life is always about the journey...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Chalk it up to....

Happy TGIFriday everyone!
I hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day this week. I ended up going to dinner with a few ladies from our neighborhood that also had husbands out of town. It was a fun evening.

Charleston just had a grand opening of Dry Bar last week and I have an appointment to try it out this afternoon. If you aren't familiar, it's a place to get your hair washed and blown out and/or curled (no haircuts or color). Even though we had humidity in Virginia, it's 100% more down here on the coast. And my fine hair does not like it so much and I think I've tried every product on the market..I've basically decided it's just user error at this point LOL! So I booked an appointment to have someone actually teach me how to blow dry my hair & use the correct products for the climate, so I can somewhat win the battle against my frizz-head. I will let you know how it works out ;)

Then Friday night, my neighborhood is having a "Stew & Brew" down at the cabana/pool we have on the water. On the menu is Frogmore Stew aka Lowcountry Boil that has corn on the cob, red potatoes, fresh shrimp, onion & sausage boiled up in some beer with seasonings. It's good! And there will be karaoke ha! I'm going and bringing my favorite wine and will enjoy it, I will be watching karaoke and not joining in though ;)  We have a very small neighborhood and everyone knows everyone here, we all stop and chat to each other, have wine on each other's porches and try to have a get-together at least once a month. December's was a Christmas Crawl around to 4 homes that lasted 7 HOURS, OMGosh, but it was so much fun. It's definitely made getting to know each other a lot easier and more fun.

And Sunday it'll be in the high 70s and sunny, so I'm headed to the beach for the day. I'm taking a good book and am going to enjoy the peace and just RELAX!!


I love to repurpose and remake items I already own. I figure I'm giving a new life to something I chose for our home and helping the environment a bit at the same time. And hey, I'm a sucker for a beautiful makeover that turns out well.

This dresser was one that James and I bought not too long after we got married for our master bedroom. It's beautiful solid wood and it has been used in our guest room and then ended up in storage for a long time when I no longer had a place for it. I couldn't part with it, I tend to have sentimental attachments to furniture James and I've bought together. (Don't ask me about my meltdown over the desk I bought James for an anniversary present years ago that no longer fit when we moved to wasn't pretty)
However, it was the perfect choice to use in Alexa's new bedroom here. We donated her old bedroom furniture that she'd had since she was was time for something new and more grown up. I mean she is getting ready to turn 21 *eek*! But it needed a chalk paint to the rescue.

*chalk paint color: pure white*

I love Annie Sloan chalk paint. It is expensive, but one can can paint quite a few pieces of furniture because you don't need a lot to cover.  I also water it down a bit in the last 2 coats to smooth everything out. This took 6 coats because I was going from a darker color to a light color...keep that in mind when painting. I cleaned it off good, no sanding needed and it took me two days to finish the entire dresser. I like to let at least the first 3 coats cure overnight before I finish it up. I replaced the old wood knobs with antique-looking porcelain knobs I ordered online.  The total cost of this project was $100 for the paint and the knobs. Not too bad for a fairly large piece of furniture and I love how light and bright it looks in her room now.

After I let the paint cure for 2 days, I then go back and lightly sand to smooth out any paint lines, then put on a coat of clear wax. A few days after that I gave it one more coat of clear wax and buffed it till it was silky smooth.  I also wait to distress the furniture until the paint has cured too, if that's something you want to do, just do that before you use any wax. I didn't do that on the dresser, but I did do it on the dining room chairs below. And then I use a clear wax to protect the paint finish. Annie Sloan also has a dark wax that will darken up your paint color or give it an antiqued look.

This was her old white Ikea nightstand she'd had for a few years. We decided to update it with a gray-blue upgrade. I custom mixed the color with two colors (Napoleonic Blue & Barcelona Orange). As the paint dries it does lighten up, but I did mix the last couple of coats to be a bit darker than what this photo shows.

And here it is all done. I added a fun, silver drawer knob that reminded me of a boat cleat to finish it off.  Last project in her room now is to paint her bookshelf...then I'm DONE in her room...haha probably not.

