house dreamin'

Hope you enjoyed yesterday's second tour [non-culinary] around Columbia. Are you planning your visit yet? Are you tired of me demanding you come visit?

So I may not be able to stop thinking about the nesting/decorating that is to come when we move into this little house of ours. I've even transitioned from a "Nesting Dreams" board to a "Realistic House Planning" board on Pinterest. Because, let's be honest, most of those magazine-worthy photos are exactly how they were originally categorized: dreams. Also, my name is Meagan and I am an over-pinner. There. I said it.

And even though I am an over-pinner, I sometimes feel a little bit of bitterness towards the beloved Pinterest. Mainly in those moments that the inspiration excitement turns into fogged-out inspiration overload which leads to a total personal breakdown where I sit rocking back and forth in a dark corner for hours asking myself if I really do like chevron prints or are all the pins just getting to me.

That's not totally true. I don't normally rock back and forth.

This is an effort to filter through all of that inspiration and excavate my true taste in the world of interiors [which comes from growing up surrounded by estate sale finds and pink roses printed on something in every room].

[via, via, aaaad via]

And I don't think I'm a fan of the basic chevron print. See how deep I can be sometimes? Know thyself, people.


our first columbia experience [part two]

Because we had a successful Friday afternoon, we got play on Saturday! Well, half of Saturday. It seems like Dustin hasn't slept in since...our honeymoon. So Saturday morning was a no-alarms-allowed kind of day. I woke up at 8. I'm looking at you, full time job. We didn't leave the room until 1 PM for two reasons:

Good reasons, don't you think?

After our overly-portioned brunch we waddled gracefully strolled around one of my favorite places - a used book store. Old brick walls filled with quirky used books and quirky people.

I've always believed that Louisiana has the most beautiful capitol building. I could possibly be biased because I work there. And South Carolina's capitol could possibly rival it.

We may have driven back to the house and peered in the windows. Just one more time. Then I told it we'd see it in about a month. We both cried a little. Me and the house - not me and Dustin. Actually, no one cried.

From the house we drove D's daily commute to the neighboring town of Orangeburg. What is another reason I'm Albamarle's biggest fan? They have lots of signs surrounding the entrance to the offices and plant which talk about safety. I especially liked the one that was filled with pictures of all the employees' children which said "a few hundred reasons why safety is our top priority." You think it's cheesy? You're right. And I love cheesy.

Orangeburg is a little bit of a diamond in the rough. Its best redeeming quality? The fact that it has the Festival of Roses and this permanent garden:

Are you still breathing? I wasn't either.

Next to the garden is a beautiful black river, wilderness walkway, and sensory garden. I felt all outdoorsy and stuff. Note the word "felt." I'm trying my best for my outside-loving husband.

The rest of the day was filled with more Garmin-following and even more sight seeing from the front seat.

I think we're going to like it there.

[Time to start planning your visit.]


our first columbia experiance [part one]

Thank you for all your support, encouragement, and readership yesterday. We appreciate your kind words!

One day, we might not lose all inhibition on road trips when it comes to what we eat. But we'll just file that away as a maybe.

From what we've seen/tasted so far, I'm certainly a fan of low country eats. Will it replace Cajun cooking and Southern classics in my food heart? Absolutely not. Good thing there's always room for more. In my food heart - not my stomach. Do you have a food heart? Should I be worried about myself?

We'll have to go back to Cantina 76 to negate our bad memories of my super stressed out self since this was a mid-search stop. And I certainly don't mind going back for more tacos. I might even get the exact same thing - chicken pesto, BBQ brisket, and Peruvian shrimp. All handmade and fresh ingredients. Yum-O!

After the rent-house-finding adventure, we celebrated over dinner at Mr. Friendly's in the heart of Five Points. It is a perfectly picturesque restaurant whose menu dons wonderfully creative dishes made from local ingredients. No, it could not have been more charming. And it was cool and crowded and dim which means I couldn't bring myself to haul out the camera. You'll have to imagine Dustin's blackened chicken over grits with tasso gravy. Aaand my pork loin with blackberry ketchup, roasted garlic potatoes, and sauteed veggies. A-maz-ing. When you come visit, we'll go here.

