Wednesday, August 31, 2011

cabins, floral sheets and rockers

driving through the country this weekend, robert and i stumbled upon this little campground. robert used to visit here with his family when he was younger.

for two weeks in the heat of summer, people congregate here. they worship and feast and fellowship under the big tents. cabins are passed down through generations, and every cabin has a front porch rocker.

and i was a bit in love with the whole place.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

eight years ago

i knew him before facebook.

before the north american blackout. bush's second term. the last season of friends. love actually.

before janet had a wardrobe malfunction, martha went to prison, and ken won millions on jeopardy.

we sang along to stacy's mom and watched mystic river on the couch with my parents.

eight years have passed since that summer. that late august romance. that last first date. eight years of up-all-nights, throw my phone against the wall because i-miss-you-and-high-school-is-hard-without-you -and-why-do-i-hear-girls-in-the-background-are-there-girls-in-your-dorm? eight years of dates in cafeterias, in dining halls, in our kitchen. of bible reading and home brewing. of early morning greetings and front porch goodbyes.

we've climbed a waterfall together in jamaica, and fallen into bed at nine on a wednesday night. i've seen this man cry and i've seen a laugh rise from his gut so deep it cut off his breath. i've seen him on one knee. in a tux and blue collar.

and eight years ago today, i saw him on my doorstep. with a borrowed car and pressed shirt. and three years ago, i saw him at the alter.

and i declare, for all its hardships and trials, being in love is something more than spectacular. worth saving. keeping. remembering.

and on those nights when it seems like the darkness has won, worth calling him back for.

happy anniversary to the boy who always picked up.

Monday, August 29, 2011

a date with two boys

there were two sets of puppy dog eyes staring at me when i awoke on saturday.

one set was attached to robert, snuggled in the yellow blanket, hair damp from a summer night in the country. the other was attached to pablo, nestled between the folds of the sheets, half closed from a lingering dream.

and for the life of me, i just couldn't chose one set. couldn't leave one behind to spend the day alone. so we all three went. on the saturday drive intended for only two. to a little diner hours away where we could get BLTs and sky-high peach ice cream cones. we drank sweet tea out of styrofoam cups and sat under umbrellas. and suddenly, a date turned into a family affair.

one day, i know there will come a time when romance is planned out, and something will happen to interfere. a baby will cry. children will have bad dreams and want to snuggle. it's inevitable. and honestly, after this weekend, i kind of can't wait. we've got plenty of love to go around, it seems.

Friday, August 26, 2011

microscope heart: diane

this week's microscope heart post comes from diane at southhamsdarling. diane was one of my first blog friends when i started and always takes time to write the sweetest, most thoughtful comments. her love for her daughters and her grandchildren is so evident in her posts. this is a beautiful woman who values family, fun and adventure, and she does it all with such grace and class. happy to call you a friend, diane.



For me it is when I ring the doorbell of my daughter's home (who, fortunately, live just five minutes away from me).  She opens the door and my two little grandchildren (aged just 3 and 19 months) hear my voice, and rush out to meet me.  It is a real scramble as they both try to reach me first.  They are then both climbing up my legs, and I have to bend down and scoop the two of them up in my arms, and we have big cuddles.  At that very moment, I realize just how blessed I am.

 thank you, diane! be sure to check out her blog.  what's the smallest thing that makes you happy? break down your bliss for my weekly series. i'd love to hear 'em. find out more here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

not only the fire

there are other memories
not only flowers from the fire
but little sprouts
that suddenly appear
when i go on trains
or in the streets.

i see you
washing my hankerchiefs,
hanging at the window
my worn-out socks,
your figure on which everything,
all pleasure like a flare-up,
fell without destroying you,

little wife
of every day
again a human being,
humbly human,
proudly poor
as you have to be in order to be
not the swift rose
that love's ash dissolves
but all of life,
all of life with soap and needles,
with the smell that i love
of the kitchen that perhaps we shall not have
and in which your hand among the fried potatoes
and your mouth singing in the winter
until the roast arrives
would be for me the permanence
of happiness on earth.

Ah, my life,
it is not only the fire that burns between us
but all of life,
the simple story,
the simple love,
of a woman and a man
like everyone.

