Friday, July 27, 2012

Hi there!

Long time, no chat! As you can image my priorities have shifted lately, but I wanted to let you guys know that I'm still here! It has been a crazy few months but hubs and I are still trying to tackle some home projects this summer.

But first I want to thank you. I appreciate all of you that come to visit this little blog and want you know your emails and comments mean so much to me. Thank you, thank you for your support. This thing we call blogland is pretty awesome.

I'm going to make this short because I just wanted to check in and say,

Hello! It's been a while... I hope you all are doing well!

 Expect to hear more from me soon... I have some big updates!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To My Dad, Roses are red...

Today is the first April 18th that I am unable to wish my Dad a happy birthday... except in my prayers. My Dad passed away last month, just five weeks ago. It was sudden. My family and I are deeply saddened.

I cannot even explain the swirl of emotions and hurt I feel inside after this loss. I now know what it truly means to feel like a part of me is missing. I still can't really believe it. I can't believe that he's not here anymore. I know he's in a better place, and I will see him again one day but that feels SO far away right now.

Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall. 

It is going to take my family and me quite a bit of time to get over this loss. However, I have an incredible support group around me and I am so thankful for that. My husband has been my rock. He has been by my side through it all, and I cannot thank him enough for the strength he has given me.

I want to genuinely thank my family and friends for circling around my Mom, sister, and me during this time. The comfort and love you have shown me through each and every prayer, card, text, call, email, donation, flower, and meal mean more to me than I could ever express. We will get through this. There has been a lot of change already and even more to come, but we're sticking together and taking things one day at a time.

I hope during this process that I can make some positive changes in my own life. I do not want take life for granted, not even a second. Life is short. All life fades and none of us know when our time is up. I want to consciously live my life to the fullest. Isn't that what life is about? I've been thinking about my Dad a lot lately. All I have is memories. I realize now more than ever that making great memories is what life is all about. I want to keep making great memories with the people that I love most. I want to make really awesome memories. It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day activities and never ending to-do lists, but that is not what life is about. Yes, things still need to get done, but shouldn't we all keep a tight focus on what truly matters?

Living life to the fullest has nothing to do with its length and everything to do with its width.

One of the things that struck me after my Dad passed is that it was over. It's all over. You get one life here on earth and when it's over, that's it. You did what you did. You said all you said. There is no going back. You can't go back and say the things you wish you would have said, visit the places you've always wanted to see, or do the things you've always dreamed of doing. My Dad lived a great life, don't get me wrong. But it's given ME a wake up call to make the absolute best of my life, my time left here.

When looking through some of his things I found this little note I gave
him in 1994 (it was written on the back).

Happy Birthday, Dad.
I think about you all the time. I'm really going to miss you. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Ulitmate Wedding Week - THE DETAILS

Well this is it.... the last day of The Ultimate Wedding Week.
Today's installment is all about...


Without further adieu, I present to you... Amy, from...

Head on over to {her blog} to read all about each and every detail. Like always, link up your posts - old, new, or inspirational!

I hate to miss this opportunity to share more of my wedding weekend details with you, but this month life changed for me in a BIG way. I'm not ready to write about it just yet. I honestly don't even know how to put it into words. All I know is that it's too soon for me to look back through my wedding albums and write about such a joyous time when I'm going through just the opposite. Might be absent for a bit, but more later...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Ultimate Wedding Week - THE RECEPTION

The Ultimate Wedding Week moves on to...


This is most people's favorite part! Head over to Natasha's blog {Hello Happiness} to read all about hers...
Some of you may already know this, but Natasha and I aren't just blogger friends but "real life" friends too. Hubs and I got to boogie on down at her reception, and I can confirm it was a blast!

This is a snapshot from my wedding. Ryan ended the night perfectly with a kind speech straight from the heart and an impromptu Waaaar Eagle. That was such a fun night!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Ultimate Wedding Week - THE CEREMONY

As the Ultimate Wedding Week continues...

We've finanlly made it to...


Head on over to Natasha's blog...

Link up your posts and check out the others!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Ultimate Wedding Week - BEFORE THE CEREMONY

Hop on over to {Valerie's super cute blog}...

... to read all about...


Link up your posts and read about others!

You may have noticed that I'm not participating as usual in this blog hop, especially being a host, but there is a reason. I'll explain later, but for now enjoy all the inspiration from these great girls and others who have linked up too!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Ultimate Wedding Week - Rehearsal Dinner

The Ultimate Wedding Week continues with


Head on over to Jill's blog - {a charmed life} - to read all about her rehearsal dinner!

Link up your posts and read others too!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Guest Posting Today - Top 7 Favorites for Spring

If you've been following me for a while you've probably heard me talk about {Interior Design Musings}. Mandi's blog is one of my must reads and she has great substance in each of her posts. 

