While I was in California, enough people asked me why I hadn’t Instagrammed any cocktails yet that I began to wonder if I come across as an alcoholic on Instagram. “No, you’re just…predictable.” Holly told me at lunch. “You mean basic.” I replied. I’ve come to realize I’m kind of okay with that.
Sure, there are loads of things considered ‘basic’ that are pretty icky. Coffee drinks from Starbucks probably shouldn’t be considered actual coffee. UGGs should be banned from fashion. No one over the age of 21 should be ordering a Cosmo at a bar.
But couldn’t we all use a reminder to appreciate and derive joy from tiny, attainable things? There are enough unreachable, aspirational images online that taking the joy out of the easy-to-reach stuff is not ok.
There are plenty of things I’ve seen called ‘basic’ that I find pretty dang pleasing. A short list:
Coffee art. It looks delicious and is evocative of cozy, slow mornings. You know when I don’t have time to see the top of my coffee? When it’s in a tiny paper cup with a lid and I’m rushing to work, which is basically all the time.
Doors. Since when is appreciating architecture and design a bad thing?
Flowers, especially peonies and roses. They grow freely in my backyard and smell good.
That Hozier song (ok, Sean was the one complaining about this being basic). He’s Irish and the lyrics compare love to sacrificing things to pagan goddesses. Excellent. I don’t even care.
Macarons (and I think le merveilleux are right behind macarons in the soon-to-be-overly-trendy-camp). They’re both gluten-free, look like cakes and cookies for fairies, and make any day better. Seriously, you’re going to judge pastry?
Brunch. See Coffee art.
White Converse. If they were good enough for your grandfather to play basketball in, they’re good enough for you to take pictures of your feet on the beach in.
I finally ordered my 2015 agenda. After much deliberation, I ended up buying the same one I had last year. I was very tempted by this one, and eventually I’ll just find a Filofax style refillable. I’m really picky about the week layout, and couldn’t find a refillable I liked this year. I just can’t kick paper – lists or notes in my phone never get looked at again.
Determined to get organized, I sat down and set this one up to be my one stop information book.
1. Tape or staple paint chip cards for all your house colors, with notes on where the paint is used, or what you’d like to match / coordinate to it.
2. Ditto fabrics if you know you need to match them.
3. Take measurements of things you know you need. For example, I’m looking for a bed frame with a height of less than 43″, a smaller sized screen door, and tablecloths for my extremely long dining table. I never remember all those measurements, so I wrote them all down on one page.
4. Keep an ongoing list of things you’re looking for in thrift or antique stores. China patterns, silverware patterns, lamps or light fixtures, etc. Sometimes I get to a store and totally space on what I’ve been keeping an eye out for.
1. Between Facebook, Google calendar, and emailing my mother-in-law, I tracked down everyone’s birthdays and wrote them in. I did not write them in the birthday list at the back of this agenda, but on the actual days. I am seriously TERRIBLE at birthdays. I hope this will help.
2. I love this agenda because it has one side for the days in that week, for appointments or “must-dos” and then an open to-do list page on the other side. It helps me to sit down on Sunday and list all the things I need to do that week.
3. I wrote down some goals, resolutions, and POWER PHILOSOPHIES, so I can flip to them if I need a grounding check in.
4. I don’t use this planner for work at all (unless I’m speaking at a conference / traveling and need to put details in) – my work calendar is wayyyy too convoluted. This is personal life only.
5. If you’re not one to schedule regular massages / retreat times or make time for yourself, go through the year and randomly put “make spa appointment” on the to-do list side.
6. If you’re on a health issue hamster wheel, like me, consider making a “health” section to track appointment results, make notes, and track money spent for tax purposes.
7. I don’t keep business cards. If I need to know someone for business purposes, I follow them on LinkedIn. If it’s for personal / doctor / car repair, etc, I just add them as contacts in my phone.
8. I also don’t put bills due in here, because that’s all set up on auto-pay already. I’m a big fan of automating anything that can be automated.
How else do you use your planner / agenda? I’d especially love to hear more house renovation tracking tips!
