Magical Book Reviews

Over the last month and a half or so I have been making a dedicated effort to get through some of the books on my reading list.

One of the blogs I frequent set a goal earlier this year to read 100 books in 2016. I scoffed. I don’t have time to read and unfortunately it isn’t high on my priority list to make time for either… but then I found audio books. I downloaded the overdrive app on my iPad and have been listening my way through my book list on my commutes and long drives to client appointments, etc., even when I’m cooking or cleaning, I’ve been listening. It’s safe to say I’m hooked. I don’t know that I will get to 100 books, but I will certainly get more read than the one book I finished last year!!

Here is what I’ve been “reading” so far:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: Y’all know how I feel about this book. I loved hearing Marie Kondo’s philosophy and implementing it in our life. Our condo has never felt so good to come home to, and it really feels like home. There will always be projects to be done and cleaning to do, but we aren’t bursting at the seams anymore and that is HUGE!

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso: Sophia Amoruso is a Bad-ass boss lady. Her story is incredibly inspiring. Her book has been floating around for a while now with a lot of positive response from the bloggers and business babes out there. Last fall I attended a book signing with her, but still hadn’t found the time to actually read the book,  so I decided to add it to my Overdrive list and I have to say it is a good read with great info and tips for anyone, even the boss men out there.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed: I purchased Wild on a whim one night while wandering the isles of Target, and I’m so glad I did. I started reading it right after purchasing and although it was exciting and has a good hook from the beginning, life and clients took the front seat and Wild was put on a shelf until we were Konmari-ing and it came out. I immediately added it to the list and was so glad when it was time to listen. This adventure filled tale of Cheryl Strayed’s trek on the Pacific Coast Trail is one of courage and bravery. I love a good hike, love nature and love getting to know myself better, so this book was meant to be read by me… I don’t think I will be taking the trek myself anytime soon, but it was thrilling to follow along with Cheryl’s adventures… some great lessons were learned. What a great story to feel inspired by… now I want to rent the movie too!

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: Another empowering boss lady book that has been on my list since it was released. I heard mixed reviews on this one and I think if I had tried to sit down and read it, I would’ve gotten bored and stopped. I’m glad I listened instead because there were some really key points that Sheryl Sandberg touches on in this book. The lessons here are incredible, not just for women in the workforce, but for men and women in general. I think that men reading this book can get a glimpse at what the women in their life are dealing with, and offer up ways to better support them in their goals. I think there are some great points here about time management, setting goals and tearing down barriers. Though I do think the book dragged on a bit longer than it needed to, it was a good balance of anecdotes and advice and it was worth the listen.

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis: While waiting for some books to be available on my list I had some time to listen to something more whimsical. My mom suggested that many of the books I was reading were keeping my brain turned on and although listening to great info is helpful, sometimes you just need to turn it off. So I decided to check out these old classics, I never read the Chronicals of Narnia growing up, and because I enjoyed Harry Potter immensely I thought I might enjoy these… I did enjoy The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but I drifted off while Prince Caspian played… I didn’t really enjoy it so much… not because it was poorly written or anything like that, but it just didn’t jive with me, so I won’t be listening to the other books in the series anytime soon. That aside, C.S. Lewis’s language is truly an art. The way he describes things is truly beautiful and really sets the scene so you can imagine standing there. I love authors who write with their five senses, they can really capture your mind and take you on a journey with them… for me it makes reading much more enjoyable.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington: This book by far was the favorite one that I listened to in the past month or so. I might just put it back on my list and listen again. Thrive is a great book about balancing your work and life and not just thriving in your career, but thriving as a person going through life. Experiencing what is in front of you, not being constantly plugged in, not losing sleep over something you can do tomorrow, not losing sight of your health, your life and your loved ones. I have been working hard to implement some of the concepts from this book into my life and I have been feeling incredible doing it. It is hard at first to cut the cord but it is amazing to see the difference between a life with your device constantly in your hand and one where you are focused on those in front of you. I can’t really explain it well, but what I can say is that this book is definitely worth the read or listen.