-pablo neruda.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

on fair rides and romance


the way i know i'm getting older is this:

the state fair is coming to town in a few weeks. this pinnacle of autumn that only rolls around during blue jean weather.

and this year, i'm most looking forward to the agricultural exhibits. the state's largest pumpkin. most prized horse. sweetest succotash. moistest chocolate pound cake. that, and the food. the decadence. the frito pie. the lion's club country ham biscuits with tangy mustard. that little stand way in the back with the fried oreos.

i want to peruse the grounds at my leisure. take in the hay bales used as props. the children holding goldfish in a plastic bag.

because as much as i love a good roller coaster, fair rides are a bit much for me. i think it's the speed at which they're created, then torn down. but looking at them from the sidewalk vantage point, children on them always look exhilarated and not a bit concerned about loose bolts, rickety safety straps or sparked fuses. for them, flying through the warm night, above the ground and their mamas, life is good. life is easy and full of options.

and it still is. goodness, i think it is now more than ever.

but as sensibility weaves its way into my excited bones, i'm inclined to stay grounded this year.

that's not to say i don't love a good ferris wheel now and then. nicholas sparks reinvented those bad boys for me. and ever since noah hung off the railing of one to prove his ardor for allie, those giant beasts of the carnival have taken on another meaning. they are romantic.

and at the fair, as in life, romance is worth the risk.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the kids dress up

it's been too long since i've slunk into a high-backed booth. in a narrow restaurant with dim lighting. too long since i've laughed with my eyes or reached across the table to gather your hands in my own. this was the summer of tomato sandwiches. of picnics under the pin oaks and long walks behind the house. it was the summer i lived in cheerleading shorts and you in your blue collar. days of sweat. of damp bangs. of sitting cross-legged in the grass pulling weeds from the shrubs. gathering the stalks into piles for the woods. it was a casual romance intoxicated by the sun.

but this weekend we will go. somewhere with a steak special that requires high heels. a place that warrants the extra dab of perfume behind my earlobe. maybe that place downtown where no one goes except executives. for drinks after work. i'll start getting ready hours early.

like prom. only this time, we can go home together. i can take down my hair and you can take off your jacket. and we'll find ourselves back where we began. slow dancing in the living room at midnight with my mascara on your cheek. and we can fall into bed. that part has changed.

and i'll look at you in the morning, the way your hair parts in that strange way when you sleep. and the comfort of it is what i'll love most of all. the rest is just dress up. but a girl does need a little of that now and again.

Monday, August 22, 2011

on love and comfort, by robert

In nine days I'll be happily married for three years. In that time I can say that Courtney and I have learned a lot about each other. Being married to and living with someone you are compatible with is an amazing thing. You have a special place where the outside world doesn't know. You also have routines that seem to make everything stable. In a relationship, stability is comfort that we sometimes overlook. 

As my relationship with Courtney has progressed, we have found our little routines in the world that seem to bring us back together. As with most people by the end of the day you find yourself sprawled out in a comfortable spot releasing that day's worries and passing the time before bed time. For me and Courtney, we started a tradition that we didn't even realize we were doing. We would both be tromping around the house doing our end of the day routines and we would end up in this one spot. It was a place that only we knew. A safe place - calm and quiet.  It was a everyday spot that became a refuge from our worries and cares. It was where we left everything else behind. It was just us. This place is called "the nook." Its about two feet to left of my spot (which I have not named yet.) 

I love my wife very much but I think I love her even just a little bit more when she is in that spot.

Friday, August 19, 2011

anna: microscope heart

this week's microscope heart post comes from the lovely miss anna from my aiken heart. anna lives in south carolina with her man mike, sweet pets bella and buffalo. besides being gorgeous and super sweet, anna is a talented photographer and home redecorator--check out her blog to see the transformation on her home!

Rain is one of those things I never miss. In South Carolina, we can go days, weeks even, and sometimes longer without a drop. I'm used to it. Considering how well-known the south's afternoon storms are, it is surprising how frequently we can manage to go without one. Rain is something I'm never really aware of when it's been missing for a while. I don't sit around and wonder when the next storm will come. Because of the humidity, it almost always seems to me like we live in a tropical rain forest, even when it's been dry for a while.

But then there are those days, few and far between, that I get caught in a summer rainstorm. And even more rare are the days that I get caught in a summer rainstorm and don't curse the heavens for ruining my plans. It is on those infrequent days when I actually welcome the rain that I feel genuine peace.

When warm, wet drops of water hit my skin and send tingles up my spine and goosebumps down to my toes. When I forget about how crazy my hair is going to look in 10 minutes. When I decide not to be angry about ruining my leather sandals, or when I stop caring about leaving my umbrella at home. Days when I run through puddles with my puppy. Days when I can sit on the couch and watch the drops hit our windows without worrying about making it somewhere on time in the weather. Days when I stop trying to be a mature adult and remember that it's perfectly okay to race twigs in the gutter or get mud on my shorts.

It's the days when I stop fighting and just appreciate the fact that I'm breathing...that I am lucky enough to be able to feel these sometimes unwelcome rain drops on my face and that I have a wonderful man playing in the rain by my side (metaphorically speaking).

