The Great Bedroom Switch-Up 2018 – Our Teeny Tiny Master Bedroom

FINALLY, after much ado we have completed the Great Bedroom Switch-Up of 2018!  As you may recall, I first posted about our bedroom space dilemma a couple months ago.  Our teenage daughters could no longer function in their shared downstairs bedroom and after much debate, Husband and I downsized!  You can read about the beginning of this little adventure here:   The Great Bedroom Switch-Up Part 1…The Attic Master.

It has taken us two months, mostly because we have been out of town a bunch on weekends due the the girls’ travel volleyball and basketball seasons, but we FINALLY completed our new and improved, albeit tiny master bedroom!

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We had painted the space when we moved the girls upstairs a couple months ago and Husband refinished a small-scale dresser that fit perfectly into the downstairs bedroom.  The dresser is a staple in the room and Husband did a fantastic job re-finishing it to my exact specifications!  You can read about his efforts in A Quick Dresser Re-Do in Our New and Improved, Slightly Smaller Bedroom.

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I really only needed to decorate the space and figure out what to do with our clothes!  I moved Husband’s clothes into the bedroom closet, he has less hanging clothes than I do and we managed to squeeze his in the little closet, next project – reinstall the closet door!

I purchased a lovely 8’x10′ indoor/outdoor rug from Sam’s Club for less than $100.00. Steal!! It is as beautiful as a higher priced option but doesn’t quite hold dog hair and is MUCH easier to clean!  It also fits perfectly under our full size bed.  Thankfully, Husband and I don’t mind to snuggle!

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Overlook the atrocious bedding! I still haven’t found exactly what I want yet…

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We used a floating shelf in lieu of a headboard. We found this one in the clearance aisle!!

We added a floating shelf above the bed along with a hand-me-down night stand that fit perfectly in the room.  I also convinced Husband to hang our small television on the wall adjacent to the bed.  This was an endeavor because the walls in our home are plaster and SUPER difficult to hang heavy objects!  So far, so good!

Overall, I am beyond pleased with our little makeover!

Warm Up Already! 5 Ways to Embrace Spring Fashion In Chilly Climates

Monday morning my family found ourselves basking in the warm sunshine along the shores of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina before we loaded up and drove home from our holiday weekend vacation; when we arrived home later that afternoon – temperatures were 30 degrees cooler and the wind was whipping along the mountain ridges and through the valleys – not ideal spring weather!  In fact, the weekend before we spent Sunday afternoon sleigh riding in over a foot of snow with more predicted this weekend!  Really!?!  It’s April! Can we stow away the drab winter clothes already!  This momma needs sunshine and short-sleeves!

Tuesday morning I was back to work and perplexed as to what to wear!  Is it appropriate to still wear black pantyhose or tights post-Easter?  What about my over-coat?  Wonder if I have one in a lighter color – I am tired of the black and grey check pattern!  I refuse to allow plunging temperatures to stifle my Spring style!

So, I offer you 5 Tips for Embracing Spring Fashion in Chilly Climates: 

1.  Enjoy Some Spring Color

My winter wardrobe tends to be a little dark.  I have multiple pairs of black patterned tights and at least 3 black dresses!  I also wear way more maroon than any one person should – it’s our school color and I try to coordinate with my team!  However, basketball season is over and the sun is shining, even though it may be a bit deceptive!  It is time to bring on the color!  Yellows and pinks, blues and greens all pair perfectly with tan or grey cardigans or blazers.  These vibrant colors even look great with those staple black pieces!

2.  Keep Warm with Light, Colorful Scarves

I don’t know about you but I have a serious scarf addiction!  I have scarves of all lengths and colors, patterns and weights!  I have to confess though, the heavier winter scarves get way more attention in my scarf basket.  Now is the perfect time to give some love to those cute little,colorfully patterned, scarves that have been buried in the bottom of the basket! Wear them untied or loosely wrapped for some extra protection from those not-quite-Spring breezes!

3. Punch Up Your Handbag and Accessories

Nothing says Spring like a new handbag!  Whether you are searching to find the latest style from the runways or digging out an old-faithful from your own stash, giving up that tired winter bag for something fresh is beyond gratifying!  As for me, I did both!  I found a small, bright yellow, cross-body that I couldn’t pass up a few weeks ago – I have been waiting anxiously for the slightest peek of sunshine and a weekend adventure to break it out!  I also unearthed and blue and pink floral arm bag from my closet; its a little larger and perfect for volleyball tournaments and everyday stuff  that I need to carry around like monster trucks and essential oils!

