Sticking to It

Jay and I – I know in my heart this man belongs with my heart. I know that there is no other reality for either of us than, God willing, to grow old together, weathering life’s storms side by side, hand in hand. I’ve been feeling so blessed lately by his love, by his unconditional and unwavering love. I’ve also been feeling really reflective, and kind of been marveling at how far we’ve come – as a couple, as individuals. See a head strong girl, meeting a soft, gentle man – it was not always easy. It will not always be easy, I know.

I react, proclaim, live; unapologetically, I am 100% authentically me. It’s doubtful that you’d ever wonder where my mind sits on something. If this girl has got something to say, it’s just coming out. It’s the way the good Lord made me. Jay watches, absorbs, lives; quietly, humbly, passively. God, when we first got married I almost ate him. Neither of us knew what was happening but I almost ate that man alive. He just didn’t know how to exist, let alone thrive next to and support a women that had so much to say about this world. He lost himself, it happened so quickly that we didn’t even know how to react to it. It just depressed the living day light out of both of us. I knew, that by being me, I was diminishing him. He knew that by being him, he was uncontrollably falling into his own perceived pit of non-existence. We got angry with each other. I wanted a husband that could stand as my equal, support me, advocate for and enhance me. He wanted a wife that could stop long enough to listen, to love him, to nurture him.

We didn’t have a honeymoon phase because the first year of our married life was just brutally hard. We both wanted, so badly, to be so happy. Because we both loved each other. From the deepest part of our souls, we both loved each other more than we had words to say. More than we knew how to say. Most people, most couples, probably would have thrown in the towel that first year because every single day was a struggle. We both felt like we were spiraling out of control. We both felt like there was no conceivable way for us to right this ship. It was so damn heartbreaking for both of us to struggle like that.

But you know what, looking back on that sweet, young, confused couple – I know that there was one thing working for us every single day. We both woke up with conviction in our hearts to be married to that person another day. To never quit, to commit to that person, even when – especially when – it was difficult.

Once we realized that we had survived those first few months, that first year even, we kind of looked at each other and assessed the damage. We were both still standing. We were both still here. We were both still in this thing. And every day, as we realized this person was still standing beside us, despite our numerous and abundant faults – we grew closer, we confided in each other, we learned how to love each other, as the other needed to be loved. As hard as those first few months were, I wouldn’t change them for the world. They made us so much stronger, so much wiser, so much more appreciative of this other human by our side.

My Mom said something to me once that I’ve never forgotten. She said, “Mary, your Dad and I have not always had the easiest marriage. But you know what, your Dad decided to stick with me”. and she looked at me and just said, “Isn’t that the biggest gift in life, to have someone willing to stick it out with you”.

And even though I know Jay and I are still new on this journey, even though we still have decades to put under our belt, the long and short of it is there is no other human on this earth I’d want to walk through this life with. We learned a life time in that first year – and we continue to learn – through our conflicts, through our love, through our devotion, through our journey. How lucky am I that I found someone willing to stick it out with me? Like it or not Jay Thomas, I’m stuck like glue to you.

In Car

A+ Appliances

Someday – someday in the future Jay bird and I will go all out on appliances and get some shhhweeett viking action going on with a sub zero fridge to finish things out. And a mini fridge below the counter, with a wine cooling station.

Well, in my dreams, that’s happening anyway and y’all if you can dream it, you can do it. That’s what I’m telling myself!! 😉

But since $10k is not even close to what we’re looking to drop on a suite of appliances in the modern day, we opted to go the looks nice, performs pretty darn well, and costs significantly less category.

May I formally present – our appliances.

Affordable Professional Grade Appliances

Now, for this kitchen, we did some serious bargain shopping. From our last house, we knew we’d like to go with the GE Cafe line (for the most part). We were open to anything with a similar aesthetic, in all honesty, but once we started shopping we again came to the conclusion that the only mass produced appliance suite (that we could find) with the look and feel of professional grade appliances, was, GE Cafe.

