Backpack, Backpack

Remember when wearing backpacks with both straps on your shoulders was uncool?

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{photo via Slate article, which makes me SO HAPPY that there’s been an investigative study}

Personally, I was almost always a two-strapper, because it was just more comfortable. I had A LOT of books in those backpacks, because…well, I was a classic nerd. And classic nerds used both straps to keep their backs upright (well…as upright as possible while still maintaining their low self-esteem poor posture).

Thankfully, the garment itself, a backpack, will never go out of style. It’s practical, it can be “cool,” and it’s easy on the back. A win-win-win!

Poolside Reads 2018

As much as we’d love to say “beach reads,” living smack dab in the middle of the country doesn’t always qualify us for living the beach life. But poolside, yes.

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And with kids who are old enough and competent enough to swim, that means L I V I N’. However, it means not being upset if you’re in the thick of a whodunnit and your kids start dunking each other under water. So books need to be easy to look away from.

Are you able to read at the pool? What are some of your favorites? Keep reading for a list on our stacks…

Time for Tea

There are so many talented and inspiring ladies that we want to meet in our city, so Stephanie has started hosting tea parties at her house, as an excuse to invite them over and get to know them better.

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photo by Chuck Travers @ 417Home

They are a fun way to mix & mingle in a unique setting. Stephanie has a large dining table and an even larger collection of mismatched tea cups, which just invites conversation and connection.

Each party is usually on a weekday morning, and caters toward women of every walk of life. It’s not just for ladies who brunch! Mamas, Entrepreneurs, Teachers, Artists, Do-ers, Bloggers, Retirees, 9-to-5ers, you name it.

Of course there’s tea in cute cups, French press coffee, scones, and Prosecco. She doesn’t expect any of her guests to bring something, but every once in a while a quiche or a bottle of Irish Whiskey shows up. They are never turned down.

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The last tea was a small affair, twin style. Stephanie invited me (her twin sister), and a set of creative twins who we ABSOLUTELY LOVE and wanted to spend more time with. It was a quiet lovely morning, and I got to hold a brand new baby. Win win!

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Want to set up your own tea party? Keep reading for more ideas!

Birth of Venus

The first time I remember seeing the depiction of Venus de Milo was in the movie “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen“. It left such an impression that when I saw the painting “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli, I was like, hey! It’s like that scene from the movie!

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(Everything always comes back to the movies for us…)

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Since that time as a 7-year-old, it remains a painting I still obsess over. Her imperfect and irregular body! Floating on a seashell! Mystery, jealousy, divine! I loved it as a little kid, I love it as a big kid.

Which might explain this recent art purchase by the talented Sarah Jones:

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Made me wonder what other Venus-inspired treasures I could add to my collection…

Namaste, Mfers

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to start yoga. So I bought an old paperback from the 1970s, called Richard Hittlemans Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan.

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It…is definitely from a bygone era. As in, entire chapters devoted to the housewife and her daily chores. But it was a great self-paced introduction, and I spent about 30 minutes every day doing the routines. For an entire month!

The next logical step for me seemed to be yoga videos, but I absolutely hated them, and so I gave up. I need accountability, but I hate other people being near me when I exercise* (*sweat and groan). After about a 3-year hiatus, I did it. I worked up the courage. I bought a pair of yoga pants and a new t-shirt, and I went. To. A class.

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Also not me. Photo from Unsplash.

Good Health: The Ultimate Luxury

Every month this year, I’m focusing on a specific theme of gratitude. In January, it was hygge. In February, it was women artists I admire, and in March it was books that impacted me. April will be on ways I am able to take care of myself.

Note: I am unhealthy. I eat poorly, I drink too much alcohol, I barely exercise, and I have mental health and thyroid issues. Hey guess what!? Did you hear diet and exercise help make you feel BETTER!?

If you’re like me, though, it’s hard to take care of yourself, when you’re busy taking care of kiddos, husbands, your jobs, your hobbies, your passions, etc. Taking care of yourself is a luxury and good health is something to be EXTREMELY grateful for.

What are ways you take care of yourself? Morning jogs, bullet coffee, vegan diet, regular massage? We’d love to hear! Over the month of April, I’ll be chiming in with ways I add a bit of self-care into my routine, and I’d love to try some of your suggestions! (Below I have listed a few things I regularly do.)

–Nicole C.

Color Me Bad: Coloring Books for EVERYONE!

One of my current side hustle projects is to make a coloring book of floral art. I’m not talking about the intricate mandala-style books, where one missed paisley is a stress-induced scramble to cover it up. I want nice big patches of petals, or rosy cheeks for someone to puddle watercolors on top of. Here’s a rough draft of a page of mine:

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In researching coloring books for adults, though, I did manage to find some that I’d actually sit down and tinker with:

Everything is Better with CONFETTI

Our friend Whitney threw the most colorful and fun wedding celebration. The groomsmen had pompom boutonnieres, we tossed dried herbs and jingled bells as the new couple made their way to their chariot. The reception had vintage planters filled with colorful blooms, and giant confetti-filled balloons. Here are a few photos from the florists behind Queen City Blooms:

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Colorful boutonnieres by Queen City Blooms.

