Todd Happenings : Two-Week Recap

Things have been pretty crazy around the Todd Nest the past two weeks. The big snow storm hit last week and JD got to take three days off his day job work (but we still had to hit the Jitney studio pretty hard). 


Readers from more up north probably think we're crazy. But it's a rarity that we get snow, especially this much...


The majority of our neighborhood gathered together and walked up to the golf course for the best sledding hill close to us.  


The kids were ecstatic (until they were too cold to play) but I think the adults had the most fun. The men went into full combat mode during several snowball fights while the women settled for speeding down the slippery slopes. 

A few of us couples had downhill races...



JD left me in his snow dust during our downhill sled race. I asked for a head start, which I obviously needed.

Denied. 
Face full of snow dust.

And then the sun came out and we steadily went back to work.

Fast forward to Monday...

February 17th marked this handsome man's 29th birthday!! Whoop whoop!



Gosh, is he a stud or what?! 

While I'd love to spare you the sappy sentiments, I simply cannot.

Ode to JD:
You are the laughter that wakes me in the sleepy mornings
and still, the sweet laughter that sings me to sleep.
In fact, you always make me laugh,
except for the times we're being serious, 
in which you're instead the epitome of a deeply pensive thought.
Your intelligence baffles me. 
You love books and movies.
Moreover, you love correlating movies and books to scripture.
Even with the most ridiculous of movies, you can relate it to the Gospel.
How do you do that with such ease?
I'll quickly admit that I'm often wrong in our heaviest of arguments.
And when I'm right, you're quick to express your faults.
Even in our arguments,
you stay cool-headed and soft-tempered.
You ensure that our disagreements are solved at length and with boundless grace.
You also aim to resolve them quickly 
so that we can bask in the joys of loving each other more deeply.
You're the greatest travel companion ever
and I love exploring this world with you.
You are hands-down my most favorite dance partner,
whether in the kitchen or throughout life, in general.
Your leadership is strong and zealous.
I love walking through God's Word with you on an eveningly basis 
and throughout our conversations. 
I love your heart for people.
I love your heart for our friends.
I love your heart for our family.
I love your heart for your wife.
I love your heart for Christ.

I love you.
And I can't wait to throw you a surprise 30th birthday party.
;)


--> Also, our house has been taken over by ladybugs. Any suggestions for repellants?

Marriage : Transparency

I don’t share a lot of deep - or even “on a whim” - thoughts on our blog. Most of those thoughts are sitting in a Jitney Blog Draft folder on my hard drive. Others have been jotted down in my Moleskine with a buffalo leatherskin and turquoise cord wrapping them up unnoticed. Still, some, are logged away in the back of my brain tucked away so nobody can ever read or hear them.

JD and I had the opportunity of sharing our testimonies with our new small group this past Sunday. Normally I love sharing my testimony because each person’s story is a story of redemption and grace that can only be given by Christ alone. But JD wanted to share about a few of our ugliest struggles both pre-marriage and inter-marriage. He told me the things he felt led to share as I responded with, “Are you sure you want to share that?” We shared things with them that we had only shared with a handful of friends, our closest confidants. 

Somehow we also - non-purposely - entered into a time of confession with one another the Thursday before we sat with our small group. It was a time of embarrassing confession. A time of fearing judgment from one another. A time of releasing our deepest, darkest secrets in which we had shared with either maybe one or two friends or nobody at all. 

It was also a time of liberation. A time of uncontrollable laughter. A time of true intimacy. 

It was beautiful to feel so free, so unshackled, so unburdened. 

Before telling each other these things, we both felt ashamed, embarrassed and judged - even though we hadn’t even told each other. We assumed the other would think of us differently or - worse - have a thought of, “Who is this person I thought I knew so well?!” While, yes, we will forever learn about one another, these could’ve been game-changers (or at least, in our own minds, they could’ve been). Fortunately, they were game-changers in the sense of directing our hearts to grow deeper with one another, to forgive one another (if needed) and to laugh at each other’s strange quirks.

Fast forward to yesterday… Our friend Karen is leading a bible study at the YMCA which started yesterday. She spoke about guarding our hearts (which I’m afraid is too often associated with single women and not associated enough with every person, regardless of gender or season of life). In Psalm 139:23-24, David pleads with the Lord, “Search me, God, and know my heart.” David is longing for the same knowing and intimacy God allowed JD and I to share last week. David is offering - exposing - his heart to the Lord. What a joy it was to see the dynamics in intimacy between marriage versus our relationships with Christ. God longs to know us, way deeper than I could ever long for JD to know me or for me to know him. Whether in your marriage or, more importantly, in your relationship with Christ - I challenge you to pour your heart out. Be vulnerable. Our Father longs to know you, longs to know your needs and your struggles. He offers grace freely and abundantly. He has made His dwelling among us. Through His word and the Spirit, God will speak truth over your struggles. 

