Monday, June 30, 2014

DIY Upholstered Side Table

I promise--I'm not going crazy upholstering everything in our house! It just seemed more efficient to conquer both of these jobs together at the same time while I had the supplies out, and I'm so so pleased with their new and improved selves. These two projects have given me lots of hope for future upholstering--but for now, I really am putting away the staple gun away for a while.

This cute little table was a hand-me-down from my parents and as you can see, the woven top was in really rough shape. The bamboo legs, however, while not perfect are sturdy enough and to me, look rustic in a good way. I knew this table would be on our screened porch so the fabric I chose needed to be durable, and preferably in a pattern or a darker shade so that we could put drinks on it without worrying too much about rings or stains.

The fabric I picked (like the velvet I used on the chair) was a remnant and highly discounted. When I saw this funky patterned fabric I fell in love. It's just the look I wanted for this piece. The colors brings a little life back into the table and it looks both modern and a little bohemian.

The process was easy--just me and a staple gun, making sure everything stayed nice and taut as I went along. The fabric is thick and heavy and you can see the extra fabric bunched underneath each corner, but that doesn't bug me. I could have cut some of it away if it had but I decided to leave it as is.

I love a good involved project but sometimes the simplest DIYs really are the best. This one took about 15 minutes, not including the time spent choosing fabric, and I wouldn't change a thing about the end result! This table is going to see lots of icy cold glasses of lemonade this summer, that I know for sure. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

From 10 to 100

Moving from lower Alabama to Charlottesville has been like going from 10 to 100 in terms of all there is to do. So far I haven't been able to keep up with my own mental list of all the places I want to explore and the things on my summer list and the many great spots we've been told we must see/do/visit. It's incredible to be in a place with so much culture and history, so many cool restaurants and thrift shops, yoga classes and hiking areas, churches and parks and book clubs and everything else under the sun.

I'm also just now feeling a little more ready to begin marketing myself as a pianist and teacher now that the pianos are tuned and my studio feels more and more put together each day and the chaos of moving is beginning to calm down. I'm both excited and nervous about this. Basically, I'm trying to run a small business and when I think about it that way, in the most realistic terms, it can feel pretty overwhelming. But then I think about kids and parents knocking at the door each week and the feeling I get after a really productive lesson and what a blessing it is to teach what I'm passionate about. I do feel much more prepared now than I did fresh out of grad school, two years ago, so I guess my teaching experiences in Alabama seasoned me more than I realized. I have a much better handle on the "business" aspect of running a piano studio out of my home, and having a bit of extra self-confidence is everything.

All of this to say: I feel so stimulated and encouraged and awakened by our new surroundings. There isn't enough time in the day to do all I want to do! I need to remember that getting to know a new city and finding my place in it is a slow, patient process and that I shouldn't rush it. I'll gradually get to know the nooks and crannies and holes-in-the-wall in this cute little town of mine, and it'll get to know me.

p.s. On today's schedule: head to the library near the historic downtown area for some good books, buy ink at Staples so I can print business cards and my studio policy, and figure out where the nearest post office is.

p.s.s. Above is a little sneak peek of my piano room. I'm thinking of recruiting my brother to take photos of our house when he visits in August so I can do a real "house tour" on my blog! His photos will be a million times better than mine. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

DIY "Upholstered" Sitting Chair

I've had to put "DIYing" on hold for the most part over the last 2 months in favor of organizing and packing and unpacking, and I've really missed it so much. I get such a boost of creative energy from getting out the spray paint or a hammer and nails, and now that we're getting settled I'm finding time to take on some projects I've been keeping in the back of my mind.

I got this chair a few years ago (from TJ Maxx) because I loved the shape and style and thought it was so sweet and ladylike. It's an ideal little sitting chair for a bedroom which is where I had it before, but in our new house I think it's made for this spot in our entryway. We'll be able to sit here to put shoes on and it fills this little wall space to a tee. Here's how it looked before.

