Between Winterpocalypseicysnowmageddon and whatever was up with my brain yesterday, I am happy to say “TGIF!” Here are some rad links from around the internet.

Grace Coddington on Instagram | TGIF! Hannah & Husband

Grace Coddington is on Instagram, and she did a doodle of Peter Copping after his first show for Oscar de la Renta. There’s also a cat… because: Grace.

Anne Lamott "Stitches" |  on Brain Pickings | TGIF! Hannah & HusbandOne of my favorite reasons the internet exists is Maria Popova’s site Brain Pickings. This week, she did a post about Anne Lamott’s book “Stitches” that we both found fascinating. It’s about the difference between routine and ritual.

“… routine grants us the stable platform within, from which we can begin not only to tolerate but perhaps even to enjoy the shaky messiness without.”

(Click here to read about one of our favorite rituals.)

We’ve mentioned historic Twitter accounts in the past. Well, I’ve found a new one that’s a pretty funny play on the Civil War. (I know, that sentence sounds totally wacky to me too.) I started following @themarychesnut on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, and this week I discovered there’s a tumblr that’s even better called “A Diary from Dixie.” See a sample below.

@themarychesnut | TGIF! Hannah & Husband

Saving the best for last…

Gael Towey's Portraits in Creativity "Maira Kalman: My Favorite Things" |  | TGIF! Hannah & Husband

Gael Towey is a professional idol of mine, and I have loved watching her add to her Portraits in Creativity series. This week, she released a new short called “Maira Kalman: My Favorite Things” that documents and coincides with Maira’s Show Maira Kalman Selects currently at the Cooper Hewitt Museum.

(For more of my swooning over Maira, click here.)

52 Books a Year

WPA January Reading Poster

vintage WPA poster

A couple weeks ago, my friend Caryn posted about her 52 Books a Year challenge on Instagram and asked if anyone would like to play along.

Her idea is simple…

My list of books to read continues to grow in exponential proportion to my list of read books. …I have the space to read, I just need the challenge to do it. 52 books a year is my challenge. I have invited friends to participate. Let me know if you want in!
[click here to read Caryn’s full post]

Needless to say, I am totally in love with this idea. However, being the slowest reader on earth, I’m going to mix it up a little bit. My plan is to intersperse my list with longer form poetry and children’s books to alleviate some of the pressure and really enjoy the process. Sometimes the coolest things to analyze are the simplest.

Do you guys remember this exercise in school?


When I was in 3rd grade, Mrs. Umberger had us copy poetry off the blackboard (yes, blackboard) every morning and respond to it aloud with the class. In AP English, this exercise was what got me hooked on The New Yorker magazine. And I believe my mom actually teaches a similar technique in her bible studies.

To me, it makes things personal. It also forces me to slow down (my brain not my speed of reading–seriously, slowest reader on earth) and really think about what I’m reading.

Like the idea of a book club?
Click here to read about starting your own.

So I’m working on my list. What would be on yours? Anything you’re dying to read or reread? Children’s? Non-fiction? I’m open to suggestions.


Posted on in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Keeping a Daily Record

Yearly Record | Hannah & Husband

I’ve been thinking about the value of keeping a daily record–both as a creative exercise and also as a way to find more value in the (sometimes mundane) everyday. In December, I posted a picture of an ornament from our tree on Instagram for each day leading up to Christmas. It was great for several reasons, but the two most important that I found were:

  1. I had to think about the value of a very simple object each day.
  2. It was a daily creative exercise that I could check off my list in less than a minute or two.

Daily calendars from Paper Source, Chronicle Books, and 1canoe2

There are many different ways people can keep a daily record. Chronicle Books has several different One _____ a Day journals for gardeners, cooks, and doodlers alike. This Perpetual Calendar from 1Canoe2 is interesting because it has a card for each day and a line for each year offering the user the ability to think back while documenting the day. Likewise, this Q&A 5 Year Journal from Paper Source asks the user to answer the same questions for a 5 year span. It seems like such an interesting way to document personal evolution, doesn’t it?

