I worked from at least seven different desk spots in 3 different rooms.
I considered seeking professional counseling early this year, and did not follow through. I sometimes wish I had, and still consider it often.
I listened to Nik practice the drums nearly every day of the year.
We went inside the Pyramid in Memphis that is now a Bass Pro Shop.
We slept in an A-Frame with friends on the lake in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
We visited the Hot Springs National Park.
We saw Brandi Carlile live at the Ryman!
I canceled three flights. Denver. Boston. Albuquerque.
I went to the inaugural Art Ball in a lovely dress and met another female architect wearing the SAME dress! We hugged.
I subscribed to and canceled Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO, and YouTube TV.
I finally had a movie night in my backyard, and we watched Hamilton! (see Disney Plus above)
We had dinner at Tailor, and loved it.
We introduced a second cat into our home.
I worked with a team to complete the restoration of over fifty 100-year old steel windows, and was interviewed by a magazine for the restoration of those windows.
I bought Eames furniture from a friend just in time to set up my home office.
I might have worked in an office outside of my home for the last time.
We saw my nieces play volleyball.
I climbed to the top of a hill in Whites Creek with friends to see the Nashville skyline.
I climbed inside a silo.
I went to an MLS soccer game, and had so much fun that I bought season tickets. Then the season was cancelled.
My mom got us season tickets to see the performances at TPAC, and we didn’t get to go to a single one because the season was canceled.
There was a tornado in our neighborhood. A huge tornado that damaged hundreds of homes and businesses. That leveled the sanctuary of the church that my grandparents founded. That left huge sections of the city impassible due to downed trees and power lines. You can still see the damage 9 months later. The neighborhoods will never be the same.
I ordered seeds from a seed catalog, and planted maybe half of them.
I organized an office volunteer day to sort supplies for those who needed them.
We had a final dinner at Rudie’s that we didn’t know would be a final dinner.
I worked from home because I had to. Not because I wanted to, and then decided that perhaps I want to forever.
I took a vacation and spent it working on my house, not traveling.
I had facetime calls on a weekly basis for a little while with my immediate family.
I cut Mimi’s hair in her kitchen not knowing it might be the last time I would be with her in her home.
I had facetime calls on a weekly basis for a little while with my immediate best friends.
I took naps in the middle of the work day.
I learned what it meant for the world to be overtaken by a pandemic.
I ordered groceries for curbside pick up once.
I bought hand sanitizer. I honestly don’t think I ever had before.
I was part of a team that went from seeing each other every single day, to only seeing each other via a video camera once a week. We made the new normal successful.
We held our chicken, Repecka, on her final day.
I designed a sectional sofa.
I stopped using an alarm clock to wake up in the morning.
For most of the year, my desk was next to a window that I could open any time I wanted.
We planted garden herbs and vegetables in the front yard.
I made monkey bread.
I made a photo book of our 2014 life, and started making one of 2015.
I downloaded and used a plant identification app.
We played Pandemic during a pandemic.
I hand dyed cotton napkins in the Japanese shibori style.
I made face masks, and then wore them in public to prevent myself from breathing on others.
I attended two virtual conventions.
I watched the Nashville Metro Council struggle through their first ever virtual meetings.
For the first time in Tennessee, I experienced that moment when you pull up to a job site and a building you designed has been built!
I built a window seat, and write in my journal while looking out towards the garden most days.
I hung my black and white vintage houndstooth curtains over an actual window.
I had a socially distanced dinner with my best friends in a park.
I watched the video of a police officer killing George Floyd.
We saw Burgess Falls from a pontoon boat.
I moved my office outside as often as I could.
I participated in a protest against racism and to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
I learned what ‘woke’ means.
I started walking remotely with my mom and sister most Saturday mornings.
I had days where I couldn’t stop crying and days where all I wanted to do was sleep.
I ordered a takeout dinner for 8 to enjoy in a Southern Living Idea Home.
We spent many Saturdays at Cook swimming and eating Doritos and Cheez-Its.
I decided to straighten my teeth.
I spent an entire day, dawn til dusk, at a client’s property simply to watch the sun.
We set up a hammock in the backyard.
I helped a neighbor decide what to do with his house.
Nik and I drove to and from Dallas together.
We visited my brother in his Dallas home.
I learned that Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away during my going away party.
I started my own architecture firm (Sinz Shadowens Architecture) with an amazing partner!!! We flipped a coin to decide whose name would be first.
My mom decided to sell her accounting firm.
I read books about racial injustice and inequality.
I looked for houses with my sister.
My yellow vintage chair was reunited with its sister.
I paid myself from the bank account of my own business.
I had a glass of bourbon before riding a side-by-side up to the ridge to watch the sunset.
We camped on an island, and got there via kayak.
I hand painted the walls of our stair making my daily commute much more pleasant.