I never really loved the speckled grey finish of the metal frame or the bland fabric covering the seat and have wanted to change it from the beginning. It was a great day when I discovered the top could easily come unscrewed. All I'd have to do to update its look was spray paint the frame and "upholster" the seat with a prettier fabric.

I chose a rich black/charcoal velvet from a local upholstery shop that has an amazing remnant section. This was an expensive fabric that was deeply discounted and I still have some left over for a pillow or two! I love how the color changes in different lighting--sometimes it's a true black, other times grey, sometimes it even looks navy or forest green.

Covering it was so simple--I'm not sure "upholstered" is even the right word because it wasn't at all fancy or difficult like the word implies. I used a staple gun and worked back and forth on opposite sides to make sure the material stayed taut and even. This was a great first "upholstery" project because all of the messy staples and cut fabric are completely hidden underneath.

Once I had the fabric I decided on a glossy black for the frame. It's funny because my natural inclinations are usually to go white or at least lighter, but I'm so glad I tried something new and went dark and dramatic. I was trying to channel this incredible lady who is never afraid of mod, glossy paint and deep, highly pigmented colors, and whose DIY work is always spot on.

You can see that the seat isn't as perfectly covered as it was before, but I've learned to embrace that quality in DIY projects. Of course it won't look factory-perfect! I'm not a factory! A touch of a homemade element is completely ok with me, as long as it's a subtle thing and not an actual mistake. It's like leaving your own little signature, a reminder of your hand in the piece.

Anyway, it's been awhile since I've done a DIY post so I hope you enjoy reading about this project as much as I enjoyed doing it! What do you think? An improvement on the original?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


A "just because" photo because it's pretty, and because I was too busy chatting this morning to snap a picture! / Source

I had a breakfast date this morning with one of my new-but-feels-old friends. Do you have any girlfriends like that, someone you feel like you've known a lot longer than you actually have? We clicked pretty much the first time we met and even though we've spent time in person together maybe only a dozen times, I feel so comfortable around her and love that we can confide in and support each other. Oh, and she lives in Charlottesville! And her husband is best friends with my husband! It's all too good to be true.

In my life, to be honest, I've tended to undervalue the importance of female friendship. I've always been really happy doing things on my own and prefer to have several really great friends as opposed to a bunch of them. Those preferences are still true for me but mornings like this one remind me never to take friendship for granted, remind me of how soul-nourishing friendship is. It's not just an extra or a bonus but rather a crucial part of a well-rounded life. Women need other women, don't you think? I left the bagel shop feeling refreshed and renewed and happy (and photo-less--too busy gabbing!).

Anyway, before I totally embarrass my friend if she's reading this, I'll close this quick little ode to friendship by saying that I'm slowly but surely learning my lesson. I really believe that I'm entering a richer season of life as far as friendship goes. So far in my mid-twenties I've become so so close to one of my sisters-in-law, and feel indescribably blessed to call her one of my best friends. I've met kindred spirits through this blog and have even gotten together with a few in person (and hope to meet more of you in person!). I've connected with women of faith and women who value marriage and families the way I do. I'm surprised by all of this in the best way possible. I don't take it for granted, and I hope I never do.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gallery Inspiration

Gallery walls are one of those things I either really love or really dislike. A well done cluster of art on the wall makes my heart sing. But a poorly curated or oddly spaced or overtly trendy gallery wall makes me want to run away and never see another gallery wall again. (Too dramatic?)

We have a perfect wall in our living room for a gallery and last night I laid out a few pieces of art on the floor and played around with layout. It's tougher than you'd expect to get it just right, and it'll be another few weeks before I commit to a design (or maybe I'll go in another direction entirely, we will see). 

I've gathered a few images here that inspire me, gallery walls that grab my attention, look effortless and chic, and hold none of the trendiness that can come with this look. I also tried to pinpoint exactly what about each one I like. I think that'll come in handy as I play around with art on my own walls!


I love the spacing of this first one, the variety of colors and frames and styles, and that lamp peeking out from the sea of art. This is perfect. 

