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Bourbon Plum Butter

When we moved to California, we were lucky to find the perfect little starter house for us.  It came with a plum tree, or as I came to learn, a pluot tree.  These lovely little fruits are in season right now, so naturally, this last week’s menu has been saturated with pluot recipes.  I whipped up a pluot and sweet cherry torte for a pot luck, muddled up a few in some drinks, and finally used the remainder of our bounty in a breakfast butter.  The butter is slow cooked to create a beautiful deep red color.  It would be a perfect addition to your next brunch served on toasted crostinis with goat cheese.  Enjoy! -Josie

Ingredients:

Roughly 1lb. of pluots

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c water

1/4 t cardamom

1/4 t cinnamon

1 oz bourbon

Method:

  1. Pit pluots and cut into 1 inch pieces leaving the skin on.  Place into a medium, non-reactive saucepan.  Add sugar and water to pan with fruit.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until fruit is very soft, 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a food processor or blender.  Puree fruit mixture until smooth.
  2. Rinse saucepan and return fruit puree to pan.  Stir in cardamom, cinnamon, and bourbon.  Cook over low heat for roughly 45 minutes to an hour or until mixture is thick enough to spread, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Yields: 10-12 oz

*Note: If you prefer a sweeter taste, add another quarter cup of sugar.  Pluots can be tart.  Regular plums can also be used in place of pluots.

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Gems of the Pacific Northwest

One of the really incredible things about living in Sacramento is how close you are to so many different climates and scenery.  Within roughly two hours you can be at the beach, the mountains, a forest, or the desert if you so desire.  If you hop on a plane, you can be in Washington in the same amount of time.  And I must say, it is one hundred percent worth it.

Josh and I went up to the Olympic National Park for this birthday weekend, and it was spectacular.  It helped that the area was experiencing relief from the ever present rain that weekend.  The sun was out and the weather was absolutely perfect.  We decided to rent a car and take a little road trip around the perimeter of the park so we could see a good portion of it on our short weekend trip.  We made a few stops along the way, which I am eager to share with you.

Stop #1: Port Angeles

I love being around water.  On it, in it, whatever.  Though we didn’t have a lot of time to spend there, I loved the minutes we did.  I would definitely enjoy getting to know this spot a little more at another time.  Take some time at Lake Crescent on your way out of Port Angeles.  The water is so still and the reflections are incredible.  Sometimes it was hard to tell if something was actually a reflection or not!

Stop #2: Forks

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Even though this was my husband’s birthday trip, we spent a little more time here than we normally would have because of me.  Yes, I read the Twilight series, and yes, I enjoyed it.  Don’t lie…you did too.

Stop#3: Hoh Rainforest

Maybe more importantly than Twilight, Forks leads into the main point of our trip, which was to take a small backpacking trip in the Hoh Rainforest.  This place was incredible!  I am by no means a seasoned backpacker, and I loved every minute of this trek.  Definitely a great way to start out in backpacking if you are interested.  We camped at 5 Mile Island.  A tree sort of fell on the facilities at the campground and the next bathrooms were 7 more miles down the trail.  I’m not thrilled the whole going in the woods thing, but the overall experience of being in such a beautiful place made it worth the discomfort of being without a potty.

Stop #4: Ruby Beach

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A quick stop for us, but totally worth it.  After climbing over an enormous maze of driftwood, we took a stroll along the shores of the northwest coastline.

Stop #5: Seabrook

We sort of stumbled upon this little resort town on our drive and were super pleased that we did.  Seabrook, Washington is a cute little spot begging to be on someone’s Instagram.  We stopped here for lunch at Frontager’s Pizza Co.  It was so Pinterest perfect on the inside, but that doesn’t always mean you are going to have good food.  Thankfully, Frontager’s delivered.  I recommend getting the goat cheese pizza.  SO YUMMY!

