Monday, March 31, 2014

Linen Bath Towels

Let's talk about linen bath towels. We use regular towels in our house but I'm very intrigued by linen towels, lately. It seems like whenever I click on a house tour over at Apartment Therapy, in Domino magazine, or on Design Sponge, the bathroom photo invariably features beautiful, striped and tasseled linen towels, hanging casually and perfectly from a hook on the wall.

I love using linen towels in the kitchen but I must admit that the idea of a linen bath towel doesn't sound immediately appealing. I know they look gorgeous, but are they cozy? I love wrapping myself in a soft, fluffy towel after the shower and I wonder if these would feel equally luxurious?

I've done some research and apparently, once you switch to linen bath towels you can't go back. The linen becomes softer every time they go through the wash--and they also last forever, so I'm sure after a few years they have a glorious texture. Linen towels also absorb water beautifully and dry very quickly. I bet they would work really well in a small bathroom that doesn't have great ventilation.

The thing is, they're quite pricey. These are over $50 each.

And these are $133 each!

So they're definitely a splurge item. Maybe I'll ask for one for my birthday in a few months! Or I could treat myself to one of these pretty striped ones as a housewarming gift when we move. I'm really intrigued!

What do you think--have you tried linen bath towels? Would you? Want to?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Cleaning

There's lots of busyness and logistics getting sorted out in the Harvey household these days. New phones and a new phone company (an actual human picks up on the first ring whenever I call customer service--we're totally sold!), decisions about moving and housing, and all kinds of future stuff. It feels like spring cleaning on a life level, if you know what I mean. Lots of new-and-improved, lots of goals, lots of change.

I'm trying to be really mindful in this season of my thoughts and my stress level and the way I'm dealing with all of this change. Because it's a lot! All good, but I really want to do it well and not become overwhelmed (whenever possible) and keep the important stuff at the forefront of my mind. This move will entail a lot of adjustments in our lifestyle and sometimes I put pressure on myself to make everything smooth and flawless and to do it all perfectly. The truth is, I don't really know exactly what our new lives will look like and that can be frightening. I have to remind myself that we will meet people and make friends, that I will find piano students, that I'll connect with the artists and creatives in our community, that we will make our home beautiful no matter what, that we will figure things out like we always do.

So I'm making it my mission to be mindful. When I first wake up, I remind myself to look at my husband next to me instead of jumping up to check my email. I'm taking a lot of walks and listening to pretty songs. I read my Jesus Calling app early in the morning and try to let it guide me in my thoughts for the day. One of the phrases from a recent devotion was "Trust with every fiber of your being." That stuck with me, that image of letting trust into every single nook and cranny of my life. Trusting with every inch of my body and soul.

This is life lately and it's a bit of an up and down battle, but it's rich and beautiful and filled to the brim with lessons and a whole lot of love.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Art Assignment

I discovered a new YouTube channel recently called Art Assignment and last night I got caught up on their first couple of videos. It's quite neat! It's hosted and run by John Green (author of The Fault In Our Stars) and his wife, Sarah Green, and produced by PBS. John and Sarah tour the country visiting contemporary artists and then commission these artists to dream up a creative "assignment"--it can be anything! The videos are posted on their channel and anyone and everyone who is interested can participate. Definitely a little quirky but I think it's a pretty fun concept.

Several of the assignments they've posted so far are (to me, anyway) not exactly "art" per se, but rather an encouragement to be creative and have an experience that is new and imaginative and perhaps to see the world and the people in it in a fresh way. For example, one assignment is to place an object in a public place and observe what happens. Do people pick it up? Notice it or walk right by? Talk about it with the person they're with? Then you create a record of what happened--a photo, a video, maybe a drawing. Doesn't that seem like an intriguing social experiment? And what's fun is that anyone can do the assignments. You don't have to be particularly "artistic," just enthusiastic and innovative.

Anyway, in case you're curious, here's a little intro video that explains the web series well.

Do you think you'll participate? Or follow along with the videos (that's what I plan to do!)?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Let's Get To Know One Another: Favorite Smell

If I asked you to name your favorite smell in the world what would it be?

For me that's an easy answer--it's cucumbers! Hands down. There isn't a fresher scent in all the world, at least according to my senses. Though lemons make for a close second.

Now tell me yours! Is it a favorite perfume, the salty ocean air, something weird like gasoline?! I want to know!

(I'm thinking of starting a new series called Let's Get To Know One Another. I'll write about a little quirk or favorite or preference of mine, and you can share yours in the comments. I'm starting simple today but we can get into all sorts of interesting things! What do you think? Does it sound fun?)

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Chat About Marriage

I've been thinking about one particular aspect of marriage for the past few days, trying to sort it out in my mind. Maybe you can help.

The one person who sees you at your very worst is the same person who loves you more than anyone else in the world.

