Joe Naturals.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shawn and I have a very favorite restaurant that if you visit us in Nashville, we'll definitely take you there (incentive?). :) It's actually in a little town called Leiper's Fork just south of us that is beyond precious. It looks like a movie set, it's so quaint and Southern, but it's real. It feels like time slows down a little when you're there, and it's just what Saturday calls for on lots of weekends.

The front porch, complete with rocking chairs that are usually occupied.
Joe Naturals is our kind of restaurant. Locally grown, organic food - even gluten-free options! - that you just feel good about eating. And everyone I've talked to say that their burgers are the best in town. They make you feel like family, too, just like a good Southern restaurant should. :)

The view out back.
The veggie bowl: full of locally grown veggies, topped with homemade hummus and balsamic vinegar.
Shawn's favorite burger.

Date night.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I didn't use to think a dinner date at home was the best option. All the cooking and cleaning involved didn't feel very romantic. But more recently, when we see each other so little and are at home even less, it's become so much more appealing.

Table set.
Candles lit.
Oscar Peterson playing in the background.
Steaks simmering.


We should do this more often.

Sewing 101.

Monday, June 27, 2011

So a few of you have emailed me recently to ask about sewing.
How did I learn?
Any tips in getting started?
Any tutorials I'd recommend?
I actually had the enormous privilege of learning from my Grandma Tunney, who was a professional seamstress for her entire career. She taught me all the basics and inspired me to keep practicing and practicing, because that's how you really learn. So now I want to inspire you... if you have a sewing machine, know how to thread it and sew a straight line, and you've got some guts - you can totally do it!

So here are a few tutorials that helped me get started:
1. Gathered clutch tutorial by Anna of Noodlehead. These instructions are so clear and helped me to put in a zipper for the very first time on my own. And the bag turns out to be pretty cute, too! Highly recommend.
2. This simple clutch tutorial by RubyEllen at Cakies is wonderful, too. It takes a little more ingenuity with cutting the pattern, but it's still very doable.
3. This zippered pouch tutorial by GussySews is so helpful in understanding zippers. They can be pretty tricky, but she breaks it down beautifully.

I hope you're inspired!
Happy sewing!

Gardens and friends.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I have a nurse-friend. Her name is Cherry.
She's been a hospice nurse for as long as I've known her (and a lot longer than that), and until I went to nursing school, she taught me everything I know about nursing. She is such a perfect fit for her job - a job that takes just the right person, as you can imagine.
She gave me my first blood pressure cuff on a mission trip to Mexico and taught me how to use it.
She even let me shadow her for a few days while I was in high school and let me put in a catheter (remember that, Cherry?!). She cheered me on when I started out as a nursing major in 2004, but then the Lord took me on a different adventure for a while. It was one I have never regretted because it led to meeting Shawn, but I think Cherry always knew that I was cut out to be a nurse.

All that to say, Cherry is the first one I call when I have a great nursing story. They're abundant, you know. I have seen things this summer that I never even knew existed. I know I can pick up the phone and say, "You'll never guess what I saw..." and she'll understand. Because she's probably seen it too. And then she'll say, "Well, you won't believe this..." and we go back and forth with story after story. I'm so thankful for her - for her inspiring example as the most compassionate nurse I know - and also how quick she is to laugh. Sometimes, it seems, you either have to laugh or cry.

So you're probably wondering what all of this has to do with vegetables (like the picture above)? Nothing, actually. I just happened to be talking to her while I picked these out of the garden to go along with dinner tonight. And then I decided to show them off. They're not much to look at - yet - but I have a feeling it's only a matter of days until our garden is producing more than we can even handle. Hooray for summer!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm making way for some new (and bigger!) designs in my shop,
so I'm offering a sale on lots of the smaller bags. The sale will go through the weekend and end on Monday, June 27th. All of the items listed are ready to ship, and can be shipped the day you purchase them.

And if you use the coupon code: ELMSTREET you'll get free shipping!

Happy shopping!!

It's a small world after all.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The other day, I had just finished up an exam at school and was walking outside catching up with a friend on the phone. As soon as I hung up, a lady and her son nearby stopped me. I thought they needed directions.

