En route to Dublin, Ireland

Our last day of adventure in the Irish countryside finally caught up with us. Much too soon for my liking, but after a quick chat with our B&B host that went something like this:

Him: Where in the US are you from?

Me: Texas. Austin actually.

Him: Oh, like JR Ewing?

Me: Close, he was from Dallas.

we left in high spirits despite the cold, rainy weather that awaited us outside.

DSC00812Because this was a driving day, the rainy weather didn’t bother us much and since we didn’t really have any sights planned to stop at we focused on making good time.

Then, about halfway to Dublin, we hit a break in the rain and took a detour to Birr Castle.

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Birr Castle is home to the 7th Earl of Rosse so we weren’t able to go inside; however, the grounds were open to the public and we took the opportunity to explore them, despite sporadic rain showers and wind.

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Once we had enough of the cold wind and rain we made the final leg of our drive to our hotel in Dublin and what would our last drive in Ireland be without a rainbow?

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After dropping our bags at the hotel and taking our car back to the airport we headed into Dublin for our first night in the city.

It was FREEZING, super windy, and rainy so we didn’t veer very far from the Temple Bar area, but we did manage to peek in and catch a glimpse of Trinity College at night, which was gorgeous.

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DSC00878By this point I was getting cranky, because I was cold and hungry and wet so we ducked in the nearest tourist trap we could find – Hard Rock Cafe – where they sat me, uh I mean us, in the Sting booth.

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If you know me, you know how big of a moment this was for me. After our very American dinner, we headed back to the hotel to chill, the next day we had to hit the ground running as it was Adam’s last day of sightseeing before the business end of this trip began.

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Cliffs of Moher & Galway, Ireland

Leaving Dingle was hard.

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I mean, who would want to leave when this is the sunrise view from the front porch of your bed & breakfast?

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But, more of Ireland was just waiting to be explored, and we had to get an early start.

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One perk of the morning was that we got to drive Conor Pass one last time.

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Let’s be honest, there was no “we” in driving – Adam was the sole driver and I just played naviga-ooh look pretty views, pull over.

Our route today was pretty straight-forward, primarily driving north, along the coast, and taking a ferry across the River Shannon.

Our first stop this day was the Blennerville Windmill which was built in 1800 an recently restored after years of neglect.

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Then we took the ferry across the River Shannon and ate lunch in Kilrush.

While eating the most amazing baked potato of my life (topped with mozzarella and bacon!) a kind older couple chatted with us and insisted we drive out to Loop Head. It was a slight detour on our route but they promised cliff views that rivaled the Cliffs of Moher.

THEY WEREN’T KIDDING.

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We absolutely lucked out on this recommendation not only were the cliffs FREE (Cliffs of Moher charged 6 euro per adult) there were no other tourists there and they remained virtually untouched. The only signs of visitors were worn trails in pastures along the cliff line.

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We walked along the cliffs for close to an hour and could have stayed longer, but knew we still had to book it to make it to the more famous cliffs before sunset.

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And then we pulled into the parking lot at the Cliffs of Moher right at the start of the “golden hour”, which led to spectacular lighting for pictures (Adam’s are amazing).

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We spent another hour or so walking along the edges and taking pictures before it got so dark that we needed to head back to the car and finish up our journey to Galway.

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While we enjoyed the Cliffs – the views from and stature of them were quite impressive, it was the first time on our trip that we were crowded by other tourists and realized just how spoiled we had been up until this point.

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Galway. Oh, Galway. The first time on our trip where our GPS led us astray, not once, but 3 times. But finally, after an hour driving around the city, we found our bed & breakfast – Marless House. Once we parked the car and took our bags to our room, we asked the host for directions to food and pubs – the most important parts of any Irish evening.

We strolled to Salthill about a half mile from the B&B and found ourselves eating in a very popular (and delicious) pizzeria, Da Roberta. After dinner, we walked a couple of doors down to O’Connor’s Pub for a drink.

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This pub was very eclectic and quite busy.

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I loved that we sat on an old church pew and our “table” was an old Singer sewing machine table.

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 After 2 drinks each, we called it a night and headed to bed, for tomorrow we were off to Dublin!

Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland (Part II)

Annnnd I’m back with Part II of our day in and around Dingle…

After a late and tasty lunch in Dingle, we set our sights on driving Conor Pass. Conor Pass is Ireland’s highest mountain pass and, as we soon found out, quite curvy and narrow. So our full attention was on not wrecking our rental car, but, the views we got while driving it were incredible.

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We also decided to video the road as we drove it so that we could show off this awesome road to family and friends.

After driving the Pass, we went back to our B&B to rest for a bit before hitting the pubs of Dingle.

We talked with our host about pubs she recommended we visit and went in search of those in addition to stopping in at others that struck our fancy as we walked through the higgledy-piggledy streets. I LOVED Dingle and the more we explored and the more people we met the love just got stronger. It’s an adorable little town full of character and friendly people who enjoy nothing more than chatting about their life with you.

Our first stop of the night was Dick Mack’s Pub.

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It opened in 1899 and is still in operation 2 generations later. It’s full of reminders of the past, from tools and nails and tea and sugar bins stamped with the family crest and motto, “As you like it,” which fill the shelves surrounding the bar.

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Of course, I had to continue my whiskey drinking ways…

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…while Adam had himself a pint.

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We had lots of fun talking to the locals who were bellied up to the bar swapping jokes (What’s the difference between a house and a home? A home is where old people go. What’s the difference between an outlaw and an in-law? Outlaws are wanted.) and stories about their day/week/life. It was so laid back and easy we could have stayed there for hours (which if we ever come back to Dingle, I plan to do).

One of the charms of Dick Mack’s were the stars placed on the sidewalk in front of the pub. The stars represent celebrities that have visited the pub. Which means that DOLLY freaking PARTON has been there, and given the limited number of seats in the pub the chances that my bottom sat where her bottom sat are quite high.

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Speaking of Dolly, Ireland is obsessed with her. She’s having a concert there next summer, but it didn’t stop the radio station from advertising it almost once each hour. In addition, just this morning as we were headed to drive the peninsula, they had a live radio interview with her. Of course I made Adam listen to it with me – Dolly’s my hero.

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After leaving Dick Mack’s, we walked down to the pier to have dinner before heading to our final pub of the night. We had planned to stop in at least 3 pubs, but time and sleepiness got the best of us.

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O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub was highly recommended to us by our B&B host because of its great live music. And boy did it not disappoint. Notice that I am in fact taller than the entrance to the pub. And that height difference? Also stayed in place around the bar, which did result in Adam ramming his head into the ceiling once when he got up to get more drinks. The locals then told us it happens all the time, while I was busy laughing. I’m so thoughtful.

We had about 45 minutes to burn before the music began and spent it talking with the locals who had already packed themselves in around the bar. More drinks for us!DSC00635

Around 8:45, kids in costume showed up to trick or treat in the pub. You guys! Did you read that? Parents take their kids trick or treating in the pubs!!! Can we get this started in the US please?

And by trick or treating, I mean singing and dancing in traditional Irish fashion for their candy. These kids were adorable.

Then the live music started and the artists, Caroline Keane and Matt Griffin, were exceptional. Now I want to learn how to play the concertina.

We had so much fun during our night out on the town in Dingle!

Driving the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland

Day 3 in Ireland is hands-down the most incomparable day of my life.

We started off with a wonderful breakfast at our B&B, Lighthouse, which our host Mary prepared for us and then we got on the road. Since we were staying 2 nights in Dingle we had plenty of time to really appreciate the views, take some side trips, and soak up this beautiful area of Ireland.

Again, we asked at the B&B what to see, in addition to our plan of driving the Dingle Peninsula/Slea Head Drive, and were told by the couple next to us that we had to drive Conor Pass. Luckily, Dingle sits right in between these two drives so we did the peninsula first, came into town and ate a late lunch then headed up the Pass.

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We didn’t really have a plan once we started driving the peninsula other than to pull over whenever we saw a view or road that looked fun. This turned out to be the best way to go for us. Again, we were so glad we opted to hire a car rather than join a tour group because we could stop whenever we wanted and spend as much or as little time as we wanted at each stop.

Our first stop was the Dunbeg Fort, built in 500BC, and its spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding cliffs.

