Simple Pleasures: D.I.Y. Minimalist Coasters

It’s Bethany here on Oak and Earth today, and I am thrilled to be sharing a few of my favorite simple pleasures and a fun D.I.Y!

Life often gets away from us. I was thinking about this a couple weeks ago. I was crawling into bed, and I realized I hadn’t been still for one moment. Sure I had sat down, but my mind was constantly working or running. Not to be too cliché, but I couldn’t think of a time that I had stopped to smell the roses (or the coffee in my case). That’s when I knew I needed set aside part of my week to enjoy some of my favorite simple pleasures. One of those pleasures being a warm cup of coffee.

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I have a cup of coffee every morning (more like a thermos because I’m always drinking it as I run out the door for work). Since this slowing down thing is a work in progress, my husband and I try to reserve a portion of the week to actually sit down and enjoy our coffee!  On Saturday mornings, we often have time to pour our coffee into mugs instead of thermoses. We can prop our feet up, stay in our jammies, and sip and enjoy it instead of guzzling it for energy. I love this little time at home. We also love to do fun activities together! So often we go out on the weekend and hit up one of the local coffee shops—another simple pleasure of mine.

While we are there, we set aside time to be still and do what we love! This includes simple things like writing, sketching, listening to music, or reading my favorite blogging magazine called Artful Blogging. If you’re a blogger and haven’t checked it out, it’s such a wonderful little magazine. A new edition comes out every three months, and it’s something I consider a treat and such an inspirational tool.

Sometimes I’ll bring headphones and listen to my favorite music. It sounds cheesy, but I often find myself getting emotional during this time. My head is filled with my favorite tunes, and all I can see around me is creativity. Our notebooks full of ideas, sketch books full of fun, magazines full of inspiration, my husband zoned in on his designs and sketches, a mocha filling me with warm energy, and people bustling all around me while I am still.

We always cap that time with one of my favorite simple pleasures ever created—conversation. Denver and I talk about our dreams, funny stories we didn’t get to share throughout the week, aspirations, and about our relationship. Most importantly, we laugh. I really enjoy being able to set aside time to go do this with my girlfriends as well. I love when we go out together. We often realize hours have passed by, simply because we’ve been enjoying each others company (shout out to my Oak and Earth girls who totally rock). These coffee dates are by far one of my favorite simple pleasures, and they only ever cost us whatever treat we bought at the coffee shop! I always leave feeling so refreshed and inspired. It’s such a nice time to reboot before more adventuring or going into our busy week ahead.

While I love these simple pleasures and experiences, I also love simple design! Minimalism in the home? Yes, please! On one of these coffee shop dates, I came across a D.I.Y for some simple color blocked wooden coasters. I have seen a lot of D.I.Y. coasters on Pinterest and other forums, but these are so simple that they easily became something I wanted to try for our home. I found this D.I.Y. on a fellow blogger’s site SimplyLivBlog. Olivia has such a cute family and blog, you must check it out (I’ll link more of her contact information at the end of this post). I told Olivia I was going to post my experience if I ended up doing the D.I.Y., and I am so excited to share how they turned out! I’ve already put these to use, and they look adorable in the home –a perfect match for our mugs on those slow and simple Saturday mornings. I am so grateful to Olivia for sharing this idea. I couldn’t believe how quick they are to make. Want to make some? Let’s get started!

What do I need?

  • 4” X 4” wooden squares **Note: You can pick up a 2 pack for $1.99 at Hobby Lobby.
  • Wood Stain **Note: Hobby Lobby has many choices so make them personalized to your home! If you like the color I chose, it’s called “Driftwood”. Don’t forget to use your 40 % off Hobby Lobby coupon on your most expensive item, in this case that’s the wood stain. Just google the Hobby Lobby 40% coupon and have the code pulled up at the cash register.
  • White paint
  • Painter’s tape
  • Old rag
  • Paint brush
  • Design stencil if desired

What do I do?

  • Stain your wood blocks:

I simply followed the wood stain directions on the can. I put one coat on each side and edge. After 1-2 minutes, you wipe off the excess stain with your rag. This is an important step to ensure that you will be able to see the wood grain. If you would like extra protection from water stains, use polyurethane as directed. Keep in mind that this might make your stain darker. I wood stained mine at night, and they were ready to go in the morning. I love the color!

  • Tape off your designs: 

I loved Olivia’s designs, so I went ahead and mostly did those. You can choose any simple design you like. I also got a very simple Aztec stencil from Hobby Lobby, and I used it on just a few of my coasters.