In looking back through some of my own notebooks and sketchbooks I found this quote from a talk Debbie Millman gave to Knoxville’s AIGA in January of 2012 right after she had written How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer

It takes a really long time for
meaningful things to happen.

As I read that quote today and looked back through my notes of her talking points, I think what she was speaking to was the fact that life is a process. Design is a process. We are in constant flux, and it is often difficult to see the big picture while you’re in the middle of the day-to-day.

But if you start to look closer at your day-to-day, I think there are some interesting things to be found. Two other notes that I found meaningful from that talk said…

Say yes!

Be aware of how you limit yourself.

So here are a few thoughts about keeping a daily record.

It is good to take note of where you are each day. What you’ve done and what you’re thankful for, what records you’ve listened to, what books you’re reading, what you cooked for dinner.

Forcing a habit that might seem uncomfortable at first is a great way to break through creative block. Record a little bit about your day (regardless of whether it’s a picture on Instagram or a line in a journal) and you may find yourself coming back to it later and seeing a little inspiration. David Sedaris, one of my favorite writers, has kept a journal for over 30 years. In 2009, he did a Q&A with  readers of The New Yorker and said this…

I’ve been keeping a diary for thirty-three years
and write in it every morning. Most of it’s just
whining, but every so often there’ll be something
I can use later: a joke, a description, a quote.
It’s an invaluable aid when it comes to winning
arguments. “That’s not what you said on
February 3, 1996,” I’ll say to someone.

Use a daily record to help you see the bigger picture. Look at the details. Are there patterns? Can you see mistakes you’re making? Limits you’re putting on yourself. Do your priorities begin to emerge?

So tell me, are you a record keeper? And if so, what’s your method of choice?

Further Reading if you’re interested:

“Famous Writers on the Importance of Keeping a Diary” on Brain Pickings

“How Keeping a Diary Can Surprise You” in the New York Times

Happy Christmas Eve

Hannah & Husband, Christmas 2014

A pic from Sunday. Downtown was all dressed up and so were we!

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! We have had such a lovely holiday season this year and plan on spending the next couple of days sipping sherry & espressos and listening to Nat on the record player. I also have a feeling I will be rereading our stack of Christmas books. (Did you read this post on A Cup of Jo about exchanging books on Christmas Eve in Iceland? I just love that!)

If you want a little something to read over the next few days or just need some quick, festive eye candy, here are a few things we’re digging around the interwebs…

Children’s Holiday Letters to Satan | The New Yorker

The New Yorker always has the best Christmas shorts. (In fact, if you’re in to that sort of thing, my in-laws got me Christmas at The New Yorker our first year all together, and I treasure it.) This year, my favorite was this one by Matt Passet, in which children mistakingly address their letters to “Satan,” and he responds. To the 9 year-old who asks for an Xbox:

This game “Grand Theft Auto” indeed seems quite fun, but why waste your days sitting in front of the TV when the sun is shining outside…  don’t remember reading about any shortage of cars, guns, or hookers. Dammit, Daniel, get out there and live!

Miss Yvonne in Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special

My Quest to Dress Like Miss Yvonne

I mentioned Miss Yvonne’s outfit in the Cocktails & Carols post and last night, I finally got a good picture of it. Check out that hair!


25 Days of Christmas Children’s Books

My friend Caryn, has been sharing a Christmas children’s book each day on Three Books a Night. I love when she does this each year, and my absolute favorite this time has been Hilary Knight’s “A Christmas Stocking Story.” Don’t you just love that little elephant?

Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye perform

Go watch White Christmas right now if you haven’t!

On Sunday, we had the pleasure of getting all gussied up and heading to the Tennessee Theatre to introduce some of our friends to White Christmas on the big screen! Isn’t it funny how you can watch certain movies again and again yet still catch  new things? My favorite part of that film is always the chemistry between Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.

In case you need a drink…

Last year, we had two signature cocktails for our Cocktails and Carols party: a Jingle Julep and a Sage Ginger Sparkler. Click here to get the recipes.


This Used Book Inscription

There are times when I see things at vintage shops and used book stores that I simply must have. Yesterday, just such a thing happened at the used book store where I was scouring the shelves for Jen Lancaster‘s book Such a Pretty Fat. (I fell in love with Jen the moment my friend Beth sent me the link for The Tao of Martha.) Anyway, when I opened the book, I saw this message written on the inside.