Stop #6: Aberdeen

Ok, at first glance Aberdeen, Washington might not seem like much, but as we discovered, it is home to one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in a long time.  We walked in to Rediviva with no expectations and were completely blown away.  We had a great conversation with the owner, Andy, and come to find out he also owns the pizza place in Seabrook we ate at earlier!  This place was gorgeous on the inside and we ordered dishes that were common to the Pacific Northwest.  I had the sturgeon and my husband had steelhead.  Both dishes were sublime.  Perfectly cooked, seasoned, and paired with fresh vegetables and various sides.  To top off his birthday weekend, we indulged in the beignets drizzled in a bourbon sauce that was to die for.  Everything was perfect.  Highly, highly recommend this place.

Stop #7: Seattle

Our last stop on our quick tour was a brief afternoon in Seattle.  We walked down to Pike’s Place Market and had chowder and grilled salmon from Jack’s Fish Place.  It isn’t fancy, but the chowder was really good and you didn’t have to wait forever to be served.  It also had the charm of being right in the thick of the market, which, due to the fantastic weather that day, was bustling.  Other than food, I recommend taking in all the gorgeous fresh flowers the market has to offer.  The bouquets they put together are breathtaking.

Then, if you’re a fabric junkie like me, you absolutely have to go to Drygoods Designs in Pioneer Square.  This shop is so lovely with its artfully curated fabrics and unique collection of sewing patterns and books.  They offer a wide range of Rifle Paper Co. goods, obviously including their fabrics.  If you have the time, you should look into taking a sewing class from them.  It is on my bucket list if I’m ever in Seattle for longer than a couple days.  The sample projects lining the wall look amazing!

 

 

*All photos taken with the iPhone 7 and edited with VSCO app

Texas-Style Guacamole

As previously stated, my husband and I love to cook.  One of our favorite dishes to bring to gatherings is a super easy and very tasty bowl of guacamole.  We started our quest to make a delicious guac after having some of the best at San Antonio restaurant, Zinc.  (You should have the Zinc burger, too.)  After throwing together a few batches, we came up with our own version of classic guacamole.  The important thing to remember about this recipe is that you can make any changes you want.  The amounts are relative to your tastes, so have fun creating something unique to you!

Josh & Josie’s Guac

What to make it with:
  • 2 Avocados, smashed
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 Small red onion, diced
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Orange
  • Kosher salt to taste
What to do:
  1. Peel and mash avocados roughly in a large mixing bowl with a fork.  We like to leave our guac a little chunky, but the consistency is totally up to you!  Really get in there and smooth it out if you want to.
  2. Add prepared tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, and Serrano pepper to avocados and mix well.  If you really like it spicy, throw in a second pepper.  Love tomatoes?  Add a second.
  3. Juice both limes into the mixture.  Half the orange and squeeze in just a splash of fresh juice.  Mix the juices in well.
  4. Add kosher salt to taste.
  5. Enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips!

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Himalayan Salt Mortar & Pestle | Williams-Sonoma

Grace Over Guilt | Looking At Wellness Differently

Do not eat that girl scout cookie.  

Don’t do it.

Stop.

Ugh…you have absolutely no willpower.  Unbelievable….

While slightly humorous, so goes the inner self-deprecating dialogue that attempts to guilt me into making healthier choices for myself.  I ask myself what negative self-talk has ever actually done for me.  Nothing, except make me feel worse.

I have recently started to follow a blog by Robin Long called The Balanced Life.  Robin creates online pilates programs for busy women and is passionate about finding a balance with health and fitness.  Her belief is that guilt doesn’t work as a long-term motivator, and she reminds her followers to choose grace over guilt.

It can be extremely difficult to change your way of thinking when it comes to how you see and talk to yourself.  I know this from personal experience.  However, after a particularly difficult week working with young adolescents facing suicidal thoughts and actions, I am realizing just how important it is to take care of yourself physically and, maybe especially, mentally.  These children shared their stories of self-hatred, brought about in their minds by feeling or looking different.  I listened to every horrible thing they had to say about themselves, and I considered how much damage negative self-talk can do to a person.

So here’s to choosing to offer myself grace over guilt.  I am thankful I do not suffer from depression or another serious mental illness.  Like many women, my negativity usually centers around my body and how I see myself physically.  I aim to shift my way of thinking about health and fitness to see it as an avenue to love myself rather than another guilt-ridden conversation.  I don’t imagine I will be perfect at it, but I believe we owe it to our youth to be the example and model a balanced, healthy life.  I’ve never learned anything so well as when I’ve been expected to teach it, so why not this?