  • Paint: 

To keep with my simple designs, I chose white paint. You can choose whatever color you would like! Paint around your tape. After my main designs dried, I added the stencil detail on a couple of the coasters. I simply taped down the Aztec stencil and painted. This step is only necessary if you want that little detail. Let them dry until the paint is no longer tacky.

  • Enjoy: 

I can’t believe how little time they took. Now that I have all this stain and paint, I can’t wait to make more! Here’s a few pictures of how mine turned out.

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I am so thrilled that I came across Olivia’s D.I.Y! Now I have some minimalist coasters to go along with our simple coffee breaks at home. What are some of your favorite simple pleasures? Let’s keep the discussion going! You can follow me on Instagram (@bethanympoteet), or follow along with our hashtag #OakAndEarthBlog. Want to see more from Olivia? Check her out on Instagram (@simplylivblog), and follow along with her blog at SimplyLivBlog. I am so thankful that she posted this D.I.Y. Thanks so much for stopping in and sharing in some of my favorite simple pleasures. Because of your constant support, Oak and Earth is now updating bi-weekly! We have a little bit of page overhaul coming up with some ideas to make it easier for you to keep up with us. So be sure to stop in and check that out soon.

Cheers,

-Bethany

A Celebration-Norah is TWO

I just had to share a little life update this week, as we have had a lot going on this past weekend! Norah turned TWO  years old Saturday (HOW can this be?!). We gathered around our sweet girl and she was celebrated–and she could feel the love. She felt so special! I was visiting with a close friend yesterday about how our girls (only one month apart) both had a very good grasp of their birthdays this year. They both realized we were celebrating them, and they just loved having everyone they love surround them on their special day. This could not be more true for Norah! She soaked up the whole afternoon of family and friends!! We are so blessed to have so many who love our family and share our celebrations with us.

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If you have been reading along with us for a while, you may recall my last birthday post, here-. I shared a few things I learned over the course of Norah’s first year of life; the ups and downs for me as a mom, and how each stage brings a new season of parenthood. I have to say though, that this second year has probably been my favorite stage so far! I treasure every baby stage and share some sweet memories of Norah’s baby innocence, but man this past year has been a blast! Just like that, she turned into a little girl right before our eyes. It is bittersweet, but it has been a blessing for my husband and I to watch what a sweet, sassy, hilarious, beautiful, little girl Norah has blossomed into.

Though she has become quite the independent little girl–we hear “Norah ‘dood’ it” an awful lot–there is still such a precious innocence about her. Still marveling over the things that we adults would rarely think twice over, causing Jeremy and I to pause and acknowledge these little things every now and again that in her world are new and amazing (like the sound of a “choo choo,” or a little anthill in the yard). She keeps our imaginations running, and I hope that never ends! There is so much about her life that we treasure. We could not be more grateful to God for another year of life with our girl!

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One of the things Norah loves right now is ice cream (i-keem), so naturally, we decided to have an ice cream sundae themed party for her! We supplied the ice cream and a plethora of toppings, and let everyone create their own sundaes; it was a huge hit! She loved helping me prep for the party and only tried to smuggle the M&M’s under the table a few times (ok, ok…if Norah’s honest, it’s really the only thing she was concerned about regarding the party prep). Note to self: next year, hide all party food until the day of party to avoid stolen bags of candy around every corner turned.

She truly loved having all of our friends and family come over and celebrate together, and the ice cream sundaes weren’t a bad way to do that! Though it will likely never happen again, the weather on Norah’s (winter) birthday reached about 73 degrees! We lived it to the fullest with a bounce house, courtesy of a family member, and trampoline for the kiddos, and they hardly stepped foot inside from start to finish! We kept it simple with the food and decorations for her birthday, and made the focus more on who we spent the day with. We loved how it turned out, and Norah adored every minute of her special day.

 

Year two had some exciting and some challenging stages surface. The beginnings of potty training, the development of a very stubborn independence that begins to battle with you over things from which socks to wear, to bedtime, to what foods she’ll eat (today). Learning colors, shapes, numbers, letters, and songs. Building strong bonds with loved ones that are treasured. A quizzical nature that tends to get into mischief, daily. On the go bright and early, and no stopping until we crawl into bed that night. So many days can feel so draining and even mundane at times, though it will always be worth every long day. I am so grateful for a God that allows new mercies in the morning to start each day with renewed energy and grace (He knows I need it)!

