Fall Front Porch

I absolutely love having a front porch. One of my favorite memories from childhood was countless hours sitting on our front porch swing reading a book, and as I got older, rocking in the wicker chairs while talking to my mom. Someday I'd like to add a front porch swing to the end of our porch, too, and maybe a rocking chair or two. 

For now, we've got a few pumpkins and mums ushering in the slightly cooler weather. Waking up and stepping out into cooler temps each morning really helps freshen my mind and get me focused on the day. On the weekends, I'll make a pot of coffee and sit out on the front porch with the pups enjoying the breeze and the beautiful fall light. 

I don't really decorate for Halloween, but apparently we live in a big trick-or-treating neighborhood. While I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to dress up as, I have no idea if I need to add something "Halloween-y" to the front of the house? Nothing scary, but if you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! 

Wreath: TJ Maxx | Hanging Basket Stands: Kmart | Mums in Galvanized Buckets: Home Depot 

2017 Girly Gift Guide

September 28, 2017: The first request for the birthday/Christmas list for the year. At that very moment, I couldn't think of anything I wanted and I was just two days away from birthday month! So I spent a few days trying to curate my annual list for the fam to help guide through the upcoming holiday season. Then I realized, I might be a grown up if I really want nice slippers for my birthday, and I can only think of house stuff and Christmas decor I'd like for my Christmas presents. So this truly is an "almost 26-year-old's birthday gift guide" through and through.

A few thoughts on the list: I love Will & Grace, and am so glad they're back! Last year, my grandmother sent me the first couple of seasons, so I'd love to finish out my collection of the original series. I love popping in a DVD before bed since I don't have a DVR in the bedroom; it's downstairs where I have almost 200 episodes of W&G recorded! Shoes are always a great gift for me because I really don't buy shoes for myself that often. I'm more of a clothes girl. I wear a size 8, and my monogram for the boots {and necklace!} are now pMd.

Speaking of monograms, you may have noticed a theme. The longer I'm married, the more monogrammed stuff I really want! This necklace is the "blogger monogram" that you've seen all over Instagram. I bought an acrylic one from Marley Lilly during a flash sale as somewhat of a trial run, and loved it until it cracked down the thin part of the M. So I definitely want a "real" one now. I'd love the gold tone XL necklace specifically!

A new watch has been a staple on my gift lists the last few years, and I truly feel like it's time for a change. I've had my watch that I wear daily since my first year of college, and it's starting to look a little worn but has served me well. I'm not normally a Juicy fan, but I love the gold, mother of pearl, and tiniest hint of pink!

These Charleston Rice Beads are probably going to be my go-to girlfriend gift this year because they come in so many colors! I'd like one of each of the metal colors like in the graphic below--they can be worn together or with other pieces, which I love. Speaking of girlfriend gifts, this precious pink portable Bluetooth speaker will definitely be this year's stocking stuffer and quick gift for gals. Y'all, it's so cute and tiny, has a 15 hour playback time, over 60 foot Bluetooth range, and is such a great price! It comes in black, gold, and silver, making it a great gift for anyone on your list.

One other thing that's a portable present: the wristlet wallet. I have been carrying my Michael Kors Jet Set Tote all summer and love it! The perfect brown leather tote with great pockets, durable straps, and isn't too heavy. But sometimes you just want to grab your wallet and run into the store. While my $10 sparkle wallet from TJ Maxx gets a ton of compliments, I find my self dangerously sitting it down more and more frequently--scary! I need the strap to keep my wallet on my wrist, and I love all the card slots, and the zipper pockets for cash and coins. I'm betting I could also zip up a lip gloss or two in there as well. The "acorn" color will match my purse perfectly, and can often be found on sale for less than $100.

So there we go! Birthday/Christmas list for 2017 is complete, and with 15 days to go. I'm sure I'll need to figure out a couples gift list which is so fun, and I'm contemplating a major Christmas decor overhaul this year too which might require a list of it's own. What are some of your favorite gifts to give for birthdays?

Front Door Before & After

Who doesn't love a red front door, right? I love them, but I just wasn't sure that it was me. I really struggled all spring and summer figuring out what I could put on and around the door other than our white "M" door hanger. I love pinks {surprise, surprise} and just felt so limited by the red door. I know it can be done, but again, it just didn't quite fit.

