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the house that built me

Friday, July 22nd, 2016


tomorrow morning is one i’ve dreaded for more than a year. i keep saying that the hard part is over now that goodbyes have officially been said, but ultimately i find myself awake in the middle of the night again, thinking about what’s to come and the unbearable and yet self-inflicted change that’s happening next.

tomorrow is the day we hand over the keys to the house where i grew up, the house my parents have owned for 25 years.

i should start by saying that leaving 549 burrage road is a blessing. it means that my parents can finally build their dream home on a lake and look forward to the next chapter of their (our) lives. there’s no sadness in that. it’s so great, in fact, that it seems surreal. and right now we’re in the surreal in-between where there’s no new home, but no old home either. no kitchen where i’ve spent nearly every thanksgiving of my life, no bedroom that holds my american girl dolls or the pink scratch-and-sniff smiley face sticker on my doorknob, no wall with the hole where my brother tried to make a secret portal between our rooms when we were kids.

i’ve dreaded it for months, but this week i’ve spent so much time thinking about this transition and there are way too many thoughts swirling in my head for one blog post. for starters, i can’t understand what it is about leaving this house that’s so difficult. i will always have memories of my life there. as my brother likes to say, we’re not selling those. my family members are all still very close. giving up this house really doesn’t mean i’m relinquishing anything but empty rooms and blank spaces. i know that the things that make a home aren’t the walls or the paint or the curtains. it’s not the space but the life lived within it.


and despite all that, i can’t sleep tonight. my chest hurts when i think about strangers filling those blank spaces with their things, their lives, their memories. selfishly i want to keep those spaces sacred and mine. i hate that they might not love them the same way i did. that they might cut down the cherry tree in the yard where we took easter pictures, or remove the bar in the kitchen where my dad still makes me coffee on the mornings i’m there, or rip out the retro “hugs not drugs” bumper sticker on the wall inside my brother’s closet.

i know i am a person that feels things deeply, and generally i’m both thankful for and annoyed by that fact. i hate that things and places evoke such deep emotions within me. if they didn’t, i could walk away from this house much more easily than i have. (and i could have thrown out the 39,084 stuffed animals from my childhood that my parents patiently agreed to let me keep in their new garage.) it’s a characteristic i find impossible to describe to anyone who can’t relate. i envy those people who can’t relate. i know intellectually that a house is just a house, but that doesn’t change the emotional connection i feel to it. i became a person within those walls. no matter who those walls belong to in the future, it won’t change the fact that they surrounded me during all of my becoming. they’ll always be a part of me and i of them, and no intellectual reasoning (no matter how rational) can change that.


i always find change to be a mystery because i hate it and yet i desire it. the leaving behind is always difficult. but, in its infinite paradox, not nearly as difficult as the staying-put. and in this surreal in-between, i’m infinitely grateful that saying goodbye to this house is as difficult as it is, because it means that my life there was well-lived. those blank spaces were filled with everything that a childhood and a family and an abundant life are supposed to be. while the staying-put in this house for the last 25 years has meant the leaving behind of so many other things; in all of those transitions, my family and i have become more and more of the people we were created to become, both together and apart. and that’s really always the goal, isn’t it? i am incredibly thankful for the role that 549 burrage road played in our stories and for an unchanging Father who always calls us forward into the unknown. His best is always before us.

photos 1./2. joe hartsell 3. drawing by aaron cote of ga studio drawings

christmas is for cookies

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Christstmas card - cropped

this past weekend, my mom and sister-in-law and i hosted a little cookie exchange party for some of our closest friends. (part of our invite above, ordered from wisemonkey paperie on etsy). if you don’t already know this, cookie exchanges are really fantastic because you make one kind of cookie and then you leave with one million different cookies. it’s like magic. delicious magic. we also had a hot chocolate bar, a festive photo booth, and we watched the panthers win number 14 because when you live in charlotte in 2015 that’s what you do on sundays (alternate reason: when your quarterback looks like cam newton that’s what you do on sundays).