Also! We recently moved the secretary desk into the living room – it’s much brighter / warmer / more social to work from here than in the spare room, and I’m definitely using it more. Willoughby likes it too. I need a big fern to go next to that globe!
Here in Vermont, winter is all about itchy skin and crazy, crazy dry hands, feet, and cheeks. It starts around late October and by January I just want to move into a spa and spend my days in a full body paraffin wrap. Well. Sadly I must go to work, so this is how I get through winter with daily spa-esque times.
1. Dry brush before you hop in the shower. Also good for your immune & lymph system. I’m a doctor.
Because I live in the middle of nowhere, I tend to shop for makeup and skincare on Sephora. Between racking up samples and points, turning 39 and feeling like I should up my skincare game, and Jen sending me a lot of these fancy things, I’ve been trying a lot of different products lately.
I took the photo below (it’s hard to take a selfie with a real camera) because I felt silly talking about skincare without being like “Hi, I have skin.” Ok then. I have skin. And strabismus. I feel like I look like a middle-aged mom here.
Whew. That’s a whole lotta product. I don’t always have or use all these at the same time, and some I’m using via deluxe Sephora samples, but these are my tried and true recommendations. I’m still trying to stick to more “natural” skin care and makeup products – especially with so many of the chemicals of concern in conventional products being endocrine disruptors.
After writing this post, I said out loud “But I don’t FEEL this high maintenance” and then Sean laughed a lot. Ha ha, let’s look at your tie collection, bro.
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. I may receive a commission on purchases made after following an affiliate link. If you add up the products in this post, you’ll know why I need a commission. I am not actually a doctor.
I really wanted to get the living room update done before we had Christmas here and we’re very, very close. Close enough for a reveal! The BEFORE photos are from when we first bought the house (Feb 2012), but the plastering, painting, and bookcase were done right after the sale went through.
Since the last before and after post, we realized that cats destroy all furniture. We bought a $20 vintage leather test sofa to see if they would trash it. They did. So we designed the sofa bench, bought a custom organic cotton futon for the bench, and ordered a custom cushion cover and bolsters. We also swapped the sheepskin on the mid century chair for velvet cushions, moved the wire chair and found, painted, and reupholstered a vintage rattan chair – staying away from upholstered chairs that the cats will destroy. I realize this sounds crazy. Theoretically, I like cats more than I like pretty wingback chairs. Maybe. Maaaaayyybe.
What else? We added: another shelf to the bookcase, a lot more pillows, the new rug, a new coffee table, side tables & lamps, swapped curtains for roman shades, repotted a few plants in nicer pots, and put in a new front door. We also moved the boys trunk of toys out and will let them fill one of the new bench drawers with toys.
There’s a few things left – for one, we can’t leave the tree in that corner forever. I have no idea what could go there, though, so it’ll be empty until I figure it out. We’re still waiting on this magazine rack, and the art above the sofa bench is temporary until something jumps out at me. The folding screen (purchased at an antique shop when I was 17, holy cow) is temporary until we build a giant fence outside in the spring. Neighbor issues! We also need to paint and frame the front door, please note paint color strip and blocking around the door. Ooops! We’re thinking either grey to match the cushions or green to match that little table under the mirror.
When we were deciding on the fabric to use for this chair, I asked my mom “What would Nana do?” – so we dug out old photos of my grandmother’s living room in New York. Green on white toile was my favorite of her decor – and I already had this roll of blue and white toile fabric.
Meet Moon! He’s nothing like Huey. I think he’s part Siamese because he has blue crossed eyes, super long legs, talks a lot, and opens cabinets. He’s the dopiest cat I’ve ever met, but I volunteered at the Humane Society here and couldn’t leave without bringing a new friend home.
The rug seems short for the room, but without going custom we couldn’t go any larger on the standard sizes without getting too close to the wood stove.
Best Christmas in Vermont yet. We held our celebration on Christmas Eve this year, which was nice and felt more festive than doing it earlier. (The boys go to their mom’s house for Christmas Day, no matter whose week it is.) Sean made the most amazing meal, and we were all warm and cozy and content. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!