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As was the norm on the coast, the wind was insane, but not selfie preventative.

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Next up, was a random roadside pull off stop to soak up more amazing views…

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…then trespassing on some poor farmer’s land because we wanted to get closer to the coast.

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We got back in our car and drove just a bit further, when saw a narrow road which looked like it led to a beach at the base of the cliffs. As any inquisitive tourist would do, we turned down the road fully ready to meet a gate or something blocking our way. Instead, we were able to drive down and park on the beach at the base of the cliffs at Coumeenoole.

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We were the only people on the beach for at least 15 minutes, then other brave souls began driving their cars down and parking next to our rental.

Adam and I LOVED this beach, and in typical photographer fashion, we were the first to arrive and last to leave.

After we drove back up the cliff, we turned left and MY DREAM CAME TRUE!

I had told everyone that the only thing I wanted to do in Ireland was drive down a road and be blocked by sheep. On this day IT HAPPENED and I was entirely too giddy about this; but, I wasn’t the only one. There were two other cars of tourists also exclaiming that it was their dream to be stopped in the road by sheep which actually caused a line of tourists freaking out and insisting on getting their picture taken with the sheep in the road.

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Of course, we had to join in.

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For the rest of the day, I was annoyingly happy that my dream came true.

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After the sheep were ran into a nearby pasture by their dog and human, Adam grabbed me by the ear and threw me in the car before I took a sheep home with us and I headed off in search of our next Irish adventure, which included more stopping at pull offs on the road and trespassing on farms.

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That is, until we came upon another road that appeared to lead to the bottom of more cliffs.

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We started driving down the road but at the last minute decided to pull the car off into a makeshift parking area right before the final bend to the water.

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Thank God we did that, otherwise our car might have been lunch for the Atlantic, because  it turned out to be an abandoned pier with quite aggressive waves and no place to turn around once the car got down there.

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But this pier? Was AWESOME. Not as serene as the beach was, but exciting and invigorating. We experienced the power of the Atlantic right in front of our faces and nothing will ever compare to it again.

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Huge waves would crash onto the pier or the rocks nearby and swells would force us to run up against the cliffs a few times, but it was such a once in a lifetime experience.

Stay tuned for Part II of Day 3….

Killarney to Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland

Waking up on day two in Ireland we were greeted with rain and wind, but it wasn’t enough to dampen our spirits. After a few cups of tea and coffee and bellies full of breakfast, our host at Sika Lodge apologized for the rain, wind and cold weather. We told her we didn’t mind and loaded up the car for our drive to Dingle.

We were in Ireland, for goodness sake!

Originally, our route to Dingle was driving through the Killarney National Park to see the Muckross House and Gardens and the Torc Waterfall, then drive the Ring of Kerry. During breakfast, we asked our host about our plan to see if she had any additional recommendations and she suggested that we also extend our Ring of Kerry drive to include the Skellig Ring – what a great little addition!

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We planned to take a tour of the Muckross House and walk the gardens surrounding it, but when we got there it was very windy, rainy, and cold and the next tour was not for another hour and 45 minutes. Instead, we bundled up and walked around a bit before calling it a wash (literally) and got back in the car to dry off and warm up.

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Then we drove a few more kilometers through the park to the Torc Waterfall and it was magnificent – very full thanks to the rain and the heavy woods surrounding it helped to keep the rain a bay a bit so we could enjoy the scenery.

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A few times while we were there the wind would pick up and a flurry of autumn leaves would fall around us. It was breathtaking and I could have stayed there forever had the rain not been a factor.

We got back in the car and cranked up the heat, hopeful we would dry out just as we arrived at our next location, Ladies View, which is a car park with a spectacular view of the National Park next to a coffee shop. I’m sure on a clear day it’s absolutely gorgeous, but Adam and I agreed that even in dreary weather Ireland is a stunning country.

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Next up, the Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring…and also a stop at a handmade chocolate factory complete with free samples. Our favorites, which I might have to start getting shipped to Texas, were the Dark Chocolate Vanilla Ganache Truffles, White Chocolate Citrus Truffles and Marshmallow Clusters. So good!!