This floor-to-ceiling gallery is epic, and I like that there are plenty of teeny tiny frames mixed in with larger ones. 

I think I like this one because it's relatively small, hangs low and close to the sofa, and includes some non-framed art (the clock and the antlers). The large drawing of the ladies anchors everything together.

A gallery wall that is too matchy is something that usually bugs me but this collection of antique gilded mirrors really speaks to me. Hanging them in a tall grid is just right for this space.

This one is a little sparse and to me it's brilliant. Oversized mats, not a lot of variety in size or color, and that mirror in the center make this gallery austere and subtle.

Also--hello--I guess I really love white walls. 

What do you think of gallery walls? I can't wait to share what we end up with!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let's Get To Know One Another: A Word To Describe Your Style

My eclectic china cabinet, currently

We've been really busy running around cleaning, unpacking and arranging for the last few days. It's been so so so much fun but my back could definitely use a break from all the bending and lifting. Thank goodness, my parents arrive tomorrow from D.C. to help over the weekend. And my mother-in-law was here on Saturday helping us get our bedroom together. Have I mentioned how lucky I feel to be a hop-skip-and-a-jump from family? This move to Charlottesville has so many bonuses.

Anyway, it's been really interesting having all of our belongings in one place. Seeing all of our dishes together, for example, the ones I've collected from thrift stores and our simple white wedding dishes and beautifully textured pottery bowls and plates that were given to us as gifts. I had a funny little revelation the other day about these dishes. Our china cabinet has three open shelves with glass doors, which is where I've been putting our nicest, fanciest things. At first, I had only our wine glasses and some white footed soup bowls on the shelves and I thought, "That's so gorgeous and simple, I'll put only glass and white dishes in our china cabinet! It will look streamlined and French and lovely against the dark aged wood of the cabinet!" This was my grand design idea.

But then a few days went by and necessity demanded that I stop reserving the space for only white pieces. My beautiful chartreuse tray and collection of pie dishes needed a home, and so did my hammered silver teapot from Grandma and my blue handmade sugar and creamer set from my college girlfriend and my copper colander. I began tucking each piece into place, and as soon as I strayed from my white only! theme, I breathed out and thought to myself, "Who was I kidding? This is so much better. Eclectic, that's my thing. I wouldn't have it any other way."

So that's it, my "one word" to describe my style. Eclectic. That's not to say that my style is always funky or offbeat, but that it's a mix of tastes and textures and colors and modern and old. I like earthy and antiqued but I also like bright and glossy and the contrast between the two is exciting to me. All white dishes would be lovely in that cabinet, there's no doubt. But that's not quite me. It would be too perfect and planned, not rustic enough, lacking the pizazz and serendipity and mix of styles I so love. My eclectic china cabinet, with its white and glass and old and new and everything in between, it feels just right.

Now it's your turn! You have only one word to describe your style. What'll it be? I can't wait to hear.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Waiting Makes Everything Sweeter

I never thought we'd have to wait 2.5 years to open all of our beautiful wedding gifts, but I have to say, there's something very exciting, something giddy and happy, about performing this newlywed ritual months and months after we could realistically be called newlyweds. Our gifts had been boxed up and tucked away until this past week when we finally retrieved them and starting going through each special package, one by one.

Some of them are things we carefully picked out online for our registry when we were first engaged and we're just now getting to see in person how perfect those simple white dishes are. Some are bridal shower gifts that bring back the sweetest memories when I see them again (of a day positively brimming with the most heartfelt kind of love) and it's such a pleasure to show them to my husband and tell him a story about that day. Some are gifts that we took the quickest peek at the morning after our wedding before catching the train to New York. Now, when we open them again, we can savor them and turn them over in our hands and re-live that morning. With each gift we're reminded of how thoughtful and kind and generous our families and our friends are. And we're reminded of that most special time in our lives when we were just becoming husband and wife.

You'd think I'd have learned this lesson by now, but please feel free to remind me of it whenever I'm acting anxious/impatient/sick and tired of waiting.

