Baby Jack

We have been delivered of a child!

Welcoming with tears of joy –

Jack Everest

Born March 28, 2016, at 11:53pm
(born on his auntie Ervina’s birthday with just minutes to spare!)

He weighed a big 8 pounds and 15 ounces, and was 21 inches long.

We are overwhelmed with joy at his arrival, and at the precious gift he is to our family!

Jack means “Beloved of God,” and Everest is a symbol of strength and majesty, representing our Father God as well as a picture of manhood. We pray Baby Jack will grow to be a giant of a man in the kingdom of God!

Mama and baby are doing well, and so thankful for life and health for us both.

And a first picture as a family of six!! xoxo

first family photo

About two weeks ago, my two sisters who live locally hosted a beautiful luncheon for me, in honor of my baby arriving soon. It was hosted at Claudia’s house, which is a gorgeous venue for anything, particularly an event that requires food. :)

Baby Shower at Claudia's House kiddos in the kitchen

The luncheon was Yogurt Parfaits that were perfection, with every kind of wonderful topping imaginable, and the best Chocolate Chip Scones made by Liz, and Macaroons (that were eaten so fast by the kiddos present it was a little embarrassing). ;) And hot coffee and tea, and a Mocha Punch. It was a pregnant woman’s heaven!

Baby Shower at Claudia's House lovely lunch details Baby Shower at Claudia's House - parfait details

Baby Shower at Claudia's House - yougurt parfait perfection

Baby Shower at Claudia's House - chocolate chip scones

Baby Shower at Claudia's House - punch corner

It was a small group of us, as I really enjoy smaller groups of people for some things, and so my two sisters, three sisters-in-law, and two dear old (as in long-time-ago, not as in age-old :)) friends were present. It was such a special time! Maybe because of moving in the past year, and missing the friends I left in the south – times like this make me so grateful for the friendships that I do have here!

Baby Shower at Claudia's House sisters in law Baby Shower at Claudia's House silly SILs

My sister-in-laws and I – they are so much fun! And cracking us up by making the over-used heart on my baby bump. :)

Somehow I don’t have pictures with any of the other lovely women or my sisters? I know they were taken, but must have been on different people’s phones instead of my camera. Which is SAD.

I said NO GIFTS, but these ladies wouldn’t listen. :) I mean, by the 4th baby, I don’t really I neeeed anything. Our house is small, I have baby things from my other kiddos, and I’m trying to be super minimalistic. But, it is really fun to have some darling new things. :)

These three little guys are Ben’s and my nephews, and all of them were born 11 months ago within 2 weeks of each other! I love them so much, these little cuties!!

Canon // Harrison // Benson (their names sound like they could be triplets)

Baby Shower at Claudia's House - three darling nephews

The dining room deserves its own blog post – it’s truly that lovely. Chris & Claudia remodeled this old house about a year ago, completely transforming it from a dingy dark city home into one that is simply stunning and bursting with light and uniqueness. Exposed wooden beams on the ceiling, exposed brick on the walls, beautiful wide trim…  and then decorating touches like vintage snowshoes and chairs that hang from the ceiling?! happy sigh. They are an amazing team. And they have their own remodeling/design company if you live locally. :)

Baby Shower at Claudia's House brunch time

Thank you, sweet women, for the most lovely time. Your love and friendship is so special to me!

And the anticipation continues! hashtag 40weeksand4days







I feel like I need to introduce myself again, as I blow off the dust from this blog after, hmmm, 8 months? Hi, I’m Clarita. I used to blog here, ummm, years ago? Remember me? :)

The past months have brought big changes to our family – some wonderful and lovely, some adjustments, some tears, but all in all, we know we are where we are supposed to be. Even if it’s no longer at our beloved Southern Cottage (affectionately known as “The Cottage at 341 South”) but instead at our little city house in the north. Perhaps another post will be about the move, the changes, and what it’s been like for us.

