Saturday, October 29, 2016


October has always been my favorite month. The sun is closer to the earth, the leaves crunch under your feet, and candy is acceptable to eat all month long. I can remember as a child, raking leaves in October and filling up those jack-o-lantern trash bags to display in the yard, not realizing that our parents were tricking us into working by making it fun. That seems like such a short time ago. Time seems to slip away so quickly. 

One of my favorite things to do is look at old photographs; real, 2 dimensional photographs of old family memories. Seeing how we have all changed over the years, but yet many aspects are still the same. 

My Granny holding me, notice the two rolls of film on the table. 


Sometimes when certain moments happen I tell myself, "we are all going to be just a photo album some day." Moments that pop in my head are lying next to my husband in bed on a Saturday morning with my head on his chest listening to the unmistakable rhythm of his heart beating. The thought pops in my head reflecting on the love I have for this person, and how alive we both are. Then, "we're all going to be just a photo album some day." 

The hardest part of looking through old photos lately is the fact that we didn't have any children yet to take part in this. No photos of them coming home from the hospital. No first birthdays, no adorable Halloween cotstumes, no sitting on grandpa's lap around a table full of home cooked southern food. Who would our photo album go to? Would it be left to our nieces and nephews, or maybe even end up in a thrift store. 

The truth is being childless is extremely difficult. Things that are so happy for most people can be excruciatingly painful for those who are desiring a child that will not come. Simple holidays such as Mother's Day become a day of dread, even laying down on Christmas Eve night  brought endless tears knowing that there is no little one to wake up and find the joys that Santa Claus left under the tree. Meanwhile the whole world is sharing their joys in your face in the world of over sharing social media that we currently live in. 

Shannon and I have been trying to have a child for 4 and 1/2 years now. It has been a tough journey to say the least. We have suffered through 2 miscarriages, endless amounts of doctor visits, every fertility test you can possibly have, and mounds of heartache.

 This past April we decided to try clomid again with a trigger shot(yes, I gave myself a shot in the stomach, this is how bad we want a child). All that happened was tons of cysts on my ovaries, and still no baby. We waited a few months for the cysts to go away so we could begin this vicious cycle again and once again, same story; all cysts no babies. At this point I decided to take birth control to help reduce the cysts. I had just started my new job teaching art, and didn't quite make it to the pharmacy on time so decided to skip the birth control. 

About this time we get a phone call from Shannon's sister, she is frantically crying and Shannon is preparing himself for the worst when she utters the words "I'm pregnant." We were over the moon, in that we never thought she would have children, so this was an extra pleasant surprise for us. I remember leaving right after to head to the grocery store and it all hit me in the parking lot. Tears begin to uncontrollably fall when I realized once again what a thief infertility is. It does not only steal your joy, but also the joy of those around you. Having a baby is something to rejoice, and the fact that she dreaded having to share such amazing news broke my heart. I began to think to myself over the next week that things may not be in the cards for us to physically have a child of our own. I broke down one night and shared my feelings with Shannon, stating that I just didn't understand what God was trying to teach me anymore. 

I have this incredible devotional titled "In the Wait" by various authors , and I read a verse

 "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." -James 1:6

This is exactly what I was doing, asking God for a child, but doubting he would provide as soon as the desire left my tongue. 

It was a Sunday when I realized that I was late. I snuck to the dollar store about once again spent more money on a pregnancy test. Shannon was working in the shop, and I sat in the car before getting out and I remember telling the Lord that all of my faith was in him that it was going to be positive, and that he was going to provide a child for us. Well, it was. We waited in fear to share the news for a while. I had to have numerous scans to make sure everything was progressing well. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for our trials. Shannon and I are so incredibly thankful for this child and we will try our best to never take it for granted. Our hearts still feel connected and go out to all of those struggling through infertility. It is such a difficult road. 

So far everything is great, I am 13 weeks along, and grateful for every second. To all of those that have shared your stories with us, and prayed for us, thank you. It has helped get us through our struggles. 

Baby Brantley due May 6th (one day before our 6th anniversary) 2017. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

From a Nightmare To a Dream.

The 16th of February is an important date to me. When this one arrives it will mark one year since the first time I found out I was going to become a mother. I remember being so overwhelmed and falling to my knees with tears of joy and crying out to the Lord thanking him for this blessing in my life after two years of trying. Most of you know that not long after that, I miscarried, then again in August. Needless to say 2014 was the worst year of my life. After the first miscarriage a dear friend lent out his lake house for Shannon and I to get away. I downed wine, cried, and felt emotions that I had never felt in my life.