One thing we loved about having our own car, was getting to stop off wherever we wanted. This led to us crossing a bridge in a quaint village and me essentially yelling at Adam that we had to get out and walk around. And take pictures, of course.

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Our host back at Sika Lodge warned us that many of the little villages on the Ring of Kerry will have closed up for the winter, which couldn’t have been more evident than in Waterville. We saw hardly anyone out and about, and no shops were open.

This didn’t stop us from taking a picture of Charlie Chaplin’s bronze statue. Apparently Waterville was his favorite holiday spot.

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A bit further up the road, we came upon the Kerry Cliffs and paid the 4 euro each to walk out to the nearest point from which to view the Skellig Islands.

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We finished up our second day in Ireland on the beach in Inch at sunset.

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Perfection!

Gratitude

1148977_10100758582606377_1537477582_nHave you ever had a moment where you are overwhelmed with gratitude? As I sit in our upstairs loft, eavesdropping on Adam talking to our dog about “Top Gear” and telling Senna he’s a good pup, I’m overwhelmed.

Actually, it started yesterday, after our weekend guests headed back to Arkansas. As I was driving home from breakfast, I realized I’m grateful for so many things in my life right now.

I’m grateful for friends who bring light into our lives we didn’t realize we were missing.

I’m grateful for our new church – a place that just “fits” – and the people who have since entered our life.

I’m grateful for the city I call home and I’m constantly in awe of – whether it be breathtaking sunsets, amazing skyline views, or the almost perfect fall weather that’s finally arrived.

I’m grateful for our jobs which allow us to travel and see parts of the world we otherwise wouldn’t see.

I’m grateful for our dog. He’s a never ending source of entertainment and stress-relief.

I’m grateful for family and am excited that almost all of them are visiting us for Thanksgiving this year.

I’m grateful for a husband who makes me laugh when I’m at my lowest point, who loves me everyday, who tolerates 6 women in his house for a weekend and never complains, and who holds my hand because it’s there.

This overwhelming sense of gratitude has a smile plastered on my face.

I can’t remember a time I’ve been so content, so happy, so blessed.

A Year in Review

Instead of posting my normal Year in Review list I’ve decided to be a bit more long-winded. Humor me, okay?

This past year was almost like a reset for me. In the best sense of the word.

I moved to Austin in late October of 2011 and adjusted to married life – which I LOVE, but I never realized uprooting and acclimating to a new city would take so long.

I had gotten in a funk when we first moved here. I was adjusting (poorly) to working from home and was resentful for a few months that I had been “forced” to move to Longhorn Country.

Living in Adam’s old bachelor pad apartment didn’t help. I’ve told many friends that it felt like a hotel and not a home, I never felt settled. Luckily, we were able to buy our first house and that is what I consider the catalyst to my “reset”.

Once we got settled in our house, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. I could either learn to love this new awesome city I was living in (minus the university just down the road) or be a curmudgeon.I had never been a curmudgeon before – in fact I was usually the exact opposite – so why did I let myself get to that place now?

I learned it took more effort to be unhappy and find negativity in situations and it wasn’t necessarily the most healthy way to go about my day. I was FINALLY married to the love of my life, but I was punishing him because I was being a curmudgeon.

I started doing little things to brighten my day – things I used to love to do. I planted flowers around our yard. I learned to make homemade tortillas. I re-joined Jazzercise. I joined a stitching/fiber arts/knitting group. I hosted parties. I watched the Oscars.

Slowly, I began to feel like my old self and I was happy. Why had I let myself get that dark place when I’m having so much more fun now?

Adam, bless his heart, was amazing. He was patient for this entire year letting me find my place in Austin and our life together. He never became exasperated with my negativity and would force me on occasion to get outside or meet him for lunch. He was truly my saving grace.

This year helped me prioritize my life and my interests. I learned to drop the baggage of unhappiness and find the sun everyday. I learned a smile is the best way to change my attitude and I thank God everyday that I have a husband who can make me belly laugh for hours.

I can be awesome, everyday, and I owe that to myself and to those around me.

Less Traveled

I’m an over thinker to a fault.

It leads to worry and questions of what if.

It’s something I’m trying to be better at.

