Holiday Travel and Family Projects
I cannot believe we are only one full day away from entering into a brand New Year - knowing 2016 will be a year with fresh ideas, new beginnings, and a calendar full of travel to furniture markets, antique shows, and vacations with our family and friends. Looking back over the last few months (a lot has happened!) as we were able to celebrate our (delayed) honeymoon in St. Thomas in October, hitting the ground running with design projects leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's always the balancing act of finding the perfect gifts for family, decorating client houses for Christmas, cramming in as many holiday parties as possible, while finishing up custom design work for clients to enjoy over the holidays with their families.
This year during the holiday was much different for us - in a great way - as we were able to spend 10 days in Mississippi, both during Thanksgiving and Christmas - much more time than we have had the freedom to do since we were married. Our usual first stop is our family cabin in Thomastown, Mississippi. It's been over 20 years since dad bought over a 100 acres of land - not knowing then all that the place would become to him, as well as everyone else! It seems like yesterday that mom, Emily, and I would visit on the weekends (just a 45 minute drive from our home in Brandon, Mississsippi) roasting s'mores, riding four-wheelers, and sleeping in a motor home under a large oak as dad was clearing land for a 3 acre lake and future log cabin. The place has nostalgia just as you drive through its gates and over the hill to the view of the lake. So many memories of cousins catching catfish on trot lines, running into each other when driving too fast on four-wheelers, and long nights of laughter and putting together puzzles until we all would reside up to the loft in one of the many iron beds available.
This year was a big one, and dad softly, but competitively jokes about me starting my business just 3 months earlier than he started his 32 years ago. And, if dad were ever to read my blog, I would more than likely be ordered to take down the picture below, but I love this picture of him. It captures in my eyes, my dad's candid personality as well as his short temper (or lack of patience for better words) for annoying things - like gnats for instance, or ill mannered children!
This Christmas, we were fortunate to be able to celebrate my dad coming into retirement, for the "first" time we joke, as we know he is busy planning for his next big gig. Over the past 8 - 9 months, it is scary how much I have realized how similar we are to each other - although my dad is much more tuned into other people's needs and more often than not, has helped numerous friends and family members throughout the year start their own businesses, helped them through college, or built them a home or purchased a vehicle. My sister, Emily, helped pull our surprise party together for dad with over a hundred 4" x 4" pictures of different memories and trips with him throughout the year. Dad's often uses the term "Shut Down". And if we ask him a question, he may just respond with, "I don't know, I am shut down". So now we kid - and with too much of the kidding - he fires back with "Im just getting started".
I'm always asking dad what project he has going on when we talk on the phone, and as usual, he is sawing lumber for a new dining table or forming concrete for new countertops. Below is the new addition to the cabin that he "threw up" shortly after Houston and I married. We have already enjoyed numerous hours on this porch shooting new rifles, boiling shrimp, telling jokes, or the best - listening to the absolute silence. We've been throwing around the idea and collaborating on adding an outdoor fireplace on the end overlooking the lake, without obstructing much of the view.
I'll have to give Houston credit as he came across the image below of a stucco fireplace floating like it would off the side of the porch. Whether it be stucco or brick, the lightness and smooth lines work great with the existing look and concept for the cabin. I can see it now, and can not wait to add some real logs and large lanterns! We have the ferns and a beautiful space already built, so we are almost there!
Like most Christmas traditions, we put up the tree after our Thanksgiving meal (and naps), hauling the tree from the barn to the cabin using a golf cart or mule. My amazing step-mom, Margaret is a teacher by trade, but a designer by talent. Always rearranging and collecting appropriate ornaments for the cabin Christmas tree, such as squirrels, acorns, country santas, and antique toy trucks. One of my favorite memories of Margaret is when she claimed one of the main reasons she loved my daddy, is he allows her to hammer nails in the wood all over the cabin - which makes me laugh every time I think of it, as I can seriously relate!
"And the lights were all hung from the antlers with care, knowing St. Nick soon would be there!'
If I had a realistic Christmas wish, it would be that we could have a dog. Maybe not Mollie - below - since she is quite fond of my dad and good for nothing, but a shop dog for the office. One of our goals in 2016 is to find a bigger place in Old Town that has an accessible yard and extra bedroom for guests - and an office of course! Sweet Mollie - we aren't even sure what kind of dog she is, except that she has just enough of a nose to get her into trouble - (snakes, moles, and rats!). I miss Mo but so grateful that when I moved to DC, that dad was able to take her and make her a country/city dog.
After a wonderful visit in Thomastown, we headed straight to Starkville, Mississippi to enjoy 5 days with Houston's family. During Thanksgiving, we decided to take an antique rug - over 100 years old - and convert it into a rug ottoman for the Sitting Room. Regardless of its wear and tear, the little rug would create red wool fuzz all over the floor! The idea of the rug ottoman allowed us to keep a beautiful heirloom piece in the space, but also gave opportunity for a larger, more comfortable/durable rug for all the little babies we have crawling around and the large amount of traffic flow in and out of the kitchen.
If anyone knows my very talented father-in-law Fred, they know he works quick and doesn't like to be still! We took off to his shop down the hill from the house and started the frame for the ottoman. Note: I say "We", however, I stood there and supervised, actually learning quite a bit on taking measurements and allowing for different thickness depending on the wood Fred had lying around to use. So much fun, and a great memory seeing Houston and his brother Allen, build an ottoman for their mom together.
By the time we got to Mississippi for Christmas, the ottoman was done, and the new rug we ordered for Houston's mom for Christmas had also arrived! The rug ottoman is too cool, and so practical for sitting on the sofa and propping up your feet, also providing extra seating when 11 of us try to cram in to this one room and wait for the next meal!
It's hard not to feel nostalgic or want to post some cheesy quote about the start to a New Year, but I am truly thrilled. There's not much I would do differently this past year, but a New Year sparks new ideas, areas to improve, and focusing our time and efforts on our values such as family and our own personal growth. Wishing you and yours an amazing start to the New Year! Hoping it brings you fresh starts, thrilling ideas, and a wild, eventful ride that will be hard to forget!