Rivermont When We Bought Her

Rivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & HusbandToday, we want to share some pictures with you of Rivermont when we bought her. The first time we walked through, I believe the only thing I photographed was a doorknob (seen here). We were both so overwhelmed by the house. She has quite the presence, and this is only a smattering of rooms. In fact, my favorite rooms aren’t included. We’ll look at those at another time!

Rivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & Husband

Rivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & Husband

We are pretty in love with the green, which is good… because it’s everywhere!

Rivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & Husband

Rivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & Husband

Rivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & Husband

2 words: China Closet. I will post a detail of this wallpaper on instagram, but it is amazing! It’s yellow with gold (dare I say glitter?) and practically perfect in every way.

Rivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & Husband

The kitchen needs some love, and I don’t really want to talk about the brown sinks. (Was that really a thing in the 80s?) As I’ve mentioned, the only room I miss from our Nobel Street home is the kitchen. But I made Husband take a picture of me hugging our old fridge before we moved out–so there’s that.

Rivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & HusbandRivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & HusbandRivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & Husband

Rivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & Husband

These are not my favorite bedrooms, but you can see the wood floors and the beautiful built-ins. So. Many. Built-ins!

Rivermont When We Bought It | Hannah & Husband

Worth noting: There’s a bell in the top of that building on the right that guests ring when they arrive. It’s one of my new favorite things!

Isn’t she grand? I can’t wait to share the history and some of the stories we’ve learned. More to come soon!

The 10 Stages of Moving to a New Place

Moving is a cold, cruel lover. I know more about contracts now. I have a better grasp on the power of social media than ever before. And, most surprising to me, I can tell you exactly how a septic system works. (*Knowledge is power, y’all!) So for those of you that have never experienced this little tango for yourselves, today I present to you: The 10 Stages of a Moving to a New Place.

You find the perfect house.


You make the decision to rent/buy/lease the perfect space.


You put in an offer.



You play it super cool.


You wait.


And you wait.

Stages of Moving | Hannah & Husband

There are negotiations.

Your offer is accepted.


You start packing.


You move.

The 10 Stages of Moving | Hannah & Husband

Big Announcement… Big. Huge.

Big Announcement today. If you’ve noticed that things have been a little quiet here on the home front for the last week, you would be right. But there’s a really good explanation. At the moment, we are a teensy bit buried in boxes because WE’RE MOVING!

I’ve been trying to write this post for two days. Despite the fact that we’ve been in the middle of this process since late March and are currently buried under mountains of boxes, it still doesn’t quite feel real.

Dexter and the boxes | Hannah & Husband

Last year, we’d planned to move to New York City for both of our careers, but in late November James was offered a position here in Tennessee that was just too perfect to pass on. So we made the decision to stay in town and hopefully find a new project house. We looked around for about a month in an area we really dug, but just couldn’t find anything that screamed us. Then, late one Saturday night we ran across THE listing. Within the week we’d seen the house and put ours on the market. BTW, the power of social media still blows my mind.

House for Sale | Hannah & Husband

On Sunday, we had four showings and on Monday, it was sold! We will close and move in the next two weeks so posts, and we are so excited.

Rivermont | Hannah & Husband

Our “new” home, built in 1904

Needless to say, we will be sharing a lot about this move on the blog. The house has a rich history and will provide us with (seemingly endless) projects. We’ve learned so much during this process that we want to share with you!

That said, I’m currently working on a new series about buying and selling our home so I’d love to hear if you have any questions!

Are you considering buying your own house?
Is there a part of the process that really freaks you out?

Click this link to send us a message, comment below, or tweet us: @jamesaslaughter & @hb_belle.

Reclaimed Book

Last week, in Video 002, I shared a peek at this reclaimed book I’ve been working on. Today I thought I’d give you a closer look.  It’s a library book that was withdrawn after years of wear & tear and left in the free bin at a local book store.