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20180406_0931561326595103.jpgDon’t forget the accessories!  Spring is the perfect time to bring out a little bling and color in your accessories!  Its a great time for larger pieces that your bulkier winter clothes would have over-shadowed or hidden completely! This necklace set was a gift from my momma!  I LOVE handmade jewelry!  Wearing this makes me feel like I carry a little part of the artist with me! You know I love a story!  Spring fashion also provides great opportunity for statement accessory pieces; large or small, an interesting piece of jewelry can completely change an outfit!

 

 

 

4.  Layers Upon Layers My Friends

We have all heard the old adage of “light layers” – well sometimes sayings like this are old because they are tried and true!  Spring fashion in the mountains is all about layers!  Its giving up the down coat for the down vest or heavier pea coat for a cardigan and rain jacket!  I love my cardigans as much as, if not more than, my scarves!  In fact, I have an entire cardigan wardrobe – thicker ones for winter and light-weight pieces for fall and spring!  Cardigans of every shape and style!  My new favorite Spring layering find…a polka dot Sorelle Rain Jacket from RD Style that came in this month’s Stitch Fix box…I can’t wait to wear it!

5.  Change Up Your Products

Spring is the perfect time to change up your skin-care line and try new looks or products!  There are tons of great blog posts out there with product reviews and suggestions to get you started!  I read a great article today by Abbi Chalk at http://simplyabbi.com/2018/04/march-makeup-the-top-three.html.   She rated her top three glowing skin care products for March.

If you are like me and winter has left you pale and ghostly, I recommend adding a little color to your skin too!  I love self-tanners…there I said it!  While I do not subscribe to dangerous tanning beds I do love a good spray tan or self tanner!  There are so many good products out there now that moisturize your skin and, contrary to popular belief, will not turn you orange!  My favorite at the moment is actually Banana Boat Summer Color, Self Tanning Lotion. You can pick this up in most grocery stores or pharmacies for about $6 and it works as well as the expensive brands!  Its self-adjusting color goes on evenly and fades just as evenly.  Like all self-tanners, it does require a little practice and finesse in the application process.  Basically, I recommend going light on knee, ankle, elbow and wrist areas and ALWAYS wash yous hands after application! If you aren’t convinced or worried about streaking go for the professional spray tan and use a self-tanner for maintenance!  I prefer the Norvell brand of professional spray tans and maintenance products!

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Finally, Spring represents all things new and fresh…so pack up your heavy winter perfume and search out a new Spring scent!  What better way to uplift your spirits than with a new aroma swirling about you!  You could even try essential oils such as wild orange and rosemary!

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There you have it!  5 tips for embracing Spring fashion for those of us still enduring plunging temperatures and the occasional snow flake!  Hang in there my friends – those short sleeves and sandals are in sight!

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Stepping Outside Our Holiday Comfort Zone

 

Confession:  I am a bit old fashion when it comes to holiday traditions and have been that way most of my life.  Holidays in our home are to maximize family time and celebrate the occasion with a church service followed by a big dinner with our extended family and friends – its the southern way!  Something will be fried and copias amounts of butter will be used in the preparation or consumption process!  It is just a way of life!

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This Easter however proved to be a bit of a challenge for this tradition -loving momma!  Our oldest daughter was scheduled to play in her last club volleyball tournament of the year on Easter weekend, in Myrtle Beach, six hours away from our beloved mountains, home church and family!!!  At first I didn’t give much thought to the tournament being set Easter weekend, I simply booked the hotel and sent the dates to everyone’s calendar.  But, as the weekend approached I began to stress about being “away” from our norm – and on Easter of all holidays!  Likely the most important Christian holiday of all!!!

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Also, our church broadcasts sermons the following day so I knew I wouldn’t miss out!

  But what about our other traditions?? What about the egg coloring and hunting?  The family, the dinner and the butter!!  Could I make the holiday special enough so that my family truly gave it the value it deserved while away from home!?!

