Sunday, September 26, 2010

True Woman: Indy 2010

this is where i went

to be taught

to grow

to stand.

because this is what i believe

because This is Who I worship, adore, and belong to.

"What is the ultimate meaning of true womanhood? It's this: True womanhood is a distinctive calling of God to display the glory of His Son in ways that would not be displayed if there were no womanhood. Say it again. It's a distinctive calling. True womanhood is a distinctive calling of God to display the glory of God, the glory of His Son in ways that would not be displayed if there were no womanhood. "

- Pastor John Piper

all photos are property of

Monday, September 20, 2010

Door County Inspiration: The White Gull Inn (Part Deux)

The first part of these White Gull Inn posts can be found here.

So, I left off telling you that Sam and I sat at this center table for our lunch (the one in the foreground). It was chillier than I had expected, so I was glad to have a sweater. I knew I definitely wanted to sit outside.

Here I am bundled up with my sweater around my shoulders. Sam snuck up from behind and nabbed a picture of me staring off into space.

Cherry stuffed french toast via

Nummy nummy num. Here's the french toast I had for lunch. Except, I had a half order. It's so rich. There's sweetened cream cheese stuffed in there! With maple syrup on top! Our server said that often customers will order the half portion to split for dessert. I thought that was a fabulous idea. The White Gull Inn always uses these pretty red and white transferware place settings. See that paper placemat underneath? It's a map of Door County with little bits of trivia printed around the peninsula. Paper placemats are just how Door County rolls. It's a vacation spot and laid back ease is the over-all feel. Even nicer restaurants often serve butter in foil wrappers or sour cream on the side in a little paper ramiken. You get used to it, though. Nothing stuffy in these parts. The food at the White Gull Inn is very good. Paper napkins or no :)

Sometime I'll do a post for you about Door County restaurants that offer a slightly more formal ambience. The White Gull Inn is quaint and tasty.

And, as you've already seen, if you eat outside, it has a great patio.

I wasn't really staring off into space in that sneaky shot Sam took. I was looking at this...

... and this...

... and this. This is the side porch of The House. My dream house. Give me a break. Look at those porches. That top porch was made for early morning coffee with your snook-ums. Or whatever you call each other. Not that I call Sam "snook-ums". You know.


The pathway leading up to the front door from the dining patio. That's an amazing sunroom porch, guys. This exterior seriously could not get any better in my mind. No french castle, no coastal mansion, no city penthouse condo - this is perfection. I can't think of a single thing that would improve upon this for me. There's no American flag because that's on the main inn right next door, so maybe a flag by the front door would be added to really, truly make it 100% perfecto. This is so elegant and dignified, but it's still approachable and comfortable, too.

Look at the windows.

And the lanterns.

And the double porches on the other side. I was so inspired by the landscaping around this corner of the house/inn. It's so simple, but it has a sophistication about it, too.

Here you can see where The Perfect House is in relation to the main inn. The dining patio is toward the back of the buildings and in-between the two, positioned more closely to the main inn. Isn't this just a dream? What do you all think? Am I making more of it than you would? I know everyone is drawn toward different looks and ideals. What do you think of this property?

I think it's just perfect :)

p.s. As before, please DO NOT use these photos without giving proper credit to - thanks!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Door County Inspiration: The White Gull Inn (Part Un)

White Gull Inn
Fishcreek, Wisconsin

Maybe it's just that I have a sentimental connection to this place. It was one of the places I remember going to with Sam the first summer I vacationed here with his family. It was August 1999, and we were one month shy of getting engaged. He couldn't keep his eyes off me ;)

above image via

But, I'm pretty sure that, although part of the draw to the White Gull Inn is that it's been a treat each summer for the entire eleven years that Sam and I have been together, I'm also pretty sure that the stuffed french toast has something to do with it, too. The cherry stuffed french toast. Tart cherries. French toast stuffed with cream cheese. Ooh, man. Num.

bill paulson image above via

Good Morning, America liked it, too. They named it The Best Breakfast in America earlier this summer. That link is a video and my cheeks hurt from smiling so HUGE while watching it. The coolest thing about this honor is that the winning dish features local Door County cherries - the original bedrock of Door County's economy. Door County = tart cherry. There are cherry orchards lining the backroads and the highways. Chocolate-covered cherries in the gift shops, tart cherry juice to mix with your seltzer water, cherry preserves, and of course plenty of cherry themed options on the menus. The area has changed quite a lot over the last 30 odd years, becoming increasingly a tourist destination. One thing stays the same, though. Those delightfully sour, juicy packages of perfection. It's just so neat to see such a time-honored Door County tradition get recognition. Plus, y'all,
it good.