But for today, I’m just going to jump right in as though I never skipped a beat since last July. :)

San Antonio getaway

As the post title suggests, yes, there is a baby coming to our family – and very soon! Actually, a due date of tomorrow, March 19th. :) We are so thrilled about meeting this new little Lovie, and getting to know this active little kick-boxer! We haven’t found out the gender, so that is a huge anticipation as well. Our little guy, Hudson, said that he isn’t going to even like the baby if it’s a girl; that’s how badly he’s hoping for a brother. Thankfully, within the past week he’s reversed his response and said, “Mommy, I’ll be okay if it’s a girl.” Oh, thank goodness.

Ben and I celebrated our 10th anniversary last summer, in June. Just before our big move, and although we spent a lovely 24 hours on the Georgia islands, we wanted to do a little more. Ten years is a big deal!! And so worth celebrating, especially since we not only love each other, but actually like each other more than ever before. :) Being married ten years is fabulous. It only gets better, you guys. It’s the best it’s ever been. Not perfect, since he’s married to ME, but so very wonderful, and I am the luckiest woman ever. Okay, it sounds like I need to write about being married ten years. :) Moving on…. We had talked about a big trip internationally, but guess what. Moving 800 miles, remodeling yet another home, and having 3 kids isn’t exactly the prime time to travel international. Especially when our passports are both expired and we couldn’t have taken a quick trip had a good deal even popped up.

So at 34 weeks pregnant I suddenly realized that we hadn’t planned anything yet, and that if we were going to do something, we had to do it within the next week lest I not be able to fly on a plane anymore! So we did some quick searches, found some amazing deals, and booked our weekend to San Antonio!

San Antonio riverwalk

Riverwalk lush greenery

Riverwalk bridges

I had been there years before (13 years before? Does that make me sound old or what?!) with some friends, so I was as familiar with the city as one can be after a day trip as a 20-year old joy-riding. :) I basically remembered that I LOVED it there, and that was it. But it seemed like a fun place to visit, and it was warm  – a big plus when the weather was predicted to be below ten degrees at home.

And we LOVED IT. My mom, my sisters, my sister-in-law, my friends, and so many people helped with our kiddos to pull the weekend off – it really does take a village, folks. And I’m so grateful for every single person who gifted us by loving on our kids while we were gone!

The Riverwalk was a place we visited, of course. A big tourist attraction, and didn’t seem like a place that locals would go, but just lovely nonetheless.

Riverwalk view Riverwalk theatre Riverwalk bridge Riverwalk and street cards

Riverwalk canal Riverwalk cafes

Both Ben and I love history, so we really enjoyed all the history that is tied in with San Antonio. I knew that the East Coast has a lot of old beginnings, but didn’t remember that Texas did as well. Some of the buildings from the 1700’s were so fascinating to tour, and hearing about the Alamo was even more amazing than it was during my school years. Such a brave, dedicated army that gave their lives at this beautiful spot.

The Alamo

Alamo courtyard Alamo live oak
Alamo tribute

 We got some local recommendations for good restaurants around town, and walked around until late at night, trying to make the most of our few days. My pregnancy has been AMAZING  and the best one I’ve ever had, (thanks to some life-changing supplements) and at 35 weeks in my pregnancy we walked for miles and miles during the few days we were there. It was a great workout. :)

San Antonio darling snippets San Antonio restaurants Market San Antonio

  The Market San Antonio chapels

San Antonio missions San Antonio mission


 La Villita was another little area we spent some time in… a very old part of the city. There is so much beautiful Spanish influence there, so many old missions founded in the 1700’s. The bravery of the early pioneers and settlers amazes me, as I think of what it meant for those families back in that day.

La Villita chapel view La Villita chapel window

  La Villita grounds

Aaaaaaaand, while we were in Texas anyway, how could we not visit the Magnolia Market? I mean, it was only two and a half hours away. Our whole family loves Fixer Upper, but my husband was very kind to oblige me in my wish to visit the actual place. :)

Magnolia Market

 It really was as amazing as I expected. Chip & Joanna, I love what you guys have done, and are doing!

