five things · quotes · Tennessee

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday! Long time no post, eh? When the kids were little, if you had told me that having big kids actually meant LESS free time, I would never have believed you. But somehow, I used to actually have time to write. Right here on this blog. Multiple times a week. (And sometimes, in October, EVERY SINGLE DAY.) Amazing.

Confession: This Five Things was supposed to be last week, but everything just got crazy, plus Husband has been out of town the last two weeks AND school started Wednesday. I ALMOST had this ready last Friday, but it just didn’t happen. So here, for your reading pleasure, are some things that were on my mind last week. Ha!

Smoky Mountains1.Tennessee. At the end of summer, we spent two weeks in and around my hometown in East Tennessee. Family dinners, catching up, a trip to the Smoky Mountains, and even my high school reunion! It was a fun trip that felt long in all the best ways. I love living in California – it is truly home to me now – but being back there always makes me think about what it would be like to live there – the beautiful hills, being so close to family, and the people. They are truly the friendliest of all the places I’ve ever been. Leaving Tennessee is always bittersweet.

(Photo is the view from the deck of the cabin where we stayed in the Smoky Mountains. Breathtaking!)

2. Vacation vs. Trip. I read this while I was on my “trip” to Tennessee. I laughed so hard, I couldn’t breathe.

Greek sandals from Etsy3. I have found the perfect sandals. I realize that many of you do not know the depths of my obsession about things. I have been searching for a perfect pair of sandals for YEARS. Two summers ago, I found a cute, cheap pair at Old Navy that I wore almost every day. Their “leather” (fake, of course) was the perfect shade of tan – not too dark, not too brown, just right. Obviously they got worn out by the end of summer, and I have searched for something similar to replace them, even creating a Pinterest board highlighting the details I wanted (ankle straps, no elastic for the buckle, very light shade of tan, simple design), creating my own “perfect shoe” in my mind. Nothing was ever quite right. I started looking into shoe repair shops to see if they could MAKE what I wanted. I pondered, “Could I become a cobbler and design the perfect shoe?” See? OBSESSED. (At least I was aware of it.)

But then, one late night in June, after scouring Zappos and Amazon and Nordstrom, I found them on Etsy. My perfect sandal.  They are from Greece. They are handmade. They took 6 weeks to arrive. They are absolutely worth it. They were comfortable from the moment I put them on, and I have worn them almost every day since. They go with everything. They are perfect.

And now I don’t have to become a cobbler in my spare time!speak to your children as if4. This quote.

morning coffee5. And also this one. A friend texted me at 6:15 on Tuesday to let me know that she had left a wetsuit on her porch for my son. (She told him about it when we ran into her at karate. Had he ever mentioned wanting a wetsuit? NO! Does he ever swim in the ocean? NO! Did he talk about anything else in the 14 hour span between hearing about said wetsuit and picking it up? NO!!!!) A few texts back and forth in, my friend said, “Wait, why are you awake right now?” This quote is the reason. Now, sometimes I DO wake up and workout before the kids are up, but the REASON I wake up every morning before the kids is so that I wake up every morning BEFORE THE KIDS.

What are you up to this weekend? Husband gets back from his trip today, so we’re planning Family Movie Night for Finger Food Friday. Also planning to FINALLY get a new sewing machine this weekend! Woohoo! Hope your weekend is full of laughter, good coffee, and the little things that bring you joy. Thanks for reading!




back porch · books · five things · good life · Tennessee

Five Things


Hello! Happy Friday!

Hey, how’s your summer been? Overall, ours has been pretty good. I feel like we had a nice mix of structured camps, travel, and weeks of nothing. We’ve been gone for the past few weeks visiting family in Tennessee, and it was awesome. I forgot how GREEN everything is in the summer there. I have gotten so used to our “golden” (read: brown) hills of California that every time we got in the car there, I exclaimed, “Look at that hill! Look at those trees! Look at all this nature!!” I took so many random photos from the passenger seat (see above).

This is our last Friday before school starts, so we’re gearing up to get back into our structured routine. Here are a few things on my mind this week:

biltmore and garden

1. Biltmore Estate. This past spring, I ordered this book for BB. It’s a mystery novel set at Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. We spent a couple of weeks’ worth of afternoons reading a chapter or two out back on the daybed. I pulled out an old guide book about the house that I had saved in my scrapbook from the time I went with my class in 4th grade. He loved looking at the pictures of all the rooms and reading up on the history and construction of the property. After we finished, BB spent his own money to buy this coffee table book about the history of the house and more details about its rooms. I loved Biltmore as a child, and I loved that he fell in love with it, too, so Husband and I planned a surprise trip there while visiting our family in Tennessee. (It’s a little over an hour to drive from my hometown to Asheville.) BB’s excitement at being there was contagious. Every room we walked into, he shared facts he had gleaned from his books. “I see the Napoleon chess set! That’s the Winter Garden! There’s the secret door to the Smoking Room!” At one point, he went off in search of a docent because he had some questions.

“Is the 4th floor completely closed off?” he asked. I smiled knowingly at the docent, fairly certain that there were only 3 floors plus the basement.

“Yes, you’re right, the 4th floor is usually closed to visitors. It is mostly made up of servants’ quarters like you will see in the basement.”

BB nods knowingly.

“But if you do the rooftop tour, you will be able to see a few of the rooms on the 4th floor.” Wow. I was so impressed with my boy, not only that he knew so much more than I did, but that he so confidently went to her to ask his question. How did he get so big? (BG had fun at Biltmore, too, because she got to see a horse, pet some chickens, and eat ice cream at the Creamery.)

2. “As long as you don’t forget your breath, anything is okay.”  I have thought about this short video about one hundred times since I watched it, which means I have technically meditated about one hundred times as well. Love this wonderfully simple approach.

