Parisian Inspired Reading

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Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic // Entire Madame Chic set // What Jackie Taught Us // Bringing Up Bebe // Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life

Ever since living abroad, I have developed an interest in books that really inspire me to live a higher quality life. Not in the usual “self development/self help” way, though I do love a good self improvement book! But this genre lets the reader aspire to a higher quality of life without the cheap tricks so many books feed into.

So why is this a Parisian inspired reading list? There is something mysterious and enchanting about the French lifestyle. Whether this association is legitimate, or exists only in our mind, we do love to romanticize the French. The Madame Chic series is based on a real French woman, named “Madame Chic” for privacy reasons. The author, Jennifer Scott, relays a number of lessons she learned and how a few short months in Paris kickstarted a life long quest for a better way of being. From their diet secrets (a la French Women Don’t Get Fat) to their parenting skills, we love to look to the French culture for inspiration.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis is certainly our very own royalty. She was truly the woman behind the man. Jackie was well educated, stylish, perfectly proper, yet never seemed aloof or cold. She embodies a fantastic balance of strength and grace. This book on her is a fantastic read, providing a glimpse into her very private life.

Whether you are reading for pleasure or trying to achieve a personal reading goal (I, for one, want to read one new book a month). I highly recommend adding these to your collection. Though I have and love my Kindle, true classics are great to have in the physical form as I find myself marking the pages with post its for easy inspirational reference.

Happy reading! xx

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September Favorites

Though it is still blisteringly hot outside, fall IS coming! I think… This month has been all about trying to create a schedule for Clint. I likely would not have survived without a few of my select favorites featured below. A large dose of comedy, followed by some good old workout endorphins, and a new coffee treat are my key players at the moment!

Drink

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Starbucks Chile Mocha – I love a little spice. Starbucks new fall flavor doesn’t pack quite as much heat as I was hoping, but it is seriously flavorful. If you’re wanting to switch it up from your usual autumn PSL, give this one a go.

Home Item

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Pumpkin Pecan Waffles candle – I am unbelievably ready for fall this year. This summer was way too hot and fall means apple cider and delicious new candles. Plus I have my eye on a cozy sweater or two! As fall approaches, snuggle up with this candle. Surprisingly, it’s not too sweet and floats through the entire house wonderfully.

Netflix

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John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid – I really didn’t think I would have anything new for this category. I’ve been watching my go to shows: Poirot, Parks & Rec, The Office… But after putting Clint to bed one night I was scrolling through the comedy section and saw this stand up special. I don’t often find stand up funny. The comedians tend to lean toward the vulgar and extreme just to get a few laughs, but this was hilarious! Plus, this special was Emmy nominated. Highly recommended.

Insta

We Rate Dogs (weratedogs) – I admittedly will follow as many funny animal accounts I can find, but this one is my favorite. Whoever writes their captions is my humor twin. They feature dogs, not dogs, and dogs they claim not to be dogs. You have to scroll through to see what I mean. We Rate Dogs never fails to act as a pick me up at the end of my day.

Way to Stay Fit

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Pop Sugar Fitness – I’ve followed their YouTube channel for years, but haven’t done too many workouts until the past month. I like how they break them up by time increment (20, 30, and 40 minute workouts). I typically click the first one in line based on how much free time I think Clint will give me that morning. Then I work my way through the line up! The variety has allowed me to lose a few pounds, they feature a number of top fitness instructors as well as their own routines. Modifications are always included and the time does, thankfully, pass really quickly when you’re doing these routines!

Enjoy!

 

Stationery Must Haves – Back to School Style

There’s something about the start of a new school year that I just love. Though I haven’t gone “back to school” myself since 2010, the fresh planners and notebooks make this my almost favorite time of year, second only to my love of the Christmas season.

While we live in an increasingly digital age – people keep calendars in their iPhones and opt to bring their laptops to class instead of binders for notes I have always preferred paper products. Pretty pens/pencils, planners, notebooks, and all the desk accessories I can get my hands on. Stationery stores are my happy place. I’ve always been excited about school and learning, but my favorite part was sitting in class with a perfectly fresh notebook on my desk and a wonderfully smooth pen in my hand. Once a year or so I still treat myself to these new products and then obsess about finding the perfect purpose for each notebook and color coded Sharpie.

Back to School Collage-2

1 Kate Spade Mint Deco Sticky Note Set // 2 Blush Marble Custom Planner //
3 Everyday Calendar Stickers // 4 Le Pen – Amethyst //
5 Kate Spade Bow Paper Clips // 6 Foil Monogram Stationery // 7 Pantone Notebooks

Paper Source has the best planners. I’ve been getting my planners from there for a few years now, and am asking for a super cute customized one for Christmas. Keeping it organized can be tricky, I like to use post its for reminders, daily to do lists, or to simply help emphasize important tasks. Stickers are awesome as attractive appointment reminders and upcoming events, I like to use them on the monthly view pages and write in the detail on the weekly sheets.

