebody?" Who will help me in a pinch? Who will pray for me when I can't pray for myself? Who will help me find my way? Who will pick up my girls if I can't? Who will invite us to do things? Who will think of us, love us and know us?

When you leave all of your friends, family and connections behind, these are legitimate heart cries. I cried out every single one of those things to God, but most of all, I prayed that He would make room in people's hearts for us. And He did. 

If you're the new girl this year {new school, new neighborhood, new town, new whatever}, I can tell you one thing for sure: God will show up for you. It takes time to form real friendships, but God will show up. Sometimes He may hold off the friends so that you can come to Him first. But oh, how He loves to come for you through friendship.

As I wrap this up, I feel like there's one last thing I should share for those who might need to know you aren't alone: I haven't always had it easy when it comes to friendship. My story is laced with heartache and longing. No lifelong friends or best friends who've remained. I started believing I was too much and that there wasn't a friend for me...or one who would stay. But God. {My favorite two words in all of Scripture.} He has healed so much of my heart and restored so much more than I could've imagined in the friendship department! Praying that for you today if you need it.

Here's to a new school year, new friends, and more than we can ask or imagine!

With love and joy,

P.S. If you're not the new girl this year, would you be on the look out for the one who is?  I bet she could use a friend like you today!


One of My Favorite Spots {The Wine Room}

A funny thing happened when we moved from our beautiful home in the city to a beautiful farm in the country: I started enjoying the beauty God created instead of trying to create so much of my own.

That's not to say that I've stopped creating beauty inside my home, but it's a much slower process with a much lower priority. My beauty cup is so full from all that surrounds me outside that what I do inside is more like a bonus than a necessity for my beauty loving heart. {So different from my 37 years in Houston.}

Truth be told, my favorite place on our farm is the barn hammock. Not pretty or clean, but oh so peaceful. I could sit out there and watch the animals for hours. But after last week's farmgirl moment, you better believe I'm happy to have an indoor spot to retreat to...and this is it:

We call it "The Wine Room."
{Small room off the kitchen. It would be a great
"keeping room" if the wall weren't there.}

When we're not on the porch, this is where my husband and I
like to pour a glass of wine, catch up on the day,
chat about life, and enjoy the view.

Remember the red armoire?
I'm pretty sure it's the boldest thing I own.
{Bought it straight out of a friend's garage 10 years ago and still love it.}

Here it was in our Houston home:

This was our spot for wine drinking in Houston.
{Lots of Franklin dreaming took place in here!}

Our farmhouse has a lot of little rooms,
so I had to get creative with mixing up my existing furniture.

The white chairs in the current Wine Room
came from the Master Bedroom in Houston.

{That room was crazy big!}

Back to the Wine Room.
Here are some of the details I enjoy in this little space...

The antique wine tasting table gave the room it's purpose and name.
{Purchased here. It survived toddler artwork.}

Antique wooden shield-turned-lamp.
{Purchased here.}

A World Market purchase.
A great look for an incredible price...
though I had to try three before finding a good one.

Another Texas find here.

Antique door from City Farmhouse.
{Would make a great headboard, too.}

Love the patina and the hardware.
{I added the sconce.}

A rare A-Z collection also found at City Farmhouse.

Collected over the years on various Midcoast Maine islands.

My birthday present back in January.
{I only had the patience for a few lessons, so I'm playing by ear.}

A detail shot of my favorite chair from Quatrine.
White linen with ecru trim. Love the corners.

And of course, books.
{I'm a fan of books in every room.}

Reading a lot about farm things these days.

Really pleased with the quality of my first photo book.

And this isn't the best shot with the bright light outside,
but I wanted to share the real beauty of this room...the view out front.

And the outdoor shutters instead of curtains.
{We plan to mount them, but they're super heavy. Farmboy muscles are needed!}

I fell in love with weathered blue gray shutters when visiting Provence 12 years ago...and finally found four here in Franklin for a price I felt comfortable paying. And they are the exact height of my windows! {Once we mount them.} It was a 12 year wait, but if you love something, you can afford to be patient. You'll still love it in a decade, and you can always find a way to use what you love.

I used the second pair in the room across the hall.

Another small sitting room...perfect for sharing with another couple.
It's been through a few tweaks since we moved in last July.
{Still loving this painting my sister did for me!}

Other notes from the Wine Room:
  • The walls are Manchester by Pratt & Lambert; the ceilings are half formula Wickham Gray by Benjamin Moore. {The same paint colors from my Houston kitchen.}
  • All slip covered furniture is from Quatrine. {My favorite furniture source. Expensive, but I've had my pieces for years. They wash and wear well. Nice details, too.}
  • The leopard rug is from Ballard Designs. Indoor/outdoor. {Mine is the old version. They have a new one now. Softer maybe? I cut it to fit the room. Risky, but it worked.}
  • The seagrass stool is from Wisteria. {My favorite online source.}
I think that covers it! Sitting in my white chair by the window this very moment...pretending like all I need to do today is stare out this window and enjoy the view!

Blessings and joy,
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