Friday, July 13, 2018

Charleston Adventures, 2018

Happy Summer, Friends!!

Whew, it has been a HOT one here in middle Tennessee!

Last month we grabbed the kids & snuck off for a long weekend in one of our favorite cities, Charleston, SC! We absolutely LOVE the holy city, but you might have already guessed that if you have read one of my previous posts about Charleston, here, here, and also here.

So much love! 

Well, this trip was short but we packed it full of fun adventures & had PERFECT weather!
I could not believe our good luck when we arrived in Charleston and were greeted by 86 degrees & a BREEZE!

(Because it was hotter than poppa bear's porridge in Nashville when we left, shew!)

We stayed at our favorite hotel, the Belmond Charleston Place. This is the first time we have stayed there with our kids and I'm pretty sure this place knocked their little socks off because it is gorgeous & quite fancy!

I came up with this theory immediately because as soon as we got in our room Evan says TAKE MY PICTURE!!

This year Charleston Place hotel opened a new rooftop bar outside the pool on the 4th floor. This is for hotel guests only and you have sign in to use the pool/bar area when you come though the spa lobby to get to the pool.

It was gorgeous up there! The bar area overlooks King Street and on the opposite side you have a perfect view of the Cooper River Bridge (which is stunning at night). We had the best time lounging, swimming, reading (well, I did some reading) and slurping fruity beverages (also me).

(little copycat is slurping a nonalcoholic drink, by the way)

The best part was the sunset view,
which was just amazing and peaceful!

One fun thing we did on this trip was a GHOST TOUR!

We've been visiting Charleston for 20 years and this is the first time we've gotten around to doing one of these. I think this wait was partly because there are SO MANY different ghost tours to choose from and we can never make up our mind, we end up arguing about it & then say forget it! Plus, our kids were too small for a period of that time but this time they were the perfect ages (16 & 12).

We found this wonderful (and I do mean ABSOLUTELY DIVINE) bookstore across the street from Fleet Landing after lunch on Saturday. (Fleet Landing is amazing, reservations are recommended)

Buxton Books and tours is a new regionally focused bookstore on the corner of Cumberland Street in Historic Charleston.

All the books are southern themed, by southern authors...

I could have stayed in there all afternoon, it was divine!!!

While we were in there we decided to make reservations to do their ghost tour for that night. The tour is two hours long and based on the stories in Julian Buxton's book, The Ghosts of Charleston.
(which I bought a copy of & read through that afternoon before the tour)
((because it is hard to read lips in the dark & I didn't want to be completely lost))

The tour starts at the book store and ended in a cemetery just off of King Street.
We did the 7-9 tour and it was just getting good & dark when the tour ended in the cemetery. It was a very interesting tour, so many good stories! It was not really scary, but it was pretty creepy at the end! If you are interested in doing a tour, this one was pretty good!

ANOTHER fun thing we did this time was a CARRIAGE RIDE!

I know, right!
How on earth have we gone to Charleston for the last 20 years and NOT done one!!

Aaron & I did one at night when were there one December a few years ago. It was short and we sang Christmas carols and it was all sorts of merry fun! I've wanted to do a daytime tour ever since!

I booked a carriage ride through Expedia before we even left home (I also booked our hotel room through Expedia and saved quite a bit of money). We lucked out & ended up booking with the nicest carriage company of all of them, the Palmetto Carriage Company...ON THE NICEST FRIDAY EVENING in June that ever existed in the state of South Carolina (85 degrees with a glorious breeze) was the most delightfully satisfying 30 minutes of our whole trip! 

 Our guide was animated and interesting, and the carriage itself was very well maintained. If you're headed to Charleston, we definitely recommend this company.

The rest of the trip we walked, and walked, and walked, and I might have cried one time because my feet hurt so bad, but I kept it to myself because no self respecting southerner cries from walking in Charleston unless it's tears of happiness.

We debated about doing a couple of house tours, but Aaron & I had already done both of these and just decided to take the kids to wander around on the property and read the signs instead. This turned out to be so perfect because in all the years we've wandered the streets south of Broad, they have never stepped off the sidewalk and into one of those magical looking private gardens.

They were both quite enchanted
(but of course they would never admit that outright to the parentals)…

Because, let's be honest...they were really more interested in getting out of the heat & back into the pool (& Olivia was devising a strategy to get up to Urban Outfitters & ditch her family)…

We stopped by they elegant Nathaniel-Russel House and Museum, which is just amazing & I highly recommend this home if you're interested in seeing an elegant southern mansion...