The waiting makes everything sweeter.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Here! And happy!

Friends! We made it out on the other side!

In the last 4 days we drove for over 32 hours, packed up a truck twice (once in Alabama and again in Syracuse at our storage unit), and after much grunting and sweating on the part of our movers, got everything inside our new home.

The move had some ups and downs.

-Leaving Alabama 3 hours late and driving 16 hours straight to Charlottesville. I was very cranky those last few hours.
-Finding out that the street in front of our house was getting paved the day we needed to move in.
-Losing my credit card at a gas station.
-Arriving back in Charlottesville from Syracuse at midnight and finding our house had no electricity. 
-My husband's phone deciding it doesn't like Virginia very much.

-Seeing our as-yet-unseen house for the first time. Thanks Mom, for your good taste and for knowing us and what we needed. It's just right.
-Safe travels and no rain during each move-in. Seriously, praise God for this.
-The piano movers. They are amazing to watch. Strong yet gentle with those precious instruments.
-A sweet friend stopping by for hugs as we unloaded in the afternoon heat.
-Seeing our long-lost possessions come out of storage.
-A visit with Grandma in Syracuse, and getting to hold my high school friend's 7-week old baby girl.
-Electricity that was switched on remotely first thing, the morning after the night we had to brush our teeth by cell phone light.
-Our movers from yesterday, UVA guys who were funny and hard-working and really good-natured despite the back-breaking work we were having them do.
-Watching both of my pianos glide effortlessly through a tight hallway and door frame and seeing my new piano studio take shape. 

So as you can see, the ups definitely outweighed the downs. We are so relieved that the hard part is over and we are so so happy to be here!!!

I'll be blogging a lot about our house in bits and pieces over the next few months and beyond, but for now, suffice it to say that we love our little rental home. 

You, dear readers, have been the most wonderful friends through all of this. My Instagram comments have been so sweet and it makes me so glad that you are excited with us!

More soon. Have a lovely weekend everyone.

(I'm typing this in the Blogger app so forgive any weird formatting!)

Monday, June 9, 2014

We Made It

I am not a careless God. When I allow difficulties to come into your life, I equip you fully to handle them. 

There were times over the past two years when I actually believed this day might never come. The thought crossed my mind and it seemed entirely possible we'd be stuck in Alabama forever. I'm so happy to be proved wrong. Today I'm brimming with joy and relief and gladness because today, we're moving!!!

We made it. Over and over again, God has given me the grace I so desperately need. Wish us safe travels! Virginia, we can't wait.

(Quote above from the Jesus Calling app.)

Friday, June 6, 2014


I woke up today in the best way--to a cute card from my doting husband and a sweet email from my parents containing some adorable and funny childhood photos. It's my birthday! And I feel so very loved.

The movers are coming at 7:30 am on Monday so today we need to take care of a few important items like getting new military ID cards and checking in with the Army transportation office. But the rest of the day is wide open. I asked my husband to take me to see The Fault in Our Stars which arrived in theaters today. I read the book and liked it and I think a romantic chick flick is a perfect birthday treat. Then we're having dinner at our favorite local restaurant, which is always and every time phenomenal.

Simple and sweet, just how I like to celebrate.

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday too and I was hoping that this year we'd finally be able to meet for a birthday lunch, but we'll have to just have a belated one (she lives about an hour from our new home in Charlottesville). It's so much fun sharing our birthday!

Turning 26 isn't as momentous as turning 25, but today I'm feeling really happy and calm and so so so very grateful. God's blessings are rich and good and plentiful and I think this year will be a great one.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Let's Get To Know One Another: Food Staples

With our move less than a week away (!!!) we've been trying to eat up as much of our food as possible so as not to be wasteful. Our pantry and our fridge are slowly getting depleted and I think we will be eating some strange meals over the next couple of days as we try to finish off the perishables. My poor husband has come into the kitchen a few times recently wanting an apple, or some butter for toast, and I've had to break the news that we're out of this or that and that it seemed silly to replace it right before we pack up and leave. Wastefulness makes me cringe, and so does mayonnaise that's been sitting in a warm car for 24 hours! Better to go without for a few days.

