Fall Mantle Decor

Based on my Instagram feed, I’m a bit late to posting on fall decor. I’m still working on getting all of the fall line up in the shop {here’s what’s available so far} and prepping for The Amsden's grand opening, and I just finished adding pumpkins to our front porch a few weeks ago. Even though our porch is really basic while we wait to install railing and columns, I’m happy with the pretty turn its taken.

On my pumpkin hunt, I came across a bundle of white pie pumpkins and these giant bunches of eucalyptus and decided the mantle needed some decorating. So naturally I bought a ton of these cute little pumpkins, three batches of eucalyptus and brought it all home to see what I could do with it. I also had a couple of gourds and acorn squash from the store that I decided to use, ended up not having enough room for and decided to put in a wire basket to use on the kitchen table.

Before I jump into the incredibly simple three-step process to recreate this mantle, let me start with a couple of things that I’ve learned about decorating mantles any time of year.

Get some things in varying weights. By weight, I don’t mean actual poundage, but thickness, aesthetic heaviness and a mixture of small and large pieces. The goal is symmetry, even if both sides aren’t exactly the same {I actually discourage this. It looks too perfect.} I love mixing candlesticks, artwork, books, plants and some wood pieces together, but you can also use baskets, glass jars, antiques, a clock… you name it!

Start with the large pieces. I did a tutorial on decorating shelves earlier this year, and a lot of the concepts are the same. {You can check that out here.} Start with your big pieces. These will be your anchors that everything else is placed around. In the case of this mantle, mine are the framed canvas {tutorial here}, the lantern and wood letter. Decide where you want these to go. You can always adjust, but this will help you balance both sides out.

Add in tiers and layers. I love using books as layers, and since I had this candlestick I wanted to use, I needed some way to even out the height on both sides. Books are the perfect accessory. If you don’t have books of the same color, just turn them around so the pages face outward! They don’t have to just lay flat either. Stack them, put one at an angle, set them up vertically — there are tons of possibilities to add some depth to your mantle. In this case, my layers are the candlestick and books. I ended up raising the wood letter and the lantern on books to add some height, which just goes to show that you can easily adjust your large pieces.

Finish with details. Greens are a pretty standard go-to for me, but there are all kinds of options. These are usually smaller items that can fit in the spaces left by your anchor pieces and layers. Here’s where my fall idea came in.

The pumpkins were really pretty, but by themselves, they looked really open and spacious. So I removed everything except the side decor from my mantle.

Then I took the eucalyptus branches and laid them out flat with the stems always pointing to the center. Then I made sure some of the leaves draped over the mantle front. I have two fake pumpkins and the rest were real, so I placed the two fake pumpkins first for symmetry then used the pie pumpkins around those, laying some on their sides and some upright. Finally, I cut some smaller eucalyptus branches and filled those in around the tops of the pumpkins and on the ends of the mantle.

As a finishing touch, I lit the pumpkin bread scented candle I found at HomeGoods and just sat back to enjoy the cozy fall touches. As an added bonus, the eucalyptus smells incredibly fresh. Eventually it will dry, but still look just as beautiful.

For a cost breakdown, this mantle cost around $15. Trader Joe’s easily has the best selection of inexpensive eucalyptus I’ve ever seen. $2.99 for a large bunch! I used two to create this mantle, plus the pumpkins which I found at a local grow shop. For those of you allergic to eucalyptus, any green sprigs will look just as beautiful. Pine, cedar… you name it! Cedar is one of my favorite greens to decorate with at Christmastime, so why not get a head start, right?

I hope you all have an awesome weekend!!!