"Opulence. Splendor. Grandeur. Just a few of the words that describe the architecture, the works of art, and the lifestyle of an elite 19th-century family."

The gardens are pretty amazing too.

Then, we stopped by the beautiful Calhoun Mansion which is pretty much the craziest thing I have ever seen (on the inside)! It is the opposite of the Nathaniel-Russel House in every way!

SO MUCH STUFF in there, y'all!!
It's all so very beautiful, but I could not believe all the stuff! It was like a Civil War edition of Hoarders!

The garden is also pretty over the top. We had fun wandering through and reading about the fountains and fixtures.

All in all, it was just the most perfect little family getaway (minus our giant child, don't get me started crying about that). We had the best time relaxing, eating & making memories in our favorite city!

If you're thinking about visiting Charleston, we highly recommend you GET THERE AS FAST AS YOU CAN (because you will LOVE it). πŸ˜‰

Thanks for stopping by to visit with us today!
I hope y'all are relaxing by the pool and enjoying this beautiful summer weather!

I'll be back to talk about a project that I'm working on here at the house (also being referred to as the day I spent $100 to paint my bathroom the exact same color)…(Lord, have mercy).

Happy weekend, friends!


Sweaty photo from brunch at the haunted {according to Buton's book} Poogan's Porch.
Chicken & Waffles, baby!!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Fashion on Friday - Kim's Summer Staples

Hello everyone!!!  Mandy is enjoying one of our most favorite places - Charleston🍍 this week, so it's my turn to share some of my favorite summer styles for Fashion Friday.

This year, I have really been trying to pick things I can wear way into the fall and keep for more than summer.  
(Simplifying in my hot mess closet will have to be a whole other blog post!)

Here are some pieces that I have been loving since the weather turned warm (in the South that means: hot, humid and spotty/strong thunderstormish). 

During the summer I'm in office two days a week and the other days I am in Kidventure mode, so generally my wardrobe is casual with some color.  I tend to pick one or two bottoms that can go with lots of different tops.  

I will attempt to actually try these and show how they fit me on Instagram over the next few days too, you know how very talented Mandy and I are with modelingπŸ˜‚

Monday, June 25, 2018

Kidventure ~ McCoy Farm, Signal Mountain, TN

Our Kidventure this week was to a beautiful spot right here on Signal Mountain.  McCoy Farm is a lovely mountain homestead dating back to the late 1860s situated as the perfect stop along the old path going up Walden's Ridge.
I created my very first video to share with you - our Kidventure Vlog - the sound is inconsistent and a little weird, and my pictures could use more editing, but it sure was fun putting it together to share.  Now I need to hit some editing classes!! Any recommendations?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Stylish Southern Mama's Fashion on Friday, Summertime!

Happy Friday, friends!!

Welcome to Fashion on Friday for the Stylish Southern Mama!
Kim had a crazy week so I am sharing again this week in her place. I'm pretty psyched to see what she will share next Friday. She is truly the finder of all the cool things!

Until then, you get to hang out with me again...{the somewhat stylish southern mama who dresses like a senior citizen circa 1989}.πŸ˜‚

Here's a quick post with a few things I found this week:
(some links are affiliate)

It's been a pretty fun week here at our house!
Olivia has been celebrating her birthday all month long (with no plans to stop it anytime soon).

I don't know how on earth she is 16 years old already,
but yet she is!

We celebrated with some of her friends in Nashville this week.

Here she's wearing a cute off the shoulder top I got her at H&M recently. It's a soft cotton fabric with little plumeti dots, it looked so pretty on her.

She absolutely LOVES that store & I will endure going in there because their clothes are CHEAP!
You can get some really good deals in there and the quality is decent.
(unfortunately I cannot say the same about some of some other stores she likes that I have been forced to enter, please kill me right now...)

Speaking of H&M, I fell in love with this print when I saw it in person!

How cute is this little floral off the shoulder dress!!!
It's just $12.99!
There's a wrap dress version of this print also, it's $34.99.

(I do hate those shoes tho, uncomfortable...sorry, I won't do it)

Here are a few other things that have caught my eye recently:

Milumia One Shoulder Floral Top

This print is SO pretty!
I LOVE a one shoulder top, 
I can be a little trendy without feeling like I am completely naked! 

Don't forget to click the coupon box on this listing and get $1 off (making this one just $17.99).

