27 x 27 Recently Read

Biggest Recently Read…Probably Ever

March 8, 2017

I don’t know about you, but I love to read – to the point that I add “go to the library” to my to do lists.

Part of the draw is my interest in another person’s story. I also think, in this busy world, that a lot can be gained from turning pages and thinking past a scroll. This from a girl who loves to scroll.

As part of my yearly goals, I read a certain amount of books. This year, prior to turning 27, my goal is to read 27 books.

Here are the 22 that I have read so far. There are little asterisks * next to my favorites.

I’ll Take You There: Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb is one of the most interesting writers to read. He touches on such diverse subjects that you feel like your world is expanding just through reading.

Midnight in the Garden Good and Evil: John Berendt

I’d recommend visiting Savannah prior to reading this because it makes you appreciate it even more. Long read but interesting characters.


You are a Badass: Jen Sincero

Jen had me going and then I didn’t follow through. My bad.

In a Dark Dark Wood: Ruth Ware

Just a good read. I can’t say more than that without ruining it. So that’s where I leave it.

The Magnolia Story: Chip and Joanna Gaines

I love Chip and JoJo, but in all honesty, who doesn’t? As a Baylor grad, I enjoyed their take on how they view their spot in the community. They are really visionaries in that community.

We Were Liars: e. Lockhart *

This book had an ending unlike anything I have ever read. It was totally unexpected and made me love it more.

Swing Time: Zadie Smith

This book was so deeply developed. It covers growth as people and differences in background. Though that’s a 30,000 feet view of it at best.

Talking as Fast as I can: Lauren Graham

This book is the essence of Lauren Graham; fun, witty, and honest. It was a quick read and I would recommend if you like Parenthood and Gilmore Girls.

Britt-Marie was Here: Fredrik Backman *

Every book I read by Fredrik Backman impresses me beyond belief. He is incredibly talented at pinpointing feelings and moments that are meaningful. He takes really simple ideas and makes them uniquely beautiful. I highly recommend his work. All of it.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: Fredrik Backman

The Couple Next Door: Shari Lapena

The Sun is Also a Star: Nicola Yoon

Pretty Baby: Mary Kubica

The Perfume Collector: Kathleen Tessaro *

This book was beautiful. The way the story is developed around scent is incredible.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: David Sedaris *

This is *shock* my first David Sedaris book. These short essays had me laughing out loud with a few cry laughs thrown in. He manages to morph slightly dark concepts into hilarious bits.

Someday, Someday, Maybe: Lauren Graham

Fast and good read. Lauren Graham is not only a great actress but talented writer.

Uninvited: Lysa Terkeurst *

I really really appreciated this book. I think this is a valuable read for any woman but many chapters really impacted my thoughts and hopefully my actions.

Rare Objects: Kathleen Tessaro

Fearless: Max Lucado

The Guests on South Battery: Karen Walker

I have enjoyed the Tradd Street series however, this was good but not my favorite. Worth a read though.

The Night Bird: Brian Freeman *

Probably one of the most twisted books (conceptually) I’ve read in a while, but I really really liked it. I wanted to know what happened so much that I ignored my poor husband as he was talking to me. Bad wife.

In the Great Green Room: Amy Gary

This last one was about the author of Goodnight Moon. Though biographies are not my typically genre of preference, it was interesting to hear about how this Margaret Wise Brown lived and how her stories took shape.

So there you have it. 22 books toward my 27. If you have any recommendations for books I should read please leave them below!

Home

Links to Love One

January 16, 2017

It’s that time of year one things can feel a bit blah. The holidays are over and much of the country feels gloomy. With that in mind, here are some recent finds that could brighten up the season.

For the Home:

Anthropologie Swiss Dot Blanket (Source)

Anthropologie Wall Art (source)

H&M Ruffle Duvet Cover (source)

Clothing:

Joggers (source)

Leith Flounce Midi (source)

Old Navy Tercel Top (source)

Abercrombie Cold Shoulder Top (source)

Happy MLK day!

Authentic

The Time Has Come

January 3, 2017

Does anyone else remember Golly from Harriet the Spy saying:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things”.

That little bit that Golly says to Harriet has always stuck in my mind. It’s from a Lewis Carroll poem and while the poem ends up in a walrus and carpenter eating some oysters, the words have mean something more to me.

When I hear these words, I instantly think of turning points and change. Of course, with a new year, who wouldn’t find this phrase a little applicable?

So indeed, the time has come to talk of many things.