grace, my sis-in-law, is always an incredible encourager of my creative endeavors and gave me free rein in her house for decorations. the good news is, her dining room is already beautiful, so there wasn’t much to be done. i’m completely obsessed with eucalyptus at the moment, so i used it (from trader joe’s) and some greenery i cut from a bush in my yard to adorn the mantel and the center of the cookie table. these snaps were taken before most of the guests arrived, so the full cookie effect cannot be appreciated, but alas.


i don’t ever decorate with red in my own home (more on that to come tomorrow!), so it was really fun to pull it into the decor here. the brass reindeer are one of my favorite decorations for christmas and i’m so happy i snagged them a couple of years ago at a yard sale.

now, on to the cookies. see those gorgeous gingerbread ones? my mom made them and she does every year. they’re my favorite. personally, i opted for a simpler less labor-intensive recipe, one i got from a cookie exchange at work last year. they’re simple, delicious (super citrusy – always my personal preference), and don’t require baking. this is awesome because it’s been so ridiculously warm in north carolina, and turning on my oven generally means i then need to turn on my air conditioning. in december. which is terrible. anyway. i modified the original recipe a bit because directions are hard and that’s what i always do, but they turned out well using the proportions below. you can also add coconut, if you’re into that. christmas is for cookies, so enjoy!

orange refrigerator balls
(pictured to the right of the gingerbread in the photos above)

1 box of vanilla wafers, crushed (i used the blender to grind them up)
1 cup of pecans, chopped (used the blender here too)
3/4 cup of orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 pound of powered sugar (this worked out to about 3.5 cups but it’s hard to mess this one up)

mix all ingredients. form into one-inch balls. roll in powered sugar and refrigerate until firm. eat all of the cookies.


there she is?

Monday, September 15th, 2014


when i was a little girl, i watched miss america every year with my mom. i remember the women as being beautiful, poised, talented, intelligent. they had platforms on which they were knowledgeable and spoke eloquently. they wore evening gowns that didn’t show any side boob and i’m quite certain there were no clear platform heels. i know beauty pageants have a stigma, and i certainly think many of them live up to that stigma, but miss america has typically been the classiest representation of the all-american beauty pageant (ahem, scholarship pageant). do i think it’s ridiculous that women are still judged for how great they look in a bathing suit? yes. will i let my own daughter watch the pageant someday? unlikely. but nonetheless, miss america has had an impact on me. i still remember when heather whitestone won, breaking barriers for disabled women everywhere and making headlines across the country. personally, as a newly diagnosed type I diabetic, i was ecstatic when nicole johnson won the crown in 1999 and proved to me that diabetic women could be everything non-diabetic women could be. she was a role model for me and gave a voice to type I diabetics everywhere. miss america, in my mind as a girl, represented the kind of woman i wanted to be. educated, well-spoken, classy, passionate, hard working, beautiful.

to say this year’s pageant has come a long way since the years of my youth is an understatement. i have no idea what the contestants’ platforms were because they weren’t mentioned. all but three girls’ evening gowns were essentially exactly the same. the interview portion was so short and politically loaded, i’m not even sure there was a point. and the talent. don’t even get me started on the talent. the talent portion included dance numbers to david guetta and the frozen soundtrack. a puppet ventriloquist. songs by christina aguilera and pharrell williams. sadly, there was only one girl who actually played an instrument and the girl who won the entire talent portion in the preliminary competition (miss kentucky, ramsey carpenter) was eliminated before she could even play her fiddle, ousted by higher scores in final evening gown and swimsuit portions.