Plumberry One Shoulder Black Gingham Check Top

I've had my eye on this top for a few weeks & the price just went down to $19.99 so I think I'm going to order it for our vacation later this summer. 

I think it will look so cute with my coveted Vigoss jeans that I mentioned last week!
(they say true to size, but I sized up to the 30 & they're perfect)

Unpublished Greta Crop Wide Leg Capris
(links below)

I bought these adorable pants at a local shop, Beauty Boutique & Skincare Spa.
They are the cutest pants ever!

(modeling these cute pants is Necole, shop owner slash local rockstar)

You can contact them directly to buy a pair over the phone (they will ship), they are so, so cute!

Here are a few similar versions I found at Nordstrom:

Madewell Emmett Crops

Madewell Hudson Crops (omg, I need these too!!!)

JCrew Point Sur Wide Leg Crops in White (can you even!!!)

and speaking of JCrew,
those pants (denim or the white) would look darling with this knit tie back top (on sale right now for $11.80...RUN, DO NOT WALK):

JCrew Tie Back Striped Top

or this super soft cotton boatneck striped top which is on sale for $27.65

JCrew Stripe Boat Neck Tee

AND lastly, since I'm talking about JCrew brand...

Here's a sassy outfit option for a stylish southern mama!
I need this in my closet, ASAP!

JCrew Flower Raffia Earrings
JCrew Sleeveless Cotton Shirt Dress in Navy
Treasure & Bond Platform Wedges (these are a MUST HAVE, y'all)

I do love it when preppy meets patriotic!

Cute, cute, cute!!

Well, that's all I've got this week.

Have you guys found any good stuff?
I would love to see!
Share below in the comments or send me a link to your finds at

I'm hopping up to get ready for another fun day of birthday celebration!!

Happy Friday, stylish friends!



Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summer Reading List {from the Crafty Southern Mama Book Nerd}

Hello, Crafty Southern Mama Book Nerd friends!!

Happy FIRST DAY of Sumer!!

I thought since today was officially the first day of summer (and lots of you were probably hitting the road for vacation), it would be the perfect day to share a list of GREAT BOOKS for summer reading!

(Be sure to check #CSMBookNerd on Instagram for all my suggestions & add this hashtag when sharing your faves too so we can all keep up with the best books) πŸ€“πŸ“š❤️ 

Here are some good ones that I have read lately!

1. Dreams of Falling by Karen White

I am a huge fan of Karen White!
I finished her newest book over the weekend & now I’m having a really hard time trying to figure out which one of hers is my favorite! This one is full of southern families, old traditions, backstories & secrets, I loved it!

Other books by Karen White that I loved:

The Night the Lights Went Out:

Spinning the Moon

A Long Time Gone

The Tradd Street series

2. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

I took this book on our trip to Gulf Shores for a softball tournament during spring break (I like to have a crazy story to distract me on the plane).
THIS BOOK was so thrilling!
It had me hanging on every single page, right up to the end!
I highly recommend it!

Other books by this same author:

A Stranger in the House (not as good, but still a very good read)

3. Jefferson's Sons, a Founding Father's Secret by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

My aunt shared this one with me last month & I am SO glad that she did! I would have never bought this one for myself to read because it is a young adult book (she is a retired middle school English teacher, old habits...).

I enjoyed this one so much, it was very well written. If you're a fan of historical stories, I think you will love it too!

Similar books you might like:

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray 

4. The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Francine Rivers is undeniably my MOST FAVORITE author!
I bought this book when it was released, but could not bring myself to crack it open because I knew it was going to be GOOD & didn't want to gobble it up (because once it's over, it's over & I'm totally a weirdo about avoiding closure)

I waited until I had a week of few interruptions and savored each page. This one was indeed a Masterpiece, you will not be disappointed!

Other books by Francine Rivers that you might enjoy:

Redeeming Love (so good)

The Mark of the Lion series (LIFE CHANGING good!! Seriously, buy that box set ASAP)

Bridge to Haven (similar to Redeeming Love, very sweet)

5. Mustard Seed by Laila Ibrahim

This is a sequel book to Laila Ibrahim's book Yellow Crocus (read that one first). This is a very different perspective from the old south books that I have read like Gone With the Wind. Both books are short, well written and very thought provoking.