This week she's hosting a series called... 
Head on over to {her blog} to see what my top seven favorites are this spring! 

Don't forget to check out her line up of other guest bloggers sharing their spring favorites this week too! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Ultimate Wedding Week - Engagement Photos

It's here!!!

I'm so excited to kick off The Ultimate Wedding Week! Today's topic is...


Engagement pictures are not a mandatory part of wedding planning and not everyone has them taken. But they are a great way to capture such an exciting time in your life. I love looking at our engagement pictures and others because you can really see the love couples have for one another.

For most, it's the first time taking professional pictures as a bona fide couple... a whole photo shoot just for you and your hunny! 

Plus these aren't just pictures you'll have framed around your house but they'll likely be used for save the dates, wedding programs, guest book, and/or reception decoration. In other words, you'll want to put some thought into them!

Exactly 5 years ago this month Ryan and I took our engagement photos together.

Crazy how time flies.

I knew I wanted them to be taken outdoors. The plan was to go to Big Spring Park in Huntsville, Alabama.

Pretty, right? And March was the perfect month to go when the dogwoods were in blossom. Well when our photographer, Ryan, and I pulled up there was a huge festival going on.

We didn't exactly have this.... mind for the backdrop of our engagement pictures. Ok, it wasn't that bad but still.
Lesson learned - check the schedule of events!

Time for Plan B. Our seasoned photographer had several other ideas but with little contemplation we decided to head up the mountain to Monte Sano State Park.

Since it was March it wasn't as green as I would have hoped, but we made the best of it. It's a beautiful park with trails and an incredible outlook point 1600 feet above sea level.

I love how they turned out.

We got plenty of "mom shots". You know, the head shots mom's love to frame and send to family members....

We got the save-the-date shot... 

Of course we got some smoochin' shots... 

And also captured some sweet moments...

We even caught a beautiful sunset at the end of our shoot... 

It was such a fun day! I'll never forget it. 

Ok, now for some advice...

1. Choosing a Photographer:

One of the most important things is choosing a photographer that fits your style. You'll want to find one that matches your personality and will listen to your thoughts and ideas. Luckily most photographers have websites and blogs that give you a great feel for who they are and the work they do. After you've chosen yours, engagement photo sessions are a great way to get to know them even better so you're more comfortable with them on your wedding day.

2. Choosing a Date:

Of course you can make your own rules, but you'll typically have a certain time frame to take engagement pictures (from proposal to wedding day). Obviously if you have a year long engagement you have more options in choosing a preferable month to take them. Think about what you'd like to wear. If you take your pictures inside you can wear whatever you want. However, if you prefer an outdoor landscape don't forget to think about the temperature (and rainy season). If it's January and you want to bundle up to take romantic pictures during a snow fall, great! But if it's January and you'd rather wear a sundress and wedges mark a date on the calendar for spring or summer! There are no deadlines to which you need to have the photos taken, but the sooner the better if you plan to use them for save the dates!

3. Choosing a Location:

If there is a place that has meaning to you and your fiance, possibly where you first met, where the proposal happened, your first date, or somewhere you frequent as a couple, any of those are a great places to start. Ryan and I met in Auburn, Alabama (at Freshman orientation to be exact). That summer before Freshman year we actually dated while we lived in Huntsville/Madison. Four years later when we were engaged, both of our families lived in Huntsville so we knew that's where we wanted to get married. Even though we didn't live there we wanted to have our pictures taken in the same city we'd later have our wedding.

The great part about engagement pictures is you can have them taken anywhere. And the only people you need to coordinate them with is you, your fiance, and the photog. I always thought it was neat when couples took their pictures in the cities they were living in (or going to live in), especially if different than the wedding location. It's a great way to incorporate the place in which you'll be starting your lives together as husband and wife!  

4. What to Wear:

You'll want to dress appropriately for your location. I'm not necessarily talking about wearing cowboy boots if you're taking pictures in a field with a barn (although there is certainly nothing wrong with that), but you can also change it up a bit. But definitely stick to your roots...

If you're a hippie at heart or down home country girl, don't dress in cocktail attire.
If you're marrying a country boy, don't bundle him up in a suit and tie.
If you wouldn't be caught dead in a skirt, wear jeans.
If you're the ultimate girly-girl who wears sparkly heels on a Tuesday by all means jazz up the pics!

You get the point. There are no rules, so have fun with it! People will appreciate the reflection of your personalities in your photos.