 

 

Paris Restaurant Guide

 

Oh Paris…  You were wonderful.  Beautiful views, spectacular architecture, and absolutely incredible food.  It should be, right?  I mean, Julia Child wouldn’t have totally changed the focus of her life after having your sole meunière if it wasn’t something truly scrumptious.  Traveling to Paris and watching Julie & Julia on the plane ride home had me itching to come back and offer up a few eateries for you to try on your next trip.

Le Mary Céleste

Located in the Marais district of Pairs, this little gem should not be overlooked.  Especially if you like oysters.  I don’t even like oysters, and I could’ve eaten the entire half dozen we ordered.  They were fantastic!  Cold and flavored perfectly with a slightly spicy citrus sauce…  Don’t stop there, though.  The tapas style menu allows you to sample as many delectable dishes as you choose.  While the menu changes daily, I definitely recommend getting the braised beef if it is available.  Braised for 24 hours, you aren’t going to find a more tender, deliciously seasoned beef than what Josh and I had as our final dish of the night.  Just thinking about it makes me hungry…  Make sure you have a reservation.  The restaurant is small, and while there is a bar, it is no guarantee that you will have a seat.

Le Régalade

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Ah!  This place…  Lush, red velvet chairs settled amongst white washed walls and dark wood beams.  Scallops (Saint Jacques) served in beautiful half-shells and covered in black truffles.  A crab bisque, so light and frothy yet still rich.  Should I go on?  I can.  Josh ordered a soufflé for dessert that was baked just before it was brought out to him.  I dined on a perfectly baked pear with a sweet almond filling sitting atop dark chocolate drizzles.  The dinner took over two hours to finish, but it was time well spent.  Every dish came out fresh, hot, and sublime.  Nothing was rushed.  Everything was perfect.

Racines 2

On our last night in Paris, we reserved a table at Racines 2.  Up until this point, we had yet to have a bad meal.  We were desperately hoping our last one would not be the exception to the rule we had come to expect.  Thankfully, we were not disappointed.  I began my meal with a sample of ravioli alongside butternut squash and walnuts.  Gorgeous kale leaves were baked to perfection giving just the right amount of crunch to the dish.  If available, you should definitely try the lamb.  It really was something.  And because it is Paris, order the chocolate ganache for dessert and contemplate why you’ve never had anything so wonderful before.  The kitchen is open to the dining area, so you are able to watch the chefs as they prepare your meal.  A great experience all around.

Ladurée

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Yes, I know this is a tourist destination.  Yes, I know they have them in the States.  You know what else?  I don’t care.  During the inevitable shopping day (it’s Paris, duh!), wander over to the location on the Champs Elysée and grab a bite for lunch.  If not lunch, go simply for the decadent macarons.  I really enjoy macarons, but I have never tasted any like those I had from Ladurèe in Paris.  Amazing!  If you do stay for lunch, Josh recommends the salmon club sandwich, and I say try the Croque Monsieur.  While you eat, feast your eyes on the beautifully decorated rooms in the classic French style.  You will feel like royalty.

One tip for eating in Paris: always make reservations!  Thankfully, you can easily make reservations online for all of these recommendations.

Bon Appétit!

V-Day Card Roundup

Sometimes it can be hard to find the perfect card.  There have been countless times I’ve stood in a store and hated absolutely every card in sight.  Here are a few of my favorite Valentines Day cards from some of my favorite artists/stationery companies.

  1. “Sending You A Boatload Of Love” – Rifle Paper Co.
  2. “All Yours” – Red Cap Cards
  3. “So Happy To Have You In My Life” – Ferme A Papier
  4. “I’m So Lucky I Found You” – Hello!Lucky

36 Hours in Your Home: “Staycation” Essentials

Text conversation with a friend:

Her: Hey, would you be interested in seeing La La Land with me tonight?

Me: Oh man, yes I would but we are in San Diego…

Her: [Crying emojis] Bummer. What days of the month are you typically home?

