house tour:: first floor

Welcome to our house! I just love seeing decor choices that other people make in their homes, so I thought I’d share a glimpse into our work in progress, starting with the first floor. There are SO many things I love about the bones of our house and the upgrades we’ve made, but there are of course several things on our wish list for the future. Aren’t there always? Work on a home is never done in my mind, but that’s part of the fun!

The Foyer:: I love that we actually have a foyer. It’s not as large as I’d like, but I am happy that it gives a little breathing room when you first enter the house. A lamp is essential to brighten up the entry space, and this fun new spiky aloe plant was a good find last weekend. I think we need more live plants around here.
Wish list:: I really want to change out the current light fixture just inside the door… it’s plain, boring, and doesn’t give off much of anything in the light department. I’d love a hanging metal/glass pendant of some sort… maybe like this or this.


The Half Bath:
 This is the only bathroom on the main level, and it’s perfect for guests (and being lazy so we don’t have to walk upstairs). It was originally the neutral color that the rest of the main floor is. I painted it navy to make the small space stand out a bit and give it some interest. I hate to admit it, but I sort of like the contrast of the brass to the navy paint….  maybe one day we’ll get with the times and replace with brushed nickel fixtures.

Wish list:: Changing out the mirror and light fixture. I’d prefer a smaller, framed mirror (maybe oval) and an updated fixture. If we do that, we’ll probably go all out and change all the fixtures to brushed nickel. I also think it would be fun to pick a crazy patterned wallpaper for this room, but Craig would tell me I’m crazy.



The Dining Room: At Christmas last year, we FINALLY got a great rug to ground the room (this guy from West Elm) and removed the red fabric-covered valance over the large window that did not match anything else in our house. We were gifted some beautiful, neutral patterned curtains from Ballard Designs, and I love how they frame the window, but don’t draw too much attention to themselves.
Wish list:: I sometimes debate painting this room, as I’d love to have a more dramatic contrast between the upper and lower halves of the walls. I’d also like to find/make a table runner to give some color and interest to the tablescape.


We received this Crate & Barrel bookshelf/wine rack as a wedding gift, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of furniture we have. It adds some height to the room and gives us a lot of storage (as well as a reason to buy more wine) and decorative space for frames, cook books, and corks, of course.

The Kitchen:: It was originally a darkish tan color, which was just not appealing to me. Last winter, we removed the sliding doors out to the deck and replaced them with french doors. While we were at it, we repainted the kitchen this great slate grey color, and I think it really creates a nice contrast with the cabinets.
Wish list:: I’d love to one day run dark hardwoods throughout the main floor, including the kitchen. Not pictured is the black rectangular kitchen table that seats 4. I’d eventually like to trade that out for a round table to open up the space some.


One of my favorite touches in the kitchen is the DIY mason jar light fixture that Craig made for me. We had the mason jars and just strung lights through the lids to connect into the base of the previous fixture.

The Living Room:: Tall ceilings and the fireplace are my favorite things about this space. I also appreciate the open layout that connects it to the kitchen so that we can easily entertain, which we love to do. I’d been eyeing this painting at World Market for a couple years, and it finally went on sale, so I snatched it up a few months ago. I’m in love. That fun neon banner is from an etsy seller — I bought it for a wedding shower we hosted in the spring, and it’s just too festive to take down. Maybe come Christmas, it’ll have to make room for the stockings. Also, see that gold garden stool? A fabulous hostess gift from said shower (also from World Market – similar here).
Wish list:: A big, dark grey sectional with tons of seating and a chaise lounger! Oh, and fun pillows to add some color and spice.


These photo books (made on My Publisher) are my new favorite way to organize the hundreds and hundreds of photos I take each… month. I have created one “yearbook” for each year, and their personalized, graphic covers make for the perfect coffee table books. living3

Young House Love was the first blog I ever followed. I was beyond thrilled when they released their first DIY book last winter. The first project I chose upon receiving the book was the set of mason jar bookends. I was in need of something to hold up some of my favorite design and cook books, and we had a ton of mason jars on hand. I spray painted them with a matte gold and then filled with rocks from our yard to make them sturdy. They tie in to the big mason jar drink dispenser (Pottery Barn) as well as the kitchen light fixture! I promise I don’t have an obsession. 

What to do with a giant empty wall? Fill it with frames, of course. I think the mixture of light and dark frames creates more interest, and I also like incorporating non-people photos like the Nashville print (from etsy) and landscapes from some of my favorite places. living5
Hope you enjoyed the tour! Later gators!

restaurant review:: Del Frisco’s Grille

For Father’s Day brunch, we decided to try Del Frisco’s Grille in Buckhead. We’d heard great things about the dinner menu, and as soon as we saw the brunch options, we were sold.


