Storyworth Entry #2 - What Were Your Grandparents Like on Your Father's Side?

The following is part of an ongoing project I am working on in 2020 using the website Storyworth, a collection of memories to share with my family.
What were your grandparents like on your father’s side?

We called my Daddy’s parents Mom & Pop. They were wonderful Christian people who attended the Church of Christ in my hometown. I have such good memories of going to church with them as a child.

Mom and Pop grew up during The Great Depression and Pop served in the military during World War II. They both knew what it was like to make sacrifices to survive and were very proud of the middle class life that they made together in my hometown. Pop was a supervisor at a local factory and was a deacon at their church. Mom, in addition to being a homemaker, sewing all of my daddy & Aunt Helen’s clothes, cleaning her own home, cooking three meals a day and attending church every time the doors were open; she was also at one time a manager in the gift shop at the Opryland Hotel Cracker Barrel in Nashville. She was pretty amazing and was probably one of the busiest people I’ve ever known. She took that "idle hands" quote very seriously. 😉

Some of my favorite memories of them centered around FOOD!
Mom was a wonderful cook and I wish that I had paid more attention when she tried to teach me how to make her biscuits or her fried chicken when I was younger. We sometimes had Sunday dinner at their house after church (although, we did not normally go to church on Sunday mornings at our house when I was growing up). My mouth is watering right now thinking about her fried chicken, her homemade vegetable soup, her homemade biscuits, her gravy and her fried butterfly shrimp. 

At Christmas she would make all kinds of homemade candy and place it in Tupperware containers and store them out on the attic steps right outside the kitchen door to keep it chilled. I can remember being so excited when we would visit and see those containers out on the attic steps! She made these wonderful butterscotch & peanut haystacks, homemade fudge, and my FAVORITE Ritz peanut butter crackers dipped in white chocolate. 

Mom was also famous for gifting domesticated items for Christmas, carrying on traditions that she learned as a child when Christmas was not about gifts (and if you got any they were necessities, not extravagant luxuries). I can remember some of the last years that we had Christmas at her house before she moved in with my aunt & uncle, she was openly disapproving of all the “excess” gifts that absolutely no one was in need of, including her own (which was funny and SO Mom). She gifted things that she considered luxuries like blankets, sheets, bath towels, soap and tangerines or oranges in the toe of our stockings. As I get older, I find myself sharing her feelings about gifting and have been known to give out towels and blankets myself.

A couple of years ago I binge watched the series Mad Men on Netflix. I was enthralled by the early years of Don and Betty’s marriage. Their home was set up and decorated exactly like Mom & Pop’s (& ironically, Don’s apartment later was decorated very similar to my Granny & Poppa’s). Mom was the original minimalist, she wasted nothing! She bought things to set up house in the late 1950’s and she never bought anything else. I can remember being a kid in the eighties and their house was still peppered with 1950’s relics, it was fascinating! I was lucky to inherit a few pieces of her 1950’s costume jewelry and they are some of my most treasured possessions today. 

Mom was forever trying to teach us to save, to not be wasteful. I can remember as a kid being forced to endure lessons about how to wrap gifts using the least amount of wrapping paper, how to sew using up the least amount of fabric or how to make biscuits without wasting one scrap of dough. One of her favorite things to say was “a dollar saved is a dollar earned” and she took so much pride in clipping coupons and cutting corners to save money. 
(Mom with Olivia in 2004)
Pop passed away in 1991, just after I started my first year of college. Mom passed away at the age of 96 in 2017. I was very lucky to know them and have these memories of them both. They were wonderful people and I am proud to be their granddaughter.

Book Club - February 2020

Happy February, Book Nerd Friends!

In honor of Valentine's Day this month (or "the Valentimes", as I like to annoy my kids by saying), this month I'm committing to re-read an old favorite: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I read this one about eight years ago and it is life changing good (but a little long, which is why my February book list is short).

Francine Rivers, Redeeming Love

This one is on sale for $11.54 (regular $15.99) OR you can snag a used copy for as low as $1.87, plus $3.00 shipping (if you look under the box that tells the Paperback price, it will say something like "244 Used from $1.87").