Quick Game Day Chili Recipe
I may lose a lot of you here, but I'm not a huge football fanatic. I follow our home team, of course, but other than that, I don't really sit down to watch or follow along with other teams. I'm more of a basketball girl. That said, one of the things I do love about getting together to watch a game, aside from the community, is the food! Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite fall recipes, perfect for game day and really quick and easy: chili. This is the same chili my mom used to make when we were kids and it was freezing outside {yes, it's nostalgic} with just a few modifications, so know that it's been tested over the years and perfected. My little one decided to pose next to this chili, mostly because she wanted to eat it so badly {that's a good sign when your kids love it}. She's becoming really camera happy, and I know that's not recipe related but it makes me smile! I know, I'm bragging. Okay, so here's the recipe, friends. I hope it warms you up on those cooler days, and makes game day a breeze! Amanda and I posted a lot about fall recipes last year, so if you're looking for some delicious cider, for example, check out our recipes here and here! If you follow along with me on Pinterest {if you don't, please do! It's such a great inspiration board!}, you've seen my recent pins on chalk painted pumpkins, centerpieces and dollar store hacks. I'm excited to try those out on my mantle, and I'll be posting all the details soon! As always, I'll be updating Instastories along the way. I'd love to connect with you on either {or both} of those platforms! xoxo
Favorite Farmhouse Lighting
I don't know about you guys, but I'm always on the hunt for affordable farmhouse lighting. Lights can make or break a room, can I get an amen? They take a plain room to stunning. Even the best decorated spaces look better with lighting, especially high statement ones. The problem is they're not always affordable. There are plenty of DIY ideas to turn generic chandeliers into gorgeous farmhouse ones, and I actually may do just that with one of my grandmother's old chandeliers that she gave me. For today, though, I wanted to share some of my favorite farmhouse lighting with you at affordable prices -- if for nothing else, to give you some inspiration and take even your best decorated room up one more notch. This first one you've probably seen all over my Instagram feed because, oh my goodness. For $20, this light is probably the best deal out there! As soon as I saw it in the store, I knew it was coming home with me even if I did go back a few times before buying it. It's oil rubbed bronze, and with a nice clear bulb gives off plenty of light. In a room with white walls especially, the contrast is beautiful. I used this in our dining room, and it's been the perfect addition to our home.  

Photo shoot day was a success, friends!!! I definitely don't feel comfortable in front of the camera, but with some photographers it's just so easy! Huge thanks to @meghanbethphoto for capturing the heart behind the blog today and helping with this rebranding process! You'll start to see the changes first on social media culminating in a full launch on the blog in late September and I just can't wait to share with all of you! I'm a decor blogger and a sign maker, and navigating the blog and shop should be just as well laid out as any good room design, right? I'm so thankful for each of you and how you're celebrating along with me! • • #saltandlifeblog #sharingallthelovelythings #kentuckyblogger #diningroomdecor #diningroom #interiorlovers #interiordecor #interiorinspo #interiorstyle #smallspacesquad #thisoldhouse #thatsdarling #acornerofmyhome #theeverygirlathome #farmhouse #farmhousedecor #farmhousestyle #fixerupperstyle #fixerupperinspired #homedecor #instadecor #home #design #livingspace #wellstyled

