A Sense of Pretty: Notes on a Beautiful Life

Big news!  This is the Life is getting a new name!  I've been thinking on this for some time and finally felt peace enough to go through with it.  I started this little blog back when I was a senior in high school which, hard though it may be to admit, was ten years ago!  I fell in love with writing then and here, on the cusp of my 30s I still love it but for some reason I felt like I needed something fresh.  I wanted to come up with a name that better encompasses everything that I desire to share in this space.   So without further ado...

This is the Life is becoming A Sense of Pretty:  Notes on a Beautiful Life.

I am a four on the enneagram and yes, I am aware that many of us have over used the enneagram to the point of unhealthy obsession but just hear me out.  Over the past year or so it has truly helped me better understand myself and to use that understanding to work towards the things I am most passionate about.  As an enneagram four one of the things I value most is beauty.  To see, and to create, and to experience beautiful things.  I've always been on a mission to create a beautiful life and share it with others.  It's one of my greatest joys.  And while yes, that means sharing physical beauty such as my home, or my style, or my skincare routine it also means sharing something else; or rather someone else.   

Christ is the center of my life and it is my greatest mission to, in all that I do, point back to Him.  And that means writing about those tougher moments in life.  Those moments that reach in towards your gut and twist but for the purpose of bearing fruit.

Difficult trials that produce beautiful endurance. 

Hard lessons that produce beautiful character. 

Deep valleys that produce beautiful faith.  

In the current age of social media it has become all to easy to feel ashamed by life's difficulties but why should we feel ashamed at something that Christ promised we'd face? (John 16:33)  In this fallen world our marriages are going to rock, our mental health is going to be challenged, our children are going to rebel, our finances are going to fail us.  But take heart for He has overcome the world.  For those who run to the cross, ugly always washes away to reveal the beauty of our Savior.  In Him is freedom and in freedom shame cannot hold its grip.  I have chosen to be raw in this space because more people need to know that.  More people need to know that beauty is most certainly found in the pretty and the polished but it's also found by walking through the filth.

When I die I want to say that I refused to provide a limited view of God and that I lived a life reflecting the beauty of both His creative and redemptive nature.  That's my hope.  So as we move forward with a fresh start I hope that you would come here trusting to see God, that you would most certainly find Him, and that you would come again to see more.

Here's to a beautiful life! 

My Favorite Coffee Table Books!

Hey guys!  If you read my last blog post you will know that I had my eyes set on a gorgeous coffee table but seemingly minutes after I hit publish it sold out everywhere.  I was pretty bummed because I had plans to buy it for months but c'est la vie.  I decided to just look around on offer up and ended up finding this really beautiful table for 20 bucks!  I couldn't believe it!  It wasn't exactly what I had in mind with the other one but for $20 I thought I would give it a try.  We got it in the house and I fell in love immediately.  I do plan to paint it white in the near future but I am counting this as a very happy accident!

I love it so much because it's so big and it fills our fairly large living room quite nicely.  It also gives me plenty of surface area to play around on.  At this point, my life passion has truly become restyling my coffee table!  You will know by now that my rule of thumb is books, books, and more books so I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my favorite coffee table books that I have collected over the years!

1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Masterpiece Paintings text by Kathryn Calley Galitz

This was my Mother's Day gift this year and it's definitely a new favorite!  I am by no means an expert but I love art.  I love looking at it and I love reading about it.  Some of my favorite classes from my college program were actually my art history classes.  I came to find out that people love art not to be pretentious but because it's beautiful and equally fascinating.  Paintings especially are like little mysteries that each viewer has to solve for themselves.  One of the best examples of this would be The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eych, 1434.  I remember studying this painting in one of my classes.  What is the relationship between the two people in the foreground?  On the wall in the background there is a mirror and if you look closely there are two people entering the room.  Who are they and why are they there?  Is the woman in green pregnant or is she merely hopeful to concieve?  There are so many questions but also so many little details were included to aide in answering them.  Okay, that's the fun of art but back to the book!

I love the feminine figure and muted color scheme found on the cover, I think it adds the right amount of sophisticated charm to the room.  And if I can't live two blocks away from the Met then I may as well have a massive (this book could be a weapon) book full of beautiful paintings sitting right in the middle of my table!

2. The Puffin in Bloom edition of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Something about my own personal style is that I love the juxtaposition between sophistication and whimsy.  I love the eclectic effect that it gives and if the first book I mentioned is just the right amount of sophistication then this book is just the right amount of whimsy.  I mean, it is Alice right?  This specific edition is fully illustrated by Anna Bond who is the founder of Rifle Paper Co. and if you know me, you know that I am an absolute sucker for Rifle Paper Co!  I actually display this book on my coffee table without the dust jacket because I love the design on the spine underneath.  And here's the thing about a beautiful spine:  you can stack another book on top and you still get a statement.  Like, "you can't see all of me, but I'm here and I'm super cute!" 

3. Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home by domino editors Jessica Romm Perez and Shani Silver

I have both editions of this book but I specifically love the second.  The soft pink cove with the butterflies is so fun and the content inside is even better.  The thing I love most about this book is it's "perfectly imperfect" approach to design.  It's not about perfection it's about making your home yours and if that includes a permanent dip in your couch from reading a thousand books in the same spot or a crooked picture of your grandparents on the wall, so be it.  I highly recommend this book!

4. Pretty City London by Siobhan Ferguson

London/England in general is currently number one on my list of travel destinations.  Even though I haven't been there yet I feel like England just screams aesthetic and this book definitely proves it.  It is filled with the most gorgeous photos of all of London's nooks and crannies.  Even though it gives me serious FOMO, I love flipping through it for inspiration.  This same author actually has another book called Pretty City New York and I would love to check that one out soon too!

5. The Flower Expert: Ideas and Inspiration for a Life With Flowers by Fleur McHarg

Bringing in fresh flowers is such an easy way to elevate whatever space you are working in.  You can play around with color, shape, texture and this book is a sure source of inspiration!  I really loved reading Fleur McHarg's short introduction at the beginning.  She sees the world through such a unique lens and you can seriously feel her passion jump off the page.  By the time I was done reading her introduction I said to myself, "okay, I trust this woman!"  If you love flowers, than this book is most definitely for you!

Bonus:  Vogue Magazine

I am a long time lover of Vogue.  When I was in high school I used to save every single copy and by the time I moved out they were taking over so I had to get rid of a lot of them.  Now I just save special issues I've picked up while traveling and also every September issue.  I love the September issues because they are huge and it's essentially like buying a book only at a fraction of the price.  They look so chic all stacked up together.  Just a fun little tip to add some variety.

Well, that about wraps it up!  I tried to share a little bit of everything to pique different interests and as always, I hope I have inspired you in some way.  Happy book hunting!

My Living Room Tour and Styling Tips!

Hi everyone!  It has been a LONG time since I have done a blog post about my home but ever since the stay-at-home order started I have been so inspired to decorate and I wanted to share it with you!
I was actually going to wait to post this because I am in dyer need of a new coffee table and I have my eyes set on a gorgeous Parisian inspired one from Wayfair but ummm how can I say it...it ain't cheap!  I have done almost a years worth of research and haven't found anything that I love as much as this one so I'm not settling for anything else and because of that I will have to do a few months of saving first!  All that to say, I didn't want to wait that long to do a post so for now you will have to feast your eyes on my beat up old coffee table that has about eight years worth of chipping paint layers on it (and not in the cute shabby chic way). 

You all know the drill by now, we are a military family so we move a lot and this most recent move we actually moved on to an Air Force base and are absolutely loving it.  It's so quiet (well, aside from the sound of jets, and helicopters, and ranges, etc. but I personally love that), it feels really safe and secure and our neighborhood is packed with kids, which is always a plus! 

Now, as far as the house goes it has zero curb appeal and the kitchen looks like your typical "military barracks kitchen" but if I had a life mantra it would be this, "you can make anywhere feel like home, all you need is a vision."  So that's what I do. I make every place we live our home.  We feel so blessed to live here and I personally feel especially blessed that they let us paint the inside because it was an awful yellow when we moved in.  It's amazing what a little fresh white paint can do! 

The whole inspiration behind this portion of my home is definitely Paris!  There's lots of creams and whites with gold accents.  To add a little color I went with my current favorite, which is green.  I think there is something so chic about green!  Now, who is going to help me convince my husband to let me get a green velvet couch?  Thats a tall order.  I may have to settle for an accent chair!

Let's start with my (lovely) coffee table.  Besides the fact that the table itself isn't quite up to my standards I love styling it!  If you don't know where to start get yourself some books and then some more books.  You can never go wrong.  I love mixing old with new.  So I have plenty of vintage books but then I also go for more modern coffee table books as well.  Not only do they look beautiful but now you have plenty of inspiration to flip through right at your finger tips.  Books are also a really great tool to change up the look to suit each season.  I also love having some kind of tray.  I got this beautiful marble one from Target several years ago and it has sat in the same place faithfully ever since.  Trays are just a great way of breaking things up to add visual interest.   

My last essential is of course, flowers.  Sometimes I put faux flowers out but I prefer them fresh.  My secret is Trader Joes.  They have such a wide selection and they are always really affordable.  My rule for buying is to first pick out flowers and then either greenery or a second flower as filler.  Always add filler, that way you can form an arrangement that will look pretty darn professional when you're finished!  My favorite is always some form of eucalyptus.  It's really budget friendly and easy to work with. 

