Open shelves in the kitchen…

I was thinking the other day how grateful I am that I got married before there was Pinterest. I pulled sheets out of Brides magazine for my wedding planning scrapbook and I went to shop that sold wedding invitations and picked one. It was enough. I would have gone completely nuts if I’d had a Pinterest-wide set of ideas to mull over. That said, I really do love Pinterest!

One of the current trends in kitchen design is to have open shelving. Sometimes it looks amazing…

This is my kitchen Nirvana… Oh, I swoon over the rows of glass containers. ❤

Kind of in love with this cobalt blue!

Makes me want to remove the cabinet doors on our kitchen island and use that space for our cookbooks! via Southern Living/Castle Homes

The two kitchen islands with shelves full of cookbooks got me thinking that maybe I could do this with our island, but I was a little nervous.

DIY:  How to Update your Kitchen Cabinets with Fabric - excellent tutorial shows how to cover foam core boards with fabric and how to fill, repair, prime and paint your kitchen cabinets. This is a great way to spruce up your kitchen and, if you change your style/color scheme or if you live in a rental, you can easily remove or replace the fabric.

This white kitchen is the problem. It’s awkward, like someone decided to be trendy and just took the doors off their cabinets. Maybe if she had removed the center post?

I rather like this soft green. I think I'm going to have to paint the kitchen ones are SO not in my budget!! Removing   the doors is a great idea too.    UPDATE: I did this and it looks fantastic!!

What’s the trick? This green kitchen is adorable – and I don’t know why one works and the other doesn’t. I finally decided I’d take the plunge since I was only four small screws away from open shelving on my island.

I can un-do this in 10 minutes if I decide I don’t like it.

Here’s where we started. The brown on brown – wood with wood – in our kitchen can be a little overwhelming so I keep adding black and white accessories. Note the island…


This cabinet is ideal because it’s less than 12″ deep… perfect for a bookshelf. I thought about painting the inside black but decided to do something temporary in case I regret this little project.

The tricky part was lining up the pattern. I missed aligning this spot by just a smidge and used a black Sharpie marker and the edge of my iPhone to line it back up. You can’t even tell unless you look very closely.

I was happy with the final look of the shelves…

I am not sure I love the end result. The kitchen feels visually cluttered to me now that we are looking at all the things. Maybe it’s the chevrons? Maybe I would like it better if there were big baskets on the shelves? Or if I remove all that stuff from the counters?

I’d like to thank The Academy…

Our 15 seGlamourconds of fame has been kinda fun – definitely unexpected. Brooklyn Sherman, the woman who runs The Way We Met, asked me if she could share our story with Glamour magazine for a feature on their Web site. I was a devoted Glamour reader in the 90s when I was more their demographic. I’m honored they let old people like Bryan and me grace a page. 🙂

Let’s run away to Mooresville…

Amid all my organizing, I stumbled across the most absurd blog post about a disheveled drawer <insert gasp> and decided, I am done organizing. We are good. I like to keep my cleaning and organizing comfortably shy of a DSM-5 diagnosis.

The next time I feel stressed, I am going to run away to Mooresville, Alabama to raise chickens who lay eggs that I’ll scramble for leisurely breakfasts on the veranda. 🙂

The town was founded in 1818 and little appears to have changed since then. It just feels so quiet and peaceful there.

This is not a joke – this is their post office and its the oldest in operation in the US.

The entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The town has a population of 58 people. We saw one person on a bicycle – a farmer coming down to check on his chickens and/or check on us – and another person driving (a car) down a street.

The farmer invited us in to see the chickens, lambs and their fluffy guardian, Justice, a Great Pyrenees.

The city’s history is tied to two US Presidents: Andrew Johnson served as an apprentice tailor in Mooresville as a young man and James Garfield preached a sermon at the Church of Christ.

Thank you to 1818 Farms for allowing us to pet the animals!

Sweet bliss.

Grace for the win…

I think it’s time for us married people to huddle up and bust out our best cheers for better marriages and stronger families. Please hear me out: Marriage is hard. It may be different for you than for me, but none of us are lounging on bear skin rugs sipping wine in front of a roaring fire… Can we agree on that?

The news recently has shined a spotlight on infidelity. It makes me wish all these families who are reeling in heartbreak could suit up and rush the football field, busting through a paper banner that says F-A-M-I-L-Y so we could cheer for them and wave posters that say, We are rooting for you guys!!!

I think it matters how your friends respond when things are hard. Personally, I love it when my friends say, I love your family. It’s a different sentiment than just loving me. It tells me they are rooting for all four of us – for our little team. I keep thinking how meaningful it would be for every marriage in crisis to hear their friends and family say, We love you both. In the case of infidelity it means, We don’t think you’re pathetic for trying to forgive and stay together – and – We know sometimes good people make terrible mistakes. We need to cheer for the quarterback AND the running back because a Family wins or loses as a team.