Here's the summary, this one is a MUST READ!

California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.  
Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.  
But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.  
A powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.

The best part about this book is when it hits you like a dump truck of bricks what this book is REALLY about (I won't spoil it for you, just trust me).

Next up, The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell...

I have read several Lisa Jewell books in the last few months and I am really excited about her new release The Family Upstairs!

Here's the summary:

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

Now this next one is a new author for me & this book looks pretty crazy!
(I hope this one does not make me want to delete myself from all social media permanently...)

Followers: A Novel by Megan Angelo

Orla Cadden is a budding novelist stuck in a dead-end job, writing clickbait about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Then Orla meets Floss—a striving, wannabe A-lister—who comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they dream about. So what if Orla and Floss’s methods are a little shady—and sometimes people get hurt? Their legions of followers can’t be wrong.

Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity—twelve million loyal followers—Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is based on a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.

Followers traces the paths of Orla, Floss and Marlow as they wind through time toward each other, and toward a cataclysmic event that sends America into lasting upheaval. At turns wry and tender, bleak and hopeful, this darkly funny story reminds us that even if we obsess over famous people we’ll never meet, what we really crave is genuine human connection.

Looking ahead for March Book Club:

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to serve on a launch team for Melanie Shankle's book Church of the Small Things & I had the best time!

I'm tickled to serve on another launch team for her promoting her new book On The Bright Side (pre-order your copy here), so you will see me sharing a lot about this one on social media.

Melanie Shankle's new book On The Bright Side

The hardcover version will be released on February 25 and you can pre-order on Amazon. The paperback version is $4 cheaper, but will not release until mid-April (& I can't wait that long).

Here's the summary:

These days, so many voices tell us what to do, what to think, and what kind of parent or friend or spouse to be that it's easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated. Somewhere in the midst of online arguments and crazy politics and the ups and downs of life, we've lost sight of the gifts that are all around us: kindness, love, mercy, and joy.
In On the Bright Side, Melanie Shankle reminds us of the unchanging principles we can count on in a changing world. These are lessons that Melanie has learned along the way about how to find all the joy that life has to offer - and why encouragement is never something to keep to ourselves. Exploring topics such as dealing with comparisons, when life doesn't turn out like we expected, and how to find your people, Melanie invites us to lead with love in all areas of our lives.
This delightful memoir highlights the joys of life told in Melanie's down to earth, relatable, and totally enjoyable style. On the Bright Side is a how-to guide to knowing - and living - what matters most.

Other books by Melanie Shankle that you might love: Church of the Small Things (so good), Sparkly Green Earrings (would be a great gift for a new mom), Antelope in the Living Room (hilarious stories about marriage), Nobody's Cuter Than You (a great one to share with a dear friend).
Melanie is easily one of my favorite authors and bloggers, I especially love her stories on Instagram. Her wit, her crazy dogs Piper & Mabel, her misadventures with racoons in the chimney...she makes me laugh every day!!

That's all for me in February.

What are you guys reading?
Leave me some book nerd suggestions below, we would love to know what's on your nightstand!

Happy February!!



Mandy's Amazon Finds - January 2020

(this post contains affiliate links)

Hi, friends!
Welcome to the very first Amazon Prime Finds post for 2020!

It's a pretty exciting time on, there are so many really great finds over there!
Of course, if you shop on Amazon you know with such a wide range of items to choose from, the quality can be all over the place!

Kim & I thought it would be fun to share some of the things that we have had good luck with and really love. This first post is Mandy's Amazon Finds, look for a Kim's Finds post coming sometime soon.

Please note in these posts that we will only be sharing items that we personally own and love ourselves. Crafty Southern Mama is about living the best darn southern life we can and that absolutely means being crafty about sharing good stuff!

So, hey let's get going!
Here's what I've Primed lately:

A few months ago I started doing the Prime Wardrobe feature on Amazon and I have found some really nice (& very reasonably priced) pieces to add to my closet. There is no stylist fee, you pick whatever you want to receive in your box, you can get up to 8 items at a time and you pay for only what you decide to keep.