And the thing is, I think they know it, because they charge a wee bit of a premium for these sparkly little numbers.

GE Cafe Fridge Review

The fridge, for instance. The cheapest we could find this guy was $3,099 when we started looking. WHOA, grab your cape batman – that’s a load of dough.

Funny thing about me: looks have me at hello. Funny thing about my husband: LED lights have him at hello. I swear to God, this man’s biggest beef about our last fridge was that it didn’t have LED lights – I’m like Willis, you crazy.

The good news is, we were able to pull some magic over Lowe’s eyeballs, since they not only price matched a sale online price, they also beat it by 10%. And we didn’t even ask.

Our total walk out the door price for the fridge, $2,336.08. That’s like almost $1k less than $3,315.93 we would have been on the hook for with no discount.

Jay and I kinda skipped to the car and looked at each other gleefully like, ommeerrgauuudd, did that just happen?

Another thing that made us all kookoo for cocoa puffs about this fridge. Not only does it have a water dispenser, which I personally think is like, mega fancy pants. It’s got a hot water dispenser. Now, coming from a girl that always used the kitchen tap for her water needs and never had a water dispenser, this is a giant leap forward.

Get this, it also has a slide show. Like, for really cute pictures of your cat! Baahhaaaaa. Yep. There he is in all his glory!

Slideshow on Fridge

Now our oven, from the outside, looks identical to our last house. But, and this is an important but, there is one crucial difference. It’s dual fuel baby. Gas on top, electric on the bottom. It’s gas, it’s electric, boogie woogie woogie.

GE Cafe Oven Review

They say it’s supposed to be the best of both worlds, and since we already had the 240 volt line right there from the last hook up, we figured, what the heck. Why not?

When we started shopping around for this guy, we were looking at $2,999, with some magical coupon waiving and a great memorial day sale, we got it down to $2,199. Much better, but still a chunk man.

Review GE Cafe Oven

Just like the last one, it’s got a convertible bottom drawer that becomes an extra oven, which is perfect for baking dessert, while the main dish is up top! 😉

How to Save on Appliances

So the dishwasher was the one place we decided to cut a few corners, you could say. Last time we pulled out all the stops and made everything super matchy matchy and spent, well, way too much on a dishwasher.

This time we decided that as long as it was the same brand (GE) and the same finish (stainless) that we’d be happy campers. We even found one that was sans a handle, so I think it meshes in with the rest of the kitchen pretty seamlessly.

Adding bonus. It cost us $400 with a great sale and some more coupon waiving.

Another penny pinching antic was our microwave. Once we knew we’d be getting GE appliances for the rest of the kitchen, we scoured craigslist for a stainless microwave option to match. We found this guy for a whopping $25. Not. Too. Shabby.

Built In Microwave

Sooo, at the end of the day, with all our appliances added and accounted for, we spent $4,882.93. Now y’all, that’s nothing to shake a stick at, but overall, I do kinda think these pretty little lookers help to make the space, so we’re happy to have spent the dough. Doesn’t hurt that by shopping sales and cutting coupons, we were also able to save almost $2k in the process. Money in the bank, y’all.

NC Made | Giveaway!

Y’all, I am so excited about today’s giveaway. I spotted this amazing shop a few months after we moved down here and I immediately thought that it would be the absolute perfect gift for our out of town friends and family members come the holidays.

NC Made is the sweetest little virtual gift shop that puts together packaged gift sets, all full of locally made goodies from the fine little land of the pines! You’ve got to check out her website – it’s full of so much southern goodness it’s going to make your heart ache.

To top things off, one lucky winner will get this amazing little gift pack! Squee! I’m so excited for who ever wins this!

Plank Road Box

Cross your fingers, toes, and legs for this one, guys!

Win: The Plank Road Gift Box, Pictured Above
When: Today, September 30th – midnight on Tuesday, October 7th
Winner: Announced on this post, next Tuesday!

Enter here:

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Care for Kara | Giveaway!