Because of our four o'clock wake up call the morning before, we slept and slept and slept on Saturday morning. And thanks to dinner the night before, breakfast wasn't even necessary. We found ourselves at Cafe Strudel who resides in a character-filled old house with room upon room of mix matched tables and chairs and whose menu includes a Southern Living featured dish which they call "hangover hashbrowns." Since you can get breakfast all day long, D got a full order. Me? A BLT with friend green tomatoes and pimento cheese. Yum yumm absolutely yummy yum yum. I wish I had some right now. But it's a good thing I don't. The one problem with this place is the huge case of beautiful cakes staring at you when you first walk into their buzzing entryway. Was it the biggest piece of cake I've ever seen? Yes. Was it delicious? Yes. Did we eat it all? You'll never know. When you come visit, we'll go here too.

After that, food didn't seem necessary the rest of the day. After lots of walking, we took a late night run to the Publix [!!!] nearest our future house [which is housed in a beautifully restored red brick factory] and had a little picnic on the hotel bed. But very small. Promise.

Other than that, my thoughtful hubs and the wonderful Doubletree provided road trip snacks. Sugar-free and sugar-full balances out, right?

Ok. That's it. I'm full just from writing it. Were you counting the calories? If so, don't tell me. And just consider this another reason to come visit us!


house details

This post could possibly be a long one. Know that it is not to induce any type of drama or excitement and/or to bore you to tears. Friday was a day full of lots of drive time, plenty of feelings [both excitement and stress], and immediate needs being met by a God who provides in a perfectly detailed way. So that you know those sovereign details, this post could possibly be a long one. This is your one and only warning.

As you may know, I like to plan. Since we've known about this move of ours, I've been a property-management-website-and-craigslist-aholic. Are there meetings for that? If so, I should be there every single day. I also am now fully capable of making my millions [I don't have a millions-making plan] by writing a book on how to tackle finding a rent house. Actually, I might be better at what not to do. Yes, that is true.

As we left Montgomery at four o'clock on Friday morning [thanks to Hotel Moll&Bran], I thumbed through the manila-bound print outs I made of each of our rent house possibilities which included any and all details I could squeeze out of the real estate websites. Actually, I think I slept for half an hour [or maybe two hours] that morning. But that's beside the point. In my hand, I thought I had all of our options with one of those being the solution to our home needs. Yes - I though I had the solution. Why? Because of what I thought were hours upon hours of tedious research and planning. And planning to very best of my ability. Honestly, its worked for me before.

When we were about 45 minutes outside of Columbia, I got a call from who we will call Rent House Rep #1. He told me our first option [and probably our first choice] had been rented just that morning. No big deal. Four more options to go. And we will take my very wise big sis' advice and get a paper when we get there. Nothing to worry about.

Since we got to Columbia earlier than planned and had some extra time due to our rental being rented, we plugged the address of our other options into the Garmin. Ok, I had already saved them in the favorites menu. But you know what I mean. We eventually found our way to each and every rent house. All dumps. I'm not saying we need some high quality home. Not even. But we would like our walls intact. Though I did not laugh at the time, it is hilarious now that one option which appeared to be a cute little white bungalow was actually a nice shade of dirty yellow now.

At this point, we canceled our afternoon appointments at 1:30, 2:15, 3:00 and the last one at 10 AM the next morning. Enter freaking-out-Meagan. Good thing D has been calm for the vast majority of his life including that afternoon. It is a good good thing.

I had also made a list of restaurants from Design*Sponge's Columbia City Guide. Maybe I printed out the menus, locations and operating hours also. So we chose Cantina76 because it was close and because Mexican is good comfort food. We shoved down some really awesome tacos [more on that later] while circling options in a newspaper we had never referenced, searched fervently on the seemingly ancient and slow-moving iPhone, and finding it really hard to breath [just me].

After more unsuccessful phone calls and pure confusion, we found our way to the Chick-fil-A parking lot to totally steal their wifi. Desperate times call for desperate measures. My heart and D's words were constantly reminding me that the Lord had a plan for this trip and for how He wanted our life in Columbia to begin whether or not it was our ideal situation. And I wish I could say that my actions and attitude reflected those resounding words. But my strung-out, verge-of-tears self was constantly reminding Dustin that most property management offices were closing in three hours and would not be open tomorrow all while violently shaking my hand palm-up towards the Mazda's dashboard clock [and I'm pretty sure smoke was coming out of my ears too]. That wouldn't be enough time to make an appointment, see a house, apply, get approved by a gazillion different people, and sign a lease. The realistic/planner side of me had taken control. And the realistic/planner side knew that we wouldn't be able to view any more properties that day, we wouldn't find a place to live that trip, we'd have a miserable first Saturday in our new hometown, and it would be a stressful week attempting to find another time to get to SC to impossibly find a home in the middle of our ever-so insane lives. I was Mrs. Doomsday.