Because of this, I am always multi-tasking. Always keeping my mind busy so it’s less likely to over-think and lead me down a path of questions and what ifs for which I have no answers. I never allow myself to just be – be in the present and absorbing where I am without distractions.

This weekend changed all of this.

Within 10 minutes of our house is possibly one of the best kept secrets in Austin. A lovely hiking trail and park along a creek. As I was mindlessly following the trails this weekend I chose a path that appeared “less traveled” and in a direction I had never been before. It was scattered with rocks and had roots twisting up through the dirt creating trip hazards. Bordered on each side with thick cacti. I pressed on not knowing what to expect next.

It’s funny that I chose this path. Normally, I’d choose the clear path. The one that had no obstructions and looked totally reliable. Soon the path become a narrow passage through a dry forest of vines and branches, which eventually led to a steep downhill section and followed by a fork in the trail.

To the right, I heard cars speeding by – that would take me back along the road.

To the left, I heard nothing and I knew a creek was close by – I’ll choose that way.

The path continued and soon began to have little offshoots leading into the water. Eventually I ended up here:

I cannot even begin to describe the peace, solitude and contentment that I experienced as soon as I saw this opening. Small calming waterfalls, large dry rocks in the middle of the water to sit and relax on and no one around. The water is shallow enough to take your shoes off and get your feet wet as you wade through to the dry rock or deep enough to get a little swimming action in (as evidenced by the rope swing). The only noise was of the water flowing over the rocks – near complete silence that forced me to just be.

This place quieted my soul and mind in a way I have never experienced before. I was present and free of distraction with nary an over thought in my mind. It was pure bliss and much needed.

I’ve gone back 2 more times since I found this and each time I find myself craving the silence and peace more and more. I never want to leave – but eventually I look down, notice that time has gotten away from me and I head back to reality – refreshed and revitalized.

That trail “less traveled?” Truly made all the difference.

House Tour: Breakfast Nook

Comfort.

Warm fuzzies.

These are the words that enter my head and cause a smile to spread across my face every time I look into our breakfast nook. This part of our home is where the memories will be made, meals will be eaten and the heart will grow over the years.

There are several meaningful parts of this room, but most essential is the table. This farmhouse table has been in Adam’s family for many many years (probably close to 100).

It has history literally etched into it.

The knife marks on the lower left corner from pigs being slaughtered for family meals and the faint indentions made by a meat grinder that was clamped to the table on bottom center of the picture above are the reminders of distant history.

In the middle of this picture, you see newer markings and scratches. Scars from a more recent history wherein this table held. up. a. house. after a tornado destroyed Adam’s childhood home. Memories, both good and bad, have surrounded this table for decades and now it’s ours.

Ours to create new memories around, as well as to share the old.

Another meaningful part of this room is the painting. I went to college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and this painting (purchased at the AMAZING RiffRaff on the Fayetteville Square) contains every part of Arkansas that I love.

I look forward to many memories and good times in this nook. Game nights, cookie decorating, pumpkin carving and laughter. This will truly become the heart of our home and I can’t wait!

all photos taken by adam bartlett [aka my handsome hubby]

House Tour: Den

One of my favorite things about our house is the cozy second living area we call our den. This room is my baby, so to speak. I spent hours thinking about how I wanted it to look, drawing inspiration from Pinterest and shopping for just the right pieces of furniture to fill the space. I wanted a bright, welcoming space that had a little bit of vintage flare to it.

Being new homeowners means being on a budget when it comes to making the new house our home. We ended up coming in under budget on our den, which was our main spending area for the house right now.

The first thing we did when the house was officially ours was start painting the den. I wanted to get rid of the brown textured accent wall as quickly as possible and change the taupe walls to a light dove gray shade. We found the paint at Treehouse, our favorite hardware store in Austin. I love the turquoise accent wall and the slightly darker shade that we used to accent the bar area!

The media center is actually an IKEA find that I love! It gives the look, feel and storage space of built-ins but at an affordable cost. The white shelves against the turquoise wall pops and makes me so happy and gives me plenty of space to play with books and decorative items.

After weeks of furniture shopping and never finding exactly what we wanted, we happened upon the perfect couch and coffee table at a local store called Five Elements Furniture. As soon as we walked into their showroom we immediately felt at home. Their furniture was so us and exactly what I had in mind for our den. The staff is so helpful and friendly and if we ever need more furniture, it will definitely be our first stop!

