A Favorite Female Artist: YangYang Pan

I heard an article on NPR last week about the value of work by female artists compared to male artists - on average, work by women sells for 40% less than work by male artists.  While this wasn't completely shocking to me (I've heard similar data and know just enough about the fine art world to know this is a real problem), it did bother me - but what can I do?  I can't change what is happening at the top of the art market, but I can be conscious of the choices I make in my own budget.  Not necessarily by only choosing female artists, but perhaps by working to support all independent artists.  More Etsy, less Target - you know?  Every time I have spent the money on art that I love, it feels so worthwhile.

The first "real" art purchase I made was on a few prints by an artist I found on Etsy named YangYang Pan.  I was thrilled to read on her Etsy page that she has now been featured by Anthropolgie, in several galleries and museum exhibitions, and was an Etsy Awards finalist.  So cool!

I found YangYang's work when I was decorating L's nursery.  That was the first room I really decorated from top to bottom, and I loved every inch of it.

Now that M has come along and both girls have transitioned to big-girl rooms, I have moved the prints around and split them between rooms, and they continue to work perfectly!  The colors feel so joyous to me, perfect for their bedrooms.

Winter Pastels

Something happens to me every year in January - I start craving pastels!  Sugary sweet, not too bright, but definitely a solid dose of color.  I spent so much of the fall on team "camel and black", and my summer uniform is solidly navy and white, but in this pre-spring season, once I've cleared out all of the Christmas decorations, I start gravitating towards baby pink and lavender in particular, although this year I found myself buying a pair of bright yellow mules!  Honestly, I'm mostly only wearing Uggs or rainboots in real life- but they are so cheerful in my closet! Ha.  I blame it on the week of grey skies we've had, but I see the sun trying to peek through today, and I am here to greet it with my cotton candy closet!
1. Gal Meets Glam Camilla Dress - Julia can do no wrong, as far as I'm concerned, and this would be such a lovely, light look for work after the excess of December.
2.  Kate Spade Sylvia Wallet - I have this in yellow (theme of the day??), but I would love to add this bubblegum pink to my repertoire.  Is it weird that I just want a row of rainbow colored wallets lined up on a shelf? 
3.  J. Crew Flower Drop Earrings - such a fun color to contrast with all of the pink!
4.  Rachel Parcell Wrap Cardigan - I scored this on sale and used a Nordstrom Note, and I am so thrilled that I took the risk! It's a little more romantic than I typically dress, but it is lovely on and so warm and cozy.
5.  J. Crew Factory Mini Hearts Necklace - I couldn't resist sneaking a Valentine's Day piece in here.  Hearts are always a good idea!
6. J. Crew Factory Bias Midi Skirt - I've seen the leopard version on a million bloggers, and it's so flattering, but these pink polka dots are just too cute. It's in my cart, but I never wear skirts, so I'm trying to figure out how I could pull it off.
7.  Kate Spade Jeweled Phone Case - I ordered this for myself as part of my pink party with the cardigan and a wallet.  Most of all, I love that I can finally see my phone in my bag because it's light-colored!
8. J. Crew Floral Bandana Scarf - so this accidentally turned into a J. Crew roundup, but there is so much beautiful color in their new arrivals this week!
9. J. Crew Lodge Coat - not new, but it would match my new shoes perfectly, plus it's on sale! ;)
10. J. Crew Tortoise Hanging Hoop Earrings - see? I can't help myself.  These would look good with so. many. colors. or with something neutral to pop.
11. J. Crew Ruffle-Neck Sweater - I mean.  This sweater is so pretty, it's not even fair.  But, it has a wool-blend, which I think would make me super itchy, especially with the turtleneck. Someone please buy it so I can live vicariously through you, k?
12. Lele Sadoughi Bow Barrette - I think we can all agree that Lele has officially taken over the accessories world for 2020? I am absolutely here for it.  Anything that allows me to channel my inner Blair Waldorf is a win in my book.
13.  J. Crew Round Blue Light Glasses - I have been toying with getting some blue light glasses for a while, but I can't decide if I can pull these off for a while (or, really, if I even need blue light glasses LOL - I'm not on the computer all that much). Thoughts on the blue light phenomenon??
14.  Abound Amelya Mules - I found these on a Nordstrom Rack date with my shopping BFF and could NOT stop thinking about them.  I think this was the day I realized I needed to add some color back into my closet, because everything I picked up was yellow, pink, floral, or purple.  They didn't have my size, so I ended up ordering them.  Love!
15. J. Crew Pointelle Sweater -  This one is cotton, so I've been watching as sizes pop in and out of stock, and I might just do it!  It's so pretty, and would be great in spring when the temperatures warm up just a bit.
16. Kate Spade Polly Crossbody - I went back and forth over some kind of pastel blue crossbody, looking at Kate Spade and on ThredUp.  I ended up with a lovely ivory bag from Mark and Graham that is more of a tote (I'm actually obsessed with it - it's the perfect size!), but I think this is so pretty and would be a fun neutral with almost any outfit.

