Backyard Plans 2018

With a blog name like “A Backyard Life” one would think I post often about my backyard but that’s not always the case.  In fact, I have been neglecting it all together this season.  The winter chill has been relentless this so-called spring and I have not had the desire to forge into cleaning out and planting in our outdoor space only to have frost, wind or snow kill plants, blow things away and freeze me to death in the process.  Also, I am diligently trying to keep our basketball program’s spring training group motivated and spending MUCH more time in the gym and weight room than ever before!



Hopefully though a break is coming this week!  While it is the end of April and normally I would have flowers blooming by now, I hope to get started planting and landscaping so that we can relax and enjoy the space!

A few projects on deck for this spring/summer:

Clean Out – I swear our yard gets every bit as cluttered as our tiny house!  The constant wind and rain hasn’t helped keep things tidy either, blowing in trash from all directions!  Part of our clutter problem is also that like our house, we are OUT OF SPACE; the outdoor buildings are full, the storage bins are full and our back porch is littered with things that have no where else to go….it is the perfect time to purge and get rid of some junk!

Flower Bed Building and Maintenance – This is really just an annual task to maintain the existing flower and shrub beds and I have vowed to myself to plant new annuals each year! I also use this time to fill planters with perennials.  I can’t help but think of and feel a connection with my grandmother when planting flowers.  She loved her flower beds and gardens and loved sharing this with me!  One day, when we no longer have kids running through the yard and need green space I will fill the ENTIRE yard with flowers and shrubs!  One Day!

Front Porch and Curb Appeal – I confess that we do not spend much time in our front yard; it isn’t private at all as its close to the road, and we do not enjoy the space.  I do however at least try to keep it tidy as this is the spot where most guests enter our home. The biggest eye sore is our front porch; the concrete is deteriorating and it generally looks like a mess!  I purchased a cute plastic outdoor rug in an attempt to hide it last summer but I am afraid we are going to have to buckle down and fix it already!  Our plan to remedy this situation inexpensively is to deck over it….we will see how that goes! Since I am not skilled at decking a porch on my own and am at Husband’s will on this one, I’ll keep planting flowers on the porch to distract from it until we get to that project!

Outdoor Kitchen and Grill Area – Now this one is our favorite and I anticipate we will tackle this little project first!   We have a small patio in the imprint of an old single car driveway that we have filled in with pavers.  Last year we purchased and installed a grill canopy for our grill/smoker.  This year a Blackstone Griddle is on my Husband’s wish list and we are in need of a new dining table.  I want to make the small space more efficient; we try to cook outdoors as much as possible in the summer months!!

A Clothesline – I have been hinting to Husband about this one for MANY years now, hopefully this year will be the one!  I love the smell of line-dried laundry and it conserves energy too!  Our poor dryer could use the break!


What are your favorite outdoor projects?  I have a Pinterest Board full of ideas!  (Backyard and Garden).  We have a little sunshine trying to peek through today….I can’t wait to get started!


School Lunch Ideas

84….That is the number of school lunches I have left to pack before the school semester ends and my kiddos are home for the summer and my grocery budget has a little breathing room!  Packing lunches for 3 “kids” on a daily basis is not an easy task and thanks to new school dietary regulations my kids won’t even consider a hot lunch at school!  Even more daunting, my so-called kids are 17, 13 and 7; not all of them are eating the same thing, so the days of 3 PB&J sandwiches are long gone!

Our son hardly eats at all; he rivals Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story, even the little piggies could not get him to eat a piece of fruit or take a bite of a veggie!  So, for Hayden its a cheese sandwich or a pizza Lunchable and a mozzarella cheese stick everyday! Yes, I know that’s two cheese items but as long as he is eating something I don’t complain because he is more than happy not to eat at all!  I also include a granola bar (which he only eats on occasion) and a Carnation Instant Breakfast.  I have determined that if he refuses to eat, at least he can drink some decent stuff for his little body!  The struggle is real with this kid!

Our older girls are athletes and I try to pay special attention to pack them a lunch that allows them to properly fuel their bodies for practices and performance after the school day is complete.  We also try to ensure they are getting “good” foods and less carbs and junk.  Here is a list of the foods I pack for them:


Big Girl Lunch:

Homemade chicken salad with crackers or croissant

Spinach salad with cheese, croutons and bacon or pepperoni – I founds the cutest little dressing dispensers)

Pasta salad

Sharp cheddar cheese with cashews and cranberries or raisins (This is a substitute for the Sargento Snack Breaks – saves a ton of money)

Fresh fruit or a cup of fruit in 100% juice.

Granola bars

Sandwiches (Christina, our oldest is now our only PB&J eater!)


Yogurt and granola

Carrots and ranch dip

Homemade brownies  made with Organic Greens

I am always on the lookout to balance things they will eat with healthy and nutritious snacks that will fuel their bodies through the rest of the day!  What are your best school lunch ideas for big kids or adults??