This prime wardrobe sweater is a huge favorite here. Olivia and have been sharing it back & forth and I think I'm going to just have to break down & order another color! It is the dusty rose and it is so, so pretty!

I have the medium and it's long enough for pants jeggings but not for like Spanx leggings. I could easily wear the small. It is generously sized, but does not feel "swallow you up" big.

I wash this alone on delicate and lay flat to dry, so far it has washed up great.
It's SO warm, I love it!!

Sweater  ~  JeansBooties  ~ Earrings

I love to add a pop of color to an outfit with a scarf. I ordered this one recently and have been so pleased with it!

The reviews for this scarf said it shed, but was better after it was washed. So, I threw it in the washer as soon as it arrived and shedding has not been an issue at all. It's a much brighter pink in person & I love that!
This thing is like a warm, fuzzy hug!
I'm so happy with it (& think I might need that green one too)! 😉

Amazon Essentials Classic Fit Poplin Shirt

I think this is my favorite clothing find so far! I have bought this shirt three times since August in the checks (below), solid white and the white with black dots (all in medium, which fits my solid 8 top half perfectly). These wash up great, iron out crisp & are a GREAT deal at $19.50! I'm hoping they will add more colors.

Monarch Cypress Plush Lined Robe

(sorry, not sharing a picture of me for this one...ha)

We stayed at a nice hotel in Atlanta this fall and the robes in the room were the most luxurious things I've ever touched!!

Sadly, when I looked at them in the spa gift shop and they were $220!! #pass
When I got home, I hunted one down much cheaper on Amazon (thanks, Amazon).
I've had it for a couple of months now & I love it so much!!

Spa Robe by Monarch Cypress Plush Lined, it is divine!!

I have the pink & it's more of a peachy/pink.
I got the medium and it fits perfect!

Pink Gold Sequin Mini Skirt

Olivia wore this recently to a school dance and it looked so cute on her!
I got her the large (sizing chart said it ran more like an 8-10) and it was perfect.
She wore a shirt & heels she already owned with it and I think I did pretty good spending just $22.99 for her last school dance before prom (which I'm sure will not be a $22.99 dance...not even close) ((hold me)).

I love this sweater!!
Like SO much!!
My husband said it looked like I was going to the nursing home, I said "bring me my crossword puzzle & my glasses, sonny"! 👵

This camel goes with pretty much everything I own & it is SO warm!!
I loved this one so much I ordered the black as well. 
However, I DO NOT RECOMMEND the black. It did not wash up well & is a piling, fuzzy mess! (Oh, well)

The white tee I am wearing is also an Amazon house brand called GOODTHREADS. It's thick, is slightly longer in the back AND it washed up great! I'm pretty excited about this one for $13.77 & have already ordered another one as a back up (because I am the messiest person alive & always need a white tee back up).

Men's Dress Pants & Black Shoes

Evan was honored to be selected as an attendant for Basketball Homecoming recently. He needed black pants, a white button down, blue tie and black shoes. We had the shirt & tie already but not the bottom half, so I decided to see if I could score some men's items.
Amazon did not disappoint!

Men's Black Loafers were $29.75 (he had to go up a half size) and Black Cotton Chino Pants (these are like a pair of casual khaki pants, but are black) for $20.50.  Of course, I'm sure those prices could be beat, but not leaving the house with a 7th grade boy to go shopping was PRICELESS to me!! Ha!

(Can y'all believe how much he has grown up!?!?! Weep!!!)

Other things I've Primed & love!

Democracy Ab-Solutions Jeans! I love them!! I ordered the 8's and they fit me perfect!

This awesome blow dryer brush that everybody is raving about!
Olivia and mama got one for Christmas & they both love it!!

Christmas tree storage bags for 7 foot tree and 9 foot tree, everything got put away this year!!

Amazon Basics Velvet Hangers (I'm on a mission to change out all the hangers in our entire house this year so that every closet has the same issues are severe, I know) 😂

Natural Shoe Deodorizer (because kids)...made from 100% Natural Zinc Oxide & Botanicals, no aluminum or talic! This stuff is great!!!

What about you guys?
Have you found any good stuff on Amazon lately?
I would love to hear about your finds!!