Beyond the grub, the White Gull Inn is a source of inspiration for the gardener and house enthusiast, as well. Like many "front yards" in Door County, The White Gull Inn has a front garden with gorgeous combinations.

These gardens all have a similar feel to them - a little chaotic, but planned out. (oopsey on the hose - Door Co. is nothing if not laid back!) Their seeming ultracasual look is deceiving. These gardens are planted by folks who know what they're doing. There's room for a little chance thrown in, but there seems to be a lot of time and love that goes into these gardens. My mother-in-law knows that, don't you, Susan? "Love", right ;) They make shopping in these little towns such a complete pleasure. I stop all the time to stand and admire the posies.

The Inn is a historic one, and it's oozing with charm. I really can't think of a whole lot more charming than some of the older homes and their gardens. I'll have to take photos of a few more of my favorites next year, just to share with you.

Look at that. Could Ageratum ( the little bluish flower) be used to better effect than this?

And who would think to put it next to such a bright canary yellow (Heliopsis, I think)? I think that has something to do with the overall feeling that this garden was serendipitous. Seeds cast to fall where they may. That might actually be the case, but I still think it was planned to look unplanned. What do you think?

Big, white cosmos was everywhere in Door County gardens this August. No doubt, it has to be one of the annuals that goes in when I finally get some blooms here at home. Aren't they fantastic?

Even the business car is inspiring. Seriously, how awesome is this?

Loving the flooring on the front porch. I've never been to New England. Is it kind of like this?

This is the back of the main restaurant/inn. The dining room is on the first floor with the guest rooms above. We always stay with Sam's parents, but it would be fun to have a little get-a-way here some time. It may have a two night minimum during the tourist season, though.

When we were here last month, Sam and I sat at the table in the center of the photo. Guess what I ordered. How'd you do that?! You're right! Cherry stuffed french toast :)

The other day I shared a photo of one of my favorite houses of all time. It's an outbuilding "cottage" of The White Gull Inn with additional rooms. I've never been inside, because it doesn't have general public areas. That house and the yard around it will have to be saved for next week. This post is already so long!

Thanks for reading, guys. And thanks for the What I Wore Wednesday encouragement. I missed today, but I plan to stand in front of the mirror and take my own picture like a huge dork tomorrow :)

Have a great weekend!

p.s. PLEASE DO NOT USE MY PHOTOS OF DOOR COUNTY WITHOUT GIVING CREDIT TO homeforthebetter. (not yelling, just emphasizing) Thanks!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Destination Inspiration

Thanks for your sweet thoughts on my last post (and the phone calls, Mom & Susan). All is well. I still miss them, of course, but the hardest part - the goodbyes - are over and it looks like I may get to go out to D.C. and visit this fall :) Knowing that really makes the move so much easier. This way goodbye isn't really goodbye, you know?

I've downloaded all of our Door County photos, but I haven't gotten them uploaded into a post, yet. My computer is terribly slow these days. I may need to just pick and choose a few favorites, focusing on the ones that have more to do with design and inspiration. Door County never fails to inspire me. The gardens, y'all. Oh, the gardens. I go "shopping" everytime we go up there during the tourist season, but it isn't really for the shopping at all. It's for the fabulous perennial gardens in the front yards of the stores. I always come away dreaming of some new plant combination or - at this house - just any old plant. I have precious few planted here. I miss my flowers.

Here's a sneakety peek into the goodness that is Door County. I'm telling ya, if you've ever wanted to know what my idea of a perfect house is, wonder no longer. This place is IT. Classic beauty. More soon...

Hope you all are doing well! And welcome to new subscribers. I'd love to hear from you :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

the heart

One of my best friends in life is moving to Washington D.C. tomorrow morning. She and her husband and their four beautiful children. It's been a hard week.

I went over there tonight to help with last minute things - cleaning out the fridge, taking some trash for them, wiping down counters, checking the house for little things that might have been overlooked.