*paint color: Old White*

We've had an Ethan Allen farm table and spindle chairs for over 14 years.  They've held up beautifully, but the black didn't work for the new house. I wanted everything lightened and brightened up. I will not lie..these chairs were a HUGE pain the bum to paint thanks to all the spindles and legs, ugh it gives me heartburn thinking about it LOL. However I finished all 4 of them up in a day other than waxing them, which as I described above I don't do until the paint has cured a day or two.

For these chairs I wanted them to be distressed a bit like they were before, so I sanded through the paint to get a bit of the black to show through in a few areas..then I waxed them.  We had end chairs that had arms and rush seats that unfortunately did not hold up as well as the table/side chairs did. So we replaced them with two new chairs from Ethan Allen (in the same style) but in robins egg blue. It definitely gave the set a more coastal vibe.

This nightstand was part of the bedroom set that the dresser at top of post came from. I needed something with storage for the guest room of this house, and this fit the bill perfectly.

And here she is all finished up. The color is French Linen and I actually bought a sample pot of it because I wasn't sure about the color. The sample pots are around $12 compared to the quart at $35. Unbelievably I was able to put 4 coats on this nightstand with just the sample pot of paint. Along with the new knobs (black ironwork), the update cost me $36.

My next big project is to paint Riley's old hutch that is a dark cherry wood. It is in it's new home in my office, but it's wayyyy too dark for my liking. I'm dreading it (lol) because I know it's going to take a lot of coats to get it done, but at least it has large areas to paint unlike the spindle chairs ugh.

I'm considering painting it in Creme de Menthe with Maison Blanche Vintage Furniture Paint, instead of a white or cream just to change it up a bit. I'm going to try the white wax instead of the clear for a different look as well.  I need to get it done so it will motivate me to decorate the shelves and organize it better. Right now it's pretty much a dumping ground with things that need a different home.


You can get Annie Sloan chalk paint locally in most places. If you cannot or they don't have what you need, I HIGHLY recommend ordering online from The Purple Painted Lady. They are fantastic for resources, color charts, photo galleries of colors with wax or other paint treatments, and she ships quickly.
I've tried a few other brands of chalk paint and the only other one that I liked almost as much was the Maison Blanche Vintage Furniture Paint (also a chalk paint). They just seem to have the best and easiest coverage in my opinion. I've only ordered this one online HERE as I haven't found it in any local stores near me.

This old post HERE from 2014 shows how I used the dark wax over a lighter color chalk paint for a distressed look. Amazingly James is using this entertainment center in his apartment now and it still looks great.

So that's the latest project post-palooza for you! Have a wonderful weekend!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Growing Up....

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  
My Valentine is in DC, but that's ok. I'm not big on the occasion anyway. I do always get the kids Cupid Gifts and they opened their's while they were here for the weekend. I will probably treat myself to some Pad Thai from the local Thai place up the street because it is super yummy!

Both the kids and James were here for the weekend to celebrate Riley's 19th birthday. Hard to believe my little man is now a grown man, I tell ya!  I'm so proud of him and the man he's grown into. I love that he likes to hang out with his mom still. He calls to confide in me or to ask me to edit papers still and has been good about checking in with us regularly. I also get lots of laundry when he's home for the weekend hahaha, but I don't mind.

He's had a rough first year at college with a roommate who is more interested in doing drugs and partying...and trying to make friends with those that aren't into partying and have other interests. Riley doesn't drink or do drugs and he does not like to be around it, so he's had a bit of a struggle meeting friends. He's starting to settle in and he just signed a lease on a 5 bedroom house with Alexa's boyfriend and some other guys from the fishing team for the fall. So I'm very hopeful next year will be much, much better as far as roommates and making friends goes. He's got an A average and doing well in his classes, so he's definitely focused on the things that matter which makes us happy. And he is planning on studying abroad next Spring in either Ireland or Italy, so he's looking forward to that too. He has such a big heart, so kind and sensitive...which means I worry about him a lot, but am so proud he's stayed true to who he is and what he believes in. I've always told both the kids to focus on their futures, keep the toxic out and don't let anyone stand in the way of your dreams, nor stomp on your beliefs.