I started on the page with the Random House logo, and ideas proceeded from there. If you look closely at the dedication page, it reads:

Dedicated to the memory of my dear home life.

Happy coincidence, no? Now with the help of pens, paste, and colored pencils, it’s slowly becoming a book about our home, our favorite objects and activities.

Reclaimed Book Project: Home | Hannah & Husband

Reclaimed Book Project: Home | Hannah & Husband

Reclaimed Book Project: Home | Hannah & Husband

Reclaimed Book Project: Home | Hannah & Husband

Reclaimed Book Project: Home | Hannah & Husband

Reclaimed Book Project: Home | Hannah & Husband

The 2015 International Biscuit Festival

2015 Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, TN | Hannah & Husband

This post is going to be filled with ridiculous pictures of food so if you’re a #foodporn troll on Instagram, this blog post is for you! Saturday was the 2015 International Biscuit Festival here in Knoxville. People come from all over to test their biscuit making skills, taste their way around Biscuit Boulevard, and even make biscuit-themed art.

2015 Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, TN | Hannah & Husband

Husband was on a business trip so I headed downtown by myself, which was a great reminder of what I love about living in a small town: You are never really alone.

Girl playing the banjo at the Market Square Farmers Market | Hannah & Husband

Flowers at the Market Square Farmers Market | Hannah & Husband

I saw at least 20 people who called me by name, listened to some fab street music, and bought some local honey and fresh flowers.

Another note: When you’re by yourself, you can’t help but eavesdrop just a little. A few ladies who were in town for the event kept going on about how great Knoxville is. “It’s so clean!” “Everyone’s so friendly!” You’re right, ladies. East Tennessee is pretty heavenly–especially when everyone is on a biscuit high.

Finally, I ran into a friend that made long biscuit lines so much fun to chit-chat through. Bonus: We ran into Biscuit Queen Erin Donovan and snapped a selfie!

Deanne & I with the Biscuit Queen, Erin Donovan, 2015 Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, TN | Hannah & Husband

Erin’s Biscuit Queen costume was epic and included pads of gold glitter butter!

On to the #foodporn portion of our programming.

Two things of note:

1. Collard greens are absolutely heavenly when they’re cooked right.

2. Chocolate gravy. Oh, honey!

"The Nina Lee" at 2015 Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, TN | Hannah & Husband

“The Nina Lee” from the Mason Dixie Co.

Mama's Farmhouse Chocolate Gravy at 2015 Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, TN | Hannah & Husband

Mama’s Farmhouse biscuits had chocolate gravy! How have I not done this before?

Mama's Farmhouse Chocolate Gravy at 2015 Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, TN | Hannah & Husband


I also went down to the Emporium to see the biscuit art exhibition. The first two are my absolute favorites. If I had some extra money in the art fund right now, I would gladly give it to Beth Meadows because, seriously, how perfect is that White Lily flour dress with that big hair? I feel like that girl is my spirit animal. *Love!*

2015 Biscuit Festival Art Exhibition | Hannah & Husband

Absolutely swooning over all Beth Meadows latest work in this collage style, but this one won my heart! “Flour Girl One” is a collage of food packaging and pencil.

2015 Biscuit Festival Art Exhibition | Hannah & Husband

A personal favorite! “Hot Mess” by Carrie Pendergrass

2015 Biscuit Festival Art Exhibition | Hannah & Husband

A closer look at the mix of materials–acrylic + hand-sewing


2015 Biscuit Festival Art Exhibition | Hannah & Husband

This won a Merit Award, and I especially love what the letter says. | “What They Wouldn’t Have Given for a Southern Biscuit” by Hannah Holder

2015 Biscuit Festival Art Exhibition | Hannah & Husband

“Waiting on Biscuits of OliBea” by Mary Catherine Hewitt

2015 Biscuit Festival Art Exhibition | Hannah & Husband

This one also won a merit award. “Blue Plate Special” by Barbara Enloe The name refers to a daily live concert broadcast on WDVX.