I proudly introduced myself as the owner of an entirely female founded architecture firm, and enjoyed the excitement of new friends and clients who recognize that it is a rare thing.
I made cupcakes from scratch because my friends started turning 40. Did you know it is nearly impossible to make black icing?
I went to the liquor store at least three times in a single year, which is a record for me.
I now hold an architectural license in four states. CA, TN, AL & MS
I found teal blue Fostoria glasses for my Aunt days after her 60th birthday.
We had a celebration dinner in the parking lot under a tent of a nice restaurant instead of inside the nice restaurant. It wasn’t the same.
I climbed on our roof to hang Christmas lights because it was easier that way.
Nik and I both illustrated a Christmas card.
We introduced a third cat into our house! Welcome, Brutus.
I acquired a set of Homecrest outdoor chairs. Thanks Mom!
I started to read at least fifty books, and probably finished 30.
Me and my three closest friends maintained a near daily text message chain.
I did not fly.
I put fewer miles on my car than any prior year ever.
Since March, I can count the number of times I have eaten at a restaurant outside on two hands, and inside on one.
Nik got a gaming computer, and gamed a lot.
I finished a knitted blanket with all of my leftover yarn that I started at least three years ago.
We hung Nik’s mom’s starburst mirror over our mantle.
I laughed with Nik as he wrote, produced, filmed and edited his Pile of Wit episodes I, II, and III.
The circle of people I saw this year was smaller than it has ever been before.
I looked at stats for Covid nearly every day and was constantly surprised and rarely impressed.
I watched Schitt’s Creek and Alone.
I bought stationary for the first time in a really long time.
Nik went on a one hour bike ride nearly every day.
Our cats drank from the water bowl at the base of the Christmas Tree.
I walked to Lovers Circle with a friend twice.
We had Christmas at my sister’s lake house for the first time.
A bomb was set off in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning.
I recognize that I have been privileged and blessed my entire life. I recognize that it is on me to turn that into good for as many people as I possibly can.
Cheers 2020! You’ve been really good and really bad. I’ve learned a ton about the world and about myself, so thank you. This truly is a before-and-after year, and I am happy to make the transition to after.
When we got back from our trip last year, we could have moved anywhere. Our biggest criteria was that we wanted to be closer to our parents in Nashville and Dallas. Next, we wanted to move somewhere that we had a pre-existing friend group. We had started from scratch in both Portland and San Francisco, and loved it, but didn’t want to do it again. Finally, we had to be able to find work to support ourselves.
We considered New York very seriously. We both have friends there from every phase of our lives, and many of those friends are like family. There would also be plenty of professional opportunities. The catch was that we would be moving to New York in the mindset that we would only be there for a couple years because we don’t want to be financially tied to both of us working full time forever. It would also mean we would not see our parents any more often. And it gets freakin cold there.
We considered Asheville, North Carolina and possibly Charleston, South Carolina. We visited Asheville and decided it was too small for either of us to love working in the mountain town. Nik has some very close family friends living there, but it just didn’t feel right. It’s an amazing place to visit, and we plan to do so often, but it’s just not the place for us to live. We never made it to Charleston, and since neither of us had friends or family there, it was off the list pretty quickly.
We considered Dallas. Nik’s parents are there, he as a few good friends from high school that are still there, and I’m sure that he has more ties that would have surfaced if we had landed there. For some reason though, my pull to Nashville was extremely strong. It is possible that I will always feel a little bad for swaying us away from Dallas.
We considered Nashville. My home town had been high on my list from the very beginning, but this was a big move so it had to be a joint decision. I have a lot here, but Nik doesn’t. I know that what’s his is mine, and what’s mine is his, but still. On the family side, my father’s family has been here since he was born and they all stayed, and my mom’s family has been here for 5 generations. My roots are deep. Also, my sister lives 2 hours away and 6 months ago, my brother lived 4 hours away, so being close to them was quite a draw. On the friend side, four of my best girlfriends are here. We have been tight since 4th grade, and they all have growing families here. Also, a large group of close friends from college have been here since we graduated, which serves two functions: friendship and professional opportunity.
I want to say that I was open to all of the other options, but deep down, I knew that Nashville was really where I wanted to be. It also helped that I had three fantastic interviews with great architects here within two weeks of us getting back from our trip. Nik also had a few interviews, but they all led him to believe what he already knew. Advertising in Nashville is not advertising in San Francisco, LA, New York, or Portland. If we were to stay, his expectations would have to adjust. Then when it became clear that I was going to receive an offer for a dream job, we decided to give Nashville a chance.
Nine months later (no child, sorry), Nashville is better that either of us expected. We see my parents at least once a week and my sister about once a month, my friends have quickly become Nik’s friends, and work has been pretty dreamy. We have also accepted adult responsibilities like owning a home and cars that we are enjoying for the time being.