  Magnolia Market vintage truck

Magnolia Market store Magnolia Market garden Magnolia Market crepe truck

 (I mean, seriously, THE most adorable little crepe truck I’ve EVER SEEN. All the heart eyes. And I loved the collaboration with Magnolia Market and local vendors ~ very noble and inspiring.)

A super fun surprise in my trip was getting to see a dear, sweet friend that I hadn’t seen in years! Not since we’ve both been married and have babies. She is just as beautiful and dear as ever. Lindsay, thank you so much for meeting up!!

Lindsay and me

 And just to document that we visited San Antonio at 35 weeks pregnant, my husband took a few pictures. :)

35 weeks with lovie 35 weeks pregnant

So fun to write on this white space again, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my friends here again in the future!

For those of you who have written and send messages or commented in the past months, you are so dear. I apologize that I haven’t been able to respond to each person, but your words have been so thoughtful. Thank you.


I think this is the only room in the house I haven’t done before & after pictures of, and I wanted to document this yet before we move! :)

The master bedroom seems to be the hardest room to pull together. Often it’s the most neglected room because it’s the least visible to guests, and so the focus goes to the room that are seen more easily.

But I wanted to make this room be a restful place, a room where we could walk into and feel that it’s a sanctuary. For us women, sometimes we tend to make it look a little too feminine, and I didn’t want my husband to feel uncomfortable in his own bedroom. :)

master bedroom in whites and blue


Living in an old house gives some great bones to work with. When we first started working in this room, it was covered with old 70’s paneling on the walls, and with sticky tiles on the ceiling. We were going to remove the sticky tiles and paint the wooden ceiling underneath it, but were going to leave the paneling behind and simply paint it. But after tearing out a small section to work on an area, Ben discovered beautiful old boards behind the paneling! So of course the paneling came down too.

Master, before:

March 2010 017

February 2010 036

So, we painted the ceiling a bright white, and I love it.

We painted the walls an off-white creamy color, and then sanded the walls to expose the grain.

IMG_7523 IMG_7525

Isn’t it lovely?! Some people have asked if the walls are just primed and need to be painted, so perhaps it’s a little rustic for some people. Our furniture is a bit more traditional and formal though, so I think they work together well.

But taking down the paneling exposed this beautiful brick fireplace! It’s the backside of a fireplace in the music room, and was covered with chipping grey paint. Ben worked so hard to get the paint off of it and expose the original old brick.


The wooden floors were sanded and restored, and then stained and sealed.

Master bedroom, after:

The sheer panel above our bed was part of our wedding service, as two banners that two boys ran down the center aisle during “Chariots of Fire” processional. I love having it in our room, remembering that special day.

master bedroom

The room is simply decorated, but I added a few personal touches, like framing our wedding invitation.

framed wedding invitation

master bedroom vignette a chair to catch it all

side table

monogrammed pillow

It was last year before I finally decided what to do with this blank space about the two doorways. I wanted something very special, something to do with marriage, but couldn’t decide what. I finally chose to write the traditional marriage vows on a long piece of luan wood, and I loved how it turned out. Marriage is such a beautiful thing, and I wanted the beautiful but practical reminder to love, until death parts us.

wedding vows in the master bedroom

for better or for worse

desk with decor

wooden wall, and candlestick holder for jewelry


This has quite possibly become one of my favorite rooms in the house. I love the clean feel it has, the hardwood floors, and the wooden walls and ceiling. It has so much texture, and I love that!

But mostly, I love that it feels like a retreat, a restful place. This room I try to keep the cleanest of all; no extras or  junk that can easily pile in other places of the house.

I’d love to hear from you! What is it that makes a master bedroom special to you all?



We are entering a time of much transition and change in our little family. God is directing us, and we are following.  A big move is in the not-so-distant future, and we are saying goodbye to our little cottage and to the people who have made Georgia home for us.

There are so many bittersweet emotions I hardly know how to process them. We are sad about who we’re leaving, and we’re excited about what we’re moving to. But Southeast Georgia has been home for my husband nearly all his life, and home for me the past nine year – almost a third of my life!

morning coffee

I have reflected a lot on the past 9 years of my life (yikes, that makes me feel old when I think back 9 years!!), and realize what a gift I’ve been given in this time. What makes a place Home is not the house or the location as much as the people in your life. Relationships are what make life rich and meaningful, and without them, life is lonely.