Le Pens are great as they have a fine tip and don’t leak through to the next page. There are multi packs and a variety of colors. The amethyst one is my favorite. Cute paper clips make it easy to mark the month/week you are currently on. That way, you don’t have to be concerned about easy access or trying to keep it open on your desk. Some people swear by leaving their planners solely on their desk, as not to lose it, but I prefer to take it with me if I will be away for awhile or know I have scheduling to do.

Quality stationery should always be kept on hand in your home office. Currently, I’m really into anything monogrammed or personalized. Paper Sources selection is great and reasonably priced. Crane and Co. makes gorgeous cards with envelope details to boot, but it can be more costly.

Lastly, I find it difficult to resist a good notebook. I know a number of paper enthusiasts agree with me on this one! I currently have an embarrassingly large stash of notebooks in a variety of sizes, even those not too useful “pocket sized” ones. I use them to keep track of more intense lists and goals, or just to jot down things I find interesting when I read a book or listen to podcasts. I recycle the pages as I make my way through my long term agenda. Happy organizing!

August Favorites

August has been a fantastic month. I am getting seven consecutive hours of sleep almost every single night. Clint is really beginning to engage with people and his surroundings, though his oversized head makes tummy time rough! Poor guy. This month has been great in other areas as well, I’ve found an addicting new podcast and have been able to savor some relaxing moments with a glass of wine or a new Netflix series. Here’s my monthly roundup!

Podcast

My Favorite Murder

My Favorite Murder – This podcast is amazing. Let me provide you with some full disclosure, I have always been drawn to shows about murder. I was all about forensics before it was cool, Snapped marathons are my preferred Sunday entertainment, and Investigation Discovery has some of my favorite shows. That being said, I obviously know a good deal about a certain number of murders. The hosts of My Favorite Murder discuss murders from all areas and time periods, though mostly more recent ones. One thing I particularly enjoy is how the two host format allows for clarification and feedback on the topic at hand. For example, sometimes I’ll be listening and get confused about the details or situations and the other host often asks to the point questions to help clarify. I will say, I only listen to this podcast in broad daylight. It can give you the creeps!

Home Item

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Pomegranate Lemonade Candle – We loooove lemon scented home items. The citrus is almost like an easy cheat to make your home smell instantly better. This candle scent, from Bath and Body Works, is the perfect summer scent. The pomegranate isn’t too fruity and overwhelming, and the lemon isn’t too Lysol astringent smelling. B&BW seems to have very frequent candle sales so take advantage when the price goes down!

Health Item

May Designs Health and Fitness Notebook – The downside of having a baby in the summer means you spend that summer rocking your baby weight. When it comes to health, I am not a huge fan of counting calories and obsessing. This notebook is not only really cute but to write things down helps me to track what I eat and reflect on my daily habits. Like maybe I shouldn’t have had ice cream twice in one day, regardless of the heat! It’s less guilt inducing than, say, a calorie counting app or public accountability group. My baby weight may be coming off much more slowly than I prefer, however I know I will get there before too long.

Lifesaving Apps

Evernote and Reminders on iPhone – You know what’s worse than pregnancy brain? Mommy brain. It’s a thing. I remember nothing, time seems to fuse together, and if it’s not written down, it doesn’t get done. Luckily I have been obsessed with lists long before the Instagram super cute stationary trend. I have a great planner that I love and use daily, but I can’t carry it all around the house with me and if I don’t check it often, the small things don’t get done. Enter annoying, beeping reminders. Whether it’s a medication reminder or a note that pops up when I arrive at a certain location, I have really been relying on my apps this month.

Netflix Series

Marcella

Marcella – Ironically, I heard about this show on an episode of My Favorite Murder. Considering Clint has had a few days on continuous nursing that leaves me stranded on the couch, I was able to make my way through the first season of Marcella in a few days. If you’re into any type of crime drama, check it out. Marcella tackles loss, mental disorders, and murder in interesting ways. Honestly, it can at times be frustrating and I was left wanting to yell at the screen for her to get it together or just do what I was telling her to do! All in all, totally recommend it.

That’s my August round up. I think I came across a few real gems this month! As things even out here at home, I look forward to posting more. We’ll talk soon!

May Faves

I can’t believe May is almost over. This month may have been so overwhelming due to the baby prep, but we are officially ready to go. The car seat is in, the nursery is set up, and I have our dog’s specific daily schedule on the fridge. My mind is constantly going with different ways I can help prepare everything and ease the transition into parenthood. Here are a few things that have eased the tension or aided in the preparation process this past month.

