The personal blog of Liz Jordan.

Resolve To Read.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved committing to New Year’s resolutions. It’s definitely one of the more dreamy aspects of the turn of a new year, like a fresh crisp white piece of paper, the canvas is yours to recreate, recommit, redesign and reinvent.

On January 1 of this year, I sat down with a fresh cup of coffee and built a family tree of sorts, of all my focal points for this year and all the details and aspirations that stem from each. One of my main branches concerns my habits of reading and writing. DK is always encouraging me to write more, because he knows that like running, it’s a great purge for my crazy head. And just like working out, for me, the hardest part is merely getting started. So this year, in addition to my scripture and magazines, I resolve to finish (at least one) book each month.

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This is my current coffee table spread. My Christmas gift from Kim – a renewed Real Simple subscription for 2014, a gift from DK and my latest home design inspiration, Remodelista, my daily reader Jesus Calling (incredible, life changing) and then the book I haven’t been able to finish i.e. my January reading goal, Bringing Up Bebe, a fantastic study on why raising your kids like the French is just… brilliant.

Here’s wishing you great success and follow through in this new year!

Bonne Année!
Liz

It Pays To Wait.

Would I do the backstroke through Crate and Barrel and buy one of each if I had the funds? Possibly. But waiting for the story of your place to be built around where, when and how you found each perfect piece keeps proving to be far more fulfilling.

In Taylor Swift’s “22″ music video the chandelier in the end party scene caught my attention and made me gasp. Naturally, I took a screen shot and sent it to my brilliant interior design friend Stephanie Gahm asking her where on earth could I find this fixture. She alerted me to this holy goodness by Jonathan Adler and I nearly wept. Because from the time you enter the front door, you can see straight through the dining room and into the kitchen, I didn’t want to use a pendant or anything that would completely shut down the flow visually and aesthetically throughout the house. This was perfect. But I couldn’t figure out a way to justify the cost.

So I waited. I never stopped looking. I read a lot online, I perused every store within my grasp.

And then yesterday, I was in one of my favorite local haunts and saw this brass pipe stuck in a dusty corner. It kinda happened like it happens in the movies: I reached in, untangling other wires from it and once freed, pulled it out. My heart was racing as my eyes and heart took in the fullness of what I’d found. Price tag read 60% off original price. But because I’m a considerate team member, I took a picture, bid her farewell and raced home to show DK.

This morning we went back to retrieve the fixture and afterwards at Home Depot, we found the bulbs to complete it. And then DK installed it.

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Technical side note: being the lighting guru he is, it’s standard for DK to install dimmers in every room of whatever place he’s lived. It’s easy to do and really affects the aesthetics of every room in a dramatic way.

This has been a great day. It definitely pays to wait.

C’est la vie,
Liz

Life As A House.

The house had only been posted on HAR for a couple hours when I scrambled across our little rent house, burst through DK’s studio doors, placed my laptop front and center and breathlessly exclaimed “DK, I’ve found our house. This is our house.”

We’d only been searching for a couple months and were thrilled to finally bust an official move with our good friend Josh Hill, he’s a realtor and the most resourceful, open minded, enthusiastic and energetic guy you could ever hope to have help guide you in this huge life decision. I frantically texted him begging “Can we go see it today?!” He was out of town but promised we’d get on it first thing Monday morning. But I couldn’t wait. I dreamed about it, memorized every detail and measurement, and prayed, mostly giving thanks. First thing after church the next morning, I drove DK and Jordan to the house and my heart was racing.

Parked outside, across and down the street a few houses, my heart soared and I began imagining our life in this house. Kids in the yard, Jordan learning to ride a bike, parties underneath the Magnolia tree out front, I was spilling over with tears and disbelief. See, I was so certain during our search that we’d know that we knew that we knew that God had set aside the perfect house for us that now we’d found it… and I was overwhelmed by the fruits of that faith.

We drove by very slowly a few times. DK was excited too, but being the balance to me that he is, tried to calm me and be somewhat realistic. We decided to head home, but a surge in my heart had me flip the car around and tell DK “Just one more pass!!” And that’s when we first saw her. She must have seen us stalking her house but here came Sandra down the front sidewalk to retrieve her Sunday paper. “DK, roll down your window!”