Because our entire downstairs is tiled, I knew we’d need to get an area rug for the den. Enter Overstock.com. I have a very good friend from college who had used Overstock to furnish her first home and knew she had good things to say about their quality, so I called her up and asked for advice. She told me to focus on pieces 4 star rated or higher and to read the comments because they give the best insight into the actual delivered appearance of your purchases. I knew I wanted a graphic rug for our den, but didn’t like the price of the options at local stores, then I saw the Alexa Chevron on Overstock and was sold. It was the perfect addition to the space!

One of my favorite finds in the den is the faux Eames Lounger we happened upon at my favorite local vintage store, Room Service. Adam begged for a recliner but said if I could find an Eames Lounger in our budget he’d settle for that. Thank God I found one. 🙂 Bonus: It’s super comfy!

Another favorite feature in the den is the vintage “B” we scored on a trip to Fredericksburg Trade Days that Adam then wired as a lamp. Every time I look at it, I smile – it’s such a quirky  part of our house!

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with how our den turned out. It’s cheery, bright, and cozy. Exactly what we wanted for the space!

all photos taken by adam bartlett [aka my handsome hubby]

Come On In My Kitchen

One room is practically finished which means it’s only appropriate to give you a glimpse into the house we are turning into our home.

The kitchen is one of the things that sold me on this house  [the other is the outdoor fireplace, but you’ll have to wait to see that transformation for a few weeks]. It’s a huge space that screams entertaining and has an island begging to be covered in flour and sugar on a regular basis. Also? Hello granite countertops and gas stove/oven. I’m living the dream!

Err…we. We are living the dream 🙂

You’ll notice there isn’t anything wrong with the kitchen in it’s present state (except for the lack of a fridge), but we wanted to inject a little of our style into it. The red walls are ventian plaster and perfect for Hog fans living in Texas. Yay for no painting in this room! Adam and I luckily have similar styles and visions for the house which has made it quite fun to toss ideas around. Ultimately, we wanted a kitchen that was welcoming and inviting with a bit of a vintage industrial undertone and once the breakfast nook is completed I think we will have achieved our goal.

We took a road trip to Fredericksburg – my FAVORITE small town ever because of its quaint shops in the downtown – and visited our favorite store red. Red is full of amazing vintage finds and contemporary patterns, not to mention one of a kind junk turned art accessories and mid-century style furnishings.

Basically? It’s my dream.

We went in red for inspiration more than anything and walked out with 3 light fixtures! Two to replace the too-formal-for-us island pendants and one to replace the completely not us light in the dining room (for almost 75% off which I LOVE and you’ll also have to wait to see – I’m such a tease).

Adam assured me that switching the pendants would be an easy job.

Ha!

We really are new and naive homeowners.

It took Adam several choice words and at least an hour to switch the first pendant because the electrical box itself wasn’t centered in the hole among other problems which he tried to explain to me and I just ignored didn’t understand. The second light was much easier to switch and he was practically pleasant to be around during the installation. He even let me snap a picture of him hard at work. Gotta love a handy hubby!

I really love how our new slightly vintage and slightly industrial lights look above the island.

The stools were also a happy accident. My parents visited this past weekend to help us unpack and organize a bit. Friday, while mom and I were out and about, we made a last minute stop at World Market. These stools compliment what will be our breakfast table chairs perfectly and also helped add an industrial feel to the kitchen.

Best of all? They were on sale and I got both for the price of one if regularly priced. Score!

Also, my mom? Is a pantry genius. Such a HUGE help, thanks mom!

The stools and the pendants were the big initial aesthetic changes in the kitchen, but the fridge was a necessity that Adam has been enthralled with ever since it was delivered.

Why?

Because it has one magical feature.

The water dispenser has an auto fill option. This means that you can place any pitcher or glass under the spout hit auto fill and walk away. Water is dispensed into the container without spilling and it is even measured in ounces on the screen for you. We’ve tried many different types of containers in hopes of tripping it up and we haven’t yet. So yeah, we bought a fridge and our favorite feature is the in-door water dispenser. What does this say about us?