A post shared by Salt & Life Blog (@saltandlifeblog) on

I am an absolute sucker for beautiful bronze light fixtures, and the entry is one space I felt needed a true statement piece. This glass-less lantern was a HomeGoods find and, last time I was in, they didn't have anymore. I found it for $59.99, but since then I've found some really similar options that I'd love to share with you.   [caption id="attachment_3576" align="aligncenter" width="328"] Available at for $68.39.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_3577" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Available at Home Depot for $99.97.[/caption] I honestly considered going back for a second one of these to hang in our hallway because there is no natural light, and the glass bulbs and lack of shade really help brighten the space. However, we have some bifold closet doors that would get in the way of a pendant so, for now, we're sticking with the flush mount we have in place. That said, I am over the moon for the way this birdcage light transforms our entry!  
Glass light pendants are another favorite of mine, mostly because of all the light they allow to come into a room. Our bathroom, for example, has no windows at all and can very easily get dark and depressing. With some light gray paint and the right pendant, though, the room is now one of my favorites to walk into and feels like the bright, fresh and clean room it should. This was another HomeGoods find at $39.99, but there are some incredibly affordable ones similar to it available elsewhere. I'm actually planning on something like these for our kitchen to help brighten it up a bit -- that's another one-window room in our house. Here are some of the options... [caption id="attachment_3578" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Available at for $59.99 with Prime.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3579" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Available at Lowes for $119.90.[/caption] Here's how it looks in our bathroom. It totally changed the space!!!  
Let's move on to chandeliers, something I don't yet have in our house but actually plan to add to the office. I've seen so many beautiful ones that I always assumed were out of my price range... until I stumbled into the lighting section at Lowes. You guys... they have some of the best lighting for great prices! And they're not the only ones! Check out these amazing chandeliers! [caption id="attachment_3580" align="aligncenter" width="900"] The covers would need to be painted on this, but for $63.04 at Lowes, that's a tough price to beat.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_3581" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Absolutely no painting required on this one. It's perfection at $99 via The Home Depot.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3582" align="aligncenter" width="800"] This one is a tad more expensive, but absolutely stunning and still coming in under $150 via[/caption] Lastly, let's talk sconces. They can change EVERYTHING, am I right? Our house is not one of those blessed with lots of fabulous wiring or even easy access to wiring, but I found a workaround. Plug-in sconces! A) they're cheaper. B) they don't cost anything for installation! Yes, please! I bought some sconces for the bedroom which are a little more industrial than they are farmhouse, but I'll share them below anyway because, well, they're amazing. Here are some other sconces I'm currently crushing on as well, and hopefully some will make it into the living room once I get my shiplap wall done!!! [caption id="attachment_3583" align="aligncenter" width="296"] Available at World Market for $39.99.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3584" align="aligncenter" width="236"] Available at Lamps Plus, 2 for $99.99.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3585" align="aligncenter" width="423"] Available at for $28.29 with Prime.[/caption] Urban Outfitters has some amazing wall lighting as well, and these two eyeball sconces were Christmas presents from my husband last year. They provide the perfect lighting in our bedroom and worked added that finishing touch to the wall.

Friends, I spent SO much of today cleaning. Not my favorite thing to do, but I love the fact that the week is starting off clean! As part of our "organizing your life" series that we did earlier this year, I made up some printables including a cleaning schedule that I stuck to for a while but gradually got off track on. Well, today, I'm breaking it back out! Nothing like getting behind to make you vow never to do it again, am I right!?! So today our bed got made, the dishes are all done before we go to bed, and the floors are clean -- even toys got picked up. That's not something that happens often, but that's changing, friends! I've been operating under the wrong mindset. I was cleaning in the morning... I need to pick up at night after everyone has gone to bed (well, kids at least) so that the first thing I see in the morning is my sweet family and wonderfully clean house, right? Right. . . I hope y'all have had wonderful Mondays today! I'm sharing this view of our bedroom today for our sweet friend Ashley over at @the.huber.homestead! Thank you for the fun tag! #signsandstemsmonday . . #saltandlifeblog #sharingallthelovelythings #kentuckyblogger #bedroomdecor #homedecor #instadecor #sodomino #interiorinspo #interiorstyling #myneutralmonday #mystyle #mybhg #modernfarmhousemonday #simplecozystyle #rusticfarmcharm #mydecormonday #magworthymonday #mydecorhaven #mystyledecor #wowusweekdays #modernfarmhouse #southerncharmfarmhouse #adoremyabode #acornerofmyhome #theeverygirlathome #thatsdarling #makingmondaysmore #mymetalmonday #wordsindecor

