life is always about the journey...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Beachin' Life...

Happy Monday-after-the-Superbowl friends!

Did anyone watch the Superbowl last night? Which commercials were your favorites? I liked a few, but I think the Mr. Clean ad made me laugh the most. And the Superbowl babies were very cute too.

I've been a little MIA because I've been having some ongoing back issues that have limited my ability to do much the past 10 days. Looks like I will be having surgery soon to fix the issue, so that's no! However I am ready to stop the pain, because it is exhausting.

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my last blog post, so happy to see so many friends again in blog all made my week! I still need to reply to a few of you.  I know some of you aren't on Facebook and hadn't seen the updates about the Dean family in a long while. So I thought today I'd share our 'updated life' story and a few pictures too.

Alexa & Riley update: Alexa is a junior at Univ of SC studying marine biology, she's also a marine science tutor and peer leader. She will soon be the coordinator for education outreach for the college's SEAS program as well. She's been interning every summer (last summer was Maine and Cape May, NJ) and she's enjoying it all.  She will be 21 in April ('d that happen?)
Riley is now a freshman at Univ of SC studying for a History degree with a possible environmental science minor and he's loving country life in the south. He loves to fish and kayak whenever he can. Riley will be 19 next month. They grew up too dang fast!

So, why did we move to SC?
So our family has vacationed on Hilton Head Island, SC for many years...pretty much since the kids were in elementary school. We love the laid-back beaches and bike-able plantation areas where we rented homes/condos. And we always added a fews day to our vacation to visit Charleston. Whenever we crossed the state line into South Carolina I always felt like I had come back was an exhale of "yes, I can relax now." And the unique smell of pluff mud and salty sea air combined with Southern friendliness always made me feel right at home.

It is no surprise to anyone (if you've known me awhile at least) that I HATE winter and cold and snow. I've lived in an area where winter could be brutal with ice, wind and blizzards for far too long. As soon as fall would come, I would go into a depression knowing that it would soon be gray skies and too cold outside to be enjoyable and that my body would be in pain for months. So our family plan had always been to move south as soon as the kids graduated high school...we're talking about a 14 year plan to move down south. Whenever I pictured where I wanted to be, it always was near Charleston.

Last winter we had a huge blizzard and I remember looking at James and saying "I can't do this anymore" was physically and mentally taxing me beyond what I could handle.  In March he suggested I go to Charleston for a week with Alexa (on her Spring Break from college) and search for a house/neighborhood that I liked. We spent the week doing some fun activities and looking near & far for a home that I would fall in love with. I was very interested in downsizing from the 6000 sq ft home we had in Virginia to something half that size...too much house to take care of anymore with both the kids in college. The very last day we visited an area on James Island that was last on my should have been first because we both fell in love with the neighborhood immediately. Southern style beach homes on a quiet inlet that was only 2.5 miles from Folly Beach and a 15 minute drive to downtown historic Charleston. Perfection!

Long story short, I found the perfect house in a newly built double-porch southern home facing the creek that leads out to the ocean. My master bedroom has an upper level porch, and I can see the beautiful water from my bed every morning. It's a 2700 sq ft, 4 bedroom 4 bathroom, 3 level home with rooms we actually use (aka no formal rooms). We have a nice screen porch on the backside and a detached 2 car garage.  We actually closed on the house the day of my birthday, May 3rd. So James likes to say he bought me a house for my birthday, hahaha! We officially moved in right after Riley graduated high school in you could say I didn't waste a minute!  Our first purchases were kayaks for everyone and that's one of our absolute favorite things to do here.

Where is James?
James will not be retiring for a few years, so he has a great 2 bedrm, 2 bath apartment near DC where his commute has gone from 2 hours to 15 minutes..and he can walk or metro everywhere. He comes down to SC every 2 weeks for a visit and so far it's worked out great. I'm pretty independent and don't mind the solitude this new life has given me. I find things to do everyday to stay busy including my photography, kayaking, volunteering with the animal rescue and I've also made quite a few friends as well. My one neighbor and I walk most mornings and go to the gym together. And we just sold our Virginia the transition for everyone is complete and we can all breathe easily now.

And we have the BEST neighbors, seriously the sweetest people and everyone in the neighborhood is actually interested in knowing each other and chatting on the regular. NOTHING like where I lived in Northern VA outside of DC...people are too busy to even wave there for the most part. Someone is always inviting you to hang out and chat, have a glass of wine or watch a game.