I had a local Charleston Bakery (Bakehouse Bakery) make him a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and chocolate mousse filling. Yeahhhh...he loves chocolate lol! It was one of the best cakes I've ever had, but so very rich. He loved it, so that's all that matters. I forgot to buy candles (brain sludge) so we had to use a few zebra ones I had (whoops)'s the thought that counts right!?

We spent Saturday on the water...a place we all love to be.  If you are looking for a wonderful boat or kayak tour, I highly recommend COA (Charleston Outdoor Adventures). The guides are all naturalists and they offer eco-adventures of the estuaries, barrier islands and marshlands. The owner is originally from VA and a Redskins fan (ha) and I've been out with them quite a few times now. They are 1 mile down the road from where I live and I've always had a wonderful time.
You will ALWAYS see dolphins, local birds and other wildlife along the way while learning something too. 

My favorite trip is going out to Morris Island where the Morris Lighthouse is and spend some time walking the isolated beach...the shelling there is magnificent.  We saw quite a few dolphins including a mama and her calf on Saturday.  If you follow me on Instagram you can view all my daily Instastories where I post snippets of videos and pictures of my day (on your phone it's the circles at the top, or you can click on my profile & then click my round photo of me). I had videos there and one on Instagram itself of the dolphins. I'm pretty good about posting every day in case you want to ever know what I'm up to LOL.

COA sits on Bowens Island and is home to the Bowens Island Restaurant. I love this place because it reminds me of all the crab shacks I grew up with on the Chesapeake Bay. The building itself is nothing pretty to look at, but it has the freshest seafood and views for miles. It's very casual and laid back, so a shorts & flip-flops kinda atmosphere...everyone is friendly and it feels like you are surrounded by old friends when you are there.  If you love roasted oysters (like me) or fresh seafood, this is definitely the place for you.

Riley wanted to have his birthday dinner at Taco Boy down on Folly is one of our favorite places to go. I am embarrassed to say how many times we've been lol! There is another one on the outskirts of downtown Charleston too that has a larger outdoor patio. They have amazing tacos and their queso is to die for. My favorite tacos are the Grilled Mahi Mahi, Tempura Avocado, and Kimchi Beef. So many original tacos on the menu to try. Riley's favorite is the fried chicken taco and James loves the Americano and Carne Asade tacos. Their quesadillas and pineapple margaritas are pretty darn good too. They have great outdoor areas to sit outside when the weather is beautiful.

Then we capped off the birthday boy's night with a showing of the Lego Batman Movie because that was what Riley wanted to do.  If you've seen the first Lego Movie then you know what to expect. It was pretty funny with a lot of older movie references in it...we all enjoyed it. We have a fantastic theater on James Island that was recently renovated and tickets before 5:30 pm are only $4, $7.50 after 5:30. All four of us can see a movie for almost the price of one ticket in Virginia.
The Terrace Theater is more of a retro-style themed theater with only a handful of screens also on James Island. They show a lot of independent, smaller movies along with the popular ones too. They also have gourmet concessions along with wine and beer. Parking is very tricky there though, that is the one downside. 
If you like to order food from a menu and have it served to you, Cinebarre Theater in Mt. Pleasant is the place for you. We went there to see Batman Lego and the food choices and shakes are pretty plentiful. Very similar to an Alamo Theater if you've been to one of those.
(Speaking of movies, if you haven't seen Hidden Figures I highly recommend it. James & I saw it and it was excellent)

I'm planning on doing a post on James Island and Folly Beach soon with all kinds of tips and recommendations. I'm biased probably because I live here, but Folly Beach is my favorite beach area here in all of Charleston. It's more laid back, artsy and fun!  Eventually I will have a tab where you can find all my Charleston recommendations easily in case you ever want to visit the area.

So all in all it was a fun weekend, and always good to spend time together as a family. I won't see the kids or James for 2 weeks when we leave for our Spring Break trip. I cannot wait for that!


Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Beachin' Life...

Happy Monday-after-the-Superbowl friends!