Last year when I began this blog, it was purely experimental. I figured I would run it for a year and see if I could make a go of it. If it didn’t work out, I’d close up shop and no harm no foul. A year has come (what!?!?) and I had to make the decision of whether or not I would continue on with this experiment.

I really hesitated to keep this going. There have been months at a time where I cannot tend to blog content because of school. There have been so many times when I haven’t been able to find my voice. There have been SO many times when I’ve worried that if I keep this going there’s a sort of narcissism or self-promotion in doing so. The last is my biggest concern however my goal is to use this site as a place for growth, inspiration, and encouragement.

However, as large as all of those concerns are, there is a greater reality. That reality is I can reach more people and offer ideas and encouragement by partaking in this experiment than not. So with that, I am pressing on with some exciting things to come in 2017!

There are some things I hope to bring to Louis and Elm in 2017 that reflect what I really love and value.

  • Adventure: Travel, new life stuff, all of it.
  • Authenticity: I try so hard to say what I mean and mean what I say. I want to promote that and promote that feeling within others. Anything here will be something I believe in, promote, or just ideas I love.
  • Aesthetic: I love pretty and beautiful things and events. Some of this beauty comes from things and some is human beauty. Good news… I plan to share both! Coming this year, I hope to provide a link to shop art that I make for the home for you to share in. I also plan on celebrating awesome human moments.

These are all areas that I want to continually focus on. Call me “triple A”.

For those who have stopped by and visited, “Thank you so much”.

I look forward to moving this forward with hope and joy.

Happy 2017!

Home

Classic Christmas Home Decor

November 18, 2016

A little Friday Festivity for you. As the Christmas season approaches, it can be fun to add a little seasonal pieces to home spaces. Particularly helpful – keeping some of these pieces more neutral so that they can extend into January and February.

Below are some great picks for a classic Christmas home style.

 

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  1. Artificial Wreath 
  2. Copper Candle Holder
  3. Draper James Holiday Scent
  4. Cozy Pillows and here
  5. Truck and Tree Pillow
  6. Merry and Bright Plate
  7. Buffalo Check Stocking
  8. Angel 
  9. Tea light Candle Holder

 

Gift Guide 2016 Smart Buys Uncategorized

Gift Guide for Your Gal Pal

November 16, 2016

It’s almost that time of year. The gift giving extravaganza season.

While I love giving gifts, I struggle to pick out items or experiences for those around me. Anyone else feel this way?

I know what would like, but it is so hard to pick for others. Even if you know them really well!

With that in mind, I have created a gift guide for your gal pals (or sister) that covers a variety of options all under $100. These are tried and true products that I would recommend and thus great options for those ladies around you.

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  1. Voluspa Candle
  2. Sugar Paper 2017 Planner
  3. H&M throw
  4. Kendra Scott Addie Drop Earrings
  5. J. Crew Marled Socks (similar J. Crew Factory socks)
  6. Womens Cubs Jersey
  7. 52 Lists for Happiness or here
  8. Leather TOMS  or here

 

I truly recommend any of these items.

For those of you who have friends who are less girly or enjoy more neutral options, I’d highly recommend the TOMS, marled socks, or list book. I own these TOMS and really love them. I recommend selecting half a size down as they stretch for most people. The list book is another favorite. This book is pretty and offers a new inspiration every week. For those that want to think but not log every thought they’ve ever had, this is the book.

For those friends that are more girly, I’d recommend the Kendra Scott earrings. While I personally love the option above, Kendra Scott sells so many other designs that are fun and unique. You can check out these options at Nordstrom or Kendra Scott.

Finally, for those of you who love the Chicago Cubs, or have a pal who has similar good taste ;] , this jersey is a very cute option. Come spring season, it will be the gift that just keeps giving.

I hope these items help inspire you as the gift giving season amps up. While these items are wonderful they are not the end-all-be-all. Being a friend is.

What picks would you recommend for the season?

26 x 26 Recently Read

October 7, 2016

Stacks on stacks.

Of books.

I have stacks on stacks of books that I am hoping to get through prior to my 26th year beginning. The goal is to have 26 books read by my 26th bday and I am at 21. However, I also have only a month left to read 5 books.

The list of recently read is growing (which is good). Here are some books that I recently picked up from the local library.

  1. Emma Cline The Girls 
  2. Liane Moriarty: Truly, Madly, Guiltily
  3. Fredrik Backman: A Man Called Ove
  4. Emma Donoghue: The Wonder

Here is a little takeaway from each.