Other books like these that you might enjoy:

The Refiner's Fire series by Lynn Austin
Candle in the Darkness
Fire by Night
A Light to My Path

6. 52 Things Sons Need from Their Moms by Angela Thomas

This book needs it's own post!
It was SO very good!
I think I might have already mentioned this book on the blog, but it deserves a repeat!
If you are a mom of boys, stop right now & order this book!
Do it!!! πŸ˜‰

Other Angela Thomas books you might enjoy:

Do You Know Who I am (& Other Brave Questions Women Ask) (this lame cover does not do this book justice, it will jerk you up by the scruff of your neck)

When Wallflowers Dance (Becoming a Woman of Righteous Confidence)

Stronger (Finding Hope in Fragile Places)
(this is such a great bible study that can be done independently)

7. The Last Mrs Parrish by  Liv Constantine 

Oh, this crazy book!! 
For the first half of it I was so appalled & agitated about the main character. She was despicable!!
By the middle of it I was sick to death of that horrible creature! I was actually about to put this book down & not finish it when all of the sudden the story took a sharp left turn & everything got dumped out of the bag...

the AH-HA moment in this story is THE BEST!

Similar books you might enjoy:

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
(& next on my nightstand, The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll)

there's my list for this summer!

Obviously, I read a wide range of genres...
I love all the stories! πŸ˜‰

WHAT is on your nightstand!?
I would really love to know!

If you've been searching for something new to read,
I hope you found a new title from this list.
These are all really good books!

Don't forget to check out the hashtag #CSMBookNerd on Instagram for all my book suggestions & add this hashtag when sharing YOUR faves too so we can all keep up with the best books (no book nerd left behind). πŸ€“πŸ“š❤️ 

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit!

Happy Reading!!



Friday, June 15, 2018

Fashion on Friday...Stylish Southern Mama

Hi, friends!

Welcome to the first Fashion on Friday installment of Stylish Southern Mama, Summer 2018!

Kim and I have decided to take turns sharing a few of our favorite fashion/beauty finds every week  (because loading up our shopping cart online & never checking out is basically our whole life...).
We know you guys love to shop too and we don't want you to miss a chance to add something to your pretend online shopping spree as well. πŸ˜‰

Some of the links that we share might be affiliate links, but most are just regular links to things that we love. Grab some coffee and join me for a few fun fashion finds on this beautiful Friday morning!

So, let's start here...
last night I had the craziest dream!

In this dream my family & I were at some school orientation or assembly where we were corralled in a large, loud gymnasium like facility. One minute I'm paying attention and focused, the next minute I am UP,
speed walking
and scrambling frantically
trying to find a RESTROOM! 
I'm thinking, HELP, HELP ME!!
I NEED some soap and water!!
I look down & see that I have this massive splat of pizza sauce on the leg of my most beloved, FAVORITE pair of WHITE JEANS!!!!
Then, I wake up in a cold sweat!!πŸ˜‚

I'm not sure what the hidden meaning of this dream is exactly (I suspect it has something to do how much pizza I have consumed recently), but I do know how hard I would try to save a pair of white jeans that fit JUST RIGHT!

This summer I've lucked up and found a great pair that I LOVE!
I've had good luck with Vigoss brand jeans over the past couple of years, but this pair is by far my favorite out of all of them!

Thompson Tomboy Distressed Cuffed Cropped Skinny Jeans, true to size.
These are stretchy, soft and thick enough without being heavy.

My new most favorite lipstick
is an all natural lipstick made by Young Living,
Savvy Minerals in "I Dare You".

I ordered the lipstick when their makeup debuted last summer and I liked how it moisturized my lips, but the color was not my favorite. This spring they released several new colors and I am just tickled to death with the one I ordered called I Dare You!

(& here's a funny pic from my Instagram story so you can see how it looks on)

*I am a Young Living distributor, 
so if you're interested in this one or another color let me know. 

This spring I decided to try Trunk Club, which is a Nordstrom company.
I am SO glad that I did!!
This company is similar to the concept of Stitch Fix, but the quality is much better.
You tell about yourself, your style, share pins on pinterest, etc and your stylist will send you a trunk full of goodies to try. You pay a $25 stylist fee, but that goes toward anything you purchase out of your trunk.

Your trunk arrives all fancy looking in a super nice cardboard box with a handle that looks like a vintage traveling trunk. When you open that baby up, it's like the best Christmas ever! So far I have wanted to cry every month having to send so many things back because everything in my trunks has been amazing & I want to keep it all!!