Of course I could!  With the help and suggestions of a friend, a former Florida girl and expecting mother, I packed our suitcases armed with brightly colored sharpie markers for decorating sea shells in the place of eggs!!!  (I also found and packed some realistic looking plastic eggs that we could decorate if the shells didn’t work out!) This little project turned out WAY better than I could have ever imagined!  All of our “kids” enjoyed hunting and later decorating the sea shells with the markers I had packed.  It also gave our son something to do in the hotel room on Saturday morning while his sisters were getting ready to go to the gym!  Waiting on sisters to get ready for a couple hours can be exhausting on a little brother!

 The Easter Bunny was careful about selecting Easter basket gifts that were easy to stow away in a suitcase until Easter morning, or rather Saturday night!  We packed the sisters’ Easter bags with beach-friendly goodies; a new bathing suit, cheap sunglasses, and lip balm for Elle and eucalyptus muscle soak, a hair masque treatment and ibuprofen for Christina who would be playing volleyball all weekend!  Hayden’s Easter basket included a book, The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story, monster trucks (also very helpful for a little boy spending the greater part of a day under the bleachers of a volleyball tournament), and a chocolate bunny of course!

Now, dinner….what would I do about our Easter dinner and butter intake???  Easy! Stay an extra night and enjoy dinner on a rooftop restaurant with patio heaters and the women’s national championship basketball game on the television in the background!  It was a lovely evening, truly relaxing, not always the way I would describe dinners in this house! Also, we had plenty of butter on the steamed crab legs at shrimp!

As for our extended family and friends, of course we missed them terribly and have made plans to get together soon, but the time spent, just the five of us was priceless!  Maybe I won’t be so afraid of stepping out of my holiday comfort zone in the future…maybe!

Accidentally On Purpose…Decorating With A Story (Part 2)

 I didn’t originally intend for this to become a two part post but apparently I had way more thrifted and storied decor in my home than I thought!!

So, here is Part 2 –

The Family Room and Dining Room:  We no longer have a formal living room, not that I need formality in my home, but we gave up a living room for Hayden’s room a few years ago, so our family room and dining room are open to each other and we need all the space we can get!  We have a very small entry way…not large enough for a bench (I saw the cutest DIY industrial entryway bench on MisDIY spring home tour today, Check it out!)

I like this thrift store mirror in our entry way, it hangs just behind the door and makes the space appear larger (I will be changing out for my spring flower wreath soon – we are under about 6 inches of snow still).  And the coal bucket – no home I will ever live in will be complete without a coal bucket! I grew up the deep southwestern Virginia in Coal Country and I like having a little bit of that in my home now (I do not however miss the coal dust…that is another story).   We use this one for umbrellas and the dog leashes!

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Our family room is also very small, especially for a family of five but we manage.  I use a large couch and two indoor/outdoor chairs instead of “real” furniture.  I just haven’t found the chairs I want and these are easy to clean when Hayden or the dogs get too comfortable in them!  The lamp is a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law….how could I say no to a free lamp!  I made the chair pillow from a rag rug and pillow stuffing…I have a few more projects I am wanting to complete with rag rugs this summer!

More of my grandmother’s influences…a chicken pin cushion from a thrift store and a wall plate that hung in my grandmother’s hallway…its perfect for my house! Lord knows its never clean here!

Our dining room isn’t huge either but it has some pretty nice artwork!  Our oldest daughter found this wire tree in downtown Greensboro; I loved that she felt she “had to have it”!

This corner in the dining room may just be my favorite!  A little decoration to our recycling bins!  The Dr. Pepper sign was purchased from a thrift store and the owner believed it came from a general store in the community in which I went to high school!  The drift wood I picked up at Claytor Lake, a place where we made so many special memories.  Finally, the picture on top I purchased at the Highlands Festival in Abingdon, Virginia when I was in law school.  It says “God never closes a door without opening a…”  The Highlands Festival in July is a wonderful event with amazing artists of all genres, its a must see!  The bottom photograph is of John’s grandfather, affectionately called Big Daddy.  This was taken just before he officiated our wedding!

 And what home tour would be complete without Polly the Pitbull! She was polite enough to sit in her bed for a picture, mostly she prefers to sleep on the couch!