Me: Tuesdays haha

Her: So Tuesdays you guys are home and you go to your jobs on those days? Otherwise you’re in Texas, Chicago, SD, or Bangladesh?

Ok, so maybe my husband and I go places a lot (Bangladesh is a stretch)…  It’s true.  With our families living in different states and our love of seeing new places, we travel all the time.  In fact, we were supposed to be going to Florida over our long weekend, but plans changed.  I have to say, though, that staying home has its advantages.  No delayed flights, mediocre airport food, time changes, or jet lag.

Staying home can also be the perfect time to focus on yourself and get in a few things you enjoy before starting the work week again.  I love taking weekends at home to move a little slower and absorb each moment.  The New York Times puts out a “36 Hours in…” series that recommends things to do in different places throughout the world all in a weekend.  I wanted to offer you 36 Hours in Your Home to show that staying home can be just as fun as traveling elsewhere.

Friday

5pm – Get Out of the Office On Time

That’s it.  Leave.  Really.  The rest can wait until Monday, I promise.

7pm – Restaurant You’ve Never Tried

Pick out a restaurant in your area that you’ve never been to, grab an other, and go experience something new in your own back yard.

9pm – Movie Time

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Take your other or yourself to a movie.  If the weather is good, see if there are outdoor movies playing.  Better yet, go home and watch a movie.  There, sweatpants and dirty hair are acceptable.  No one is worried about sharing armrest space, and there is a pause button when you really have to get up and pee.

Saturday

8am – Yoga

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I know… 8am on a Saturday that you have nothing to do?  Just trust me.  It’s worth it.  Get up and take yourself through a practice.  It doesn’t have to be more than 15 minutes, but it will get you moving and start your mind in a good place for the day.  Try a practice from Gaia and see what you think.  Once finished, hydrate and shower.

9am – Pancakes

Just this morning, my husband and I made a batch of whole wheat pancakes.  It was so nice to be able to slow down and not worry about the pressure of time like when you go to a restaurant.  If I want to take three hours to eat my food, I can!  In truth, we all should eat a little slower.  It helps with digestion and weight control.  The best part of making breakfast together is the opportunity to talk and laugh with each other.

No husband?  No problem.  Take the time for yourself.  Prior to being married, I loved taking the time to make myself breakfast and stop to appreciate all the great things I had in my life.  Not to mention the pancakes I was about to feed myself.  Plus, making your own pancakes is WAY cheaper and healthier than going to IHOP.

10am – Pull Out Your Hobbies

Make today about what you like to do.  Lately my hobby ADHD has taken me to the realm of surface pattern design.  I love taking classes through Skillshare and learning more about the industry through courses offered from Bonnie Christine and Elizabeth Olwen.  Atly is another great place to learn new skills.

pattern design

So for a few hours this morning, do something you enjoy.  Read a book, sketch, write, make a quilt, that thing you’ve always said you wanted to do but haven’t.  Whatever!  Just do it.

12pm – Treat Yourself Lunch

Treat yourself to that trendy lunch spot you’ve looked at but said you weren’t going to pay that much for chicken salad.  One of my favorite places in the Sacramento area is Selland’s Market Cafe.  The “Josh” pizza is delicious!  Not just saying so because my husband’s name is Josh…

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2pm – Afternoon a la Plaza

After you’ve taken your time at that adorable lunch spot, take a walk around the town.  Go to the park, window shop, shop for real – just move.  But while you move, observe.  Really take in and appreciate where you are.  You may notice a store you’ve never seen before.  I love finding new little bookshops to look in.  Have a conversation with a shop owner or that lady you run into every time you’re in the grocery store.  The idea is to change your experience with the routine places you see everyday.

5pm – Finish Your Project

Come home from your afternoon stroll and finish that project you started earlier today.  Share your progress with the world through social media or don’t.  One of my goals this year is to remember that some things I make can be just for me.  No one else has to see them.

7pm – Cook Something New

I am a hoarder of cookbooks.  I love them.  I guarantee you I have never made every recipe in one before buying another one.  There are plenty of new recipes to try.  Give it a shot!  If it’s terrible, that’s what take out is for.