Finally, we had to put a little Razorback spirit around the kitchen. 🙂

In the near future I want to add some rugs or runners around the island and in the “if money was made on trees” very distant future I’d like to replace the backsplash with some nice white subway tile and maybe refinish the cabinets.

For now the kitchen suits us perfectly and we couldn’t be happier!

We’re Officially Adults

I’ve been less than present online this past month, at least in the blogosphere. For that, I apologize. I have a good excuse.

Adam and I BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOUSE!!!! We’re super excited, a bit overwhelmed and very much still pinching ourselves to make sure this isn’t a dream. It all happened quite quickly, but we are extremely blessed with how perfectly everything fell into place.

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Home Sweet Home

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If you guessed that I would begin sharing our buying/moving stories and remodeling/painting/home projects here, you’d be right. Meggie’s Life will most certainly become the outlet for sharing all of our newlywed first-time home-buyer stories and lessons. Hope you’re ready!

Vinyasa YoMG

I’ve never understood how yoga could be a workout – I’ve tried a couple of at home DVDs and got bored within 5 minutes, maybe 10, because the pace was so slow and I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of the stretches. I’ve often called it a “pansy” workout – stretching for an hour? How does that qualify as legit exercise?

Never. Again.

Last night, Adam and I took our first ever Yoga class at Black Swan Yoga. Since we were both newbies to Yoga, we opted to take the Vinyasa class as it was one of 2 classes recommended for beginners – the other was Hatha. I’m not gonna lie and say I wasn’t nervous, I was, but more than that I was less than optimistic that yoga would be a workout equivalent to my Jazzercise or Adam’s cycling. I wasn’t expecting to sweat, I wasn’t expecting to be sore. In fact, it’s safe to say I didn’t really have a lot of positive expectations going into the class.

We arrived about 20 minutes before class began, took off our shoes, and staked out a place in the back corner of the L shaped studio. Adam confirms with the teacher that this class will be good for beginners and we wait. We watch as people begin to stroll in and before we know it the class is full and there’s less than 6 inches between the mats. I hope we don’t lose our balance and fall over.

I was expecting an instructor front and center going through the poses with us, but instead she vocalized the commands as she walked around the room while her partner helped to correct technique and posture as we went through the poses. Adam and I relied on those around us to figure out what pose to do next. As the class progressed, the sweatier I got. There were also a few un-zen like moments where I mouthed to Adam very unloving statements, because HOLY HELL I WAS HOT and this wasn’t even labeled as a “sweaty” or “hot” class. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever sweat that much in my life. I’m talking dripping off my nose, pooling on my back, and hands slipping on my mat.

Once the class finished, THANK GOD, we gathered our stuff and headed to the car. The first thing Adam said to me was “that was harder than a 4-hour bike ride”. I’ve never done a 4-hour bike ride, so I can’t attest to the validity of that statement; however, I can say that it was without a doubt one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Who’d have thought stretching could work you that hard? My muscles didn’t seem that much looser after class like I expected them to feel and my shins hurt like whoa, but I did feel pretty relaxed and like I could go to bed immediately.

This morning I woke up and didn’t really feel all that sore. In fact, I didn’t feel sore at all. Well, until an hour ago when I got up from my desk to grab a fresh glass of water.

My shoulders are sore.

My neck is sore.

My biceps and triceps are sore.

My thighs are sore.

I’m sorry for every thought I ever had about yoga being wimpy, it’s far from it. And this morning? I kinda want to try another class.

In Stitches

I have this friend who has encouraged my addiction to needlework such that it’s now all I think about. In fact, it’s safe to say it was her misfortune that really sent me over the edge.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received countless emails from her introducing me to new needlework sites and amazing vintage Etsy finds.

If you had asked me a year and a half ago if I would like to learn cross stitch, I would have laughed in your face. What a difference time makes, as I made this sampler for my sister’s graduation from law school:

I’m also currently working on these projects for our little newlywed abode:

So as a fan of needlework, and a slightly better than amateur stitcher myself, I thought I’d share some of the fabulous needlework sites I’ve found. The inspiration is endless and I’m hoping the excitement I have to tackle all my new needlework projects holds through completion. Enjoy!