I pulled up in front of the house and hollered over DK through the window. “Hi!! I’m sorry if we’ve freaked you out, but we’re the Kilgores and we’re coming to see your beautiful house as soon as possible!!” She waved and said some polite things back and then we waved goodbye. We’d later learn she went back inside and told Rick, her husband of 48 years, “I just met the family that’s going to buy our house.”

After seeing the house first thing Monday morning, it was unanimous between the 3 of us. We made an offer. With our offer, I wrote a letter to the owners explaining who we were and what we dreamed of for the house. From there the details are as you can imagine. The waiting, the finances, the paperwork, the waiting. I kept reminding DK about the need to every day let go of this house and trust. Because we were both self employed at the time, it took awhile to work through the process and jump through the hoops of proving we were capable of a mortgage. And as a result of this process taking so much time, they accepted another offer and we lost the house.

I remember it clearly. Sitting with DK in his studio, Josh on speakerphone. “I’m so sorry guys.” We all sighed heavily and took a moment.

I walked out of the studio and into our guest room where my studio was set up at the time. I put on my headphones and listened to some Brooke Fraser. I said another prayer of thanks to God for showing us what we could have, that we are capable and that He would carry us through this to find another house. I began to feel this crazy peace settle over me and I could really feel the Lord smiling down on me. A moment later, I jumped out of my chair and ran across the house, bursting through DK’s studio doors. “Babe. (heavy breathing) We’re not supposed to give up on the house. It’s still ours.

A week later, that offer fell through.

We closed on December 28th of 2012.

We think we just bought a house. We just bought a house. We bought a house! Let's kiss.

The Stages of Shock – Moments after closing on our first house together.

The experience wouldn’t have been as rich without the opportunity we’ve had in getting to know the owners and learning about the history of their lives in the house. Built in 1944, this house has been in their family since 1954 and they were married under the archway in the living room. (It’s also believed the house is haunted.) We walked the yard together and they taught me about the plants and shrubs, where each blossom came from and how to care for it all. We had dinner together in the house and Jordan fell in love with them. We’re so blessed to know them and we love to see them each time they stop by while swinging through town. Josh says it’s very rare for owners and buyers to have a relationship like this, but considering the life of this house, I think it only makes sense.

Though the last year has been extremely trying and difficult due to the strained process of completing the restoration, we still truly love this house and are more connected with it than we’d ever imagined. We changed a few major things (I’m excited to post about the process) but have maintained and stayed true to the original structure, charm, design and spirit of the house. We are ecstatic and feeling beyond blessed to continue on the life of this house.

C’est la vie,
Liz

Liz, Interrupted.

Do you say shoulda coulda woulda? Or do you follow more of a woulda shoulda coulda order? Either way, I shoulda started writing about our house process from the beginning and woulda if I coulda had more access to the interwebs. That and I’ve been so wrapped up in thinking this upside down and inside out chaos is almost over.

Yesterday, now that we have the internet in our new old house, I was sitting on the front porch researching ceiling finishing techniques. I learned a lot! And the sources from which I gained the most confidence and know how were mostly from homemade Youtube videos and DIY blogs from those that have gone before, by trial and error, learning and failing, growing and now teaching. And then it occurred to me I am in a position to be doing the same thing.

I don’t want my house posts to be tainted with complaints, irritations, annoyances or the idea that I’m so over this project. To be honest, I fight it every day and want so badly to scream and yell and kick and complain about these injustices that are so inconveniencing my life, my ability to entertain and keeping me from moving on to where I’d prefer to be in my life. But like James 1 preaches, this is a growing and pruning phase for DK and me and we’ve got to allow it to change us the way the Lord intended. To even *gasp* celebrate this rough time of our lives.

We feel we were pretty realistic about this process from the beginning. We knew it would take longer and cost more than initially understood. It’s hard to put to words the valley we feel we’re stuck in now, at the mercy of a contractor who promises and assures, only to stall and leave us hanging. Sure we’ve considered going another route but have been so confident in his ability to provide great work in our dream house and switching tracks at any given point would only prolong the process. We like him as a person, we care about his family even, but are at such a loss as to how we’ve gotten to this point. And yet somehow we find the strength to keep moving.

