Thursday, January 18, 2018

2018 Reading Bucket List

Every other weekend during my childhood I had to spend time in a place that I didn't quite love. It never felt like "home" and there was often so much taunting, imbalance and unfamiliarity. Whenever I could get away with it, I would tiptoe when no one was looking to the bookshelf and pluck a Nancy Drew novel off the shelf and escape. Away I would run through wooded trails and creaking buildings with each turn of the crisp, weathered page. That was my happy place.

Fast forward 20 years and I had found myself turning to books again for a little escape in 2017. This time though, I loved the life I was "escaping" from, but still needed the brain break to read and get inspiration. It was so refreshing getting back into reading!

Now here I am in 2018 asking for your recommendations for this year. You had some great ones when I asked on Instagram! I also found some from other resources that I'd been eyeing for awhile. I also thought I would share a little about the books I loved and didn't love in 2017. Leave any other suggestions for me in the comments or message me on Instagram!

First off, here are some of the places I love finding new reads: Grace at The Stripe's Monthly Reading Lists, Reese Witherspoon's Book Club, House of HarperA Beautiful Mess, Man Repeller Book ClubPinterest and recommendations on Audible where I end up listening/reading to a lot of my books in the car. I was also recommended to Good Reads (by CambronElsey) and Book of the Month Club (by ImMristenMwhich I plan to check out this year

So without further adieu, here is my 2018 Reading Bucket List - IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER! I also have to mention that it's a funny mix of #bossbabe books, self-help (my word of the year is WELLNESS) and fiction for a fun break. 
1. Invisible Influence by Jonah Berger - Explores why we do the things we do, from purchases to what we eat! I've heard great things about this author.

2. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine (recommended by KellyrenegarTheNashvilleMom and SherritHacker) - Currently "reading" via Audible and y'all WHAT is happening?! I'm a few chapters in and hooked.

3. Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod - I bought this last year, but loaned it out from self-help book overload. I'm excited to dig into it this time around!

4.  The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson - This one was shared with me from friend and fellow Mama biz owner Melissa. After having to learn the hard way how to grow a thick skin this year, I think this is just what I need.

5. The Dinner by Herman Koch - The Wall Street Journal described it as the European Gone Girl. Enough said :).

6. Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong - Named best book of the year by NPR, O, The Oprah Magazine and more. About the comedic and rollercoaster ride of a woman moving home in her 30s after recently becoming disengaged to her fiance.

7. Eleanor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman (recommended by CambronElsey) - Cambron is one of my closest friends so I trust anything she sends my way! Plus, Reese Witherspoon is producing it as a film. Sold.

8. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann (recommended by GraceFrederickDesign) - Believe it or not, I've never read this 50-year-old classic!

9. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan (recommended by Meg_Irvin) - About a woman in her mid-thirties living in that "sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap".

10. South of Broad by Pat Conroy  - I'm actually currently reading this in paperback right now. I picked it up after reading a couple chapters at a beach house this summer. I forgot how much I love Pat Conroy and his signature southern style of writing, especially as we get deeper into life in Charleston.

11. The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown - These are Tina's diary entries during her eight years as Vanity Fair's Editor. It's the perfect nonfiction addition to mix this list up!

12. The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham (recommended by SherritHacker) - The intersection of two pregnant women in different classes in London.

13. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkenen - I had to take a suspense/thriller break for awhile and now I'm ready for another one!

14. Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown - I got to see Brené speak at SXSW a couple years ago and this sounds dramatic, but she changed my life. I can't wait to dig into her latest novel! If you haven't watched or heard her speak or read one of her books, but that at the top of your list NOW.

15. Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht - A PR go-to girl who spent 17 years at DKNY shares her stories and advice.

16. The Four by Scott Galloway - Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are the big four. This book deconstructs how they got where they are and became what they are today.

17. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (recommended by JenningsMoody and Ally_Kerl) - A Pulitzer Prize winner and I know anything Jay and Ally recommend is bound to be great!

18. Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman (recommended by girlmeetsbow) - Gentry is one of my favorite bloggers and recommended this novel. If you can't tell from my other selections and my #1 read of 2017, I LOVE a southern novel and this one is based in Georgia about two sisters fulfilling their mother's last wish.

19. Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall (recommended by Meg_Irvin) - A true story! A white woman encounters and learns from an African American gardener.

20. A Simplified Life by Emily Ley - I swear by my Simplified Planner designed by Emily Ley and loved watching her Simplified Live series on Facebook. I'm already through the intro and first chapter here and can't wait to jump in more as I continue to simplify our home this year.

A few honorable mentions:
  • Beatriz Williams novels (recommended by South of Libbie) - I just haven't figured out which one I want to read yet!
  • The E Myth (recommended by The Yellow Bird) - Honestly, forgot to add to the visual above and I'm guessing I'll be reading this sooner rather than later after the roaring recommendation from fellow woman entrepreneur Nicole Pond at They Yellow Bird. 

At this point y'all know I love a good, informative (and yes long) blog post :) Here are...

My 2017 Favorites Reads
1. Cultivate by Lara Casey (#1 fav this year)
2. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (FAV! I love a good southern novel though...)
3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (#3 fav this year)
4. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis (LOVED, may just have a top 4)

And These in No Particular Order:
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (crazy twist, but pretty gruesome and depressing)
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (trilogy, just love them all - start with Crazy Rich Asians and then China Rich Girlfriend)
Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (total mind eff)
Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner (read, don't audio)

2017 Reads I Actually Didn't Like:
The Paris Effect by K.S.R. Burns - The storyline was a little all over the place and I like the idea, but wanted happier and Paris :)
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng - Didn't love the story itself, but could be more because of my personal beliefs 
Class Mom by Laurie Gelman - Funny-ish, but weird pace and not good humor 

Ok y'all - what did I miss?! Have any favorites for me that aren't included on this list? Or are any in my 2018 list not worth the read? I know new ones are going to pop up and with 20 already, I've got an ambitious list!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

30 Things For My 30th!

Christmas Eve marked my 30th birthday! Wowza, THIRTY! To my younger self that number sounds old, but in reality, I've been looking forward to joining the thirty club. 

Owning your own business and being a Mom to a bustling two-year-old lend yourself to most people thinking you're older anyhow. Then when they find out you're in your 20s, it's crazy how quickly they discredit you or scoff. So bring it on y'all!

We're big fans of always celebrating birthdays anyway, no matter the age. The fact that God has blessed us with another year on earth with the people we love is certainly worth celebrating. 
While sometimes sparse :), this little blog was created to document and journal our life. So on the last day of my 29th year, I wrote this post and now am happy to share 30 things with you in the new year. Yep, "things", pretty vague, but I had a mix of things to share from things I've learned to things I've done to things I love.  
Here ya are... 30 "Things" :)

1. The last meal I had in my 20s was sushi (tuna) rolls from Locals. Our fav sushi spot here in Mt. Pleasant!

2. I asked for donations to the Diaper Bank of Charleston this year in lieu of gifts. I'd love your support! Just add a pack to your Amazon cart from my list and they'll be sent my way to bundle and deliver to Moms and babies in need.

3. The day I was born, Christmas Eve 1987, wasn't all tinsel and jingle bells. It's a long story, but my Mom was 16 when I was born which, if you think about it... would be quite stressful for both a 16-year-old becoming a Mom and her parents. :) I'm so proud of my Mom for having the courage to bring me into this world and do what's best for me from such a young age. And so grateful to my Nana and Papa who support my Mom's dreams and mine. 

4. Fun enough though, I came home in a really large velvet and silk stocking. I still pull out that stocking today and actually used it recently for client photoshoots!

5. We've owned three homes and rented four others throughout three different states (SC, VA, DC).
Our Richmond, VA home!

6. I don't think of myself as well traveled, but now that I go to write it down... I've had the pleasure of visiting Germany, Italy (Positano is our absolute favorite place + Pompeii is unbelievable), France, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Bahamas and in the US of course South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, DC and also NYC, Maryland, Illinois, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, California, Washington, Kentucky, Tennesse, Alabama, Ohio, Massachusets, New Jersy and Delaware. Plus flown through or driven through many other states and countries (like Russia and Iceland). 
7. Our daughter's name is Sullivan Louise and at the time I didn't think we had a reason for the Sullivan (at least no family tie) until someone pointed out that "Sullivan"s has always been on my heart. We always knew we wanted to get back to Charleston and now we live 5 minutes from Sullivan's Island with our sweet Sully Lou. The Louise is family, it's my Nana's middle name. 
8. Speaking of Nana, I lived with her and Papa until I was 6 when my Mom graduated from Clemson and married my (step)Dad. My room at Nana's house is still intact with my Little Mermaid sheets and Puff The Magic Dragon handpainted on the wall. Watching my daughter now play in that room gives me #allthefeels. 

