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We're Coming Home

July 31, 2018

More than ten years ago, Bryan asked me to be his wife. To say it was a dream come true would be an understatement. Before we’d even gone on our first date, I was practicing my first name with his last. :) He was handsome and funny and such a leader. I think that’s what I loved most about him… he led. See, I’m a little type-a (ahem, nice to meet you, I make planners for a living)… and to find someone who will confidently and gracefully lead a “type-a’er” like me… is, well, amazing. So when he suggested we live in Tampa (he was currently living in Tampa, we dated long distance for a while) when we got married, I was excited and ready for the adventure. We both knew we’d move home to Pensacola before we had children.

Ten years, two houses, and three kids later, here we are. Leaving Tampa to move home to Pensacola. But trusting this husband of mine who knew, before I did, what I needed... was one of the best decisions I've ever made. My time in Tampa started a bit rocky. I was so homesick it was palpable. My family is very, very close and I missed them with all of me. But little by little, Bryan and I became a family. And, even though I fought it at first, I grew to love Tampa. We learned to be a family all our own... and we learned to depend on each other. We started a business together. We created a home together. We found our community. But it wasn't easy at first.

In my book, Grace, Not Perfection, I talk a lot about community in the last third of the content. Much of those thoughts and feelings came from living in a city that wasn’t home. It wasn’t my city. I wasn’t raised here. My lifelong friends weren’t here. I didn’t have memories here. Having children and starting my own family, creating my own traditions, and making my own friends and memories… changed everything. We began to find “our spots,” “our people,” and “our community.” We found a wonderful church. We made friends who I refused to say goodbye to because they’ve all promised to come visit us in Pensacola like… next week (you hear that, guys!?). ;) 

I like to compare the timing of much of our lives with the decision to separate my twins into different rooms at home. I was convinced I’d have them share a room as long as humanly possible. But one day, I woke up, and just knew it was time to give them their own spaces. Moving home to Pensacola was always the plan for us, but we knew that we’d have to wait until the time was right. And one day, after a trip home to Pensacola, we just knew… the time was right. It’s like that gut-feeling, ya-just-know, Holy-Spirit-speaking-to-you kind of thing. 

I thought I’d be elated to leave Tampa behind, but I’m a big ball of feelings spanning every inch of the emotional spectrum today. We’re so excited for our new adventure in our hometown — raising our children around loads of family. We’ve been building our forever home for a while now and, though we’ll be renting (the cutest two bedroom beach house) for a bit while construction is completed, we have so much hopeful anticipation for our new lives there with so much family just miles away. I’m also so very sad. Real, true-blue friends are so hard to come by. But I also know that those special friendships stand the test of time and distance. 

Tonight, the biggest blessing came to us. The family purchasing our home came to visit -- with fresh baked goodies, the cutest pineapple hand towel, and pool floats for our two month "beach adventure." I may have been all teary eyed talking to the sweet mom who'd be raising her children in this home. It's clear our paths crossed over this home for a reason. Talking to her, I realized all the pieces were falling into place. My office will become a dining room and I'm so excited about that for them. I always thought this space would be beautiful utilized in that way.

Now, after tucking my kids in bed for the last time in this place, I realize that I'm grieving this space a bit. I will miss it so much. We have so many special memories here. But I'm so excited to know it will be well loved once we leave. And I know we have so much excitement on the horizon realizing a dream we've had for ten years in Pensacola.

So... see ya later home we built a family in. See ya later favorite pediatrician (who single handedly got us through “the early years” with so much patience). See ya later favorite grocery store and neighborhood coffee shop and perfectly shaded park just two minutes away. See ya later beautiful neighborhood. See ya later office that held so much growth and so many memories. See ya later great big city skyline. See ya later best airport in the USA. See ya later favorite preschool and elementary school. See ya later best friends of both the grown up and little people kind. See ya later Chipotle, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes 😩😂.

These adorable hats are from Aviate.

I’ve learned over the past few months that home is truly where the heart is. And sometimes, that’s in multiple spots on the map. We are so grateful to have had ten amazing, trying, growth-filled, fun years in Tampa. And we are so excited to be headed back to a city that has grown infinitely since 2008. It’s grown with new people and new buildings, but mostly Pensacola has grown in spirit — while still maintaining that small-town, Southern culture. We are so excited to be back in the city that never let go of our hearts. And we are SO excited to be surrounded by so much family. We can't wait to be Pensacolians once again!!

--

Favorite Tampa recommendations:

Amazing pediatrician's office

Wonderful functional medicine doc

Incredible church

Favorite Starbucks

Best trainer around

Favorite dinner spots (takeout, date night, brunch spot)

Great small wine bar

Favorite nail salon

Favorite hair stylists (Whitney, Lauren, and Cortney)

Favorite local photographers: Laura Foote and Tiffany Mcclure

 

* Thank you, Tiffany, for these incredible, priceless photos of our family!!!

 

2018 Simplicity Challenge

February 06, 2018

 

The process of simplifying your life is a BIG one. It’s so freeing and exciting and it’s HARD WORK. Our 31 Day Simplicity Challenge features one step for each day that can be completed in 15 minutes or less. Physical clutter = mental clutter, so both of those areas are addressed throughout the challenge. At the end of the challenge, you’ll be able to breathe easier knowing that you’ve completed the process of purging, decluttering, and organizing your life to make margin for what matters! For daily encouragement and extra tips on the process of simplifying, join our Simplified Planner Community Group. To sign up for our newsletter and receive a FREE printable e-book of the challenge, click here.

No. 1 of 31: Walk your home with a trash bag or five. Be ruthless. Papers. Receipts. Tags. Empty bottles. Go.

No. 2 of 31Go through your kitchen drawers. Do you have three carrot peelers? Two ice cream scoops? You only need one.

No. 3 of 31Clean out your fridge, pantry, and spice cabinet. Check expiration dates and throw things away. Make a list of restock needs as you go.

No. 4 of 31Simplify your phone. Delete old contacts and unused apps. Refresh your wallpaper and lock screen.

No. 5 of 31Organize the Notes app on your iPhone to hold lists of all kinds (books to read, hashtags you use, or other information you often need to retrieve).

No. 6 of 31Use the Reminders app on your iPhone to set alerts for routines or habits you’re trying to create (IE: take vitamins, put phone away, go for a walk).

No. 7 of 31: Consider reading as a brain break. Make a list of 10 books you’d like to read this year.

No. 8 of 31Walk your house with a donate bag. Schedule a pick-up or drop it off as soon as the bag is full.

No. 9 of 31Start the habit of throwing a small load of laundry in every morning.

No. 10 of 31Set a recurring alarm (or use the Bedtime feature on iPhones) for every weekday. If you’re letting your kids wake you, set it for one hour earlier.

No. 11 of 31Go put gas in your car today. While you’re there, clean out your car. Throw trash away.

No. 12 of 31Buy a few birthday cards (and small gift cards). Keep them on hand for birthdays that pop up that you’re not prepared for.

No. 13 of 31Put your number on the Do Not Call list. Visit donotcall.gov or call 1.888.382.1222.

No. 14 of 31Do something with all those precious photos and videos on your phone. Print. Back up. Store.

No. 15 of 31Consider the amount of INFORMATION coming at you all day. What can you turn off to quiet your mind? Turn off the television. Perhaps (gasp!) take a break from social media.

No. 16 of 31Identify “pain points” in your day (IE: kids getting shoes on in the morning). Alleviate these (IE: put a basket for shoes near the front door for easy access).

No. 17 of 31Dump out your purse. Throw away trash. Create a little bag of essentials. Make your bag work for you.

No. 18 of 31Ruthlessly clean out your closet. Goodbye clothes that “will fit one day.” Goodbye clothes that “don’t fit quite right but I paid too much for them.”

No. 19 of 31Clean out your medicine cabinet. Trash anything expired. Restock essentials.

No. 20 of 31Detox your social media feeds. Follow inspirational accounts. Unfollow anyone draining. Are there platforms you can quit?

No. 21 of 31Go through your credit card and / or bank statements. Identify any “subscriptions” you forgot you had and don’t need and turn them off.

No. 22 of 31Clean off your desk and wipe it down (and your keyboard). Ditch clutter. Keep only the essentials including your computer.

No. 23 of 31: Clear the clutter on your computer. Delete unused files and organize important ones. Empty the trash. Refresh your desktop wallpaper.

No. 24 of 31Take inventory of the mail coming to your mailbox. Visit directmail.com to remove your name from lists.

No. 25 of 31Make a list of ten go-to meals. Tape it to the fridge for simple meal planning.

No. 26 of 31Schedule a vacation or stay-cation for some time this year. 

No. 27 of 31Organize your inbox. Search the word “unsubscribe” and remove yourself from non-essential lists. Try Unroll.me.

No. 28 of 31Using a large piece of paper or poster board, make a list of all your commitments. Which ones can you say “not now” to?

No. 29 of 31Create your own weekly prep-list with tasks that make you feel prepared for the week ahead.

No. 30 of 31Make a list of household items you use frequently. Stock up on these. Pay attention to BOGO sales.

No. 31 of 31Rest. Schedule 30 minutes alone once a week. You give away what you put in. Take care of yourself.

 

 

4 Tips for Keeping Your Refrigerator Organized

January 18, 2017

It seems like one of the most difficult areas in our homes to keep clean in the refrigerator. Anyone else feel this way? Luckily, we’ve found a few simple tips that work for us. We’ve discovered that doing these four (incredibly easy!) things regularly helps keep our fridge from becoming completely overwhelming.

  1. Start from scratch. In order to keep an organized fridge, you have to begin with an organized fridge. Take everything out (put things in a cooler if you need to), throw away things that are expired, wipe the shelves down, and start fresh.
  2. Organize by category. The best place to store meats is on the bottom shelf. This way, they won’t drip and spoil all the foods below it. The refrigerator door is the warmest place, so don’t put eggs or dairy in the door. Have a designated place to put your leftovers and other ready-to-eat foods (like yogurt, cheese, and deli meats). Keep all of your produce in the same drawer. When you organize items by category, it’s easier to find what you’re looking for in a pinch, and you’re less likely to just throw things in the fridge without making space for them.
  3. Toss things regularly. Go through and toss items that have expired (or things you know you’re not ever going to use again). Don’t keep extra condiments just because you might use it one day. If you haven’t used it in a few months, chances are you’re not going to need it and it’s just taking up valuable space in your fridge. Do this once a week.
  4. Wipe it down. Having a little spill on the shelf or leaky bottles of salad dressing can make your fridge seem like more of a disaster than it actually is. Once a month, go through and wipe everything down. Clean the sticky mess off of the shelves, wipe down all of your condiments, disinfect the door handles, etc. The key to maintaining a tidy fridge is staying on top of the mess.
copyright 2018 emily ley