Porch Redo

One project that we’ve had our eyes on for a while now was our back porch.  It’s always been on our “man I wish we could change that” list so we decided to treat ourselves to an early Christmas present and gave our backyard a face lift.  We briefly considered taking this project on ourselves, but the image of our roof collapsing (all of the support beams had to be replaced) was enough to scare us away.  Instead we worked with a great company in the Richmond area, Warrior Construction.  Here are a couple before pics of the porch -

There were a couple things that always bugged us about the porch, some cosmetic (ugly brown color) and some structural (wobbly stair railing, yikes!).  We also wanted a more open feel so we asked them to remove as many of the support beams as possible and put in different balusters.   Since we were also putting in a patio to the left of the porch, we wanted a set of stairs that led directly to the patio from the porch.  For the patio, we considered using either brick pavers or poured concrete but decided to go with the poured concrete.  It was more economical and we really liked the pictures we saw from other projects that had poured concrete.  After some uncooperative weather, they were finally able to get started and we LOVE the finished product.

Here’s a close up of the poured concrete pattern -

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the before and after pics -


There you have it, our new porch and patio!  We still have some work to do (lattice work under the porch, landscaping, new patio furniture…), but now we’re even more excited for the warm weather to arrive!

Gray or Gray?

Gray paint has been my arch nemesis for the past several months as I relentlessly search for the perfect shade.  I’ve wanted to paint one room in our house gray for a long time, and finally decided to take the plunge in our master bedroom.  I’ve always been a bit indecisive when it comes to picking paint colors, but the search for gray has taken it to a whole other level.  Literally, I’ve probably tried 15 different shades and our whole room is covered in patches of gray.


For the sake of my sanity, and probably Brian’s too, I’ve finally narrowed it down to three shades: Coventry Gray by Benjamin Moore, Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore and Filtered Shade by Valspar.  Here are the three colors side by side, with Coventry Gray on the top.  I wanted to test them close to the white trim so I’d have an idea of how it would break up the color in the room.

Stonington Gray and Filtered Shade were pretty similar, but I thought Stonington Gray had a slightly blue undertone in the room’s light so I crossed that one off the list.  To get a better idea of the final product, I painted a big test patch on either side of the window.

I have a clear favorite, stay tuned for the final product!

Dear Santa

Now that we have our first real Christmas tree, it’s time for Santa to deliver some presents!  We (and by we I mean I) have had our eyes on some things for a while now so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Santa comes through.  First, check out this cute stocking that Nana ordered for Olivia from Pottery Barn Kids -

We figure this will be the last Christmas that we can get Olivia “practical” presents since she’ll only be about 6 months, so this year her presents will probably be more about function than fun.  The big thing we’re keeping our fingers crossed for is a baby food processor.  Baby O is almost ready to enter the world of solids and I’d love if we could make the bulk of what she eats.  The Beaba Babycook is great because it’s a steamer, blender, warmer, and defroster all in one so it cuts down on the appliances that we need to buy and store.

The next little gem we love for Olivia is this cute frog for bath time.  Love that it holds baby bath products and the body detaches to you can scoop up bath toys.

For a stocking stuffer, I’m thinking about the Sophie the Giraffe teether that everyone raves about.  I’m not exactly sure what’s so magical about it, but Sophie has shown up at almost every baby shower I’ve been to.

For the special man in my life, shopping for presents is usually a pretty easy thing.  Every time I ask him what he wants, his reply is “Something from ECU…”.  To honor his request, I was thinking about an ECU cornhole set like this one from Carolina Cornhole Boards -

Not gonna lie, I love me a little cornhole so this might be a selfish present!  His other requests included a new guitar amp -

And a table saw -

As for me, I’ve been dying for a pair of Hunter wellies -

And I LOVE this necklace I found on Etsy with an “O” for my little gal -

And the icing on the cake?  An iPhone!

Now we can’t forget poor little Riley!  This year we’re thinking about outfitting our pooch with some hiking gear for our little treks through Shenandoah.  The boots crack me up every time I see them!


I think we’re going to have to leave Santa some extra cookies this year…

Keepin’ It Real

This year, Brian and I decided to go all in and get a real Christmas tree.  When I pictured us picking out a tree, I had visions of us all bundled up, walking through a tree farm hand in hand just waiting for that perfect tree to cut as a light snow fell.  In reality, after a long day of running errands and a ticking time bomb in the back seat of the car named Olivia, we stopped at Lowe’s and grabbed the first tree we found.  We cleared a spot in the dining room, because after all, that’s the most logical place for a Christmas tree, and busted out the ornaments.  Check out these beauties -

The newest addition to our collection is an ornament Grandma Hawkins got Olivia to mark her first Christmas -

And the final product, drum roll please….

It might be a little bare (keep in mind last Christmas we had a 3 foot tall artificial tree), but we like to look on the bright side and think it’s less ornaments for Riley to rip off and eat!