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Sunday

10am – Spiritual Time

I am a church-goer.  Taking time in your day to focus on your beliefs and then refocus your life is essential.

12pm – Lunch with Friends

Spend a little time with the important people in your life.  Maybe that means going to a restaurant.  It could also mean inviting people to a leisurely afternoon at your house.

5pm – At Home Spa

Put on that fuzzy robe and pamper yourself for a few hours.  Aim to be alone for a little while to decompress from being with and serving others.  Light a few candles, soak your feet, and don a face mask.  My favorite candles are from Voluspa.  Their scents are amazing without being overpowering or making you want a sugar cookie.  Formulary 55 makes an incredible foot soak that is worth every penny.  I’m not really the one you should ask about face masks, but I am currently loving the Luna oil from Sunday Riley.  It smells like green tea and is very relaxing.

7pm – Eat a Light Dinner

You have to get up early tomorrow, so don’t chow down on a huge dinner.  Eat something light and nutrient heavy like a stir fry.  You might try cooking your vegetables a little longer if you notice that close to raw veggies make you bloat and feel heavy in your stomach.  It isn’t comfortable to go to sleep with that feeling.

8pm – Grab a Tennis Ball

No, seriously.  You can give yourself a great massage with a tennis ball.  By placing the ball between your tension spots and a wall or floor, you can massage away a great deal of stress.  Use it essentially how you would use a foam roller but for a lot less money.  Dalton Wong and Kate Faithfull-Williams offer a great tennis ball routine in their book, The Feelgood Plan.

10pm – Sleep

Be in bed and heading to sleepy town by 10pm.  Studies show that this is the optimal time to go to bed to allow yourself for enough time to sleep.  Turn off your phone and computer.  As tempting as it is to lay in bed with your electronic devices and stare at Instagram until you fall asleep, don’t.  The lights emitted by your devices actually hinder you from sleeping properly.  Also, wear loose clothing.  Tight clothing can reduce melatonin production by more than half.

 

I hope you enjoy your weekend at home!

 

 

 

Packing Light for the Chronic Over-Packer

 

AHHHH!!!  I’m going to Europe again!  In case you weren’t fully able to interpret the capital letters at the start of this post, I am extremely excited.  I can’t wait to experience new places with my favorite person.

My husband and I plan to visit a few different cities in Spain and then spend a couple days in Paris.  Our trip is scheduled for February, and we plan to take only one backpack a piece.  Packing is definitely going to be a challenge as we will need to make differing winter climates and limited space work together.

Let me take you back a few years before traveling (by plane) was really a thing that I did on the regular.  Let me take you back to a time before my husband.  I was a chronic over-packer.  When my family would go on road trips, I would pack multiple suitcases for a week long trip.  And these suitcases were not small.  I had this idea that essentially everything I owned needed to come with me on this trip because “you never know,” right?  One must always be prepared for the unknown, and 7 days means 15 shirts because I may get ketchup on one, and I probably won’t like how I look in that outfit on Thursday, and…the list goes on.

Then I met my husband and started traveling a lot more on a plane.  There’s this almost rule in his family that you can’t check a bag.  If it doesn’t fit in a carry-on, you don’t need it.  Turns out, they were right.  Plus, the more I flew, the more I hated waiting at the baggage claim.  Taking a carry-on really is the way to go.

Believe it or not, people, you can actually fit everything you need for one week (even 2 or 3) in a backpack or a small carry-on.  Here are some tips for packing light.

Pack only what you will absolutely need.

packing-light-photoHow many times have you packed for a trip and only used about half of what is actually in your suitcase.  Guess what?  You don’t actually need that many extra outfits or shoes because it won’t kill you to wear the same outfit more than once in a week.  This was a hard lesson for me to learn.  In my mind, people were bound to notice if I wore the same thing too close together.  In truth, no one cares.  If it doesn’t smell or have visible stains on it, you’re good to go!  Lay out everything you think you need, and then take each item and really consider whether or not it is necessary.  Bring things that are versatile and will layer well.  I love looking at Sara Watson’s packing light ideas when deciding what to bring on my trips.

