Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Happy Life.

Do you ever find yourself looking around and all of a sudden you realize that you are living such a happy life?  I don't mean just that moment, but the time surrounding that moment and that chapter of life.  I am a pretty optimistic person so I normally take note of the happy moments, but even I need to stop sometimes to realize that those moments have turned into days, weeks, months, and chapters of life.

Pioneer Woman Pie Crust
Mix and Match Mama Peanut Butter Pie

On Thanksgiving Day I had a particular moment where I was not only thankful and blessed but happy.  That morning I had woken up and the first thing on my agenda was to make some French Press coffee and turn on the Macy's Day Parade.  It was about ten till so that gave me plenty of time to do those few tasks and get settled in time to start the parade.  

About half way through the parade I got up and started my pie that you see above.  I love trying new things and was anxious to get in the kitchen and get this started.  After trying my hand at making pie crust from scratch I made the pie filling and loved every minute of it.  Anytime that I get to spend time in my kitchen with no real agenda or schedule I am one happy girl.  It is my happy place!

After my pie was finished it was time to head to Thanksgiving lunch at my parents.  So I put on my jacket hoped, in my golf cart and as I was backing out of my garage pie in hand to drive across the field to my parents house I smiled to myself and stopped to realize how blessed and happy I am.  And not just in that moment, but in life.  I am happy with my home, work, life, faith, family, and friends.  What more can one ask for? 

Thanksgiving day was simple and easy and I loved every minute of it.  No fancy dinners, no driving into the city in traffic and no fuss.  I loved every minute of the day and the entire weekend and am so thankful for the reminder of how happy I am with my small town ranch life.  It is funny sometimes how we need reminders of even the good things.

What makes you happy?  What is your happy place?  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Confessions of an Interior Designer: Details

"The details are not the details.  They make the design."
-Charles Eames

As a designer you quickly learn that is it in fact the details that make the design and take up the most time.  I have that quote hanging in my office and it is so very true to every aspect of design, as well as a reminder that the details are worth the time.  

Not only do the details take up the greatest amount of design time, but they can also prove to be the most fun.  In interior and architectural design when we are working on construction documents we will literally have sheets full of only details.  Details for chair molding, stair treads, pilasters, millwork, material transitions, brackets, and so much more that really make a project come to life.

When I was in England this summer we visited the Ely Cathedral twice and each time we stepped on the property and inside the building it was breath taking.  To me, this building is the true definition of the details making the design.  When you walk through the cathedral there is so much to look at and experience that sometimes I would find myself just stopping in my tracks to take it all in.  From the intricate floors to the beautiful columns and walls to the stain glass and painted ceilings there is always something to keep you entertained and to inspire you.  

On our second visit to the cathedral we decided to take the octagon tour.  This tour is different than any other tour I had ever been on because it literally took you up in the building behind locked doors and we ended up on the roof at one time.  It was during this tour that the details truly came alive in this magnificent building for me.  

Our octagon tour started in the middle of the cathedral where the below photo was taken.  I was on the ground level when I took this photo and would soon find myself looking out the angel paintings you see way up there and then standing on the roof above the angels and stain glass at the very top a little later.    

The octagon from the ground level.

To get to the top we had to go up three small spiral stair cases.  We were warned before even starting to tour that they were small and the higher up we got the smaller they got.  At one point we even found ourselves going through a 24" x 48" opening. 

The first level we went up took us to a level that was open to the cathedral where there was some storage and the bass pipes for the organ.  I could not imagine being up there while the organ is played because I'm pretty sure the bass pipes would knock you over.  Yes, they were that big.  

From there we went up yet another small spiral stair case and it took up to one of the low roofs and we had to walk across the roof of the chapel, which is where the above photo was taken.  When we got inside I was blown away by the structure, which you see below.  Each corner of the octagon was constructed by single tree trunks that were over sixty feet long.  What I did not expect was for our guide to open the angel doors and for us to be able to look down at the ground level.  