While frantically searching my well known property sites, I happened upon a house that I had loved from the very beginning of my searching [and no other houses I've liked from the beginning are even still on the market]. It was ever so slightly out of what we had planned to spend on rent. And so I had originally disregarded it knowing thinking there were plenty of other options. After discussing and deciding that D's well-planned budget could be adjusted to accommodate the change in rent price, we called the number listed. I just knew that no one would be able to show us this at three o'clock on a Friday afternoon. Three o'clock on a Friday afternoon says "goodbye work" and "hello freedom." The property management office told me that this property was being shown by Bonnie and gave me her number. Bonnie was who was supposed to show us another house at three o'clock. I didn't realize these houses were listed with the same company because I found them through different websites. First moment of amazement.

Our dear friend Garmin led us to 1514 King Street. While we waited for Bonnie, we peaked in the windows. I squealed a lot. It was perfect - inside and out. Even though I had only been out. Wonderful Bonnie only showed us the living room, dining room and kitchen before we were telling her we wanted it and asking her what the next step in the process was. Yes, we looked at the rest of the bedrooms and the outside. But what's not to love when you find a home with old-house charm whose electrical, duct work, and efficiency needs have all been 100% updated? D and I had previously joked about how we wanted opposite things in one residence - and old house and an efficient house. It is exactly what we got.

After we knew we wanted it, the application process began. We went to their office, asked a million questions, filled out the application, asked a few more million questions, and were told it'd probably be a few business days until they could get it approved due to some different players that often hold up the process. A few business days meant limbo for the rest of the weekend. A few business days meant going back to Baton Rouge with a possible rent house. We calmed down [sort of], reminded one another that we serve a sovereign God, and drove to check into our hotel. We really didn't expect for the property manager, the property owner, our credit checks, and our current landlord to all align and approve our application in 45 minutes. We didn't expect them to in two hours which is when they closed. But they did. As D was coming back outside with our room keys in hand, I was listening to a voicemail from the company secretary telling us that we had been approved. We got right back into the car, drove right back to their office and put our initials and signatures on paper after paper after paper. Gladly. Joyfully. In astonishment.

I continue to be amazed an overwhelmed by the Lord's detailed provision in this process. I continue to be amazed at how pitiful my months of planning look in comparison to the Lord's eternal plan which was accomplished. Obviously, mine was not. I continue to be amazed by the love and support we experienced from our friends' and family's constant prayer and encouragement and phone calls and text messages. I continue to be amazed that this God loves me so much to still provide for one of his children who did not act like she thought He could. I feel ridiculous and ridiculously loved through this process. I have experienced, yet again, God's abounding grace by Him giving me more faith-growing moments. Without anything pertaining to me specifically, His Word gives me plenty of reason to have faith in His love and provision and sovereignty. But He blesses me with these experiences as well. Because He is so good, and He is merciful. I still don't know the very best way to have handled that situation. But, next time, I will remember that He is a better planner than I. Because of this experience, we will also never forget that this house, and places we live after this one, are from God and to be used for His purposes. May this be true of 1514 King Street. We do not at all believe that God intends for us to have quality material possessions. If He provides something very different next time, we will still know, because of last weekend, that it is a gift.

There it is. An account of the works of our detail-oriented, well-planned, loving Lord. Yes, we are so pumped about the house. Yes, we would love for you to come stay. And, yes, I did take a gazillion pictures. For now, here are a few of my favorite details:

More to come about our first weekend spent in Columbia. Mainly what food we ate. Are you surprised?


noah james arant

Welcome to the world Noah James Arant. Born to two incredible parents. Two parents who I feel privileged to have known from beginning to baby. He is beautiful and, since he has been born, I have decided not to move to South Carolina. This job can be a long distance things right? Sort of kidding.

