Moving on...

I created this blog in September 2005 in Dallas, TX at a time when I needed to find my voice. I remember typing the first words as a young woman in the twinkle-lit loft of my condo. At first, it was simply an outlet to stay connected to friends near and far and share the tidbits of my newly-married life. Soon, it became so much more...a place for me to share my photography and art, regularly practice gratefulness, and process the way my life was moving to a simpler one day by day.

When we uprooted our lives from Dallas to Nashville in the fall of 2015, I had captured 10 years of our lives in words, photos, memories, details. This blog is a treasure, a time capsule of a very important decade of my life where we were young and married, owned our own businesses, and had two children. 

Now, after a long hiatus, I know it's time to close the door on Dreams of Simple Life and start fresh on my new website.

Here's a list of my favorite things I've written here over the years. Enjoy!

3 fave podcasts.

Well, it's happened.  I'm a podcast addict.  This is out of character for me, because I'm a visual learner.  I prefer to read the written word or watch people speak.  But there's something about podcasts that have drawn me in - perhaps it's the part of me that loves learning new things, or the social part of me that feels I'm meeting new people through spending time with them for 30 minutes.  And the inspiration is never-ending!  It's so neat to hear about the lives of others and think of ways I can incorporate their ideas into our new, simpler life.  

With homeschooling two little ones, I don't have a ton of time to listen to podcasts, but it's a welcome change of pace to pop in my earbuds and listen for 30 minutes during naptime, after bedtime, or occasionally at a coffee shop when my hubby is able to let me escape for a bit.  I always feel refreshed.

Apparently learning about new podcasts is still largely a word-of-mouth thing. I found out about several of these from my French-inspired and simple living pal, Ginny.   So I thought I'd share...

My 3 favorite podcasts right now:

The Simple Show just speaks my language, and it starts with happy music that draws you in.  I've enjoyed reading Tsh Oxenreider's books and blog, The Art of Simple, for several years now, and I love her definition of a simple life - "living holistically with your life's purpose."  Not everyone has to move to the country or sell all your things and live in a tiny house to "live simply."  This podcast shows how different simple living looks for women from all different stages and walks of life.

One of my favorite episodes is with Emily P. Freeman whose most recent book is Simply Tuesday.  Emily's voice is comforting and seems so familiar, like a close friend.  In this episode, Tsh and Emily talk about slowing life down and finding the beauty and enjoyment in those normal everyday moments, like what Tsh calls a "soupmaking day," the kind of day where you're just hanging around the house doing ordinary things (like laundry, or tending to a big pot of soup).  These ordinary moments are actually key to forming our memories and relationships.  I love how Emily talks about feeling like she's been taken "hostage by hustle."  Something rises within me with that phrase because it's absolutely what I don't want for my life, and I'll keep working towards eliminating busyness and hustle from our daily lives as much as possible.

I've also loved the Sarah Mackenzie episode, as she's a super positive homeschooling mom (of six!) who talks about not having it all together.  When posed with the question, "How do you do it all?"  she replies, "There are a ton of things I don't do that other people are doing."  Love that.   Reminds me of a list I wrote awhile back on the things I don't do. Being able to say a clear "no" to certain things that don't work for myself or my family has been really freeing (although I might have to change my mind on the canning/preserving thing!).

Speaking of Sarah Makenzie, Read Aloud Revival is her excellent podcast.  If reading to/with your kids is something you enjoy or aspire to, then you will love this!  After listening to RAR, I'm always inspired by new children's books and ways to help ensure that my children grow up to be lovers of the written word.

That Sounds Fun is the podcast of sweet and hilarious Annie F. Downs, a friend of mine in Nashville (we used to work together at The Mocha Club). This is a little bit of a shameless plug since some of the people she interviews I know personally - ha!  But if you want a light uplifting listen to discover new authors, musicians, fun places, and more, give this one a try.

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Other podcasts on my list to check out:

Your Morning Basket - "truth, goodness, and beauty for your homeschool day" - yes, please.