The next four photos are taken from the second level we climbed looking down at the ground level.  It was breath taking and so neat to put into perspective where we had been, and still where we had yet to go.  In the picture with the lock you can see another open door in the distance where we were able to look out of.

The ground level from the octagon.

The last level that we climbed to was the roof of the octagon tower.  This was the smallest spiral staircase and smallest door to get through, but so worth it.  Up until this moment I just thought my breath had been taken away and I had been able to truly enjoy the details of the beautiful Ely Cathedral, but all of that didn't even come close to the roof.

It was a beautiful day and from the tower we could see so much of the area, but my favorite part was the details on the roof.  If you are an architect or interior designer like me you can probably imagine how quickly I turned into a little kid up there.  It is not often that ones gets to literally lean against and sit on a flying buttress.  My dad and I were running around and could not contain our excitement.  I was truly amazed by the details of the buttresses, the stain glass windows which I looked up at in the picture above, and the beautiful columns and railing around the perimeter.

One last picture to show you both the scale of the cathedral but also to show you where we went.  The tower on the right side of the cathedral is the one that we climbed up.  It may not be the largest of the two, but it was big enough for me!  After we got done with our tour and left looking back it was hard to believe where we had been that day.  This was one of the highlights of our two and a half week trip to England this past summer and this post is one of the first of my installments of sharing our trip with you all.

If you are ever in the Cambridge area, you must make Ely Cathedral a stop!  It was a wonderful was to experience God's house and an amazing way to experience design and one of my passions in a unique way.  

Perhaps this is just my way of sharing an awesome trip memory with you all.  Perhaps this is all about my love and appreciation for the details.  Or perhaps this is just a Confession of an Interior Designer.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas JOY

This weekend Christmas was officially welcomed into my home.  At the Ready-Nelson Ranch we have a strict no Christmas before Thanksgiving policy, so on Friday morning my mom and I tackled the interior of our houses and my dad and April the pup tackled the exterior.  We started the morning at my house after some breakfast, french press and an episode of The Pioneer Woman.

Our first task for the day was to set up my pre-lit slim Christmas tree that I got from some of my cousins last year.  They gave it to me last year right before Christmas, but since I have only been in my house a month I decided to just set up the small table top tree I had and wait to go big this year.  So big we went.  While setting up the tree we had to play with some of the lights a bit because there were a few shorts, but once we got them all going and added a few additional strands of lights we were on a roll.

Sometimes being an interior designer is a blessing and a curse.  I always tell people that I might not always know what I like, but I do know what I don't like.  This was different though, I knew what I wanted and am thrilled to say that my vision and ideas came together nicely.  Simple was the name of the game for me, as is the case most of the time, and so we started with the burlap to give us a nice base.  From there I set out to make the bow and add the ornaments and berries.  While shopping I couldn't decide if I wanted silver or gold and was thrilled to find this combo of both.  There are still a few ornaments I want to make, but for this being my first tree I am thrilled with the way it turned out.

Some of my favorite Christmas pieces are ones that were either handed down to me or I found with family and friends.  The little tree on the counter has spent time in Tennessee while my brother was in the Army and San Marcos where I went to school.  I am happy to have it in my kitchen because it reminds me of the Christmas in Tennessee before my brother left for Afghanistan and then the next when he got home just a few days before Christmas.  It brings back sweet memories of my college roommates and I laughing over it in our apartment.  You could say that tree has some history.  The nutcracker next to it was a gift from my dad the year I got certified in scuba diving.
My sled and JOY sign are new additions this year and I was thrilled with each find.  While I was in Missouri in October with Jessica we went antiquing one afternoon and I was thrilled with finding this sled.   I knew that I wanted a winter type toy that I couldn't find in Texas and this sure fit the bill.  It adds so much character to my living room and will be fun to style in different ways for years to come.  I found the JOY sign at Michaels with my mom and could not pass it up!  The chalk board is from my mom's childhood and was part of a desk she once had.  I recently pulled it out of their attic and cleaned it up a bit to bring some joy into my home.  It brings a smile to my heart and I know it does my mom's too to see her childhood memories brought back to life.