Home Item

Microfiber cleaning cloths

Microfiber cleaning cloths – These things are amazing. Our dog doesn’t shed a lot, but a weekly vacuum also doesn’t cut it in our household. I bought a pack of these microfiber cloths to use in place of disposable Swiffer cloths. Wash them in cold water before use and I create a little pile of the used ones and wash them separately or with rags to ensure clothes don’t get covered in the process.

 

Nursery Items

Mist and Gray Owls crib blanket

Mist and Gray Owls musical mobile

Mist and Gray Owl blanket and musical mobile – I ordered both of these and the anticipated delivery date was mid June. In the happy news department, they arrived today and I love them both. The blanket will go with us to the hospital to keep the baby warm on the way home, and the mobile is adorable.

Simply Love crib sheet

Simply Love crib sheet – We’re trying to go gender neutral on a lot of items, saves money for future children and not everything needs to be cars and manly items. I got our crib sheets from Target, they’re lightweight and perfect for warm summer weather. This sheet in particular is my favorite, it’s just too sweet.

SnackChile Spiced Mango

Trader Joe’s chile spiced mango – I haven’t had many cravings. There was one night I was beyond obsessed with getting my hands on KFC, but outside of that my indulgences haven’t been abnormal. The exception may be TJ’s chile spiced mango. To say I could go through an entire package in one sitting is an understatement. The longest one of these packages has lasted is three days, and that’s only because I forgot I had it! The dried mango is chewy, somewhat sweet, and not overly spicy. Delicious.

Go to Dress
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Motherhood Maternity Maxi Dress – The weather here is either rainy, cold, or unbearably hot. It’s remarkable how I can never seem to be comfortable. This dress looks fancy enough for a dinner out and it’s comfortable enough to wear to the dog park on an oppressively hot day. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Way to Pass the Day

Agatha Christie’s Poirot on Audible – I spend a lot of time organizing, cleaning, and walking the dog. Sometimes it’s nice to put a good book and zone out. I love Christie’s Hercule Poirot, I’ve seen nearly every episode on Netflix, but I can’t Netflix and walk so Audible is a great substitute. Most of them are narrated by none other than Hugh Fraser, aka Captain Hastings in the television series. You’re welcome in advance!

April Favorites

This month is the calm before the storm. The end of May or beginning of June with bring with it the entry of our baby boy and newborn chaos will ensue. May will be a time for last minute Target runs to stock up on diapers and clothes, and a time to launder and organize everything in preparation. With all of this in mind, I have given myself some extra leeway to relax the past couple of weeks. I have watched some of the most desired films on my “to watch” list, I have read my books and magazine, enjoyed taking the dog long walks while listening to podcasts, and even taken a bubble bath or two.

Film
Iris Poster
Iris – I have been dying to see this film for ages. Iris is a documentary about an interior designer who traveled the world with her husband, creating connections, building a business with their fabric company, and cultivating an insanely unique fashion collection. She reached world wide stardom in her late 80’s when a number of her outfits, which she styled herself, were put on display. Her style mixed with her vivacious personality spunky outlook on life make this one of my favorite films. Iris reminds me of my own grandmother, only with a far more ballsy fashion sense. Fashion isn’t your thing? Watch it anyway. Even if eclectic style isn’t your thing, watch it anyway.

Podcast

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Stuff You Missed in History Class – This podcast has been around for years (centuries in internet time) and I am a bit late to the party on this one. As a history minor this appeals to my scholarly side while a number of the salacious tales appeal to my inner Real Housewives fan. My favorites so far? Babuska Lady, The Disappearance of Judge Joseph Force Crater, The Iroquois Theater Fire, and The Disappearance of the Sodder Childern. Plus any ship wreck related stories.

Home Item
Williams Sonoma Bowls

Classic white bowls – we have a wonderful all white plate set from Williams Sonoma, however we were without bowls. These white cereal bowls from Williams Sonoma’s everyday line are awesome and easy on the wallet.

Nursery Decor
Fun printables – I have had my eye on one piece of wall decor for nearly a year, it’s my favorite quote from my favorite children’s book of all time “I Love You Forever”:

Love You Forever

This is my favorite find from Etsy:

Where The Wild Things Are

Recipe
Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage – While we had a brief warm spell, this weekend will be bringing a colder front. Tomorrow I will be picking up all the supplies to make a big pot of this soup. I may even make some homemade garlic bread to go with it. Yum!

Choosing a Home Color Palette

Our home has an immense amount of charm. Charm can also be synonymous with requiring a great deal of work, at least if you want an updated home. Our 1920’s English Tutor has only had three owners (including us) and has been very well cared for, though not always updated. Before moving in we had three big projects we needed to complete, redo the bathrooms, update the basement/living room, and get rid of rooms full of wall paper, refinish the walls, and repaint. The handful of rooms that had paint were recently done and were fortunately in a color palette complimentary to  what I envisioned.