Anyway, it made me curious to know: what are some of the things you always have in your fridge or your pantry? Things that your husband would be surprised to find you're out of? Anything unusual on the list?

Here are some of ours, a peek into my kitchen:

Half and half for morning tea (I put it on steel cut oats too)
Sweet relish for making homemade tartar sauce
Almond milk for my lactose intolerant husband
Several cans of black beans and chickpeas and kidney beans for easy dinners
Bananas, almost always
Fresh garlic
Some kind of raw nuts, usually pecans or walnuts, for oatmeal, salad-making, desserts
Sesame seeds to throw on roasted kale or in stirfry
This Thai peanut sauce (we love it drizzled on vegetables or rice)
A bag of spinach
Ground flax seed, which is so good for you and easy to put on top of cereal or a salad
Jasmine rice (I can buy a five pound bag from the Korean supermarket for 5 dollars!)
A treat or two (usually ice cream) in the freezer
A big block of extra sharp cheddar

What are some of your must-have staples? I find this sort of thing oddly fascinating!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Body Image

This is a post I've been mulling over for awhile, trying to find the right words. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Girls, and women, are notoriously concerned about how they look. Aren't we?

Of course, I'm guilty of this. I complain about breakouts and bad hair days and ask my husband to weigh in on my outfits to make sure they flatter my figure. I get self-conscious, I feel embarrassed about blemishes, I worry about how other people will perceive me. A lot of that is just being a normal human (or at least a normal woman) and can't really be helped too much. It's fairly innocuous and I don't think it's damaging to complain to a girlfriend about frizzy summer hair. (Although it's good to be self-aware and not get too vain about it.)

When this behavior becomes dangerous, however, is when we really start putting ourselves down, when we really start criticizing our own bodies. This has always bothered me and worried me. It upsets me to hear my friends complain about how they look if it's not something temporarily "abnormal," like a skin thing. When they complain about their legs or their stomach or their nose--it's sad and I always try to discourage it and tell them they're lovely as they are.

In this way (in endless ways, really) I'm so grateful for my mom. We learn so much about femininity and womanhood by watching our mothers, whether we are consciously doing it or absorbing it subliminally. I've seen a few things online recently that have made me think--"Wait! Stop! You're a grown woman, you're a mother. You can't be criticizing your body like that! If you're doing it, your daughters will." I feel so blessed because my mother was the absolute best example for me. She rarely wore makeup and had a very simple beauty routine, and she always looked (and looks) natural and feminine and pretty. She only just recently starting getting a bit of color in her hair and growing up, I never heard her put herself down and she never seemed to lack confidence about her appearance. She was and is happy in her skin, in her body, with what God blessed her with.

Most girls are predisposed to be critical toward the way they look. We need our mothers to be strong examples of what it means to be confident and accepting of our bodies. When we have children we need to be mothers who are that strong example.

Of course, I'm not suggesting we throw our cares to the wind and stop thinking about appearance altogether. I love feeling put together and I like my mascara and a touch of caramel in my hair every few months. The thing to remember, I think, is that these are only enhancements of our already-existing beauty. You don't "need" highlights because your natural hair color is "mousy"--if I had a nickel for each time I've heard that I would have a lot of nickels! Let's rebel against that. It's perfectly ok to get highlights, but they're just that. Highlights, refreshers, pick-me-ups. They don't make you beautiful.

(It goes without saying, I think, that staying fit is certainly important, but mostly because it's the healthy way to live and it will make you feel good and strong, not because it will make you look a certain way.)

You have only one body to take you through this life. You got it from your mom and your dad and it's brought you this far, hasn't it? Treat it well and appreciate it. It sustains you and can perform miracles and it's beautiful, believe me.

Designed by Jackie's Design Studio