While we were there we made a trip over to Atlanta and visited Highland Woodworking. I have been an artist as long as I can remember grabbing a crayon, but mostly worked with paint. I decided that I wanted to try my hand at carving spoons. Creating has always been a way to express emotion with me, and I felt afraid of what emotions may be painted on a canvas at that moment. 
Tools that I started with, Erik Frost Mora hook knife and Flexcut carving knife

My first spoon, made of Brazilian Walnut.

We bought a few simple tools, hook knife, carving knife, and a few rasps.  I wanted to make something, and I almost wanted to feel monotony.  I carved my first spoon and it wasn't horrible.  Shannon knows so much about woodworking so he helped me along as far as any questions I had.

I begin my drawing design, and carving scoop on solid block.

I began to learn the nature of wood, how to work with the grain, which ways not to carve, what woods are soft, hard, brittle.  It is really amazing how versatile of a medium wood is. It's so incredible to think of the stories behind the wood you use, who owned it, where did the tree grow and such. I grew up in a wood shop with my neighbor Buck Riley who was a carpenter.  He had me running a table saw at 10, so I was not afraid of the field of woodworking, it was more of an excitement of all the things that I wanted to learn.

Awesome set of Veritas spokeshaves Shannon bought for my birthday. I know he loathes the fact that he has to buy woodworking tools for his wife.

Carving and sanding became a way to take my mind off of all of the horrid emotions that were going through my mind.  It is almost spiritual.  Around Christmas last year I pumped out quite an inventory, and when I stacked them all up, I barely remembered making them.  Many artists call this being in the "zone" where you go an alternate state of consciousness. 

At Christmas I sold quite a few, and gave many as presents.  Our brother and sister in law put a fire in us, swaying us to start a website, so we did.  In January we got busy.  Shannon and I both love to make things, I think that is one of the biggest things that draws us together.  We have only had the site a few weeks, and are doing very well.  We got into Southern Makers and will be attending a few things along the way until then.  I feel like God said, "you know, maybe I'll give you two a break this year."  We have been incredibly blessed lately and are so thankful to have so much support from friends and family.  Man, life would be such a bore without them! 

The hook knife wasn't my favorite, so I upgraded to these Hirsh gouges.

Going through something hard seems so difficult at the moment, but when time passes a bit and you look back, you read into more of why things may have happened.  I will never know why what happened to us did, but if it didn't and we had a tiny baby at home I know that there is no way we would be able to accomplish the amount of things we are at the moment.  God is good, don't give up, if you are going through a something horrid, I promise things will make sense one day.  We still have not been blessed with a child, but I know the day will come.  
First hand mirror, made of Ambrosia Maple.

Not long ago I cracked this spoon, tossed it to the side and a close cousin was over and told me not to toss it, said to just play off of the imperfection. Our imperfections are what make us the lovely individuals we are. I know many people who haven't been dealt all that much hardship, and their story isn't nearly as amazing. 


Wednesday, December 31, 2014


With another year ending, and a new one on the rise I usually get a little sad. I don't want to leave the current year so quickly and get nervous about what the next year may hold. This year is different, I am welcoming 2015 with open arms, party hat and giant kazoo. The truth is, 2014 was the worst year of my life thus far. 

I teach youth in Sunday school and this past Sunday one of the questions were "What has 2014 taught you?" My answer was simply, "patience". 

Wallace, Alabama Winter 2014

Our home, Winter 2014

With spending the year realizing that the past 6 years of my life spent in school for a degree that there are currently no positions open for was quite disheartening. Even though I had a feeling it would be the case, most days I feel like I am wasting a part of myself. 
Atlanta, Winter 2014

I had two miscarriages which I have to admit changed a giant chunk of my whole being, and lost my beloved grandmother. 

My grandmother, girl in front right. 

To say the least it was not a happy year, but in the same year, I found this woman that I never knew was there, one who doesn't give up, or feel that I need something right then and there. We live in a world where when we want something, all it takes is a click or two. Instant gratification for material things can roll over to important things in life. I laugh at the idea of making plans for my life because God seems to show me a different path. 

Visiting Hank Williams' grave, Summer 2014

Best moment- The Head & the Heart, Mobile, Alabama Fall 2014

Another thing 2014 taught me is to appreciate the little moments. Instead of taking advantage of little times with friends and family, lately after every moment  I snap a little mental photo of the lovely cherised time I have with them. 
Jeb and I, Summer 2014

Spoons. I feel in love with this after the first miscarriage I had. If you ever go through a loss, in some odd way you can turn it into something positive. I became obsessed with shaping and sanding a block of boring wood into something beautiful and functional. The monotony of te sanding and rasping becomes almost spiritual in that your brain empties out and becomes quiet, which is a wonderful experience. My art instructor at UWF called this getting in "the zone." 

I also became so in tune with nature, spent hours staring at flowers, succulents, bees, the clouds, the moon. Open up your eyes in take in all the beauty around you, it's incredible.
Moon, summer 2014

Succulent Bloom, summer 2014

2014 brought my husband and I closer together. I think going through hard times either pulls you apart, or joins you together. I can't say enough about how amazing he is to me. I am still learning so much about marriage but it is incredible how you know what each other's needs are without saying a word. So many times I wanted to just lose it, but he, God, and family and friends kept me going. 

Shannon, Orange Beach 2014 summer

So now that I've talked about things that aren't all peaches and sunshine, I wish you all love and happiness in 2015, may it be our best year yet.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Soul Stew

The temperatures are unusually cold here in south that means it is time for something warm to eat!  This recipe is so good and has been adapted from a few that I have merged together.

1-2 cups of cooked greens ( I used collards, but turnips taste great also)
1.5 lbs. smoked sausage
3 slices of bacon
2 yellow onions
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes (as mild or hot as you want)
1 can dark kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
2 cans black eyed peas
1 can navy beans
2-3 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1. Begin by slicing sausage julienne style.  Add sausage and 3 slices of bacon to a large pot on medium heat.

2. While sausage and bacon are cooking, chop onion and garlic, then add to the pot.

3. If you are using fresh greens, if they aren't already washed and chopped up, now is the time. (Frozen work just fine, but I have an endless supply of fresh greens from my Dad's farm).

This is a whole sink full, but they magically cook down to not many at all.

I peel away the stems and just rip the green with my hands into bite sized pieces.  This is the way my Mother and Grandmother taught me.  The stems can taste bitter, but I am sure I am probably throwing away all of the actual nutrients.

 Hold the leaf with one hand folded in half, and just pull the stem away with the other.

 4. Add the greens to the pot, stirring the sausage, bacon, onion, and garlic mixture.  They will cook down significantly. 
Now, I put the rest of the steps in a crock pot, in that I had to leave for half of the day, but you may finish out the rest on the stove.
5. Open, drain, and rinse all beans. Then add to the crockpot.
6. Add greens mixture to crockpot, along with rotel tomatoes, and chicken broth.
7. Add salt, pepper, and whatever seasoning you like, I added a little Slap Ya Mama which is just a blend of red pepper, garlic, and salt.
Check out my organized spices!

Let the stew cook until the greens turn dark and everything softens. I would say at least an hour. Then, enjoy with a big slice of cornbread!

Hope you enjoy as much as I do!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I have attempted to write this a couple of times, only to start over and push it aside because it didn't quite feel right yet. My grandmother passed away this summer, and it still seems like I just haven't been by to see her in a while. She was very sick, and as much as we all hated to see her go, we hated seeing her suffer even more.

  My grandmother, Nancy Louise Emmons lived a pretty amazing life. She married my grandfather, Floyd Emmons at only 15, and went on to have 6 children with him.  She dealt with his drinking and love of women, let's just say he and Hank Williams Sr. would have made great buddies. The funny thing was is that they loved each other, and couldn't stay apart. He died of a heart attack at only 39 years old, just 2 weeks before my mother and father wed. 

My grandmother then married again a few years later, became a loving stepmom and wife, and as life would have it moved out of that relationship eventually on to another. 

She then married Dan, who was her love until the day she died. She experienced the death of one of her children, and two grandchildren. What's funny is when someone you love dies, to me at least what sticks out about that person are the memories you made with them and the things they taught you throughout life.

My grandmother taught me many things, and her life was so much more extensive than the events listed above, but to keep from writing a biography I will stick to the lessons I learned from her life. 

1. Do what makes your heart happy.

Numerous times I would stop by and visit with her, and she always supported me, even when my life wasn't so impressive. 
She always told me to choose the path that I was most happy with.

2. Laughter is not an option; its a necessity.

She made me laugh until the day she died, even if it was not always with her but at her, she never lived a day without it, even at her worst.

3. Your heart is more important than your head.

My grandmother loved a man that many didn't agree with.  Funny thing is she never quit loving him. Her heart made decisions for her, which is odd in that so many of us seem to try and silence our hearts, and only listen to our heads, especially with age.

I hope that this shined a postive light on the amazingly charming, beautiful, loving, and passionate person that my grandmother was. She was loved by so many. We have such a huge family, and she has impacted every one of us in a positive way.

For a while she was in the nursing home (which she absolutely hated) claimed they hosed her down to give her a shower and never wanted to go back. She had a notebook there, and created many drawings. To me, they are incredible, maybe I am biased in that they are hers. 

What's interesting about them to me is that I imagine the drawings the same as they would have been if she had drawn them in high school. So, to not keep these to myself, I want to share them with you.   I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 

"Dear God what a life. Be glad and praise God for letting you live through the broken bones." 

"A promise is great, as long as you keep it."

I can't wait to see her again one day.