A letter to Norah Grace:

Sweet Norah,

How fast your second year flew by, but oh how I treasured every bit of it. Our selfie queen, ice cream lover, little ham. You give us sunshine every day, and I could not be more proud and humbled to be called ‘mom’ by you! I love your gentle, caring spirit, your one of a kind facial expressions, your love of donuts, and your obsession with all things pink and all things princess. My heart swells with joy when you talk to us about how you love Jesus, and how excited you are to go to church every week. I love listening to your sweet singing voice as you perch on a cinder block outside and belt “Let it Go.” I love that you call me ‘mom’ on occasion to get my attention (“Mom. Hey mom. Here you go, mom. Mom, look”). I love that you love to read and be read to! I may be tired more days than not, but I still love that you still need your mama for an occasional extra cuddle, to kiss your booboos, to feed you, and tuck you in at night. I love how you are learning new things every day, and I love the way you pronounce some of your words (to-mah-loo “tomorrow,” oo-ah gace “Norah Grace,” and so on). I love that you ask me to play pretend in your kitchen, and with your million and one baby dolls. I love that you already possess a nurturing spirit, and I pray I can be an example to learn after. And I love that your favorite thing to do is play chase and be tickled! God created a most beautiful “you,” and I pray that you will grow up living and knowing the fullness of Christ’s goodness and love, and that you would chase after His will for you. I am so incredibly thankful for another year God has blessed us with “you”, and I pray He blesses us for many, many more years to come. I love you most forever.

-Your Mama 

 

Someday, there will be a last time Norah plays with her baby dolls. She’ll wake up one morning and “Oo-ah” will be “Norah.” She’ll outgrow her need for cuddles, and one day she won’t need me to prepare her food or tuck her in at night. And someday, she’ll use her cinder block in the yard as her performing stage one last time. As I type these thoughts out, my heart already weeps preparing for this day. No, it won’t all happen at once, and for that I am thankful. It will be gradual, over the course of time, but in my heart I know it is all too fast approaching. Seeing how fast the first two years have flown by, I am saddened at the thought of waking up one morning and being a mom to a teenager, just like that. I pray that in the long days where I am so exhausted and just want a shower or to eat my meal that was overlooked in the busyness of my day, the Lord will slow me down and let me cherish all of these little things about Norah that won’t last forever. That He’ll prompt me to cuddle her a little bit longer before bed time (even though she may be stalling), and to not be frustrated after preparing four different foods before finding one she will eat. This is such a precious time of our life. So challenging, but even more so rewarding. Lord, help me to slow down and live in each day, to soak it all in. Amen.

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Here was our big surprise for everyone at the party!! We feel blessed to be adding a little one in September. Norah is so excited to be a BIG sister!

 

Keep up with Oak and Earth on my Instagram handle (@terapianalto)! We love your feedback and love hearing your stories and getting to build a network with you all. We are so thankful for our readers!!

Love and Peace,

-Tera, xo

Ode to Oatmeal: Scottish Porridge

As I sit here writing this, I can’t believe its been four years since I lived in my beloved Scotland. Studying abroad in the beautiful city of Edinburgh was one of the best experiences of my life and I would highly recommend it to anyone with a taste for adventure. One thing I discovered while living in the windy city, was the joy of Scottish oatmeal, aka, porridge.

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Porridge is quite different from what we in the U.S. typically think of when we picture a bowl of oatmeal. Its thicker, creamier, and has been a staple in the Scots’ diets for centuries. Unlike rolled oats or steel cut oats, Scottish oats are ground via stone mills, giving it a very fine texture. If you’d like more information on the different types of oats available, check out this blog post.

Stateside, the best Scottish oatmeal I’ve found is from Bob’s Red Mill. I pick it up at my local co-op, Ozark Natural Foods for $3.39 (20 oz.), but here you will find monthly coupon offers from Bob’s Red Mill that are good at any retailer. These coupons cover a variety of products, and just FYI, they are a great source for gluten-free options!

So how do you make porridge? You can prepare it via stovetop or microwave and its very simple!

Stovetop:

Bring 3 cups water and 1/4 tsp. salt to a boil. Slowly stir in 1 cup Scottish Oatmeal, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes. Makes 4 hearty servings.

Microwave:

Combine 1/4 cup Scottish Oatmeal, 3/4 cup water and a pinch of salt. Stir well. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes. Makes 1 serving.

