Erin Carroll is a very special member of the Southern Weddings family. Her wedding to Todd was featured in our very first issue back in 2008, and since then, we’ve followed along with her growing family on her blog, Blue-Eyed Bride. She’s even been to Making Things Happen, and contributed to the marriage advice feature in our latest issue! Her South Carolina home is the kind of nest that many of us want – lovely, yes, but also filled with encouraging words, lots and lots of photo memories, and passed-down items with history.
Who lives in this lovely home? Erin and Todd, married six years, Hudson (5), and Hayes (3)
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met and fell in love at work, thanks to our common love for Gamecock football and Home Alone, got married, and are now raising two wild and precious boys.
What is your favorite part of being married? Being able to experience all of life’s big moments, small moments, ups, and downs with my best friend.
Do you rent or own? We own. We bought a house together right before we got married, and we lived there for five years. After two kids, we were bursting at the seams. We lived with Todd’s grandmother for a year while we built our current home.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Todd is not very opinionated when it comes to style. He didn’t have many opinions when planning our wedding, and he has taken the same approach with decorating. When he does have an opinion, I sit back, listen, and try really hard to be considerate of his wishes. He has so few opinions, I feel I should at least respect the ones he does have!
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? I love our kitchen. It is open to the family room, and we spend so much time in both of those rooms. I love the light and the fact that I can be doing my thing in the kitchen while still being able to see the boys and Todd while they hang out in the family room.
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Our everyday dishes are my favorite thing. We still don’t have the entire set, but I just love the pattern. We even use them for holidays because I love them more than our fine china. I also love my All Clad pots and pans. I never would have bought them for myself, so I’m super thankful to have them.
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? I wouldn’t have registered for things like cookie decorating kits and pancake batter dispensers. Those things have never been used in six years!
Who cooks dinner? I do. I meal plan on Sundays, shop on Monday mornings, and usually cook four meals per week. We do leftovers at least once for every meal I make, and on Saturdays, I make a crockpot meal. I get it started in the morning and then we can enjoy our day without having to spend much time in the kitchen.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? I’ve recently given up grains and sugar, so I haven’t eaten this in a while, but I love Kevin and Amanda’s Spicy Sausage Pasta. It is amazing and a total splurge, but it’s a crowd pleaser! On the weekends, I love to make The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Roast or Skinny Taste’s Chicken Santa Fe.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? I have a huge collection of Junior League cookbooks, and each one of them is filled with tried and true, passed down recipes. I also love Skinny Taste, The Pioneer Woman, and Ina Garten. Now I’m getting hungry!
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? I splurge on lighting. Light fixtures can really define a space and make a big statement. I’m fortunate that my mom is a decorator and I am a buyer for her company, so I’ve been able to save a lot by getting really beautiful things at wholesale cost. I’ve also purchased a few antiques at antique markets–Scott’s in Atlanta is full of beautiful treasures, and they will bargain with you! I talked a guy down by half the cost when I purchased my dining room chairs. I found them and they were exactly what I had dreamed of, but I had a budget. I told him I wouldn’t spend more than my budget allowed, and he called me 20 minutes later to tell me that he’d sell them to me at the price I named.
What most makes your house feel like home? I am a strong believer in filling our home with things we love. Books we’ve read. Souvenirs from travels. Local pottery. Family photographs. When I’m accessorizing, it is so important to me not to have anything that is just “filler,” so it sometimes takes me awhile to finish decorating a room. Our home tells our story, so every little thing here also seems to have a story.
I spy some Lara Casey Shop products!
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? This gets so tough. I feel like with every season, we have to reevaluate and set new boundaries. Todd works long hours, and as a blogger, it’s easy for me to get very distracted by letting in too many “voices” via other blogs, social media, responding to blog comments, etc. I’ve found that I have to start my day early if I want to take care of my personal needs, like my quiet time and Bible reading, exercise, and any other things that just serve me. I stay at home with the boys, so the rest of my day is all about them. Todd is home between 6:30 and 7:00 every night, so that time for dinner and bedtime is sacred. We really value the weekends. I have a monthly Sunday girls night, but otherwise, the weekends are for family. Our favorite weekends are the lazy ones spent at home watching movies and playing outside with the boys.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? When Hudson was a baby, we used to just get in the car and let him sleep while we drove around, looked at houses, and saw new things popping up in our town. These days, we love to go out to dinner and to see a movie. Movies are a real treat! When we can’t get out, we put the kids to bed and watch a movie together on Amazon Prime. Our Blu-ray player has been such a great thing for binge-watching TV shows together and seeing movies we never got to see in the theater.
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? I’ve realized that Todd is so happy and so much less stressed when I am financially responsible and respectful of our budget. When I don’t go to Target or make random little Amazon purchases, it makes him so happy.
Do you have children? We have two boys, aged five and three. Things are still up in the air in regards to whether or not there will be more children, but right now, we’re so happy with these boys.
Is there anything else about your home or family life that you think our readers would be interested in? Our relationships with Jesus Christ are the most important things to us. We want our children to see that in us, and when we find that we’re not making time for Him, we stop and reevaluate and decide what we need to change. It is amazing how much of a difference we see when we allow God to lead us and we stop trying to do things on our own. Life gets really crazy and can be very distracting, but we know that when we put God first and allow Him to be in control, He does work all things together for our good.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? The wedding is just the beginning. It’s not always pretty after that, but the memories trump the wedding by a million!
Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… to let go of all expectations and understand that two different upbringings are going to require making big decisions together. It’s not about a fairy tale and it’s not about instant gratification. The beauty of marriage is experiencing the memories along the way.
In 2014, our family is most excited about… being settled! We spent 2013 living with Todd’s grandmother, and we are so thankful for that time, but it is nice to be back to living in our own home with just the four of us, making memories. We’re looking forward to a summer full of days at the pool and doing our best to unplug.
A little reminder: we’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – not just folks who write blogs (though we love them, too!), but also your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!