  1. The Girls covered the life of Evie, a young girl growing up in the late 1960’s. Evie meets a group of girls that appeal to her and she is drawn into a cult group. It was certainly an interesting read but unsettling. The unsettling nature made it almost a form of art or something however.
  2. Truly, Madly, Guiltily, I just think Liane Moriarty does a wonderful job emphasizing the truth behind words and actions. She is able to convey the deepest of feelings while not taking you too far the rabbit hole of despair. I really enjoy her books.
  3. A Man Called Ove. You all, I can not even explain how beautiful this book is. It takes grief, which is very very dark, and turns it into a practical spin on living a life full of value. I can’t fully explain this book, but I can tell you at the end I was bawling like a baby (on a Friday night no less).
  4. The Wonder had a slower start but was intriguing nonetheless. I read Room earlier this summer and would say that this author’s writing is consistently good. I wanted to come back to this story and read the ending.

What are your recently reads? Any authors that I should keep on my radar?

Authentic

A BIG “thank you”

September 10, 2016

“My home and my space should be a functional and beautiful representation of life. It should allow comfort and should allow us to open the doors and make people feel welcome in our home. Some of that is the environment and some of that is the heart.”


I start this week mentioning this post by one of my favorite bloggers Emily.

I’m going to start with that because she just hit the nail on the head for how I feel about decorating and items.

Definitely read her post. Her family of six spent about 3 1/2 months traveling around the United States and sleeping mainly in an airstream trailer. They adventured and experienced tiny living. It sounds amazing! She came home to all of their things and rather than feeling shame or disgust, she embraced how certain items create home and aesthetic and thus one’s ability to open their door to others. That’s an oversimplified version at best.

Why do I mention this post?

I have been struggling for about two years with this concept. It started after we were in a bible study group. People would come into our small little apartment and make comments about my decorating. I tended to move things around a lot and acquire different things to make it more cozy or inviting – because let’s be real – studying God’s word while you are feeling uncomfortable or in a sterile space can be hard.

As God’s creatures, I think some or maybe even many of us appreciate aesthetic and beauty – why do people think instagram and pinterest are so popular?? – we LOVE the idea of comfort and inspiring beauty.

That’s the approach I took and still try to take with our space. I want things to be functional and aesthetically pleasing for our family. It allows us to feel comfort and functionality in our space and to feel inspired enough to get tasks done and to just sit.

However, after many bible study nights, after people left, I’d feel this horrible mixture of pride – how nice that they appreciate the vibe of my space – and a mixture of anger and deep cutting sadness – that person made kind of a dig at this or that or had a tone about my switching things around -. While some comments were nice, some began to cut deeper and deeper as intentions behind them felt pointed and like maybe somehow my likes and gifts were not okay and not glorifying to God.

Trust me – I examined this again and again. Did I spend too much money? Was I ungracious? Had I said something else to miff this or that person toward those comments? Should I tone it down? Should I just not buy or show up with anything different (even if I’d had a purse for ten years)? It became ridiculous.

I cannot describe how horrible this period of life felt. I constantly felt uneasy and judged. I didn’t like going to bible study outings or events because even if it wasn’t in my home, girls would make passive statements about my decor abilities (sometimes with kindness but often with a hint of just something else). Call it paranoia or call it well…

This really severed the relationship, amongst other things, with this group of people. Eventually to the point (culminated with some other concerns) that we left the church and have not really found a new church home.

For a long time, all of this because of my decor and my baking. In my heart, I internalized it as me doing something wrong to cause people to view me as shallow or uppity or whatever. It didn’t matter if I helped that person out in a million other ways – in my mind aesthetics must = self-serving.

This to the point that I hardly touched anything in our space for a year.

And you all, I was so upset. I still can’t fully think about some of our “past life” as I call it because the hurt is still there. It’s less and less with distance and time, but it’s time to let it go away.


So tying this back into Emily’s post.

When I read Emily’s words I just wanted to throw my arms around her and hug her sweet self. I wanted to say “thank you” and I will.

My home and my space should be a functional and beautiful representation of life. It should allow comfort and should allow us to open the doors and make people feel welcome in our home. Some of that is the environment and some of that is the heart.

That is my mission statement for our space. That right there.

Home should be home. It may involve mismatched items or perfectly collected antiques. In all reality, it doesn’t matter as long as it is something that creates beautiful joy and comfort.

My goal is to help others create this regardless of their space – rental, shared space, new home, old home.