When I moved to Georgia as a bride of one year, newly-wedded, I remember the pounding heart within me. I was scared to death because I knew no one. Ben (my husband) had some family who lived nearly, but I had only met them a few times and really didn’t know them at all. And other people I knew even less. I recognized a couple of faces, but that was it. I was terrified!!

It’s hard to sum up those first few years. I grew up as a northern girl, enjoying the city and classical music. When I moved south, it was small-town and country music. The differences were not wrong at all; as I learned while on a mission trip in my teens or early twenties, “Not good, not bad, just different!” However, I was not prepared for the cultural differences I would face. A culture that I’ve learned to love, and that I will miss tremendously. But I wasn’t expecting the United States to have such different cultures!

These nine years have brought an incredible amount of change. I arrived a young girl-bride: I’m leaving a woman, married ten years, and mother of three precious children. We purchased a cottage over five years ago and turned it into home, and in less than a week, it will no longer be ours.

Bittersweet emotions!! Whew.

mantel greens

But I’ve been reflecting on the people that I’ve learned to know here. People that have impacted my life, that have shown me community, that have taught me so much. I’m not going to name them because I could never give enough of credit to people, but I want to tell you some things about the people here. I’ve changed, and become a better person because of them.

I grew up in a family of three sisters and two brothers, and let me tell you – that is the BEST thing in the world! I feel so rich, and absolutely love my family!

But the move south took me almost a thousand miles from anyone in my family. And for someone who spent a lot of time with my sisters, that was a big adjustment. Like, HUGE. I’d ask my sisters’ advice on outfits, and we’d talk about anything, and we just did life together. And when I moved away, we’ve still kept in touch and only grown closer, but the reality is, you need people with skin on right where you are.

front porch boxwoods lovely boxwoods

confederate jasmine

And that’s when I began understanding more of the beauty of community, and experiencing it for myself. I didn’t have my  family close by; my community became my family. I didn’t have sisters to do things with; but my friends became like sisters.

I’ve learned so much from my friendships and community her, I think it would be impossible to sum it up and give due credit. But I want to tell you about some things that have made life rich for me. I don’t even know how to begin talking about this one. But friends have become family, and they mean so much to me.

We’ve picked strawberries together.
We’ve baked Christmas cookies together.
We’ve babysat each other kids while we gone on dates.
We help each other pack up when we move and help to paint.
We’ve done picnics at the park and beach days together.
We’ve done ladies’ nights out and howl with laughter at the stories we tell.
They brought me freezer meals because we’re moving and eveyrone knows that freezer meals are a mother’s love langue, and made me cry, because they know exactly what helps the most in a busy season.
When we have babies, we bring each other meals.
We love on each other’s kids almost like our own nieces and nephews.

There are ways they’ve cared for me, that have made me think, “Why haven’t I ever thought of that?!”

lilies and crystals

I’ve had friends who have brought me homemade cookies, fresh baked muffins, Frosty’s from Wendy’s, Strawberry Limeaid from Sonic, Blizzards from DQ.

Friends who have brought food, friends who have given gift cards for restaurants… Food isn’t just the way to a man’s heart; it’s also the way to a mama’s heart. :) (And especially to mine.).

I have a friend who have packed little travel bags for my kids when we had to travel north suddenly for a tragic funeral, and I was numb with pain and grief and couldn’t think to do anything myself.

I have a friend who, during a busy day of moving, offered to come get our bedding and wash it. That was five years ago and I still remember it clear as day, because it was SO thoughtful and helpful!

I have a friend who is extremely talented in photography, who has been so kind to me. She knows so much about photography, editing, and pretty much everything picture related. And she has answered questions, taken time to show me things on my camera, explained the edited program in great detail when I was completely lost… I credit so much of what I know about photography and editing to her, and to her kindness in teaching me, whether she realized it our not!