Feeling Stitchy – Features super awesome projects, tips and tricks, cool finds on Flickr and the web, and free patterns!

Mr X Stitch – “The number one contemporary embroidery and needlecraft blog on the planet!”

subversive cross stitch – HILARIOUS cross stitch patterns for purchase – be warned some use “choice language” 🙂

Scoot – An adorable downloadable PDF embroidery pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Maricor/Maricar – Australian twin sisters who do some breathtaking hand embroidery.

Embroidery with a ‘V’ – This post over on papernstitch features an adorable Etsy shop. Seriously love!

This is what happens when you sing lustily…

I grew up in the Methodist church and have a ritual I follow before almost every service I attend. I sit in the pew and immediately reach for the hymnal.

One of the first pages of the United Methodist Hymnal is John Wesley’s Directions for Singing. Though written in the 18th century, they still provide great guidance to Methodist congregations everywhere, as well as a bit of humor relief. In fact, I remember several years ago a lay leader poking fun at a few of them when the  preacher was away on vacation.

Allow me to break these rules down for you.

I. Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

II. Sing them exactly as they are printed here (So even if the projector screen reads “Hark the Herald Angles Sing”, that’s what we sing? AWESOME!!! Is it almost Christmas?), without altering or mending them at all (This includes all unwritten runs that American Idol contestants add); and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can (Unless you think your way sounds better).

III. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a single degree of weakness or weariness hinder you (Does laryngitis count as a weakness or weariness? What about those that are tone deaf?). If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

IV. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, then when you sung the songs of Satan.

(Essentially, sing out strong…)

V. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony (This needs to be explained to the child that always hogs the mic when the children sing. Admit it, you know there’s one in every church); but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

VI. Sing in time (ahem). Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing to slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

VII. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

In reality, the majority of John Wesley’s directions have very good points that are still applicable 3 centuries later, but there’s a reason I’m sharing these rules with you…

Adam and I have spent the last few months attending a church we have grown to love. It’s accepting, friendly, genuine, and thought-provoking. Plus, it helps that it feels like a small town church, which made it even more appealing to both of us rural Arkansans. We love the community outreach and mission work it does, though we have yet to get involved and we’ve found a Sunday School class that we truly enjoy. I’m actually surprised that we felt so at home at the first church we “auditioned”, but I’m also very thankful.

Every week we’ve meet new people and feel more accepted than the last. This past Sunday, proved this more than ever before…

You see, Adam and I were sitting behind this sweet elderly couple whose husband sang in the church choir. Before the pastor began his sermon, all those in the choir and serving in worship came and sat with the rest of the congregation – which meant that when it was time to sing the final hymn, Adam was singing directly behind a choir member.

The final hymn that Sunday was “Standing on the Promises”. It’s a classic hymn, best known for its chorus – which I warned Adam to control himself during prior to the song even beginning. Let’s just say that he sang lustily and with good courage.

And nowhere near half dead. 

We’ll also say that he had a head-bop going on in the middle of the chorus…

After the service ended, the couple in front of us turned and invited him to join the choir.

Full disclosure? They asked me to join as well, until I told them about my voice teacher going MIA after one lesson in middle school. True story. Hand to God. Ask my mom.

So, I got off the hook fairly quickly.

Adam was polite, told them he’d consider joining and confirmed that he could sing bass.

Too bad they didn’t ask how well he could sing bass.

We left the sanctuary and laughed about it in the car on the way to lunch with our Sunday School class; and haven’t thought much about it since.

Today, we received an email from the Music Ministries Director. In it, she tells us that she was sorry she didn’t get to meet us after church and hoped we are enjoying our worship and fellowship at the church. Then she tells us that she “watched Adam, as he very energetically sang the bass part in the final hymn” and extended a personal invitation for him to join the choir. She also said she spoke with the sweet couple it front of us who confirmed that Adam had indeed sung.

Truth is, Adam does sing, but it’s not often he’s in tune. He also isn’t the best at keeping time – a clear violation of directive number 6 above. I’m sure that the choir would accept Adam with open arms and I’m sure they’d never tell him he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket to his face. But secretly, I believe that they would regret extending an invitation to him.