8.22.2014

Easy tips to cozy up your house

Picture this, a breeze gently blowing through the shutters while you nestle by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa, better yet, a pumpkin spice latte in hand. That, my friends, is your perfect fall day.

Yes, we are those people that start trimming the tree come November so it's only suitable that in this household we start dressing out the house with fall decor pronto. Plus, given it's only a month until the official start date of this season, I thought now is a better time than ever. 

There's just one minor fall 'faux pas', it's not traditional to deck out your pad for this season in this country. Why? Simply because there's no Thanksgiving, that, paired with the fact that Autumn just symbolizes the ushering in of a long winter. Given that I've never let that stop me before, here's some tips to dress up your space and welcome this fresh + chilly time of year. 

Fall decor in a few easy + affordable tips. 



1. Select a color palette that suits your room. The color scheme in our living room is crisp white with robin egg blue and silver accents. There are also a few wooden pieces thrown in to warm the space up a bit. Throwing in a lot of oranges, auburns and golds just wouldn't have suited the space, so I've chosen to stick with the whites + neutrals. Decide what color scheme would work for you and play around with finding decor to complement your space. After a few coats of gray paint this pumpkin which was once a bright orange now perfectly suits the room.

2. Consider what you already have. The pumpkin above, for instance, took little effort and yet added an extra touch to the mantel. These feathers + branches were left over in the garage from a previous arrangement and, because I had already decided a theme, I knew they would work for this season. Take a look around to see what you already own + how you can switch it around to fit the seasonal decor. 

3. You can never have too many candles. For the wintry months candles are always a 'yes'. The ambiance the light of a candle gives off instantly warms the room, and the scent also adds a dimension to your decor. I've chosen spiced pumpkin + cinnamon stick flavors, the aroma makes you want to snuggle up and cuddle those that you love + share stories of years gone by. Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic but I bet it painted a pretty picture in your head? 


4. Printables are another easy way to transition your summer decor to the autumn season. I've chosen this set of letters for the mantle and this chalkboard print for the dining area. It instantly sets the tone and it's an easy way to tie in the decor.





5. Bring the outdoors inside. Fruit styled in a decorative bowl can easily add to the table decor, either fresh or artificial. I paired this fake fruit with cinnamon potpourri to adorn the table. 

Anyone else just as ready for fall? I'd love to know some of your seasonal decor ideas? Cheers to the approaching season ahead, now if only I had a PSL in hand... 
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8.18.2014

Consider this...

Why hello there beauties, stunners, babes, or even the gent or two. It's a new glorious week and someone, somewhere out there needs you to slap on that smile and put your best foot forward. I know, Monday comes early and it's not easy but consider this...


That elderly lady crossing the street needs you to be ready when the rain starts to pour.

Your friend depends on you to answer when your phone starts ringing at the most inconvenient time.

The doctor, cashier, postman, construction worker - they won't get a smile from anyone else today.

Or that acquaintance who could benefit from a prayer of hope and purpose.

Your better half could really use encouragement to help him get through his long, arduous day, the stress is just too much.

The young girl who hit your car needs your compassion more than you know.  This is minimal compared to what's going on in her world.

Your colleague at work who is quiet because there's a lot going on at home just needs someone to ask a simple, 'how are you', in order to muster up the words to share what weighs on their heart.

That family in the checkout line are two pounds too short and need to feed their family. Will you help?

Lets live with eyes wide open, there's just too much at stake to sit and let the world spin. Be a light to someone today.


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8.15.2014

Lessons from year two.

Mmmmm yawn, stretch, rise and shine - it's Friday!

I'm not sure what you've got up your sleeve for this weekend but I can let you in on what we'll be up to. Monday is our two year anniversary so this weekend will be used to celebrate. In some ways I can hardly believe I've been a 'Mrs' for two years and in other ways it feels like it's always been 'us'.

Snapshot from our wedding rehearsal 
To mark the first marriage milestone I wrote my thoughts on the things I learned in the first year - here. So to keep in similar fashion I thought I would do the same for year two. For anyone who has been married I think you'll agree that each year brings new challenges, new perspective and a deeper  appreciation and understanding of this special bond. 

I think you'll also agree that you never stop learning, so here's a little insight on what year two has taught us.

Compromise. Given that we moved into an unfurnished house, this trait has needed to be exercised time and time again. We've had to meet in the middle and find a common ground between my feminine decor and his man cave ideas. Elegant rustic is what I like to call it and it's beautiful. Compromise at the core can be a beautiful thing; two people blending taste, priorities, expectations and life, but it's also the breeding ground for a learning curve. The compromise on home decor is just a minimal example but there were times and will be times when this word will need to be applied to more meaningful situations. Safe to say it's a good lesson to learn sooner than later. 