Such a hard decision. We’ll definitely be back soon for dinner.

Of course we’d need 3 starters for brunch… from the top:: Grit Cakes with buffalo sauce and blue cheese, Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls, and Fried Pimiento Cheese Balls. I think the unanimous favorite were the egg rolls, but I’d order them all again.


The Grille Benedit with a crab cake instead of ham:: my SIL ordered this and loved it. The presentation was great (as it was with all of the dishes), and cheddar biscuits were to die for. I’d order it just for those.


Half of our table ordered the Chicken & Waffles with Hickory Smoked Bacon. Something about miniature food really appeals to me. Everything was really good, but I wish the waffles had been a tad thinner and crispier. It was served with a spicy maple syrup that was apparently quite spicy… I opted for the regular version.

It would have been wrong to not try the Nutella Bread Pudding…and the Adult Milkshake (not pictured). Both were a fabulous way to end the meal.
Some of my favorite dining partners::

A Few of My Favorite Things (29)

[summer treat:: the new Wendy’s frosty waffle cone was delightful]

[outfit of the week – red, white, and blue for a patriotic look:: GAP dress (last year) // red Toms wedges // Stella & Dot Campari Necklace // Eden Studs // Secret Garden Ring // Bardot Spiral Bracelet]

[saturday on lake lanier with friends]

[enjoying beautiful weather on the boat with our captain]


[sunday morning breakfast fun @ the original pancake house. giant stacks of blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes.]

[hydrangea plants make a colorful addition to our front lawn]

Is it really almost July? This summer needs to slow it down a little, because I’m really enjoying these weekend travels and days on the lake! The weather was absolutely gorgeous last Saturday for our boat trip out on Lake Lanier. We met up with a friend who also owns a boat and spent the entire day floating in a cove and enjoying the sunshine and cold water. It was glorious. Sunday, we had a little breakfast date at The Original Pancake House, and we stuffed ourselves with blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes. Who could ever eat 6 of those things that come in a regular order?? I’m so excited that we finally got some hydrangeas to plant in the front lawn…now we just need one more to fill in the gap. But I already love the addition of the pretty flowers! Hopefully they will grow nice and full. And the best part of the weekend (at least in Craig’s eyes) was finishing our basement theater project and breaking it in with a screening of Bad Boys. I can’t wait to have a viewing party! Did you do anything fun this weekend?

restaurant review:: Bocado

I’ve been hearing about the “incredible double stack cheeseburger” from Bocado for months now. My brother, who is quite the chef,  has claimed that it is probably the best burger in Atlanta. So naturally, I was dying to try it. We headed over to the Westside for lunch last week, and I now see what all the fuss was about…

Simple syrup for iced tea. Good.

Two patties, melty cheese, sesame seed bun, and pickles — simple, but so, so, so good. The fries were great, and you can order them with seasoning if you like.  That’s a side of housemade ranch for dipping, too.

Bottom line — I will be back. Soon. You need to go.

restaurant review:: The Optimist

Last weekend, my parents came into town for Father’s Day weekend. Per usual when they visit, we book reservations to eat our way around Atlanta. What can I say — I get my love of food honestly, I guess. My brother had really been wanting to try The Optimist, the new seafood hot spot on the Westside, so we made reservations for the night they arrived.


The restaurant is appealing as soon as you walk up — 3 mini putting greens, oyster shells as “mulch” along the walkways, and giant bright blue adirondack chairs to use when there is a wait. Guests enter at the oyster bar, where the wood fired oven is the focal point — complete with a mural of a giant octopus encircling the oven’s opening. I was told that the restaurant was designed by the same team responsible for JCT Kitchen’s decor, and it’s obvious with the metal pendant lights, rustic wooden tables, whitewashed walls, and a cool bar that’s the main attraction in the room.



We started out with some fun cocktails, like the 5-Gallon Carboy (Redemption rye, strawberries, lemon, All-spice Dram, Allagash White ale) and the Scurvy Scoundrel (Deep Eddy vodka, house made grapefruit cordial, lime), and a large amount of appetizers…par for the course with our family. Oysters, mussels, shrimp, rolls with sea salt, and “beignet style” corn milk hushpuppies were brought to the table just as a HUGE storm rolled in. Dark clouds, thunder, crazy lightning, and tons of rain are no big deal right? Wrong. Not 10 minutes after ordering our dinner, every light in the building went out. Luckily, we were on the edge of the restaurant near some floor-to-ceiling windows, so we had a bit of light on our table. Those in the center of the restaurant (near the soon-to-be very smoky kitchen) did not fare so well. We had such high hopes for our dinner, so we held strong for a while… until it was apparent that the lights weren’t coming on any time soon — there or anywhere within a several block radius.