Psalm 127
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep. 
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.


the same page book

I've mentioned my dear friends, Ben and Shauna Pilgreen, on this blog before. Since junior high, they have been huge parts of my life as Ben was my youth minister and Shauna the most incredible life-sharing youth minister's wife, mentor, and present day friend that I could ask for. When they lived in Tuscaloosa while Ben was a youth minister at Calvary, they almost had me convinced to attend the University of Alabama. That is how much I love them.

Shauna has completed a dream by co-authoring a book with Courtney Bullard [who I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting] entitled The Same Page: Living Your Happily Ever After which is now available for purchase! It is an absolute honor to be asked to participate in their blog tour - quite possibly the most exciting thing I've ever done with this blog of ours!

I didn't expect that being able to tangibly hold a piece of my Shauna's wisdom would be such an emotional experience. Knowing her, I can vouch for the fact that her loving and sensitive spirit leap from the pages beginning with acknowledgments and a forward. I will cherish this as we are soon to be living on completely opposite coasts!

The story of The Same Page is a medieval fairytale with lessons much more important and real than "everyone gets a good-looking' prince in the end." You walk through a couple of days with both a mother and a daughter - Adela and Ysabel - on both sides of the story. I mean this literally - you read one story, flip the book over and read the other side. I'm in love with this creative, thought-provoking and dimension-adding publishing style. Though it is a quick read, it seemed as though I felt every cobblestone underfoot as both characters emotionally unearth the reasons behind Ysabel's feelings of being misunderstood and search for identity along with Adela's loving concern for her daughter and feelings of forgotten dreams. No matter what your current role is in life - mother, daughter, friend - I have no doubt that you will relate to one or both of these characters.

Among many, one of the struggles that stood out to me that is highlighted in this book is comparison and dislike of who one is. On both sides of the story, you experience several minutes of their stream of consciousness which is laden with hatred for what they look like, who they have become and what their lives have turned out to be. What is incredibly important to know about this book is that these moments stand in stark contrast with King El-Roi's words which are taken directly from Holy scripture. He is there, just as He has the power to in our own lives, reminding the women that they are seen, that they are loved, that they are of great worth.

I hope that you will join Adela and Ysabel on their journey of reconciliation all the while discovering their true happily ever after. I know that I, after reading this book, will reflect their learned efforts of listening rather than just hearing. I will see this ability as a privilege for those deep relationships that the Lord has entrusted me with. And I will be reminded that my God is a God who sees and who knows my happily ever after.

Be sure to visit The Same Page Book website. Ordering is available on the website, through Amazon, or at Barnes and Noble.



Not so fantastic things:

-Sickness. The other day I thought to myself, "I haven't had a cold yet this year!" And then BAM. Now that it has come - it will. not. leave. And, let me tell you, my coughing fit in front of the entire Governor's staff was super attractive.
-Being a single lady this week. D comes home tomorrow! Hooray!
-Had my family fix this past weekend [which was awesome], but really missing my out of town girlfriends. Really really.

Fantastic things:

-One of my best friends had a baby tonight. Welcome to the world Noah James Arant! There are no words to explain the joy! Much much more on this later.
-The fact that my hubs is sitting under the teaching of John Piper as. we. speak. It's fantastic because I know just how glad he is to be there.
-This hairbrush. What hero of mine genius came up with this?
-A post on etiquette by Joanna Goddard. As an etiquette-believer [to an extent], this may be one of my favorite posts yet. And the illustrations. Oooh the illustrations.
-Being asked to be a part of a blog tour to promote a very special book. More about that tomorrow!



a travel-themed shower for rebecca

Meet Rebecca. She is a dear friend and soon-to-be fellow newlywed. I have had the humble privilege of walking through newlywed life with Bec on Monday nights. Well, on those Monday nights when our brimful schedules [and the stars] align. Most of the time, I stare at her sweet smile and think about all of the things she is teaching me instead of the reverse. But we know it is the Lord that is our teacher. Those times have been so precious to me, and it is incredible to see the similarities in the men in our lives and the turns that lie ahead for each of us.

Daniel and Rebecca lead a life of devoted followership. It is heart-moving the way Bec's face lights up when she talks about her love for overseas missions. They are even spending the last part of their honeymoon at the orphanage they've both spent time at in Guatemala. I mean, come one. How incredible!

