I Married My Brother’s Best Friend…and other things you may not know about me.

Fillauer Lake House Barn, December 2007

Photo Credit:  Sara Renee Photography​

That's right.  You read that right.  My amazing husband was first my brother's amazing best friend.  And to make that detail even juicier, the best friend life started for them about 24 years ago.  Yep.  We have known each other for 24 years.  We've been married for almost 12 of those years.  Anyone out there have a really REALLY long "awkward stage"?  Me.  I did.  Any here's the truest test of a relationship:  if they marry you in spite of being there for the awkward years (the bangs I cut myself that were about one inch long in middle school, the years before I figured out how to feed by body so it could be it's best, the ruffled lace Sunday morning socks and baby dolls until I was 12 years old), you've got a keeper.  And that's exactly what he is:  a keeper.  He sees the best in me every single day and calls that best version out in the most loving, encouraging ways possible.  I am who I am because he's who he is...and he's one of the greatest gifts God ever gave me.  And...he was my brother's best childhood friend.  Way too cool.

Number Two:  I was born of Friday the 13th

On April the 13th in Farmington, New Mexico...I was born.  And it was a Friday.  I like to think that I debunk all the things people assume about Friday the 13th.  That I'm the evidence that good things can happen on that day...but I guess everyone can have their own opinion about that!  I think my Mom would agree with me, though.  

Number Three:  I used to want 20 kids!

Yep.  Twenty.  And I was going to live on a prairie somewhere and raise them as far from civilization as possible with my husband.  We're talking a farm and a barn and an old farmhouse.  I giggle when I remember those little girl dreams.  They actually stayed with me well into my teen years.  The truth is, I love the life God gave me.  He knew best.  I have my one sweet boy (and it's in God's hands if there's ever more where he came from) and my amazing husband and...I've kind of created my own little farmhouse in the middle of the city I love.  Albuquerque.  And you know what else?  Target and Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are all within 10 minutes of my "farmhouse".  I couldn't ask for more!

Number Four:  I have a Master's Degree in Social Work

NMHU Graduation, Spring 2014...me and my amazing Mom. 

I will always be a Social Worker at heart.  To loose that part of me would be like cutting off a limb.  It would radically impact how I operate in the world.  I still see through that lens and thank God every single day that I have the knowledge and background I have.  And nothing is wasted.  I daily use skills and tools that I gained from that season of life and I'm certain this will only continue as life unfolds.  I have big dreams of doing big things for my community and families that live here.  That day will come and I'll stand solid on the foundation that was built as I poured myself into my degree and the lives I touched in my Social Work career.  No one can take that away from me.  

​Number Five:  I got married in a barn on a historic property in Tennessee...barefoot.

And there it is again.  My dream of 20 children on a farm in the middle of nowhere.  I may not live that life, but there are traces of that dream in just about every life event I've had.  This barn was stunning!  The Fillauer Lake House and Barn are absolutely stunning.  ​We knew instantly this would be our spot to promise our futures to one another.  It was a chilly December day and the barn was colder than we had expected.  But I had planned to walk down the aisle barefoot and when I make my mind up about something- look out.  Tom surely knew even back then that life with me would never be dull.  So I did it.  I walked down the aisle to my future without shoes one.  My feet connected to the wood below us and my soul rooted in an unwavering certainty that this was it...this was the decision I was purposed to make.  Oh, and Tom's sweet Dalmatian, Hoss, was our ring bearer.  It was a magical day.

Fillauer Lake House Barn, December 20007

Photo Cred:  Sara Renee Photography

Number Six: I love to run.

Los Rachos de Albuquerque Half Marathon

I ran my first half marathon several years ago and was hooked.  The funny thing is, I was a terrible runner in high school.  In fact, I pretended to have sports-induced asthma (is that even a real thing??) on running days in PE so I could sit out.  Really breaks my heart because I had no clue what I was missing and how much it would feed my soul.  Motherhood and building a business have made the goal of running harder to reach.  But I'm currently training for another half marathon and deeply grateful for the days when I tighten my shoe laces and hit the trail.  It's so healing. 

Number Seven: I prefer the natural option.  In everything.