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I love porridge because its fast, filling, and delicious. There are also lots of ways to top it off! Personally, I like to go with the traditional pat of butter, spoonful of brown sugar, and dash of cream. For the health nut, I would suggest Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and honey. Other tasty options include (but are not limited to) granola, chia seeds, flaxseed, cardamom, agave nectar, milk, pistachios, cinnamon, and chopped dates!

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I hope you’ll try it, but if porridge just doesn’t do it for you, don’t rule Scottish oats out for your baking needs! For another authentic Scottish experience, try these Scottish Oatcakes.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading! Please feel free to comment below and share your own porridge/Scottish experiences with us, or even tell us what you’d like us to write about. We love hearing your feedback and interacting with our readers!

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Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland, taken by the lovely Becca Cahan

As always, live healthy and love hard!

-Shelby

 

Why "I love you" Isn't Always Enough

Hello, dear readers. It’s Bethany here on the blog today, and I am so excited to be writing again! I really enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with my husband this weekend. He woke me up by bringing me donuts and a dozen beautiful roses. Donuts? Don’t mind if I do. We spent most of the day sitting over coffee and reminiscing on the six years we have shared together. What a special time!

With Valentine’s Day wrapping up, I found myself reflecting on the complexities of one of the most powerful feelings I have ever experienced—love. I mean think about how many things we say we love. I love Flaming Hot Cheetos, I love this song, I love Netflix. This feeling is so complex, that the Greek have several versions of the word reaching from sexual passion, to love for deep friendship, to longstanding love. I couldn’t find a Greek word for the love of Netflix, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

If love is so prevalent, why are marriages ending every day? Have you ever seen a marriage end and upon asking why, they say “love isn’t always enough.” You can love a person and your relationship or marriage can still end. Maybe it’s not love that keeps a marriage going, but instead, two people understanding and practicing the characteristics of love. If you’re happily married, single, in a long term relationship, divorced, widowed, or not even looking, don’t write this off as something to only be attributed to marriage. No matter what season of life you’re in, how to choose love is something to consider learning.

1 Corinthians 13:4-13  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This is a highly referenced quote about what love really looks like when it’s broken down and put into practice. Whether you’re a follower of Christ, or not, these characteristics of love are undoubtedly admirable. I always end up feeling a little guilty after reading this scripture. We can agree to this all day long, but practicing this is so challenging.

We are humans, and when you tell me love “is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”, I can think of ten ways just this week that I have not kept that word, despite loving my husband more than words can express. When you argue in marriages, it’s easy to hurl wrongs at your spouse. Wrongs that you’ve supposedly forgiven them for. I feel like the words “you always” or “you never” tend to come out. It’s like you keep these phrases and record of wrongs just sitting in your pocket like ammunition. I know I’ve been there. In reality, it’s hard to choose to to keep no record of wrongs. In these types of situations, you have the choice to forgive, or to keep record of wrongs even after the behavior has changed. That’s why I believe that love is more than a feeling. Especially in marriage, it’s an action…a choice.

What does choosing love look like in a marriage?

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I am just one person in one marriage, and I want to grow as well. The only way to do that was to gather many opinions. What do other people consider the basis for a successful marriage? Did they believe in choosing love as well? After reading their responses, I believe they do. From friends, to family members, to acquaintances, I was blown away by the significance of what people shared with me when they were asked to complete the following task:

Choose one word that you believe allows a marriage to last “until death do us part.”

↔   C  O  M  M  I  T  T  M  E  N  T   ↔

“If you truly commit to forever than you stick to it. In times when you are in love you stay committed. In times when you don’t like each other you stay committed. There is no other choice than staying committed to your oath. And that commitment creates trust and love”. – Age 51, Married

↔   C   O   M   M   U   N   I   C   A   T   E   ↔

“The hard part about marriage is that we already have certain expectations in mind, but our spouse is not a mind reader. Communication allows you to express expectations and needs, set goals together, and discuss issues as they arise so they don’t grow and fester.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   S   E   L   F   L   E   S  S   N   E   S   S   ↔

“I could say communication or loyalty is most important, but it all really comes down to being selfless. Because within those character traits, the partner MUST be selfless. Must put the other first in every situation. If you’re doing that, and loving with all you have, you won’t fail”-Age 24, Married 1+ years

“If both people are completely selfless, considering the needs/desires of your partner before yours, then there will be no room for selfishness. Marriage breaks down because we start caring more about what we aren’t getting or what we want more than our spouse. Then we start linking for me instead of us and that is a slippery slope.” –Age 28, Married 7+ years