For Bryan and me, the biggest struggle we face is an illness that wants to beat us down. Your struggles may be totally different, but to paraphrase Voltaire, you can’t pull out a scale and measure another man’s grief. It’s all hard, people. Marriage in all its forms is an enormous act of faith – and endurance. You and I don’t really want to swap out all our heartaches and problems, do we?

thewaywemet 1

Today, Bryan and I were featured on the Instagram account The Way We Met. I love our story and I love Bryan very much, but if you think we have it all figured out then you are nuts.

thewaywemet 2

The pressure-cooker of an incurable disease does not make a marriage easier. What does make it better is God’s faithfulness. He has never let us fall through his fingers and He never will. We see His love shining through our friends and family and it fills us up. I cannot over-state what that means for our lives. I want that kind of love and grace and encouragement for all these families dealing with whatever it may be.

I think we all need each other. Are you in?

I love Cozi, so very much

This is our busiest time of year – the kids are back in school, which means sports and clubs and homework! Leah has volleyball and theater, Michael has football and track, and both kids are taking German after school. Their schedules are different every day of the week! Between the kids’ activities, school, work, church, and college football, our calendar is full!

I realized it’s time to say goodbye to paper… 😦

As part of Operation Organization 2015, I decided to check out apps for a shared family calendar. I was intrigued by one called Cozi because it mentioned color coding <insert breath of fresh air and sunshine> but little did I know the love I would feel in my heart! This app is perfection. Here’s why…

(1) It’s easy to set up and use.  

(2) It works on any device: The whole family can use Cozi, whether they have an Apple/iPhone/iPad or Android/Samsung or just want to go to the Web site from their laptop… it works anywhere!

View from my iPhone

(3) Color coding makes it easy to scan: I get visually overwhelmed when there’s too much in front of me. Do you? Having a distinct color for every family member warms my heart – it’s so much easier to scan. Also, I can view “all” (above) or I can click and see just me, just Bryan, etc.

(4) You can set up reminders: It will email you the week’s agenda on Sunday! And you can set it up to text or email reminders for appointments. It’s like having your own personal assistant. You can also leave little messages for the family, like this…

cozi view 5

(5) The lists: I am a list maker. Are you? Cozi helps you organize your lists and keeps them in one place. Shopping lists. To do lists… Color coded for each family member!

cozi view 6

(6) You can do meal plans: The concept of meal planning intimidates me. I am one of those moms who thinks, “Didn’t I make you dinner yesterday?!?” 🙂  What a chore! I aspire to have a plan, shop in bulk, cook dinners to go in the deep freeze, and publish a meal calendar on the fridge… like my friend Tara who shames us all. With Cozi, I can start small. I can jot down something simple (see example below) or I can go all out and create a recipe box and corresponding shopping list. Yowza!

cozi view 4

(7) Journaling <3. OK, like all this is not enough, you can upload photos and jot down memories in a journal that’s sort of like Instagram except Cozi will let you share it with your friends and family via a family newsletter – or – via your own Web page! It’s like a free, effortless “At Home in the Cove” of your own! And the security features are awesome – you totally control your privacy.

cozi view 7

The journal can become a newsletter and/or a Web page if you want.

I know, you’re wondering how you made it through your life this far without Cozi! Me, too! If you’re at your computer, go to Cozi and sign up! If you’re on your phone, go download the Cozi app. You’re going to love it!

“No pillow is as soft as a clear conscience.” – French Proverb

I was on the phone with my über-organized friend Kristina today who said my blog posts about getting organized are making her feel bad. Say, what? This woman lived across the street from me for three years. She knows about the laundry room. She knows about the caveat on my blog!

“Kristina, you know I’m not taking pictures of the messes around here!” I said.

“Well you should! We will all feel better!” was her reply – and since I love her so much, here are some pictures of the not at all organized parts of our house…

One of my children struggles to maintain the organizational systems I’ve implemented in her room, such as labeling the drawers so she knows where to put her clean clothes. This is our status quo. It’s fine, you know? Choose your battles?

I didn’t have time to photograph her room a couple weeks ago when we made it look so nice – which only took 3 days! I am not kidding – if I can see carpet, we are in pretty good shape.

I have another child whose room is always neat and tidy with the glaring exception of a pile of debris in his closet. He is like me – it doesn’t bother him unless he has to look at it. (See further examples below…)

I got the Christmas decorations boxed up in time for New Years (yay) and then left the containers in the living room until this summer when I finally shoved them in the closet under the stairs. They’re too heavy to lug up to the attic by myself and when people were here visiting I’d forget to ask for help! Anyway, the kids climb in this closet playing hide-and-seek, so now the Christmas stuff is knocked over and spilling out into the camping supplies.