Inscription in the copy of Jen Lancaster's "Such a Pretty Fat" that I bought at the used book store yesterday.

This should make you LOL while reading it.
I hope you enjoy this and please quit taking yourself so seriously.
I love you just the way you are.
Just be healthy!

I Love You!

You know, sometimes you just need some maternal wisdom–even if it’s not from your own mother! So your message (and mine) for today is this: Stop taking yourself so seriously! Try your best, and then trust that you’re enough. You! Just the way you are.

And also, maybe pick up a Jen Lancaster book. It really will make you “LOL.”


Life Lately

Lightning Bugs | Hannah & Husband

Fireflies from a current project

I’m not gonna lie, life last week was a little cray. Now that I am (finally) over being sick there was a lot of work to catch up on at ye old HGTV. (I can’t wait to share some of the crazy-cool stuff going on there, but you’ll have to wait until later this fall.) Things at home have been pretty busy too despite how serene that sparkly and library book look…

Creativity Inc. | Hannah & Husband

By the way, this book? Loving it! Is anyone else reading it?

Multi-tasking | Hannah & Husband

This guy. So multi-talented. Some people complain about life being mundane or routine–we’ve never had that issue. In the picture above, he’s game-planning an epic response to the #RockyTopChallenge.

The idea is simple: Pride of the Southland alumni (like Husband) are challenged to sing/perform Rocky Top or give $25 to the Pride of the Southland scholarship fund. (Truth be told, I think everyone is doing both.)

Also on the list of mixing it up a little bit: redoing our entire kitchen. Y’all aren’t even going to believe the before & after photos. Butcher block countertops, penny round tile… I cooked dinner for the first time in the halfway-finished-space tonight, and I felt like I was hosting a show on Food Network.

Cutting countertops for the big kitchen reno. | Hannah & Husband

I can’t even tell you how thankful I am for these guys! They came over to help Husband install the countertops and watching them work together fascinated me.

Tile for the big kitchen reno. | Hannah & Husband

Hannah & Husband

So yeah, life is both hectic and awesome. A scene we’ve been quoting a lot lately…

Hers & His

Hers & His | Hannah & Husband



Over the weekend, I started reading One-Woman Farm: My Life Shared with Sheep, Pigs, Chickens, Goats, and a Fine Fiddle by Jenna Woginrich. From what I understand, several years ago Jenna Woginrich literally had my job as a graphic designer at Scripps. But after several years of corporate life, she decided to leave the cubicle behind and buy her own farm in Washington County, New York. This book is about her first year on that farm, and (blame the Green Acres complex) I have been completely enchanted with it. She talks very poetically about the tasks that fill her days from one October to the next, but she also describes a completely different way of thinking about time. 

Farmers have different hours, holidays, and seasons than those of us that sit inside from 9 to 5 everyday. One such “holiday” of sorts that she mentions in the beginning of book has really stuck with me: “Days of Grace.”

“…the Days are what farmers in this area call the time of year between fall’s fireworks and the first snowfall–when everything in nature is in a state of transition and naked waiting. This fragile period is a window of reverent preparation, a gift of last chances to farmers in our four-season climate to get everything done before the winter nails us.”

Transitions have been front and center in my mind as of late. As Husband continues his job search, and I try to jump on every opportunity that comes across my desk, I keep thinking that this odd little limbo we’re in will eventually produce a clear picture. But what exactly are we doing to prepare for it?


Ah NYC, the land of arts & culture… Yesterday in the sculpture garden at the MoMA a garden party was held for 2 of my favorite artists: Maira Kalman & Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket). It was a 1930s-style soiree to celebrate Maira and Daniel’s new book published in partnership with the museum: Girls Standing on Lawns. (You can view some pics from the party on @MoMA_Live‘s twitter.) The book is full of photographs from the museum’s “vernacular photography” collection as well as new original paintings by Kalman and prose by Handler. (I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!)

I’d also suggest reading this piece on how the book came to be by the MoMA’s Charles Kim.