↔   S   A   C   R   I   F   I   C   E  ↔

“Dying to self every day is something he and I have to make a conscious choice to do. It’s putting each other’s needs in front of our own. Each choosing to give 100% daily, even on the hardest days. That’s why sacrifice is my word.”-Age 24, Married almost 4 years

↔   F   A   I   T   H   ↔

“Faith in Jesus that in good and bad times that He will bring you closer to each other and Him. Faith that God picked you two to support and love one another forever.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   P   A   T   I   E   N   C   E   ↔

“It’s something I’m not good with but I want to be! I heard a story one time about this little old couple who had been married for like 60 or 70 years, and when they asked how they made it work, the man wrote on a piece of paper front and back as many times as he could fit the word ‘patience’. I remember thinking when I heard that story- that is so true!”-Age 24, In a Relationship

↔   L   U   C   K   Y   ↔

“In my opinion, people want love so badly that they start to convince themselves that they’re in love, and often get married. Those marriages fail. It takes true love to stay devoted to someone for a lifetime. Those that find it are lucky.”-Age 27

↔   O   N   E   N   E   S   S   ↔

“Oneness isn’t two halves joining together; it’s two wholes morphing into one undivided being. You become an unbreakable force that nothing can stand between. When you give it all, you get it all. Focusing on what makes us a successful whole rather than two happy halves is important.” -Age 26, Engaged

↔   H   O   N   O   R   ↔

“To honor is to show the utmost respect to.”-Age 25

↔   L  A  U  G  H  T  E  R   ↔

“I always think that the amount of laughter in a relationship tells a lot about its state. Never stop finding reasons to laugh with one another. Laughter exudes joy, fun, understanding, and healing.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   C   H   R   I   S   T   ↔

“Always trying to keep Christ at the center of our relationship has only allowed us to love each other that much more. Because of this, I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time my wife and I fought, but I can tell you the last time we’ve laughed together – this morning.” – Age 26, Married 2+ years

“If two people are wholeheartedly serving Christ, serving each other will fall into place and they will progress in their marriage together after God’s own heart.” –Age 24, Married 2+ years

What I love most about asking others is how they’re all coming up with this word based upon different life experiences and backgrounds. Many of their answers can be related back to the actions expressed within the 1st Corinthians reference. Words are tools. Imagine what would happen if we put these words to work in everyday life. How many relationships would be benefited?

Consider the COMMITTMENT you have made when you start to question your oath. Choose to COMMUINICATE instead of icing one another out when conflict arises. Choose to SACRIFICE your own selfish ways. Choose to be SELFLESS when you know your spouse needs those small wins throughout the day. Choose to have FAITH that God can rebuild relationships even after great hardship. When you could easily let anger control you, choose to be PATIENT (speaking for myself here, that  means in the car too). When it gets hard to be patient, choose to remember that you are LUCKY and blessed to have one another. Choose to stand as ONE when you and your spouse are tested. In doing so, you show that you are choosing to HONOR and respect him/her. Choose to share in LAUGHTER when pain is too great to carry on alone in sadness. Choose CHRIST to be at the center. From there, all of these other choices become much easier, and even habitual.

Why is saying “I love you” not always enough? It is if you equip the word love with the weight it deserves. When both people commit to do love instead of just feel love, that’s when a marriage lasts.

Some people come from broken marriages, broken homes, or have experienced painful relationships. Whatever your season in life is, I encourage you to apply these choices in any way you can find. Apply them to your marriage, your future marriage, or use them as a way to understand a broken marriage so that you’re able to move forward. If you haven’t already, you should check out this short book HERE, to find your top love languages! Denver and I did this before we got married, and it has helped us understand how we each  communicate love. Even if you consider your marriage to be a successful and happy one as I do with mine, there is always work to be done. Let this be a wonderful reminder from the mouths of many!

I really enjoyed having others contribute to this project, so thank you so much for those who participated and for those reading this week. If you have an questions, comments, or suggestions, let’s keep the conversation going! Leave a comment below, or find me on social media @BethanyMPoteet. As always, you can hashtag your experiences with #OakAndEarthBlog. We are starting to blog more frequently, so look for some exciting updates in the future. Have a wonderful week!

Thank you, friends.