9. It's impossible for me to choose one favorite anything. Here are my tops though... Movies - Little Mermaid, Moulin Rouge, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Steel Magnolias and Sweet Home Alabama. Songs - Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston, American Honey by Lady Antebellum, Good Day by Nappy Roots, Cabin by the Sea by Dirty Heads. Food - Raw tuna, raw salty oysters, donuts. 
This is me belting out "Part of your wooooorrrllllddd" from the Little Mermaid on the beach with a sandy mermaid tail haha!

10. My happy place is on a beach or in a foreign place with my husband. 

11. I rode a female horse named Ralph growing up. We mostly rode English, but good 'ol western trail riding is another happy place for me. 

12. My husband and I met at the Carolina Cup horse race. I literally bumped into him (with my rear end haha) while he was bending down to get a beer out of a cooler. Ten months later we were engaged and the rest is history!
13. Pinckney Palm is the name of my social media agency here in Charleston. The Pinckney comes from Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who, if you ask me, was the original #bossbabe. The Palm comes from the joy the palms lining my beloved city give me each day. 

14. The best meal of my life was at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. 

15. Back in my event planning days, I had the pleasure of orchestrating an event where Maya Angelou was the speaker. Spending time in her presence behind the scenes with a local choir was something I'll never forget. Grace and kindness filled every ounce of the room when she was present. 

16. When I was in elementary school, we were invited to the White House for a special Christmas tour because my Mom's architecture firm had an ornament on the official tree. 

17. After a particularly fun trip to Las Vegas, I awoke one morning to a phone full of messages. There was my photo at the top of the Daily Mail's e-newsletter and in an article online after being seen hanging out with Wilmer Valderrama. It was a fun night and he was a gentleman, despite what the article claimed. My one second of fame, ha!
18. I was Miss Cheerleader of South Carolina in 2005. 

19. Some of my favorite childhood memories were spent in my grandparent's backyard riding in the wheelbarrow and searching for golf balls, picking fresh raspberries from their garden, digging for worms while Nana gardened and swimming in the pool. Sully got to experience the garden and a Papa walk while we were home last time!

20. Right before I got engaged, my Dad sent my Mom and me on a whirlwind trip to NYC before I was off and married to Ryan. Now I can't wait to take Sully on a Mommy/Daughter trip to NYC!

21. Pink is my favorite color. Shocker. 
22. My daughter was born on the Lilly for Target sale day (her actual due date!) and we're pretty sure that's why I went into labor - we stayed up to shop it right at midnight and the site kept crashing. It was stressful y'all!
23. All my life I was told I was terrible at math and couldn't do anything remotely close to it as a career. While that may be partially true ;), I went on to work for the number eight bank in the US. Don't let anyone tell you who you are - you know your capabilities and worth. 

24. Speaking of things I've learned in 30 years... Happiness is a choice. It's not based on circumstances. Period. Choose Happiness Y'all! 
25. Luck is not a thing - being blessed by God, yes. But, hard work is hard work and it will pay off. So will kindness. 

26. Everything happens for a reason. I strongly believe that. If I can't begin to grasp the reason for something (and there's been a lot this year that I can't seem to grasp) then I remind myself that I'm a mere human and God is SO much bigger. 
27. Put it in God's hands. When you're stuck, sad, happy, overwhelmed. Put it in God's hands. He always, always, always provides. Always.

28. My husband is the light of my life and my rock. Ryan Alexander Phillips - you're my Prince Charming and all the other hokey, lovey-dovey things. Thank you for making almost every year in my 20s the best yet (we met when I was 21 and he was 20). 
29. Pinckney Palm is actually the second business I launched. Back in Greenville, I ran a successful cake baking business called Gilded Pastry. 
30. This blog was first called The Married Appetite and was written by me and Ryan back in 2011 to document all our culinary adventures and recipes. At the time, I had Le Creuset as a client, so blogging about the food world was a no-brainer. 