Now the Univ of SC is only a 2 hour drive for that means the kids can visit home more often. Before it was an almost 9 hour drive and the airfare was not always so cheap from Columbia to DC.

All in all, we all are very happy with our new home, new friends and love that we can be outside almost year round enjoying what the area has to offer. It has brought me more peace than I could is much slower here and it's exactly what I needed.

A Few House Peeks:
Here are some peeks inside & out of my new house which is still a work in progress, as it should be. Little by little we are getting there. Excited to get my new furniture for the porch off the master bedroom this week. We get such a nice breeze off the water and I plan on sitting out there & reading a lot and looking out at the water. I need to get more pictures..lots of times I think of it AFTER the sun has set and it's too late.  Lots of pictures, but I wanted to share them all and couldn't choose any I wanted to leave out LOL!

The awesome view I get to see every morning from my bed

The house is dark navy with pale aqua's a Charleston style house so it's very long, and 3 stories high. These were taken before we moved in so things look a lot different as far as porches and landscaping.

one side of our screened porch...the cats love to be out here when the weather is nice.

The side chairs used to be black...I used chalk paint to lighten them up to a distressed cream. The end chairs I ordered in a gray-blue to replace the others I had. Table & chairs I've had from Ethan Allen for over 14 years..they've held up very well.

This is our living area...where I spend most of my time. When everyone is here we tend to sit up in the 3rd floor family room and watch the bigger tv.
 A lot of these pictures of the inside were taken in September, so things have changed quite a bit. Just need to retake photos when everything is done.

The master bedroom...we have a porch off the bedroom that looks over the creek. 

The guest bedroom...

The creek we live on; you can see the Sullivans Island Lighthouse light to the right from the dock & Morris Island Lighthouse is around to the right.  I love watching the dolphins and their babies play and fish in the inlets. We've seen a few snakes (stepped on a few too, yikes) and some smaller sharks. I've only seen 1 small alligator so far and that's fine by me. Me no bother them, they no bother me!

A peek into Alexa's room...I will share more soon. I've done quite a few projects in here. We still need to have the ceiling painted navy and I still need to paint her bookcase. This dresser used to be mine when James & I were first married. It was honey colored & had been stored in our basement for years. It got a paint update along with new porcelain knobs. It looks great I think.

Guest bathroom is almost done...we are waiting on a new quartz countertop in here. This was a spec house so we are working to make it ours with material choices we like. I'm also painting the very long, double-sink vanity a dark gray blue.

stairs to the 3rd floor

This is the 3rd floor..I took this before we moved in. That's a full bathroom at the end, the other end you cannot see is Riley's bedroom. Right now we have a sectional and huge tv (James' pick not mine lol) up here. Plans for up here include a table/chairs for puzzles/games and 2 more club chairs and a rug. I love all the light this room gets.

Loft sectional....table & chairs will go behind the sectional near Riley's room.

A view of half of our front porch...the flower boxes were gorgeous this past summer. Can't wait to get them up in March again. These adirondack rockers are made of marine grade fiberglass..they are fantastic since they never need painting.

I love ending the day with this view....

So there you go...some peeks into our new home.  Will share more as I finish up projects and rooms.



  1. TFS these wonderful photos and updates! I'm so glad you are finally happy and content in your new home and I can understand exactly why! You have such a flair for decorating which is evident in both homes. As for me - I'd be parked on one of those Adirondack rockers with a good book most of the time :) I LOVE the color scheme! Sending warm healing wishes for your upcoming surgery - I hope all goes well. Was just wondering if you still make cards?

  2. Oops! I forgot to mention - I thought the SB commercials left a lot to be desired. Nothing amused me except for Melissa McCarthy's entry. Most were violent or disturbing for my taste, or ads were for shows we can't see. I missed the classic Budweiser Clydesdale ads we've come to enjoy through the years.

    1. I agree that 80% of the commercials were meh. They have to make me laugh out loud or go "awww" before they become a favorite. And thank you for the well wishes, I do appreciate them! I do not make cards anymore..I don't use Copics at all because I cannot hold them in my hands for very long. I still watercolor when I can and photography has become my main creative outlet.

  3. Oh Suzanne, how beautiful! I'm SO incredibly happy for you. I'm going to email you soon with my cell phone number so you can text me photos of Charleston until I can move there myself :):):) Sending healing thoughts and prayers for your surgery!

    1. Thank you so much Christine! I hope you can visit soon are always welcome. And yes, definitely email me your phone number. My new email is Hugs!!