There are friends who are a few years older than I am, but that have taken the time to include me in their life. They have walked similar journeys but are ahead of me a bit in life, and I have loved learning from them, from their motherhood, from their walk with Jesus.

girls bedroom vignette

Some of them have been transplants from other communities, left their families and mamas and knew what it meant to say goodbye to all that they knew. It has meant to much to me to be able to learn from them, and to hear what helped them adjust and adapt. They are the ones who asked me “Are you okay?” when I first moved here, and when I burst into tears at the question because I was so not okay at the moment, they were not scared of my tears. And even hearing what has been hard for them is comforting, and been a safe place for me to sometimes shed some tears on their shoulders. I am so grateful for their friendship.

I have friends who are neighbors, who have involved me in community life, in things like amazing Christmas events such as Lauren’s gingerbread-house-decorating-party that has gone viral on Pinterest because it was just SO gorgeous. Friends who have invited me to local events and helped me to get to know people in the community, who invited me into their world, their circle of friendships, even though that took time and effort. I’ve so appreciated the way they have taught me more about the southern culture, about what is considered proper and culturally correct just by their gracious example.

ferns and panels

People ask me if I’m sad about leaving my house, this little cottage that we’ve spent a lot of time working on the past 5 years. And yes, I am sad about leaving my house, but it’s just a house. What I’m really sad about it leaving people. Leaving relationships that have been years in the making, that have so much richness, so many memories, such love and care and support. While I am anticipating what is ahead for us, the reality also is that leaving is hard. Saying goodbye is hard.

And so I want to say thank you to these people in South Georgia that have made this home for me. That have been patient even with my cultural blunders. That have laughed when I didn’t understand their southern drawl, and liked me anyway. That have accepted me and welcomed me into their world, and let me be a part of it. I am a rich person for knowing all of you, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to live here with you to learn to know you beautiful souls. I will miss you so much.

And so it’s not goodbye, but an “until next time.”
I love you, South Georgia!

attic office


  antique roses

Since the remodeling upstairs and adding the three dormers last fall, I’ve been wanting to do a before & after post of the outside of the Cottage, just to show the hard work that my husband has done!

This spring, with the fresh, bright-green growth of the trees:

cottage exterior

The dormers aren’t too visible in this picture, but I like that it shows the fence that we added soon after we moved here (after our one-year old gave us a terrible scare on the road), and the arbor Ben built that mirrors that design of the front porch.

But this is the house when we first bought it. Um, yes. It was sad. Very very sad.

Before: Winter, 2010

cottage exterior before

cottage side before

Having a husband who not only can do anything with wood and construction and is so gifted with working with his hands, but who enjoys it as well, is so wonderful. He has transformed this place into a beautiful cozy home.

After: Spring, 2015

cottage exterior  front view

cottage exterior and white picket fence


Changes we’ve made:

-Painted the entire exterior of the house
-Painted the metal roof
-Added wooden shutters
-Added three dormers (which look as thought they’ve always belonged here in the first place)
-Painted the front porch, pillars, and columns
-Added the picket fence and arbor
-Added landscape

cottage with the morning light

This little cottage has been a beautiful haven for us the past 5 years that we’ve lived here. It’s seen our daughter take her first steps, it’s seen us bring our son home from the hospital, it’s been filled with tears and laughter and memories and sentimental things we’ll remember forever. We’ve learned to know some of our neighbors, and some of them feel like family and I love them dearly! We’ve lived in the city, and I’ve absolutely loved it – we can walk to the coffee shop/ice cream shop, I’ve probably run a rut down the streets where I do my running loops, we are right across the street from the park and the pool… It’s been such a beautiful season, and a beautiful gift to live here.

I’ve alluded to it sometimes, but it really is true: we are moving from our beloved little Cottage at 341 South. The house sold quickly – the first people to look at it bought it – but I feel jealous over it, like no one else will ever be able to love it like we do. :) But the Lord is directing us to a different place, and so we’re following, with both sadness and anticipation. Sadness for what we’re leaving behind (the cottage, yes, but more importantly, relationships, which are far more valuable than a house), and also anticipation for what the Lord has ahead for us.