My goal is also to let people in again. I know that may sound so silly, but I have literally and figuratively not allowed people into our space for quite some time. If I have let someone in, it’s because I really trust them and trust they will not make me feel like my love of colors and textures and comfort = the devil.

I know it’s rather a long and heavy post, but I just want to encourage others to do the same.

Please don’t shut off a God-given talent (like I did) if you can love others with it.

Please find people that support you and help nurture abilities.

Please don’t treat other’s talents as superfluous or silly. We are each given special qualities that can make the world or our communities better. Learning how to use those things in a humble and glorifying (not to us) way is important. Would I say that maybe I was so affected because some of my self-worth was tied up in my ability to make things nice – sure. I’d also say that some of it could be people inherently matter to people.

Words and tones and looks all affect others deeply. If you think they don’t go ask someone about a time that they were deeply hurt. I’d almost guarantee that how someone else made them feel, impacted them very greatly in whatever situation it was.

Above all, know that there is a bigger God out there that gave you unique and special gifts. The things that you are passionate about? The things that you daydream about? Those are potentially areas of your life that may be gifts that you can develop and share with others – not as idols or Gods themselves, but as ways to serve the community in which you live.

I end with this:

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Source

 

 

 

Recently Read

Recently Read

August 14, 2016

Emily Giffin. Holy smokes. This woman writes exactly what I think. To a tee.

I wish I could be more eloquent than that but I’d ruin someone’s experience reading her work.

This recently read is about First Comes Love.

Prior to beginning the book, I thought it would be about love and a burgeoning romance. While there are elements of romance, that’s not really what the book is about fully.

emily giffin

Source

This story follows to sisters after the death of their brother. While each sister is going through her own trials, the stories merge to show how love motivates choices made.

I would recommend this book. The story was absolutely relatable and easy to read. I also would contend that there are some important themes that women can relate to – the feelings of people pleasing, self-doubt, and sacrifice. These are all focused on in a very real way that allows the reader a chance to reflect as well.

Adventure

The Biltmore Estates

August 8, 2016

Many people associate Asheville with one of its most visited areas – The Biltmore Estates.

Completed in time for Christmas 1895, the construction of the largest home in America took approximately 7 years and housed generations of Vanderbilts and Cecils.

This estate, and truly it is that, has a large home with 250 rooms, a vineyard and winery, grounds for horseback riding, and even an inn and hotel. It is huge.

To give you a bit of perspective, this is the view of the estate (mind you a hazy bus view).

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This is even a cut off view!

Our visit started midday on a Saturday. Warning, Saturdays are very busy at the Biltmore. We bought house tickets ahead of time online and picked them up at will-call. You can print your tickets though.

We bought tickets for a specific entrance time as the star tries to stagger the amount of people in the home at one time. Despite an entrance time, it was still extraordinarily busy within the home.

We started our visit at the estate’s winery. Along with our entrance tickets came a wine tasting. While we are not big wine people, it was a nice addition to our visit and a way to see more of the grounds. The winery has great selections and most are available on site for visitors to purchase. The wine can also be shipped to your home.

Following the visit to the winery, we parked in the main lot and hopped a bus for a short ride to the estate home. Once there we had our tickets scanned at the main entrance and followed a self-guided tour.

The self-guided tour was perfect for our attention span although we missed things because we felt the pressure to move so fast through the house. Self-imposed pressure and lots of people which made us want to move through.

*Note: There are fans blowing through the house in the summer but no AC blasting or anything. I did not expect this and thus kind of wanted to be finished sooner than I would have otherwise wanted. I imagine this is a non-issue in other seasons.

Some of the coolest things we saw were an indoor pool and bowling alley. Additionally, can you imagine dining at this table?!? Oh man. It’s like Downton Abbey meets where does one buy a dress for that?

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Don’t even get me started on the floor.

There were also so many sitting and game rooms. You could hide from people for hours #goals.

The main staircase is also incredible. Here is an outdoor shot of the staircase windows.

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I am apparently in the wrong business.

In addition to the beautiful home, there are beautiful gardens on the grounds and a lovely conservatory.

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So pretty and extensive.

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You know I love my blooms.

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Side view of the home.

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The home and grounds were lovely. In addition to these features, there is also a carriage house area where there are gift stores and eateries. It was super busy during our visit but it was so picturesque and pretty.

The only downside… their magnet game was lame. Yep. I said it. I love my vacation magnets and it just wasn’t happening at the Biltmore.

What questions do you have about the Biltmore?