 Aforementioned Wonderful Man


thank you, anna! be sure to check out her blog and leave her some love!

what's the smallest thing that makes you happy? learn more about my new Friday series here and send your submissions to

Thursday, August 18, 2011

new in the shop: 15% off for readers


i spent a few evenings in the park downtown for a little photo shoot to showcase the new items in my shop. from pretty paisley dresses to rockabilly shirts and office wear, the new clothes are super lovely, all with a special vintage flair. all $20 or less, they're fairly priced and in excellent condition.

and pssst. here's a little something special from me to you, for being such fabulous readers and for your overwhelmingly sweet response to my new "microscope heart" series:

enter coupon code VINTCHBLOG for 15% off every single item in the shop. happy shopping!

thoughts from a bathtub

last night, i lowered myself down into the bathtub. it was late and the hallway was perfectly dark and i left the lights off. and as my feet became wet, i felt them sting and burn. they are blistered, these painted toes of mine. these piggies i shoved into the narrow recesses of my new flats. i sat there and looked at them, peachy against the steel of the faucet.

and i stayed there long after the water cooled and sunk down a bit. sometimes i do that, you know. just sit in the tub and let the cool rush in and think. there's really only so much one can do in there, so after a while it's easy to give in to daydreaming and remembering.

i bought new flats on saturday. at my favorite thrift store on a cloudy morning. they are too small. it's just that simple and just that hard. simple because i love them. hard because i shoved myself into them and wore them to work. hard because i had to take them off just to walk to my car. hard because when i got home at six, all i wanted to do was hurl them across the linoleum floor and watch them slam into the television stand.

and women do this all the time. mold, shove, squeeze, adjust and shift. our bodies. our clothes. our expectations. in an effort to please? perhaps. out of vanity? certainly sometimes. but more often than not, it comes from our overwhelming desire to please. to fit a mold and fill a niche. yesterday, i wanted to be the girl in the cute flats. and today i am limping on bare feet.

so i sat until i shriveled. and let the skin loosen and float. and promised myself tomorrow would be different. that tomorrow i would let myself breathe, from my muddled head to the tips of my beet red toes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

my favorite photo: a magical morning

there was this morning, once. when i found myself in new mexico at six a.m. on a frigid saturday in october. and as the darkness rose off the frozen ground, hundreds of hot air balloons ascended with it. and though shivering and sleep deprived, for a second i too felt weightless. today i'm posting about the most magical morning of my life, and my favorite photo, at anonymous was a woman.

it may be a typical wednesday, and i may be knee deep in paperwork, deadlines and bills, but i was free, once. and cool and young and spontaneous enough to hop on a plane to albuquerque. and on days like today, it's that reminder that carries me through the hours.

Monday, August 15, 2011

lobster tacos and people watching

robert and i have a little game we like to play called "it's a day that ends in y, wanna get mexican food?"

it's quite a fun game, really.

we found ourselves deep in the city on saturday night. with a sleepy pup at home and nowhere to be for hours. we sat in deep booths and ate lobster tacos, lapping up a long supper. then we got coffee and sat outside and people watched. i used to think the airport was the best place to do this. but really, anywhere with a bench and a close proximity to wal-mart is a sure bet as well.

there's something about mexican restaurants that makes me never want to leave. i can't tell if its the spunky decor, with the sombreros on the walls and the vibrant tiled floors, or the divinely decadent food. the guacamole is the deciding factor for me. i once loved a mexican restaurant until i was served a bowl of entirely creamy, totally smooth guacamole. no thank you.

we ended the night driving through back roads all the way home, sinking into the couch to catch up on E! news before bed.

a man who loves salsa and lets me indulge in celebrity gossip? did i make a good choice or what?

Friday, August 12, 2011

stephanie: microscope heart

today is the first day of my new friday series "microscope heart." i'm so glad to have stephanie from my thorns have roses on here to tell us about the teeniest, smallest thing that makes her happy. thanks, stephanie! 