Ok one little bonus, I can't help it. I seriously doubt anyone has read this far. Except for my Mom - hey Mom! :)

Finally, I have to celebrate a big moment from each year in my 20s...
  • 2008 - Age 20, I took a class at Clemson where I was required to start a blog and then an account on a little thing called Twitter. Fast forward 10 years and I operate my own social media agency!
  • 2009 - Age 21, Met my husband and moved to Charleston, SC
  • 2010 - Age 22, Got engaged on the Clemson football field and graduated from Clemson
  • 2011 - Age 23, Got married in Greenville, SC
  • 2012 - Age 24, Bought our first house in Greenville, SC
  • 2013 - Age 25, Moved to Richmond, VA and bought our second home
  • 2014 - Age 26, Pregnant with Sully Lou
  • 2015 - Age 27, Sullivan Louise was born in April and we moved to Washington, DC
  • 2016 - Age 28, Moved to Charleston, SC and bought our third home
  • 2017- Age 29, Launched Pinckney Palm, hired our first employee and are moving into our own office space in downtown Charleston 
That's a wrap you guys! Where are all my 30 friends? Tell me in the comments the best part of being 30! 

Thank you for another year of readership and love! Every view and comment makes me feel like quite the special lady. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

My November 2017 Goals!

Hey November! I'm pretty stoked to see you, October was a bit of a doozie over here, not even gunna lie :). 
I was tracking my goals here on the blog as a way of accountability and in a funny way, another route of documenting our lives. While my goals have shifted dramatically since the beginning of the year now with owning my own business, I find tracking them SO helpful. I'm excited to get back to putting them on the blog!

The Powersheets by Lara Casey from Cultivate What Matters are my goal guide and planner of choice. They just launched the new ones, so run and get them before they sell out now! 

How the system usually works for me is that I look at my calendar towards the end of a month and before a new one starts. I jot down important things already on the calendar, big things I want to get done and then there's a spot for "I'm Excited For..." which I love so that I don't get bogged down in the heavy "to do" list. I also go back to the beginning of my Powersheets and check in on my big 10 goals I set when I started to make sure I'm working towards them. I use my iCal and Simplified Planner to track things on my calendar daily/weekly (a Sunday prep post is coming soon!).

Y'all - I have NO time to be doing this kind of thing, but it's amazing what an hour or two on the couch while Ry is watching TV can do for our whole month. We're such happier people because we plan and don't have surprises (which = stress)!

My one focal goal for the month is: Invest

I feel like this month is going to be a month of just going all in and investing in all I want to cultivate and get done before the holidays and really, the end of the year. I want to be able to enjoy time "off" (you're never really off in social media)!!! Plus, we're making some big investments in my business, go to today's post on my business Instagram to see one of them!

The Powerseets break things down into Monthly, Weekly and Daily Goals. I'm not going to share alllll of mine with you because that would be A LOT in this one post, but here are the personal ones I want to get done (I left out the boring work ones)!
NOVEMBER 2017 GOALS 
  • Figure out my 30th birthday plans (+ write a long sappy post on it 😂) - My birthday is Christmas Eve and all of our plans we've tried to make thus far have fallen through because of a busy year-end calendar. Any suggestions?
  • POTTY TRAIN & NEW BIG GIRL BED!
  • Declutter Sully's room + Start her big girl book! These go hand in hand because there are 1 drawer and 2 boxes of "stuff" from her little life that I need to go through and organize/document. 
  • Send Christmas cards + chip away at gifts.
  • Welcome my bestie back home to South Carolina!!!!!!!! Y'all I am SO pumped about this one! After five years, my bestie is moving home to Greenville from San Diego. She recently had a precious baby boy who I can't wait to be closer to and have Sully love on. What should I do to really welcome her home well?!
  • Switch out winter clothes. 
  • Finally get the kitchen lights up! Bain of my existence y'all. 
  • Sunday prep - calendar, meals and financials. Like I mentioned, post coming soon on this process. 
  • Tend to the garden and get it ready for winter. 
  • Blog 2X/week at least.
  • Do Sully's journal/Write the Word each week. I decided to combine two goals in one and make my Write the Word journal a journal for Sully to document her life and my thoughts for her. My Mom did this for my siblings (and some for me) and it's neat to be able to look back and learn about our life through her eyes. 
  • Daily scripture. I use this book and love it, it's super short passages and is dates so I can usually get it done. I leave it on my bedside table for first thing in the AM. 
  • Enjoy Clemson weekend with all our favorites!