Who knows how long we’ll be here, but I’m glad we are.
Uncle Don and Dad checking out a Chevy
Our closest mountain range
Fall colors so beautiful we all want to paint them
Posted in December 2015, but back dated to July 16, 2015 when we left England
As soon as we decided to cross the English Channel to visit friends in London, I wanted to stay in England long enough to see the countryside. I made a list of places to see: The Lake District, the Peak District, the Cliffs of Dover, the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Oxford & Cambridge Universities, the Eden Project. With this list, we started working out the logistics. We hoped to take trains everywhere we wanted to go, and we had to get to Manchester to catch our flight to Reykjavik. I quickly found that taking trains/buses would be unrealistic with our short time frame, so we decided to rent a car instead. That gave us a bit of flexibility, so I searched for places to stay.
I happened upon the Landmark Trust website early in my search and discovered that they had one renovated historic property still for rent during our time frame. That property happened to be about 1/3 of the way from London to Manchester, so I booked a stay at The Warren House in Kimbolton for three nights.
Our route from London to Kimbolton included a direct train from the city to Cambridge where we picked up our rental car. We decided to take a train from the city because we did not want to deal with London traffic while driving a car with a manual transmission on the wrong side of the road. We figured it would be best if we tested our British driving skills on open roads rather than heavy traffic. Also, I was interested in seeing Cambridge University anyways, so it was a natural stop.
Unfortunately, Cambridge University was annoying. The town is quaint and perfect with a beautiful university right in the middle of it, but it is also a tourist attraction. The place was teaming with people of all nationalities like it was Times Square. In order to see the University grounds or building, you have to pay an entrance fee. I understand why…the university is for the students, not the tourists. People are trying to get an education, and that is their priority so making it a little inconvenient for an American couple to wander through the halls makes sense. Needless to say, Nik was not interested in paying the fees. I was reluctant, but figured it would probably be worth it and tried to book a tour for myself, but they were full. Nik tried to get coffee, but he dropped it. We took those failures as signs that it was time for us to leave, so we left.
Once on the road, all was good. Once we got to the Warren House, all was amazing! The house was perfect for us in every way, and was everything we had hoped for. The property consists of several acres overlooking the market town of Kimbolton. To get to the house, we took a private road about a mile into the farmland before crossing through a fence row into the driveway of this beauty.
The Warren House
On the lower level was the bedroom with a wood burning stove and a full bathroom. On the upper level was the living room with another wood burning stove and a full kitchen. The house was originally built on the “Warren”, or land set aside for rabbit husbandry, associated with Kimbolton Castle. It was renovated in 2011, and is now available as a vacation rental. It is also furnished perfectly. The two arm chairs are down so that you sink into them and never want to get out. The curtains are made with wood-block printed fabric with custom rabbit designs. The floors wood and brick. The spiral stairs were perfectly scaled with the most lush wood handrail you’ve ever felt. The kitchen was tiny and perfectly appointed. Obviously, we loved it and dream of having a Warren House of our own one day.
While there, we sat on the bench outside overlooking the farm land. We sat in the living room reading and working on our websites. We cooked meals in the kitchen and ate at the dining table with the windows open. We walked into town for dinner at the local pub. We watched a local air show from the balcony. We walked along the foot paths through thick mud to lakes and more farmland.
Inside the Warren House (photos courtesy of The Landmark Trust)
It’s the little things
Our view of Kimbolton
The rolling pastures
Wheat and Warren
Hand made pew cushions
Our second stop in the English Countryside was just outside of the Peak District in the town of Wirksworth. The guest house we found is a teeny tiny place in the back yard of a larger 1500s brick house. While there, we had access to the house garden and it was centrally located so that we could walk into town easily for dinner or groceries.
Nik in our tiny guest house
On our first day, we drove into the park to walk the Monsal Trail. The trail followed an old railroad path through the country side into tunnels, past castles, and along the river. If I was to do it again, we would have rented bikes for this trail because it was plenty wide and was a little boring. Moving at a quicker pace would have been nice. After the walk, we stopped at the pub near the trail head for beers and a snack, which was fantastic.
Lush hills along the Monsal Trail
The next day, our plan was to go on a short walk from our guest house and then relax most of the day. But once we started walking, I wanted to continue and was able to talk Nik into joining me. I’m so glad he did because that day was so much fun. We walked through sheep and cow pastures, along stone fences that have been there for centuries, and into small towns with window boxes overflowing with flowers. We had not really packed well for the walk and were very hungry by the end, but it was worth it. For dinner, we went to the local French restaurant and supped on beef bourguignon and red wine.
Walkers guide post
By the way, at this point in our trip, I had become increasingly lazy about taking photos. Thankfully, Nik had not, so please take a look at his blog posts!!!