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit today. I'll be back next week to share February BOOK CLUB suggestions, Yippee!!!

I hope you are doing great, friends!!



Repurposing: The Bookshelf

I have been bitten with the project bug lately, and really have knocked it out of the park (tbh).  One of my new outlooks for 2020 is being more resourceful and really taking the bull by the horns and completing projects (even ones that challenge me).

I want to really learn how to do some things I would never dream of doing. I'm planning to take a few classes in the coming months, and I hope to share those with you as I get the courage to go and complete them.

Today's very simple project was transforming a very solid wood finished bookcase that I have lately had tucked in the guest room stuffed with children's books. Since the first big project was refreshing the guest room to be our youngest son's room, I needed to remove everything. That bookcase just didn't seem to fit with what we wanted to do in there.

So, I moved it to the weird hallway, and well that's when the vision came to life.

My plan: paint the bookcase white and put on the wall to the right of the doorway. Then I will take the built-in shelves on the left and pain them white as well for continuity.

The vision has been a lot like a butler's pantry area for kitchen items and cookbooks to live.

Here is the placement before.

We have a new Annie Sloan Chalk Paint supplier in town (Rustic Trading Company), so I popped in to pick up some trusty Old White, along with Hale Navy (for some other projects) and some clear wax.  This store is so cute by the way, and I highly recommend stopping in to see their great selection of home goods, including a whole tea section!! I am planning to attend some of their upcoming painting classes soon too.

This was a pretty basic project here are the particulars:

-Lightly sanded and wiped the surfaces
-Three coats of Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint
-Light sanding with hand sanding block
-Stroke on clear wax with a chip paint brush similar to this, then wipe off with paper towel
-Buff with cloth diaper to finish

Light sanding pre-paint

First coat

Pretty sure this is the third coat, I just can't remember

Finished Product

New color, new life

Very light sanding and distressing on the finished product.

Lastly, I painted the wall shelves the traditional white trim so that both sides seem to be in harmony with one another.  I still have a lot of work to do in this area: finishing the office doors, painting the walls and thoughtfully placing items I need on the shelves that are both pleasing to look at and useful.  

Left side of the door shelves painted with white trim.

Newly painted bookshelf, living it's best life.

Updated weird hallway :)

That's really my mission - making things functional.  Thank you for joining my journey to functional DIY projects, and repurposing items we already have to better fit the functionality and space we have in our home.

Storyworth Entry #1 - Do you consider your childhood to have been a happy one?

The following is part of an ongoing project I am working on in 2020 using the website Storyworth, a collection of memories to share with my family.

Do you consider your childhood to have been a happy one?

I'm starting out with this question because my childhood truly is the foundation of my entire life. I was blessed to have a very blissfully innocent, happy childhood. In addition to growing up in one of the BEST decades ever, the 80’s (much more about that later) I grew up loved, treasured and fiercely protected. There were times in my childhood that I am sure I was considered to be spoiled rotten. Actually I’m still pretty rotten in my 40’s, but the point is I was loved and I am grateful for every minute of this crazy life that I have had the privilege of living.
As I get older and reflect on what a blessed life that I have lived, I thought that writing a mini-memoir in 2020 would be a great way to say thank you and recognize some of the people who have been a part of my story so far and maybe even share wisdom with people to come that I might not get the opportunity to know (no one is getting out of this thing alive, you know).
And speaking of the year 2020, that just seems so crazy to me.
I can remember way back in 1982 singing along with the Prince song “tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999….” and thinking to myself “ha, that’s SO 100 years from now” (spoiler alert, it wasn’t). There are a lot of other things I thought that turned out differently or better than I was expecting. I’m excited to use the year 2020 share some of those memories with you in this little book.

Settle in, foks.
We’re going to have some laughs!

Handwritten Notes: Reviving A Lost Art

Happy New Year From the Love House!!

This is the second year in a row circumstances have prevented us from sending out a traditional Christmas card in a timely fashion.  This year I had a little collage card made with some highlights of 2019, and one very ambitious task: a handwritten note to each recipient.