For our home, I wanted light neutral colors, but for the environment to feel warm instead of the harsh sterile feel too much white can bring. A lot of people subscribe to a certain formula for the ideal home, I don’t really believe that to be necessary. Keep it simple. Don’t choose too many bold colors and don’t forget your neutrals. Not every room needs to be a different color, but you should have different colors. You can easily switch up your colors with different finishes, like semi gloss – better for humid environments like bathrooms – versus matte. Below are the colors of our home, all of which are Benjamin Moore.

Creating a Home Color Palette

Antique White is our primary color for the hallways, stair well, and living room. I prefer more color in the bedroom, that is where we used Pigeon Gray. Sea Salt was used in the kitchen and bathrooms, and Simply White on all painted trims and an accent built in bookshelf. Public Service Plea: PLEASE do not intentionally paint the trim, especially in an older home with beautiful wood work! A lot of the trim was painted red and we obviously weren’t going to leave it that way, so this white made it pop against the Antique White. However, any room where the trim was unpainted, we left the natural wood. I wiped all the wood down with Murphy’s Oil Soap for a little TLC.

Tip: Save all extra paint and buy a small paint brush. To touch up any dings, start with a small amount and add layers as needed. Happy painting!

Home Favorites: Man Approved Decor

Man Approved Decor

When we moved we had minimal furniture. By minimal I mean five pieces of furniture, no exaggeration. Having so little to move was a blessing and a curse. The fun part was picking out all the new items and being able to decorate our home however I wanted. The annoying part was being without any furniture for five days and certain pieces not fitting (literally) where I had envisioned them. With all but a couple of items in place, I am glad to say this place really feels like our own home and our own space. I won’t lie, I don’t have overly feminine tastes in terms of decor, but I have zero desire to live in a large scale man cave. So I tried to make my purchasing decisions with both my husband and I in mind. While I love everything we picked, and even the pieces from the previous owners, I do have a few stand out faves I think every home would benefit from owning.

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  1. Sleeper Sectional / 2. Coffee Table / 3. Cable Knit Throw / 4. Thirstystone Coasters / 5. Bamboo Flatware Holder

(1)The sectional will double as a guest sleeping space once our guest bedroom is overrun by our future offspring. (2)The coffee table is probably my favorite piece of furniture in the entire house, it’s beautiful yet manly and really cool. (3)As a person who is always cold, good blankets are crucial and this one is my favorite. (4)Thirstystone is the best coaster brand I have found, reliable coasters are a must to protect new furniture! (5)While a great flatware holder may sound trivial, we don’t have a lot of kitchen storage so I am loving any and all organizational items!

As you can see I bought a lot from Wayfair. I liked how everything had reviews and a number of pictures. I did not like their lack of shipping methods on a number of items. For your own reference, if it does not specify in room delivery or inside delivery, they will leave all six pieces of your couch on your front step and leave you to drag it in, assemble it, and dispose of the oversize boxes on your own. Certainly not a mistake I would repeat. Do your research, remember to take ALL measurements into account (such as the stairwell your sectional is supposed to fit down…), and have fun with it!

A ‘Fixer Upper’ Inspired Bathroom

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Chip and Joanna Gaines, is there a more perfect couple in the world of home makeovers? The answer is very obviously, no. After we closed on our home in December, we knew we had to channel our inner Chip and Jo to make some home improvement decisions. Our 1920’s tudor is brimming with charm. While charm is marvelous, an outdated living environment is not. We are rocking one and a half baths in our new home, aka ONE full bath. This meant we really needed to maximize our bathroom space and functionality. Weeks, and a number of home improvement stores, later, I am thrilled with the results.

Marble look alike floor tile & shower wall floor tile

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LOVE this medicine cabinet mirror

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I wanted the room to feel spa like without being too sterile. I chose white subway tiles for the shower (Fixer Upper anyone?) and a really unique marble rectangular tile for the floor. In order to bring an additional touch of color, all the grout is a light gray instead of your standard white. Plus, gray will stand the test of time better than pristine white! We kept the sink and the toilet, but upgraded the medicine cabinet, which is just the coolest piece ever. We also bought this bamboo cabinet for storage and a neutral color addition. For the past couple of months I’ve been upgrading our towels. My favorite is Nate Berkus’ Target line. I purchased bath towels (not the bath sheet) and hand towels in true white. On the walls are Benjamin Moore colors Sea Salt and Imperial White. Sea Salt is a perfect accent, not too bland and not overpowering. We also redid our half bath with the same tile and paint colors. It feels bizarre to say I am in love with how our bathrooms look, but I am. We managed to brighten up and streamline a relatively small space without making it too modern or too anything. Happy decorating!