Five ways to make your new house feel more like a home:

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We’ve moved into a new house, I know I’ve mentioned it a time or two, but I’ve been surprised at what it takes to make a house feel like home. Obviously a lot of it is time, those first few nights there you’re still waking up wondering where you are, but even after that passes and it starts to feel like home, you notice that certain things are missing. It’s a layering process, and it’s been interesting to learn. So here are somethings I’ve noticed help make a house feel more like a home:

  • Rugs, blankets, and textiles galore: One of the big things I knew I wanted but couldn’t get for a few weeks was a rug for our living space. The room felt incomplete without it, because with an open floor plan, there was nothing defining the space. I didn’t think getting a rug would make it feel more like home, but it did. It did so because it made it feel finished, sure, but also because it added a layer of personality and comfort. There was something softer about the space that made you feel more relaxed once it dampened the echo and gave your bare feet a break. I also picked the rug, so it felt like me, and that helped it feel like my home. I think pillows and blankets can do the same thing. Things that bring us comfort help make a room feel cozy. They’re important.
  • Bring personal items front and center: It’s easy to want to buy all new stuff for a space, most of us can’t afford that, so we like to decorate with the new stuff. Decorative items are cheaper than new furniture so it’s easy to replace them and change them out, but a lot of our decorative items from the past help make our place feel like our own. I’m not saying not to buy new, I’m just saying to put those personal items in the front and use the new stuff to fill in. The amount of people I see run off to Hobby Lobby and come back with all their house decorations is startling. There is nothing wrong with pieces from chain stores, but you need to make sure you have your memories mixed in.

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Don’t underestimate average everyday memories.

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When I was packing my childhood bedroom, before moving into my wonderful new house a few weeks ago, I was drowning in nostalgia. I kept finding little bits and pieces of my past, of everyday things that meant the world to me as a child. It was an interesting experience because it opened my eyes to what I remember most for the past and what memories really mattered to me.

I have a lot more memories of playing with my mom as a child then I do of going to Disney as a child, that isn’t surprising, because we only went to Disney once and played on the regular, but those Disney memories hardly even show up. They meant a lot to me in the moment, but looking back? A scattered memory or two made it through, and none of them stand a chance against my mom and I’s weekly tea party.

We make a big deal out of these once in a lifetime experiences, and some of them really are truly remarkable. I’ll never forget visiting Rome, just like I’m sure I’ll never forget my wedding day. But the everyday moments can mean that much too. We don’t realize how much we enjoyed our crafts with our grandmothers until we are no longer doing crafts with our grandmothers, then we realize that it was some of our most valuable time spent together.

This might not be news, in fact, I hope it isn’t. I hope you’ve looked back at life enough to really enjoy those amazing and seemingly average memories. But that isn’t all that this post is about. It’s not about just looking back, it’s about how we are living right now. How we are making use of our time at this moment.

Chances are we are looking forward to the next big thing and letting the day to day grind get lost in the mix. Chances are even if we know that our daily memories are important, we are still neglecting them, because we’re busy. We have a lot to do, sometimes too much. So we let them pass as if they are unremarkable. We don’t enjoy them for being the special and wonderful things that they are.

And honestly it’s tragic to only enjoy these memories in the past tense when they are here to be enjoyed in the present.

So I pose this challenge to both myself and others, enjoy the mundane, find wonder in the everyday, don’t let these beautiful things only be enjoyed years from now. Embrace them. Rejoice in them. And love them now, while they are in front of you.

The process of loving someone teaches you a lot about yourself.

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Photography by: Sarah Warden Photography

I feel like I’ve been learning a lot about myself lately, every corner I turn I’m faced with either a reality that  should have been obvious or something I had never even considered about myself. These revelations have been both good things and bad things and a lot of things that don’t really categorize as either, but one thing that has proven true is most of these revelations come in relation to Chris.

He’s marrying me, so obviously he pays a lot of attention to me, in some ways he pays more attention to me than I pay to myself. He catches small mood changes that hardly register in my mind. He notices repeated habits that are so normal to me I don’t even realize I’m doing them. He speaks on them a lot, pointing them out or asking what’s wrong. It makes me realize how much of my everyday life and being I dismiss because they’re normal to me. That doesn’t make them any less a part of me though, in fact, maybe it makes them a bigger part of me than the intrusive acts or emotions. Maybe these small things, are the foundation on which my personality is laid.

Now, most of these things are neutral acts or positive acts, they aren’t things I feel the need to change, rather they just make me think, but that doesn’t mean that the act of loving someone doesn’t make you notice your flaws. Love may be blind, but it sure opens your eyes to yourself.

You see love makes you want to be a better person for the person you love, and in my case, it has made me critical on some aspects of myself. It’s not negative and I don’t mean it to sound that way. Seeing these flaws are a good thing, because it gives me the chance to approve upon myself, for both him and me. It’s room for growth, which we all desperately need no matter how good we already are.

