Happiness Is...a Saturday at home


 I've started taking a lot of photos, too many photos, photos I never intend to share here; and sometimes these photos say something to me and come to mean more than just an exercise in lighting, or focus. I've decided to start a series on the blog called "Happiness is..." My plan is to share maybe once or twice a month just little snapshots of life, the images I capture that don't have a place in the grand scheme of the blog but have a place in my heart because they're all the things of home.

Happiness is...

Waking up and walking out to the garden to water our growing plants, only to find your first ripe tomato and lettuce ready to eat.
Our CSA bounty turning into so much more; a time to spend with Ryan pickling and making the house stink of vinegar.
A silly puppy who thinks she has human hands and tries to help you cook and clean in the kitchen.
My studio- messy from use, and consistently well loved.
Pretty vintage wares hanging to dry in the afternoon sun.
Realizing it's noon and you've already had a day full of fun and exploration.
Loving a new thrifted item so much you put it on as soon as you get home and immediately go on adventures with it.
A spontaneous coffee date with the one you love.

Happiness is the little moments more often than the big ones. I hope you enjoyed this feature as much as I enjoyed creating it. I'm excited to share more posts like this in the future. big kiss, bekuh

Return of the sentimental babysitter.


This past weekend I cut shapes out for collages, splashed in the pool, made ice cream cones out of play dough, and pretended to be the coolest aunt ever to three of the coolest kids I've ever met. Enter the Sorensons. During my last two years of college I lived with this amazing family and watched their three kids on the daily, so to say it's been tough without them for the last two years would be an understatement. I've only gotten to see them a handful of times, one of those times being our wedding, and it kills me that I live an hour plus from them now. I love them so much and miss them like crazy. I decided I needed to relive the amazing days I had with them and you get to too.
Friday night was spent catching up, eating pizza, and watching movies; but Saturday was filled to the brim with excitement and adventure. First Sallie and I cut out pictures, and fun shapes to make a collage for her camp trunk before breakfast. Then we pasted the whole lot to the lid and ate pancakes and bacon with the two other littles.
After breakfast we played in a sandbox, swung for an hour, and enjoyed the cool morning air before the hot noon sun hit. Aggie was crawling when I first started watching the kids, so it was amazing to see how grown up she's become and self contained. For the fist time ever I didn't have to change her diaper! I loved how much she talked and how vivid her imagination has become,
Sallie was a ball of nerves because she was leaving for camp in just a few short hours, so we tried to keep her entertained with pogo stick challenges, and talking about her upcoming middle school days this fall. She's a full blown pre-teen now.
These were kind of precious moments for me watching the girls, while Jack rested inside for a bit. Precious because of all the time I've known them, and all that's happened between us, and how we can be apart for a long time but come back together like not a day has passed. They are truly family to me.
Sallie in particular has grown to be so strong and brave. I watched her hugging her siblings goodbye and not shedding a tear as they grabbed at her trunk begging her not to go to camp without them. It meant the world to me that she paused to say how much she loved me too and how happy she was that we got to spend some time together before she had to leave. I too teared up just a little watching her pull away in a friend's car all packed and ready for a new chapter of summer to begin.
Pool time always helps heartbreak and so Jack, Aggie and I went to the pool for the afternoon. It helped ease the pain of missing their parents, and having to say goodbye to their sissy just an hour or so before. I don't have access to a pool myself so this treat was as much for me as it was for them.
Saturday ended so suddenly with a heaping bowl of ice cream and laughter. I must have taken a hundred pictures of just the porch this weekend, trying to freeze time and all the silly faces and jokes that come with eating ice cream.
Jack is most himself when eating and has always loved a good turn of phrase; he had Aggie and I in stitches over a couple of jokes about food. He too is such a big boy now, and so helpful. He scooped everyone's ice cream and served it to us like a gentlemen, never once complaining or asking for help.

Sorry for the picture overload but there was just so much to share. You are getting a double or triple dose if you follow me on twitter (@bekuhdoo) or instagram (@bekuhdoo) because I posted a lot there too. Feel free to relive those moments too, I know I will.

These pictures will have to hold me over until I see them again. I just hope Sallie isn't driving by then, and Aggie in middle school. Do any of you have a special connection with the families you babysat for? That is if you babysat. It's funny when you're not blood related to someone yet feel like you'd do anything for them, even step in front of a bus. big kiss, bekuh

My 8 Tips for thrifting quality vintage


I originally shared this post with Lena's readers on Musings in March, but after a surge of wonderful new readers on the blog, I felt like it was time to share my 8 tips for buying quality thrifted items on Secondhand Sundays too.