2015 Biscuit Festival Art Exhibition | Hannah & Husband

This piece, “BNB” by Tarrer Pace, won Best of Show.

If you’re craving biscuits after all these pics and would like to try my 2-Ingredient Biscuits, click here.

Happy Monday, y’all!





3 Minute Frame

3 Minute Framing | Hannah & Husband

As you’ve seen before, we really like to put fun artwork in our bathrooms. Think about it: It’s the one room in the house, most people will visit so why not give them something to look at? (Bonus: We’ve never had anyone drop a phone in our toilet at a party. They’re too busy looking at the random art hanging on the walls!) The thing about art in the bathroom is that it’s subject to moisture and mildew. So I suggest a 3 minute frame that’s quick and fun.

3 Minute Framing | Hannah & Husband

This is a lady from the Lower East Side that I cut out of a magazine years ago. There was just something about the pointing (and mocking) that I had to save. Fast forward to our current bathroom that was sorely in need of a little tongue-in-cheek, and she now hangs above the toilet where she points and laughs at everyone who visits.

You’ll need 3 things:

paper with a pattern (I collect old sheet music. When it’s no longer usable, it’s perfect for craft projects.)

a picture you’ve cut out from a magazine (remember: Nothing too precious.)

a frame with glass


First, pull together a pattern for the background and then an image to be the focal point. If you’re hanging this in a place where moisture isn’t a factor, choose whatever you like. But if you’re making something seasonal (like this Christmas gallery wall) or a fun piece to hang in the bathroom like me, use scraps that are easy to switch out.

3 Minute Framing | Hannah & Husband

Lay the glass over your pattern and cut the paper to that size. The glass acts like a ruler!

3 Minute Framing | Hannah & Husband

Use a piece of double-sided tape in the center of your layering image. This will keep it from sliding around under the glass.

Note: If you’re using a photo that’s more precious: use acid free tape!

3 Minute Framing | Hannah & Husband

Finally clip the frame together. That’s all there is to it!

3 Minute Framing | Hannah & Husband

Kitchen Storage Ideas

In the eight years since we moved into our home, we’ve discovered a few things about how we use our kitchen that changed the way we laid things out when we renovated. So today I thought I’d share a few kitchen storage ideas.

Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband

1. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

If your momma was anything like mine, this is something you’ve heard your whole life. Nowhere is it more important than in the kitchen! We were ruthless in cleaning out old utensils and pans that we never use. (Disclaimer: We still have more than we need. Don’t be all judge-y. When you come to a party and eat off adorable china rather than paper plates, you’ll appreciate my obsession with all things “kitchen.”)
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
Pay attention to where you put things. We’d had the same layout for the eight years since we moved in and, I’ll be honest, some placings just didn’t work. Why didn’t we change them sooner? There’s no reason to dig through a drawer to find a hot pad when smoke is filling your kitchen and the lungs of 4 guests. Have those hot pads within reach of the stove!
The spice rack* in the picture below? Lifesaver! I prefer to keep my spices in alphabetical order, but we had so many shoved in a cabinet that it was still impossible to find anything. So one day Husband built this beauty! Game changer.
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
A place for everything also cuts way back on clean-up time. It’s so much easier to unload the dishwasher when you know the exact space in a drawer that particular spoon should fill.
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband

2. What makes for a pretty display?

We used to shove all of our towels in a drawer. Now, you’ll find them colorfully filling a basket in the new shelf that Husband added. Whoever installed our top kitchen cabinets had obviously thought this through as well. There’s a lip on the back of the large bottom shelves where plates can be displayed to add a little color,. There are also little hooks to store tea cups or, in our case, measuring cups and spoons for easy access.
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
Finally: jars. We use jars* for storing everything from salad dressings to all-purpose flour. It’s nice to have everything accessible for an afternoon filled with baking, but it also just adds a nice feeling of ‘home’ to surround yourself with your most common of ingredients.
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & HusbandKitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband

3. Use old things.

I have always been an “old soul,” and perhaps that is somewhat responsible for my obsession with old things. But it’s also just practical: old things were beautifully designed and, in many cases, were made better than the newest stuff on our market. So find old things from your grandmother or go estate sale-ing on a Saturday and then use them! In our kitchen, you will find clothespins in the coffee tin, crackers in the cracker tin, and a silver dish to hold all our soaps and sponges.
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
*When storing spices, oils, or any baking ingredients, it’s best to keep them out of direct sunlight. So pay attention to where the light falls in your kitchen before deciding on anything permanent.