I went to Sherwin Williams earlier in the summer and picked from three almost identical colors, landing on "Cay." I waited until a few weeks ago to actually paint the door due to the intense South Georgia humidity. The helpful associate at SW encouraged me to use a multi-surface primer to cover the red, and their front door specific paint for the color. It's a semi-gloss that works on a variety of surfaces like wood and metal. The red on the door previously was a more matte color that always looked a little dingy and was hard to clean--I like a semi-gloss because it really pops and is much easier to wipe down. 

Ta da! Blue door! The first few days, I was really unsure how I felt about it. The door was a lot brighter than how it looked on the paint chip, but isn't that how it always is? I painted a week or two before it was really time to decorate for fall, so it felt a little "naked" if that makes sense. Once I began creating the fall scene surrounding the new pop of color, I began to love it! The blue works so well with the fall colors {more to come this week!} of our decor, and is just so fresh and new. I do honestly hope it fades a little, and I may whitewash it a bit for a slightly more muted color at some point. I'm also looking forward to documenting how the color works with Christmas and other holiday decor, but especially in the spring with all the pinks and greens! 

What do you think? Do you have a "better blue" color suggestion?

After Party Sale Roundup

With so many tips and tricks posts floating around the interwebs about the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale that started this morning, I thought I'd skip a blog post on that one and just shared my one piece advice with everyone: don't get your hopes too high. Although I've gotten some good things before, too often I've sat "in line" for hours and there have been little to nothing I would have wanted, or nothing in my size.

Luckily, this year was not the case. I was in line for just over three hours but walked away with some transitional pieces that I can wear into winter, and I'll probably be heading back for more as surprise pieces are released throughout the three days of the sale {so I'm guessing.}. Each item was around $40, which especially for dresses and silk tops is such a steal!

There are lots of everything, but I was really pleased at the amount of fall and winter items that were available. It's not just leftover summer. Plenty of cardis, cashmere, and more. Here's what I've snagged so far{I especially love the cardi in "Gilver" aka gold + silver!}:

The cardigan will go nicely over the silk tank with slacks for work, and I love a Lilly dress with riding boots and a vest when the weather cools off. I'd love a few more tops to wear layered, so if anything new pops up, let me know.

Speaking of fall, it's beautiful weather today in middle Georgia: crisp first thing this morning, and warm and windy this afternoon; loving it! And also praying for those across the country with devastating weather throughout the week.

Candle Combinations

Last weekend as I was walking out of Bath & Body Works, I realized I am truly a candle addict. I had a bit of a shopping bug that Saturday, and was hoping to pick up those last few summer pieces at Belk but couldn't stand the thought of trying anything on since their air conditioner was broken for the second week in a row and it was 95 degrees outside at 10 a.m.

So I wandered through the mall {a generous word to describe the current state of shopping options within the walls of the small-town center}, and saw that the BBW candles were on sale! Yay! My absolute favorite candles that are normally over $20 were on sale for $12.50, and were $10 for email subscribers. A little tid bit I've learned from my new BBW friends: their candles are now going on sale at least once a month, and the beautiful candle holders will only be marked down on Black Friday in November.

I've always felt that the fragrance in your home should be a continuation of the decor vibe. I like things to be crisp and clean, as well as warm and cozy, and I feel like this combination really hits the spot! Additional bonus: it matches our decor perfectly, and the marble accented jars have become new cotton ball holders in our master bath!

The Tea & Lemon scent smells just like a cold, large glass of sweet tea. It's perfect in the kitchen where I crave a clean scent that's strong enough to clear our cooking smells, but doesn't over power the entire house. Of course, I love this candle design too, with the alternating marble and wood stripes. I think I'm going to use these emptied glass containers in my upstairs guest bathroom for cotton balls and Q-tips.

The Cinnamon Spiced Vanilla candle hangs out in my living and dining rooms. I like that it's not as sugary sweet as some vanilla candles can be--I don't need my candle making me want cupcakes and cookies any more than I already do! It's still a 'clean' scent, in that it doesn't smell like the Pillsbury Dough Boy lives in my house. These jars are used in my dark blue master bath to hold small supplies.