-Bethany

Making a Home, Part 1- Buying

Buying a house can be such a fun, exciting, scary, hard, lengthy process! As some of you already know, my husband and I purchased our first home together a few months ago. The process of buying a house was completely new to us, and there are several things that we learned (good and bad) over the course of the few months we searched. I’ve decided to make a mini series of what I am calling Making a Home, so that I can post little snippets of our long list of to-dos, and projects that we endeavor in over the course of time. Naturally, for “Part 1,” I thought I would take it back a few months to share some of my experiences in the home buying world, and things I have learned along the way!

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Expectations vs. Reality

Months (even years) before my husband and I purchased our house, I dreamt of what our house would be like. Pinterest helped me formulate my perfect dream home, complete with the craftsman build on the outside with the white shudders offsetting the pretty gray siding, and my little imaginary mud room on the inside. I was so excited to plan these things out and imagine our family living in our quaint little craftsman suburb! Let me tell ya, I make a darn dreamy Pinterest house.

When it came closer to the home search, we started browsing Zillow and a few other real estate websites. Quickly, very quickly, the reality of a 25 year old couple living on one income’s budget hit us pretty hard as we realized: we ain’t gettin’ no mud room. As a matter of fact, we weren’t getting a mud room, OR the pretty gray and white craftsman build, for a couple of reasons. One being, what is on the market when you are ready to buy greatly determines what kind of house(s) you can purchase (i.e. no craftsman houses for sale, no craftsman house for you). Secondly, our first time home buyers’ budget could not accommodate such fine splendor of the custom cabinetry and beautiful built-ins. No, no. We were looking at the houses with pink shag carpet and hunter green sinks, and trying to imagine what they would look like if we bought some big area rugs and slapped ’em down on top. I say this all light heartedly, because, if you are in the same season of life as we are (20 somethings, figuring life out, living on a prayer), then the first reality of home buying I’d invite you to join in sharing is this: It will NOT be your dream home. This was the saddest reality slap in the face for me, and quickly we began to think more realistically. After we came to terms with what our budget would buy, the search became easier, because we quit looking at the heart breakingly good looking and expensive houses that put us into a pity party, and began searching for what could become our home, with a little bit of tlc.

Another thing we learned about buying a house, is that it takes time! From start to finish, we were in the process of home buying for 3 or 4 months. Saying that now, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but when we first decided to buy, we were ready right then and there! We expected finding and buying to be a much faster endeavor, but we realized there is a waiting period in every step of the process. Talking loans with the banks (sidenote: I’d highly recommend shopping around different banks for the lowest interest rates, and what they can offer you), searching on the web for houses you would like to see, walking through some of these houses, putting an offer in, going back and forth between your real estate agent and the seller’s agent on said offer, and even closing on a home. By the time we had gone through all of these steps, a few months had flown by! With this process being brand new to us, we were not prepared for all of the waiting periods. Another important thing to remember is: it’s ok to wait if the right house isn’t out there for you yet! You will regret it in the long run if with all of your eagerness you jump into a house simply because it’s for sale and in your price range. Make sure it’s something you could love! When you buy it, its yours…the reality still hits me some days that this house is all ours, and not to be afraid to put some big ol’ nail holes in the walls, and to fix the fan on our back porch, and to replace that dang ugly dining area light fixture (my list goes on, but I’ll spare you). Being a home owner is a lot of responsibility, so be sure you love what you buy and if not, be okay to wait for one that you do!

Location is another big part of buying your first (and every other) house. We spent the first month and a half debating on where we wanted to be! I wanted to be in my hometown that is adorable and small, and comfortable. My husband wanted to be in his hometown, in which I pictured smelling manure and chicken plants. What helped us decide was sitting down one evening and making a list of where we go the most often; work, church, shopping, eating out, etc. After seeing this list, we realized my hometown, though I may still be a tad bitter about it, was just not practical. My expectations were to be in a small town with a downtown, historical feel, but reality was that our family needed something more central to our daily schedule! We settled on the edge of his hometown and about a 5 minute drive to one of our largest cities in NWA (which was a great compromise for me, because I spend a lot of time here). And so far, to my surprise and delight, I smell no cow manure and no chicken plant! Win-win. Other things to consider and ask yourselves with location in mind are: What school district would we like to be in? What is the neighborhood like? What are the near-by homes selling for? What is the neighborhood next to?

All of these questions are some that we hadn’t even considered until our real estate agent started asking us. Especially if you will consider your first home as your starter home and not your forever home, like we do, these factors can add value to your home or take away value, so take time to think about these things and be selective!

