Tuesday, September 1, 2015

#2,080 Gnome Friend + Ina and Buster's.

We took a long walk this morning and made a new friend who made me smile because I've never noticed him before and I bet most folks don't.
He reminded me of my Aunt Beck who has dozens of gnomes hidden all over her property that both fascinated and terrified me as a child. Now, they just make me think of Amelie—one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen.

Tonight we had supper club at Ina and Buster's house. They're 2 of the Sunday school teachers for our young adult class at church, and they are two of the most beloved people in town. Mrs. Ina was diagnosed with a very rare, late stage cancer last summer and the prognosis was grim. She underwent really strong chemotherapy for several months following and is now 100% cancer free. She's our hero! She said hosting supper club was on her bucket list, so tonight was pretty special.


P.S. I can NOT stop listening to Nathaniel Rateliffe and the Night Sweats. It's a footstomping, handclapping, Americana folk-rock masterpiece.

Monday, August 31, 2015

#2,079 Back At It.

Home looked especially magical today after jumping into the hustling, bustling craziness of NYC for a few days. I also read this article today, which made me really appreciate our slow, quiet way of life here in south Mississippi.


Got the sweetest little handmade necklace in the mail from my friend Sarah for a birthday present:

And Ben got started building a headboard for his mama from their old wooden fence that was recently torn down.

Getting back to the grind is the best feeling after a break!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

#2,078 30 Years.

I'm 30 years old today. Thanks to Ben and his planned month of daily celebrations and distractions, I feel excited to be alive and so thankful for the life and people and opportunities God has put in our journey who make the world feel smaller and make getting older a privilege. This morning, I woke up in a beach house beside the water with sunshine streaming all around, took a convertible ride down the beach and picked up breakfast with Ben, Lindsey and Omar before catching the Manhattan ferry, then catching a plane back home, then had dinner with my parents and Jim and Mallorie at Tabella before finally making it back home sweet home. It's been a whirlwind of an adventure that I couldn't have dreamed up by myself.




There was even time for a birthday cake pop from Starbucks after dinner.

I read recently that when you let routine take over your life, your brain goes into autopilot and stops recording your life, almost like it knows, "There's nothing to remember about this. Nothing to see here." You have to do and see new things for your brain to take those snapshots that make life feel lasting and as much as trying new things scares me, I'm going to be giving that my best shot from here on out.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

#2,077 Jersey Shore.

The Jersey Shore is not what I thought. MTV should be ashamed (I mean, for way more than one reason, but this is the reason right now).

New Jersey looked every bit like a New England postcard today, beginning to end. We slept in for the first time in a very long time and spent the day doing absolutely nothing. When we woke up we made a quick trip to the pharmacy in this most incredibly quaint seaside town... And found Tony Soprano's (almost) beach house, Whitecaps, in Sea Bright.

These towns all look the way I've envisioned coastal New England my whole life, with big front porches on old shingled homes with huge American flags draped from the porch rafters. It's like a dream. When we got back to Kim's house, everyone was having a big breakfast and Lindsey was briefing everyone on the birthday color war activities. She made t-shirts for Kim and I, the two birthday girls. We drew names to make the Team Kim and Team Erin teams, then the war commenced starting with an egg toss.

Omar and I hung in there until the bitter end, then lost in a tie breaker when we had to move the tournament to the street since no one's eggs were breaking in the cushy grass. 
Omar and Mike representin' Team Erin in blue:

Mike reminds us for the world of Ben's big brother, Sam!







Oh, Lindsey. How will I ever repay this kind of graciousness?

See you in a few hours, Laurel. I can't wait to give you a big hug and turn 30 for real at home sweet home. Let's do this!

Friday, August 28, 2015

#2,076 NYC to Monmouth Beach.

We started off the day by meeting for breakfast at The Smith with Jackie Greaney, a recent instagram friend whom I've admired for a long time because of her incredible photos of the coastal northeast and her collaboration with L.L. Bean. We hit it off so quickly and easily, and I hope when she finally makes the trip down south to visit our mutual New Orleans friends from The Grove Street Press she'll swing through Laurel for tiny porch hang.


And then, we spent an entire gloriously unscheduled day walking the entire city. I'm in so much pain right now from walking through Central Park from 72nd Street all the way to 8th Street, but it was worth it. The weather felt like Mississippi in late October, and the sunshine was endless. It didn't feel real.






We stopped for a late lunch in Greenwich Village at Il Cantinori—a place that's been on my list for a couple years that we've never been able to get to. The food was rustic, simple and hearty. I've never had Tuscan Italian and it was so very delicious and fresh. I now understand what all the fuss has been about in the magazines and websites.


We walked (slowly with SERIOUSLY aching feet) around Greenwich Village and took a bench in Washington Square Park and people watched for a while, just wasting the afternoon feeling perfectly content and tired, but rested if that can be a feeling. Soon it was time to start heading back to our hotel to get our bags and meet Lindsey for the last leg of our surprise birthday trip, all 100% thanks to her generosity.

We boarded a ferry...


 And saw New York from a perspective we've never seen before—the harbor. It was breathtaking!
 I'd never seen the Statue of Liberty until today!


We said goodbye to New York for now...
When Lindsey and we first connected last summer, we sent her a little care package in the mail tied up with white and gold baker's twine, which she made a bracelet out of that day and still wears, which makes me feel a little like we need to go ahead and get one of these necklaces.

And just 40 minutes later, we were pulling up to a little dock in a small harborside town in New Jersey that immediately stole my heart.

And we took a car to Lindsey's friend Kim's beautiful home on the shore.

Where I saw the most sunset I've ever seen in my life.

The only picture I got of Kim and Ben, and it's a GREAT one.


The neighbor's house is like something straight out of a Diane Keaton movie.

And tonight I'm feeling unworthy, undeserving of such gracious friendships, and utterly thankful for experiences like this one that we could have never ever imagined. New Jersey is really so lovely.
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