To give you an idea of where we’re at, we closed on this house, built in 1944, a few days after Christmas of last year. The story of how our house came into our lives is one I’m giddy to share with anyone who’ll listen. It’s one of those stories about love at first sight, that I knew that I knew that I knew it was ours before we even visited in person. We met with our contractor even before closing and had seen his work in other houses, he came highly recommended from trusted friends. Immediately after closing, they started the demo on our beautiful house and we were thrilled to learn more about the structure, history and design in the process. Because we were renting our current house, we worked out a realistic schedule with our contractor and he gave us the go ahead to put in our notice or March 1. We told him we needed a working bathroom, new roof and hardwoods refinished before we could live there. He said no problem.

That was 3 months ago. We jokingly but truthfully call ourselves “homeless homeowners”. It devastates me that I’ve become obsessed with and that my dreams are haunted by poorly laid tile, ridiculously cut and placed marble countertops, weeks gone by with no work done to our house… the list goes on. I cried on the phone yesterday to my mom, asking her to pray that I can continue to give proper focus and attention to the things that are most important to me: my family, my friends, my church, the ladies ministry at Ecclesia, my job at Air1… and she told me I need to stop discounting the fact this is a really rough way to be living and maintaining and juggling.

So the big news at our beautiful house is that as of a couple days ago, we do in fact have a toilet. A WORKING toilet. DK shot a video of me doing a ceremony for the maiden flush and while you’re thinking we’re totally weird and have completely lost it, for us it was everything.

We woke up yesterday morning in our very much unfinished and unfurnished bedroom, our view of the most incredibly green and lush backyard and I asked DK “If you could change anything about our situation, what would you change?” We both thought long and hard and tried to come up with at least one thing, but couldn’t.

With every passing day of no one coming to work on our house, with every night we fall asleep to the summer breeze because we have no a/c yet, with every moment Jordan shows evidences of her growth in her strength and ability, with every extravagance we’ve learned you don’t need to survive and with every day we grow more intimately intertwined with the spirit of this house, we feel grateful.

There She Goes.

Yesterday, I stopped and asked DK “Can you believe we have a kid?”

I really can’t believe it myself. It really really really blows my mind. She is unreal! Every single day I get to spend with her is truly a dream and that I get to be her mom, wow.

Lately, she needs me to hold her and rock her before bed until she falls asleep. The noise in my head is getting quieter each time too as I shut out my lists of what I need to do once she’s asleep and instead whisper a song or a prayer over her. She clings to me, her arms around my neck and her head resting on my shoulder. Knowing I’m the one she needs in those moments makes my heart soar! What a beautiful love.

Raising a Monkey.

Last Sunday morning, I dropped Jo off at the nursery and one of the girls working there says to me “She was hilarious last week, climbing up and down and up and down the padded stairs, clapping and shrieking, so proud of herself!” I laughed and nodded, because I know this well.

I’m raising a monkey.

We’ve now entered the phase of Jordan’s toddlerhood where DK and I question What Is Funny and What Is An Opportunity To Teach? Climbing on top of the coffee table and dancing in circles? Hilarious. But dangerous. Climbing out of her high chair and on top of the table? So inappropriate.


I’ve caught her a few times devising a plan of escape from her crib. But how can you resist that face?


DK and I try to stifle our laughter as she talks on and on with such conviction, such determination to get her point across. Sitting across from her, she’ll point towards something she wants you to notice and then ramble on with a furrowed brow and convincing inflections about how you too should be aware of whatever it is that is so important to her. “Ogie ogie og. Gogie, gogie go? Oh oh?”

At 14 months, she’s also aware of how to start the washer and dryer, she puts my oven mitt on her hand like a pro, finds the keys and tries to insert them in the doorknobs, fills the toilet with paper towels, brushes her teeth, brushes her hair, kind of, and is fully aware of how to control TV remotes and iPhones. For the most part anyway.