"Do you have a blog?" the lady asked.

(I'm sure my face turned bright red at this point.)


"Elm Street Life??"

Turns out, she had been reading the blog for quite some time from Boston. She knew I lived in Nashville, but didn't know what school I went to and just recognized me. I'm so glad she said hello! I'm still feeling a little stunned. People in Boston, even in other countries, read my blog?? Intersecting for just 5 minutes was such an encouragement to me and a confirmation for her that her son is in the right place, even so far from home.

I'm temped to say, "Wow, what a small world. What are the chances?"
But in my heart, I know the truth: what a big God!

It's Father's Day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The other night, Shawn and I were on our way home, listening to Pandora radio when a piano version of the old hymn "This Is My Father's World" came on. I closed my eyes and was transported back to the 9-year-old version of my self. There I sat on the second pew of any church in America, wearing tights and patent leather shoes, listening to my Dad play during the Sunday morning offering. It's probably a feeling that only my sister can identify with, but the comfort of hearing that piano play - with Dad sitting behind the keys - is indescribable. You probably wouldn't think I could tell if it was him or any other piano player, but I can. I remember sitting and proudly watching people's faces in the crowd as they closed their eyes and worshiped or whispered to the person next to them, "Isn't he amazing?" He is an amazing pianist, but even better than watching his hands is watching his face. It lights up when his fingers touch those keys. It's what he was made to do, and he does it with so much joy.

I remember in my cross country days, Dad was the only one I needed to see before the race started. I'd stand with one foot on the line and scan the crowd, looking for him on the sidelines. As soon as I saw him, I was ready to run. I knew he'd be there cheering me on, and that mattered so much to me. He had been there through the summer of training before, joining me for early morning runs on the golf course behind our house. He had taken us to buy the best running shoes available. He had invested so much. So when I would round a corner and see him smiling from ear to ear, I knew he was so proud of me and I knew I could keep going.

I remember one of his proudest moments as he walked me down the aisle at our wedding. The rest of the wedding party had made it down the aisle, and I had one final moment behind the curtain with Dad before he handed me off to my groom. As the music started, I leaned my head on his shoulder and let the tears drip down my face in joy, so thankful that he had helped prepare me for a new man to take care of me.

Today, I am so thankful that he has not only continued to love me well as an adult, but he also loves my husband as his own son. To see them talking, spending time together, and loving each other is a gift. More than anything, I'm thankful that he has pointed me to Jesus. He knows that his purpose as an earthly father is to point me to my Heavenly Father, and he has done just that.

I love you, Dad.
I'm so proud to be your daughter.
Happy Father's Day.


What Saturday looks like.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday has been perfect so far.
Such a relief from a crazy, crazy week. (Do I always say that? Yeah, I thought so.)
We have our friends in town for the day, the ones who tend to make lots of appearances on the blog. But this time, instead of all 7, there's just one kiddo!

So we celebrated the morning with Mr. Shawn's specialty... apple cinnamon pancakes:

And we watched this kid's personality shine. We've got a clown on our hands!

I've even gotten a little sewing done (many custom orders!). So relaxing.
Happy Saturday to you!

I belong.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This song has so encouraged me this summer.
It's taken straight from one of my favorite passages in Romans:

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
- Romans 8:38-39

Since moving to Tennessee, it just so happens that I'm around very few Christians from day to day. I would've thought otherwise, moving from downtown Chicago where it would seem there are fewer believers. But "cultural Christianity" is very prevalent here. If you haven't been here and don't know what I mean, lots and lots of people here go to church because it's the "right thing to do" but as soon as they step out of those sanctuary doors on Sunday, they go on with their normal life and live in ways that the church would outright condemn.

I'm not saying that I don't do the same thing - I am a sinner, saved by grace, and I know that I say and do things that break God's heart all the time. He is so loving to correct me and to bring me back over and over again.