Gah this has me SO excited for November! It is a lot, but like my word of the month, I'm investing. I'm going all in on getting things done now so I can enjoy the holidays. 

That second bullet is a big one - do you guys have any advice for me for potty training?! AND moving her into a big girl bed?

Would love your suggestions!

Friday, November 3, 2017

5 on Friday: 5 Regrets of the Dying + A Tropical Thanksgiving

It's the first Friday in November y'all! 

Did anyone else feel like October was just the most insane month all year? Stress was at an all-time high, not even going to lie. So I'm REALLY looking forward to a slower month (fingers crossed). How about we begin wiht a little 5 on Friday... 

{ONE} A Tropical Thanksgiving

I ran across this tropical Thanksgiving tablescape from Elana Loo's blog when searching for something fun for my company, Pinckney Palm's, social media to kick off November. 
Isn't it just perfection?! How fun would it be to do a Thanksgiving picnic and pop over to Sullivan's Island to eat on the beach and mix things up?!
All photos are by @elanaloo - I'm so excited to find and follow this blogger!

{TWO} A Nurse Shares the 5 Regrets of the Dying


I mean, woah, right?! This article is really powerful you guys and hit home with me this week after coming out of a season of sheer craziness. 

I mean y'all, two of my closest friends had birthdays in October and I couldn't get my head out of the sand enough from work to hit send on my messages and calls to them. That's really bad. This article was a wakeup call to get things in check... especially considering #2 is that they wish they hadn't worked so hard and #4 is that they wish they had kept in touch with friends. 

100% worth the read! Let me know your thoughts on it in the comments or via DM on Insta

{THREE} My "can't live without" leggings - now in a new color!


When I was recovering from my c-section with Sully, these Lululemon full panel leggings were literally my saving grace. I didn't even have to wear all the bandaging because they held it all together so well :). 
I've been waiting for them to re-release the scalloped bottom style and they finally have! And this time in a dreamy dark teal color that I can't seem to take off. I mean y'all - I dream about getting home and putting on these leggings HAHA! Does anyone else do that?!

{FOUR} Social Media "Holidays" Quick Guides


Did you know I also have another blog on my company site where each month I give you a quick guide on all the social media "holidays" coming up in the next month? Click here to see November!

{FIVE} Lilly's New Arrivals


Would it even be an Attention to Darling 5 on Friday post without a Lilly favorite or two?! Lilly just released their new collection and I am LOVING it. Especially these finds:



That's a wrap, you guys! Happy November!

Friday, October 6, 2017

5 on Friday: Lilly for the Boys!

How is it Friday?! Does anyone else feel this way? My week is SO thrown off from being gone Sunday-Wednesday of this week for The Southern C Retreat. Which, btw, was awesome (more on that later)!

Yet here we are at Friday, so I thought I would share five things I'm loving this week! 

{ONE} Lilly for the boys!

Want to know one of the only reason why I didn't want a boy when I was preggers (yes, I really did want a boy at first)? Because... Lilly wasn't making boy clothes. UNTIL NOW! They've just released a collection of a print that is so fun and called "Guac and Roll" and has mens and boys items. See it all here!
My favorites from this limited collection are these Mens Shorts, these Girls Bow Leggings and this little Boys Bowtie

{TWO} My new favorite "cool girl" dress.  

When I was packing for The Southern C Retreat, I was faced with the dilemma of it being fall, but traveling to a beachy paradise in 30A Florida surrounded by the most fashionable clan.

I found this dress on Shopbop and the floral print and short, flouncy frills made it appropriate for a summery setting, but the black backdrop and long sleeves helped it also transition to fall. Not to mention, it is extremely flattering! 