The power of  yes + no. If you've read the latest edition of Across the Pond you'll remember I touched on this there. We are 'yes people' and love to help in anyway we can. We believe that community is important and we love 'going' + 'doing'. However, if we aren't careful we can end up wearing ourselves too thin and burning out. This year, more so than the first, we've had to learn to prioritize our commitments. We've learned that making time for each other needs to remain important as does finding adequate moments of rest. This lesson is most definitely a work-in-progress but one that has started to ring ever so important. 

Don't forget romance. Life doesn't stop, ever, and it's easy to get so wrapped up in our everyday tasks that we could easily forget to make time for romance, as crazy as that might sound. One of the things we soon realized is that we need to keep life exciting, still make time for date nights, still spoil each other in the littlest and most thoughtful ways and never ever wear tired of saying, 'I love you' and meaning it. My heart still melts when Stephen fixes me my morning cup of coffee and his smile says it all when I whip up some amazing grub. It's those little things that can add the spark into our everyday. 

What are some lessons marriage has taught you?

Rumor has it we're going to a fancy-schmancy dinner paired with a spa and we might even treat ourselves to a lazy breakfast-in-bed kinda morning. One thing's for sure, my husband has learned the way to my heart. In more ways than this of course.

Cheers to a beautiful weekend friends!

wedding day snapshot
Snapshot from our wedding day

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8.13.2014

Across the Pond | Two year reflections


That's right, we're back again and sooner than usual, bringing you another edition of our Across the Pond series. This time we're reflecting on two years of being wed to our English men. In true twinnie fashion Elise + Mark married the same year and just a weekend before Stephen and I. Who would have expected anything different?

These two love birds will have you swooning in no time.

You know the drill... once you're done reading Elise's response below head on over to her blog, Cheer's Y'all where you can view mine.
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The basics: when/where were you married?

August 11, 2012 in Charlotte NC. Then we had a "mini-moon" and flew to Mark's hometown in England to have a wedding blessing August 18, 2012 (Tara's wedding day!).

Elizabeth Scott Photography | Lucinda Scott Photography

Looking back what was your favorite part of your wedding ceremony?

Oh gosh. Without a doubt, it was walking down the aisle to Mark. Leaving behind the life I've always known to start a new one with Marky by my side everyday. His face...he's not a crier but he said it all with his precious face. I still watch this clip over and over again and swoon!!!  

What about the reception? 

Having all of our friends and family from across the country and across the pond in ONE ROOM...it was insane. Absolutely amazingly insane. I wish we could have a reception reunion party at every anniversary of ours. :)

Elizabeth Scott Photography
What is the biggest lesson you learned (or have continued learning) this past year?

Servanthood. Our pastor from home always says, "marriage is the graduate school of servanthood." I think that's a lesson I'll be learning forever. On days when Mark's shoes throughout the house bug me, I fold another towel that was put in the sink instead of hung up, or when I find dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher...I think about how much I would miss the mess. As much as the mess ("Hurricane Mark" as his mum and I call it) drives me bonkers....when he's not around I miss it. Tending to it is part of the way I serve him and serve our marriage as keeper of our home. All in all: I'm thankful for his mess. He's a hot mess indeed. HA! ;)

The hardest part of year two?

The moving transition. The winter months were lonely. We had each other, of course, but there were times we really missed Charlotte and seriously considered moving back.

The highlight of year two?

The same: moving! The adventure has been 100% worth it. We are both happier than we've ever been and more than certain that this is where we are supposed to be. Life on the coast. Cheers!!!
 

Name a few things marriage has taught you about yourself.

Sometimes I just need an attitude check. Making a bed can change from an annoying chore to a time to be thankful and pray for my husband in the matter of a second.

Mark teaches me that I don't need to plan so much. Life is beautiful as it comes.

I've also learned that I'm more prideful than I realize. Mark is a better apologizer than I am. Stubborn is not always good --  I'm good at waiting for him to apologize before I apologize too. Not proud of that. But I am working on it! :)

What is something about marriage that has surprised you?

I've always been a very independent person. Marriage has made me more dependent...on Mark...in the healthiest, most whole, happy way. Mark and I are one now. It's not my life and his life and we just live together...everything is very much ours. I think there's a holy beauty, a mysterious oneness that comes alongside being married.


Kristin Vining Photography
What do you love most about being married?

The little things. Sharing the little, inconsequential, mundane moments of my life with my best friend. Sharing a room with Mark. It's still cool that it's "our room." Snuggling every night. Laughing all the time because Mark is hilarious. And coming home. Mark and I have the same favorite part of the day...coming home from work to our home and to each other.