A little background: I’ve been thrifting since age eight, and it all started with a pair of Jackie-O style glasses. Since then my closet has grown to include well curated vintage pieces from shops across the country, thrifted pieces from local spots and around the world, and a home filled with roadside found treasures. To hear a little more about my love of vintage I hope you’ll check out this post.

I am by no means an expert on thrift shopping, no book credits to my name yet, but I do get a great deal of satisfaction from finding a vintage Lanvin piece for $2, or a dresser for free on the side of the road. I do feel that my 18 years of thrifting experience has given me a fairly good eye for quality vintage and I hope you’ll find the following tips useful in your own vintage pursuits.
1. Go to thrift shops frequently, as in often, as in once a week if you can. I often hit up all of the thrift stores in my area on a weekly basis. Sometimes I find a plethora of items to choose from and sometimes I don’t find a thing. 

2. Look at everything in the store and pick up anything that might interest you from skirts to housewares (This can be a long and tedious process but well worth it). I have this rule when I’m shopping that if I’m not sure about something I carry it around with me while I look for other items and if it’s still in my hand by the time I get to the register I need to buy it. About 90% of the time I end up putting it down before I check out.
3. Always try the clothes on. Vintage sizing is very different from today’s sizing standards. A tag may say it’s a size 12 but it could very easily fit like a size 4; as my mother used to say, “size is just a number.” This also applies to things you think have a nice pattern or feel but look a little blah, try it on. You might be surprised how well something looks off the hanger. Thrift stores don’t care about presentation it’s all about pushing inventory for them so their dressing rooms are your best friend.

4. While in the dressing room check for stains, holes, and split seams. With the garment on the hangers run your hand along each seam, test zippers and buttons, look at the armpits and around the neckline for discoloration, and look at the tags (if available) for care instructions. Never buy a sweater that looks shrunken or a piece with extreme stains, they cannot be fixed.
5. Sometimes all a thrifted item needs is to be altered (slightly). It never fails that I find a skirt that’s too long, or too big, or a dress with an ugly collar that is almost perfect and sometimes the print is too cute to pass up. In cases like this it’s important to either have sewing skills yourself or a seamstress/tailor on speed dial. I try not to buy things that need a major reinvention but if it’s raising a hemline I can do it myself. All of my thrifted skirts have been altered, do I need to repeat that?

6. Double check the Men’s section. A majority of my button down shirts come from the men’s section at thrift shops. There are two reasons for this: 1. Men’s shirts look awesome slouchy or tied with a pair of jeans or leggings 2. A lot of thrift stores mix up men’s and women’s shirts and so women’s button down are often hiding amongst the xx-large men’s items.

7. When you’re checking out at your regular thrifty spot ask the cashier when they normally restock items. This is such an easy thing to do but something most people overlook. I know that on Tuesdays and Thursdays the local Goodwills in my area will have a fresh load of goodies for me to peruse and snatch up.
8. Hit up an estate sale or two. There is this fabulous website called estatesales.net where you can plug in your zip code and it will spit out all of the upcoming estate sales in your area in the next couple of weeks. I am always checking this site for sales that list “clothing” as one of its items because fabulous vintage pieces can be found at these sales. One of my goals this summer is to hit up at least one estate sale a month, but more if I can.

Bonus Tip: Google all of the thrift/consignment shop in your area and map out an easy route to each of them from your house it will save you time and you’ll be able to visit more in one day using this method.

I wish you the best of luck on your hunt for quality vintage at a low, low cost. big kiss, bekuh

Our Happy Little Neighborhood


I've mentioned about a half million times how much I love our neighborhood and it just recently hit me that I've never actually shared photos of Grandin with you on Secondhand Sundays. This can not be born, and so today I'm sharing with you all of the amazing bits of where we live.
Grandin is a small, distinct area right outside of downtown Roanoke (a borough if you will), and it seems almost untouched by time. Grandin saw it's heyday in the earlier parts of the 20th century and has kept it's midcentury charm with old signs, original businesses, and a community driven to maintain it's historical past. From a rickety old grocery store that my Papaw remembers shopping at, to the Grandin Theatre, a small independent movie theatre in the heart of Grandin, this place has charm for days. The longer I live here the harder it is to justify ever leaving.
When I was a little girl I lived in a neighborhood very similar to Grandin; where neighbors shared sugar, and all the modern conveniences were just a block away. When we moved south it was one of the things I missed the most about living in Ohio, and I dreamt that one day I would live in the city again. I've finally found my oasis a place where I have both the convenience of the city, and the slow pace of home life.
It's all the little things that make me love Grandin, like a mini outdoor amphitheater next to the Baptist church, a mosaic just because it looks pretty, the community market on saturdays, locally owned restaurants, and the theatre. There are restaurants, and boutiques, and doctors, and salons, and they're situated in old brick buildings and homes. Grandin has everything that a 1950s sitcom would find necessary to sustain a perfect home. Sometimes it feels surreal living here.
Once you turn right onto Memorial the businesses quickly give way, and for a brief moment you're introduced to bigger lawns and a road that leads to the Greenway, but the Greenway is for another day. Just over the Memorial bridge you drive 2 miles and you're in the heart of the city. I love our little neighborhood and can't imagine living anywhere else. big kiss, bekuh