Paired with my nude gladiator sandals and tassel, very pale blush earrings and it was a success!   
 

{THREE} Ever heard of emotional labor? This is a must-read. 

One of my favorite blogs, Lemon Stripes, wrote a post about this article in her post here. It was a huge "aha" moment y'all. 

Please, please know that I 100% believe that I have the world's most amazing husband, and he splits everything 50/50 since we both work full-time jobs. I'm so very blessed! 

This article helped me understand my frustration and give a name to the state in which I've fallen so many times though. 

{FOUR}  The perfect ruffled sweater.  

I'm dreaming of cooler weather and this ruffle sweater is not only at the top of my fall weather wish list, but also on sale under $50 right now!

{FIVE} Catherine is a Southern Weddings/Cultivate What Matters team member!

If you're a frequent reader of this little blog then you're familiar with my friend Catherine of Classic Catherine, especially from this post. She welcomed us to DC when we first moved there (I don't know what I would have done without her y'all!) and has visited us here in Charleston as well. 

I'm so excited that the cat (no pun intended) is out of the bag and her announcement that she's now a member of the Southern Weddings and Cultivate What Matters team went live on their blog. She also wrote a wonderful post on her blog here too. I remember praying for her so often during the interview process. It's clear God has big plans for this sweet friend and Mama and I can't wait to follow along on her journey! 
(Catherine second from the right in pink)

This 5 on Friday post makes me happy just reading over it! Especially with all that's going on in the world today. Sending out so many love and prayers. 💗 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fall 2017 Bucket List

It is officially Fall and while it won't feel like it until a while from now here in Charleston, that didn't stop our little family from jotting down a Fall 2017 bucket list!

You'll see a lot of these floating around in the blogging world this time of year, but I thought I would make ours pretty specific so we actually take action and go do these things vs. just "visit a pumpkin patch". 

Here you have it, the Phillips Family's Fall 2017 Bucket List! 

{ONE} Attend a Clemson Game

I cheated a tad on this one because we have not only one, but TWO Clemson games already on our calendar! I'm so excited you guys!!! This is the first time we live close enough to actually fit two games in this year. Even better - Sully is coming to at least the first one with us which is homecoming.

You guys have no idea how giddy I am to enjoy Clemson traditions with her! The little things like the homecoming floats, the football players running down the hill, the balloons released into the air, an Esso meal, tailgating and getting a tiger paw painted on her cheek and so much more have me ecstatic!

{TWO} DIY Sully's Halloween Costume

I had so much fun doing this for her last year with her DIY Flamingo Costume! It's something my Nana did for me and I love doing it for my little girl. I'm thinking either Princess Poppy from Trolls or an ice cream cone this year... what do you guys think?!

{THREE} Go to the Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch

Visiting an orchard or pumpkin patch is really high on my fall list every year. Remember how cute Sully was in her 6 months old photos at a pumpkin patch visit?! This year, I've decided on the Boone Hall Plantation pumpkin patch as our destination. I'm sure it will be crazy crowded, but I can't wait to share in the joy with Sully (are you seeing a trend here?)! 

{FOUR} Decorate the Front Porch

I've already started on this one with a few pumpkins Ry grabbed for me at Trader Joes. Now I'm thinking of hay bales, our Halloween decor, a fun wreath and anything we find at the pumpkin patch (above). 

{FIVE} Bake Pumpkin Coffee Cake 

Ever since discovering a recipe for pumpkin coffee cake in this 5 on Friday, I've been dying to bake it this fall! Stay tuned to Instagram Stories to see how it turns out. 


{SIX} Host a Chili Cookoff

We've been looking for a way to invite the neighbors over and have a little celebration. What better than some friendly competition mixed in too? Ry and I have already started talking about a plan to host a chili cookoff this season. 

Any tips for us? How many chilis should we have? How should people vote? Have a favorite recipe?

{SEVEN} Find the Perfect Pumpkin Candle 

I've really struggled with this so far this season y'all! I thought I found the one, only to have Ry say it was "too pumpkin-y". Haha! I've heard good things about the Nest one... any other suggestions?

That's it, which is actually a lot I feel like! Other things I want to do before winter is get in some beach time, a bike ride, finish planting the other garden bed for fall/winter and also finalize our plans for the front porch renovation (more coming on that later). 

