July swept in like a swarm of underground hornets and, before we could even realize what was happening, it was August. More on that metaphor below.
This month, we spent seven nights in hotels or Airbnbs and I only wrote two blog posts (oops), mainly because I had so many print projects for travel and finance clients that all of my writing time went toward that—not to mention I’ve been mindful of dedicating plenty of time to my favorite job of all: aunt to Charlotte and Mac!
I haven’t had time to blog much at all this summer due to our extensive home renovation, both inside and out, and when I do have a rare computer day, it’s a full day of tending to client projects or catching up on nonprofit work. However, I have been regularly updating old posts like Nashville murals and how to visit Nashville with kids to make sure the information on my most-visited pages is up to date always. Once we’re done with this kitchen remodel, I really hope to get back on a regular blogging routine.
Our July highlights were as follows….
I was a guest on HGTV’s official podcast, HGTV Obsessed. This was life goals realized for home renovators like us, and even cooler that HGTV chose to profile our nonprofit! You can listen to the episode for free here (or search for it in your podcast app).
We partnered with GoPro! I’ve been using various GoPro models since 2009, so this was a dream partnership (and FYI, the GoPro HERO9 Black, which I’m currently shooting with, has some major deals going on right now). The best way you can support content creators like us and continue to keep this site ad-free is by reading and engaging with our partner content like our recent project with GoPro to use its new Quik app.
Read about how we’re using our new GoPro to capture summer memories and let me know in the comments of that post if you own a GoPro (or would like to in the future … maybe I can figure out a giveaway!). We so appreciate you interacting with and sharing our partner content because it’s what keeps us able to run this blog, which is not a cheap endeavor.
We revisited a favorite city. Though the pandemic and subsequent staff layoffs put a premature end to our five-year Oklahoma City contract, we’re so madly in love with the city, we booked a four-night trip back to visit our best pals Lemon and Keaney who were up from Austin and eat all the delicious food and drink all the amazing Oklahoma beer. I also updated my Oklahoma City dining post if you’re heading that way anytime soon and had the best meal of my life at Grey Sweater.
New mural in OKC’s Automobile Alley by our Walls for Women artist JUURI
We also went to Huntsville for our first-ever Rocket City Trash Pandas game. I’ve been waiting for this for three years now, and I’ll have a guide to planning your summer family trip to Huntsville on the blog soon. In the meantime, you can read our past Huntsville itineraries and travel tips here.
We did maintenance on our condos. We spent 48 hours going hard as we fixed, tweaked, caulked, painted and did other menial tasks around the two condos we own in Downtown Nashville. Because they’re rented by long-term tenants, we rarely are able to get in there and do necessary maintenance, so when we had a two-day window that both were empty, we jumped at the chance to get in there and clean things up.
We shot a friend’s wedding, which was beautiful and also exhausting (14 hours on our feet!). We’re back to doing all kinds of photography projects that are not just travel related: weddings, engagement shoots, family shoots, kiddos, headshots, you name it. This last year grounding us really freed up time to get more creative with our photography, and I’m not hating that at all! If you’re in Tennessee and need a photographer, feel free to reach out at any time.
We put murals on the back burner to finish home reno projects and client work, but are back in business very soon. The hardest part about running a nonprofit is devoting too much time to it when ultimately it’s just our volunteer work and not our day jobs. We’re constantly trying to figure out that balance. But we’ve got projects in Knoxville, Tullahoma, Columbia and Viola happening in the next two months, and I’m ready to get back outside and do more art!
Flower mural by Tara Aversa, our next Walls for Women artist!
We gutted our kitchen and have been remodeling like our lives depend on it. And when I say “gutted,” I mean we ripped out every cabinet, appliance, piece of crappy slate flooring and more; everything is going to be new. If you don’t follow me on Instagram or TikTok and are interested in the process, go look at my Reels and TikToks now as I’ve been breaking down every last step of the way (and promise I will blog the process when we’re all done!).
All my brother-in-law’s family came down from Charleston. Eleven kiddos and 12 adults, plus an animal or two—it was a wild week! But so so fun as always; I love seeing Charlotte (and now Mac) have such a blast with their cousin crew.
Speaking of the Charleston family, our niece Morgan came for a month. She’s been spending time here the last few summers and coming ahead of her family’s week-long trip, and this time she flew in and stayed for nearly five weeks. This enabled us to give her a piece of our art alley to paint in our graffiti remediation work, as well as her paint something for our home, and on top of that, we got to spend a lot of time with her.
This past weekend she even let me take her senior pictures before she left, and I couldn’t be happier about how they turned out. Can’t believe this 17-year-old niece of ours is so multifaceted, kind and talented.
I had my 20-year class reunion! As class historian, it’s on me to plan this event every five years, and this year we opted for a tent at Tullahoma’s big Independence Day celebration. It was perfect—and so fun to see classmates I haven’t seen in years, if not decades!
So those hornets? They decided to emerge from their subterranean lair last Friday and attack me mercilessly. Before I realized what was happening, they were clinging to my clothes and stinging me through my shorts (unlike bees, hornets maintain their stingers and can stab you multiple times). No clue how many stings I had ultimately, but my arm and one leg were one huge red hive for a solid 24 hours.
Four days later, an updated tetanus shot, too much Benadryl to count, a steroid pack, and constant baking soda paste and ice packs to the wounds, I’m feeling better but only marginally.
If you’re doing a huge landscaping makeover like we’ve undertaken the past four months, be wary of these beasts: They like dry, dusty terrain exposed to the sun—which is exactly where this nest was, only visible by a tiny hole—and they are brutal. If you get hit like I did, take Benadryl immediately to stave off an allergic reaction and go to urgent care and the first sign of anaphylaxis. I have an EpiPen for my allergies so was ready to use it if I needed, but luckily for me, I only bore the brunt of intense pain for 48 hours followed by nonstop itching at the site of the wounds (and man are they deep!).
Other than that, I’m terrified of this looming Delta variant with Gamma on the horizon as more and more breakthrough cases are reported (but still not hospitalizations because the vaccine does work!). If you’ve been hesitating on getting poked for any reason whatsoever, please, please, please just go and do it for the collective good of not just this nation, but the world. After all, you don’t want to be the next sob story like these ones.
Ugh hornets, this whole time I’ve been worried about snakes and wasps and biting ants in my yard as we work on the landscaping…now I have to worry about hornets too..yikes! I don’t have any Benadryl in the house, maybe I need to get some. Last week I had a tetanus and shingles shot and I don’t know why, but that made me sick for 3 days!
My wife and I are getting settled into Lilburn. Moving to Georgia has been an interesting experience.
A couple of comments about this weeks newsletter. My daughter is a real estate agent in Decatur, so she specializes in mid-century moderns and renos. She has appeared on HGTV a couple of times as a real estate agent (type casting)
Regarding your 20th reunion. My class had our 50th in 2014 and I got picked to do biographies on our class members. Of the 365 that graduated I was able to get responses from over 150. I edited all of the bios into a format that would fit for printing. One of our class members offered to pay for having everything printed and bound into a cover that looked exactly like our yearbook. Everyone that contributed a biography got a copy at no charge. It was quite a project but everyone appreciated the time I had spent on the year book. We had every response and story you can imagine, including two guys that finally came out of the closet, to absolutely NO ONE’s surprise. Good luck with your reunion, think about the bio for a future reunion 40 or 50. I can send you the format we used to gather info, if you want.