That last part was not my favorite. The house was empty. Their children are the same ages as ours and they were all at another friend's house for the evening. It was sad to see the house without all their playfulness. Without them.

They're an Air Force family, and all of their belongings are already in trucks, heading to the next assignment.

I've always loved being there, but the house itself has very little to do with that. I've said it before, and it bears repeating. It's the memories, guys. It's the life that's lived well in a house that makes it home. Not paint, not wood floors, not just the right colors.

It's memories.

Great. Now I'm crying, again.

images from Flickr

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

tidbits from my last mama night out

Last week, my usual Mama Night Out didn't happen until Friday night. I didn't like going out alone on a weekend night at first, but when I realized that everything was open an hour or more later than on a weeknight, I decided I could roll with it.

I didn't get to leave the house until a little after 7pm, so I decided to head to a local outdoor mall where I knew there'd be several stores open until 10pm (and a bookstore open until 11). First stop - Panera Bread. Rumbly tummy.

photo: that girl with a camera (fun blog!)

I used to turn my nose up at Panera... for a really prissy reason. I didn't like clearing all my dishes cafeteria style. Honestly, I still don't like it. Something about putting your dirty forks into a bin with everyone else's dirty forks - ew. I deal with my family's spit and slob just fine - it's the spit and slob of other peeps that makes my skin prickle.


At any rate, I changed my tune when this whole weight loss thing got underway. Panera has some great-tasting, low-cal options. This summer, I've been pretty much sticking to what I know works. Have you tried the Asian Sesame Salad? 410 calories, and yummy. I skip the bread (I know, but hey - bread vs. waist) and go for the apple, which I usually save to eat an hour or so later. The salad has nice wontony crunchies, a tangy/sweet viniagrette, and cilantro. Love the cilantro.

Blood sugar stabilized... I headed to BR. Mission: find some skinny jeans that work with my mom body. BR? for mom-friendly skinny jeans?, you say. Worth a shot.

photo credit hereI tried on several clothes and chatted with my favorite sales person, Stephanie. She's probably about 22 and she is so, stinkin' cute. She stands back in the dressing room and chats with me about how to wear my scarf this fall, what boots might be best, etc. She's great. Too bad all the jeans just weren't working for me that night. Depending on your height & shape, they might work out for you. These almost worked for me, but the skinnies had some weirdo sagginess behind the knee. Plus, their low-rise is pretty, well, low-rise. I needed to find some mid-rise skinnie to keep that dreaded muffin top at bay. Bye, Stephanie. See you, soon!

eddie bauer modern fit skinny jeans in "rinsed"

I never go into Eddie Bauer, but maybe I should. It's right beside BR, and last week I decided to go in because I'm still in the market for a classic denim jacket (last year's is too big - yay!). I'd check on a jacket and I figured there was a chance they'd have skinny jeans, and - if they did - they just might be mid-rise. Bingo! Eddie Bauer, I'm converted. These are GREAT jeans for moms who need a higher waist but still want to get the dark wash, skinny look. Don't worry, I won't wear these without a top to cover my rump. They might look fine, but I'll wear them with longer tops for modesty reasons. I didn't buy them just yet. I'll take my sister with me next time and get her opinion before I make the purchase. Skinny jeans are part of my fall core wardrobe plan, though, and these are serious contenders.

Well, that was fun. Two stores down was Ann Taylor LOFT. The stores weren't closing until 10pm, so I still had time. Why not?

ann taylor loft charcoal and ivory striped sweater

I sort of accidentally found a shirt that I really liked. Do I love it? I'm not sure. I at least really like it. It looked good on, too. It's not every day that some other shopper in the dressing room comments. I had two ladies comment when I had this on. Do you think the store plants those shoppers to get you to buy their stuff? ;) Problem - it's $60 and not on my wardrobe plan. I already picked up something that covered the "gray stripe" category. Hmm. Dunno - I really liked it. It looked super cute with my rolled boyfriend jeans and black ballet flats. Drat.

cold stone's berry yogurt (more low-cal options here)

Being unsure, I left the sweater behind for the time being. The clock was striking ten. Did I have time to quick step it to Cold Stone Creamery? Sure thang! Cold Stone is a calorie-counter's nightmare, by the way. I mean seriously, people. Did you know one of their big ole "creations" can rack up over 1500 calories!? Yikes-ola. However, they now have "healthy" options. My favorite of which is the berry frozen yogurt. Its texture is somewhere between a traditional frozen yogurt and a sorbet. I added raspberries as my stir-in and ordered a kid's size. The Like It size is about 140 calories, so I figure I came in around that with the add-ins. A little splurge. Totally worth it. The photo is from flickr, and looks rather soupy. Trust me, though. If you like a little sweet/tart action, this is a great treat.