The Love 2019 Collage
It has actually been a bit of a therapeutic task, taking a moment for each person, each family to send a personal note.  It has been a lovely way to think on the wonderful friends and family from all over the place.  Distance and years have prevented us from seeing so many special people from our lives and adventures, sending and receiving holiday cards always makes me feel connected.

The assembly line
I am definitly not the best at written correspondence, but by golly I am proud I actually got at least this little task done.  If you ever find yourself thinking about a dear friend far away - even in this day where we can text in an instant - try putting a pen to paper and tell them in your own handwriting.  It's more therapeutic than you may think 💌

BOOK CLUB - January 2020

(this post contains affiliate links)

Happy January, friends!

I have had a lot of requests on Instagram for a "Book Club" of sorts, so I decided to start sharing a monthly post with direct links to all the books that I have been reading. I post about my reads on Instagram quite a bit, so this "Book Club" post will just serve as a quick reference for anyone who might have missed them over there or would like to see them all at one time.

(My "official book nerd photo" in my old lady glasses.) 

Who knows, we might end up with a real "book club" in the future. I think that would be so fun! If you post about books that I've recommended or if you're reading something good that you've found, please use the hashtag #CSMBOOKNERD so other Crafty Southern Mama Book Nerds (& I) can find good books recommended by you.

January 2020 has taken off & I've already got my nose in a couple of good books (which suits me just fine because the weather is just nasty here)!

First off for January, my daily bible reading. I've (proudly) completed this daily reading goal a couple of times already and it has turned into a part of my day now just like brushing my teeth. I HAVE to have my time with the daily word!

I previously read this NTL version, which is very easy to read an understand.

Since my NTL daily bible is falling apart now, I decided to try the NIV version to read and I'm pretty excited about it!

It only takes 10-15 minutes to complete each daily reading. I high recommend trying one of these out if you have ever been interested in making a commitment to read the bible all year long.

I just received the newest J.T. Ellison book, Good Girls Lie today & I am dying to crack it open! Her exciting, psychological thrillers almost always find their way to her hometown of Nashville, TN at some point and I love being able to picture exactly what she is describing when she's there.

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond.

But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder.

When a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

All of her books that I have read have been exciting, I can't wait to read this new one!!

Also on my nightstand is Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I've never read this author but this book sounds really good!

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains' toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store's security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix's desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix's past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other. 

This month, I have tickets to see Angie Smith speak at a Women's Conference and I am SOOOOO excited!! I loved her Seamless Bible Study (highly, highly recommend), so I decided to read another one of her books before I see her speak. This one is called What Women Fear (despite the fact that God repeatedly tells us not to be afraid, I admit that I find myself failing at this all the time).

In What Women Fear, acclaimed writer and speaker Angie Smith admits, "fear is a major part of my testimony" and talks openly about her treatment for anxiety as a child. Giving a voice to the problem, she says, "I truly believe every single one of us struggles with some type of fear, whether it's fear of flying or fear of being 'found out.' Maybe you don’t worry about dying, but you get sick thinking about the fact that you might fail." 

Rather than suggesting that those who truly love the Lord would never fear, Angie blends her own experiences with those of men and women from throughout Scripture to help us start dealing more effectively with these true, human emotions. Whether it’s a constant "What if?," a nagging fear of abandonment or betrayal, fear of your own or someone else’s death, fear of trusting God's plan, or even the fear that God's existence is a lie, Angie will walk you through stories of others who have simultaneously loved God and struggled with fear. Join Angie and discover how to let Jesus redeem this struggle as only He can, that He will be glorified, and you will be transformed!

I'm looking forward to reading it.
Have you read any of her books?

Other books that I recently finished & recommend:

Disney Devotionals by Albert Thweatt
(LOVED this so much)

The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell
(I LOVE her crazy books! This one was not as crazy as the others, but still a good story).

and The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street by Karen White (I LOVE her Tradd Street series, definitely read the others before sinking your teeth into this one).

That's all for January (at the moment).
What about you?
What's on your nightstand this month?
Leave a comment here or use the "contact" widget up there in the top right hand corner and share some recommendations with us.

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit.
Happy reading, book nerd friends! ;)