A post shared by Salt & Life Blog (@saltandlifeblog) on

There you have it, friends. Some of my favorite farmhouse lighting options and affordable ones at that! I hope you find something you absolutely love to transform your space! xoxo  
The Easiest Healthy Breakfast Ever
Friends, hello! It's been a while since I posted last mainly due to life just flat happening. All good things! All good things! {Frozen reference... how many of you have kids?} Summer has been cuh-razy in the best way possible -- full of travel, birthday parties, anniversaries, lots of music and even an awards show if you can believe that! Shameless plug, but if you like feel-good summertime music head over here to check out the music video from last year that a friend and I did. Anyway, today I'm here to chat with you about breakfast. Here's the thing, whether school's starting back for your kids {or for you}, you're a stay at home parent or you're out in the business world, we've all gotta eat! My husband and I started a clean eating regimen back in June which has changed our lives {I'll post on that sometime, I promise}, and there's just not always time to make eggs or stovetop oatmeal first thing in the morning. Do you know what there is time for, though? Yogurt. Now before you go, "Nope, not for me," this is not a Yoplait or Dannon sponsored post or whatever other brand you might be thinking. I'm talking delicious breakfast parfait style yogurt that you put together on your own with ingredients that you trust -- and it only takes a couple minutes. Seriously. Still with me? I really hope so because this is, like, an every morning meal/sometimes snack for me. Just saying. So here's how this recipe goes:
  • 1 cup {or 2 or 3... depends on how hungry you are} organic plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup organic blueberries {strawberries are delicious, too}
  • 2 tbsp organic honey
  • 1/2 cup natural granola
Y'all, I'm not going to lie. It's next to impossible to find granola without artificial or natural flavors, but Kind and Bear Naked are two brands that I've found that fit the bill. The rest of it is really easy, friends. Just mix all of those things together! I love to mix the honey and yogurt together before adding the toppings, but that's just a personal preference. That's it! So. Darn. Easy. Now, let's say you decide you're hungry while you're out but don't have any of these things on hand... or say you're with some friends trying to figure out a brunch or lunch idea... or you're just flat hungry. I packed up with Amanda earlier this week to try out a new Greek place in town, and Oh. My. Goodness. If you're local or live near The Simple Greek in your area, y'all need to go. I'll be perfectly honest. I've never been a fan of Greek food outside of Greek salad. I didn't even love the yogurt until I discovered the mixture above which I actually stumbled upon in an airport and modified {full disclosure, friends}. But the lunch I had at The Simple Greek was amazing, totally customizable, completely clean eating {yay!} and the best part, in my opinion, they have a yogurt bar for desert. Oh, my gosh. Okay, so let me back up. A friend of ours invited us out to try it and, of course, you don't say no to things like that! We're pretty much always up for a new place to eat and, seriously, the yogurt bar was calling my name. Not to mention that, while it's a franchise, it's locally owned and I am all about supporting local businesses. Then we get there and discover that, with the exception of imported items like, you know, olives {because they get the good stuff ... yep, I said imported}, all of their food comes from local growers. Well, I'm sold. Knowing where your food comes from and that eating somewhere local is not only helping out the local owner but also local farmers, well why wouldn't you want to reinvest in your community like that. Am I right? Okay, so the good stuff. The food. Y'all. I got a brown rice bowl with green beans, potatoes, lamb, tzatziki, feta cheese, green onions and chickpeas and, I'm here to tell you, it was incredible! Anybody love Chipotle!?! Well, this is the Greek version. Totally fresh, absolutely delicious. Then they asked if I wanted Greek fries. I had no idea what that was, but who says no to fries that are actual potatoes? Come to find out, they're fries with a red wine vinegar, feta cheese, seasoning... no. ketchup. needed. Amanda got a lamb gyro which also looked amazing!!! I know what you're thinking. This post was about yogurt, right? Friends. Friends! My little one and I went back through to get some yogurt, and I'm pretty sure we were both as excited as if we were getting ice cream! Ash had Greek yogurt with Greek honey (yes. Greek honeys from Crete), strawberries and chocolate chips. I had Greek yogurt with Greek honey, strawberries, blueberries and walnuts. Gracious! I was absolutely stuffed but determined to finish it all because I didn't want any to go to waste! Here are some pics from lunch to give you an idea. Long story short, friends, try this recipe! If you don't have time or just want to support some local people, head to The Simple Greek! I'd love to know what you think about either or both below! Happy eating, y'all! xoxo    
Salt & Life Blog was birthed out of a friendship and a shared dream to create a space where we can share the things we are passionate about with a community of readers. It’s become this beautiful place with a vision for inspiring home décor and DIY projects. As friends, we love writing this blog together. As individuals, there come times in our lives when we know we must move on from some things we love doing, to make room for other passions and pursuits. While still in full support of everything SLB is, Amanda is stepping away from blogging for a time to pursue other endeavors. Jess will be assuming the blog solely and you will continue to receive all the great content you’ve grown accustomed to up to this point. The only thing that will really change is that you won’t see Amanda’s name or face as often, a change which some of you may have already noticed has begun to take place. Personally, we will still text one another on the regular, share blogging ideas, drink massive amounts of coffee together and get our kiddos together for playdates. As besties, we are some of each other’s biggest cheerleaders in everything that we do. We hope that Amanda will return to the blogging world before too long, possibly with new and exciting dimensions to add to SLB. Only time will tell! Until then, we will have to content ourselves with an occasional “guest” post as her schedule allows.  As friends and as co-bloggers, we have made every effort to be authentic and completely genuine throughout this entire endeavor. That means sharing even when things don’t always end up exactly the way we had originally planned. Sharing this experience has brought us closer as friends and, hopefully, closer to you as our readership and supporters. God sometimes asks us to sacrifice things that we love for things even greater that He has in mind. That is why, while this announcement is laced with a bit of sadness, it is full of excitement for all that is in store in the future, made all that much better in knowing that while we may not share the blog anymore, we share a friendship that goes well beyond that! Speaking of the blog, in case you were curious about what's coming up, here's a little sneak!!!