I'm a natural kinda girl.  I'm seeing a theme here...that little prairie life child inside of me gets her way more than maybe I even realized!  Anyways...we don't use over-the-counter medications in our home.  Even before I knew there was a movement in the natural direction, I was avoiding taking medications and wishing I had other options.  I gave birth naturally in a modern hospital and the nurses and doctors gathered in the room and down the halls like their lives depended on it.  I truly didn't realize how out-of-the-ordinary it was.  It seems so natural (pun not intended) to me, it was kind of a no-brainer.  So, when I learned about the world of essential oils and doTERRA...I felt like I was finally coming home.  And it's been a beautiful 2 years incorporating these natural tools into our daily lives.  And I've found my people!  I'm so grateful! 

Number Eight:  I love to work.

It's true.  When I think about the perfect day, it's a tie between a long hike in the most breathtaking forest on earth...or a full day of uninterrupted focus on my "job".  A cup of hot tea...great music playing the background, the diffuser going with the best blend imaginable...yep. Probably because it doesn't feel like a job.  I have to be intentional about shutting it off, unplugging and being with my family.  That's why we have a weekly family day and we get to the mountains as often as possible.  Truth be told, that's probably the best thing I can do for my "job" and myself.  Fresh mountain air and the giggles of my son on the trail.  Priceless.

Number Nine: I backpacked to the base of the Grand Canyon and back out again. 

A few years ago, we joined some dear friends of ours and hiked into the base of the Grand Canyon.  We camped in Havasupi.  It's like an oasis in the wilderness.  The stuff dreams are made of.  We carried everything in on our backs and explored the canyon for a couple days.  We camped at the top of a massive waterfall and swam in aqua blue waters.  We had a close encounter with a turantula and trekked through a Native American Reservation.  It was epic.  I hiked every step of the 12 miles in and the 12 miles back out on my own.  And that single memory has gotten me through some of the hardest moments that have come since then.  If I can do THAT, I can do anything. 

Number Ten:  I love Jesus.

Our pastor recently said this in the best way I've ever heard it said.  Ask me if Jesus is real...I don't know about him I know Him.  It's a personal, intimate, transforming and inspiring relationship that's new and exhilarating and constant every day.  Every single thing in my life that means anything at all is from Him.  And I'm committed to living a life that far exceeds my potential...because of Him. 

My Family.  Fall 2018.  Photo Credit:  Amy Luna Photography

Building a Wall that Makes a Home

​You may be disappointed if you are expecting details about to drywall, wood screws and insulation.  This is a post about building a wall that's already been built...what it looks like to build the walls in a house to make a home.  

How the heck do I put a bunch of random stuff together and make it look amazing?

Where I you even start?

Ugh...how do I even know what to buy?

I'm going to do my absolute best to outline a process that has always happened in my head, between just me and the wall, in a way that is helpful.  I believe this is possible for anyone who wants to make their house a home...and create walls that speak volumes about who they are, where they come from and where they're going.  So let's dive in!  

The Basics

  • Decide on a color scheme or inspiration piece. This will be what everything else builds from.
  • Group things in odd numbers (this is not a hard and fast rule, but a good place to start)
  • Collect a mix of small and large items
  • Incorporate different shapes (squares, rectangles, circles…things that have no real shape at all)
  • Include fun, unexpected textures
  • Consider shelving, especially if the wall is large.

Putting it All Together

It’s time to start building! First things first. Set everything out where you can see it. I mean it…line the floor of the room with all the pieces you have and step back. Look at all of them…and look at the wall.  Decide how much wall space you need to fill.

Start with Inspiration:  Begin with your inspiration piece. It’s the cornerstone you’ll build on. In this particular space, my inspiration piece was the mirror. I knew that this mirror had to go on this wall and it needed friends to hang out with!  So, I stepped back, accessed what I had, accessed the wall and put the mirror on the outer edge of the space to build a cascade of fun elements out to the left of it. Once the mirror was in place, I could begin exploring the next piece. 

One Piece at a Time:  From here, you’ll follow the same process. Step back, look at what you have and build one building block at a time. You’ll want to start with your larger pieces and save the smaller items to fill in the gaps or round out the big picture. I knew I wanted to stick with the top line of the couch for my baseline, so I went with the next biggest item I had and placed it beside the mirror, just above the couch. And it went from there! Each time I place something, I take that step back. One thing that’s super important: Always consider the next step. Always be thinking:  If I put that there, what will come next?  Make this your mantra.  You can totally do this! 

If I put that there, what will come next? Make this your mantra!