3. The Land of Stories. Speaking of books, my mother-in-law bought this one to read with the kids while we were in Tennessee. It’s a fun story that kept the 7-year-old and the 4-year-old (and the 38- and 36-year-old) engaged. On our trip to Biltmore, we listened to a few chapters of the Audible version, read aloud by the author, Chris Colfer (of Glee fame). The voices he does for each character are a wonderful addition to the story. We’ve continued reading it aloud after we got home, but we’ve had to edit it a bit. (In one scene where Goldilocks confronts Little Red Riding Hood about something that happened in the past, there are a few words our kids don’t know and that I REALLY don’t want to explain to them yet.) All in all, a fun page-turner that all of us look forward to reading after dinner each night. (And this book – another one set at Biltmore – is up next on my read-aloud list. Have any of you read it? I’m hoping it’s a good one.)

the biggest human temptation

4. This quote.

5. Made me chuckle.

The Olympics! We didn’t even really talk about the Olympics! What’s your favorite competition to watch? I love diving, and I always watch it equally amazed at their skill and terrified they are going to hit their heads. (Having seen Greg Louganis do it, I can’t unsee it.) It’s been fun to see my kids’ interest in the games for the first time. I’m looking forward to a low-key weekend of watching a few events, reading, and finishing up the last thing on our Summer Bucket List. Whatever you are up to this weekend, I hope you have a good one! Thanks for reading!


How to Update Vintage · Style · Tennessee · Thrifts

Is It Spring Yet?



Hello! I’m back!

I had a feeling that I would be slowing down on projects in February, but I thought I would sew SOMETHING in the midst of all the Bunco planning. Nope. February was a whirlwind of donation collections, ticket sales, event planning, people coordinating, and more trips to the Dollar Store than I could possibly count. It was SO MUCH FUN, but it was SO much work, too. The big event was this past Friday night, and we had a great turn out and raised money for our beloved preschool. I am so grateful to be part of such an amazing community of families, and I am glad that I have the opportunity to give back in this way.

On Saturday morning after the big event, Husband took the kids to get an oil change and get breakfast at McDonalds, a rare treat. I slept until 7:30 and then had the house to myself for a few hours. I thought I would start sewing, but instead I made myself an omelette and took my coffee back to bed to read. It was glorious. The perfect way to unwind after a busy week month.

When Monday afternoon rolled around, BB was off at school, BG was napping, and I had a couple of free hours with nothing to do. I immediately got out my sewing machine.


I found this vintage dress over Christmas. While we were in Tennessee visiting family, Husband’s grandmother and I decided to hit up the one estate sale happening during the break. We drove out to Elizabethton, but there wasn’t really much to be found, especially since I would have to pack anything I got for the flight home.

(I have two memories of Elizabethton. The first, from my childhood: My brother lived in Elizabethton when he was in college at ETSU. He used to tell people that he lived on the “outskirts of Johnson City” – he seemed embarrassed to say he lived in Carter County. We went to visit one time, and he took us to this little Italian restaurant that he called a “dive” – first time I had ever heard that term. He warned us that the waitresses there would sit down with you and smoke a cigarette while they took your order. Husband’s grandmother and I drove past the restaurant on our excursion. It looked exactly the same as it did 20+ years ago.

And now, a new memory of Elizabethton:  While driving around this trip, trying to find a thrift store, we saw a woman not much younger than Husband’s grandmother walking down the road in full camo with a shotgun flung over one shoulder and what I can only assume was “breakfast” thrown over the other.)

We never found the thrift store, so we headed to Johnson City.

vintage tennessee dress

First, let me tell you, thrift store prices vary widely from area to area. At the Goodwill I went to in Tennessee, I found clothes for BG for $1.79 – a bright pink vintage Health-Tex corduroy skirt. (A skirt I probably owned at some point, honestly – it looked so familiar.  Do you remember Health-Tex? I remember having mix-and-match Health-Tex outfits.) This vintage dress in perfect condition was less than $7.


I loved the creamy color and the light, flowy, sheerness of the fabric.


I loved the little gathered shoulders.

secretary tie

I even liked the little pearl buttons and the secretary tie neckline.


I didn’t love the ruffled cuffs on the sleeves.


Or the frumpy length.


I started by taking the sleeves apart.


There was some old, stretched out elastic in the cuffs of the sleeves that needed to be replaced, so I tried to carefully remove the ruffles, but I realized I could use my small, sharp scissors to just cut the ruffles away from the hem and then seam rip the hem apart. Once the ruffle was gone, I sewed a little casing and threaded new elastic through on each sleeve.


When it was time to shorten the hem, I tried a couple of different ideas before realizing that using my trusty scarf-hem technique would be the easiest. I am not very good with sheer, silky fabrics, and this technique covers a multitude of sewing sins.


When I found this dress at the thrift store in December, I thought that it would be great in the spring and that I could make it work in the winter months. Little did I know I wouldn’t even get around to it until spring – well, at least spring-like weather in Northern California.


When I went outside to snap photos, I was met with the fragrance of these flowers blooming on the bushes beside our house. They are so pretty and delicate and sweet. I wanted to stay outside all afternoon.


Here I’m checking out the bees buzzing by my ear, making sure I don’t get too close. (I know, if your back East, the last thing you want to hear about are the flowers and bees. Sorry.)


Clearly it is still winter, as I am still very, very pale.

DSC_0073Love the way the hem turned out – the stitched double fold adds a little bit of structure to the hem that makes it look really pretty.

DSC_0173And here’s what I was envisioning when I bought the dress – warm layers for winter.

DSC_0194Alas, we haven’t had much of a winter, anyway.

sheer vintage dress

Won’t be long until it’s really spring.