Before we totally dove into the home buying process, we hadn’t realized the extra costs, aside from the actual house. Most loans require a down payment of some degree (3-5% for first time home buyers normally). On top of this, there is usually a fee of a couple thousand dollars to even take out the loan. When we learned these things, we thought it was crazy talk! Why they takin’ all our money?! Most loans also have closing fees, for the real estate part and the title ownership part. This can also somewhat determine what price range you can afford, as you don’t totally want to wipe out all of your hard earned savings (that’s a lot of pb&j’s and canned bean dinners over the years in order to save back a few bucks a month-some of you know what I’m talkin’ about). After doing some number crunching, we did a lot of research and found a route that works best for us. Be aware of the reality of financial obligations of buying a house, as there is a lot to it aside from the sale price on the house! Do your research and talk to a few loan officers to see what works best for you, and it doesn’t hurt to compare rates and fees that different banks will apply!

Lastly, after we purchased our home and moved in, we realized there were a lot of blank walls and some empty square footage that made our house feel bare. And to be honest, it’s been about three months of living here and we’re still there! What we have learned in this stage, is to allow your house to slowly be filled with the right pieces, and the right touches. You don’t have to rush out to hobby lobby for that 40% off coupon just because you have a space on your wall that is bare! Part of making a house a home is imagining and creating a space that is uniquely yours…that can’t be done overnight! Don’t be afraid of a little project or two, whether big or small. The time and love invested into your spaces will make a special bond in your house for your whole family. Even if it’s not your forever home, or your dream home, it can still be your special home! I am so excited to make plans for our kitchen, and some other spaces in our home that will truly make it feel like ours. Granted, it may be a ways down the road, it’s fun to dream and plan, and I’m looking forward to sharing our home with you over the course of the next several months!

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Look at this beautiful space! All of my pics in this post are from this site. They have some great inspiration!

 

I hope my insight on first time home buying was able to encourage some of you who are thinking about or starting out in this journey! Even though our first house may not be what we see for our family long term, a house is made a home by the people you invite into it, and the memories shared there. I am excited to share some of our memories in our new house with you! Keep up with me and Oak and Earth happenings by following me on Instagram (@terapianalto). We love to hear your feedback, advice, stories and love getting to know you! If you share any O&E experiences, please hashtag #oakandearthblog so we can share it with you!

Peace and Love-

Tera, xo

On Grief

Grief. It touches all of us at some point.

I recently experienced the first loss of a grandparent. My Granny, Alice Ann Briley. A day after she passed, one of my friends and co-workers, Stacy, was killed in a car accident. She was 30 years old. Needless to say, it was a lot to handle at once. While I realize I was fortunate to have all four of my grandparents in my life as long as I have, the realization does nothing to lessen the pain of the loss. Although I know Stacy and my Granny are in heaven with Jesus, it still hurts. I do not pretend to be an expert on any state of the mind, but I wanted to share a bit about what my experience with these losses, this grief, has been, even if only for my own sake. A life-long journal keeper, I’ve always felt that writing things out does wonders for the soul, so here I am. Writing.

In November, 2015 Granny suffered a major stroke. Although she was at home with my Papaw when it happened and received immediate medical attention, the stroke did permanent damage. Her health began to rapidly decline, and although she fought very hard, it was a battle she could not win. She never went home again. She was admitted to hospice on January 7th, exactly one month after her 82nd birthday. I was able to be with her almost every day from then until she passed on January 20th, and it was one of the most awful experiences of my life. Watching someone in the process of dying is a horrible thing. There is nothing you can really do. Keep them “comfortable”, tell them you love them, and pray God will take their suffering away.

I wrote down some thoughts while I sat with her:

January 14

I never could have imagined how it would feel to be here. Sitting by my Granny’s bedside in the hospice ward. It feels so completely unreal and at the same time the reality of it presses hard against my heart. How could there be a world without my Granny in it? How is it that I might never hear her voice again, in that thick southern drawl? How is it possible that she won’t be there on the day I get married? Or have children? I need her to teach them the names of all the flowers and trees, like she taught me. How can my Papaw go on without her beside him, as she has been for the past 62 years?

My Granny is a remarkable woman.. as Papaw says, ‘one of God’s best workers’. So why would God want to take her home to be with him when there are so many of us here who need her so desperately? I am comforted by something my aunt told me last night, as I sat curled in a ball by the fire thinking about my sweet grandmother: ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Godly ones)’. I may not understand the reasoning, but I take comfort that no death is really an accident. I know Granny will go home to be with her Lord, but that doesn’t make her passing hurt any less for me and for all of her loved ones.

