Fall to do list

29 September 2014

After a gloomy, rainy week in North Carolina, the glorious weekend we just had reminded me of everything I love about fall. These seasonal lists serve the same purpose – they get me excited for the months to come, and remind me of all the things I really want to do but might not remember to do! What’s on your fall to do list?


Pick apples at an orchard
Make apple pie biscuits
Host the second annual soup and pumpkin carving night
Make Thomas Keller’s chicken pot pie from scratch (filling, bechamel, pie crust, and all)
Hand out candy from our front steps (we’ll see if we can top our total from last year!)
Cheer at a Friday night football game under the lights
Make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
Order Christmas cards
Watch the goat showmanship class at the State Fair (yes, it is as awesome as it sounds)
Make biscuits at our church’s Fair booth
Hike somewhere new with beautiful leaves

P.S. The Caitlin Wilson Designs giveaway is open until Friday!

Caitlin Wilson Designs giveaway!

26 September 2014

Update: Congratulations to reader no. 23, Laura Kittrell, our lucky winner! An email is on its way to you!

Since I’ve been searching for and saving home inspiration, this photo has always been one of my favorites:


It captures so well the colorful but classic, clean, happy, comfortable vibe I’m hoping for in our home, which is why I included it in my home color post! Truly, pretty much every photo from Caitlin Wilson could have been included in that post – her aesthetic is just a perfect fit for mine!


Y’all know I do not splurge easily, but I think her patterns can really add a “pop” to a room and bring a color scheme together – and the Mint Fleur Chinoise pillow I finally purchased last year does just that.

The kind folks at CWD somehow found my home tour post where it was featured and offered up another pillow for me and one for me to giveaway! I hemmed and hawed for a long time over which to choose, but finally settled on a Greige Greek Key lumbar pillow for our guest bedroom:




I love supporting such a smart woman-owned, mama-owned business that is doing so many things right, including offering up a giveaway for y’all! :) Please leave a comment with your favorite CWD pillow pattern and I’ll choose a random winner to receive the 14×20 or 20×20 pillow cover of their choice next Friday. Good luck!!

P.S. Anyone can use code MARVELOUS10 for 10% off of their purchase!

2014 reading list so far

25 September 2014

This week’s posts have reminded me how much I adore reading, and how big a part of my life it’s been since… forever. As the author Zadie Smith has said, “Books are my experiences. I’m made of them.” The books we read affect the person we are becoming. I’ve loved what I’ve learned and experienced via the 20 books I’ve read so far this year, and I can’t wait to hear if there’s anything on our reading list in common!


The Millionaire Next Door: An in-depth look at who the rich really are in this country and what we can learn from them. Depending on your preconceptions about rich people, it might be surprising! I particularly liked the section on buying cars.

Wool: If you’re generally interested in the publishing industry, Wool is a must-read, simply because of its story to publication. I can see why it’s so popular!

Allegiant: Book three in the Divergent series was a big disappointment for me. While I didn’t love the ending, my dislike was more about the writing – I thought it was sloppy, and left me wondering why I’d liked the first two books!

Red Rising: One of the best books I’ve read this year. Pierce Brown creates an entirely new world that completely sucked me in. If you liked The Hunger Games you will love this book.

Love Does: Bob Goff shares my love for a “secretly incredible” life full of love and adventure. I had heard so much about this book before I read it that not much of it was new to me – but I still enjoyed it. If you haven’t read it or heard of it, I’d highly recommend it!

The Well’s End: My brother-in-law’s book! A young adult thriller that kept me going the whole way through – I’m ready for the sequel!


The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A FASCINATING book that I think everyone should read – one of my favorites this year! I read so many sections and interesting facts out loud to John. It was a little bit slow in the beginning, but I loved the section about Joel Salatin’s farm. I really appreciated Pollan’s calm, reasoned, and often beautiful writing.

The Last Days of California: Eh. Probably my least favorite book from this year. I didn’t find the characters that likeable and wasn’t in love with the writing. I’m surprised it got such good reviews!

Sense and Sensibility: I picked this one up off my own self while waiting for another book to come in at the library. I’m always happy to check another classic off my list, and this one was easy and enjoyable.

In a Sunburned Country: As laugh-out-loud funny and strangely informative as you’d expect from Bill Bryson. I learned a bunch about Australia (and so did John – read lots of this book out loud to him, too!).

The Goldfinch: Hoo boy, there are 16,000 reviews for this Pulitzer Prize-winning book on Amazon, so apparently everyone has an opinion about it! I enjoyed it – in fact, I marked it as one of my favorites from the year. Even in the Las Vegas section, which I thought was slow, I couldn’t stop reading because I needed to know what happened next.

Astonish Me: Another one I marked as a favorite. Well written, satisfying, and fun for a former ballerina like me – I didn’t see the twist coming, though I’m sure some of you smart people will :)


Boy, Snow, Bird: A modern fairytale that’s imaginative and lyrical, but also a little unsettling and frustrating. Reminded me of Edwidge Danticat’s writing.

The Best of Roald Dahl: Eh. Though I love the story of Henry Sugar, I think his children’s stories are better than his short stories.

All Joy and No Fun: One of my favorites from this year! I found it honest and endlessly fascinating, and have brought it up in discussion so many times since finishing it. One of the only books on this list I feel a need to buy so I can refer to it in the future.

The Silver Star: This story about courageous sisters was not as good as The Glass Castle, which was one of my top picks from 2013, but a good (quick) read nonetheless.

The Interestings: While I could appreciate that this book was very well-written, I found the characters a bit annoying, even the ones who were supposed to be sympathetic. I know that’s kind of the point, but it kept me from loving the book. However, I couldn’t put it down, so…

Simplicity Parenting: I found that I already agreed with and intrinsically knew the premise of this book — “the power of less” to raise calmer, happier, and more secure kids — but it was still a worthwhile read. If it does not at all match the parenting path you’re on, I’m guessing it would be challenging and fascinating!

The Maid’s Version: A short but riveting read by the author of Winter’s Bone. Really, really beautifully written – almost poetic.

Me Before You: This is probably the “lightest” book I read this year (not necessarily lightest in subject matter – it made me cry! – but literary weight). A great read for the beach.

The Light Between Oceans: Just digging into this one after many recommendations and it is great so far!

Have you read any of these? Did you agree with my thoughts? What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

P.S. Come back tomorrow – I’ll have a giveaway!! Hint: it’s an item from my home tour! :)

Top 25 favorite chapter books

24 September 2014

The next set I’m picking favorites for are chapter books. These would be just right for the age in between picture books and books for teens – roughly ages 9-14. Fair warning: I was OB-SESSED with horses when I fell into this age group, something that will become readily apparent when you peruse the list below…


In alphabetical order, my top 25 favorite chapter books or series:

The Anne of Green Gables series
The Boxcar Children series
Catherine, Called Birdy
Charlotte’s Web

The Chronicles of Narnia
Ella Enchanted
Fantastic Mr. Fox
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The Harry Potter series

The Little Ballerina and Her Dancing Horse
The Little House series
A Little Princess
The Littles

Misty of Chincoteague
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
My Side of the Mountain
Number the Stars

The Oz series
The Saddle Club series
The Song of the Lionness series
The Thoroughbred series
The View from Saturday

Oh my word, I must have read some of these books a hundred times… so many completely beloved books on here!! What are your favorites that fall into this group? Any favorites from the ones I listed? (For reference, here is NPR’s list of their top 100! They included To Kill a Mockingbird, but even though it’s my favorite book of all time I kept it off mine because I think it transcends age groups!)

P.S. Top 25 favorite picture books