Inspired By: Balloons

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've been paying attention lately to things that inspire me.  I want to live the abundant life I've been gifted, instead of all-too-easily getting bogged down in the mundane.  There is so much beauty in the routines of everyday life, and so many ways to make the details special.  Anyway, I'm excited to start this new "Inspired By" series to share a few of the things that have set my creative wheels spinning lately!

This month, I accidentally went down an Instagram rabbit hole of professional balloon decorators - I don't even know what this niche is technically called, but I love it!  I've seen the beautiful and insane balloon garlands on Pinterest, and we do one up the staircase in our front room for almost every single party I host, but these installations are next level.  I just feel like party planning has come so far in the decade since I was planning sorority recruitment.  I doubt any of these artists are using puff paint - ha!

There is a lot of research that tells us that circles are visually pleasing, and repetition is calming, so I think it makes sense that a beautiful bunch of balloons is just breathtaking! 

It actually reminded me of how much I loved the balloon scene in Mary Poppins Returns, but I could (and probably will) write an entire post on that movie alone.  My Instagram feed is so happy now, and brings me so much joy every day!

source: Boutique Balloons Melbourne

I have a couple of friends having babies in 2020, and I'm hoping I can step up my balloon game for at least one shower this spring!  Plus, how great is the aftermath - especially if there is confetti??

Grayceful Girls Book Club Favorite: 1000 Things Under the Sea

I picked up 1000 Things Under the Sea when we were visiting the Mystic Aquarium on our Connecticut trip last summer, thinking the girls would love being able to look up the names of many of the creatures they had seen on that trip or others, but I don’t think I truly appreciated the mileage we would get out of this.  M in particular spends hours pouring over it: she has it at every meal and in the car constantly.  She has probably memorized a solid 300-400 of the 1000 animals in here!  I keep thinking they would burn out, especially once we moved on from our “Under the Sea” week, but almost 7 months later it is still going strong! I don’t even bother putting it back on the bookcase at the end of the day.

We have lots of other ocean picture reference books that are also perennial favorites (including The Big Book of the Blue, which is a gorgeous book), but none that have captured us like this, despite the fact that there are no details about the creatures.  I think they like to be able to spot and recognize and make the connections to things they’ve seen on Wild Kratts or in Ranger Rick.  Usborne does make a few others in this series, and I wonder if they would capture our attention if the subject matter wasn’t ocean animals - possibly 1000 Animals or 1000 Things in Nature? We have a few of the smaller ones, like 199 Things at the Beach, which don't seem to hold the same appeal.

Do you have any favorite picture reference books that hold your kids’ attention like this? What about for bigger kids? As Lilly bridges into the world of being a fluent reader, I wonder if she would like more text or if there is just something particularly charming about a picture book.  I know my opinion ;) but I’m curious to see what this transition looks like.

