Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Tale of Two Paintings.

So I don't usually play favorites. I love my parents equally. I have two brothers and two sister-in-laws and I love them all the same. The same goes with my nieces and nephews.  I like to kid myself and say that the same rule applies to my animals....but we all know how that goes. If you have a herd like we do, then you know you have one animal that holds a special place in your heart. Conner is that animal for me.

I had gone back and forth about whether I wanted to have a portrait painted of any one of our animals because I didn't know if I really wanted a pet portrait in our home. I didn't know if I wanted to be one of "those people." You know, the ones that are crazy animal people. But let's be honest, with six animals, we are already "those people!" ;) 

So when deciding who gets their portrait painted, it was really between the two dogs we have the longest. Well, at the time we only had two dogs. It was before we adopted Lady. So I decided to have Conner's portrait painted first since he is the oldest and we adopted him before Scooter. 

The portrait of the left is the one I had a friend paint for me. I picked out the picture, told her what I wanted and paid for her services, and I could not be more thrilled with the results. 

The portrait on the right was a total surprise to me. Little did I know that at the same time the portrait on the left, was being painted, my cousin Lauren was having another Conner portrait painted for my birthday! I love it so much! 

Here are the two paintings of Conner::

 Both portraits are special to me and are completely unique. The first one is a more realistic image and it captures his happy personality. The second one is more abstract but yet still looks like him. I think he looks more like a puppy in the second one, innocent and sweet.
They both are amazing pieces of art. Completely different in style, both paintings still capture Conner's happy, loyal, loving (and sometime mischievous) personality. I will cherish them for years to come.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Our First Home.

I wrote this post weeks ago but I'm a bit superstitious so I didn't want to post it until it was here is the big news...

Our home in Benton has SOLD!!! WAHOO! After sitting on the market for roughly about 8 months, we could not be happier that we have an accepted offer on our Arkansas home. As of yesterday, it is closed, done, official, sign on the dotted line, OVER.

It was never our intention to own two homes in different states especially when my husband is totally changing careers. But God had a plan to get us down to Ruston quickly so we listened. Provided the inspection process goes well, we will close on that house in one month. You know what that means, right? We will be down to only ONE house payment! Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! 

While we were in Little Rock this weekend, we went by our old home one last time. We walked around sharing all the memories the two of us made in our first home. It was definitely a bittersweet moment. Buie even pointed out where the dogs would run over and over along the same path wearing a trail into the grass...the trail was gone and the grass had grown back. It was like the dogs had never even been there at all. When he said those words out loud, I got a gut wrenching ache in my belly because it pained me to even think about losing all of the wonderful memories made in that home. It saddened me think that the future residents of this home will always just refer to us as the future owners. They might even complain about the chipped paint and the nails we left in the walls. They won't know the wonderful friends that enjoyed a burger on the back patio or the countless foster animals who played in our backyard. 

This was the home we brought Scooter home to and later Charlie. This was the home where Buie and I buried George around the side of the house. I will never forget seeing the rare moment of my husband crying as he dug a hole and placed his body, still warm and slowing growing stiff, down in the ground. As we walked around the home, Buie and I said goodbye and looked at the spot where he is buried. The next owners won't know where he is buried because of the ivy that has now grown over the grave, but we will always know. 

If a house had a memory, what would it remember the most about us living there for four years, I wonder? That house might not remember us but we will never forget it. 

It was a wonderful first home. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Before & After:: Front Yard

I have said more than once that a home to me is like a giant canvas, on the inside and the out. It's like a piece of art to personalize and continually improve upon. When we moved into this 20 year old gem, we knew a major landscaping over hall would be due soon. I put some serious thought into doing it myself but after spending several Saturdays pulling weeds, and getting rid of poison ivy, I quickly learned the value of a great landscaping company. 

Our friends Josh and Jeremy started their own landscaping business a little over a year ago and they have done some amazing work for my dad's business and at my parent's home. Take a look at how they transformed our front yard. 

BEFORE:: All the hedges are overgrown and are randomly placed.

AFTER:: So much better, right?

BEFORE:: My least favorite thing about the whole front yard was this huge ugly overgrown shrub. I believe it was a Hawthorn? It was a home for about a million spiders as well as a huge possum who liked to harass Lannie Cat. 

AFTER:: A million times better!! No more huge shrub or big ugly tree trunk. We hung a front porch swing and now it is one of my favorite spots to sit and watch the sunset.

BEFORE:: See how ugly that shrub and tree trunk are? And the weird thing is about this tree trunk is that it's NOT a real tree trunk. It's pieces of wood formed in the shape of a cylinder and filled with potting soil. Weird, right? When Josh & Jeremy removed it, they said it was housing the largest ant bed they had ever seen. Bye Bye, Ants!!

AFTER:: Now the focus is the front porch instead of that eye sore. Before when we would sit on our front porch, we couldn't see over the top of that huge spider infested bush. But now everything is so clean and the conversation azaleas won't grow very tall so we will always have a great view. They left me a few spots like this one in front to add in some seasonal color. I have big plans to plant some pansies and maybe even try out some tulip bulbs for the upcoming Spring.

BEFORE:: This area right outside the kitchen door was just a mess.

AFTER:: Now all of those overgrown hedges are gone and gardenias took their place. Josh & Jeremy even got the little fountain working for the time being. We are planning on putting a little more moolah into the fountain and sprucing it up a little bit more in the near future. But for now, this area is SO much better than it was!

This area where the grass barely grows and people always walk through, we decided to throw down some flagstone. I love the look of flagstone and I love how the little pebble river turned out. When it rains, the water naturally flows right into the big part of the fountain and then drains away from the house down through the pebble path.

BEFORE:: This front bed was filled with a variety of things and none of which was very pleasing the the eye, including the big dogwood tree that was dying. :( Sadly it had to go bye bye.

AFTER:: But we replaced it with a brand new dogwood tree and a spiffy new lamp post to help improve visibility. Since our home is settled off the road deep in the woods, it gets pretty dark at night. Josh & Jeremy hooked up our new lighting system and set us up on a timer so it comes on and goes off everyday automatically. Modern technology is simply amazing. And speaking of timers, all of our new flower beds have a soaker system that are completely on a timer. I highly recommend doing this if you are like me and forget to water until things start turning brown. ;)

BEFORE:: The other side of the house needed some attention as well. 
AFTER:: We didn't do much but just a small bed with a few azalea plants made a huge improvement! 

We are so pleased with our new beds. It really improves the way the house looks. If you are in the Ruston area, check out Cutting Edge and let them work their magic. :) I'm SO glad we decided to hire them. That's one more thing I can check off my to do list.