I close my eyes and breathe in the moments I hear her footsteps coming through the house, and the sight of her at full waddle towards me into my arms is like a dream. She fights me on getting dressed, she fights me on getting undressed. She wishes she were 4 feet taller so she could see everything happening on countertops and she thinks putting Papa’s shoes in the trash is hilarious.

When she sleeps, I miss her desperately and when she’s awake at full force I wonder if she’ll ever sleep again. She lives to be outside with her doggies and could spend hours in the yard with them. And I’m certain she and Orson scheme together about getting him inside the house to play.


This is such a great season.

xoxo,
Liz

My Heart Stirs.

Fabrics, textures, fresh paper, fonts, lighting, furniture placement and wall paint, oh my. These are a few of the things that stir my heart. Deep down inside, I’m a wannabe interior designer.

But I have stipulations in this make-believe profession of mine. My house is my canvas. There’s no timeline, deadline, method or rules. Anything I like fits into my scheme and I can start, progress and complete when I like.

See, that’s the best part of decorating your space. I think of it as a wondrous process, not a final result but an ever evolving museum reflecting you and your life. The places you’ve traveled, memories and photos, steals you find along the way, art that moved you deeply at a time in your life long ago, a handmade quilt from a family member you love, driftwood from a memorable walk on the beach, a chandelier found at a junk store while traveling.

These are the elements that help create character in your space.

I like to think my house serves as a backdrop too for all the photos and videos we take here. I love to look at photos of my brothers and me growing up and note how things were set up then, at my mom’s taste and knack for decorating. She called her style”eclectic”. I call mine “anything goes”. I guess it’s the same thing kinda. I recently received this book in the mail and upon reading it from cover to cover my mind was blown, there’s now a major following of the method of having no method.

It’s really freeing, don’t you think?

Don’t get me wrong, if I could shell out the dough to have my entire house decorated with High Fashion Home everything, I might consider it. I might also spontaneously combust at the overwhelming prospect of such a task in oh my gogi, where do I start, but…

Well, I guess I was going to use HFH to prove a point and now I’ve gotten distracted with a daydream. Hahaha. I’m terrible.

Getting back on track, my simple approach to decorating involves a few focus points:
1. Use what you already have. If you don’t like it, paint it, throw some chains on it, ask “What Would Nate Berkus Do?”

2. Buy things you love. If you see something at Home Goods that truly stirs your heart, but the voice of your design expert friend is in your head saying “Oh girl, really?”, get it anyway. If you love it, you can make it work in your space. 90% of making an outfit work is about having confidence to walk it out and own it. Design is the same way.

3. Paint your wall(s). Oh I love paint, how ever do I love wall paint. With the right color, it can drastically or even just subtly change the feel of a room and doesn’t require payment of your firstborn.

4. Don’t get intimidated, be inspired. I tend to get discouraged so easily when I go to friends’ houses and don’t even care about visiting with them, but would rather walk about and take note of everything they own and devise a way to steal it all. The ideas, not the stuff. I’m not a thief, come on. I tend to feel inadequate and as though I’m so far behind because they apparently have it together and all cool looking. Instead I want to work on leaving a space and thinking to myself “I just grew creatively back there and I’m inspired. And I’m so glad I snatched that amazing lamp in my purse.” JUST KIDDING.

5. Eliminate clutter. Every time we’ve moved, DK packs a box and titles it “Liz’s knickknacks” to which I promptly fire back with “They’re MEMORIES!” Okay, so maybe I have some things I’ve collected from my travels that I like to place on my shelves with my collection of books. I don’t need to justify myself. Yet somehow… I think I just did. Anyway, I frequently go through our house and clear out everything on the floor, on surfaces, in the closets and on the shelves and do a clutter check. The result is always refreshing and so refreshing. Absolutely refreshing.

In closing, I never claim to be anywhere near an at expert at this, I just LOVE talking about design, reading about it, perusing the aisles of it and stretching my mind in it’s never ending possibilities. I wish there was some way I could express in words how much I love Before and After home makeover pics, and part of me wants to finish this post now so I can check one of my favorite blogs  before Jordan wakes up from her nap.