last night, when miss new york kira kazantsev took the crown, i was mostly horrified. you guys, this girl sat on the stage in a blue jumpsuit, played a red solo cup, and sang the song that makes most of the world wish they were dead, pharrell williams’ “happy”. and she didn’t even do it well. don’t get me wrong, i’m not trying to be a hater or a feminist or a mean girl, but it is so unbelievably upsetting to me that this is the legacy of miss america. because, you see, when i googled kira, i learned some other things about her. she’s going to law school. she’s trilingual. she’s a child of russian immigrants. she was a victim of domestic violence and is now a passionate advocate against it. all in all, not the worst role model for young girls. her evening gown was classy. she didn’t have a ridiculous fake tan or extensions or a breast implants. yet, none of those things were emphasized during the pageant last night. she barely had the opportunity to open her mouth onstage, as the interview portion of the evening lasted about 1/4 of the time dedicated to the swimsuit competition.

the thing that made me saddest last night was not that kira kazantsev took the crown (although, i will say the relevancy of her domestic violence platform to recent nfl news is somewhat coincidental). what made me saddest is that the contestants’ talents (or lack thereof) aren’t the real problem. the worst part about last night was how much the media is changing young girls’ view of what a woman should be. instead of emphasizing these women’s platforms, allowing them more than 15 seconds to speak onstage, the pageant spent more than half the airtime on swimsuit and evening gown. they glazed over miss america 2014’s work on promoting diversity by simultaneously running a video of her crowning last year. they scored kira’s painful talent high enough to win her the crown, beating out 52 other contestants who sang songs in foreign languages or played an instrument or did a myriad of other exceptional things we weren’t able to see. kazantsev’s walk as the newly crowned miss america was more than three times the length of time she was able to speak during the pageant itself. instead of encouraging young women to aspire to education, career, activism, miss america essentially encouraged all young girls watching to look pretty and say nothing. which, i’d imagine, is the exact opposite of the legacy kazantsev wants to leave as miss america 2015. if there was ever an example of how effectively the media is negatively impacting young women and how quickly our society is losing all sense of intelligence, individuality, culture, poise, and service, it was last night in atlantic city, and i am sad about it.

image via yahoo news

here comes the sun

Monday, August 4th, 2014


a while ago (and by a while i mean a long while, because let’s be honest, it’s been a LONG while since i’ve spent any time on blooming branch), my lovely friend lacey nominated me for a sunshine award. you know those fun little link-up bloggy trends where you can interact with other bloggers? one of those. sadly, i never responded to my nomination and the chain-blog (like chain mail, but virtual?) phenomenon stopped with me. oops. it’s likely whomever started the sunshine award is wondering what happened somewhere along the line, and i’m the broken link. to that person: sorry. i’m here now. let’s do this.

sadly, whomever started the sunshine award is going to hate me even further because i’m about to follow none of the rules. i think i’m supposed to display the award graphic and nominate some other blogger friends. i like the sunshine photo above much more than the award graphic and lately i have no blogger friends (besides lacey) because i have been quite isolated from the blogging world and because, well, let’s be honest, i’m not making any friends here when i break all the chain-blog award rules.

hopefully whomever is reading this still likes me, despite my complete disdain for following directions. here are the two things i will do:

1. thank the blogger who nominated me

lacey has been my number one since college. i don’t remember the first time we met, but i always remember thinking she was cool. we met before the end of sophomore year, and i remember she sent me some extremely creative cards over the summer (are you surprised?). i was working at a bank as a summer teller and i hated life, so naturally these cards were one of the few highlights of the summer. then we started chatting on aol instant messenger and the rest was history for princesscdc and tinkbaby85 (i had to restrain myself from putting @ in front of our aol screen names). since then, i can’t count how many times she has encouraged me, made me laugh, inspired me and ate junk food with me. i am so thankful for her thoughtfulness and her creativity and her friendship. and her blog. because most of the time it’s the only one i read.

2. tell you 10 interesting things about me (this is the best part of the sunshine award…did you think i’d ignore this rule?)

2014-07-19 13.11.57

1. i collect milk glass. i know nothing about milk glass, but i love it. a goal of mine in the near future is to learn about the different patterns and their origins. i have way too many pieces for my small apartment, but they look cool on top of my kitchen cabinets.

2. i am an INFJ according to the myers-briggs personality profile. apparently this is the rarest type and, depending on which website you read, puts in me approximately one to five percent of the population. i can’t decide if this makes me weird or cool.