Hall Bathroom Reveal {DIY Shelves}

DIY Embroidery Hoop Flowers

Fall Sign Designs: The Junq Drawer

Clean Eating Breakfast Parfait

Have a beautiful day, friends! Amanda & Jess    
Springhouse Gardens Brunch
Walking up to The Barn at Springhouse gardens, I was blown away with the beautiful display I found. From the pallet constructed table, with pillows for seating to the chandelier and vintage furniture inside the barn, I was delighted with the atmosphere and I only wish this place has been around 8 years ago when I got married. Although in the last two years, The Barn has become a fantastic wedding venue, I was there for a "blogger brunch." Is there a more appropriate meal for bloggers to share together? I think not. Certainly not any meal more alliterative. Outside of the amazing food, there was a gorgeous lemonade and mimosa bar, complete with fresh berries to add to your glass. A highlight of the event for me was making flower crowns! A table full of fresh flowers and baby's breath, and all the supplies necessary to create a nymph-worthy flower crown were provided, courtesy of Miss Molly Vintage. At our place settings lining the table that looked like it came out of a dream, were little bunches of lavender and a hand painted replica of the barn by Kayla Weber Art. Her family owns the Barn and it was her creative genius behind much of the décor, as well as the idea to utilize The Barn for events at all. Way to go, Kayla! Talk about vision! As we went around the table, sharing what each of us did for a living, what our blogs were about, etc. it became clear how very different each of us were. But even in our differences, we share a common ground - the creative expression of blogging and sharing what you love with a community of people. There's nothing quite like it! The best part about being with a bunch of bloggers is that nobody looks at you funny when you try to take the perfect flat lay of your table setting, or update your Instagram story. Everyone is doing the same thing! In addition to some amazing gift bags they sent home with us, courtesy of the local businesses I'll link below, we were each gifted with these adorable succulent plants from Springhouse Gardens. Not only are they sturdy plants that don't need much water (perfect for my brown thumb!) but they multiply and their blossoms can be potted separately to share with friends! What a beautiful little plant! The event wouldn't be complete without some professional photography. All of the gorgeous photos you see here were taken by Kirstie Dunston Photography and I was more than a little impressed by how she captured the magic of the morning. I'm so glad that she did so I can share the visuals of everything that words fail to describe accurately. [caption id="attachment_3513" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Kirstie Dunston - How cute is she??[/caption] Please go give each of these bloggers and businesses a visit, a follow, subscribe, whatever you can do to support and show them love today, please do. They are a fantastic group of creatives and I for one, am grateful for their classy presence in Lexington.