Personal Organization Binder


I LOVE to feel organized!!!  A simple statement I know but when you are juggling a full-time job, business ownership, family, home, coaching and trying to maintain some semblance of personal time, aka this blog, “organized” can seem like an unattainable status.

I have posted before about my love for to do lists ( you can check that out at Surrendering to the Insanity – A To Do List Confession) and their importance in my life but even my cherished lists can get a bit messy and hard to maintain when I have 3 separate notepads going and one gets stuck in my basketball bag, one gets used for homework at the house and I confuse one with my notepad in Court and lose track of the page the all-important To Do List was located on!  I find myself constantly re-copying these lists and spend more time getting organized than actually accomplishing anything on the list!

I may have found a solution though…I hope!  While nursery shopping with my sister at Michael’s last weekend I stumbled across a cute little organizer binder with accompanying notebooks!  Genius!!


The binder gives me the ability to divide my To Do Lists by category in different notebooks that are kept together, in one place, and virtually impossible for me to misplace!! And, how cute and stylish it this!?! (Also, the floral design helps soothe my desperate need for all things spring, even though its STILL below freezing here!)


I have a notebook for menu planning.  The pre-printed pages give me the ability to plan weekly meals and write the groceries needed for each meal on the back.  I simply take the book into the grocery store and shop right from the list on my menu!


The second notebook is entitled Thoughts which I use for notes, prayer requests and inspirational thoughts!  This is super helpful for all catch-all information that would otherwise be lost in the sea of my purse!


I also included a notebook that doesn’t have holes punched but fits nicely into the binder which I use for blog ideas and “Things I want John to Make for Me.”  Yep, I have a Pinterest board with that same title….not sure he is a fan though!

Now, to the real meat of my new organizing friend…the To Do Lists!!

The first is simply entitled To Do, I use this one for all things that need done for our family, house or personal stuff.  I include appointments that I need to schedule or housework that is nagging at me.  The pages are conveniently labeled with headings to help me direct me where things need to be listed:  Errands, Housekeeping, Emails, Phone Calls, To Buy (which I changed to To Do), Appointments & Activities, Business and Misc.    Very cool huh! Half the work is already completed for me.  It is convenient to carry over tasks from one week to the next without losing track of the list!



The second To Do List notebook is entitled Projects which to me really means WORK!  I list all of my weekly work tasks in this notebook, specifically office work and things I need complete other than appointments and court dates.  The pages are divided weekly by day with 5 blanks for daily projects or to dos.


Finally, there is a good ol’ fashioned To Do List in the back.  I use this one for basketball and urgent matters!


The binder is a bit bulky to carry around, and I am still fine-tuning the process but it would be difficult to misplace and the feeling of having everything I need to do or think about at my finger-tips is amazing!

What types of organizational tools are you using to curb the crazy??

Happy Organizing my friends!

She’s Got Skills – How Female Athletes Prepare for Life Beyond the Gym

As we come to the conclusion of Christina’s first club volleyball season I find myself feeling very blessed for the amazing experience she had while a member of this team.  The players, coaches and parents were all extremely positive and as a result Christina grew as a person and athlete.  We are looking forward to her school season more than ever now!  As I reminisce about this spring and the fun we have had watching her play I am reminded of the important skills that female athletes possess that prepare them for life beyond the gym or field.


time-management-3Its tough being a woman in this world!  We have careers, run households, raise children, volunteer and remain active in schools and our communities and do all this while trying to maintain a sense of self and reach our individual goals!  Doesn’t that sound exhausting?!?

When considering my own experiences as an athlete and now raising daughters and coaching other female athletes, I have come to understand how the skills female athletes cultivate on the volleyball court or other athletic arena can be the foundation of skills they will need to be productive and successful business-women, mothers and leaders of the future!

Teamwork – The ability to work with other women.  I have heard people in workplaces say time and time again that women do not work well together.  I find this statement utterly ridiculous!!  Women, just like men, are smart, creative and have the ability to work well with co-workers, regardless of their gender.  I do think though that an athlete understands the importance of a close connection with those in which she must rely upon to accomplish her goals.  Teamwork makes the dream work, baby!  And who better to understand the importance of that statement than a female athlete that has been battle tested and put through what seemed like unimaginable feats with her teammates.


The ability to sacrifice for the good of others.  An athlete understands sacrifice – plain and simple.  She understands how to put her body on the line for her teammates that she loves.  She understands that achieving a goal may require her to sacrifice free time, social groups, physical appearance and a perfect manicure!  Being a woman in today’s society is no different – we sacrifice to grow our careers, we sacrifice for our families and we  give of ourselves for our communities.  Currently, I am so far beyond the need for a haircut that I can consider a new longer hairstyle; all because I have not had a free moment lately to hit the salon.  The demands upon my free time for my family, home,  law practice, basketball team, and now this blog are tremendous!  It seems like a norm though, as an athlete I was always giving up something for basketball or my teammates.  I learned that if I loved the game and my teammates it really wasn’t a sacrifice at all, but rather a labor of love and I never thought twice about it!