Ryan and I dressed up a bit for ours, but we were still comfortable. I would recommend wearing something classic. You don't want to look back 5-10 years from now and wonder what the heck you were thinking. I wanted to wear something simple and far from trendy. I tend to dress this way regularly, but made sure I stayed on the classic side for these photos. I'd love to display these pictures for years to come without any wardrobe regrets! Think Jackie O. :)

5. Be comfortable.

This goes in hand with #4, but it's so important it deserves its own number. You must wear something that is comfortable and that you feel good in.
If  you're in heels and want pictures at one end of the park and then another, save your feet by bringing some flip flops for the walk to and from. If you're taking your pictures on the beach or in fall or winter bring a jacket or blanket so you can keep warm in between shooting.

I can't stress enough to wear something comfortable. You don't want to be looking down every 2 minutes to make sure your undergarments aren't showing or dreading every "scene change" because your heels hurt so bad with every step.

6. Personalize the Pics.

To be honest, I never thought of doing something personal during our photo session. When I see others showing off their interests, hobbies, and quirks in their pics I think it's so cute. For example, this a photo from my sister's engagement photo session...

I love it because it's so them. My sister has wanted a pug forever and Mark loves to do crossword puzzles. Get creative!

This is a great lead in to my last bit of advice...


Let your pictures be a true reflection of you and you will cherish them forever.

All engagement photos by {Allison Janson Photography} in Huntsville, AL. 

Ok, now it's your turn!!

We want to see YOUR engagement photo posts -- link up your new, old, or inspiration posts below!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Wedding Week Blog Hop

Hi friends! I'm changing things up a bit here at Just a Touch of Gray for a couple weeks. Later this month, March 19 - March 30 to be exact, I'll be participating in Wedding Week with these wonderful ladies... 

Yes, this is a little stretch from my typical posts, but I thought it would be fun to relive a little of my wedding season. At this time in our lives we are spending our spring and summers wedding hopping (we've been invited to 16 this year so far, yes just this year), so  talking about weddings should come naturally to me. Although it has been over  four years since my own!!

These lovely ladies and myself will be offering advice, giving tips and tricks, as well as showing lots of photos as we give you a glimpse into our own personal wedding season - from engagement pics to the reception! 

I hope past brides will have fun linking up previously written or new posts and of course I hope this blog hop provides tons of inspiration for future brides! You can thank Amy from {Fresh and Fancy} for thinking up this one! 

 Get your wedding posts ready because 
everyone is invited to link up! 

I hope you'll meet me back here on in two weeks to talk about *engagement photos*!!  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rustic Elements

Last week I expressed my love of rustic decor. See my post with examples {here}. I also promised to show you some of the ways we've showcased natural materials in our own home. 

You guys are probably familiar with our white washed walls in the living room and dining room. I'm so glad we experimented with this treatment. It could have easily been a swing and a miss (considering we didn't have a clue what we were doing), but it turned out to be a home run (at least in our opinion!). We love they way it makes the room feel casual and cozy while adding character.

Of course one of my favorite things in our entire house is the dining room table my husband built from wood we tore out of the house. It brings texture and warmth to our informal dining space.

And back in the living room... we added mirrored accent chests to each side of the fireplace soon after we moved in. They brought a little bit of glam and dimension to the space, but have you noticed the finish on them? 

The creamy paint between the mirrors has a distressed finish which allows them to fit in quite nicely (not too Hollywood glam for our wood paneled room).

And now for one you haven't seen...

I recently added an old barn wood frame to our master bedroom. The dresser display never felt quite right. Everything was a little too "cold" for my liking.

I first thought about changing the artwork, and just before Christmas when walking through historic Franklin with hubs, his mom, and some of her friends we saw this beauty...

I loved the entire look of it, but with a sold sign (and ridiculous $600+ price tag anyway) we immediately thought a DIY was in order. Hubs spouting off, "I can make that" was like music to my ears.

But THEN my sweet mother-in-law remembered she had a very similar frame sitting in her garage. She said we can take a look at it next time we were in town and keep it if we wanted. For real?

Ok, now I was excited. I was hoping this would be just what we needed for our master.

So then the dresser vignette went from this... 

To this... 

First I thought about replicating the canvas and different quote 
but ended up leaving it just like this...

I love it leaning up against our current canvas!

I even love the rustic tangled wire on it. Adds character, don't you think?

On another note, we also recently had five dead trees removed from our yard. Yes, FIVE! I'm glad we did it in the winter so hopefully we won't miss the leaves as much. Overall, I'm just glad they're outta here though. I'd rather have a little less shade then a tree truck through my house! 

Why I'm telling you about our dead trees? 

Because I asked the nice tree guys to cut me two stumps about 2 feet tall. My original plan was strip the bark and make plant stands for each side of the door... or something. 

However when I came home, I was very happy they obliged my odd request, but I didn't know how BIG they would be!  I'm pretty sure a friend of ours had back pain for a few days from moving one of them into the garage for me! Oops. 

Now I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them. 

Any ideas? 

Plant stand? Really big cake stands? End table?