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Accidentally On Purpose …Decorating Your Home With A Story

Re-Decorate the bedroom they say….just pick up some matching items they say….its a tiny room, it will be easy!!!  Nope, EASY is not in my vocabulary when decorating any aspect of this house!  Why?  For some reason I am always under the impression that the “stuff” in this house should tell a story!  Or at least speak to me in some weird way!  So, while I love a good trip to Hobby Lobby and have plenty of those pieces around, I adore thrift store shopping!  I am even pretty ecstatic about hand-me-down and found decor!

So here are a few of my favorite finds!!  Warning:  these aren’t staged photos – we have stuff in the house – and LOTS of it!  Just go with the mess, we do!

The Kitchen:  Several years ago we painted and trimmed the lower walls in barn siding and barnwood trim my grandpa gave us!  Free and beautiful!

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I found this chalkboard in a thrift store and gave it a new coat of chalk paint.  The cute key holder is a metal flea market find!

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This is my cookbook shelf…its an addiction I know! But I LOVE them!  The top is adorned with a centerpiece from our fall wedding almost 10 years ago, Bible school art work and ceramic chickens that were my grandmother’s.  She loved chickens and I think of her every time I glance their way!

This is the wall behind our oven.  Husband took these back and white photos in Burkes Garden, a beautiful community and favorite hiking spot of ours. You will find the bottom picture in my blog post from last Spring (The Staycation…Falling in Love With Our Backyard Again).   The print (from the Dollar Store) pays tribute to our once smoky past and the pot holders belonged to John’s Nana!  Isn’t the barnwood trim fun!  I found the bread box in a thrift store in Bramwell, West Virginia while shopping with my momma, its great for holding stationary and homework supplies. I did however, have to convince her that it would look better in my kitchen than hers!  Finally, the red tool caddy was a flea market find while on an annual shopping trip with my friend Bev. She knows I love some chipped paint! She and I have some crazy funny stories about flea market shopping adventures…some of which involve a very heavy wooden ironing board, wicker ottoman, Amish-made doughnuts, a crowded Labor Day Weekend flea market and and me being 8 months pregnant!  That may be a story for another day though!

And our kitchen staple…the former breakfast nook we turned into a bar and a liquor cabinet we transformed into a small pantry.   We are especially pleased with this space, even though its a bit messy right now…we live here people!  Husband built the bar and stained the individual pieces of wood, giving it a butcher block look.  We found the tin wine rack at Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, Virginia.  Home of the folks from Salvage Dogs; we aren’t sure what it was originally supposed to be used for but its a fantastic  wine rack!

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The wooden cabinet was purchased second hand from an add in the Bargain Finder – I am feeling like this cabinet may get re-finished before long!  The terracotta chicken came from my Granny’s (great-grandmother) home and the tractor photograph is from a friend who does beautiful outdoor photography!  I love this frame with chicken wire and wooden piggy…another flea market adventure with Bev!

I suppose that is what I love most about decorating my home in this way.  Every item is a story and an adventure to find the perfect piece.  I have on occasion, transformed an entire room based upon a flea market find or second hand item!  It makes my home feel cozy and loved. (It also helps when the dogs and kids are having a Nerf gun battle that gets out of hand and something gets broken!

 

 

 

 

 

5 Life Lessons We Learn from March Madness

If you haven’t figured it out from my previous posts on this blog…this family LOVES basketball season!  We watch, coach, play and live basketball from November to March and really most every month in between!  After-all, what’s not to love!?!  As with everything else in life, it truly comes down to what your viewpoint is and how you choose to perceive certain situations and when it comes to sports and basketball its all good stuff here baby!  In, fact Team Gunter believes that there are important life lessons that can be garnered from March Madness and we take this opportunity to share them with you!

1.  SIZE DOESN’T MATTER.  

University of Maryland – Baltimore County’s 5’8″ point guard, K.J. Maura, showed the nation that great basketball players do not need to be 6-footers!  In fact, Maura admits that 5’8 may be pushing it a bit!  He doesn’t believe that his size is a hinderance to his game, in fact he reported to the Washington Post that his size was actually an advantage.  “My size is an advantage because a lot of guys are taller than me and they don”t expect me to be pressuring the ball.”  Maura told Washington Post reporter Steve Reed in an article posted on March 17, 2018.