Did anyone watch the Superbowl last night? Which commercials were your favorites? I liked a few, but I think the Mr. Clean ad made me laugh the most. And the Superbowl babies were very cute too.

I've been a little MIA because I've been having some ongoing back issues that have limited my ability to do much the past 10 days. Looks like I will be having surgery soon to fix the issue, so that's no! However I am ready to stop the pain, because it is exhausting.

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my last blog post, so happy to see so many friends again in blog all made my week! I still need to reply to a few of you.  I know some of you aren't on Facebook and hadn't seen the updates about the Dean family in a long while. So I thought today I'd share our 'updated life' story and a few pictures too.

Alexa & Riley update: Alexa is a junior at Univ of SC studying marine biology, she's also a marine science tutor and peer leader. She will soon be the coordinator for education outreach for the college's SEAS program as well. She's been interning every summer (last summer was Maine and Cape May, NJ) and she's enjoying it all.  She will be 21 in April ('d that happen?)
Riley is now a freshman at Univ of SC studying for a History degree with a possible environmental science minor and he's loving country life in the south. He loves to fish and kayak whenever he can. Riley will be 19 next month. They grew up too dang fast!

So, why did we move to SC?
So our family has vacationed on Hilton Head Island, SC for many years...pretty much since the kids were in elementary school. We love the laid-back beaches and bike-able plantation areas where we rented homes/condos. And we always added a fews day to our vacation to visit Charleston. Whenever we crossed the state line into South Carolina I always felt like I had come back was an exhale of "yes, I can relax now." And the unique smell of pluff mud and salty sea air combined with Southern friendliness always made me feel right at home.

It is no surprise to anyone (if you've known me awhile at least) that I HATE winter and cold and snow. I've lived in an area where winter could be brutal with ice, wind and blizzards for far too long. As soon as fall would come, I would go into a depression knowing that it would soon be gray skies and too cold outside to be enjoyable and that my body would be in pain for months. So our family plan had always been to move south as soon as the kids graduated high school...we're talking about a 14 year plan to move down south. Whenever I pictured where I wanted to be, it always was near Charleston.

Last winter we had a huge blizzard and I remember looking at James and saying "I can't do this anymore" was physically and mentally taxing me beyond what I could handle.  In March he suggested I go to Charleston for a week with Alexa (on her Spring Break from college) and search for a house/neighborhood that I liked. We spent the week doing some fun activities and looking near & far for a home that I would fall in love with. I was very interested in downsizing from the 6000 sq ft home we had in Virginia to something half that size...too much house to take care of anymore with both the kids in college. The very last day we visited an area on James Island that was last on my should have been first because we both fell in love with the neighborhood immediately. Southern style beach homes on a quiet inlet that was only 2.5 miles from Folly Beach and a 15 minute drive to downtown historic Charleston. Perfection!

Long story short, I found the perfect house in a newly built double-porch southern home facing the creek that leads out to the ocean. My master bedroom has an upper level porch, and I can see the beautiful water from my bed every morning. It's a 2700 sq ft, 4 bedroom 4 bathroom, 3 level home with rooms we actually use (aka no formal rooms). We have a nice screen porch on the backside and a detached 2 car garage.  We actually closed on the house the day of my birthday, May 3rd. So James likes to say he bought me a house for my birthday, hahaha! We officially moved in right after Riley graduated high school in you could say I didn't waste a minute!  Our first purchases were kayaks for everyone and that's one of our absolute favorite things to do here.

Where is James?
James will not be retiring for a few years, so he has a great 2 bedrm, 2 bath apartment near DC where his commute has gone from 2 hours to 15 minutes..and he can walk or metro everywhere. He comes down to SC every 2 weeks for a visit and so far it's worked out great. I'm pretty independent and don't mind the solitude this new life has given me. I find things to do everyday to stay busy including my photography, kayaking, volunteering with the animal rescue and I've also made quite a few friends as well. My one neighbor and I walk most mornings and go to the gym together. And we just sold our Virginia the transition for everyone is complete and we can all breathe easily now.