I have lost 0 minutes of sleep over the Christmas decor situation.

This is the shelf in the big armoire in my office where I shove things I want to keep but don’t actually use, such as my desk calendars from the past 15+ years…

This is a great example of my working theory that the house is clean when the parts you see look nice. I just don’t open this cabinet. I open the cabinet to the left which has cute baskets of neatly organized office supplies and stationary. 🙂

This is my laundry room… looking awesome! Cleaning supplies mostly in a bin! Floor mostly clear! Door opens freely! No conspicuous trip-hazards!

This is real life, people. When in doubt, assume we got nothin’ but real life happening at our house. ❤

Now, may I please go back to taking pretty pictures? These are gross.

Kitchen Bliss

I have been very focused on de-cluttering and organizing the house this summer and it’s really looking good! The empty spaces make everything feel lighter – physically, not just metaphorically. There are two things I say to myself regularly: Everything you own, owns you right back. And, the less you own, the less effort it takes to clean and organize it. So going through the house and donating a couple car loads of things we don’t need or use has been incredibly cathartic.

Last week, I re-organized the kitchen with $40 and about 5 hours of my time. Sweet bliss, people! I am so happy.

I bought several Rubbermaid Pan Organizers from Target, but I see similar pan organizers at TJMaxx, too. They’re usually about $10 a piece.

Deep open cabinets are completely impractical. Everything was in a pile and you had to dig through the pile to find the right dish. We have only lived here since 2007… Why didn’t I do this sooner?

The racks help but giving away junk we don’t use was a huge factor as well.

I put labels all over the place…

I focused on the specific cabinets that drive me crazy – which was most of the  kitchen! I emptied them out, cleaned the cabinets, sorted the stuff, and put it all back in logical groupings.

The racks were a huge help with the trays and cutting boards. Before, we would pull out one tray and another would fall out with it.

This cabinet wins “most improved”. It’s above the ovens so it’s really deep and hard to reach. (And I’m 5’9″.) It was impossible to spot the right pan because they were all in a pile.

Half the challenge of organizing a kitchen is grouping “like things”. One dilemma I cannot resolve is that we have three small drawers that hold random kitchen utensils like measuring spoons, whisks, spatulas… I know where I put what, but there is zero logic to it.

Whatever. Life is not perfect.

OK, now that I have shown you the improvement to the cabinets, I’ll give you a quick tour of the rest of the kitchen…

Place mats from an estate sale. Rug from Ballard Designs. Chairs from Target.

OK, don’t laugh! The electrical unit in the stove corroded and shot sparks at us. Alfonso our contractor was concerned about fire hazard, so he removed it and then left town on vacation. Ha! So I covered the hole until he can replace the stove.

I have a Pinterest board with a zillion ideas for remodeling the kitchen someday… maybe.

I bought these 16″ (41 cm) Ikea Varnhem handles recently and put them on the cabinet doors under the sink so there’s a place to keep hand towels. ❤

Same little basket full of utensils and old wine for cooking…

My Official Happy Place. <cue chorus of angels>

OK, that’s the tour, folks!

Seen and Heard – The “stepping up our game” edition

Here are few things that have been seen and heard around here lately…

Michael was arguing that twin sized beds are for toddlers – so I said, “College students sleep in twin sized beds in the dorm.”

Michael: “Not at Stanford – they have queen sized beds in their dorms.”

Leah – worn out with her little brother’s claims: “No they don’t! You made that up!”

Michael: “I’ve been to the Web site. Have YOU been to the Web site?”

Leah has finally fulfilled her wish of becoming a mermaid!


Michael: “Mommy, do you think I know a lot about history?”

Me: “Yes, for a 7 year old.”

Michael – insulted: “I don’t mean compared to 7 year olds! I mean compared to history experts on BBC documentaries!”


brown basilisk

I showed this Instagram post to Michael, who glanced over and said, “Tell him it’s a Brown Basilisk.” He was right – the kid knows his reptiles. (We still have to google his claims because sometimes he makes stuff up. See: Stanford dorms have queen sized beds.)


Michael: “Do you think I’m more of a nerd or a geek?”

Me: “I’m not sure how you’re differentiating between the two, but either one is good.”

Football try-outs! (He loves those plaid shorts!)


Leah: “Paw-Paw left Michael and me alone and he said I was in charge since I’m the oldest.”

Me: “He mentioned that to me. How did it go?”

Leah – with big eyes: “Wellllll, I had to send Michael to his room for a time-out. He was sassing me.”

Not too grown up for dolls. 🙂 #happymommy


Michael: “Mommy is very strict.”

My brother Steve and our dad: “Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!”