The Honey Vanilla is upstairs in our master bedroom. It coordinates perfectly with our bedding and decor, and is just the right fragrance to settle in with after a long day. Plus, there's a cute new fall design, too!

There's a 3-wick candle sale that ends today--I love stocking up when these are on sale for $12.50 a piece when they're usually $22+. My hall closet is stacked full of candles, and empty jars to reuse throughout the house, too, which makes it seem like an even better deal when I get a cutesy container out of it!

How do you use your leftover candle containers?

Home Tour | Dining

How is it August? And how did my dining room of all places become my favorite room in the house? Y'all. For reals. It's definitely been the most "work in progress" space of our home because we haven't had a formal dining room yet as somewhat recent grads/young professionals. But in searching for a home that would allow for entertaining, a formal dining room was important to me. I have quite a bit of furniture, and my mother did too, so I knew we would not have a problem filling the space. 

I wanted the room to be a darker gray that compliments the living room. After finding the perfect paint color, it became obvious to me that the curio cabinet needed to be painted bright white {before and after post soon!}, with complimentary bright upholstery on the chairs. Then I added the four white matted picture frames on one wall, and a large wedding canvas on the other between the large windows. The room was coming together, but it didn't quite feel complete. 

CJM had requested a pop of color for this room, so I began looking for a pink and gray rug to coordinate with the china in the curio. I actually found this one just last week but couldn't justify the price tag! We also tried two or three different styles of curtains but couldn't find one we loved. So the dining room kind of sat, incomplete, but pretty. 

On Saturday, we wandered into Ollie's after sushi {if you haven't been to Ollie's, it's so fun to visit and see all the absolutely random stuff they have}. They always have a ton of rugs, so we just started flipping through some of the giant stacks and this funky rug was the third one we saw! I kind of stopped and went, "Hmmm...that's interesting" and kept flipping. It was pink, and had some gray and other colors that would work with the rest of the house but it was LOUD. And just really not the style of the room at all. But it stuck with me.

 We just decided to grab it and try it out. Before it was even down fully, I knew I loved it. Both CJM and I walked around all Saturday, stopping to stare into the room, and saying "Oh, I really love it." It's so funky. And different. But it has created just the coolest vibe in that room! I love the contrast of the traditional pieces and the various patterns on the chairs and the rug. It definitely ties in all of the gray and the colors from our wedding photos. Now I'm feeling like we don't even need curtains, but may just need to upgrade to plantation shutters sometime in the future for the windows. 

Being a Bride: Amanda

Amanda is one of my sorority sisters and best friends; she was also in my wedding! It was so fun having weddings back to back. I also was able to help with some of the ring shopping and picking out, which was so much fun and such an honor.

  Amanda M. (Sharp) Johnson
Groom:  Jared A. Johnson
Wedding Date:  July 9th, 2016
Total number in wedding party: 16 (7 bridesmaids, 7 groomsmen, 1 flower girl, 1 ring bearer)
Total guests: 250
Ceremony: Marsh front in Darien, GA
Reception:  The Darien House, Darien, GA

How you met, and the proposal: 
Well of course Jared and I both have different stories on how we met. My first-time meeting Jared, he was my pledge ride and I remember thinking how cute he was, how he was from a southern town close to mine, and how he was a football player, all a Win-Win! I of course attempted to talk to him the entire trip, and asked if he knew a girl I had grown up swimming with, in which he proceeded to tell me this girl was his ex-girlfriend. So of course, the truck got silent, and that’s how that awkward trip ended.

Both of our encounters were due to our best friend and best man, James Kelly, and he was also the reason for re-introducing me to Jared at an Open House at Georgia Southern. We were friends for several years, and our senior year that friendship developed into a relationship.

Jared and I had a very unconventional proposal. We had been dating about three years, and were both living/working around Brunswick, GA. The prior summer, we had talked about me applying and going back to graduate school to study nurse anesthesia. Sadly, this is not a program that can be completed online, and we were going to need to move to wherever I got in. This was extremely scary as one of the places I applied was in Minnesota... a little too cold for our southern roots! I ended up getting into my dream school of Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC in December, and the decision was made that we were in this for the long haul.