I obviously can’t speak to how the entrees were since we never got them, but we’d ordered the duckfat poached swordfish, cornmeal crusted skate wing, and black grouper, among other things. I’m sure it would have been excellent. They also have some really enticing desserts — the Savannah Beignets with bourbon praline and fired pecans being my #1 choice. Ah well… now we have a really good excuse to try it again soon — hopefully next time sans power outage.

A Few of My Favorite Things (28) – Father’s Day edition

[Outfit of the week — I wore this for a newspaper interview I was asked to do with our Stella & Dot CEO/Founder, Jessica Herrin, and one of our Atlanta Senior Directors:: Neon citron skinnies (Old Navy) // Navy tank (Old Navy) // Kelly green cardigan (J. Crew outlet) // Stella & Dot Fiona Bib Necklace // Eden Studs // Secret Garden Ring // Renegade Bracelet // Christina Link Bracelet]
[came home to a surprise — colorful new pretties to spruce up our mailbox]

[dinner and a power outage at The Optimist…which led to dinner #2 at Verde]

[starting father’s day wknd with a walk in the park]

[convincing grandpa to hand over his cereal]
[day trip to lake lanier with the family]

[dinner at kevin rathbun steak] 

[father’s day brunch at del frisco’s grille]


Happy belated Father’s Day to my dad, father in law, our grandpas, and all you dads out there! This week was a great one. It started out with being invited to take part in an interview for the Atlanta paper with Stella & Dot‘s CEO/Founder Jessica Herrin and one of my Stylist friends Anna, who is a Senior Director in Atlanta. Talk about a huge honor and a fun way to start the week! I am so excited to see my name in print alongside those two rockstars.

And in honor of Father’s Day, my parents came up from FL to visit for several days. We had quite a busy time! The first couple days were filled with dinner at The Optimist, Atlanta food truck park, and Kevin Rathbun Steak, tickets to the Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat puppet show, lunch at Bocado (my new favorite spot for an amazing burger), and a day out on the boat at Lake Lanier. We started Sunday off with a most delicious brunch at Del Frisco’s Grille in Buckhead, and then we drove around looking at houses that my brother and his wife are considering buying. It’s so fun to see them making their home owner dreams come true! The weekend ended perfectly — BBQ dinner at my brother’s inlaws’ house reminiscing about their wedding and celebrating our wonderful dads. We are truly blessed with amazing men to call our dads!

4 years + a beach trip to celebrate

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of my last posts, we took a vacation to St. Augustine, FL last weekend in celebration of our 4th anniversary. St. Augustine is one of my most favorite places in the world. My mom’s family has had a beach house there for over 30 years, and I grew up going there every year. We have so many cherished memories of spending time there with our family and friends. And one of the very best memories is having gotten married there on 6.6.09! I love the historic downtown and cobblestone streets, great seafood restaurants and funny biker bars, private beach and orange sand covered in colorful tiny shells, and really just everything about the area. So what better way to celebrate than bring 8 friends and a baby with us for the long weekend?

The trip started off a little rocky with crazy rain all the way to FL from the impending tropical storm Andrea. When we got to the beach house, the waves were some of the craziest I’ve ever seen there, and the tide was almost up to the walkway. I was more than nervous that we’d all be spending our trip cooped up inside, but the sun miraculously came out on Friday morning and saved the trip. So we stocked up on lots of food and drinks to entertain ourselves with for a few days of uninterrupted beach time bliss.



Craig and I arrived earlier than everyone else on Thursday so that we could celebrate with dinner at The Columbia, our favorite spot downtown. There are several locations throughout Florida, but we’ve made a tradition of eating there every time we visit. Their white sangria made tableside, cuban bread, and Chicken Salteado dish are my absolute favorites.

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Our morning view from the back deck. Doesn’t get much better than this.


Our baby friend LOVED his first beach trip!




I think the guys really wanted to hang out in his pool with him.

The family beach house.



The boys found the toys.

Such a beautiful little face!




Dining on the deck at Cap’s on the Water. Oysters, fried gator tail, tasty cocktails, fantastic weather, sunset watching, and swordfish that wasn’t on the menu. Such a fun night.




The last night called for a homecooked seafood feast — sausage/shrimp app,
grouper, mahi, swordfish, grilled corn, and salad — all prepared by the guys.
Best meal of the trip!

Last weekend flew by way too quickly, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re having a great time, right? We couldn’t have asked for better weather, more laughs from playing late night games, better food, or more fun. I’m so happy we got to spend our anniversary weekend with some of our favorite friends. Till next time!