Once you've got your three essentials, books, tray, flowers, you can start adding in the extra touches with other accessories.  I find candles to be the easiest.  I found these beautiful gold candlesticks at a vintage store and then how can you go wrong with the Anthropologie classic? 

The key to styling just about anything is balance.  So once you have all your elements just play around with them until your eye feels satisfied.  If something makes your eye feel uncomfortable then move it.  Pay close attention to things like height, fullness, and color.  

1.  An easy way to achieve a balance with height is to put your tallest accessories on either side of your table and then fill the space in-between.  

2.  You want to fill the whole space but make sure it looks intentional.  You don't want things to feel crowded.  You can achieve this looking by grouping things together side by side.  

3.  Try and spread your color palette as evenly as possible across your chosen space.  This will help the eye to take in the entire surface or space with ease.  

I am definitely not a professional and of course there will always be exceptions and additions to these rules but this is a good place to start.  Just remember: balance darling! 

This corner has quickly become one of my favorite areas of my home.  When we moved in I originally had children's books here on the ledge but I wanted something a little more sophisticated. Then I discovered a company called Museum Quality Art and instantly fell in love with their selection of prints.  They are all prints of real paintings found in Museums.  It was definitely hard to choose but I but I ordered three different prints (I took screenshots on my phone to ensure they all coordinated) and then put them in modern frames for contrast.  I think they filled the space perfectly and I find myself looking at them all the time throughout the day, which is testimony of a good purchase! 

Genuine marble is definitely a luxury so if you want to incorporate it without breaking the bank, try a side table!  I found this one at Target for under $100.  I kept it pretty simple on top with just three key elements (try grouping things in odd numbers).  I touched on eucalyptus earlier but I really do love it and one of the reasons is because it dries out beautifully.  In this vase in particular I didn't even put in any water.  It creates hight and really pretty organic shapes with hardly any effort.  

This little glass box is one of my favorite touches.  Growing up (and still to this day) my grandparent's house was chock full of little trinkets that they brought back from their extensive travels.  I knew that when I grew up that's how I wanted my house to be:  one big story of the places that we've been.  This box is just a little peak.  Its full of euros, and shekels, and train tickets, and museum admission stubs.  It's a special little box and just another thing that makes our home ours.  I hope to fill many more to the brim over the years to come! 

I had a lot of fun with the books in this corner.  I came up with a color scheme and then flipped around all the books that didn't fit the scheme.  I love how it turned out even though it's not quite convenient for finding certain titles.  In the picture above the bookcase is my daughter, Ezrah.  I will admit that it took me about two years to finally get this printed but I'm so glad I finally did!  

And here we come to my beloved curtains.  It took me forever to find curtains that I really loved and these honestly couldn't be more me with those oober feminine ruffled hems (sorry Bryan) and the white on white is just so dreamy.  One thing that I have learned is that curtains are a MUST!  Not only do they fill your space but there is absolutely nothing better than opening your windows and letting the cool crisp breeze sweep them around.  It's honestly one of my favorite things ever.  It brings a certain peace and calming that is unparalleled.  Are they a pain to install?  Absolutely but the bliss to follow is well worth the effort! 

This black tiered table is my pride and joy because I got it at a garage sale for $15.  I went back and fourth about it for a while and then I saw someone else stop to look at it so I quickly snagged it up and I'm so glad I did!  It does have a small mark that I may try and fix in the future but for now it doesn't bother me much.  I think the reason I love it so much is because I can stack it full of books!

It also houses my grecian bust, which I am obsessed with.  She doesn't have a name although maybe I should consider her to be Psyche since she is a main character in my favorite book, Till We Have Faces.  Anyway, although she is a little over the top but she is beautiful and I absolutely love her!

I just want to touch on one more thing.  Part of making your home yours is simply finding unique ways to make it yours.  When you are out and about look for quirky objects that speak to you.  They can be over the top or a little more understated but they certainly don't have to be expensive.  For example, that little gold camel that you see in the above picture I found in a little shop in Bethlehem.  Everything in the shop was really expensive, the equivalent to hundreds and even thousands of US dollars but in a little basket in the corner was this one little camel.  I paid about five US dollars for him and he happens to be my favorite thing that I brought back from Israel.  Be on the look out and you are sure to find things that uniquely fit you and your home!

I really hope you enjoyed this post.  We are in weird times but I have learned that being creative has been the perfect outlet so I hope I was able to share a little of that with you today!

Hang in there and keep creating!

side table (similar)//throw pillows//glass box//art print one//art print two//art print three//tray (similar)//candle//globe (similar)//curtains//floor lamp//table lamp//mirror//grecian bust//rug