It will be a time of feeling so free, so unshackled, so unburdened. 


PS: We finally won at trivia night last night!! 

We won second place (which was amazing because we're normally towards the bottom of the list). 

Final Bonus Answer: Germany. 

Way to go Team Shermanators. 

The Garden : FREE MULCH in Huntsville & Bloom of the Week

Looking for a way to spruce up your garden beds? 

Our neighbors told us about the free mulch from the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. We don't have access to a truck so we grabbed an old plastic trashcan and unpacked a few more of our Rubbermaid tubs, loaded them in Silver Flash, grabbed our shovels and headed down the road.

There were huge piles of wood chip mulch - FREE mulch (well, donations are appreciated)!! It took us about twenty minutes to shovel as much as we could in the tubs and trashcan so it wasn't that bad. We barely made a dent in the mulch piles. Between our tubs, there was just enough mulch to fill the front yard and it looks lovely!

So, thank you, Botanical Gardens of Huntsville. You deserve the Award for Being Awesome this month. 


We're enjoying the blooms from the front of our vegetable gardens. I picked a few marigolds and placed them in a tiny teacup last week to add to our dining room centerpiece.


But this week's bloom feature goes out to the Black-eyed Susans which have so lovingly overtaken the end of our walking path through the garden. We're trying to figure out how to take care of that problem. 


The Garden : Generations of Green Thumbs

Welcome to the home of robins, bluebirds, blue jays, squirrels, chipmunks, fireflies, and whimsical plants.

AKA: Our Garden

I wish we could say that we built it from the ground-up, but we didn't. With the simple sign of a pen, we obtained this absolutely amazing garden along with our new home. 

It's magical.


Forget a green thumb. These previous homeowners must have had green streaming from each of their fingertips. A number of people are terrified that we're going to ruin have a little trouble keeping the garden up since I haven't always had the best luck with something as small as a potted plant... but I really think we'll get the hang of it eventually.

When all else fails, we must remember that all things will [hopefully] grow back.

At least, that's what my mom tells me.

I think that's one reason I love this garden so much. It reminds me of both my mother's and my grandmother's gardens. They are - hands-down - the best gardeners I know. Their gardens are both extraordinarily lovely, charming and peaceful. I loved walking through Gingin's gardens with her when we lived at the Bungalow; and no time is sweeter with my mom than when we play in the dirt and have conversations surrounded by rich blooms. 

"I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falls on my ear
The Son of God discloses"

That's one of our favorite hymns. I have no doubt that we all sing it when watering our gardens. 

{Side Note: I butchered Gingin's hydrangea bushes (my favorite flowers) at the Bungalow when I attempted to "prune" them for the first time. That was my first terrible gardening experience. But, just like mom and Gingin said, they have grown back. There is hope for me yet!}

mom and her garden

mom and dad's raised garden beds

deeply thankful for these green-thumbed lovebirds


Dad is an incredible gardener also, especially with vegetables. He is a master scientist. It comes in handy when growing all of your plants from little seedlings!

JD and I have confidence that we will be able to keep a beautiful garden because we have our families as a resource.

JD and dad spent a lot of time tackling this task before we moved into our new home.
Next week, we'll share our raised garden bed project with you.


In the meantime, here are a few of the perennials in bloom this week:

Balloon Flower

 Coneflower 



Guest Blogger : Ruthy @ Discovery Street



Hi there! I'm Ruthy from Discovery Street; a lifestyle blog documenting my days as a wife, new mom, and homeowner. Pre baby my life was about adventure, travels, food and making something from nothing--currently life revolves around a 17 pound blue eyed ginger haired girl named Parker Penny...I swear she's my daughter...but she clearly took after her father. 

Our path to where we currently are in life was not the road most traveled; but we wouldn't have it any other way.



WHAT I LEARNED IN PRE-MARITAL COUNSELING



I LOVED going to pre-marital counseling. But that probably doesn't come as a surprise to those who know me; I'm totally into psycho babble regarding personality assessments. I heart taking "get to know yourself better" tests. I love Myers Briggs, birth order analysis and learning about love languages. So seeing how my partner and I "matched" up was really fun and interesting. I think it helps that we were already "pre-determined" as compatible based on e-Harmony's matching system, but it was pretty confirming to hear our counselor say that we were one of the highest scoring couples he's ever counseled. (Aww yea!) I realize that points and answering questions on-line regarding our viewpoints on finances, children, roles, communication, etc are not the be all end all of determining a successful marriage. But it sure was great to learn that we have similar outlooks on the "big stuff."