Being from traditional families, our parents wanted us to be married before we moved and I started the fulltime two-year program. After I got my acceptance letter, our life got a little crazy. We found out I was accepted in December, and the program was going to begin in August. Jared told me to start looking at wedding venues to fit our short timeline, and while looking at one of our favorites (a location where my sister had gotten married), Jared got down on one knee! Both of our parents were there, and it was overlooking the marsh (a setting very similar to where we did get married). Due to scheduling conflicts, we were not able to have our wedding here, but had it at my parent’s house and land instead, which turned out to be wonderful! We found out I was accepted in December, engaged by February, married in July, and moved to another state by the end of July. It was a whirlwind!

What was the best bridal/pre-wedding event you attended, and why? {Read more about the fun weekend here.}

My bachelorette party was the greatest trip ever! My sister/matron of honor, Lindsey Mote, and all of my bridesmaids, really went out of their way to make this the greatest girl’s trip. I told my sister that with all of the stress of the wedding, I just wanted a low-key lake weekend. She ended up finding a house outside of Athens, GA that was on a lake, had a pool, and a bonus of a swim up pool bar; it was a dream house! They had planned every detail for the whole weekend. We were able to hang out at the house in the pool during the day with our “bring your own float” theme party, and go sing karaoke in Athens that night. It was the best weekend ever!

What was something that made your day special?

While thinking about who would do what at the wedding, we both kind of noticed there was no big role for Jared’s father. We decided very early on that instead of him sitting during the ceremony, we wanted him to officiate the wedding! His dad was thrilled, obtained his certificate online, and was able to marry us the day of the wedding. He made the ceremony very personal to us as a couple, and it is something that we love looking back on!

What was the best wedding gift you received?

When my sister got married at a coastal location, my dad handmade the arbor under which the ceremony was held. Since this was seven years ago, the arbor had of course fallen apart by the time we decided to get married. We were on such a short timeline, so this wasn’t something that I thought my dad would be able to build in time. He surprised me the week before the wedding with this beautiful, handmade, arbor that he had been working on for Jared and me to get married under. It made the perfect backdrop for our ceremony!

What was the most unique aspect about your wedding?
We ended up having the wedding at my parent’s coast house and adjoining marsh front lot. Our ceremony was on the marsh front lot, and then the reception was back in a tent in front of our house. It is a wedding site that I don’t think anyone else will ever have, and was extra special to us due to our memories at this house. It did make it a little more stressful though since we did all of the prep-work ourselves, including me mowing my ceremony site on my days off of work... I mean what bride can say that?! But in the end, it just made it that more special for us and something we will never forget! 

What inspired your wedding day?
Being on the coast, we wanted to incorporate very coastal aspects to our day. We very frequently do oyster roast at this house, and incorporated these oyster shells into our day. We had oyster wreaths on windows, had the same wreaths on our chairs, and had them tied to the silverware on all the place settings. These oyster shells made a nice memento for people to take home, and I love seeing when people use them as a Christmas ornaments! My sister is a great artist and was able to incorporate this coastal theme into our invitations with watercolors of the reception house and a map of the surrounding location. We later used these watercolors on our thank you cards as well. We were able to take wedding pictures on our dock and served shrimp and grits at our reception. We wanted to incorporate this theme in any way that we could!

Thankfully my sister is skilled in all things wedding. I mentioned that she did all of the invitation stationary, but she also did all of the flowers…and did them all at 8 months pregnant! She, my bridesmaids and most of my family members, made all of the table runners, bouquets, and arbor flower arrangements. It was nice to have that stress taken from me, and we saved a ton of money doing it this way! She now has her own flower company that she does weddings through (Lowell & Co out of Macon, GA) and I highly recommend her. I couldn’t have made it through the day without all of the hard work that she did! Also as a wedding present, she surprised us with snow cones at our reception! They went over great, and were an awesome way to help with the South Georgia heat!

Floral Design: Lowell & Co Floral
Photography: Ari Merritt Photography
Wedding Dress: J'Adore Bridal
Bridesmaid Dresses: Kennedy Blue