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You see, Maura and many other tenacious athletes like him understand that accomplishing goals in sports or any area of  life isn’t about appearance at all,  its about taking control of the controllables, thinking outside the box, and not being afraid to chase you dreams;  even if you don’t fit the traditional mold!  It’s not being afraid to be who you are and to recognize and use your God-given talents and attributes to excel in your sport or profession and to achieve your goals!  So, K.J. Maura may never dunk a basketball and swing from the rim like his 6’8 counter-parts but what he can do is play tenacious, pestering defense and use his petite stature to slice and dice past larger, bulkier defenders as the drives to the basket to defeat one of the top teams in the nation in a game that will go down in history!

2.  PLAY WITHOUT HESITATION – GO FULL OUT.

I am constantly telling my players and kids that my biggest pet-peeve is when they don’t do things “full out.”  To me, its a waste of energy to only give 75%.  Why stay in defensive stance for 3/4 of the court only to stand up and let someone drive around you on the baseline!?!  Why spend time cleaning up dinner and washing dishes if you aren’t going to wipe off the stove and counter – its still dirty – and the water is right there to clean it!?!

 

 

 

This year’s NCAA basketball tournament has boasted more upsets that a few from teams that would not have appeared to have been worthy on a paper bracket sheet.  But, no one told them that!  They showed up and played “their” game without hesitation against the very best teams in the country and shocked the nation!  On the other hand, there were plenty of “good” teams that either under-estimated their competition or for some other reason showed up on the big stage and didn’t give the 110% required to propel them to a win!

I am loving the stories of lower ranked teams that suited up, warmed up and stepped onto a floor in an arena that may have been much larger than they had ever played on before and played without doubt – what did they have to lose!?!  What if we played EVERY game that way?  What if we approached life that way?  Confident, assured in our preparation, trusting our teammates, respectful of the gravity of the situation but unaffected by the largeness of the moment – that my friends is when we are teams and individuals are UNSTOPPABLE!

3.  ITS THE LITTLE THINGS (CULTURE WINS).

I can already see my players rolling their collective eyes as I jump up on this soap box again!  Close-outs, Box outs, keeping your hands high and in passing lanes, hedging on screens, Peek and Powerful, constant communication with teammates….all the “little” things in basketball that aren’t really “little” at all.  In fact, this tournament proves that the teams who focus on and execute on the minute details are the ones on the top of the score board and moving forward in the bracket.  They are committed to their defensive concepts and offensive strategy put into place by their coaches and program and are executing it in a precise fashion, even in “big” games – stick with your culture my friends!

It was much to my dismay as I watched my beloved Vols fall to Loyola, my real upset…why were they running and jumping at shooters!?!  Had they forgotten how to close out!?!  Did they not realize that as they went flying by the offensive player for the fifth time in a row that the Loyola player simply did a head fake and drove to the bucket or shot after the flash of orange defender went flying into the bench behind them!  I will be a University of Tennessee fan until the end but come on guys….these are basic defensive concepts….they won’t shoot over you if you stay on the floor with your hands high!  I feel like Coach Barnes may have told them this a time or two!  Stay true to your culture and do better next year!

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I read an article this week by the Chicago Tribune about the Wall of Culture that Coach Moser of  Loyola Chicago instituted in their locker-room. Is a commitment to these phrases a key to their successful season and trip to the Elite Eight? It was certainly a powerful enough idea that I posed the question to my G-Girls and asked them to tell me what phrases would go on our wall?

The lesson…stay true to your culture and the little things that your coaches (and parents) believe make your program great!  Pay attention to details, I know you don’t want to hold your hands in the air on defense but it may be the difference in a passer taking the look over your head or them feeling as though this defense has completely shut them down and settling for a poor shot or turnover.  Also, pay attention to the culture of how you behave on your team and respond to your teammates – love them, be positive to them and hold them to the high standards set by your program.

4.  YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE – TEAMWORK PREVAILS

What more can I say…this one speaks for itself!  You don’t see a single team in the NCAA tournament, men’s or women’s, that are doing it alone!  Basketball, just as life, is a team sport and to excel on the highest level you have to trust and rely on your teammates.  The even more important part of this lesson is that sometimes on a team you have to be the role player, distributing the ball to the hot hand of your teammate or taking the charge and other times, your teammates need you to take the ball to the rim!  It’s that balance that makes teams great!