It’s been a time of much emotion for us as we do the “lasts” – last beach day, last ladies’ get together, last pool day, last….. We will be entering a different season for our family, and we ask for prayers as we transition. It’s been busy for the kids, and anyone with children knows that they do best on a very normal schedule. Ours have been anything but normal the past few months, so we’ve had some challenges with that and helping our kids walk through this time, while processing ourselves. I hope to pop in here a few more times in the next week or two, just so that I can document a few more things for ourselves, but we’ll see. :)

Happy Tuesday, Lovelies!


If you ever come to my house and I don’t answer the front door, this is where you’ll find me:

Patio Complete 048


I never knew that an outdoor space could feel like another room in the house, but this area does. I think it’s the pergola that gives it a “room” feel, and even though there are no walls or privacy fences, I can still sit there and feel like I’m in my personal outdoor living room. I cannot even tell you all how much I love this space!!

A huge part of that loving comes because of how improved it is. If you’ve been following the Cottage blog for any period of time, you know we bought this house as a foreclosure, at a time when it needed a lot of work. The inside was our focus for the first couple of years, and finally last spring we started doing more outside projects. Our front porch was first, and then, on July 4th weekend a year ago, we started the back patio.

My husband is very careful to do things debt-free, and so we have not done some of the bigger projects around here until recently, after we were able to save up for them. So that makes the finished product even more exciting. When you wait for something, it becomes even more special! :)

This is what it looked like for the first 4 years we were here. Lovely in its time, but with many years of wear and tear the boards were rotting and falling in, and they gave many splinters to poor bare feet!

{Before, July 2014}

back porch before

deck - before


Soooo, the perks of having a husband who can do literally ANYTHING with wood are pretty awesome. He can envision something, and make it and built it. I can decorate it when it’s finished, but he’s been the vision behind most of what we’ve done here at the Cottage. He’s really great like that.

So, to give a little perspective of where this is (and there were some people who thought this is the front porch – no, it’s the back deck, off the back/side of the house :)) , this is the view from the front of the house.  The back deck is only slightly visible, so it gives a very private feel sitting back there.


cottage front view

First off: tear off the old deck, beginning on July 4th, 2014

tearing it down

The process of tear-out was quick and easy, and then the building took a bit longer because of working at it evenings and weekends for several weeks a month or two. The entire process from beginning to end, including staining the wood and all of that, wasn’t finished up until November. So! We don’t do everything super fast around here. ;)

The little man was so thrilled with his apprenticeship to construction.

little mancub daddys helper

And I even got out there with a drill – because my husband taught me to love that kind of thing too. :)

IMG_1083 IMG_1246

And things slowly started taking shape…

learning that work is fun

backporch living

The first dinner on the patio – enjoying it even before it was completely finished because we were just THAT excited about it.

first dinner on the new deck
Art time – outside! When they find me outside in the mornings, sometimes they’ll bring their own things outside and we’ll all be together for a while.

mornings on the porch art on the porch


Break time.

taking a break

And adding the final touches  – finishing the pillars, putting lights on the pergola, staining the wood, planting ferns and shrubs in planters…

I love lots of whites indoors, but out here, I wanted lush green and full of color. It feels like my happy place.

Patio Complete 032 patio pillars


{And after, July, 2015}

Unless it’s raining, this is where you’ll find me, every morning. I’ll even wipe off the raindrops from the table and chairs if I need to, so that I can use this lovely spot. My Bible, a hot cup of coffee, and quiet time outside = the best way to begin a day!

My view from the kitchen door. I mean. I cannot even resist going out there. My love of running is even being affected because I just want to BE HERE.

the patio room


morning quiet time

Patio Complete 035


French-pressed café al fresco, anyone?


cafe al fresco

And these little cuties that sleepily join me after a while… ♥♥  Sometimes it all feels like a beautiful happy dream, these moments of my life, with my precious children.

morning risers


Sometimes I can hardly believe this is the same location; same outdoor furniture, same potted plants, but a whole new design.

Patio Complete 038


Friends and visitors are welcome! :)