I read her a devotion today and I could barely get through it. My vision kept blurring and my voice kept getting choked up. It was about rest and trusting God and how He is always with us… it seemed written for her in this moment.

January 18

Every day has been worse for Granny and for us. I’ve taken off work again tomorrow. It’s the worst kind of waiting game. I can’t comprehend why she can’t either be healed or just go home to be with Jesus. It’s horrible. It breaks my heart. I wish she could comfort me. Tell me she will be fine. That we will go on our annual camping trip this summer, and have coffee together like we have a million times before.

The ward is crowded with hurting families. I see others like me, who come out in the hall and cry and try to pull themselves together – to be strong. There are so many hurting people all around us in this life that we never even notice.

January 20

Granny passed at 7:42 this morning. Her stroke happened on November 12, so she was in the hospital for a little over two months. My first thought was relief. She isn’t suffering anymore. She’s home with Jesus and her son and her parents. She’s in glory. My second thought was despair. She’s gone. Never to call me again. Never to tell me she loves me. Never to take us camping. Never to make coffee, or her amazing sourdough rolls. She will never see my children. She won’t be at my wedding. My family is reeling… Granny was the cornerstone – the center – the anchor. I miss her. I want to talk to her. To hear her voice telling me it’s going to be alright. Telling me anything really.. I wish none of this had ever happened. How can life go on without her? It doesn’t feel real. I feel like she will call me tomorrow. But she won’t. And she never will again.

Have you ever read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis? Lewis is my favorite author. In my childhood he introduced me to Narnia. In college helped me understand my faith via Mere Christianity and many other wonderful writings. Now, in my mid-20s, I am revisiting many of my favorite quotes from A Grief Observed. I highly recommend reading it to anyone going through any type of loss. Lewis wrote, “We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” It never feels how you think it will feel. You never react how you think you will react.

I stood in the snow on Saturday, the 23rd of January, said goodbye to my Granny, and felt nothing but thankfulness for her life and sorrow for her death.

Its been a week and a half now, and the pain hits me at unexpected times. In the middle of a shift at work. As I wait for sleep to come each night. In photographs. In the sunset. You hope people will notice and you hope they won’t. You dread talking about it, yet you feel the need to. You imagine all the might-have-beens.

Photo Jan 31, 5 46 02 PM

Grief experts, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler wrote, “You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.” Whether it be death, divorce, or a breakup, you will be affected.

Grief is a complex thing. Everyone experiences it differently. You can’t say to someone who is grieving, ‘I know how you feel,’ because you don’t. I’ve noticed two things I personally do to cope. I keep myself busy, and I look for God. I don’t want to be left alone with my thoughts that run wild and unchecked. I cling to scriptural promises; two in particular:

“The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” – Isaiah 57:1-2

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

There are so many verses I love that have helped me through hard times in my life, but those are two of my favorites. Again, I am reminded of a C.S. Lewis quote, this time in The Magician’s Nephew. He wrote, ” ‘But please, please – won’t you – can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?’ Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. ‘My son, my son,’ said Aslan. ‘I know. Grief is great.’ ”

As I sit here typing this, I remember something my uncle shared at the funeral; a list Granny wrote of things she loved. I’d like to share a few of them with you:

  • Gardenias
  • Lilacs
  • Roses
  • Honeysuckle
  • Camping
  • Shiloh/Heber Springs
  • Sunrises and Sunsets
  • My babies and grandkids and great grandkids faces
  • Rainbows
  • The smell of rain and also leaves burning
  • Whippoorwills and Turtle Doves calls
  • Jar Flys
  • Rom. 8:1-2, Isaiah 43:1, and Isaiah 41:13

Granny was a woman of God. She impacted so many throughout her lifetime, including me. I was blessed to have her for a grandmother for almost 25 years. I have memories I will always treasure and she taught me so much that I will pass down to my children and my children’s children. I can hear her voice in my head, saying my name, lifted in song, laughing – always laughing. The last thing she said to me was she loved me… I don’t have any doubt in my mind about how much she truly did. I miss her so much, and I would give just about anything for one more cup of coffee with her.

-Shelby

Photo Jan 17, 9 01 22 AM

Photography by Shelby Briley and Jeff Rose