Isn’t life great? Have a beautiful day. I hope you got to see Endeavor fly over Houston cause I missed it literally by 3 minutes. More on that tomorrow.

xoxo
LJ

 

 

Strawberry Basil Jam

This is Jordan’s post actually. Today we made strawberry basil jam and she wanted to show you how we did it. In her words…

First things first, you need some juicy red strawberries. Sweet ones. Real good and sweet strawberries. And you hafta wash them in the sink.
 And ya gotta taste the strawberries as you go, cause ya hafta make sure they taste real sweet. And sometimes it’s fun to put your feet in the water too. There’s no rules when I help out in the kitchen :)

Next I walked with mama through the gate and into the yard with all the dogs. I hid behind the fence for a little bit, those dogs get excited when they see me, especially Orson. For some reason he thinks he has to bring the biggest stick he can find to show me but it makes me scared!  Oh dogs! Mama quieted the doggies, picked me up and showed me how to pick basil from the garden. I even dropped some down in there and had to go on a mission to pick it up.

 Once you pick basil from the garden, ya hafta head back to the kitchen to put it all together. But there’s always time to stop and wave to nice neighbors. Grammy says one day I may need their vote so I better start early.


Once you’re back in the kitchen, have your mama put you up high so you can get in the mess and help out. I let mama chop up all the strawberries and basil cause knives are sharp and I’m little. Mama showed me how to squeeze the lemons to get lemon juice.

And then she let me add the sugar. Happy happy busy happy.

Next we mixed all the stuff together and mama put it on the stove to boil. Once it all boiled together, she poured the jam in the jar and let me put on the lid. I’m really good at that.

After you put the lid on tight, put the jam in the fridge. Tasting all the sugar made me really sticky and wild, so mom put me in the bath for a while and against my will, put some fresh clothes on me. And when l was all clean again, it was time to play in my room with my toys and eat more snacks. I hafta stay busy while mom cleans the kitchen.
 That was fun! I’ll let you know soon how yummy my strawberry basil jam tastes, mama says we can have it on our toast for breaky tomorrow. Luv u!

*Jojo

So grown up.

I love taking classes at the YMCA where I can drop Jo off at daycare to spend time moving and exercising while drowning out the list of things to do in my head with blaring club mix versions of Kelly Clarkson’s best hits.

There’s one class in particular I go to during the lunch rush that I’ve appropriately titled The Real Housewives of YMCA. Everyone in there is gorgeous, made up and really just maintaining their already perfect physique. Most are moms, some are young professionals and there’s a small percentage retireds.

But it’s some of those moms that just get to me. I’m half inspired and half skeptical because how on earth, WHEN on earth do they find the time to make babies, make beds, make lunches and get to a noon workout class looking so put together?

I swear Joan Holloway from Mad Men takes my Powerflex class. I’ve caught myself staring at her before, she’s stunning. Last week before class started, I overhead her talking to another one of the moms about her kids, her husband, and eventually my mental scenarios about her perfect life got louder than the conversation I was eavesdropping in on and I became overwhelmed with the thought that this woman wasn’t just beautiful and collected, but she was so mature and so… grown up.

Yet, we’re practically the same age.

As I drove home my head swirled with thoughts about what makes someone appear so grown up. Is it really just about appearance or a mysterious presence and facts made up in my head to fill in blanks about someone I don’t know well? Is it about attitudes or perspectives or how many kids you’ve birthed? A mortgage and world travels?

If I were to be friends with Joan, surely she’d pat my head and nod at me in a patronizing fashion when I talked to her about Jordan’s sleeping habits. Or my marriage with DK. Or how I’m nervous/excited/anxious about buying a house. Yet I don’t even know her.

I realize if I tried to be more like her, I’d exhaust myself and likely spontaneously combust. My rhythms of life are a completely different beat than hers. I trip often, order takeout a couple times a week and go a couple days at a time without applying makeup. Things Joan likely never does.

And yet, I love going to Powerflex with Joan because after all, she does set the bar high. When I see my reflection in the classroom mirror  near her, it causes me to put my shoulders back, my chin up, and my left eyebrow a little higher than the other.

Work it girl.

LJ