You also don’t need to follow your extensive skin care routine each night while abroad.  Save yourself the space and take only the essentials.  A good cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen will do the trick.  Get back to your multi-step regimen when you return.  Travel sizes are a must due to TSA requirements, so go stock up.  They have travel sizes of just about everything, even the life-saving dry shampoo.  Pick yourself up a few empty travel size bottles for the things that you can’t purchase.  However, limit yourself to taking only what you absolutely need.  Even travel sizes can get out of hand quickly.

Leave the hairdryer and curlers at home.  This doesn’t mean you have to look like a total bum every day.  Research and practice a few ways to fix your hair without using those items.  Plus, the place you’re staying might have them for you anyway.  I love watching Twist Me Pretty for inspiration.  Sea salt spray is also a nice thing to throw in your bag to add a little volume to your air-dried hair.  If you can’t live without curling your hair, look into buying travel size sets or a more compact version of your iron.

 

Learn to roll your clothing.

It is a huge space saver, and if done right, actually keeps your clothes from getting too wrinkled.  Stuff your socks, belts, and scarves in your shoes.  Check out Real Simple’s guides on packing effectively.  If you want a more thorough course, you might be interested in Travel Fashion Girl’s tips.   rolling-shirt-intro-ictcrop_gal

Save some space for souvenirs.

Duh, I’m going to purchase a few mementos from my trip.  On my first venture overseas, my friend and I ended up shipping things home since we didn’t have the space in our packs to carry it.  My goal this time is to keep from doing that.  However, it is always an option if needed.  You don’t want to leave so much at home that you are uncomfortable with your appearance and general hygiene and therefore are more focused on that than your trip.

Find a good purse.

Finding a good purse is important for many reasons.  You need one that makes it difficult for pick-pockets to get into as well as one that will actually hold what you need.  My favorite purse for this was recommended to me by a friend.  It is Fossil bag that unfortunately is no longer offered; however, they have other similar options.  When looking for your own travel friendly purse, consider these things.

  • Crossbody straps: This style bag makes it harder for people to snatch and run off with your things.
  • Space: Look for a mid-size bag that will hold your camera an other necessary items.  That tiny one, or the oversized tote, may be cute, but not exactly functional.
  • Zippers & Flaps: I not only look for purses with zippers to travel with, I look for those with flaps too.  Having both a flap that folds down over a zipper is doubly discouraging to wandering hands.  I love the look of this Harper Saddle Crossbody bag from Fossil.

Now go enjoy your travels!

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3

Feature Photo: The Sunday Chapter

Longing for Warmer Weather: Free Desktop Background

They lied.  Those people who told me it never rains in California lied.  This week in Sacramento has been one dreary stretch of days.  Yes, yes… I know it is needed, and that I shouldn’t complain about the life giving waters, but when you’re solar powered like me, consecutive days with no sun really gets you down.

Thankfully today seems to have brought back my beloved yellow friend, and I want to celebrate by offering up the pattern I made to cheer me up during the last couple dark days.  Hope you enjoy!

Download Warmer Weather desktop background here.

Becoming Jane: Why You Should Add Portraits of People You Don’t Know to Your Home

janeI want to be Jane Austen.  Ok, not really because she actually had a challenging life.  However, I wouldn’t mind living in one of her books.  Anyone else out there feel the same way?  So since I can’t physically insert myself into her writings, I will settle for creating spaces that remind me of that time.

If you’ve ever been in my home, you will know that I like old things.  Any time period, really.  I liked how a friend of mine described my style to someone.  She said, “It’s like you smushed Anthropologie and an antique store together.”  Pretty accurate.  In my quest to put a little more of the 1800s in my life, I have now decided I need to scour antique stores and estate sales for portraits of people I don’t know to display on my walls.  And maybe some fruit.  Because, look how cool…

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And I’m off to see what I can find with some parting advice from Jane herself:

“Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.”                                                                                                                                             -Pride & Prejudice

Fill your life (and your house) with things that make you happy and forget others opinions on the matter.  Happy 2017!

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6