What's on your fall list?!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September Book Reviews

Hey there gals and guys, any fellow bookworms amongst us?!

I had a goal in September to get back to reading and with a book club and lots of time in the car with Audible, I'm happy to say I read FOUR books this month and the month isn't even over! {insert mini victory dance, most likely to the Trolls soundtrack}

Since I was so successful in this goal (not so much in some others, more to come here), I thought I would share a review of each of them with you today! 

As always, these posts do contain affiliate links. Meaning, if you click on some of these links they could send some change my way at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting this little blog!

{ONE} Cultivate  by Lara Casey


If you follow me on Insta Stories you know I actually finished this book at the car wash on Saturday (ha!). I was really excited about this one from the moment I heard Lara Casey was releasing it, following her first book Make It Happen (although you don't need to read it before Cultivate). 

I even led a small group here in Charleston as we worked our way through it together. We got a little thrown off by the hurricane, but are going to do a grand finale celebration in a couple weeks!

So what's my official review? 

Not to be dramatic, but... this book might have just changed my life y'all! No seriously. It was the first time I got messy and wrote in almost every single margin. I actually would be quite weirded out if anyone ever got ahold of my copy and read it, it's like a diary at this point. 

If you're looking for something to bring you closer or back to God, something to reshift your focus on the things that matter in your life and something to make you feel not so alone in your own head - this is the something for you. 

It takes time to work through it and you really only can go chapter by chapter because Lara's just dropping so much knowledge and goodness on you :). Bottom line...

HIGHLY RECOMMEND 

{TWO} Chasing Slow  by Erin Loechner 



Much like Cultivate, this book has the same woven thread of focusing on what matters in life. 

The way that Erin writes is refreshing and humorous. Almost to the point where you have to stop and say, "woah, wait, that is so good" because her lessons are so deeply hidden and not preachy at all (neither are Lara's). 

I started reading the copy of the book I owned here at home and then bought the Audible version with one of my monthly credits so I could make sure I finished it before The Southern C Retreat where Erin is speaking. I think I did myself a disservice here. So on this one I say...

RECOMMEND 

IF reading yourself, not on Audible. I would also say to space out this one and Cultivate if you want to read both.

{THREE} The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo  by Taylor Jenkins Reid


I'll just start out by saying, HIGHLY RECOMMEND! I "read" it in 48 hours y'all (via Audible and with thanks to hurricane traffic). 

If you're looking for a light and mysterious book to read, pick up this one next. I haven't read into the inspiration for this novel at all, but I feel like it's a mix between what could have been a story of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. It will really make you think about the ins and outs of Hollywood love stories. 

It jumps between modern day via the perspective of journalist Monique Grant who is interviewing the world's largest film star, Evelyn Hugo (now in her 80s) and then Evelyn's perspective throughout her life as she tells her story. You'll be on the edge of your seat trying to figure out the connection between Evelyn and Monique the whole book. 

See, Monique is a no-name journalist who Evelyn has precisely sought out to write her life story. So you'll be asking "Why Monique?" when Evelyn could have picked the world's best journalist? As Evelyn's life unfolds, you get closer and closer to the reason(s) why Evelyn lured Monique into her home and into each other's lives forever. 

This was one I really enjoyed on Audible. Hope you enjoy it too, no matter which way you read the book! Just in case you missed it above...

HIGHLY RECOMMEND

{FOUR} Class Mom  by Laurie Gelman


This was my least favorite book this month and one I wanted to really enjoy. Don't you hate when that happens? 

It's about a Mom who has already had two girls go through elementary and middle school and now has a younger boy in kindergarten. She's talked into being class Mom and via snarky emails and sneaky plots (including chocolate brownies on picture day), ends up getting fired from the job only to earn it back again. 

Funny, yes, but not the depth in storyline or good enough twist at the end if you ask me.  That said, I think I would have enjoyed it more if 1. I had or had had children in elementary school and 2. If I hadn't listened to it on Audible. 

Sadly, on this one...

DON'T RECOMMEND

Ok, that's a wrap! Now I'm hungry for more good books and have a really long car ride coming up - what do you recommend for my October reading list?!

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