Last year my outdoor Christmas lights were colorful, but there just weren't too many of them because I literally hung them the night before the ice storm came last year that shut down all of north Texas.  To say the least, I stepped up my game and doubled my lights and am thrilled that they are not only on the fascia, but also on the columns.  The colors and that gigantic red bow on my front door make me really happy!
At the end of the day my business card and college diploma both day interior design, so I love to get to decorate my home for the seasons, especially Christmas, but I will be the first to tell you that it is so much more than trees and sleds.  Christmas is first and foremost about our Savior's birth and all of the glitz and glam comes secondary.  I love getting to share this holiday and Christ's love with the ones I love and am so happy to be sharing my home and some Christmas joy with you today!

Today I'm linking up with Andrea at Momfessionals for Christmas home tours!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Someone please feed my horse

If you have been around these parts very long then you know that we have some pretty entertaining animals that live on the ranch.  A talking dog that is too smart for her own good, a horse that is spoiled rotten and Hey, JACK!  Now please read that caption again, "a horse that is spoiled rotten."

One hundred percent of that statement is true and I cannot tell you enough how spoiled he is.  Oh wait, yes I can, with this story...

The other day I was walking from my house to my parents which is just a small walk across a field.  As soon as I stepped out my back door my horse looked up and starting straight towards me.  About half way to me he started talking and telling me how rough his life is and how no one has fed him in weeks.  I proceeded to:
A. Walk faster because I had a horse coming straight for me (with a fence between us)
B. Resist the urge to put my hand up to block my view to pretend I did not see him
C. Tell him that he was a big fat liar and remind him that dad fed him that morning

You see, Amigo is not the only animal on our property that likes to lie about when he has been fed.  April the dog and Jack the fish even do it too, and don't even get me started on the cows that have never seen a hay bale in their lives... I digress.

So as I am considering taking off in a swift sprint to escape the judging eye of my horse, because he knows I am going to get dinner at mom and dad's house, dad came to the rescue.  He came out the back door and was headed to the shop to do what you may ask?  Feed the horse.
After getting some feed I walk out thinking my horse will thank me.  Instead the closer I got to him the louder he got.  I'm pretty sure he was yelling at me to hurry up, but instead I am going to pretend he was singing my praise for feeding him before I ate.

In summary, never a dull moment.  That horse, that silly horse, loves me living in my grandparents house because I am even closer to his pasture than my parents house and he is always entertaining.  Anytime I am in the back yard he is around being nosy and keeping an eye on everything; he even likes to think that he chaperons my dates because he is always near by when a boy is around.

Do you have any funny animal stories?  Have you ever had to chase your animals around town like me in a dress or Crystal chasing chickens or her donkey?  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

a clean slate.

a new planner.
and new beginnings.

Yesterday I got my new Erin Condren Life Planner in and could not wait to fill it will dates and memos for the year to come.  Before I did that though, I flipped through my planner from the past year and a half(July 2013 - December 2014) and reflected on where I was, where I have been and where the Lord has me now.
old and new.
Time like that are always such a blessing because not only does it give me a little perspective, but it also give me hope for the next season of life to come.  Looking back a year and a half ago, I was single, still living at home, still trying to figure out my role at work, yearning for gospel-centered community and much more.  A year and a half later I am moving on from a six month serious relationship, living in my own house, somewhat figuring out my way at work and loving my full life.

Part of me is happy to be setting up a new planner for the next year because it will no longer have pages filled with dates from my past relationship and reminders of him.  But another part is sad to see those memories fade away, because even though that relationship is gone it was still a beautiful one and those were some really great days.  I grew so much during that relationship and those dates, and those planner pages are great reminders of happy times and the Lord's generosity in relationships.

Another part of me is happy to see the old planner be placed on the shelf because the renovation battles and struggles are going with it.  No longer are the days of uncertainty and confusion of renovating my own house a reality.  As much as those days made me grow and become a stronger woman, I am not sad to see them go.  As for the memories, they are in the house that I get to call my home everyday.