Overall, I think all of these books were worth the “read.” Maybe I’m just happy to have literature re-incorporated into my life and over excited about some of these titles, but I think from the changes that these books (for the most part) have made in my life in just the month or less since finishing them, I would recommend reading them for sure. My heart feels lighter, my home happier, and my workplace more productive. I feel inspired each morning… and who wouldn’t want that?! What are you reading these days? Any good books you could recommend? (Either for more inspo or for some mindless entertainment?) I’d love to know what has to be on my list! Sorry for the insanely wordy post!!! I wish I could send it out over audio so you could listen if you didn’t have time to read!! LOL!

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Top Three

Well I didn’t realize it until I just looked at the numbers, but in 2014 I posted a lot less than I did in 2013. It was a very busy year personally with limited spare time, but I didn’t realize how much less it was until just now. That said, I wanted to share with you the most viewed posts from this year, and they all are very significant to me in their own ways.

The third most viewed was a post I shared on a custom vanity. In it I talked about how a custom vanity comes together, why you shouldn’t shy away when people use the word ‘custom,’ and the benefits of going that route. This particular piece ended up being such a great piece for the client, it works very well for their space both functionally and aesthetically. I love doing custom cabinetry–even just little tweaks off the main plan that take something and make it our own can have huge impact in a space.

The second most viewed was of a master bathroom that underwent a huge transformation to make the space not only insanely more visually appealing but also created a much better use of space for the couple. This bathroom gives the professional mother of two an awesome retreat for the end of her busy days. As it’s shown, many of you noticed that it didn’t have a mirror, well it does now, and at some point I will get back out there for some updated pictures to share of the space. This space will probably be in my top ten favorite projects for a long time to come.

The most popular post (by a long shot) both my personal favorite of the year and it seems the readers agree, is one sharing the details of our wedding day decor. Did I mention that 2014 was a big year for us?! The wedding was definitely an incredible day that will stay close to my heart and I will cherish forever. It means so much to me that it was so widely viewed by others, I hope it was a source of inspiration for anyone planning their own wedding, or just a good look at the making of an event. For me, sharing these details is a way to document the details leading up to our wedding, all the planning and detail that went into creating the space, as well as a showcase of just how much help we had and how much love we are surrounded with, not just on the day itself, but before and after. We are truly blessed.

Last year was definitely a year of incredible highlights. I know I keep saying it, but I am so excited for 2015. We are definitely going to make it another great year! I hope you enjoyed these posts, if you hadn’t read through them before, please feel free to jump over, they are all linked in the text above.

In 2015, here’s hoping there are more posts going up, more details, more excitement, more design, life, etc., to share; and a top three that is just as fun to search through a year from now.

2014 Personal Highlights

This is the time of year when you look back on things that you’ve done, hurdles you’ve conquered, celebrations you’ve reveled in, and all the little things in between. This is a time for some positive light to be shed, but I know that it can often turn negative, and you can beat yourself up for the things that didn’t get done, hurdles you are constantly tripping over, etc., some years are going to be better than others. So as we get ready to start the next book in the series of our lives, I wanted to take a minute to run through my personal highlights of 2014, with a focus on the good and any negatives we will call challenges that helped us learn and grow!

In January, I shared the long struggle that was our home buying search. It was such a difficult process that challenged us at every turn and keeping positive was downright impossible at times. I wrote a bit about that here, and tried to give some insight into the process for other first time home buyers.

In February, we finally did find our first home! We signed on the dotted line, scheduled the movers and tore out the carpeting all within the first 24 hours.

Our small little slice of the world is the perfect place for us, and we have loved (and hated) it for almost a year now, and I can confidently say the struggle was worth it. Losing out on the other two places was meant to be, even though it was hard at the time, it was the best thing for us.

In March, as we settled in, I dreamt up a color scheme for our cozy abode and we painted the nights away. I will say that painting is something that I really do not enjoy. I thought there would be some feeling of reward in painting our first home by ourselves. But after finishing up the living room, we decided to wait on the other spaces, and eventually we will likely have a professional come in and at least touch up the moldings.