3. i am not a morning person. at all. if it weren’t for coffee, it’s possible i’d never get up.


4. sherlock on pbs has become my new favorite show recently. if you don’t think benedict cumberbatch is delicious now, i guarantee you’ll think so once you’ve watched.

5. i have an extremely hard time getting rid of things. if it was a gift or i wore/used it during some memorable occasion, you can forget about it, even if i no longer use or want it. it’s a problem, but bonus: i don’t often return gifts from people i love for this reason.

2012-10-21 09.53.28

6. i love watching planes take off and land. having flown my entire life (child of an airline employee here), you think i’d be over it. i’m not. it’s fascinating. the runway overlook at the charlotte airport is a legitimately cool hangout spot.

7. i secretly (or not so secretly now) like ironing. i don’t know why.

8. people tell me a lot that i look like taylor swift. i am okay with this. except i feel more like 29 than 22. but.

9. i ask a lot of questions. i think lacey mentioned this in her list too, but i’m so much more comfortable asking people about themselves than i am talking about myself. (which seems ironic to say, given the nature of this blog post. writing is easier than talking.) talking about myself/my life with people i don’t know very well is WAY out of my comfort zone. thus, i interrogate people when making small talk. i’m sorry in advance if i’ve ever done this to you. it’s not a good dating tactic, if you’re wondering.

10. i have recently become mildly obsessed with my record player. i can’t stop buying albums (billy joel, air supply and tony bennett being some recent favorites).

so, there you have it. the sunshine award. there hasn’t been a lot of sunshine around here this past weekend, but i can’t say i’m too sad about it. because it’s summer and if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you are well aware of how i feel about heat and humidity. get out of my life, summer. thanks again to lacey for this lovely nomination!

image credits: 1. weheartit 3. beta beat

exciting news – but hurry!

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

oh my goodness. you guys. i checked my email this morning to find an amazing one – blooming branch has been nominated for a charlotte web award from elevate lifestyle for “best personal blog”. my heart is full and i am completely floored.
unfortunately, i’ve been consumed this weekend with other things and didn’t even see the email until now, and voting ends at 10:00 a.m.
if you have a moment, will you please follow this link and vote for blooming branch? it takes about thirty seconds. if you have facebook, twitter, and pinterest you can actually vote THREE times.
i would love you forever if you did. :o) more soon!

image via


Friday, December 31st, 2010
“for last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.” – t.s. eliot
looking forward to a celebration this evening full of champagne and good friends and a new year full of new beginnings! happy 2011!

images: 1.thecasting.tumblr 3.yourphotographyx.tumblr

the holiday in review

Thursday, December 30th, 2010
christmas 2010 was fantastic. the past few weeks have been full of family time, naps, food, shows, presents, friends, movies, and virtually zero stress. i am so blessed. someday i will figure out how to make photo collages for blogger. until that time, enjoy some lovely highlight photos below:

i’m getting so excited for 2011! more to come soon!

he found a way

Saturday, December 25th, 2010
loving this beautiful picture of Christ’s coming by andy gullahorn – enjoy and merry christmas! 

merry merry christmas!

Friday, December 24th, 2010

“the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the father, full of grace and truth.” – john 1:14

may you feel the magic of christmas and the joy of Christ today, tomorrow, and always!

merry christmas!

merry commercial christmas

Friday, December 24th, 2010

while many complain that christmas is too commercial, i happen to like the extra bit of creative effort that retailers put in to their advertising, even if it is a clever ploy make me spend my money. my top three favorite ad campaigns of this holiday season? well, i’m so glad you asked…

3. tommy hilfiger. (above) the first time i saw their feast interruptus ad, i immediately loved it. the styling is fantastic.

2. michael kors. love love love love love this.

1. tiffany’s. snow + coffee + cute boy + LITTLE BLUE BOX. all i want for christmas.

and of course, i can’t leave out this commercial. my favorite one of the season. i may have downloaded the song and listened to it on repeat: