Tag Archives: Tennessee

Tips for a Joyful Move

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Over the past few years, I have moved more times than I care to remember. From hopping around college housing (including a stint overseas) to apartments in the Washington, DC area, a travel trailer that took us to Florida and back to Tennessee, a few houses there and now up to Illinois. By now you would think I’d be an expert, addicted to the art of packing and unpacking and creating new abodes. In honesty though, while I love new experiences and places, I really hate the process of moving.

I’ve finally found that there are a few things that help me keep my sanity, and keep tears to a minimum, when drowning in bubble wrap and boxes.

  1. Purge Everything – Before you start packing, take a day and go through all of your stuff and get rid of anything you don’t absolutely need or love. Then do it again the next day. With a fresh eye, day by day go through your things until you’ve narrowed it down to manageability. I have to admit, this process is really hard for me. While I’d like to be a minimalist, I tend to err on the side of hoarder – finding it hard to part with that sweet birthday card or that shirt that I might decide to wear in a year. But it’s so refreshing… and you don’t miss the stuff nearly as much as you would think.
  2. Take the Time to Properly Pack  – In my younger years packing and procrastination went hand in hand, meaning that at the last minute I would just throw everything in non-sensical order into boxes. This caused a lot of heartache and shattered glass as things ended up, unsurprisingly, broken. Since we are now apparently adults and have acquired nice stuff and beautiful wedding gifts, with this move I took the time (and recruited my wonderful momma) to wrap and strategically pack breakables. Bubble wrap is your friend. Packing paper (more than you think you could possibly need) is your friend. And a mom who is much more knowledgeable in this field is most definitely your friend.
  3. Label, Label, Label – Again, throwing everything into unmarked boxes is not the most efficient or effective strategy (unfortunately it took me many moves to learn this). You will save yourself a lot of time and headaches on the other end (unpacking) if you take that little bit of extra effort to properly label. I prefer labeling specifics of a box, rather than simply “kitchen” or “living room,” so that I know where to find exactly what I’m looking for. This method helps to decifer which boxes actually need to be unpacked immediately in order for to cook pasta or sleep on clean sheets and which ones can wait patiently in a corner. Thus saving you from living in an endless sea of half-unpacked boxes.
  4. Unpack Everything – Unpacking is the more fun, but no less daunting, part of moving. This is where you get to organize and decorate and make your new house (or apartment or trailer) a home. I prefer to do this slowly, taking time to figure out where I want each piece. However slowly you do it though, it’s important to sort through each box. Confession: I failed to do this on our last move and we ended up with what we not-so-affectionately referred to as our “Room of Shame” – an unused bedroom that remained filled with unpacked boxes for the duration of our time living there. If there are boxes with momentos or seasonal items that you’re not using in the near future, fine, throw them in the basement or back of a closet. Otherwise, unpack those boxes baby! Anything you find you don’t need or have a place for, revert to #1 (toss it). Remember, just because you moved it hundreds of miles doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of it now.
  5. Be Really Really Gracious to Your Husband and Father (or whoever helps you move) – This point is especially important if you’re pregnant and can’t actually move much and your role consists mostly of watching them do the (literal) heavy lifting. Both Andrew and my dad were a Godsend. They quickly and without complaint managed to Tetris all of our stuff into a couple trailers, then drove hours (through snow) and unpacked everything on the other end. So yes, I am endlessly grateful for the help of these two great men! All that to say, when people offer to help you, accept their assistance with gratitude (a few beers will usually do the trick) and no matter how haphazard the packing job may look (see image above), trust their superior skills.

Though we hope to be here a little while, this will surely not to be our last moving adventure. With each move we learn a little more and it becomes slightly less painful. Teamwork is everything. If moving with a partner or family – work together, be patient with one another, and chip away at it bit by bit. You’ll get to that happy home dear friend!


Settling In


After a long couple weeks of packing and a crazy couple days of loading and moving, we’ve finally arrived at our new home outside of Chicago! Though we still face the arduous task of unpacking and making changes and improvements to make the house feel like home, we’re really loving this place already.

When we came to house-hunt, we spent a whirlwind couple of days seeing what seemed like every rental property within a 30 mile radius of the city. Though we know living in downtown Chicago would be an incredible experience, and I especially love the culture of city living, we decided that where we are right now in our lives (growing family, big dog who loves to run, desire for space, ease of parking and driving in the chilly winters, etc.) called for a more suburban locale. In the end, we decided on a little old house in Darien, Illinois, about 20 miles southwest of the city. (Fun coincidence: our landlord’s father built the house when he moved from Tennessee to Illinois).

We’re oh-so-happy with the location so far. At the end of our street is a lovely park with a walking path, sports fields, and playground – perfect for strolls with Bella or taking our little one to play. Just across from the park is a beautiful enormous library that just beckons me to come explore as the days grow colder. Within a few miles of us we have any convenience we could need – grocery store, Target, restaurants, shopping, train to the city – but our street is still quiet and feels tucked back from the hustle and bustle of it all.

And the neighbors – the wonderful neighbors could not be any nicer. Our first day moving, they came out and welcomed us with kind open arms and midwestern charm. They offered tips and recommendations on things to do and places to eat, and an endless supply of information on the area. Within 20 minutes I had been kindly provided with a guest pass to a local gym, offered a job, and met a potential future babysitter. Yes, I think we can be great friends. Moving to a new place and being immediately surrounded by a sense of community fills me with relief and hope and excitement for the future.

That’s what gets me through each box I slowly and carefully unpack – the excitement of making this unfamiliar place home. I can’t wait to share more about our adventures – past, present, and future. I have big hopeful plans!



After a long few (and fantastic) weeks away, we are finally home! Though I have so many more photos and stories to share, for this brief moment I am basking in the glorious feeling of simply being back at home. Along with the not so glorious tasks of unpacking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and the list goes on…

But that’s ok. Because no matter the tasks at hand, there’s something so comforting about doing them in a place so familiar. A place we’ve made our mark on and is a reflection of us. A place that in turn has made its mark on us.

My mom gave me the beautiful print pictured, a Charles Dickens quote. In my traveling and wandering I’ve discovered the truth of this sentiment more and more. There are few things I love more than exploring and experiencing new places, and one of the reasons is because it makes me truly appreciate my home. Traveling shifts my perspective in a way that allows me to recognize what I already have; and for that I am so grateful.

This place we now call home will only be ours for a bit longer. In a few short weeks we’re packing up yet again and moving on to our next more permanent adventure – Chicago. Looking at the daunting task of finding a new place and moving, I’m scared the new house won’t feel like home. We’ll be in a new city without close friends or family, and though we’ve done it before, it’s no less frightening. So I just have to remind myself one other thing I’ve learned from my wandering: home doesn’t have to be a specific geographic location, but something you carry with you in your heart. It’s what Andrew and I have created together – the love, the joy, the fun, the humor, the honesty; the essence of us – that will fill our new house and make it a home.

Fun fact: While I was writing this post, Phillip Phillips’ song “Home” randomly started playing. It’s a good one folks…

On the Road Again


One of Andrew and my favorite pastimes, no surprise, is to travel – to set off and explore new places or visit loved ones living afar. We love to fly of course, and when it comes to speed and convenience, commercial airlines can’t be beat. But from a budget standpoint, flying is a pricey option.

So we climb in our trusty Subaru and set off on the highway.

Though Andrew often finds the drive to be a burden, I secretly love these long road trips. The older we get, the more demands life puts on our time and attention, the rarer it is to find time to just sit and be. With each passing mile, my mind travels further away from the stresses and worries of everyday. The open road ahead of me feels full of hope and potential. Even if I know my destination, the possibilities along the path seem limitless. What grand adventure may lie around the next curve in the road?

Then there is the pure beauty of the drive. Have you ever slowed down to notice the simply stunning landscapes of America? Though I’ve driven the route from Washington, DC to Tennessee dozens of times, the cascade of the evening sun across the Blue Ridge mountains never ceases to amaze me. Each drive brings the gifts of a new season, painting an always unique scene of flora and fauna.

If you’re lucky enough to travel with a great companion, you’re in for the greatest of treats. I’m a firm believer that you can’t truly know another person until you’ve spent endless hours in the car with them. The stretch of time and lack of distractions allows you to interact in a special way. We may spend a half hour just laughing and joking. Maybe an hour dreaming about the future. Perhaps a long while reminiscing about past adventures, or delving deeper into hopes and goals. Like the road ahead, there’s no telling where the conversation may lead. The most magical times, though, I find are those silent moments, filled with only the sound of the radio in the background, as we sink into the contended place of just experiencing the journey. Together.

So can road trips be annoying? Certainly. Are they the most efficient means of travel? Not likely. But if you avoid the scenic route you miss out on the best views of life.

Facing Fears

Last weekend, to celebrate her birthday, my mom decided that she wanted to go to an amusement park. This is a fantastically fun idea, except for the fact that I am slightly terrified of roller coasters and thrill rides in general.

My husband has this theory though. He believes that we humans need to experience fear every once in a while to remind of us of our own humanity. He claims that humans have evolved so much that we do not often encounter things that make us fear for our lives like our Stone Age ancestors might have – which in many ways is a very good thing. Yet, we need to face such fears to show us that we are not invincible, but we have extraordinary potential to overcome terrifying circumstances. In doing so, facing the fears, he concludes that it helps us appreciate the ordinary relatively fear-free existence of our everyday lives.


I agree with this wise man; on a figurative level. Yes, I can be brave and vulnerable and face those emotional things that bring me fear. But literally? I’ll just stay on my carousel thank you very much.

No, my husband persisted, that’s not how it works. He was referring specifically to the physical fears we must face, propelling us out of our comfort zone and towards a sense of accomplishment. In other words – get on that roller coaster missy!

So with trembling legs I climbed the steps to the Wild Eagle – the newest, fastest, steepest roller coaster at Dollywood. As the friendly attendant strapped me in, she took one look at my panic-stricken face, gave me a knowing smile, and asked, “Scared?”

Then the coaster was off, scaling the slow vertical ascent to the peak. As we hung suspended, Andrew kept reminding me – deep breaths, just breathe. I inhaled as we crested the metallic summit, bracing for the worst, and wooosh.

I loved it.

As we soared and dipped and inverted and whirled, my anxiety melted away and was replaced by a refreshing feeling of accomplishment and, dare I say, joy.

My whole body was shaking as I emerged from the ride – pulsing with a delicious mix of adrenaline and pride. I was still terrified the second time I rode, and the third. But I also now knew my husband’s words to be true – it’s not just the rush of the ride that makes the thrill worthwhile, but the way that your feet touch the ground afterward with enhanced appreciation for the security of our ordinary lives.

Facing our physical fears forces us to get out of our own minds and bodies, too often hung up on meaningless modern worries, resetting our perspective on life. Bonus: you might just find you actually enjoy doing something you fear.



Have a fantastic weekend of facing fears and finding joy!

Weekend Wandering: The Hunt for the Perfect Christmas Tree

What are you up to this weekend? We’ve got holiday parties, gift making, and card sending to look forward to. Last weekend, to get into the Christmas spirit, we went on a little adventure to find our first married Christmas tree!

Since it’s our first Christmas as Mr. and Mrs., we decided to do something a little more special than pick a tree from the Kroger parking lot.  So we headed out in the country to Bluebird Christmas Tree Farm in Heiskell, Tennessee to chose and cut our own tree.

IMG_4041Though it was a cold and overcast day, it was so much fun to get to wander around and see all the beautiful trees.   IMG_4034It brought back such joyful memories of childhood when my family used to visit local farms to pick a tree.

IMG_4055Everyone in the family seemed to enjoy it, so here’s hoping this is a Christmas tradition we can keep!

Another wonderful thing about visiting a Christmas tree farm are the choices! Who knew there were so many beautiful varieties of trees to choose from?

Of course there is the traditional Frasier Fir, also known as the “Cadillac of Christmas Trees.”

IMG_4046My team was not so impressed by the Caddies. Beautiful, but we wanted something a little different from the norm. (sidenote: Frasier Firs grow best in higher altitudes, so Bluebird Farm brings them in fresh daily from a friendly farm in North Carolina).

Next we had lovely Leyland Cypress.

IMG_4035Which was a top contender and obviously Bella’s favorite…

IMG_4040Then there’s the diminutive Norway Spruce.

IMG_4043As with most things we do, we were a little late in the game to getting our tree, so all the taller spruces had been picked over.

Finally, our favorite was the unique yet beautiful Arizona Cypress.

IMG_4052With it’s perfect shape, spindly branches, and silver-green color, we found it to be stunning.

IMG_4048 Though it’s not everyone’s style, for us the Arizona Cypress was the perfect balance of traditional style, with a twist of something just a bit different thrown in for good measure.

IMG_4049Besides, our first Christmas as husband and wife calls for something unique and special right?

The handsome husband set to the tough task of sawing down the tree.

IMG_4053IMG_4057While Bella and I helped of course…


IMG_4054And… Success!

IMG_4060We left the heavy lifting to the man of the house.

IMG_4062Once home, we got her all lit up and, I know I’m a bit biased here, but I think she looks pretty fantastic.

IMG_4074Though someone’s not so happy about having to compete for attention…

IMG_4077All in all, our first annual Moore Family Hunt for the Perfect Christmas Tree was an overwhelming success! Looking forward to many many more.

The Long Road West

About a week ago I set out on my next great adventure – one that takes me from Tennessee to Colorado to California and everywhere in between.

I just purchased my first ever car of my own – a 2003 Subaru Legacy. My dad and I had searched long and hard to find a good one with low mileage, so the only logically thing to do when I found one was to plan a trip that would put thousands of miles on the car (my dad taught me well…)


Once we got everything checked on the car and new brakes installed, it was time to hop in and head west! My first destination is Colorado, where both my sister and cousin live, as do the stunning Rocky Mountains that seem to have a magnetic pull on me. I’ve visited Colorado many times before and have traveled there a variety of ways (planes, bus rides, family road-trips, covered wagon) but this was the first time I was making the trek solo. Pretty much everyone I talked to thought it was a crazy idea to drive that far on my own, but I had the time and the car and I was ready to make the most of it.

I packed the car to the brim, and let me tell you, Subarus are deceptively spacious. Since my parents are moving while I’m away, I decided to take as much of my stuff with me as possible, both to make it easier on them and to facilitate my gypsy-like ways. With the wagon loaded, I hit the road.


It’s a good two day haul from Knoxville, Tennessee to Boulder, Colorado, and though I was optimistic when talking to others, I myself was a bit worried about the hours upon hours spent in the car alone. It turns out that driving myself across the country is a whole different experience than just being along for the ride. And thanks to some fun tunes provided by generous friends, the trip was downright fun!

The hours rolled by like the hills through which I drove as Tennessee turned to Illinois which morphed to Missouri.


I crossed the Mississippi and passed through the Gateway to the West.


The scenery grew increasingly beautiful as the road stretched onward and I was feeling pretty great about this latest venture.


And then came Kansas…