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Can't you just feel the love!? Happy Anny you two!

Time now to hop on over to Elise's blog Cheers Y'all, you've fallen in love with her love story now go fall in love with her blog.
Across the Pond Index
3. Making the Distance Work
4. Two year reflections (the post above)
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8.11.2014

What you might have missed + what's to come

Happy Monday my favorites, I woke up this morning feeling like I had stepped into a time machine and landed in October. The sun is shining and there's an autumn breeze filling the air that could have any fooled into thinking we were lost somewhere in those fall months. Although I'm typically in a desperate state for sunshine I do love this season that's upon us, it's filled with the start of game days, relaxing by the fire, scarves aplenty, cozy boots, warming bowls of chili, the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin filling the air and it inches us closer to Thanksgiving, which just so happens to include a trip to the big apple. Yes + yes, bring it fall . 

I've done a little home decor switch up and next week I will be bringing you my guide on transitioning that summer look to a fall feel with a few easy & affordable tips. Until then here are some things you might have missed on the blog. 

Ever find yourself wondering what to bring to that dinner party? I've shared some of my favorite hostess gifts, maybe you'll find something to inspire you for your next gathering.

Teaming up with my blog twin is just too much fun, last week we shared how we make the distance work. Catch us Wednesday sharing our two year reflections on marriage since we're both celebrating our annys this week. 

Newsie headlines are always better with a personal spin - read about the things we didn't know until last month here

Let's choose to make this week a great one shall we? Tell me what it is you're looking forward this fall - I'm dying to know!
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8.08.2014

Hostess with the Mostess

Ahhh... take a deep sigh of relief and relish in the fact that the weekend is now upon us. As I take a peak at our calendar I realize that autumn is quickly approaching but not before a slew of BBQs, a trip to London and squeezing in dinners + lunches with friends. All of which make my heart so very happy. And all of which have me scrambling for the perfect hostess gift. 

If you so happen to be in the same predicament let me assist you in narrowing down your options with a few of my go-to choices. 


1. Flowers. This isn't necessarily your dash to the closest grocery store and grab the bundle that looks furthest from dying suggestion, although I'm guilty of that in those moments of lack of time and lack of planning, and that's okay too. However,  it's an opportunity to throw in a dash a personality so opt for the florist, or better yet, the outdoor market. Start with choosing a color palate, wrap a bundle of your liking with some brown paper and adorn with some burlap ribbon and a bow. You could also select an arrangement and cut them down and position them in a mason jar with a bow around the lip, chic and easy. If you're budget conscious you can even take a selection from your own garden or opt for a bundle of baby's breath, both of which speak consideration and thoughtfulness.

2. Bubbly. Again, if time isn't on your side you could dash to the store and grab whatever catches your eye OR you could add a little touch. I think it's important to consider your company. If you're guest are more likely to use the champers as a filler for their wine rack then maybe it's better to bring a bottle of something more suitable. Perhaps a bottle of nice fizzy elderflower lemonade? Find something unique that they might not choose themselves and maybe they'll find a new favorite. Going to an outdoor BBQ? In this case consider the environment, maybe a better choice on this occasion is something like a Pimms in a can - easy to enjoy right away + refreshing. 

3. A selection of cheeses. Whether you head to your local farm shop or choose your closest grocery store, both are sure to have a variety of cheeses. This is a gift that can be used after dinner or saved for later. To add an extra touch pick up a wooden slate to arrange your selection on, it's sure to be a hit. (I've snagged these at TJ Maxx before) There will surely be something for everyone so it's hard to go too far wrong. Unless they are vegan or diary free in which case, stick with one of the others. 

4. Jar of sweets. I'm a slight sucker for packaging, possibly more so than what's inside. A simple and cost effective gift could be a jar of the hostess's favorite sweets. If you aren't sure what their favorite sweet treat is chocolate is always a safe bet, it's guaranteed someone in the house will devour it. You can find more of these here + here

5. Coffee.  Why not give something that you would be happy to receive? In my case it's coffee, my vice. Consider what it is that you just love + share that with the hostess. If it's someone you don't know that well this could serve as a conversation piece and who knows maybe your favorite will become theirs. Package your gift well and it makes the perfect 'thank you'. 

I love gift giving so for me this is the perfect excuse to share a little love. Obviously the selection above is just a starter for ten. At the end of the day the most important thing is having friends together but a thoughtful something just gives that extra nod of thankfulness for the event, the food and the effort that it takes to host a party. You don't have to break the bank to show your utmost appreciation - the thought speaks for itself. 

What are some of your hostess gift ideas? Do share. 
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8.06.2014

Across the Pond || Making the distance work



Your bloggy twinnies are back for not one but TWO installments of our Across the Pond series this Wednesday & next. This week we are talking all things distance + how we make the distance work while being across the pond from our family + friends.