Nearly every night I wind down with a cup of tea. Not just any tea, mind you.  One specially brewed for me by my honey.  Each night is a special flavor, depending on the mood I'm in and what he thinks I could use.  He usually adds a touch of honey. He always adds a touch of love.  With each sip of my tea, I feel the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.  And I am thankful. For relaxation, for warmth, for flavor, but mostly...for love.

 be sure to check out stephanie's blog and leave her some love! 

p.s i'm over at my sweet friend christina's blog, brown town, today, posting about the absolute worst night of my high school existence, and how i championed through it to come out stronger in my faith, hope and perseverance. because high school is hard, but a high schooler with morals has it hard in a different way. hop on over, will ya?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

new series: microscope heart

it hit me around 6:45 this morning.

the sunlight in my laundry room. spreading its rays over clean, folded white t-shirts. it bounced off the white walls and warmed my sleepy eyelids. the laundry room off the back of our little cottage, a room not warmed or cooled, but opens straight into the back fields. with its little screen door and tiny perimeter, its my favorite room in the house.

but what struck me today wasn't the room's beauty or quaintness. nope, it was just the sunlight. the way it seemed to enter my bones and shake me awake.

it was then that i realized the power of the smallest things.

so i want to begin a new little series on this blog. let's break this big ol' world down. into tangible, lovable pieces. tell me the absolute smallest thing that makes you happy. is it the first sip of coffee, the way it warms you awake? what about the way your dog pants, or the wind filling the trees before a storm? yesterday, for me, it was humming an old jewel song all day.

God's given us a beautiful, expansive world. but i get lost in it sometimes. and i need this series to bring me back. back to the basics, the elementary stepping blocks of faith, feeling and appreciation.

so send 'em in! i'm going to feature one a week, on friday. pictures, too, please. together, i think we can make something pretty spectacular.

send your submissions to: 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

a morning regret

my darling,

i'm sorry i didn't get up this morning to run the circle with you. it was 5:30 a.m. and i was tired down into my bones. and the aroma of crock-pot chicken was wafting through the cottage. and pablo was curled at my feet, making a warm spot with his breathing belly. and there was no place i wanted to be but tucked in those cotton sheets, the sun not yet risen. plus, you see, i've got these new bangs to maintain. and running would throw my morning routine off a bit, but i digress.

but then, about an hour later, i awoke. and sunlight was slowly rising behind the blinds. and i reached over to your side of the bed, still in that half dream state. for a second, i forgot where you were, and i was scared and sad until i went outside to find you leaning against the porch. and i'd stay awake forever to see those crinkly eyes.

you waved goodbye to me this morning still in your sweats. and i smiled the entire drive to work.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

through the looking glass: a reflection

i'm so happy to be over at living aloha today guest posting as angie travels to beautiful san francisco to see her family. i've visited there for one night, staying on the crazy crooked lombard street. i'll never forget climbing those hilly roads down to the pier, and sitting by the water with robert and a big bread bowl of clam chowder, just looking out into the ocean. have fun, angie!

in this guest post, i'm reflecting. on the roots of confidence, who and what inspires me. and the beautiful glue that holds my world together. so hop on over and say hi. and while you're there, stay a while and get lost in angie's hawaiian atmosphere.

p.s. i've yet to conquer the mirror shot. in every one, i end up looking into the camera itself. geez louise.

Monday, August 8, 2011

bangs of old

last week was terribly long. i survived on iced coffees. that the last week of summer school happened to collide with the week of this year's Largest Proposal at work, was a cruel coincidence.

so on tuesday, when i couldn't bear the fact that the week still wasn't half over, i got bangs.

because i haven't had bangs since i was seven. and then, they were paired with a sweet side pony and an oversized pastel sweater with a unicorn motif. and that was for my school picture.

on this blog, i advocate doing whatever it is that makes you feel like you. like the best version of yourself. whether its a swipe of lipstick before running out the door. those high heels that cost a week's salary. reading your Bible by lamplight. as long as you feel authentically real, it's worth it, justified and logical.

but last week, i didn't really want to be me. at least  not the me i am now. not the girl behind the monitors. under the piles of schoolwork. frantically looking up MLA style online because for the life of me i can't

i wanted to be the me of old. the me of seven years. with elementary graduation up ahead. still to discover the extra wide halls of the middle school. the wonders of high school. prom and college yet to be tackled.

so i reverted. and the crazy thing?

i feel more like myself now than ever before. maybe its the fact that i woke this morning to a hazy carolina sunrise. maybe its the sweet tea, not iced coffee, chilling beside me.

either way, it's good to be back.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

leave it there

i hold onto things. it's what i do.

it's the reason my basement is cluttered. why the little shelf above my closet is crammed. why every drawer in our home is filled to capacity. i hold onto things in secret. under beds and behind desks. but, at the same time, i have this irrational idea that one day martha stewart or oprah or someone might stop by our little cottage, so i can't leave until every dish is dried and put away. every pile straightened. every magazine rolled up into the wine rack in our  bathroom.

it's a crazy thing, this chaotic order. that in the same space, within the same whitewashed walls, there co-exists an enormous pile of assorted greeting cards and a freshly washed counter that smells of lemon.