But when "being a Christian" here means nothing more than going to church because that's what you're supposed to do, that's what I'm talking about. So all that to say, I often feel like I stick out like a sore thumb for being committed to Christ - for talking about Him, for reading my Bible, for not participating in certain things that a lot of people around me do. You wouldn't think so here in the "buckle of the Bible belt" as Nashville has been called, but it's true. At least in my world. (Can other Bible belt people relate?)

But here's the thing: I am called to walk the narrow road. I am called to be light in a dark world. My eyes have been opened more and more to the true darkness that permeates the world. It is thick and black and ugly. So instead of being discouraged about its pervasiveness, I am called to walk boldly into the darkness, bearing the light of Christ.

This truth has become so foundational for me: nothing can separate us from Christ's love. Not discouragement, filth, hate - nothing. Not even my own sin.

I wish I could remember that more often than I do. I would be much more joyful, less weighed down, knowing that no matter what, I am covered in Christ's love and am being sanctified through the trials I am facing here.

He is with me.
He is for me.
He loves me.
I revel in that truth.

For Kirra.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dear Kirra Sue,

Remember that one time when you invited me to Pinterest? And remember when you posted this picture of this dreamy (and quite expensive) pillow and challenged me to make it?

DIY Love : Lila Side Ruffle Linen Pillow with Down Insert by FullBloomCottage

Well... it just so happens that in my extra couple of hours today, I took you up on it (and for about a tenth of the original price! My favorite!).


Send me your address, please! 
I hope Morgan St. likes its new addition. :)

Love you!

Summer wedding.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shawn and I had the privilege of shooting another wedding recently, this time at the most gorgeous wedding location we've probably ever seen. Pete and Edie were such a joy to work with and we've been working our way through at least a couple thousand photos we captured of the day.

So here are a few. Many, many more to come.

Pete & Edie,
Blessings on your new marriage!
We hope you enjoy the little preview.
Shawn & Whitney


Pasta and peas.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Today was... interesting.
It started with a cup of very strong coffee at 4:45am, and is ending soon (once I finish my paperwork for tomorrow's clinical) with this yummy meal. I don't know why I was craving pasta and peas, but it just sounded like comfort.

Without divulging too much, my 11 hours at the hospital was challenging. In a good way, yes. I always learn so much from my patients, and this patient was no exception. He was exceptionally interested in teaching me about every aspect of his care, which was both exhausting and rewarding. I learned where my threshold lies, as I ended up in a cold sweat on the floor at one point. That makes it sound worse than it was, but let me just say: wound care is not my calling. My teacher was calm and comforting, and she gave me water and had me put my head between my knees. I started crying and couldn't stop. I felt like a failure. A wimp. But thinking about it now, I think anyone in my situation might have reacted the same way.

Right now, my parents are on their way over to our house to spend a few days while they get their new house ready to be lived in. It'll be a fun, cozy time with all four of us under one roof, plus boxes and boxes of their things all over the place. It feels a little surreal having them stay with us instead of the other way around. I'm glad we can help.

All in all, it was a good day.
A very   s t r e t c h i n g   day, to say the least.
And for that I am thankful.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


My professor said something that stuck out to me today:

"We bring life or death to every person we interact with."

Isn't that the truth? 
We either bring lifethe light of Christ, a positive perspective, encouragement, hope, peace.
Or we bring deathcomplaints, negativity, discouragement.
No doubt you've experienced both. I know I have. There are those people you so look forward to being around because their brightness lifts your soul. They remind me of this verse:
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." - Philippians 4:8

I am so often guilty of focusing on what is hurtful and sad, and not dwelling on truth and beauty that God commands me to focus on. In thinking about truth, and about beauty, I can only be drawn to the Author of those things - to God Himself.

This week, we had seven little guests and their mama come stay with us, and let me just tell you - they brought life. We adults can get so serious and stressed out, but kids put things in perspective. They live freely, running barefoot in the grass, spending hours on a tree swing, and they even think it's fun to see who can pull the most weeds out of our garden (thanks, guys!). Their laughs, their spirits, and the endless hugs and kisses made this week a lot more bearable. We are smitten. I think you'll see why.

We love you guys.
Thank you for loving us, too.

PS - You know how you fit seven kids in a small bedroom with one bed? Creatively. :)
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