What are your favorite storage solutions?

The Kitchen Renovation: Evolution of a Home Pt. 5

Last week when Husband was traveling, I woke up early one morning to find the light was perfect in our kitchen. So I grabbed my camera to capture a few of the moments while I cooked breakfast. I decided it was the perfect excuse to finally share pics of our kitchen renovation.

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

If you don’t know anything about our house, it was built in 1935. You can read about the history of the home here or see pictures from before we bought the house in this post. (Please note the strawberry contact paper as I spent hours getting that stuff off the walls!) When we moved in, we painted the house a classic palette using lots of blues with red accents. It wasn’t very ‘us,’ but it definitely did the trick.

(Before) The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

Then last year, we decided to move (we didn’t), so we thought we should redo the kitchen. While this may seem counter-intuitive, you should know that one of the only rooms in your house that you can actually invest money in and expect to get it back at selling is the kitchen. A nice kitchen is a must-have on virtually every home buyers list, but it’s such a big investment, not to mention a pain to have that room torn up, that most buyers will never want to do the work themselves.

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

Homeowner Tip: If you can redo it yourself, update the kitchen before you put your house on the market. 

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

So we went about drawing up a simple plan. We were lucky for two reasons:

1. Husband was able to do the work himself because he was doing contract work from home at the time and could make his own schedule. This saved money but also insured that we wouldn’t have a group of strangers in our home that we had to nag about a timeline.

2. We bought new appliances in 2006, which majorly cut back on our costs. (Our biggest expense was the countertops.)

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

By far the scariest moment of this renovation was cutting the hole for the sink in that gorgeous piece of butcher block.

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

We ended up making a total of 6 updates to the kitchen:

  1. Butcher block countertops (We get a lot of questions about these, and I’ll talk about caring for them later this week.)
  2. A new undermount, single bowl sink
  3. Painting the walls and bottom cabinets (inside and out)
  4. Adding a tile backsplash
  5. Shelves with a small countertop on the other side of the range
  6. Under-cabinet lighting

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband


Winter Pantry

For those of you not from ’round here’ before I tell you about our Winter pantry, I should probably start by explaining something about Winter in the South. It’s all based on a propensity of false hope. While I’d say we Southerners are regularly a pretty cynical people, when it comes to the weather we tend to be unusually optimistic. We dream of a White Christmas, which usually turns into a January and February full of grey, rainy days. People say “snow day,” and we’re all like…

Ron Swanson's Snake Juice Dance on Parks and Recreation

But the next day…

Rachel Dratch as Debbie Downer on SNL

*/sad trombone/*

So you can imagine our shock when this happened…

Winter in the South | Hannah & Husband

This time, the forecast was actually right! Sleet and freezing rain left everything enveloped in a shimmering armor of ice, which I like to call nature’s winter glitter. Hardly any snow to speak of until this morning, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Anyway, the most comical thing about winter weather in the south is really how Southerners choose to prepare themselves for inclement weather. When snow hit NYC at the end of January, all my New York friends hit the liquor stores. Their pantry may only have had a box of Thin Mints and a pack of Ramen, but you can bet there were a couple bottles of bourbon.

Around here, on the other hand, the stores are emptied of bread and milk. This always baffled me. Somehow we think having the two most perishable items we can buy on hand during an ice storm is going to help. This may be because our pantry and liquor cabinet is always stocked. (After all, we’re Southern. We grow and make our own–click here for our moonshine punch recipe.)