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey - I have several friends who love this one. Jamie Ivey interviews her girlfriends about topics like "marriage, faith, children, parenting, sorrow, grief, joy, justice, books, and what they are loving."  Sounds pretty awesome.

The Slow Home - This podcast was started by a gal named Brooke who lives a slow, intentional life with her family in the mountains of Australia.  The description says, "We live life in the fast lane.  We race to keep up with The Joneses.  We are over-worked, over-committed and over-stressed, and we compete on how busy and important and sleep-deprived we are.  But we don't need to."   (raising hand emoji) Sign me up.

Sorta Awesome - I've actually heard a bit o' this awesomeness and read Megan Tietz's blog in the past but would love to get into it more.

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What are your fave podcasts right now?  Please share below in the comments!


"Release brings with it the gift of peace.  When we release in peace, we signal we're now ready to receive.  Receive what's next.  Receive what's best.  Receive what's meant for this season, right now." 
~ Lysa Terkeurst // The Best Yes

God really gave me a gift by leading us, releasing us, to move from Dallas to the rolling hills of Tennessee.  So, this is what it means to have a "gentle and quiet spirit."  My soul feels quiet within me.  I can only explain it as true presence. At this moment, I'm perched in my new favorite peaceful spot - in the living room chair reading by the twinkle-lighted branches I found in our backyard woods.  The intimacy of our home allows me to hear all three of my people breathing in their sleep about 10 feet away.  

The biggest gifts have been those of time and less distractions.  When we first arrived here in mid-November, it felt like my heart was soaring everyday with excitement and possibility.  After the initial giddy excitement wore off and we finally settled into our home south of Nashville, I hit the wall about 2 months later feeling isolated and regretful, like I needed to scramble to fill my time with activities and friends old and new and that maybe, just maybe, this whole thing was a big mistake.  Although I have so many dear, close friends here, it was still difficult starting over in a new place and living in a rural setting for the first time in my life.  This social introvert wanted to know, How would I fill our days?  Who would be our everyday "people"?  

But through much seeking to hear the Lord's voice, He spoke loudly and clearly: my real purpose right now is here under my roof - this little 1200 square foot rental house roof.  I've always seen it as a gift (and my choice) to be able to be home with my daughters.  Now, I see the difference in being truly present vs. just being around.  Time to myself and connecting with friends are still greatly needed, of course, and I drink them up.  But those things are bonuses now, not distractions.  

See, in the light of a new perspective, things change. Loneliness becomes the gift of time and presence with my husband and daughters. Isolation becomes space to breathe, to move more slowly and savor my surroundings. Even when I complained and doubted, God was gracious and kept bestowing these good gifts.  He didn't give up on me.

After this renewed viewpoint, I felt such peace.  And I started to cry.  Because the gift was in front of me the entire time since we've moved, but I didn't see it.

We may not own a home right now, and this one may not look exactly like the one we dearly loved and sold in Dallas, but this little home surrounded by stunning woods and meadows will always be where Norah was two and spirited and hilarious.  This home will always be where Luci Belle was 5-going-on-6 and becoming a "bigger little girl" every day.  There's already a spot on the kitchen floor where they love to show me their made up dances to vintage Disney songs on the record player.  And because of the smallness and closeness of this home, I can hear and see their imaginations take flight - playing "family" or restaurant or making a fort and cafe in my closet.  They'll only be 2 and 5 once, and good gracious, I get to be a part of it.  

These really are the days.

So here we are, and we are content.  For now, we're living in a season of abundance that's not about money or things but gifts much more difficult to measure.  We explore our yard and drive the rolling hills.  We homeschool and fly kites.  We draw and bake and pretend.  We're in closer quarters than ever, and sometimes we don't know what to do with ourselves when Steven arrives home from his new farming job at 3:30pm.