My trunk stylist has sent me some fabulous pieces made by brands like Tretorn, JCrew, Vigoss, Draper James, Lilly Pulitzer, Madewell, Jack Rogers, etc, etc...

Here are a couple of things that she has sent me that I kept and make me laugh because I would have NEVER ordered them for myself and they ended up being so perfect for me!

Draper James Floral Hillsboro Cotton Shift Dress
This is much brighter in person and is true to size, the medium was just right.

Here's a shot of me in it on Mother's Day.
It is so pretty & SO comfortable!
(Evan is standing on a rock, but I'm sure it won't be much longer before we are hugging nose to nose...he is growing like crazy this summer, despite the fact that he has been forbidden to do so!)

The Anchor Embroidery Cotton Chambray Top from 1901 by Nordstrom!
This is a new brand that my stylist sent me a few different pieces to try. The designs remind me of JCrew, they are simple and traditional (my favorite) and the fabrics were REALLY nice quality!

Here's one that I decided to keep, I love this top so much!!
I wish I had a picture of me in it, this stock photo does not do it justice!

If you're thinking about trying Trunk Club,
I have to highly recommend that you give them a try!

Here are a couple of shift dresses that I have had my eye on, but have not tried.
I have had some great luck buying clothes on Amazon!
They are usually crazy cheap and if they don't work I can just send them right back for a refund.

Merokeety Womens Sleeveless Shift Dress, $18.99

Verdusa Women's Summer Maxi Dress, $20.99

Thanth Women's Off the Shoulder Maxi Dress, $15.99

MakeMeChic Off the Shoulder Tassel Dress, $15.99

One last thing that I've bought this spring that I absolutely LOVE are these wedges!
I am flats all day long, sisters!
But I am wearing these wedges at least once a week,
they are the bomb and they go with everything I own!!
I sized up and got the 9 instead of my regular 8.5 & they are perfect!

Treasure & Bond Platform Wedges

I'm watching for them to go on sale because I want the gray ones too!!

Well, that's all I've got this week!

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit. Kim will be back next week for her first Fashion on Friday and I can't wait to see what she's found!

Have a fabulous Father's Day weekend, sweet friends!



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

My Turn - I'm Back!!

And just like that - it's summer.

It has been a while since my last post, I mean so long I feel like I have to reintroduce myself...ahem..

Quick Stats: 
Kim Love AKA The Ringmaster, Mandy's sister, Wife of ALove, Mom of William (8) and Joseph (6), Dog Mom to Victor and Odie.  
Resides near Chattanooga, TN on Signal Mountain.  
Occupation: CSM Blog contributor and Bekah Cochran Team Real Estate (licensed, but prefer to do the transaction side of things).  

Okay, now that I have jogged your memory, please allow for a brief catch up session from inside the circus tent...

We made a trip to Pigeon Forge for William's 8th birthday (before school got out).  It was a lot of fun, we went to the Titanic Museum (again) to see the Lego Titanic model all 26 feet and 56,000 Lego pieces of it!!! We spent some fun time at Dollywood, and enjoyed a family graduation party at Douglas Lake near the most adorable town Dandridge, TN.

The boys successfully advanced to 1st and 2nd grades at the end of the school year, it was a good year.  Their sweet teachers really earned a well deserved break this summer!!!

Then off to Monteagle for Memorial Day weekend.

Then, we had a week of summer camp.

And, now we have transitioned into the official summer schedule.  I am grateful for a flexible work schedule to allow for at least three days a week to plan and attempt kidventures on Signal Mountain and around Chattanooga.  

I decided to get blue ocean hair for the summer, because A) I have an awesome boss and she's cool like that, B) my hair stylist is a genius  and C) I wanted to. 
I love it - it makes me so happy!  

I've been working on some projects around the house and am currently running my office out of the dining room which is crammed full of everything I had jammed into the extra bedroom, which is now Joseph's room.   SO, that's pretty fun, always a project, always some furniture to shove around.  

I am so excited about our new logo and purpose: Living the Best Darn Southern Life We Can.  I thought it was perfect for us.  Not perfect, always trying to navigate being a mom in this world and just trying to do the best darn job we can.   Southern life has much to do with weather (humidity) and what's for supper, combining history with new ideas, spiritual inspiration and walking barefoot in the yard.  I could go on, but I think you kind of know what I mean.  We simply want to share it with you.  

Looking forward to sharing our summer kidventures with you, with some projects and other fun things sprinkled in there!!


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