Snow Day Salmon Recipe | Hannah & Husband

Last night’s dinner. We prepped for the weather by picking up a salmon fillet at Earth Fare on Sunday.


Nevertheless, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share what we keep on hand in the kitchen this time of year, and ask you to do the same. I’m curious how this varies from family to family, region to region.

  • We keep a lot of fruits and veggies on hand regardless of the time of year. I recommend always having frozen veggies on hand, but when thinking about fresh stuff this time of year, try to stick to veggies with a longer shelf life. The absolute musts to have on hand are onions, carrots, & lemons because they’re just so versatile. Other favorites for us are squash, apples, and potatoes.
  • We always have ingredients for chocolate chip cookies. Always. No exceptions. (This includes the bourbon smoked sea salt to sprinkle on top.)
  • Bacon & eggs… obvi.
  • Vegetable, chicken, and beef broth are always in our pantry for homemade soups or roasting meats and veggies.
  • Garlic is a necessity, and then I try to keep 3 fresh herbs that mix and match well on hand at all times. For instance, before this weather hit, I had gotten parsley, rosemary, and thyme. I can roast veggies and make a nice gremolata. I can make a compound butter. Or I can just throw all 3 in a soup or on the fish.
  • Pasta is our version of fast food. Lately, we’ve been especially hooked on this recipe for Cacio e Pepe (Thanks, Smiths!).

So that’s our list, what about yours?

What foods do you stock up on to prepare for winter weather?

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don’t Use

We all have those rooms–the ones we shut the door on and try to forget the Christmas gifts we’ll never use that are piled on the chair we meant to have reupholstered. Shudder no more my friend! It’s a new year. You can do this. Here are three ways to add soul to a room you don’t use. In no time, you’ll have guests thinking, “They just know exactly what to do with their space!”

For us, that room is an upstairs bedroom. We have the one guest room that is used for guests and the other one that is used for linen storage/books/that pile for Goodwill. Sure, we could have kids some day and this space could come in super handy, but at the moment we think of it as that one other room we have to vacuum. So one weekend we took a few easy steps to add a little soul, and now it’s known as our “sitting room” thankyouverymuch.

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don't Use | Hannah & Husband

The gallery wall and rug in our “sitting room.” If you want to learn how to make the upholstered bench, click here.

3 Ways to Add Soul

Cozy things up

ie: Buy a cheap rug. You can sometimes find vintage orientals on Craigslist* or in antique malls. Another option is salvage stores. My instinct is always to look for color and pattern (hides the wine drips). But if you want a lighter look, find a white rug with some seriously soft texture.

*The one rule here is to make sure they don’t smell like smoke.


Hang some art. Better yet, hang a lot of it. Gallery walls are a great alternative to painting walls. (Hello, renters!) When we first bought our house, I was paralyzed by the fear that I would hang something in the wrong spot. Remember, if you don’t like where you hang something, you can always move it later.

Click here for an easy way to hang a gallery wall.

Next: Books, board games, and linens. Extra rooms are a great place for storage (thus all the piles) so why not embrace that? But (pro tip) this is not the place to put your DVD collection. Think of tactile personal objects that add warmth–a shelf full of clean quilts ready to be grabbed for a spur-of-the-moment picnic perhaps!

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don't Use | Hannah & Husband

We picked this vintage hanging light up for $5 and redid it. Here’s how.

Look at Your Fixtures

Fixture: A legal concept referring to something that
is permanently attached to a property.

Think door knobs, light fixtures, outlet covers, even the hooks in the bathroom. What one fixture could you replace to make things feel a bit more you? Regardless of what you choose, this is an upgrade that makes a big impact with less than an hour of effort!

Pro Tip: Scour the vintage shops for fixtures. They always come with a bit of the story, and that’s just what you need.

Finally, a little recommended listening for your room redo. Trust me on this one…