Sunday, May 17, 2015

Wedding Bells

Months and months of planning came down to this weekend - Sital finally got married! We've been talking to each other about plans and details every day for so long. It's hard to believe it's finally over. My calves are sore, I'm tired, our house is dirty, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Festivities started Friday morning with a mendhi ceremony where all of Sital's close female friends and family members received henna. Each design was freehanded and completely different!

Sital had her's applied the night before and it took six hours. It's customary for them to write the groom's name somewhere on in her design. Kiger had to find his name on her on their wedding night!

That night we held their wedding eve bash at our house and had so much fun. I'm sorry I don't have any pictures. Since there is no wedding party and they knew they would already have rehearsed the ceremony, they wanted a party for all of their family and out of town guests. We were happy to throw it for them with the help of Kiger's mom!

Bright and early the next day Sital and the female side of her family used our home as their spot to get ready. Kiger and Sital had their first look in our backyard and it was so sweet seeing Paul leading him out there with his eyes closed.

Just before the ceremony. 

After a few wardrobe changes. We had such a great time. So good to see my best friends, especially since we are spread out all over the country - Denver, Nashville, Orlando and Oxford.

Today we tried to take it easy, but we are working to finish up the next magazine. We send it off the the printer next week!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Has it been raining a lot where you are? I feel like it has been constant rain the past couple weeks and we're about to get slammed with another week of rain. April showers bring May flowers, right?

Another thing about April - it's packed with things to do. I've taught my first social media course for the season at the college where I work for their community enrichment series (a three hour night course), we've had tons of community events and we're slowly but surely working on some house projects.

One of our favorite events of the month - First Thursday in the neighborhood.

Every week this room develops further and further. Last week we mounted a floating shelf out of a cool plank I found in our garage shop from years past. We'll have a blog about that project soon!

We've also rearranged our dining room a bit to accommodate our new retro dining set that I bought off eBay. Those chairs are some of my favorite pieces in this house.

We have a new Thai place in the neighborhood about a mile from our house called Surin. I can't quit the Super Crunch Roll (top). 

It's also officially sandal season. I ordered these sandals online from Target and they're so comfortable.

The backyard is in full bloom. Look at the azalea bushes next to the garage!

Our friend Julia (above) is one of the meteorologists for the local NBC affiliate and last night we got to go watch them as the 6 o'clock news ran from the weather center. Paul loves seeing the behind-the-scenes of productions, so he was in heaven learning about all the different aspects of filming and making a news package. Where we were sitting was probably five feet off camera and it's a little nerve wracking to think that one wrong camera move and you could be on air!

Last night was another concert series in the streets of Fondren. So much fun to see all our friends and neighbors out enjoying a cool spring evening. Our friends Craig and Lori have started a popsicle cart that they take around to events and pop-up in the neighborhood during the week next to the Capri. Their avocado pop is probably my favorite at this point.

Hope you guys have a great rest of the weekend!

Monday, March 16, 2015

How I Got A $6,400 Mid-Century Sofa For Less Than $500

We're nearing the one year mark on owning our home which means for almost a year now, our front living room has been empty (see progress pictures here). We've had other projects we wanted to work on and, honestly, I couldn't find what I wanted. Where we live, it's hard to find mid-century modern furniture without paying a royal fortune (and that's when you can find it).

Step forward to last week. I went into one of the home decor consignment stores I visit from time to time and lamented to the ladies in the store that I still couldn't find a good sofa. One of them told me they'd seen one recently posted by another store, but it had been a few weeks and, oh, it was orange. "BUT THAT'S WHAT I WANT," I said and furiously looked it up on my phone. 

And I died a little bit on the inside because this was the photo posted:

Let me tell you, your mind will do irrational things when you want something. I was on a mission. I envisioned someone swooping in right before I could get there. I went out to my car and gave them a call. The sofa was STILL THERE and currently going for $560. That night, I showed Paul the photos and he liked it. I went the next day to look at it, haggled with them and bought the sofa for $485. I was pretty happy with myself.

I started searching online because I knew this was an incredible piece. This is what I found:

Oh, you know, a refurbished and reupholstered version for $6,400 online. Ours, to our knowledge, has the original fabric.

Here was another similar model we found:

I couldn't have been more proud of this purchase.

And the cat approves.

Can't wait to show you how the front room is finally shaping up!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lousiana Girl Trip

How time flies! I can't believe it's already been a week since this trip ended. Every spring my mom, sister, aunt, cousin and I go on a trip on some sort. It started as our spring break trips when we were in school and we've gone everywhere - from the mountains of North Carolina to Disney in Orlando. For about ten to fifteen of those years, my mom has been saying she wanted to tour the Tabasco factory in South Lousiana. This year, that came true.

In true McNeil fashion, the early morning start began with Bloody Mary's. We got a kick out of mom trying to mix them on a bumpy interstate.

After lunch in Ponchatoula, we made our way to Carville, home of the country's former leprosarium. If you've ever read the book In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, you'll know what we're talking about. This place was very interesting.

There was even a room where you could pull "files" on patients and learn about how the disease had affected them.

But, the main portion of our trip was spent in New Iberia. This is one of the places you could stay on the property where we stayed.

This was actually where we stayed. We were skeptical when we pulled in, but it ended up being great. It was right on Bayou Teche!

New Iberia has some gorgeous homes downtown.

Ah, Tabasco land. Mom was really excited. To be honest, there wasn't much to photograph of the actual factory, but the grounds were very pretty. (Mom has some great info on her blog about the trip!)

Also on Avery Island was Jungle Gardens, land conserved by the family, which included all kinds of themed areas. This house held a Buddah from 1100 AD.