Alright decorating fanatics. It’s time to get yo pillow on! This week, y’all have a chance to win a pair of pillows from Kara Fabrics!


Up for grabs are two sweet little patterns – her 20″x20″ Pink Moroccan Pillow and a 14″x20″ Coral Asian Peony Pillow.


Enter to win, here:

Win: The two pillows, above. 
When: Today, September 16th – midnight on Tuesday, September 23rd
Winner: Announced on this post, next Tuesday!

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AHeirloom | Giveaway!

For all you cooks of the world (or those that have a cook in your life) this giveaway is right up your alley! This week, a lucky reader can win a gorgeous, handmade cutting board that’s made in the shape of your home state from AHeirloom! So. Cool!

State Cutting Boards

Amy has all sorts of amazing stuff in her shop! Check it all out here!

Win: A Cutting Board from AHierloom 
When: Today, September 2nd – midnight on Tuesday, September 9th
Winner: Announced on this post, next Tuesday!

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Whiter and Brighter

I’ve got a thing for crisp, white, bed sheets. Ya know, hotel style? Perhaps I like them since in my mind, they usually correlate with someone else doing the laundry and making the bed, but something about a crisp white set of sheets kinda throws me over the edge.

See, as of late. Our bedroom was looking sorta sad. Insert below picture.

Mounting Headboard to Wall

We hadn’t mounted our headboard yet, so that was kinda disappearing into the ether, our main bed sheet was all stretched out and yellowish, and our pillows.

Well… they were mismatched and not looking so hot either.

How to Move Headboard Up

So after scoring a few sets of the brightest, whitest, crispest sheets at the goodwill for $1 a set (WHHHAATT???, I know, right?!) I thought that it was high time we gave our bed a little updating. Normally, sheets at the goodwill are something that you might have to settle for a few stains on (I mean, people usually don’t give away brand new stuff) but I’m pretty sure a hotel went out of business, since they had a ton of matching white sheets for the taking.

I put a bug in Jay’s ear that I wanted to raise the headboard when we put the new sheets on the bed, and after hearing power tool noises coming from the bedroom, I come into the room to see this.

How to not find a stud

Now, y’all, to say Jay got the stink eye from me for this level of shenanigans, well, that would be a fact. My response to a thousand holes in the side of my wall was: Jay – what the hello dolly do you think you’re doing. His response: Well, trying to find a stud!

Holy man.

Let’s all look at the picture above and nod our heads in unison as I say. Not the best way to find a stud. I think he needs a stud finder for Christmas. And some joint compound. Jeeze Louise.

Mounting Headboard to the Wall

Eventually he did find that stud, and just used a scrap piece of 2×4 to screw in the back of our wood, DIY headboard to the wall.

In addition to being solid as a rock now (no wiggling), we also raised up the headboard so that it’s, well, normal height.

Looks better, right!

White Sheets on Bed

Here’s another shot from the side, so you can see that the piece of wood (or the ten thousand holes Jay made) are not visible (unless you stick your head back there to investigate)

White Hotel Pillowcases

While we were on this update, I thought it would be a good time to spruce up our bedside tables a bit, too. I’d been wanting to frame our anniversary card (5 years with this hole crazed man this June) – so now we have some art that personalizes the space, too!

A Bicycle Built for Two – Me and You.

A Bicycle Built For Two

Light My Kandel | Giveaway!

Summer to me, is the season of accessories. Since there is still a few more weeks until summer officially comes to a close, why not snag a sweet necklace from Kandel Krafts, a local NC shop that has some lovely jewelry! This week’s giveaway is for this necklace!

Here are some of my favorites from her shop:


necklace 1

Enter to win!

Win:  a necklace from Kandel Krafts
When: Today, August 5th – midnight on Tuesday, August 12th
Winner: Announced on this post, next Tuesday!

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Puddleduck Paper | Giveaway!

