Succulents, Pallet Troughs, and Tension

My husband is self employed.

He and some of his college buddies decided to be all entrepreneur-like and buck the idea of a steady paycheck, benefits, and life in a cubicle to stay on the central coast of California and be their own bosses.  (Although if you or your spouse is self-employed, you know that the whole “be your own boss” thing is pretty much an urban legend.)

It’s been a crazy ride, with some lean (i.e. LEAN) years, late nights, and second guessing ourselves.  Also tears.  Mostly from me.  Because it’s stressful sometimes.  Truth is, I’ve always known that the boys would rock it out…the question was when.  I once described it as being in a long train tunnel.  You saw a light far off.  You knew it was there.  It flickered.  It dimmed.  But it was so dark you couldn’t really tell the distance.  How far it was.  But you knew it was there.  There was no question of that.  The end existed.  But hot dang if the dark didn’t seem endless some days.

A few weeks ago, the boys (as they will forever be called…even if we’re 97) celebrated the company’s 10 year anniversary.

Jen and I (one of the other wives) commandeered the planning of the celebratory event.  Because boys.

The boys specifically wanted something really nice, as the guest list would consist of the key clients who have been instrumental in their success.  The players ahead of them who believed in this small team of young 20-somethings and gave them a chance.  Because really, it’s pretty absurd to think of giving a bunch of fresh faced 25 year olds contracts for the likes of Boeing, NASA, and the rest.

Thing is, my boys…they’re SMART.  Like, smartest people I know.

And one of them in particular is pretty hot.

After touring a few places, Jen and I settled on Lido’s Restaurant.  It’s part of a snazzy new hotel/resort and right on the Pacific Ocean.

Jen handled all details of food and wine, and I happily volunteered (demanded?) to be in charge of decor.

Obviously this wasn’t going to be my typical burlap, bunting, cricut cut outs kind of gig.  It had to be classy.  Upscale.  But masculine.  Because boys.


I wanted something simple, understated.  The venue is gorgeous on its own, so I didn’t want to compete with that.

But we needed something.

Succulents are my love language.

Besides, pallet DIY is super hip right now.


This was such a simple project.  I was able to get a few pallets from our local farm supply (for free!).  We (and by we, I mean Andy) took them apart and built these little troughs in less than an hour.


I purposely didn’t clean them off, because I wanted them to look weathered and rustic.

Turns out it was mostly just dirty.  Whatever.


I also planted a bunch of individual succulents in little candle holders to be strewn around the table.


And tucked some seashells into the troughs to tie in the beachy location.


Because nothing screams beach like cacti.


Ironically, I had to buy these shells from a craft store.

I considered taking my kids to the tide pools and searching for shells…but then I remembered sand.

And while I adore the beach, I prefer to adore it from afar.


So there we were.

Just on the other side of those glass wind breaks.

Nestled snugly between the rolling hills and the crashing waves.


Oh California.

I won’t ever leave you.


Pacific Ocean, I want to marry you.

Except for sand.

We’ll have to work that out in our pre-nup.


It was a fancy night.

With champagne chilling in big silver buckets.

The sun setting.  The salty air.  Boys in suits and ties.  Girls in cocktail dresses and heels.


I got to be a grown up for the night.

No diapers to be changed.  No babies on hips.  No sticky fingers to wipe up.


So fancy.

And I had a great time.  Truly.

But.  You know there’s a but.

My comfort zone?  Nowhere to be found that night.


At one point, I really needed to clean my sunglasses off.  Little fingerprints making it almost impossible to see out of them.  I wandered into our perfectly appointed private room looking for a napkin.  But they were all precisely folded and waiting for their guest.

A server, dressed in perfectly pressed black and white, without saying a word took my glasses and started to use his tie to clean them off.

“Oh no.  Please.  You don’t have to do that.  I’ll just deal.  It’s fine.  Really.  Please.”

He assured me it was no big deal.  That it was his job.  And then m’am.

“Okay, stop.  Just stop.  No more m’am.  I can’t.  It stresses me out.  Also, please know: this isn’t my real life.  I don’t do this.  We don’t eat at fancy places like this.  We don’t stay in fancy hotels like this.  I’m all ALL YOU CAN EAT BREAD STICKS at Olive Garden.  Or places that give you free chips and salsa and you dump the salt and it goes all over the table next to your beer.  Peanut shells on the floor.  That’s my life.  Not this.”

He laughed.  Handed me back my now clean glasses.  Promised he wouldn’t call me m’am again.

And then called me m’am five minutes later.


It’s this funny place.

To have snippets of luxury.  To enjoy them.  To sip the expensive wine.  To wear the heels with rhinestones on them.  To cut into the filet.


But to want nothing more than to be around the BBQ, with garlic bread dripping with butter.  In jeans.  And littles running through your legs.  Dogs barking.


The tension of visiting sites and being shocked.  “Jen!  What are these people doing?!  It’s Tuesday.  And they’re here.  Eating dinner.  Like it’s nothing.  On a Tuesday.  I should go tell them.  Let them know.  That this is weird.  This is not normal.  I need to go tell them.”

Jen laughed.  I’m certain she thinks I’m insane.


I like my simple life.

I like that this is weird.

I pray I always feel that tension.

But I’ll keep the succulents.

And I did.

Also, I have a super cute little black dress and heels with rhinestones if you need to borrow them.  Because I have no idea when I’ll ever wear them again.

Maybe Tuesday.

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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

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  1. 1

    you forgot to post a picture of you in the cocktail dress and sparkly heels!

  2. 3

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!! My father is has his own company too, so I completely understand the stress. But I am so glad you took the opportunity to celebrate! And be fancy. Its important to be fancy every now and then. You never know where the roller coaster is going to go next, but its good to enjoy the ride!
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  3. 4

    congrats on ten years! and you did a gorgeous job decorating. love the understated elegance. we just celebrated 10 years of ministry this year too with the non-profit we started. so I totally get the hard/scary/walk-by-faith/dark tunnel stuff. So glad He’s faithful in the midst of it.
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  4. 5

    OH my goodness, I love this so much!!! From my head to your blog ;) I am SO uncomfortable in situations like that…I actually avoid them totally if I can. And I feel kinda bad for the hubby because he is Mr. Social Butterfly. I have often said that if Starbucks delivered, I would never leave my house :) ~ Your decorations were perfect. Succulents are pretty amazing, quirky little things!
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    I feel the same way about sand! I cant even deal. Thinking about it in my shoes gives me hives. When you work out that prenup let me know :)
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    Jessica Thomas says:

    Beautifully written. I laughed out loud at the thought of fancy dinners on a Tuesday. So true! Glad you had a glamorous evening to celebrate your husband’s success.

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