And we have the BEST neighbors, seriously the sweetest people and everyone in the neighborhood is actually interested in knowing each other and chatting on the regular. NOTHING like where I lived in Northern VA outside of DC...people are too busy to even wave there for the most part. Someone is always inviting you to hang out and chat, have a glass of wine or watch a game.

Now the Univ of SC is only a 2 hour drive for that means the kids can visit home more often. Before it was an almost 9 hour drive and the airfare was not always so cheap from Columbia to DC.

All in all, we all are very happy with our new home, new friends and love that we can be outside almost year round enjoying what the area has to offer. It has brought me more peace than I could is much slower here and it's exactly what I needed.

A Few House Peeks:
Here are some peeks inside & out of my new house which is still a work in progress, as it should be. Little by little we are getting there. Excited to get my new furniture for the porch off the master bedroom this week. We get such a nice breeze off the water and I plan on sitting out there & reading a lot and looking out at the water. I need to get more pictures..lots of times I think of it AFTER the sun has set and it's too late.  Lots of pictures, but I wanted to share them all and couldn't choose any I wanted to leave out LOL!

The awesome view I get to see every morning from my bed

The house is dark navy with pale aqua's a Charleston style house so it's very long, and 3 stories high. These were taken before we moved in so things look a lot different as far as porches and landscaping.

one side of our screened porch...the cats love to be out here when the weather is nice.

The side chairs used to be black...I used chalk paint to lighten them up to a distressed cream. The end chairs I ordered in a gray-blue to replace the others I had. Table & chairs I've had from Ethan Allen for over 14 years..they've held up very well.

This is our living area...where I spend most of my time. When everyone is here we tend to sit up in the 3rd floor family room and watch the bigger tv.
 A lot of these pictures of the inside were taken in September, so things have changed quite a bit. Just need to retake photos when everything is done.

The master bedroom...we have a porch off the bedroom that looks over the creek. 

The guest bedroom...

The creek we live on; you can see the Sullivans Island Lighthouse light to the right from the dock & Morris Island Lighthouse is around to the right.  I love watching the dolphins and their babies play and fish in the inlets. We've seen a few snakes (stepped on a few too, yikes) and some smaller sharks. I've only seen 1 small alligator so far and that's fine by me. Me no bother them, they no bother me!

A peek into Alexa's room...I will share more soon. I've done quite a few projects in here. We still need to have the ceiling painted navy and I still need to paint her bookcase. This dresser used to be mine when James & I were first married. It was honey colored & had been stored in our basement for years. It got a paint update along with new porcelain knobs. It looks great I think.

Guest bathroom is almost done...we are waiting on a new quartz countertop in here. This was a spec house so we are working to make it ours with material choices we like. I'm also painting the very long, double-sink vanity a dark gray blue.

stairs to the 3rd floor

This is the 3rd floor..I took this before we moved in. That's a full bathroom at the end, the other end you cannot see is Riley's bedroom. Right now we have a sectional and huge tv (James' pick not mine lol) up here. Plans for up here include a table/chairs for puzzles/games and 2 more club chairs and a rug. I love all the light this room gets.

Loft sectional....table & chairs will go behind the sectional near Riley's room.

A view of half of our front porch...the flower boxes were gorgeous this past summer. Can't wait to get them up in March again. These adirondack rockers are made of marine grade fiberglass..they are fantastic since they never need painting.

I love ending the day with this view....

So there you go...some peeks into our new home.  Will share more as I finish up projects and rooms.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hello Again...

Hello Again.  After many years of managing my two blogs and multiple others for companies...this girl was burnt out.  It was good to get away and have a break.

So the news is basically...I've quit Facebook. It was a long time coming actually. From when I joined almost 10 years ago, to what it's become today is a FAR CRY from why I started using it. It did enhance my life in a lot of ways, it kept me in touch with friends and family around the world and I enjoyed checking in with everyone and watching silly videos.  