While we’re on the subject: If you’ve never heard this Fresh Air interview with Daniel Handler, stop everything and listen now.

Need a little enticement? There is an accordion version of a Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” and at one point Mr. Handler references the fact that “And then I hit puberty, which wrecked my career as a boy soprano.” Not to mention the fact that Terry Gross giggles like a little school girl for the better part of the hour.


Maira and Daniel performing an Ode to Libraries…

Hers & His | Hannah & Husband



Thanks to Amazon Prime teaming up with HBO, I’ve finally started “The Wire”. Thanks to a wicked cold last week, I had a lot of time to watch “The Wire”. It’s realistic, gritty, and just as amazing as everyone has said.

Plus–Idris Elba. Speaking of, if you like Mr. Elba and “The Wire”, you must check out “Luther” from the BBC. It is streaming on Netflix. Don’t watch it late at night. You’ve been warned.


I stumbled back across this on the radio the other day and the poem inside hit all the feels. Hindemith’s Sonata for Alto Horn and Piano has a dialogue poem to start the fourth movement. When I performed it on my college recital we skipped the poem (since I played it on saxophone it made a little less sense), but it really stood out to me as I heard the recording.

The Posthorn (Dialogue)

Horn Player:
Is not the sounding of a horn to our busy souls
(even as the scent of blossoms wilted long ago,
or the discolored folds of musty tapestry,
or crumbling leaves of ancient yellowed tomes)
like a sonorous visit from those ages
which counted speed by straining horses’ gallop,
and not by lightening prisoned up in cables;
and when to live and learn they ranged the countryside,
not just the closely printed pages?
The cornucopia’s gift calls forth in us
a pallid yearning, melancholy longing.

The old is good not just because it’s past,
nor is the new supreme because we live with it,
and never yet a man felt greater joy
than he could bear or truly comprehend.
Your task it is, amid confusion, rush, and noise
to grasp the lasting, calm, and meaningful,
and finding it anew, to hold and treasure it.

Hers & His

Hers & His | Hannah & Husband



I’m finally reading Julia Child’s My Life in Paris, and I cannot believe it has taken me so long! I bought the book in 2009, the year Julie and Julia came out–such a stereotype. That was also when I fell in love with the cookbooks but, not being an avid reader until recently, I’m just now picking it up. The way she describes the food and the markets is, of course, completely enchanting. But what I’ve really loved is her little observations. Here are two that I wrote down in my notebook…

[Speaking of her walks with her husband Paul, an artist] “I discovered that when one follows the artist’s eye one sees unexpected treasures in so many seemingly ordinary scenes.”

“In late 1949, the newspapers informed us that something called “television” was sweeping the States like a hailstorm. People across the country, the papers said, we’re building ‘TV rumpus rooms’… in order to sit around for hours watching this magical new box. …When we read an article about the horrifying effects of TV on American home life…”

Hers & His | Hannah & Husband



Speaking of television. I have serious, hardcore fangirl feelings for Mindy Kaling. And the season finale of The Mindy Project is Tuesday night, y’all! Last week I tweeted this after watching Mindy throw a mug out the window because there was a bug in it…


Side Note: If you haven’t read it yet, her book will make you laugh out loud! It’s a total must read. 

Hers & His | Hannah & Husband



I’ve been reading Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God. I must admit, I started it feeling very separated from religion, but as I’ve read this skeptics historic view I’ve come to question many of his arguments. The historic norm doesn’t necessarily mean the historic every time, most notably as it applies to Joseph of Arimathea. Never underestimate the power of rich friends. That being said, still keep me firmly in the ecumenical camp. Religion, like style, is a highly personal thing.

Hers & His | Hannah & Husband


Can’t talk.
I DVR’d 24.

Hers & His



I heard a podcast a couple of weeks ago that really stood out and motivated me, and I plan on going back and listening one more time: Alton Brown talks with Robert Sparks about art and art collecting. Hannah and I have always been interested in surrounding ourselves with beautiful things, but also that it is a duty for people to support artists by buying their work. Too often people thing “I can make that”, or something similar, but if you like the art don’t steal the idea–buy it and support the creator. 