Okay. Everything was shutting down, so I trotted toward the bookstore and munched my yogurt. There was an older gentleman playing the sax on one of the corners. I love street music - when it's good. And he was pretty good. I plopped down on a bench nearby and scrapped the last drops from my cup. Beautiful night. Sax. Treat. I could feel myself re-fueling. Mama Nights are awesome.

I've been pulling back on the interior design inspiration for the last month or two. I feel like my inspiration file is filled to over-flowing. I need to do, now, not just get inspired. So then what, I ask you, caused me to pick up Bunny Williams - of all people? Man!

available here

I had flipped through this book before. I think, though, that was during a time in which I was trying to edit out the more formal inspiration sources. I strongly admire the work of the old-school traditionalists like Charles Faudree, Charlotte Moss, Albert Hadley, and Ms. Williams. Their designs are for extremely wealthy people, though, and rarely offer much for me to actually work with in our own home. So, when I thumbed through An Affair with a House, I must have pushed it aside as too formal.

Friday night, though, I picked it up and looked at it with fresh eyes. Eyes that had been mostly absorbing "accessible" and eclectic design. Formality in IKEA doses. So, this time Ms. Williams' designs were bringing balance to my mental cache. Can I tell you something? The house and property in this book are hands down the most amazing I can possibly imagine. Sure, my personal style is different than Ms. Williams', but this house... this land... these out buildings. Gah!

If it were for a get-away. A Sam-and-Jacci-only weekend. This place would be 100%, completely perfect in every single way. The word "inspiring" doesn't even begin to touch it.

This was Ms. Williams' weekend home (she has an apartment in NYC) for 30 some odd years. 30 years. Of Bunny Williams loving on a house. And, really, that's what I took away from the book. She loved that house into what it became. A multi-million dollar budget didn't hurt, of course, but she and her husband loved it into perfection.

If you struggle with convetousness, maybe it's not wise to leaf through this book. If you can take it all as inspiration and use it as a springboard for you own home within your own means, I can't recommend it enough. I have many weaknesses, but one of my strengths is the ability to take something inaccessible and break it down into parts and adapt those parts so that some of them become accessible. I look at this book and the biggest thing that stands out to me is the emotional reactions it draws from me. The sense of history, elegance, rest, hospitality, graciousness. The connection to nature. The lack of pretense. Really, don't laugh - I mean that last part! If this were my home, it would be pretentious. I'd be trying to be something I'm not. However, Bunny Williams' is a wealthy, wealthy woman. She came from money and she, obviously, has money. She and her husband are mature, no kids at home anymore. I totally believe that this house is them. I just don't get the sense that it's pretensious. I've never met Ms. Williams, but she seems very comfortable in her own skin. And completely confident in who she is. This home is her.

from this wonderful New York Social Diary article

Look. Isn't she so cute? I love the perspective of this photo. You can see her hubby there in the hall, and I can just imagine sitting opposite her and chatting. We're waiting for the shephard's pie to finish baking before we enjoy it with a simple salad out on one of the idyllic porches. She says that guests will always be drawn toward the rooms you use the most as a family because those are the rooms that have the most soul. This is such a great room... lots of soul, I think. It may not seem like it if it were photographed without Ms. Williams and her poochy, but with them there you see that it fits them. They don't have kids, but they have doggies and it's fun to see how they keep such upscale interiors comfortable and welcoming. This is what a room looks like after 30 years of Bunny Williams.

The New York Social diary article in the link above is top-notch. If you're interested in more about the house, check it out.

I headed home after the bookstore closed at 11. I seriously don't know if I can take any more inspiration for a while. I have ideas running around in my head like mad. I've had to sit down from time to time and sketch some things out, just to free up some mental space :) Some of the best ones are straight out of our trip to Door County (so fun you honeymooned there, Renae!). More on that soon.

Have an awesome day!