  4. Loved seeing and reading about your move. We visited Maine a few years ago and I fell in love with the ocean. Just a totally different lifestyle there. Love the beach decorating inside your home. I'm right there with you about cold weather. My hubby's job took us to North Dakota and the winters are BRUTAL here. The first year -50-60ยบ below zero. This year we've had close to 60" of snow. I can't wait to leave here. Hoping you have a speedy recovery from your surgery.

    1. Oh no...-50 degrees..that sounds painful!!! I sure hope you are able to leave and find warmer weather soon, especially if you are not a fan of that kind of weather, yikes! Come visit Charleston and get some sun and southern hospitality sometime, you won't regret it. Alexa did an internship in Bar Harbor, Maine last year and as a child I spent time there with my parents. My mom and I drove her up there with a stop in Boston and we had a wonderful time. Definitely a different lifestyle and coastal beauty. I do prefer it in the spring/summer though LOL!! Stay warm & Hugs!

  5. Suzanne, I am so happy for you that you are now in your happy place. Your home is lovely, and I truly enjoy looking at all your photos. I too am happy to be leaving behind the harsh, cold winters in Conn. While I miss my hometown, I am certain my husband and I made the right decision to move to Florida. I wish you a quick recovery from your upcoming surgery. Please let us know how you are feeling afterwards. Hugs, Donna

    1. Thank you Donna! The warm weather & sunshine is good for the soul!

  6. Suzanne ...your new house is awesome!!

  7. What a beautiful house and area! So glad to see you back blogging and sharing your love of your new home. I know what you mean about feeling at home somewhere. That happened when I moved to Oregon to go to college MANY years ago. As soon as the plane landed I just felt at home. I've been trying to get back there ever since! Looking forward to seeing more of your beautiful photography of an area I know very little about!

    1. Thank you Jules! It's a wonderful thing when you can truly feel at home somewhere and it makes you happy...that is what life is supposed to be about! Glad you found your "home" too! Hugs!

  8. Hi Suzanne!
    I love seeing your beautiful photography, especially the outdoor scenery including the beautiful sunset photo you finished off with! So gorgeous!!
    Sorry to hear you need back surgery soon, but you will feel so much better without the back pain. Your new home is gorgeous and I'm sure you are having a wonderful time decorating. That is something you are such a natural talent at.
    I wish you all the best as always and I can't believe your kids are going to college already. I feel like I grew up with them!!!!
    Take care and hope to see more photos soon!

    1. Thank you so much Darcy! I'm hoping to delay any surgery until April if the dr allows it...I want to enjoy our spring break trip as a family, so crossing fingers. I've had fun decorating and its fun not to have to have child-proof furnishings again LOL! The kids did grow up fast it seems, I'm still in disbelief that Alexa will graduate COLLEGE next spring & be off to grad school. I'm constantly in a state of "how?" these days..time flies so fast the older you get I swear.

  9. Suzanne, I'm so sorry to hear they your pain has increased to the point of surgery. I'm praying for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.
    After reading your reasons for your timely move to James Island, I'm thinking we may have some of the same health issues in common. I would love to hear about how the move to a warmer climate has helped. That is something that is always in the back of my mind.

    1. Hi Marsha! I've had bad discs in my spine for so long and they've reached the point of no return. They are also checking to see if my MS is causing another immune system response called ankylosing spondylitis, which is a kind of immune-arthritis in the spine. But yes, I moved south to have warmer weather & a more manageable winter season, my joints and muscles swell up when it's cold and I'm miserable until it warms up again. This is the first winter in many, many years I haven't been in pain due to my joints...its been amazing. Not to mention the cold/gray weather has always made me depressed to go along with the pain...the sunshine is definitely a wonderful change.

  10. Beautiful home! Thank you for sharing your story and pictures with us.

  11. I have ankylosing spondylitis and am very familiar with the pain and stiffness it causes. I actually have been diagnosed with five different auto-immune diseases. It all started when I turned 36. I take monthly infusions to keep my Crohn's disease from flaring and to decrease the inflammation in my joints. While our winters are nothing like what you endured in Virginia, cold, wet weather is the worst. And in Arkansas the temperature might change 50 degrees in one day. As I get older, each year seems to get worse.
    But I'm so thankful you have found relief in SC. I know that gives you hope.

  12. Wow! Nice you finally got to move south! Small world too, my sis moved to Charleston from D.C. And their almost finished building their new home on James Island (Bulow). There is nothing like the south, wish everyone could experience it at least for a little while! So happy for you!

  13. Wow! Your new house looks amazing! And it must be so great to be living in a place you love!


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