I’ve gotta tell you, browsing online these days makes me wish I’d stumbled across some shops before I tied the knot with the Mr. 5-years ago. There are SO many gorgeous options out there today that are as beautiful as can be! Puddleduck Paper Co. is one of my new favorite finds that carries lots of wonderful custom invitation suites, but also lots of fun (and beautiful!) art work for your home and office.

So if you’re planning a wedding, and in need of sweet invites.

Navy Wedding Invitation

Or custom bridesmaid cards .

Bridesmaid Card

Or if you’re hitched and single and ready to mingle, and just want to stock up on some stylish office art …

Work Hard

Then you are going to LOVE her shop! 

One lucky winner will win a $25 gift card to her shop, and anyone can snag 10% off by typing in the coupon code “LEMONGROVE” at checkout.

Win:  a $25 Gift Card to Puddleduck Paper Company
When: Today, July 22nd – midnight on Tuesday, July 29th
Winner: Announced on this post, next Tuesday!


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Tea Towels and Ticking Stripes | Giveaway!

I’m a total sucker for classic prints on every day essentials. Chic and understated, that’s my jam people. I recently spotted a local NC shop down in Greensboro that I knew you guys would be crazy for, too. This week’s giveaway is sponsored by the UnOriginal Americain – get ready for some sweetness, y’all!

Like these gorgeous make-up bags! Dropping some hints with the hubby for these beauties! 😉

Cosmetic Bags

And this adorable bag – perfect for beach season!


And for one lucky winner, this week’s giveaway features some super sweet ticking stripe napkins!


Psst! Snag 10% off with code LGB10

Win:  A set of (4) cloth napkins from The UnOriginal Americain
When: Today, July 8th – midnight on Tuesday, July 15th
Winner: Announced on this post, next Tuesday!

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Forest Hills

Being that we were from out of state when we began our house hunting adventure here in Durham, we really had no idea how diverse and varied the neighborhoods were here in town. Our real estate agent was awesome about bringing us around to new haunts, and one of the locations that I absolutely fell in love with was Forest Hills. This section of town was not even remotely on our radar when we started hunting, most likely since all of the houses are completely out of our budget. 😀 Plus, since it’s such a prime time swank location, houses rarely get listed in this section of town to boot.

Durham Neighborhood Map

Now partly because I felt like a mega-licous stalker, and partly because the sun was setting, this is a short and sweet little tour of the Forest Hills neighborhood. As gorgeous as this area is, I’d definitely say it’s got a slightly different vibe than the other chunks of town, so I felt a bit more paparazzi over here when I got some strange looks from all the fancy pants people walking their dogs that evening 😀

Here is a small sampling of the stunning pads you can find though! How about this brick charmer?

Traditional Brick Colonial Home in Durham, North Carolina


Maybe it’s because they remind me of my Grandma’s house up in Wisconsin, but I absolutely love the cape cod style of home. This one is totally done right with the greige exterior color and contrasting black shutters.

Traditional Cape Cod

And right next door, a regal white painted brick home. What would I even DO with a house that big – it’s a dangerous question, people, very dangerous.

Ivy Around Steps

Even though I know it’s an invasive down here, I can even handle how much I love the look of a walkway surrounded by ivy.

Ivy around walkway

Given my love affair with ivy, you can see why I was totally smitten with this section of town!

This house needed some updating (awnings must go, now!), but perched up high on a hill as you enter this neighborhoods main loop, you definitely can’t beat the location. I love how atypical the homes facade is, too.

Homes in Forest Hills

Hard to do, but this curved brick walkway may just beat out the whole ivy look. A wee more expensive, but come ON, can you beat that curb appeal?

Forest Hills Home

This house is great from all angles – this is a side view of the same home!

Forest Hills

And if you’re all googly eyed over these mansions of yesteryear like I was, one just went on the market a week or so ago for a cool $1 mill, which is quite frankly, on the low end in this hood! Keep pinching those pennies Durhamites!

Oh and PSSTT!! As of yesterday – we’ve got some pretty BIG news to share next Monday!! 😀 Spoiler alert – We found a ( ______ ) – it starts with the letter H…. 😀