New start. New place. New name.

For the last ten years, I blogged in spurts, gushes, and trickles at www.shinefromtheinside.blogspot.com. I went from a college kid to a married young woman and then to a mom on those pages. I chronicled recipes, pondered the future, and generally ran a lifestyle blog before that was cool.  Recently, my husband and I moved homes and began our second adoption journey. In the weeks and months we’ve recently spent making our new house our home, prepping for a new child, and navigating changes at work as well, I realized that the blog I started 2007 was a chapter in my book that had been finished, I got the cathartic urge to write something new. Like a diary that’s run out of pages.  So here’s the new blog. Welcome. Read along for the next decade or so. I can’t imagine it being any crazier than the last!



Change of plans

Much of my home projects came to a screeching halt Memorial Day weekend.

After nearly a full year of waiting, we were FINALLY chosen.

I won’t go into many adoption details here, but I am so stoked to write about this whirlwind over on our adoption site… wilsonadoption.com/blog.

Very long story short, we are short on time! Baby Girl is due July 1 and will likely have a heart condition that will require a very long hospitalization and several serious surgeries. Needless to say, our plans for summer came to a standstill. J had just literally received a huge promotion for a new job as a principal of a large elementary school on the SAME DAY we found out we were matched with Baby Girl. And his official start date? July 1. Our due date. We had planned on ripping down the old wallpaper in the bathroom, painting the living areas, kitchen, and dining room, as well as painting the kitchen cabinets and updating the hardware. I was going to make a trip with M to one of my best friend’s house to meet her new baby and we had a beach house booked in Florida for August. But now, summer means working on the nursery, baby showers, plans for maternity leave, and prepping for the biggest and scariest journey of our lives!

Living · Uncategorized

I come to the garden.

One of my favorite parts of our new house is my garden. Our previous owners were pretty well-versed in gardening and the wife was a little down about leaving her hard work. I promised her that while I may lack a vision for planning and starting a garden, I’m pretty competent, eager to learn, and felt confident that I could maintain and continue the garden well. And so far we have. I’d say we’ve done great! One of my first tasks was to identify every “friend” in my yard and find out what plants I had. With the help of my mom and mother-in-law and Sunday school teacher and good ol’ Google, I have pretty much identified everything, and started adding some of the plants I’ve always wanted in my yard. We started by cleaning out the beds and getting rid of brush and sticks and leaves, then refreshed the mulch and did some weeding, and took out a mostly dead boxwood. We then hauled in new rock to finish the edging.
Here’s our beds:
This is the lower bed, surrounding a perfect white oak. In this bed, we have alternating juniper and gerber daisies surrounding a large yucca, raspberries, a bright Golden Spirit bush, and several rose bushes, including my grandmother’s antique rose! It has been toted around from our parents’ houses in a pot and it bloomed for the first time in years this spring! We’ve also got Purple Georgia and Autumn Joy down there.

In the beds around the porch, we’ve got a few holly bushes, a pink twist or fringe bush, and several boxwoods. Anchoring the space were two dwarf spruces and we added a third in the center. Near it we have a purpley white penstemon, several mounds of yellow coreopsis, and several chrysanthemums, clematis vine, and nandinas. We have three hydrangeas, plus tulips, begonias, geraniums, calla lilies, cataloochee phylox, pink thrift, dianthus, and both gerber and shasta daisies. Two rose bushes and butterfly bush give the bed some height. We’ve added a white daisy gardenia in the space vacated by the mostly dead boxwood, a canna lily that was a gift from a student, plus hanging baskets of Boston fern, lantana, and pink geraniums and pots on the porch filled with salvia, petunias, lemongrass, and citronella. For Mother’s Day, my mom gave me a purple spirea bush that will replace an older boxwood.

We took our pictures on Mother’s Day in front of the flower bed and I can’t help but love the back drop. It’s my go to spot for family photos.

The colors are gorgeous. We seem to have a lot of whites and yellows and pinks and purples.

M planted gladiolus bulbs in the third bed around the gumball tree behind the post that has our house number. There’s an azalea in that bed. I’d like to add another and a sweet bubby bush, also called a Carolina Allspice.

We’re going to have to fell the privacy cedars beside the side of the house due to them being planted too close to the house, but we’ve planned on replacing them with some fast growing evergreens and camilas. I love a camila and can’t wait to add one.

Lilacs, daylilies, irises, and mandevilla are a few of the plants on my wish list too, and I hope to add them here and there along the way. J is obsessed with the grass and is considering a fall lawn renovation.

Long term, J and I want to add a deck in the backyard, and add up-lighting on the house. I love that there’s already fruit trees, a magnolia, English ivy, japanese maple, a peony, and golden bells in the backyard for us to enjoy while we’re on the patio. We added a fig tree and blueberry bushes too.

Beside the driveway we have more privacy cedars, with fragrant tea olive trees blooming between them. Above this, J built a level raised bed from reclaimed wood to hold my vegetable garden of heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, squash, and onion.

I’m thrilled about our yard. I garden a little basically every day and have enjoyed watching new ”friends” pop up and bloom this spring. It makes the porch is my number one favorite place to relax.

Living · Uncategorized

Updating 90s-ish Built-ins

Before we moved, I had a very traditional style. I bought my first home at nineteen before the days of Pinterest and Youtube and Fixer Upper style. I found my likes and dislikes the old fashioned way – trial and error through family hand-me-downs and cut-out photos from magazines. Fast-forward a decade. With a home on the market for four years, I stopped trying much on our house after we got to a decent point. We did a smaller renovation on the kitchen. And we got a good quality couch and loveseat and a huge dining room table that I (still) love. And our bed. But that was it. The decor, the feel, and the intentional styling just wasn’t there. I stopped decorating for holidays other than Christmas, and I never took on house projects that were strictly style or cosmetic. I just lacked the motivation. So now, four years of pent-up decorating growth is pouring out of me!

The very first thing we did when we moved in was tackle the built in bookcases in the living room. I LOOOVE built-ins. It’s that classic/traditional look but easily made casual and country. It was one of the things I loved about this house immediately and I without a doubt knew we had to paint them white and frame in the opening in the center made for a TV. Because we have no TV!


This was from the listing photos, so you can see how the opening was made for a TV.

We tackled the bottom of the cabinets by sawing down opening and making it match. We (and by that I mean J) then built a platform and framed in the bottom to match the top. He ordered the strips on the side to make it like the rest of the unit and built the adjustable shelves.


After three coats of paint (the first oil-based to avoid sanding and the last two latex), it was perfect. We took several weeks to do it all piece by piece but it was worth it. I am so glad I stuck with my gut and did this first. The wall border has to come down and the walls are going to be a light grey sometime soon, but for now, this huge project opened up the room and makes me smile!