Michael: “No! Really! She is 60% mean and only 40% sweet. At Target she wouldn’t let me get a toy and I even said I would pay!!! That is meeeeeeaaannn!!!


Leah: “I’m ready to go to college – I can’t wait!”

Me: “Listen, college will be here soon enough! Do you realize you’ll be moving into your dorm at Auburn 8 years from right now!

Leah: “Auburn? I’m going to Harvard!”


My brother Steve, noting the noise-level at the dinner table: “What we really need is a few more kids.”

Me – aghast: “Hey, these children are the joy. of. my. life!”

Michael – pretending to be nonchalant: “I thought you’d say gardening.”

I knew it was taking Bryan and Michael a long time to read that chapter from Harry Potter… 🙂


Michael: “Mommy, if I had a billion dollars, I would convert it to change and sprinkle it all over every poor city; then I would try to level up our technology around the world. We have really got to step up our game. The iPhone 6 was not our best.”

Michael’s Mini-Man Bedroom Makeover

Michael’s bedroom was due for a refresh: one of the box springs had broken on his twin beds (little monkeys jumping on the bed…) and the quilts were showing some wear. I decided to upgrade him to a full size bed and use the antique iron headboard that had been sitting in our garage for years… See it there in the corner? It was white with rust spots and cost me a whopping $25 at a junk shop in Notasulga, Alabama. Both of my kids said it was gross. Neither wanted it in their room. They didn’t have my vision for its greatness! Inspired by Pottery Barn’s Coleman Iron Bed ($899) I grabbed a couple cans of Rustoleum spray paint…

I think it turned out great! I found new bedding on that matched his existing color scheme and dinosaur theme: sheets plus a sham and a quilt. The clip lamp is from IKEA.

It looks like an alien spacecraft is about to land on the bed… That’s just the skylight.

Remember the poster I created using Waterlogue and PicMonkey? I love it right here by Michael’s bed and Emmitt’s aquarium.

So, now that you’ve seen what’s new, I’ll show you the rest of his room…

I moved his cork board to this open wall… You can also see his ninja painting and the fishing cabin bookcase Uncle Stevie made for him when he was born.

The stripes match the room’s color scheme and jazzed up a basic cork board from Walmart.

A couple years ago, I painted the m-i-c-h-a-e-l letters from Hobby Lobby to match his room’s color scheme. The IKEA bookcase is new and I could not be happier with the quality. I could put these cube shelves in every room in the house!

Michael has a walk-in closet that doubles as additional play space. Ben’s cabin is in there along with posters and stickers that would otherwise make his room look junky.

This handy reference sits eye-level on the inside of his closet door.

Emmitt – beloved Emmitt.

Here’s a close up of the ninja painting. It’s Michael and me as ninjas. He painted this in kindergarten.


Hope you enjoyed the tour!

This Month in the Yard: August

Oh, people… It’s not good. July was HOT and DRY and my yard is showing every minute of the searing heat. My lush green grass? It’s kinda crunchy. My Day Lillies and Purple Coneflowers? My Sunflowers and Gladiolus? Wilted. Brown. Sad.

Yes, I realize this could have been prevented by actually turning on the sprinklers and watering the lawn. But… This is The Cove. As the name implies, this is low-lying ground. We have underground springs that are right under ground. I have not run sprinklers in many, many years – and I don’t want to start now. Please do not point out the flaws in this [il-] logic.

It looks OK from a distance. 🙂

I can’t bear to post photos of wilted hydrangeas and brown crunchy clumps of flowers so this is going to be a short post.

The dried flowers are doing fine. Ha! Just kidding… I did add white magnolia flowers to the wreath since it looked a little too autumn-y.

The Crepe Myrtle trees are all in bloom…

Last summer, I had two Cana Lillies that were just amazing. This summer, I planted a dozen and never have more than one pretty bloom in the whole stinking yard at any given time. #igiveup

The pots have done well in the heat. The little pot is growing a little weed, not the flower I planted, but at least the weed is alive and well.

Here I am in the kids’ tire swing. If I didn’t occasionally snap a selfie, there would be no photos of me at all. You mamas know what I mean. We take all the pictures! And someday I will want to remember that I was young once, right? Let’s pretend I am still young. Also, let’s ignore that I need to touch up my hair color. The mamas will understand that one, too!

The trees are all faring well. Swinging in the tire swing was my coping mechanism for the “this month in the yard” photo shoot which was going poorly

Remember the little Redbud trees my father-in-law and I transplanted from Tennessee a couple years ago? They’re thriving. This one is taller than me! 🙂

Here’s another Crepe Myrtle in bloom. I should give up and plant nothing but Crepe Myrtles.

… and Hostas.

That’s all. Wish me luck for September!!!!! And check out how beautiful everything was this time last year. :\

UPDATE *** It rained yesterday!!! Yippee!!!