For the love of a themed party and in reflection of the soon-to-be Jackson's love for the nations, we had ourselves a vintage travel-themed shower. After all the blessings of our wedding-partying [which seems like eight years ago instead of one], I couldn't wait for opportunities to celebrate the marriages of other friends. I've said this before: It may just be a party to some, but to me [and probably to most brides] its a way of saying that we want to celebrate this life-change, we believe in the union, and we stand beside you to nourish its success.

Here a few pictures from that Sunday afternoon. Bec was the most gracious bride! You may wonder where we found all of the globes and maps to make this travel-theme come to life. Little did I know, Sandy [one of the wonderful hostesses] collects maps and atlases. Like an enough-to-fill-a-house collection. Could that be more perfect?!

Daniel even braved the room full of ladies by paying us a visit [and helping move heavy stuff!] at the end of the shower. Aren't they the cutest?!

We had an incredible group of hostesses who were all ladies from our Wednesday night Home Group. This is the group that causes me to cry [just about] every night after I leave the Morrison's home. I've never had a multi-generational community that I could walk so closely with and feel so loved by. I want to take all of them to South Carolina with us! I told them that, since the shower was over, I was going to miss the dozens of planning emails that we exchanged per day. Maybe now I'll ask them what I should cook for dinner or wear to work the next day or...something.

We also have not mastered the squat and/or hip pop, if you can't tell. A for effort, people. My dear friend Caitlyn [the adorable blonde in aqua] snatched my camera and took this picture of my "I'm so excited to be decorating for a shower" face. There are few things that I love more!


easter weekend

Hi, um, I'm Meagan. I used to blog here. Who knew I could kill a habit so quickly? Now only if I could say no to free bread at La Madelines or floss daily.

It was a very Montgomery, very sunny, very...perfect Easter weekend.

How about I just go ahead and show off the zillion pictures that I took of Audrey? I just can't help myself. Maybe we'll talk a little after. 

Did this proud aunt lose you yet? Be thankful - that was the narrowed-down version. I hope and pray to always have a special relationship with Audrey. I plan to be a nearly overly-involved Aunt Meg. Being the baby of the family, it has been a new experience for me to know a closely related family member from the beginning of their life. And I can't wait to start all over again with Baby Anna!

When I wasn't taking pictures of Audrey, I was enjoying the comfort of family time as looming changes draw nearer. As excited I am about this upcoming move, moments of verge-of-panic slight nervousness have occurred lately. Reasons? Saying goodbye to our Baton Rouge community, both parents being 10+ hours away, and leaving CrossPoint. I'm thankful that the Lord has provide us with a constant. Molly and Brandon will still be less than 6 hours away, just as they are now, providing a great meeting place for my side of the fam. Franklinton will, of course, still be quite the haul but forever worth it.

We may not know what house we'll live in or if Dustin will absolutely love his job or how many times I'll get lost, but I know that, when we're all together, we'll tell the same stories over and over, make fun of the same personality quirks, and eat. A lot.

Speaking of eating, we did some of that. Ok - I was full the entire weekend. You can blame part of it on the chocolate-shaped eggs. And the rest of it on the biggest honey-baked ham you've ever seen.

If you're ever in the Montgomery area, may I suggest Sinclair's in Old Cloverdale. It's a totally charming old gas station turned eatery that has something everyone will like. On Saturday afternoon, Mom, Molly, and myself spent a whiiile at the wonderful Publix getting groceries for Easter lunch. I know it is a little ridiculous to get excited about a grocery store, but I'M SO EXCITED TO SHOP AT PUBLIX. Goodbye College Wal-Mart. Hello coupons and a friendly faces. I may or may not Google Map the distance between possible rent houses and nearest Publix in Columbia.

Pretend I didn't say that.

The lengthy grocery shopping trip was greatly worth it as cooking with the girls was great [as always] and Easter lunch was painfully delish.

I made this salad:

Green leaf lettuce
Spring mix greens
Green onions
Mandarin oranges
Chopped walnuts
Goat cheese
Raspberry vinaigrette

Hopefully it balanced out the four [amazing] casseroles that were different, yet looked very similar. Something with cheese and cream and carbs and hidden vegetables. We're Southern, OK? 

To top off all this goodness, I even had some time for a little crafting to help Moll prep nursery #2!

Overall, a blessing of a weekend. And now you know all about it. Sorry for all the...words. I had to make up for lost time!

Tomorrow - a very belated report of a shower for the precious Rebecca!