Make Mistakes:  Here’s the thing…I have to redo things sometimes. Sometimes there are extra holes behind things on the walls because I had to pull my nail out and try again! It’s ok! Give yourself grace and keep at it. No one has ever looked at one of my walls and said anything about a few extra holes…all they see is the spectacular finished product. Mistakes are part of the process. And one more tip: If you feel overwhelmed, walk away! Take a break…go for a walk, have a cup of something yummy to sip, eat some dark chocolate (my personal favorite option) and get some space from it. You’ll come back with fresh eyes and it will start to come together. I promise.

The Finishing Touches

Ok. You’ve got all your crucial pieces in place, but you see a few gaps here and there. This is where those small, unique and unexpected elements come into play. Tuck those things in between things, beside things and at the bottom of things. You’ll also want to consider what’s happening in the rest of the room. For example, I knew I wanted some pillows on the couch and a little plant on the table, so I put those things in place in order to see the whole picture as it started to come together. The wall is not separate from the rest of the space, it all dances and smiles in unison!

I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I design a space, I think in terms of arches and cascades. If you look at the walls I design, you can see that there’s one of two options: a steady climb to a summit and a nice decent back down the other side (can you tell I’m a bit of a backpacking fanatic? It's about the journey to the summit!) This decent usually flows into the furniture or other elements below the wall feature. My other go-to is a lovely cascade from a wall feature with all the other pieces trailing off from there. This really helps me to be intentional about where things are being placed and always consider the big picture. I hope it helps you too!

I’ll leave you with one last thought…keep it simple. There have been so many times that I’ve added that extra piece on the wall or another spot in the room and regretted it. Go with your first instinct and trust yourself. You’re better at this than you think you are! Simple is always better…and we all have our own brand of simple. Own yours!

You Did It!

Now comes the celebration! Invite your friends and family over so you can all ooohhh and ahhhh over your masterpiece! It’s magical when it all comes together and you feel proud of the home that you’ve built. You literally can build a wall that makes a home. And here’s the super fun part: You can change it any time! It’s an ever evolving process that can beautifully adjust to your taste or your season of life. As long as you’ve got these basics, you can’t go wrong!

Share the walls you’ve built with me! I’m dying to see what you’ve created! And don't forget your manta....

If I place that one piece there, where will the next piece go?

Happy Building!

Making the Magic Happen at the Cutest Shop Ever!

How it all began…
When she said I could help her stage the store and we both laughed nervously, I wasn’t sure what to think.  We’d only just met and she had never really seen my work (aside from the photos I had just quickly scrolled through on my cell phone) and here she was…offering me one of my dreams come true!   To stage an adorable, eclectic, grassroots space.  And it only took me like a thousand days to take her up on it.
I have officially staged The ABQ Collective, an amazing collection of vendors in an old light store in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I remember the first time I got the tour of the space and she walked me into the basement to show me all the things.  Oh Dear Lord.  I nearly lost it!  Galvanized, rustic farm buckets and tools and chicken feeders.  Old furniture stacked almost to the ceiling, all kept with a specific purpose and new life in mind.  Shelves upon shelves of knick-knacks and trinkets…all perfect for staging the space above us.  I was salivating.  At this point, I still hadn’t agreed to help them out.  But my wheels were definitely turning!
Walking back down those stairs and into that space with the go-ahead of the owner to move and use anything I wanted!  Eeeek!  It was like Christmas morning…and dark chocolate….and a night by the campfire under the stars all wrapped up in one huge feeling that swelled in my chest!  Yes, ma’am!  I will most certainly play for as long as I want and create to my hearts content!  How could I say no to that???
And so I did.
I moved things and stood back with my hands on my hips to rethink and reimagine.  I sweated as I ran up and down those stairs carrying treasures.  I talked to myself and looked like a crazy person.  I think I may have really worried the vendors and customers.  But I didn’t care.  I was totally in my zone and in my HEAVEN!  I kept thinking in my head…I was born for this.  This is what all those people are talking about when they talk about pursuing your deepest passion and finding your greatest purpose.  Yep, I had found that sweet spot and I knew it.
And then the people started to walk by and make comments and ooohhhh and ahhhhh….icing on the cake.  You see, I know I have a gift.  And even if no one else can say the words, I know it enough in myself to be ok.  But it is an INCREDIBLE feeling when others see what you see in what you’ve done.  That is magical.
The really good news…
It appears that the owners are happy and want me to keep coming back, yippee!!  I redesigned the space with a spring theme, since it’s that time of year.  What do you think? I’ll go on a regular basis and mix things up!  And I’ll be sharing all the details right here, so stay tuned!