Check out the other Local Bloggers who attended this amazing event:

Taylor Camacho | The Stylish Tales of Tay

Kelsey Bauer | KABKitchen

Emily Ho | Authentically Emmie

Sarah Caton | Space, Place & Southern Grace

Courtney Hastings | Kentucky Girl Ramblings

Tif Fannin | Bright on a Budget

Katie Mullen & Anna Towle | Hartley Social

Francis Lee Baker | Lee's Lookbook

Kayla Nord | Kayla Weber Art

Whitney Sheibel | Fabulous in Fayette

Ella Rutledge | Girl Meets Lex

Bronwyn Butler | Basically Bronwyn

Stephanie Hargis | This Lexington Life

Leela Foley | Lex Eats

Emily Riddle | Miss Molly Vintage

Lisa Coe | Candor and Rose

Special thanks to all the local vendors who contributed to our special goodie bags: Shop Local KY, Miss Molly Vintage, AJ Apothecary, Shop Twenty, Morton James, Springhouse Gardens, Whole Foods Lexington, Kentucky Yarnbirds. The Barn at Springhouse is located at 185 W Catnip Hill Road, Nicholasville, KY. Be sure to check them out to book your next event!
Inspiring Summer Porches

If y’all follow along with us on Instagram, you’ve been getting glimpses of my summer vacation — a two-week excursion from Vegas to the Grand Canyon. (*ahem* If you don’t, head over and give us a follow!) I’ve seen so many majestic things on this vacation that are a gorgeous part of creation, and I’ve also been floored by some amazing homes! We passed this beautiful traditional white sprawling ranch in Kanab, UT with a full front porch that reminded me of Kentucky. Of course, we drove past it so quickly that I couldn’t snap a photo, but it was lovely!

Seeing the variations of plants, furniture and decor on these homes has inspired me to makeover our front porch, which of course I can’t do until we make it home later this week. In the meantime, here are some of my favorites! I hope y’all glean some inspiration from these for your own decor, and if you’ve already decorated yours, I’d love to hear how in the comments. I’ll take as much inspiration as I can get!

[caption id="attachment_3463" align="aligncenter" width="800"][/caption]

This front porch just screams happy summers to me! The bike with the basket is such a great focal point, but my personal favorite part is the door with the wreath on it. Isn't it gorgeous!?! Okay, and I love the white stool, too. The way she's mixed large, chunky pots and pieces with smaller ones is so beautiful!!! There's tons of inspiration here for my own front porch!

[caption id="attachment_3464" align="aligncenter" width="681"] Seeking Lavender Lane[/caption]

You might notice a theme here, friends. Rocking chairs and stools in a bright white with maybe a little distressing... yep. It's definitely going on my front porch. I just love the combination of this sign and other wood elements with the rocking chairs. The fact that there's a mini rocking chair just makes it that much sweeter! Stacking crates is a great way to achieve some height and a cute little table with room to decorate the insides or style them as shelves. There are definitely a few things I'll be implementing from this relaxing front porch in my own decor!

[caption id="attachment_3465" align="aligncenter" width="700"] The Painted Chandelier[/caption]

Plant hangers, benches and ferns! Need I say more? Oh, and there's the GORGEOUS robins egg blue color of that bench. Whew. This is a beautiful and totally achievable front porch design for any porch -- small or large!

[caption id="attachment_3466" align="aligncenter" width="564"] The Tattered Pew[/caption]

This sweet friend of ours over at The Tattered Pew has an amazing sense of style! Y'all need to go check her out. This photo came from her Instagram, and I literally can't decide what my favorite part is. The church pew, the olive buckets, the gingham pillows, the blessed pillow... it's all beautiful!!! I've been on the hunt for a church pew ever since stumbling upon her decor, friends!