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Let’s face it, you’re probably making it worse.

I know I am. It doesn’t really matter what it is, I’m probably self sabotaging in some way or another, and this especially goes for problems of the mental health variety. It’s not an unusual thing, we have a tendency to get in our own way, to trip ourselves up on strong emotions, doubts, or disastrous thoughts.

It’s hard to admit when we’re doing it though, we don’t want to be at fault, especially if we didn’t create the problem, but that doesn’t mean our way of “fixing it” isn’t making it worse. Nobody wants the blame, nobody wants to be the reason things aren’t getting better or moving forward, so we blame it on others, or outside things, but whatever we blame it on we try and make sure it is out of our control.

It’s easier that way and it certainly feels better, but owning up to the fact that you’re not helping yourself move forward is often one of the only things that can set you in motion again.

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On traditions: those worth keeping and those worth shedding

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As I’ve been going through planning this wedding I’ve been thinking a lot about tradition. My mother pushed for some traditional things that I didn’t think was needed, the double envelopes for the invites and printed cocktail napkins. I however found myself pushing for it in some other ways, the monogrammed thank you notes that are just so classic and southern, the traditional wedding vows, taking his last name. But, I also wanted some modern things as well. I’m not walking down the aisle to a traditional bridal march, but rather a beautiful piano song with no wedding ties. Our rehearsal dinner will be casual and have a taco food truck.

The mix of new and old and traditional and non-traditional got me thinking about how we view and use traditions in our everyday life. Obviously we all have family traditions that we love and value, but when it comes to societal traditions we seem to be trying to shed them. Traditional suddenly seems stuffy. Instead of classic, it’s being seen as dated. It’s a turn of events that I’ve hated seeing. Not because I think all traditions are worth keeping, but because I think there’s still value in a lot of them.

There is something really cultural about your traditions that link you to not only your location but also to your ancestors. It ties us to where we come from and how we were raised. It highlights our pride in our home and our people and I don’t think that should ever be lost. I don’t think taking pride in your heritage or culture demeans any others, but rather adds to the diversity that makes the world special.

I also believe that traditions often exist for a reason. Maybe not so much the monogrammed thank you notes, but the traditional family structure that keeps children supported by two parents. The structure that makes it so if one parent falls the other one will be there still. The structure that allows children to take care of their parents like they took care of us once they age. Keeping to these traditional structures, no matter how loosely the modern family does, can help keep children out of trouble and help fight off debt. There have been multiple studies on the fact that these systems work, so maybe it’s best not to throw them completely out the window.

Is there room for growth within tradition? Of course, there is a lot of room for growth. Traditionally women couldn’t own property or vote, those are traditions we should have promptly saw out the door. There are a lot of traditions that aren’t needed anymore, we simply grew out of them, advanced passed them, and some of them weren’t needed to begin with. But that doesn’t mean that we should throw them all out.

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Let’s talk online dating:

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I meet my fiance on Tinder, so lets talk dating apps, shall we? Everyone is moving to them, maybe they aren’t as cliche or frowned upon as they used to be. I remember when I started using them Junior year of college (in 2014) they still had a ton of stigma around them, and rightful so, it can be dangerous to meet a random stranger off the internet, that hasn’t changed over the past 20 years.

But what is the key to making dating apps work for you, in a way that you want them to? In the “I’m not looking for a hook-up” way, the “I’m online shopping for my future husband” way?

Here’s some things I noticed after being on and off of them for three years (about a passive year in total) and finally finding love via swiping right.

  • First things first, let’s start with safety: Maybe it’s not worth saying anymore, maybe we have all learned enough by now, but I still feel like I need to mention it. Meet your dates in a public location. Drive separately, don’t let them pick you up and don’t let them know where you live. Spend your time with them around other people and don’t get yourself into a position were you could get hurt. Tell someone where you will be and what this guys first and last name is.
  • Keep your bio direct and your motives clear: State what you’re looking for. If you want to start as friends and see were it goes, put that in there. If you’re looking for a relationship, put that in there. Maybe all guys don’t read your bio (it’s true that a number don’t) but it’ll help weed out some of the ones that do but aren’t interested in what you are. If it’s not in his bio? Ask him and ask him early on. Don’t beat around the bush. It’s needed information. You want to be on the same page. Another thing? Believe him when he says he’s not looking for anything serious and don’t bother.
  • Make them text you for a bit: It doesn’t have to be terribly long, but it’s a good idea to text someone for a few days to get an idea of who they are. I know some people go on dates the night they match or the one after, but if you want to keep yourself from going on a lot of bad first dates it’s a good idea to slow the process down enough that you have an idea of who you’re going out with.

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