Father's Day


Today is Father's day, a day set aside to celebrate our fathers and the influence they've had on our lives. From the moment we are born our dad's play an irreplaceable role in forming who we are. Today I celebrate my daddy and father-in-law; two wonderful men who have played a huge role in both Ryan and my life. I hope each of you are taking a moment today to celebrate the men who have played significant roles in your life.
To say that I will always be your little girl is an understatement. You were my super hero growing up, one of the manliest men I've ever known, and there is nothing you can't do in my eyes. You have always shown your children the tender side of love and I thank you for being brave enough to share your emotions on your sleeve. I wish I could be with you on this and every father's day, but know I carry you around in my heart no matter where I go. I love you, your bekuh-doo

Whenever I am around you Brownings I feel like the most welcome, and loved girl in the world. You have a way of making anybody feel comfortable and your easy smile, and generous spirit make you unforgettable. So much of Ryan's personality can be traced back to you and at times I'm amazed at how much you two are alike. You've always been a wonderful father and your boys will be the first to share that with anybody willing or unwilling to listen. love, bekuh

A Hobo Dinner on Our "Fire Pit"


It's no secret that Ryan and I love good food and the outdoors, I talk about it all the time. So it shouldn't catch any of you off guard when I say we loooovvve to cook outdoors. There is little else in life that can bring as much pleasure as food cooked over an open fire. Unfortunately Ryan and I don't own a fire pit, or land to build one, but "necessity" is the mother of all invention and we decided to make a "faux" pit out of our charcoal grill in order to make Hobo dinners one night. What are Hobo dinners you ask? Read on and find out.
Ryan is my resident master fire builder and I usually leave the grilling to him. I was able to help by walking with him behind our house collecting sticks for the fire. We filled a bucket full of smaller sticks, and carried a few smaller logs to chop down into grill sized chunks. In less than an hour we had a nice hot bed of embers and a roaring fire to make our dinners on.
For our hobo dinner packs we used turkey kielbasa, potatoes, kale, onion, salt & pepper, paprika, garlic cloves, and olive oil. Roughly chop everything and make sure it gets a good coating of oil and seasonings before closing the aluminum foil. Once the packs are made you just toss them into the fire.
Make sure that your packs are sealed tight, you don't want the oil to leak out, or your veggies to tumble into the embers. Cook the packs on each side for about 20 minutes, 40 minutes total, and voila dinner is served. The hardest part is resisting the urge to check inside the packs, don't do it! You have to let all the yummy ingredients steam and cook in merriment.
For a touch of class I brought out our nice plates and cloth napkins to serve. Ice cold beer is the perfect beverage to go with this dinner (if you're asking my opinion). We love enjoying a simple meal together outdoors. big kiss, bekuh

PS- If you haven't already, you should click around on my right sidebar. There are a lot of amazing bloggers, waiting for you to find them, hanging out in that space.

A little retreat: just the two of us (part 2)


 After our lunch at the Tea Bazaar (part 1 found here) we headed up the hill to UVA's main campus for a tour of Thomas Jefferson's famous Rotunda. We ended up arriving a half hour early so we lounged in the grass of his academical village, and I played with my cameras.
I was excited to finally get a really good pic of Ryan and I together with my instax mini camera. Of course I forgot to take a pic of that gorgeous instax but you can peek at a couple of our other ones above. I have to say that the weather was pretty amazing for journey, but after walking from the downtown mall to the Rotunda in my platform shoes I needed a little sit down, ouch.
A really sweet rising junior lead our tour and he really got into talking about all of the secret societies on campus, which are plentiful, and sharing some of the history of the academical village that surrounds the building. Of course the real highlight was getting inside the Rotunda itself and poking around the old bookshelfs. Can you spy where they're at? Probably not, Thomas Jefferson hid them behind the columns of the dome.
We had an awesome night and day trip to Charlottesville and I look forward to a couple of more couple retreats like this in the future. I tweeted the whole way so if you don't want to miss out on our next adventure find me on twitter (@bekuhdoo). Where to next? Maybe Gettysburg or Williamsburg...are you noticing a historical theme here? I'm such a dork. big kiss, bekuh