5.  IT DOESN’T HURT TO HAVE GOD ON YOUR SIDE!

This tournament season, Sister Jean of Loyola Chicago has taught us that even on the court, a little prayer goes a long way! Further, her spirit and love for watching her team play its way through the tournament is refreshing.

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I don’t pray for wins…never have and never will! But faith plays such a strong role in every aspect of our lives, why shouldn’t it in sports as well.  I often pray that my players are safe and play with clear hearts and minds and fully enjoy the game and all the positive attributes that can come from being an athlete and playing this game that I have loved most my life! I believe that training can be largely spiritual, there is nothing like being in a gym alone…I used to have my best talks with God and get in the best workouts in those moments!  When testing your own limits physically, mentally and emotionally isn’t this a perfect time to be talking to God…absolutely!  He may show you things about yourself you never even imagined…giving all glory to Him of course!

So, there you have it….I could go on for days but I’ll try to contain myself.  I love athletics! I choose for athletic experiences to be positive lessons, even when we aren’t necessarily winning!  You can do the same for your teams and families too!  Keep looking for those positives!

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day, Basketball and Axes!?!

Hello Friends!  March is here and so is March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations!  While my crew stayed basically glued to the television all weekend for the historic Cinderella stories that have unfolded this season we did tear ourselves away briefly Saturday evening to celebrate my brother-in-law’s St. Patrick’s Day birthday in Charleston, West Virginia.

 

Several weeks ago my sister called and asked if we would visit them at their home in Charleston to celebrate Mike’s birthday and to “throw axes” with them!?!  My sister is pregnant with their second baby and they have been going through a major kitchen remodel for the last 3 months so I began to think that she may have finally lost it!  Either way, I agreed to join them for some ax throwing fun!

And boy was it fun!  In downtown Charleston, West Virginia  there is a little deli called the Lucky Dill that has made a recent addition, Axes & Ales, an ax throwing course akin to darts but WAY more entertaining than your typical pub game!  Upon arrival we received a quick lesson from the staff about how to hold and throw the “axes”, which were actually camp hatchets, and how to safely take turns without having to dodge flying weapons!  The staff was also kind enough to stay around and assist us with technique – its harder than it looks!

Husband was the Ax Throwing Champion of the evening!  I did finally get a few to stick in the wall.  Apparently, there is a regular league night like bowling for ax throwing….if that isn’t enough to make you want to be a Mountaineer I don’t know what is!!  This was definitely one of the coolest things we have ever done in Charleston!  If you are ever in the Mountain State I recommend you stop in to the Lucky Dill Deli and Axes & Ales for a lumberjack good time!!

Now, back to basketball!!

Prayer Warrior Challenge

As a basketball coach I challenge my players to be in “Warrior Mode” every game!  To our team, that means going the extra mile, supporting your teammates more and, making additional concessions for your teammates and team culture!  Our prayer lives are really no different.

In the small country church I grew up in, my sister, who was not even old enough to drive at the time, would belt out a rendition of a 1989 song called “Prayer Warrior” by Heirloom that would bring the congregation to its knees…sometimes literally!  Every time I hear that phrase, “prayer warrior”, I think of those early days in my Christian life.  I was just a teenager in those days as well but it was in those times that I determined I wanted to be a Warrior!

I have been blessed with wonderful inspiration from friends on social media lately.  Last week a friend posted this on Facebook:

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What an amazing idea!  I could hear my sister’s voice and the music and see the hands of all the mothers and church ladies around me raised high in the air and I may have even said out loud…”Amen”!

Well, I am game for a good challenge! Not that I don’t pray for my family and friends and those around me in need everyday but this a little extra…this is “Prayer Warrior Mode”!  I challenge you my friends, fellow mothers and Christians to be Prayer Warriors….praying for those in your community that God puts on your heart, believing that God changes lives!  #watchGod.

Now, get to praying! And in case you need a little inspiration…I have included the link to “Prayer Warrior” by Heirloom.  (Note, that while this is a beautiful song…it sounds slightly different to me in my memories)!