After that, we all needed a sandwich... fast. We were all getting hangry and turned into a diner with a packed parking lot (usually a good sign). They had good poboys that you could get a half of, but double the meat. Here's mom's overstuffed oyster poboy.

We also toured a rice mill in town and the start of the show had to be the factory cat. She knew how to get what she wanted.

While a the rice mill, the tour guide told us about crawfish fields and what to look for. On the way back home, we stopped to see what they were all about. 

And no trip through Baton Rouge is complete without a trip to Trader Joe's. My pantry was very happy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Just wanted to pop in for a quick hello! Things have been so busy lately, including finally wrapping up our next magazine and I've been having to work weekends lately. But, our weird Mississippi weather has been giving us a few glimpses of spring.

Like these beautiful buttercups that are EVERYWHERE in our yard. It's been fun to see things start to show up in random places.

A (semi) quiet moment I captured the other day while Paul was watching the Stevie Wonder tribute concert. Loving this book right now!

Until next time!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Progress: Hall Art Update

Happy Sunday! I'm really glad it's a three day weekend. It's been a pretty busy week for me work-wise, so it's nice to have some time off. Not to mention, we're getting a new refrigerator delivered on Monday. Yay!

Just wanted to tell you about a small project we just completed that makes me smile every time I walk by it. Over Christmas we painted our two hallways. On the "guest" side of the house, the walls have been patched multiple times and it shows. At some point, we are probably are going to have to re-do the sheetrock in this space. Paul was kind of bummed about how it looked despite our best attempts to smooth it, which did help. I told him not to worry, I'd arrange art in such a way that you wouldn't even notice. 

We have art that still needs to be hung and I especially wanted to feature our friends' prints that they make of maps featuring Jackson neighborhoods. So far they've done two - Fondren and Midtown - which I grabbed white frames for at Michael's. 

In the middle, I took an old art piece that we didn't want to use and painted the frame. I saw a project on Pinterest for gilded corners and wanted to do something similar. In her project, she painted painter's tape, but I just marked the frame and painted directly on it. It took probably four coats, but I like how it turned out. Over a year or so ago I bought this old map of Jackson from the 40s, but I haven't known what to do with it. I painted the back of some art paper and mounted it. Voila!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

House Progress

I was looking through photos on my phone last night and came across photos I took when we first looked at our house and thought about buying it. Flipping through, I really was shocked at how much we've done in 8 months since moving in. Doing a small project at a time, I think the progress just feels normal. But, woah, I think our house gets a much improved badge.

I thought it'd be fun to stack up photos I took when we were considering this house against progress photos and what it actually looks like now. Sound fun? Just an advanced warning, this is going to be a long one!

Here's what our house looked like when we first looked it last February:

Our house now:

We haven't done much in the way of landscaping, except to prune and fertilize. The biggest changes came in killing the vine growing up the side of our house - a complete monster - and a new roof that was put on before we moved in. The vines took the paint completely off that side of the house. In some ways, it helped us learn that we could tackle painting our house ourselves if we did it a little at a time. We aren't completely finished with the exterior (it got too cold to paint), but our biggest trouble areas have been finished.

Before (left) and after paint (right side)

Our backyard has really become a big part of our house and our transformation so far. See how dirty the concrete was? It's been power washed. All that you see here exterior-wise has gotten painted. The section of wood right against the chimney on the underside has been replaced. (You can sort of tell in this photo, but it started to fall apart shortly after we moved in.)

Patio after power washing:

After ripping down vines that were taking over the back, we were left with this. Sad face.

Here's our brother-in-law Ryan putting in the new wood to fix that overhang. He's been such a help in all of our progress, too. He's been our encyclopedia on how to fix things we were unsure about!


Now, let's head inside. The biggest difference, by far, came from painting our cabinets. I think that really was the turning point in making us like this house. That dark color had to go. We paid a lot to have these fixed, but it's been worth it.



It now feels bright and clean in all of our rooms - kitchen, laundry and back living room.

One of our more recent updates has been to our bedroom. Here's what it looked like when we toured the house the first time:

Progress, before painting:


The front living room is probably the biggest "still in progress." I have a feeling that will change this year. Here's what it looked like when we first toured it:

I think this room (and the back living room) were what sold us on this house. The biggest complaint we had about our rental is that we wanted to have gatherings at our house, but we couldn't all sit together. We have a big family and we wanted to host sit down dinners and parties and our rental was small in that department.


We've completed painting this room and the dining room, but we're still not sure what this will turn into next. I'm waiting for the perfect couch to really be a starting point for where we take the room.

And, yes, we've hosted many a dinner in here. Here's Thanksgiving at our house:

See that half wall with the light switch? That two feet of wall is probably the biggest thorn in our side with progress of this room. To have the large dining room table we want and to be able to expand to seat 15-20 people together, this wall most likely needs to be removed. There's a good bit of work that would probably need to be done to make this happen, like moving the electrical, patching the ceiling and floor and (potentially) shoring up a beam just above this in the attic. It sounds expensive and intimidating, so we haven't even tried to seek out a contractor about it yet.

Our fourth bedroom got a makeover from a boy's bedroom to our office.



The chalkboard wall is probably my favorite feature. We use it to plan and make lists.

Bathrooms got updates in the form of paint, new mirror (guest bath), new light fixture (master bath) and whole lot of wall patching all around. Our next move is to finish tiling up the guest bath so that it can be used as an actual shower.





And, finally, the living room (our most "lived in" room) has changed a lot too, but paint has been the biggest help to changing the feel of the place.

Before we purchased:



Ooof, that's a lot! Next up, Paul does a guest post to tell you guys about organizing and making the shop the place he always wanted.


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