A Few of My Favorite Things (27)

[June Stella & Dot team meeting in Atlanta – the best way to start the month]

[1st summer trip to Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays]
[homemade salsa and bell pepper nachos]
[look of the week (perfect for beach travel):
navy and white striped dress (Guess, from many years ago) //orange J. Crew cardigan (similar here) // Stella & Dot Cameron Pendant // Wanderlust Triple Wrap Bracelet in turquoise // Renegade Bracelet // Secret Garden Ring]


[4th anniversary beach vacation in St. Augustine, FL]

What a week… it started off with a Stella & Dot team meeting with some of my favorite ladies and a picnic in the park for Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays. This is the first time we’ve been this summer, and it was so much fun. We took a cooler and some folding chairs and set up a little picnic area with several friends (and a couple of their kiddies). The truck lines were HUGE and the air was more than hot, but it was a fun way to spend a Tuesday after work. I chose the coconut fried chicken fingers with sweet rice from Ibiza Bites, and I loved it. Can’t wait to go back!

This week was extra special because June 6th marked our 4-year wedding anniversary! Yippee — we made it! We celebrated with a trip down to my mom’s family beach house in St. Augustine, which is where we got married (in this city, not at the house). It’s one of my most favorite places in the world, so it deserves a dedicated post later this week. We had a fabulous trip with several friends who joined us for the weekend. It’ll be hard to top last weekend, but I’m looking forward to this week’s fun as well!

6.6.13… and this makes four!

Four years ago today, I married my best friend. How has it already been that long? Sometimes, it seems like yesterday.  I’m not going to claim that my husband is better than everyone else’s husbands, because quite frankly, that’s kind of rude. But he is the best husband I could have ever asked for, and I love him more and more every day. Instead of a long, sappy post that only he would appreciate (hopefully he would!), here are some of my favorite memories of our adventures over the years. And to celebrate our 4th anniversary, we’re off to the family beach house in St. Augustine (where we made it official) for the long weekend with some friends!

It all started in the summer of ’05. We were such babies then::


3 years later led to a ring::

And 7 months after that, we were married in St. Augustine, one of my favorite places in the world::

We honeymooned in Peter Island::

And we became home owners in April 2010::

We made it through year #1 and returned to St. Augustine to celebrate::

Puppy made 3 in January 2011::

We have spent many, many afternoons tailgating and cheering on the Dawgs and Tigers::

Craig turned into a real live Santa Claus::

We’ve traveled near and far, but one of our favorites will always be Lake Tahoe::

We celebrated my brother’s engagement on the beaches of Costa Rica in April 2012::


And then we celebrated Craig’s 30th at his favorite spot in Nashville, The Stage, in October 2012::

And by Thanksgiving 2012, our puppy Coco was all grown up::

In May 2013, we celebrated my brother’s wedding and gained a sister to complete the Sims family::

We’ve gone so many places and done so many things, and I am ever so thankful for all the memories we have made together. Craig, I love you so so muches! You are my best friend, my rock, and my everything. I look forward to many, many more anniversaries and adventures with you by my side! Motown + Craiggers 4 Life!

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

My superwoman sister-in-law Lauren volunteered for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival in Midtown last week (just a couple days after returning from their honeymoon, mind you), and she was gracious enough to offer up her 2 free passes for the last day of the event.
I love food and cocktails, and I love it even more when it’s free. So how could we say no (especially considering that
passes were $100+ per person each day)?


The tasting tents were PACKED to the max with people, food, drinks, and more people.

Being in the South, there was a lot of BBQ. And Bourbon.

Shrimpies and crawfish!

One of my favorites of the day… Frito Pie from Fox Bros. BBQ! I already know that I love Fox Bros, so I didn’t really have to try their food…
until I saw brisket chili being scooped into bags of Fritos. Yep. Messy and delicious.


Excuse the blurry photo, but this is Kevin Gillespie from Top Chef! He has an awesome beard. 

We tasted some fried chicken sammies from his booth and they were one of my other favorites of the day.
The chicken was marinated in pickle juice!


M.E.A.T. and lots of it. I’m not even sure what any of this was.

Mini Sublime donuts? Yes! I should have taken one of each. 
The festival was such a fun way to end our week. A torrential downpour kept us all crowded under the main tent for a bit, but other than that, we had a great time. Craig’s favorite were the fried chicken livers — so much so that he went back for seconds and was still talking about them last night. We can’t remember which restaurant they were from… maybe Magnolia’s in South Carolina? We may never know. My faves were Kevin Gillespie’s fried chx sammies, the mini Sublime donuts, and the Frito Pie from Fox Bros. We also enjoyed tastings of Wolf Mountain wine, several bourbons, and craft beer. All quite yummy. I hope Lauren volunteers next year so we can go to the tasting tents again!  (he he) Thanks, Lauren!