Tell Me Something Good

As I was scrolling through my Facebook last night before bed I noticed a post by a friend that said:  “Tell me something good…”

Maybe it was the late hour, but this really got me to thinking about my perspective lately.  The last two weeks have been a little crazier than normal and I have struggled with a negative attitude.  I had recognized this negativity, which I think is largely fueled by being a little tired and trying to get into the swing of things in my office now that basketball season has ended…it doesn’t help that Husband has been out of town for training, making evenings at home more chaotic than usual! Not fully understanding how to work my way out of this funk I began praying about it this week and of course God always answers in the most wonderful ways…

My answer:  “Tell Me Something Good”

Reading through the comments of people I don’t even know about what made them happy this week caused an instant improvement of my mood and outlook on life!  Posts like “I’m off this weekend” or “School is on two hour delay tomorrow” made me happy too!  Other posts, like the one from a grandmother who was going to see her grandchildren for the first time in months, just continued to improve my perspective!  So much so I began thinking about what I intended to post – What made me happy this week?  What’s “good” that is going on around me? What will uplift others?

So here is my challenge… TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD!  Share this, comment and spread good vibes! You never know who you may be blessing just by posting about something that made you happy today!

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Up In Smoke…The Reformed Life of Part-Time Pitmasters

Its been one year since we handed over the keys to our beloved BBQ catering trailer and watched it, and our little part-time BBQ life, drive off into the distance.

Something you may not know about Husband and I, about 6 years ago we started a barbecue catering and concessions business.  It is one of a couple side gigs that we have owned/held.  It all started not long after Hayden was born and I went back to work (a week later – no maternity leave for a sub-contractor) and was just unhappy with my career and whining about wanting my own business.  So, Husband took our tax return and drove to Athens, Georgia and bought a smoker!  Not that I ever said I wanted to be a barbecue caterer…nevertheless I stopped complaining about having my own business!

I am a decent cook but not trained formally and had NEVER in my life “smoked” anything!  Husband began experimenting with temperatures, woods and cuts of meat while I concocted several barbecue sauces and learned how to make coleslaw and my own version of baked beans.  You read that correctly, I am a country girl who did not like and had never made coleslaw or baked beans!  No worries though, I have mended my ways and by the time we closed our proverbial doors last year I had it down to a fine art!

Soon, Husband and I signed up to do concessions at a few local festivals.  I think we only smoked 3 pork shoulders (Boston Butts) the first festival!  By the end, we would smoke anywhere from 25-30 Boston Butts for a single day festival and hope that we didn’t run out of barbecue!  Our little business grew in no time and by the fall of that year we were catering our first wedding!  It was on our anniversary of all days! In the early days we smoked the day of an event and hand-pulled all of the barbecue!  Thinking about it now, I am not sure how we had time to do anything else…I do recall MANY late nights and super early mornings.  We eventually purchased a tool for Husband’s drill that made light work of pulling the pork and even had the ability to smoke days and months in advance by vacuum sealing and freezing the barbecue!  No more were rainy or cold days a hindrance to the timing of our events or our stress levels!

It was a great time in our lives.  As our girls grew they enjoyed helping out at concession events and catered affairs.  Their favorites were always weddings; Elle and Christina became expert bubble-blowers and bird seed throwers, as well as baked bean connoisseurs and held the secret to our coveted, homemade blackberry barbecue sauce.  These events also peaked Christina’s interest in photography as she was never far behind when the wedding photographer pulled out his camera; the girls even made their way into several photographic memories! It was an amazing experience to be a small part of someone’s special day.  As a criminal defense attorney, I do not often have the opportunity to witness my clients’ happy moments and catering was a welcomed break.

But I suppose every part of our lives only remains in a season and barbecue season had come to an end for us.  Our girls are older and more active than ever and we realized that it was more important for us to relish every warm summer afternoon or fall day with them , rather than slinging barbecue out of a concession window or spending long nights cleaning up long after the wedding reception ended and the bride and groom drove off into the sunset!  Also, barbecue catering is exhausting, back-breaking work and Husband and I did not have as many “all-nighters” in us as we did 6 years ago!

We cherished our time behind the smoker and the benefits it brought our family ($$ and LOTS of family time in our cramped concession trailer, along with lessons of hard work and kindness) but for now the impending break in the weather means we lace up our hiking shoes instead of tying on our aprons!

Who knows, maybe we will fire up the smoker and venture our of retirement when the kids are all away at college…maybe!

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