but i hold onto other things as well. things that can't be cleaned out when the next yard sale comes into town.

things like hurts. and worries. and fears. stories on the news. doubts and insecurities. hidden by a new high-waisted skirt. fresh cut bangs. and new lipstick. just as my office drawer is laden, absolutely laden, with old folders, so i store things inside. and so i mask them.

but i've got a little tree outside my bedroom window, and at night its  branches are illuminated by the shed light. and from my bed, i can see the outline of leaves. it's become my worry tree. when everyone's asleep and sometimes when they're not, i hold my hand against the blind and send my worries out to it. into Heaven. into the hands of the only one that can make any order whatsoever of it.

and then, before lifting my fingertips

i leave it there. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the jade plant

sunshine spills in the cottage. it pours through half-closed blinds and washes the sofa during these dog days. it lays its rays on the kitchen counter at high noon and cuts a line across to the sink, illuminating unwashed dishes when no one's home to see.

but i can't keep a houseplant. the little windowsill above my sink does well enough, with begonias and a jalapeno plant reaching their green faces to the sky. but an actual potted plant? droopy within days. immediately yellow.

i blame it on my need to over-nurture. let's not forget, i'm the girl who tucks her dog into a velvet blanket each night and prays over him. so i behave with plants. they are alive. dependent on me. my responsibility. so i do what my own mama does--i feed them heaping portions. as mama shovels chicken pie onto our plates even as we insist we only want a tiny slice, so i fill up my watering pail and feed the plants every morning. it's too much. it kills them.

but i come from a long line of women who show love through food. it's in my nature and i'll inevitably pass it down to my children. i can think of worse problems to have.

so i did something the other day. i bought a jade plant. the little tag said it didn't need much water. didn't even need much sunshine. i believe the exact phrase was "excellent for beginners. requires low maintenance."

a plant that doesn't need me too much? yes, please.

however, every morning, right before heading out the door in my heels, i take the plant from the living room and place it on the counter, where sunlight can fill it and it can stretch. i can't help it. and so far, he's a resilient little thing, growing only up.

and so nature blends with nurture. the two currents joining in a symbiotic relationship fueled by good intent. that's what i'm going to keep reminding myself--it's the intent that matters. long after the leaves turn yellow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

good ol' volks

like the colors of bubble gum pink and baby blue swirled on my tie-dyed top, so the people of the high country bus festival blended. there were past-the-glory-days hippies walking around with dream catchers and headbands. there were sweet mamas and papas bathing their babies in the river. there were great danes and labrador retrievers swimming in the warm water and teenagers sitting in a circle on the great big rocks that broke up the current.

and then there was us. my bearded husband, intelligent brother and his devastatingly fashionable girlfriend. just a couple of kids from the triad, deep in the heart of the carolina mountains. we hopped on intertubes and spent two hours floating lazily down the river, warming our faces in the morning sunshine. we listened to live music (you've got to check out the honeycutters--a delicious blend of patti griffin and emmylou harris and all sorts of good folksy roots).

on the particularly balmy saturday afternoon, we drug our air mattresses onto the riverbank and slept under the shade trees. we woke to raindrops.

then, from 4 pm. until midnight, the sky let loose in a thunderous, dramatic and loud display of prowess. it absolutely poured. so hard that our little tent shook. we crammed ourselves inside and dove under warm blankets. then, for the next six hours, we stayed there. we ate pop-tarts and drank bottled water. we read books and my brother played his mandolin. we talked and told stories and stayed awake long past quiet hours, the next night's live music, an old bluegrass band, playing in the distance.

then, when night fell on the camp and the bluegrass started to fade, we got out some speakers and played cat power in the darkness. and lying there, three people i love to the left of me, listening to cat's deep rasp float between us, i closed my eyes and finally slept.

it was a fabulous weekend, and integrating myself back into reality has proved quite cumbersome. yes, for many it was a weekend of parties. for some, it was a weekend of children and animals and music. but for me, it was a weekend of beauty. of God's great nature and man's great machine. co-existing and cohabitating the same blessed space.

Monday, August 1, 2011

guest post: cannon beach

i'm over at project simple life today, while amanda and her hubs are off on a european adventure. amanda is a doll and a true sweetheart. today, i'm blogging about cannon beach, oregon. besides my front porch swing on a balmy summer night, cannon beach is my hands down favorite place to be in the entire world.

the beach is a perfect juxtaposition of exaggerated beauty (haystack rock!) and quiet, still peace (foggy mornings that make you want to whisper). i love writing about it, because the words flow from my fingers, and also because it reminds me of our west coast road trip last october, and the moment i fell in love with the rocky beaches of the pacific northwest. so check it out.