The grass grow (or not).

Barren Yard


Hannah recently bought me a beautiful edition of “The Catcher in the Rye”. This is one I missed in school (not that I likely would have read it had it been assigned. I’ve made a commitment to myself to go back and read or reread some standards of literature now that I’m a little less, well, a little less of a Holden.



I really love cool podcasts and have recently become addicted to one in particular: The Dinner Party Download. Each week hosts Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam share news, stories, and even cocktail recipes and etiquette lessons to help you dazzle friends and strangers alike at the next dinner party you attend. The pace is quick and the guests are always fantastic. (Particular favorites recently include: BJ Novak reading a piece from his new book and Wes Anderson talking about his new film.)


Ok, I know not everyone is as into podcasts as I am, but there’s one more that I loved hearing recently. It was all about I Love Lucy and was a part of Studio 360’s American Icons series. Basically, it gave a lot of the history behind how the show was made but, more than that, how it has influenced everything that came after– female lead, characters seeking fame, an interracial couple, Cuba. And then this, which I watch every time I start to get really cynical about this great country of ours (which Husband can tell you is often)…



Other Places Hannah’s Been Lately:

HGTV’s Design Happens

Today on HGTV, we’re celebrating the launch of Spring House. There is a ton of gorgeous inspiration designed by Brian Patrick Flynn and put together by Kayla Kitts. To get in on the fun several bloggers, including myself, styled bar carts. You can see my casual faux bar cart here.

Made + Remade

March was “Wear It” month on Made + Remade, and I had the privilege of interviewing designer, knitter, & author Emma Robertson for our Creative Genius series. See the Q&A here.

How YA Fiction Works

Attention fellow bibliophiles, my friend Casey recently launched a blog: How YA Fiction Works. I was lucky enough to help her pull together the look for her new site where she analyzes what works (and so often doesn’t) about Young Adult fiction. Be sure to click over and check it out.
(You may also want to follow Casey on twitter: @CaseyMarieNYC. Her thoughts in 140 characters or less are among my favorites.)

Hers & His



Have you ever been in the midst of a conversation and thought to yourself, “Am I actually losing brain cells right now? Didn’t I used to be smarter than this?” I felt this way the other night when I was watching the engagement party episode of Parks & Recreation and found myself analyzing the top 5 reasons I thought it was one of the best examples of situation comedy ever. (Seriously: the unity quilt… We’re a twizzlers family…? Come on!)

So when I started reading My Fair Lazy this weekend I thought, “This is soooo the book I need right now!” It begins with the writer, Jen Lancaster, sitting across from her idol, Candace Bushnell who says she’s really into Baudelaire at the moment. Jen wonders, is baudelaire is a type of noodle? At which point, she decides to culture up.

2 Things:

1.) You may remember that I fell in love with Jen Lancaster last fall when I read The Tao of Martha. Now, thanks to my friend Beth’s fabulous recommendation, Jen is officially on my ‘favorite literary people’ list, and I will be reading all of her books in good time.

2.) A warning: Jen’s books are not good for bedtime reading as you will wake up your bedmate with laughter.

Watching (About Reading)

This week, the New Yorker debuted the trailer for B.J. Novak’s first book. As if I wasn’t already excited enough to read this one, Mindy Kaling co-starred in the trailer making those two my favorite BFFs on the inter webs.

Watching (& Eating)

Things I already believed, but now buy into wholeheartedly after a couple days of processed foods while on vacation. Make things at home.



I’ve been rereading a book of essays that I forgot I had already read, and I’m finding it quite forgettable again. Hannah bought me a couple of classics that I never got to in high school that I can’t wait to get to. Perhaps Catcher in the Rye will will finally change my life forever.


I finally started watching House of Cards. I don’t know why I waited this long. Princess Buttercup comes to the dark side to join Congressman Keyser Söze. Inconceivably (see what I did there?) addictive, as Netflix shows have tended to be.


Sometimes you just need to listen to some fun music, and this week NPR released 600 suggestions for your cabin fever playlist. Thanks NPR for the suggestions, but I’ll just stick with Tower Of Power.