The most significant thing I took from this experience was the answer to this question. Our counselor asked, "Five years from now, when the romance and novelty has worn off and you've had the fight to end all fights and I ask you, why did you marry _____, what is your answer?" We each answered sincerely and lovingly and looked back at our counselor pleased with our answers looking for affirmation. We learned our answers revolved around how I made Andyfeel and how he made me feel. He told us our answers revolved around ourselves....that the other person was fulfilling our individual expectations or desires. But what happens when those expectations or desires stop being met? This is when a lot of marriages start falling apart because this is the basis of "why I married _____." 

Our counselor explained that marriage is a calling. (*We went to a Christian counselor, so "calling" includes a spiritual connotation). Five, ten, or 20 years from now if Andy and I are going through a rough patch and someone asks me why I married him...I'll say without hesitation, I was called to. When you feel called to do something, when you know without a shadow of a doubt that your marriage is a divine appointment, you don't let anything stand in your way. This truly was an "ah-hah" moment for me. I wonder how many marriages might make it through the rough times if they truly understood before hand that they were called to be husband and wife. Called not to just love each other, but called to honor, respect and serve one another even when we don't feel like it.

Free Printable!! Finding Our First Home with a House Searching Score Sheet


If you follow me on Pinterest, you have probably noticed a lengthy feed of house renovation inspirations. We haven't bought our first home yet but we are looking heavily.

It all started when I was searching on Trulia and Zillow for houses in our price range. We were debating between buying an old house and putting some elbow grease into it or just breaking down and buying a new home (aka: the cookie cutter). 

Everything we looked at in our range looked cheap (granted, our price range is super, super low). It was hard to imagine that we would ever move out of our spacious apartment into a home that we could really call home.

Then my mom sent me an email of one that we fell in love with

Borderline obsession.

It was an older home (1960s) but the family renovated it in such a perfect way. 
Barnwood accent wall.
Butcher block countertops with double oven and green accent cabinets.
Real brick and mortar backsplash.
Bathroom cabinets were made out of repurposed vintage dressers with amazing sinks.
BEAUTIFUL hardwood flooring throughout and true tile (not laminate) in the wet areas.
Awesome backyard and patio.
Lovely full brick exterior with heavy barnwood shutters.
Best of all? They converted the garage into 3/4 of a large sunroom and 1/4 of it as a laundry room.
The sunroom would be my new studio.

AND - we had the exact 20% down payment stashed away. On the dot.

I could picture it all... until we put in our offer and the agent said someone else had offered the full listing price. 

Devastation.

After a number of shed tears, JD gave me the sweetest pep talk. He reminded me that God didn't intend for it to be our first home, but rather our inspiration. We would find an older home and give it the same love and care as that couple did for the home we fell in love with. We could do that too. We just needed to find a home with a nice floor plan, a bedroom that our queen-sized bed could actually fit in (not a whole lot of those in our price range), a couple of bathrooms, a room for my studio, and a great backyard for gardening. 

We pulled our bootstraps up, found a great real estate agent and have been searching ever since.

Houses seem to get a little redundant after you've seen a few, so I decided to make a scoring sheet for each house. If you work with a realtor, she / he will normally give you an MLS sheet on the house. This describes the specifics: square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, size of rooms, appliances included, etc.

You can write notes on these sheets but I prefer charts and checklists. After looking at a couple of houses, I decided to design the survey below. It's a free printable and we would love for you to use it if you think it would help in your house search too!

Today, we continue in our adventure for buying our first home with clipboard in hand:


Lovely clipboard from the dollar bins at Michael's

How to Use the Printable:
Write the house address at the top. When you're finished looking at houses for the day, rank them in the top right-hand corner. (example: 1/6)

Basically, I created a scale from 1 - 10 for the appearance of the neighborhood, exterior of house, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and backyard. For closet space, I rate it on how much space there is, the appearance of the closet, etc. For elbow grease, I rate it from 1 (being not a whole lot of work needs to be put into it on our part) or 10 (may need to demolish the whole thing and rebuild it from the ground up). There should be enough space between the lines for you to write notes on each topic.

At the bottom, you'll find a Notes box and places to check off if there is a garage and laundry room, as well as the types of flooring in the house (carpet, hardwoods, tile, laminate).

Most importantly, the question of if you can make it a home... 
Yes, you can make any house a home
but think about if it's worth it.
Is it worth investing into?
Does it have charm / character or can you add that yourself?