An exciting part of those pages are the relationships that have grown over the many nights at home group with my wonderful group from church.  Those Thursday nights on my calender are something that I look forward to each week and I am so happy that they will be in my next calender for the new year!  Those women have provided some much needed gospel-centered community that had been missing in my life since college.

As I look back at my meetings and appointments for work through my calender I almost have to laugh.  I still remember one of those meetings from July of 2013 and boy am I thankful that I have grown as a designer and a business woman since then.  The way that I present myself in meetings has changed, thanks to some humble confidence, the way that I prepare for meetings has changed and the designs that I take into meetings have changed and matured.

Reflecting on the past year has reminded me what a wonderful year it was, even with some struggles along the way, and had gotten me very excited for the year to come.  Happily I look back at those past 18 months and still recognize the woman that I was at that time.  To me the only difference now is a little maturity, longer hair, and a woman with a better understanding of who she is and what she wants in life.

What excites you about the new coming year?
What kind of planner do you use?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Finish This - Travel

In the off chance you are new around here, let me clue you in.  I love to travel!  As far as I am concerned, I work to travel and it is what makes me who I am.

If I could fly to any destination tomorrow, I'd go to...
...Chicago.  It has been on my list for a while now, and will hopefully be my next trip.  Several of my friends have traveled there recently and their love for it is rubbing off on my wanderlust.
Ely Cathedral - Ely, England
Summer 2014
My best advice for travelling is... put your inhibitions to the way side and let your hair down.  Sometimes trips go just as planned and scheduled and that is wonderful.  There is a sense of ease that goes with that and it is nice to know what is around the next corner.  That is nice, but I have also found that the unscripted trips can be the best trips!  Probably my favorite example of this was waking up on a Sunday in Hawaii with only one plan for the day and ending up that night at the Hawaii 5-0 season three premiere.  That was an amazing night and one of the highlights of the next ten days.
Nice, France
Summer 2011
I (like/dislike) travel because...
...I dislike traveling because my comfy bed is not with me and the unknowns of new things can tend to be stressful.

...I like traveling because it never ceases to amaze me and bring new adventures.  Traveling is something for everyone and it can take you across the world or just a few hours from home.  When I look back on some of my favorite trips it amazes me the groups and individuals that I have been blessed to get to see the world with.  

Many thanks to Nicole, Becky, Jen and Lisa for hosting the link up!  Can't wait for the year end review, it will be here before we know it!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Actual Love Language: Quality Time

I have joked before about love languages, but I actually do take them seriously.  If you were to ask me what my love language was I would tell you that I have three and that they are:
1. Quality Time
2. Sarcasm
3. Coffee

More than anything I yearn for coffee quality time with friends and family.  Ideally that quality time is spent over coffee and is doused in sarcasm, but ultimately is focused on those in that moment.  For me, quality time means the most to me when there is focused attention.  When I am able to put down the phone, turn off the tv and give my attention to someone else that I know is completely there and in the moment.

During my second summer at Pine Cove one of the guys that I was blessed to work with introduced me to the notion of quality time and having a small group of quality friends and relationships opposed to a bunch of mediocre relationships.  At first it was a foreign concept to me, but the more that I thought about it I realized that maybe not each of my relationships was that way, but it was certainly what I wanted in my relationships.  Don't get me wrong, I love people and love loving on people, but it is the quality time that I absolutely love.
Stonehenge - Summer 2014
It was that one conversation in the woods that forever changed the way that I looked at relationships and how I approached them.  It was certainly quality over quantity which was another foreign concept after growing up in a small town where you knew everyone.

I would say that in my relationships as of late quality time has proved to be more evident that ever before.  Be it in dating, making new friends, or friendships that have proved the test of time there is no longer a hesitation to hold anything back.  I can tend to be reserved, but how found a comfort in the beauty of quality time and a bit of vulnerability.

With sarcasm and coffee off the table, what is your love language?  
How do you express your language?