Unfortunately the past couple of years it became too much of a place of negativity and hate, pettiness and mean people hiding behind their keyboards because they never learned the old adage "if you have nothing nice to say, close your trap"...well that's my modern version of  it anyway ;) And just to be very one drove or chased me away. Social media is meant to be fun, inspiring, informative and is a is a form of entertainment. When you aren't entertained anymore, why stay? I made a choice to leave something that no longer fulfilled me. Staying to teach the 'haters' or 'unfriendlies' a lesson was never a fight I chose to be in, it was never my goal. If someone wants to have a respective conversation face-to-face, then I am always willing. I sure as heck didn't leave because I was afraid of interaction...I choose not to discuss a lot of things on social know, as is my right and is your right. I just chose to no longer participate in something that bred so much negativity. It is not the end of the life and your lives continue on.

However, I still wanted a way to keep in touch with everyone and not be submitted to the negativity of a social media site every time I logged on. I wanted a place to share my photos and adventures for those that don't use Instagram, Instastories, or Snapchat. I wanted a safe, fun, positive place to share my stories where I wasn't dealt an onslaught of crazy every day.  So that's where we are now.

I can't promise I will post everyday or even every single week. But I will try to post when I have photos to share, stories I want to tell or just sharing things I love.  So welcome back everybody....

And if you remember the old blog layout...yes, even that got a change. A fresh, clean starting over that reflects my new life here in Charleston, SC now.

James has been in town for the past week so we tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather.  Storms were moving in for the weekend and we like to be outside enjoying the area as much as we can. So we drove over to Kiawah Island with our bikes and spent the day biking trails, hiking and biking on the beach. It was fantastic...a good day spent feeding the soul with the beauty of nature.

One of my favorite shots from the day was this one. The lowcountry landscape is always changing and there is always something beautiful to shoot with my camera.  I was struck by the starkness of the tree, the barrenness of the spartina grasses and the movement of clouds in the sky. 

Can you smell the pluff mud...some people love it and some don't. I'm one of it's lovers because it reminds me I'm in South Carolina and near the makes me happy.

If you ever get to the Charleston area, Kiawah Island is about a 45-55 minute drive away. It is very secluded and treed which makes you feel like you are on an exclusive getaway.  A stop at Night Heron Park is a good place to start to get a map of the island and they have a small nature center as well.  There are bike/walking trails all around the island and there are a few lookout towers that you can bike and then hike to...they give you a good birds eye view of the beautiful views.  You can bike on the beach but only certain boardwalks allow bike entry ramps, so make sure to note those.  There are a few bike rental places on the island as well. Lots of wildlife on the island including birds, bobcats, alligators and deer.  So keep a look out for those while visiting. Parking is very limited in certain areas and there are guard-gates to get into certain parts of the island.  For most of the park areas and restaurants you just tell them where you are headed and they give you a pass for your vehicle.  If you love golf there are 2 private courses and 5 public courses.  They look lovely from my bike, but I'm not a golfer so I cannot help much with that info.

There are a few restaurants and some cute shops in the Freshfields Town Center. In the Town Center my favorite restaurant is Hege's and if you save room, stop by the old time pharmacy and have a yummy ice cream treat.  
If you want true luxury head to the Sanctuary Resort and Spa for top notch service. The Ocean Room is worth every penny for a special event...amazing food and views, but very pricey.  The Andell Inn sits within the Town Center to the side and is a nice alternative if you want something a little less expensive. It's lovely inside and has great views of the marsh areas along with a nice pool/deck area.  Condos & home rentals are available here too. 
For something less formal head to Seabrook Island (literally right next to Kiawah) and try out Lokal Seabar or Red's Ice House. Both sit on the Bohicket Creek and Marina and they offer spectacular sunsets and good seafood choices.

Heading off of Kiawah back towards Charleston you will drive by two of my favorite Johns Island restaurants. The Fat Hen is a farm-2-table place in a cute little cottage and the food is so leans towards the French style of cooking and dishes.  The menu is always changing with the seasons and they get all their meats/seafood/veggies/fruits from local farms.  The other is Wild Olive and they serve sinfully good Italian dishes. Their pappardelle pasta dish with parmesan, arugula and local Mepkin Abbey mushrooms (from the monastery) is the stuff my food dreams are made of.

So there's a wee bit of information for anyone interested in visiting Kiawah Island. It's a beautiful area and so much to see and do outside.  Definitely worth the drive.

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