**If you choose to share this free printable on your blog or website, please give credit where credit is due and link it back to our blog, Jitney's Journeys. 


Right-click, save image, then print. May be printed on a 5" x 8" index card.

We hope this helps in your search of a home! 

Don't forget to check out our other printables in our Etsy shop here.








Mixed Media : She Wants to Grow Old By His Side


Remember the welcome home "sign" we posted on Instagram when JD got back from his last trip?

Well, we wanted to share a little more about it in detail today...


It's actually a 12 x 12 mixed media piece I made JD for his birthday. He was on travel during Valentine's Day and his birthday (Feb 17) so I was really excited to give this to him first-thing at the airport. 

It's funky but we like it that way. 
{Have you seen how we decorate our home?!}

The text says, "She wants to grow old by his side." 

Materials consisted of scrapbook papers, paint, stamps, vintage sewing patterns, old book pages, and antique paper goodies.

JD has a little more scruff than normal in this painting, and he doesn't have a moustache connecting to his beard in real life. In fact, he shaves his moustache every single day but leave a little beard scruff for some of his trips (like this one). But I accidentally gave him a moustache so we're learning to deal with that. :)

Explanation of outfits:
JD wears soccer jerseys on his days off so I thought the scrapbook paper with numbers would be fitting. 
I used the graph paper for the shorts because he carries around a graph paper Moleskine journal to jot down notes for work.
My outfit is pretty self-explanatory. I love high-waisted skirts, shades of blues, bold belts, lace and flowers. 

The back is pretty simple with a piece of chipboard and scrapbook paper nailed to the backside of the canvas...


My gracious parents let me stay with them in Georgia while JD was on his trip. 

Mom thought it would be a fabulous idea to take an online mixed media class together... and it was!!!

To say that I now enjoy mixed media would be a complete understatement. 

When we weren't drive-by-shopping at antique stores and flea markets, we were crafting and creating on endless projects. 

This project was my favorite though. 

JD is one of my greatest inspirations, aside from Christ.

I love growing old by his side.


Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

That's Amore : A Todd Nest Valentine's Day Tradition

Happy Valentine's Day!!


Is that an ironing board... with chicken and candles?

Why, yes, it most certainly is.

Valentine's Day is a super sweet day for couples, but let's be honest here - 
Restaurants are always packed and overpriced,
heels are nice but house shoes are comfier,
floral arrangements are expensive and
candles sure smell sweeter in your own home.

{can you tell we're homebodies?}

So we celebrate Valentine's Day by cooking dinner together,
in our own home, and setting it all up on our ironing board by candlelight,
just like we did in 2009 in my ole' apartment at Auburn University.

Oh - and lots of chocolate. We eat lots of chocolate. :)


As cliche as it sounds, every day is Valentine's Day for us. We love marriage, we love each other and we love celebrating those things every single day. I can't imagine our marriage being any other way.

JD and I love creating new traditions and celebrating old traditions as Mr. & Mrs. 
As quirky and simple as it is, we wanted to give you a little sneak peek into the way we have celebrated love on Valentine's Day.

Do you have any special Valentine's Day traditions?


Turquoise and Bison Hide : Moleskine Leather Journal Cover


Over the last few years, I have wanted so badly to make my own leather journal.

Fortunately, my brother's brother-in-law taught him how to make one. Ergo, for our Christmas present, Chase (my brother) helped us make my first leather journal.

We're all spending Christmas at my parents' this year. Chase and Jackie flew in from Las Vegas Wednesday and we drove in from Huntsville that night.

Mom, Jackie and I had glitter and cardstock scattered everywhere with our projects while Chase and JD took up the other side of the basement with bison hide and leather-working tools.

Very few moments are as special as seeing family gathered together, especially when it's your husband and brother (dad joined in later after he came home early from work to be with us).


In all fairness to JD, he made 98% of my journal while I was working on other Christmas presents and drinking coffee. 

Have I mentioned that my husband is rockin'??

Look at this beautiful bison hide journal they put together for me:

front on the right, back on the left


It took us a while to figure out what kind of clasp we wanted to do in the front. My only non-negotiable was the turquoise closure. Brown and turquoise are the Jitney signature colors.


Instead of making an actual journal with the super rugged and gorgeous paper, we ended up making a leather journal cover so that I can interchange all of my Moleskine journals. 



I stitched the flap for decorative purposes and styled the closure. Besides that, my sweet husband worked for several hours on making it perfect. 

There was so much selflessness poured into this creation (JD was pages-deep into a new zombie novel when I asked him to help me).

I am deeply thankful for priceless moments spent with my amazingly creative family. I could not ask for more this Christmas. 

What do you think of the journal cover?