Don't be mistaken in thinking we're living a charmed life, though.  There are daily sacrifices required to live on a cash system, to be frugal with our purchases, to figure out how to feed our family healthy food on a tight budget when we no longer own a produce co-op, and to say "no" to things we wish we could do in order to say "yes" to the ultimate life we want.  Many people want to live more simply but don't want to give up what it takes to get there.  We knew we were going to have to give up a lot, and as scary as it was, we did it - we sold our family business and beloved home of 9 years and said tearful goodbyes to dear friends in Dallas.  Those things were so hard, but the release has indeed brought peace.   

This - the true simple life - is what I always wanted, everything I've asked God for, and what I thought I had it in Dallas.  I didn't realize - until now - how by uprooting our lives and moving to this place, He was giving me everything I've asked for.  

Yes, it was a series of difficult decisions that have led us to this place, and now it's time to just abide.  


Summer is {almost} officially here, and the backyard is flourishing from all the recent rains.  The downside is that the flood waters have brought an insane amount of fire ants and mammoth mosquitoes which is a total bummer for playing outside.  But we're bound and determined to be outside a lot this summer and enjoy the bounty of this little piece of urban land we own.  This is the first year we've had a blackberry bush that stands upright - and we've already harvested several handfuls of luscious, tart berries.  Luci Belle loves checking on them each morning and making bouquets with our wildflowers.

The fairy ring we planted with gladiolus bulbs is starting to bloom and will hopefully be a fun play spot...if we can keep the fire ants away.  I'm using a doTerra peppermint oil/vinegar/water spray right now - we'll see if it works!

Here's our little plot of land in early June...

Besides that, we're seeking out all the swimming pools and splash pads possible to keep the little ones cool and happy! 

And of course there's already been lots of this....

...with fresh-squeezed lime juice on top.  If you haven't ever had watermelon with lime, JUST DO IT NOW.  Trust me.

What are you doing with your early summer days? 

Are you implementing any new traditions or activities this summer?

I'd love to know!

Inspiring things lately.

I was so inspired after watching video after video of Farm To Table Family tonight that I had to write this and share with you.  Here's a smattering of things that have been inspiring me lately to be more free, more healthy, more who I am.  Maybe they will inspire you too...

First, Farm To Table Family on PBS.  The light...the fun...the beautiful food...the simplicity and joy of cooking simple, healthy food for your family.  I'm in love with this little Asian family, and you don't even hear them talk.  Watching these videos has inspired me so much.  I tend to keep my kids busy while I'm cooking so I can just be a busybody and have that time to myself.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but something resonated with me deeply to see how much her children are involved in growing, foraging, and cooking and baking in the kitchen.  Not only licking spoons but scooping avocados, icing the cakes, kneading the dough.  We do let our oldest cook a bit, but I tend to get stressed when she's helping me.  A great pointer in this video - prep ingredients ahead of time in little bowls, then invite your child in to help.  So.  Much.  Smoother.  And Norah is old enough now to sit on the counter with me and be more involved, but until these videos, I still had her on the floor playing with Tupperware. 

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There are just too many good magazines out there, and I want to read all of them!

First, Organic Gardening is now Organic Life Magazine, and the first issue comes out soon.  We already subscribe to Organic Gardening, which has been so beautiful and always included so much more than gardening.  I'm excited to see the direction they take it now that it's changed.  Organic Life, get in my mailbox!


Next, Taproot.  Gorgeous, just gorgeous.  I could frame the covers.  "Taproot celebrates farm, food, family and craft through writing, photography and the arts, both fine and domestic."  Um, yes, please.

Deeply Rooted is another beautiful, artistic magazine I've become acquainted with that I simply must read.   You purchase each issue separately, and it's more like a book.  "Deeply Rooted Magazine serves to be a light in the midst of the things that work overtime to steal our attention and affection away from God. Through our publication, we deliver incredibly rich content, written and created by published authors, pastors, real women, and talented artists."

And finally, Bella Grace.  I saw this magazine on someone's Instagram and went to the magazine's website to investigate.  I bought the current issue for a friend for her birthday and I'll admit, I wanted to keep it when I was flipping through the pages!  The magazine was a work of art.  "Bella Grace is a special publication devoted to discovering magic in the ordinary.  Our aim is to touch the souls of our readers through beautifully penned stories and striking photographs that capture life's beautiful journey."  Swoon.