We discovered just before we were set to leave for Christina’s last volleyball tournament that she was having pain in her knee that had become more than annoying!  We took her to an orthopedist who explained that her hamstrings were tight causing the pain on the inside of her knee.  Otherwise, she was cleared to play – as she could – which to any athlete means…”Yay! I’m cleared to play!”  And she did.  We could see her fighting through pain during games and applying ice and ibuprofen to aid in reducing inflammation in her knee between.  She was a trooper!  And while I never advocate for a parent to push a child to play if he or she is in pain; I understood the life lesson that this situation provided our 17 year old daughter.  Sometimes, life is tough and it hurts (either physically or emotionally) but we must push through for those that we love and in order to achieve our goals.  Had Christina chosen not to play last weekend (and the choice was hers), her team would have been VERY short-handed and may have had to drop out of the tournament.  Her decision to play through the pain and sacrifice her body showed maturity and love for her teammates.

The importance of positive communication.  I give a speech at the beginning of basketball season each year about positive communication.  I remind my players that one phrase, communicated with different inflection and body language could have polar opposite effects on the person hearing the statement.  My example:  “Come on ladies, you’ve got this!” versus “Come ooon ladies!” (insert eye roll and foot stomp).  One of those statements is encouraging to your teammates and co-workers while the other is condescending and dismissive.  Its a very similar statement that could change the entire momentum of the game or your relationship with your teammates.

As mothers, communication with our families is really no different.  A question to Husband…”Have you done the dishes today?” is nothing more than a question unless I am adding body language and emphasis on words that indicate my annoyance with him (Why haven’t you done the dishes today?)  Positive communication is so vital to any relationship – marital, familial, career-related or friendships and it is an often over-looked trait that needs to be properly developed…the power of positive communication!  Being part of a team requires CONSTANT communication with ones teammates and on successful teams that communication is always positive.  That is not to say that situations do not arise that require a leader to step up and energize their team by challenging them to preform better or work harder, but an effective leader has the ability to energize her team without tearing them down!

The understanding that improvement and achievement of goals requires time and dedication.  Most athletes understand that putting in minimal time and effort is not enough to truly achieve goals.  Successful teams contain athletes than have a desire to put in the TIME and WORK required to grow, improve and exceed their goals!  In the same respect, growth and success do not happen over-night.  A female athlete understand that both require her to be dedicated to her craft and to spend her free time in the gym or weight-room rather than at the mall or texting with friends

wp-15232857102221808897985.jpgAs adults, we come to understand that any goal we want to achieve will require us to give of our time and be dedicated to our cause.  Whether our focus is on advancing our career, raising healthy, happy and loving kids, fighting for a cause that we support or a little bit of all three we have to understand that advancement in ANY of these avenues WILL require that we give of our time and energy to see it through!  Why do you think us ladies NEVER have free time!!

Go with the flow and accept the challenge set before you.  When I made a plan to attend law school after I completed my undergraduate education I NEVER in my wildest dreams planned to do so with a brand new baby girl along for the ride!  BUT, that is exactly what happened.  I began my first year of law school 8 months pregnant and scared to death of motherhood  – who had time to stress about starting law school!  I had to dig deep within myself and recall times in which I had to play a position I was unfamiliar with or guard a player bigger and stronger than me.  I find every situation to be better if you can turn it into a basketball analogy!  So, I loaded up my new born baby and hit the books!  Now that she is 13 and I have been in the practice of law for many years, I hardly remember those hard times.  In fact, I laugh at the fact that while my classmates were freaking out over Contracts class our first year, I was just going with the flow and wondering if I had bought diapers or was out of baby formula!


I am sure I could go on and on about the positive attributes athletics can provide to young women (and men) but I will wrap it up for today!  I loved every moment of being a female athlete and I am so happy that my daughters have had the ability to be a part of teams and garner these same positive experiences that will help to shape them into the young women that seem to be appearing before my very eyes!

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!


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.


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!


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


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!


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   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!


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!


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!





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!


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!!!

pexels-photo-556758.jpegSo, I went into planning mode.  I knew we could celebrate the Resurrection of Christ pretty much anywhere; and the BEACH, its very existence on any day of the year is miraculous and the ocean seems to give re-birth to everything around it each new day so that was a no-brainer! And beach sunrises are amazing so what better way to have our very own sunrise service!

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!


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!


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!


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!


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!




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!


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.


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!


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!


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!


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.


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!


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.


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!