[caption id="attachment_3467" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Zevy Joy[/caption]

If you're more of a bungalow style decorator, how cozy does this porch look!?! I love the mixture of farmhouse and bungalow in this space! Porch lights are an absolute must, but can we just take a second and gawk at that tiled floor!?!?!?!?! Gracious, it's beautiful! The idea of an outdoor sectional is really appealing to me -- although we don't have the space at the moment. It's pretty much made me sure that we'll need to build a pergola at the next house so that we can achieve this same look. Regardless of whether you have space for a sofa or not, the mix and match pillows, floor lanterns and hanging baskets are all achievable in any size space!

I know, I know. It's going to be fall soon, but why not go ahead and get a head start on decorating so you only have to switch out small elements -- like daisies to mums and floral pillows to plaid? As long as you have a good base to work with, the effort to switch things out seasonally will be minimal! I can't wait to get home and get started on some white benches for our porch and some planter vignettes! I might have to makeover the back porch a bit, too, with some curtains. Who knows?

What are your favorite summer porch ideas? I'd love to know in the comments below! Have a great Wednesday, y'all!

Why I Love A Cozy Home

If you’ve followed along with SLB for any amount of time, you know I mostly post about home decor and DIYs. Have I ever told you why I love a cozy home, though? Sure, aesthetics are great. Yes, I love a good vintage find, and I absolutely want to live in a space that both inspires and relaxes me. There’s one reason that tops them all, though, and I wanted to share that along with some photos of our home in what I’m calling its “transition stage” (because a fixer upper is always in transition stage, right?).

For the longest time, I’ve loved decorating. Most of that probably comes from my grandmother who has loved HGTV from the beginning, has had a subscription to Southern Living Magazine for as long as I can remember and took me on my first trip to a thrift store. I even had a few years of interior design school. The thing is, I couldn’t tell you why I had such an interest outside of a desire to make beautiful spaces until a few years ago.

I don’t really remember what specific event triggered it, but the Lord and I were walking through the fruits of the Spirit in a pretty in depth way. That was a season of some serious character building, my friends, and it was a game-changer for me. That’s a whole other story, but at some point, I realized I wasn’t living out the strengths the Lord had blessed me with. One of those strengths was hospitality.

My husband and I love hosting others, and over time, I have realized that while, yes, I want a beautiful home to the best of my ability because it’s restful and appealing to the eye, more than that I want a cozy home because it is inviting to others. There is a reason I put Acts 2:46 on the wall in our dining room. Because we build community when we eat around a table together, and we were made for community with others. More than just about anything, I want my home to be a respite for my family and friends and folks who really just need a good meal or a comfy place to rest awhile and laugh a lot.

At work, we often talk about “valuing the one” (how your impact on one person can have an impact on so many others), and our homes can really do that! They speak volumes about how we love on others and how we value the one. And, friends, hear me. This doesn’t always mean you have a pristine, clean home. I certainly don’t! Sometimes it’s about having a home that’s messy and being okay with others seeing that. That one person in your life who needs encouragement may need a couch with blankets strewn everywhere and dishes that can be left in the sink so you have time to focus on them. On the flip side, that same coziness that comes from having a clean home may be just what that friend or family member needs to really relax for a bit without thinking about the have to’s on their list.

One of my favorites quotes from The Magnolia Story is, “I always thought that the ‘thriving’ would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good.” As a blogger, I feel like decorating provides me with a connection to others, in the blogging community, in the decor community, and to those who are interested in how some of these things are made/done (especially on a budget!). It’s all really about connecting with folks, making more friends and loving on people. Sometimes, that’s showing that things aren’t always perfect because it’s so relatable. Sometimes, it’s showing the beauty that came out of that imperfection!

I love creating and making things new or upgrading them because it’s such a beautiful picture of redemption. So why do I love a cozy home? Because that’s one of the best ways I can think of to spread joy, build community and love on others, and if hospitality is one of my gifts, who am I to squander it? Y’all, I’m a 32-year-old mama and I’m still chasing after my dreams! Whatever your gifts are, whatever your calling is, whatever ambition you have been given, go after it! Don’t give up.