Here are a few of our favorites, along with some I'd like to add to our library, just in case you have a future marine biologist in your house too!  As we grow our library, you can also always find our favorites in our Grayceful Girls Book Club.

https://www.amazon.com/Shark-Lady-Eugenie-Fearless-Scientist/dp/1492642045/ref=sr_1_13?keywords=shark+book+kids&qid=1579129831&s=books&sr=1-13 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1419733567/?ref=idea_lv_dp_ov_d 
 https://www.myubam.com/p/7095/1000-things-under-the-sea https://www.amazon.com/Big-Book-Blue-Yuval-Zommer/dp/0500651191/ref=sr_1_17?keywords=ocean+picture+book&qid=1579129045&sr=8-17 https://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Ocean-Adventures-Collection-Undersea/dp/0711245312/ref=sr_1_19?keywords=ocean+picture+book&qid=1579129626&sr=8-19
https://www.amazon.com/Hello-My-Name-Adorabilis/dp/0374305064/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=hello+my+name+is&qid=1579129960&s=books&sr=1-1  https://www.amazon.com/Hello-World-Ocean-Life-McDonald/dp/0525578773/ref=sr_1_50?keywords=ocean+picture+book&qid=1579129644&sr=8-50 https://www.amazon.com/Over-Under-Pond-Kate-Messner/dp/1452145423/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=over+and+under&qid=1579130170&sr=8-3

Jewelry Basics

I want so badly to love a pair of statement earrings, but I almost always find myself reaching for the same basic jewelry day after day.  I miss the days of 2012 or so and the height of statement necklaces and bracelet stacks, but honestly, this really is much easier.  I think I might be getting old, but I love the simplicity of beautiful studs and a delicate necklace.

1.  Interlock cross necklace - years and years ago, I tried selling Stella and Dot.  It didn’t work out (turns out I hate sales, shocking absolutely no one I know), but I do love their products and the quality is excellent.  I have had this necklace since L was a baby and I still wear it regularly.

2. Classy Girls Wear Pearls bracelet - This is about as fancy as I get, and I just can’t resist a bow ... or anything Kiel and Sarah create.

3.  Cubic Zirconia studs - Nordstrom makes the best CZ studs.  I use the same cleaner on these as I use on my engagement ring (which is not CZ lol!) and they sparkle beautifully!  I don’t see 6 carat diamond studs in my immediate future, but these let me live the look without freaking out if I lose one.  They are usually on sale during the Anniversary sale, which is when I picked mine up a few years ago.  I also saw they have a princess cut, which makes me think back to my college days and the fakes that I had that were MUCH lower quality.  I wore them with my Juicy tracksuit and Coach purse because I was just that cool.  This pair feels like an upgrade.

4.  Signature Engravable Disc Necklace - Another S&D favorite.  A monogram is never not the right choice, and the proportions on this one are perfect.

5.  Medium flat hoop earrings - I have to give a shout-out to my friend Leslie - she always finds the cutest basics, and I bought these after seeing them on her!  I love how these flatten out just a bit at the bottom to make the shape a bit more interesting.  The shape and size is super flattering to the face, too!

6.  Pearl earrings - I have had a Kate Spade pair of pearls with a tiny CZ stacked under/on top (depending on how you wear them) and they are my absolute favorite.  Unfortunately, I can’t find them anywhere, but these are very similar.  I love that they add just a bit to a classic pearl.

7.  Kate Spade Metro watch - I have the scalloped version (not available in brown anymore, but I found it here in black or here in blush) and I think it’s such a pretty touch.  It strikes the right balance of pretty and preppy for me.

A San Francisco Wedding

As I was going through my photos from the past year in an attempt to work on our annual photo book (trying Artifact Uprising for the first time this year; I'm having trouble making the price jump from Shutterfly but my goodness are they so much more beautiful...) - look! A squirrel!

Half the fun, and most of the trouble, with sitting down to do this is that I find myself distracted by every.single.photo.  Someone tell me that's not just me.  I had lofty goals to work on these monthly, and I admittedly dumped from my phone into monthly folders much more consistently in the past, but that's as far as I got.

Anyway.  I found these photos from last January when we went to our dear friend's wedding in San Francisco.  It was truly a joy to watch him find someone who loves him so dearly, especially since we have walked with him through some really dark times in love.  I didn't take many photos at the wedding, as I was captivated by meeting his family and community and catching up with old friends.  I did, however, make T walk through the rain to capture some of the beauty of the neighborhood and the church itself before the event began.  I thought it would be fun to share these as we approach their anniversary!