That said, P & I did still paint the kitchen ourselves, and in April, I taped off and painted the accent stripes over a few days when he was working late shifts. The bold accent was a surprise to some, and it still gets a lot of comments when we have company over, but we still really love it. It adds such a playful element to the space and makes me smile every time I glance into the space. Take a look here for more on our bold kitchen reveal.

In May we brought the most adorable puppy home (check #BrantleyBub on Instagram for a cuteness overdose). He instantly stole our hearts despite the potty training challenges of living in a condo and having to repeatedly sprint down several flights of stairs (sometimes for nothing), and I’m sure all the neighbors think we are insane for the excessive whooping and cheering we’d perform upon him actually going to the bathroom outside. Outside of the house, I began working on a living and dining room for a client whose bathroom is still an all-time favorite in my portfolio. Much like the rest of us, her projects are ongoing as the challenges of the budget and owning a home often add restrictions and make getting things done feel impossible. Both spaces are very close to completion and I promise to share them once they’ve wrapped up.

The summer months came and went without much notice, between wedding planning and working we spent a lot of time checking out our new neighborhood and dreaming of beach days and scenic retreats. Somewhere in there we managed to organize some frames and arrange a gallery wall as a focal point in the living room, which is another highlight of our home in my opinion. We actually received a few more framed pieces over the holidays that will soon be added to the wall as well, so more on that when the time comes.

Come August I got to bask in the fun of bridal showers and girls nights with some of my nearest and dearest. In September we even made it home to Seattle for a few days of bachelorette fun and a couples shower. If I had to use one word to sum up our labor day weekend of fun it would be epic. That trip was seriously so much fun. We also began work to add a closet to our bedroom that has added so much storage that I can’t express how much our life has improved with it. I haven’t shared pictures of it yet because it isn’t truly finished, but I think we will be there soon.

October was a continuation of epic fun, starting off with our wedding! It was a day that down-poured. The weather was not such a treat, but it made for a truly beautiful backdrop to our day, I’ve always loved so much about the rain, being from Seattle, and our pastor reminded us that our first date was also very rainy. Needless to say, the ceremony was so beautiful and we had so much fun at our reception and after-party that I woke up the next day and asked my new husband if we could do it all again! And if bad weather is the worst of things to come in our marriage, I will certainly take the rain! A few weeks back I shared a glimpse into the making of our big day, and hopefully in the new year I will have time to sort through more pictures of the wedding and honeymoon to share as well.

We ended the month of October on our honeymoon and started November off in Italy. For being a month about gratitude and thanks, my heart is certainly so full with love (even still) from our amazing wedding and honeymoon it might just burst. This trip (and this year) has filled me with so much inspiration and relaxation that I am fully geared up for another year of working with my clients to create amazing spaces for them.

December  has been about cutting myself some slack. I have had an extremely full year. Full of a lot of incredible and very positive things. But with all that good comes a lot of chaos. So I have been working on giving myself credit for all that I have done this year, and trying to give myself more attainable goals for things. We did have our holiday party, which I debriefed on a bit yesterday, where instead of making everything from scratch, I worked on good presentation, planning a tasty spread and a house full of festivity, cheer and ambiance.

This year as a whole has been such a wonderful year. For starters, I am now a Mrs. I am a home owner, a doggy mom, a business owner and so much more. These are all huge things! There have been times I have cried over the chaos, but there has been so much growth this year. Personal growth, yes, but also business growth-I have so many exciting projects to share with you in the new year. I haven’t ever really done a year in review like this before, but I have loved doing it! It has taken me all the way back through the blog and I’ve seen how this outlet has grown for me as well. I am so thankful for everyone who comes through and keeps me going here. I love to see the progress I’ve made with my writing, graphics and even my work that I share. I am so excited to continue this growth through blogging into 2015! If you made it all the way through this lengthy post, I can’t wait to make it through so many more in the new year!

Wishing you all a healthy happy 2015–I can’t wait to share another year with you all!