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Be inspired today!

A house full of color.

If there's one thing I cannot do, it's white walls.  To me, they're a blank canvas just begging for some kind of color.  And little by little over the 7+ years we've lived in this home, we've splashed color here and there.  As they say, a fresh coat of paint is the easiest and quickest way to totally transform a room. 

Thanks to my husband, a neighbor, and some friends who are handy DIY'ers, we're currently re-painting the outside of our house and doing some renovations on the inside.  Whenever we're thinking of adding a new color to our house, I first add it to our overall house color palette {below} to see how it flows.   Now I'll probably stop adding new colors and just use one of the current colors to paint the bathrooms - the only rooms left to be painted!

{click to download PDF}


There's dust on every square surface of our kitchen right now, but when it's all said and done, it's going to be an even brighter and more colorful place to cook with our family and friends.  We ripped up the gross, broken tile and found a layer of vinyl flooring underneath.  And under that, we found the original hardwoods!  They're in pretty bad shape, and I've always wanted a painted wood floor, so....we painted the wood floors a nice, fresh green (Moss Print by Behr).  For the kitchen walls, I'm thinking a very pale blue (perhaps Waterfall Mist by Behr), inspired by this kitchen and this one.  All the cabinets and trim will be white (goodbye to the orange window trim for now).  If you have another idea for the kitchen walls, let me know!

We'll also be painting the hallway a calming, neutral khaki (Comforting by Behr), and all the picture frames will be shades of white to make it like a photo gallery.  We'll frame lots of photos of people we love and places we've been to tell the complete story of our journey.  It seems we have about a bazillion photos so it's going to be quite daunting deciding which ones will be framed.  To finish the hallway, perhaps we'll add a bright runner like this one from World Market.

Currently, the outside of the house is being painted a happy, peaceful combo of grey tones and yellow. 

Main part of the house: light grey

Small accent trim: dark grey

Main trim: white

Doors: bright yellow

Can you think of a more welcoming color for a front door than "yellow rain coat"?   Um, I think not.  The house colors are all Benjamin Moore, but I had Home Depot match them to Behr paint.

I'll share the final results soon!  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, I hope the colorfulness has inspired you!

Meet Butter, Licorice, and Tulip.

Just call me a sucker. We went to Gecko Hardware, a new local hardware store/gift shop, on Monday to get a few things, and we left with three baby chicks.  Yes, we already have 6 grown chickens in the backyard as pets, and although we've truly loved having them I felt that was more than enough.  Technically, they're living with us temporarily until our new Urban Acres store is complete.

When we saw that baby chicks for sale at the hardware store, Steven looked at me longingly, and I shook my head with a solid "No."  But then...but then...a fuzzy black one jumped into my hand and didn't want to leave.

The chick area in the store was surrounded by a group of friendly older ladies who told us they'd grown up on farms.  They reminisced about sleeping with their chicks at night and the wonderful memories they had of raising the chickens from babies.

Aww, man.

And of course Luci Belle loved them.

And they were being so precious, faintly cheeping and hopping back and forth under the heat lamps. (Did you know they cheep with their mouths closed??)

And chickens are a lot easier to take care of than dogs, in my opinion.

So I said yes to the fuzzy black chick in my hand.  But the hardware store employee insisted, "If you're going to get one, you really need to get one or two more so they can cuddle with each other."

At this point, what's two more?  So we let two more chicks choose us and took them home.

The cuddling began right away... 

Meet our babies... 

Here's Butter.  Butter is a Crested, so she has a little hat.  There's also a sliiiight chance she could be a boy.  Let's hope not.

Here's Licorice.  Licorice is a Black Cochin, and she's going to look super awesome when she grows up.

And here's Tulip, a Leghorn, which basically means she'll be your basic white chicken.  Like Foghorn Leghorn.  But a girl.

Apparently, Tulip is Luci Belle's favorite...

I think these three are going to have to stay at the Bailey home permanently.  How could we resist?