Grayceful Library: Live Abundantly

Happy New Year everyone!  As exciting as the fresh start is, I'm also realizing that my haze of "what day is it??" is quickly coming to an end. Other than some small celebrations with grandparents and our community, we really haven't left the house much at all over the past two weeks. I had all of our Christmas decorations away and our garage completely cleaned out by the end of Friday last week, which has made for some lovely margin in all of our brains.  The girls were so wired that they could have put Buddy the Elf to shame by the time Christmas Eve rolled around, and I've noticed that they are finally settling and playing well again.  It's also left plenty of time and space for me to read and putter around the house with no real agenda.  I've never been a huge New Year's Resolutions person (ask my friends; the idea of setting a goal and aggressively pursuing it makes me want to break out in hives... no Peloton for Christmas here, folks), but I do love finding books that bring fresh inspiration, and what better time than January?

Last year, for the first time, I chose a word of the year - abundant.  After having the girls so close in age and feeling forever limited by having babies and toddlers, we had really gotten into the habit of saying no to almost everything.  Don't get me wrong, M was such a terrible sleeper when we traveled that our year-long travel ban was absolutely necessary, but we had also reached the other side of that season without really noticing and adapting.  So for 2019, I spent a lot of time re-discovering inspiration (I even have a whole "Inspired By" series ready to go!) and saying yes to all the fun things, really pushing our family to transition from an in-the-trenches season of survival to enjoying life abundantly.  Anyway, all but one of these are books I read in 2019 that spoke to the quality of life I want to live - abundant.

1.  Paris in Bloom - I can't remember if I got this for Christmas or just purchased it for myself because it looked so darn beautiful, but I spent hours pouring over the incredible images in this book.  I have a whole post coming on Georgianna Lane soon, but suffice it to say I am daydreaming of springtime in Paris.

2.  A Simplified Life - Emily Ley does such a good job making margin and simplicity practical and achievable.  Nothing in this book was earth-shattering to me - so much of what Emily shares reminds me of the way my mom lived - but it's such a good, solid, refresher course on clearing out the "extra" in all areas of our lives.

3.  When Less Becomes More - I obviously love Emily Ley.  I could include Grace, Not Perfection in the list as well, but I have a Kindle copy instead of a hard copy (ha!).  This might be my favorite, though.  It's so poignant (dedicated to her daughter who is about the same age as my girls), vulnerable, and it resonates.  Yes to less busy and more community.  Yes to not always doing things the more efficient way and savoring the process.  Yes to retaining the joy of a little girl.

4.  Whiskey in a Teacup - Listen, Reese has been my girl since the first moments I laid eyes on Legally Blonde.  I've always felt half-Southern (that first year of life I spent in Virginia left an impression), and I love the way Reese writes about what it means to be a Southern lady.  We have obviously seen so much of the worst of Southern culture lately, and I continue to believe that it is so, so important to root that out - but there is beauty there, too.

5. Living a Charmed Life - I haven't actually read this book in a long time, but it was one of my mom's favorites, and I have it on my TBR pile once I finish #6.  I remember it as a short, practical read about bringing joy into your life everyday.  I mean, the pink binding alone is enough for me!

6.  Gracious Living in a New World - Currently re-reading this one.  Alexandra Stoddard was my mom's favorite author, and she was even featured in this book!  It's funny that this book is as old as it is, because it feels so relevant to today.  She speaks to the value of building community and simple routines, whether you live in the village of Stonington (we visited this fall and it is every bit as dreamy as she describes...) or a crowded city.  I have been re-inspired to get back to our routine of walking to school, among other things (including the name of this blog!).

7.  Home Grown - not pictured, but this cookbook really spoke to my season-loving heart.  Matt Jennings writes of winter stews and summer lobster rolls, and the whole thing just has me drooling.  Especially after we spent a week this summer in Connecticut, I see how much better the lobster rolls and ice cream are because they can only be experienced for a short time.

I've collected these and a few others I would like to add to my collection in my Grayceful Library.
I would love to hear your suggestions for more!