For those of you who may not know the back story lean your pretty ears this way while I give you a snappy recap. Elise (the Southern Bell) + Mark (the English gent) fell in love and decided to set up home in the USA. Stephen & I did the opposite and we are now planting roots in England. Oh and that's just the beginning of our similarities, you can catch up by reading our first of the series here and here. Once you've done that I think you'll see why we were just destined to meet. All the while I'm thanking Jesus that He sent me someone who could so relate.


Once you're done reading Elise's answers below hop on over to her blog Cheers Y'all where you can read my responses to the same Q&A.

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What brought you + Mark away from family & friends?

Mark is a born and raised Englishman. I'm a born and raised North Carolinian. Though we grew up an ocean apart from each other, we met and fell in love in our favorite place in the world: summer camp. Through college summers and a bit beyond, Mark lived and worked in the States. Since he had more of a home base/deeper roots here than I had in England (and generally loves the good ol' USA!), we decided to start our life together in North Carolina.

How do you ensure that you stay in touch?

I created my blog with the purpose of staying more consistently connected to our friends and family in England. You can even read about it in my very first blog post! :) In most cases, women are more relational than men. That is definitely the case in our marriage --  Mark isn't one to pick up the phone and chat, post some pictures for his friends and family to see, etc. Of course, he picks up right where he left off with all his mates...but I love to make the extra fluff in between those times. :)

And thank heavens for technology. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were FaceTiming with Mark's precious 90-year-old grandma in Scotland (as seen right here!). Priceless! Additionally, we routinely FaceTime with Mark's family on Sundays. (Though we didn't this past Sunday and it's still killing me!!) Sundays are very family oriented in England--think roast dinners at home--so, we like to "be" there too thanks to technology. :)

Being away must not be easy, how do you cure homesickness when it hits?

Sigh. I am not the one in our marriage that has to battle trans-Atlantic homesickness. And Mark doesn't really have any girly homesick moments like I can imagine myself having (time a bajillion) if I lived in England.

One thing I think that really helps Mark is having English friends who are here in Wilmington. Believe it or not, we have several! It makes Mark feel so at home to be able to chat with his mates about football. Or to call up some friends and have a kickabout. "Soccer" is an insanely huge part of the culture over there and a big thing that Mark is passionate about as an Englishman, player, and former coach. Having that slice of "home" over here helps -- though I am fully aware that it doesn't beat heading to Villa Park with his dad and brother on occasion.


Oh, I also offer to make him tea multiple times a day everyday. I think that helps too. :)

What are some tips for establishing new friendships in a new place?

Mark and I moved to Wilmington about a year ago without knowing anyone who lived here. It was a big (and awesome!) adventure for the two of us...learning a place together and making it our own. My biggest tip would be patience. Coming from my hometown, I knew I couldn't expect to have the deep, rich, intricate community of friends I had at the flip of a switch. It takes time. But it does happen!

We've met some stinkin' aaaaamazing folks through mutual friends. Also: get plugged in! We've met more friends through blogging, church, and soccer to name a few!

What's the hardest thing about being away?

It's definitely harder for Mark than it is for me (for obvious reasons). But as the more emotional one in our marriage, I do get sad about not being around his family as much as I want to be around them. I know that there are thousands of less-than-ideal situations with in-laws. The truth is...mine are absolutely incredible and I wish we could have more time together than strands of week long visits once a year or so. That's the hardest part. I wish they could be more involved with the normal, inconsequential ins and outs of our daily life.

There's always something positive in every situation - what are some of the positives in this one?

I am already so excited for our future slew of children. I mean...how cool for them!! I have daydreams about taking them over to England for the summer. And it's pretty cool that they'll have dual citizenship as well.

I find it incredible that for the rest of my life, I'll have ties to Europe. People dream of European vacations all the time, and I know I'll get to travel across the pond as long as I live to visit our friends and family in England. Not as often as I would like...but still. I'm thankful for those journeys. As few and far between as they seem to be.

I also really enjoy that sometimes I'm the only one who can understand Mark. That sounds so silly -- especially because his family and friends always get on him for losing much of his accent. Simultaneously, sometimes people look at me like "WHAT did he just say?" after failed attempts of "Excuse? Pardon? What?" I love it. Wifey translator, that's me. It's an honor. :)

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Aren't they just precious!? Don't forget that we'll be back at the same time next week - because your two twinnies are celebrating something special.

Time now to hop on over to Elise's site Cheers Y'all, as you'll soon see she is a gem and so is her space.

Across the Pond Index
3. Making the Distance Work {the post above}!
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