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The witty and beautiful bride!

Are you looking to add color and whimsy to your own life, wedding or not? Keep reading!

Book Roundup: March 2018

There really isn’t much else I need in life than a good book. Well. Maybe a cold pinot grigio. And a soft dog. Okay, and dark chocolate. And if I’m going to list all the things I need in life, I may as well also mention Coco Chanel Eau de Parfum, my mala beads, and pretty mugs filled with coffee.

But, books. Let’s get back to books.

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I read a lot, and challenge myself to read harder every year. BookRiot is always a great source to find books that wouldn’t normally jump out at me in my typical browsing. So is Goodreads, but I tend to add 20 books to read for every 1 that I finish. It can get overwhelming.

In 2018, I (Nicole) gave myself the goal of reading 30 books. As of today, I’m finished #12. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

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KINDRED by Octavia Butler (Read Harder Challenges: Author is a woman of color; a sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author) – THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. Should be required reading for every human being on the planet.

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UNGRATEFUL MAMMALS by Dave Eggers (Read Harder Challenge: A one-sitting book). This is a collection of drawings and poetic vignettes by Dave Eggers, a prolific author.

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THE SPELL THIEF (Little Legends) (Read Harder Challenge: Absolutely none. I read this with my 8yo for his class book club. Come one, 2nd graders! Why aren’t you reading Kindred yet??)

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HOMEGOING (Read Harder Challenge: A book of colonial literature. Also written by a woman of color. THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. It was actually a great companion piece to Kindred, unintentionally.

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BITCH PLANET Vol. 2 (Read Harder Challenge: A comic written or illustrated by a person of color; written by a woman; A one-sitting book). I love this series. It’s gritty, violent, just enough sci-fi and ends on MAJOR twists. Can’t wait for the next volume.

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BIRD BOX (Read Harder Challenge: None…but it’s a horror book about a mom trying to keep her 2 children alive in a strange new Earth where if you’re able to see it could kill you…so, that’s a challenge enough…) A thrilling page-turner, best read in as few sittings as possible. I think it took me 3. And I didn’t sleep for 3 days.

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MARCH TRILOGY (Read Harder Challenge: A comic written by a person of color; A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image). I also hope this series is required reading for every student. It’s one I’m planning on buying to keep in my house for the kiddos.

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Literary Witches

LITERARY WITCHES: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers (Read Harder Challenge: hello! It’s a compilation of women authors throughout history!). This is great. I learned about a few authors I’d never heard of, and the illustrations are mesmerizing. Highly recommend.

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LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THE RECIPES: The Life, Art, and Cookbook of Cipe Pineles – So inspiring! An illustrated cookbook celebrating one of the modern-day design geniuses.

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THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET – How did I miss this novella? It was written in 1982, feels just as fresh today, and is a lyrical and beautiful look at growing up. Smitten.

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MY FRIEND DAHMER – (Read Harder Challenge: A Comic written AND illustrated by the same person) Ooooh, a dark yet sympathetic look at the person who became a monster, told from the point of view of one of his high school classmates.

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WHY NOT ME? By Mindy Kaling. (Read Harder Challenge: author POC; celebrity memoir; collection of essays.) She’s my new best friend. End of story. I listened to this on Audible, and it is so delightful.

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Next on the docket: THE CAT WHO COULD READ BACKWARDS. This isn’t so much a challenge as a throwback, to a series I read and loved as a child. Plus, the author, Lillian Jackson Braun, didn’t even start writing until later in life, which always fascinates me AND inspires.

Any good books that you’ve read that have been out of your typical reading comfort zone? I’d love to hear!

{ Featured photo by Karim Ghantous on Unsplash}

Peaches, Pie, Guinness, Oh My!

Typically for St. Paddy’s day, one of us will make a dark chocolate Guinness cake with cream cheese icing, a tried and true recipe from one of our Domestic Goddesses, Nigella Lawson.

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image by Suzy Allman for The New York Times

This year, with Stephanie in charge of desserts, we opted for something a little different: Key Lime Pie. We grew up as Georgia Peaches, and according to the The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, key lime pie on St. Paddy’s is a Savannah tradition.

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The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day

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How many key limes does it take to make a key lime pie? At least a dozen!

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The final product, in all its creamy citrus glory!

The icing on the cake was the Freshly Made Whipped Cream. Oh my Irish blessings.

Do you have a St. Patrick’s culinary tradition? Ours is food truck pasties and dessert, lots of beer & Irish whiskey, all after enjoying our city’s famous St. Paddy Parade. And what do the revelers think about that?

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Success!

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More Back in the Day Love:

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Back in the Day Bakery Made with Love: More than 100 Recipes and Make-It-Yourself Projects to Create and Share

And Nigella Love:

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Feast: Food to Celebrate Life