How does that work?!

But it's true, isn't it? My husband sees me at my worst. I don't just mean first thing in the morning, sans makeup, or when my cheeks were the size of balloons after getting my wisdom teeth out (I wouldn't have blamed him if he'd run away from me screaming, it was that horrible). I mean that he sees my faults, my flaws, the weaknesses and gaps in my character that make me human and vulnerable. He sees me when I'm petty, when I'm feeling sorry for myself, when I'm afraid. He sees it all. Yet he loves me completely and fully and with grace and humor and forgiveness.

Sounds an awful lot like the kind of love that comes down from the heavens, does it not?

I believe that's what marriage is and I think it's why it works. Ultimately, we are meant to love our spouses as God loves us. Of course we can never match His love. But it is when we strive for godliness in our marriages, when we serve and put away selfishness and offer up our hearts and forgive over and over, that's when marriage is ultimately fulfilling and good.

I read a bunch of books on marriage when I was engaged and the main thing I gleaned from my reading and studying was that I wanted to be a godly wife. The kind of wife who has the strength to surrender her ego for the good of her family. The kind of wife who never embarrasses her husband in front of others. The kind of wife who doesn't dominate or control or demand, but is respectful and sincere and calm and graceful. The kind of wife who accepts her husband and forgives his faults and prays for him continuously, who gives of herself generously. A strong, loving, beautiful wife.

Ok, typing that makes me realize I still have a lot of work to do. I'm sure I'll always have work to do. But to me, this is the path to loving my husband the best I possibly can. And I believe it's the path to a true and good and wholesome and intensely rewarding marriage.

(Taking silly photos together never hurts, either.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Would I Have Grace For You?

A little song for your's about strangers and invisible connections and wondering about the person ordering coffee in front of you. I just think it's sweet and felt like sharing it. I love this line, would I have grace for you and you for me? 

If nothing else this song is a nice reminder to be kind to strangers. I don't know the day you've had. There have definitely been times when a smile or compliment from a random person at the grocery store really lifted my spirits. Isn't it neat that we all have the power to do that?

I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From Where I Sit

I'm doing something different today. While on my usual morning walk I had this urge to sit for a moment at the edge of a little pond near our house. To just sit and pause. And to listen. It's amazing how many natural sounds are dancing in my ears as I sit here typing up this post on my iPhone. The world is loud with its joy. So many birds clamoring and wanting to be heard. Squirrels sprinting and rushing up trees and having the time of their lives, from what I can tell. A bullfrog's splash. I can even hear the occasional flapping of wings when a bird whirs close by.

I should do this sort of thing more often. 

It's healthy to notice the goodness and easy calm of the natural world. I think it speaks to the way things should be. Stress is such a human emotion--one I've been feeling far too much of lately--and these little animals around me now are reminding me of something I too often forget. Life is big. Our perspectives are so very small. Things aren't as dire as we like to think. We should focus more on just living--making noise and running around and jumping for joy like the squirrels.

Now I hear a woodpecker! And acorns falling just in front of me. Oh, and a helicopter. The only man-made sound out here right now, but a very pleasant one since it reminds me of my husband.

A writer inspired by the woods. Could anything be more cliché? Though I don't exactly feel inspired sitting here so much as mellow and calm and just...aware. Grateful. Accepting. Outside my own thoughts and worries.

Ok, back up the hill I go. Thank you, pond and trees and critters, for this little respite.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Jogger Pants

Back in high school it was terribly difficult for me to find jeans and pants that fit. Ones that were long enough but weren't completely baggy at the waist and hips. I always liked being tall but it was miserably frustrating to find clothes sometimes. Back then, flare and bootcut jeans were really the only kind of pants you could find, remember? So the length was hugely important. Too-short flares are really unattractive.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled with the turn that things have taken in the pants department over the last 5 or so years. There are so many great cuts available! And so many where length isn't nearly as much of an issue! Skinny jeans that you can tuck into boots or roll up once and wear with sandals. Ankle cuts that look perfect with a pair of flats. High-waisted ones with a wide leg (length is important on these, but for some reason these kind of pants are usually made pretty long). And my new favorite cut that has recently made an appearance in the fashion world--joggers.

I recently bought a few different pairs of joggers and I think they're super flattering. The top hits a little bit higher than jeans, around the belly button, which accentuates your waist. They're a little loose and flowy which makes them not only comfortable but super feminine and sort of funky, Parisian maybe, perfect with a tucked top. And they taper beautifully at the bottom, hitting whatever part of your leg they will hit (you can see in these photos that depending on the cut, they sometimes hit higher and sometimes lower, and it all looks great!). Plus, these pants allow your footwear to really shine.

Thoughts? Do or don't on jogger pants? I'm sure they aren't for everyone but I think they're just adorable, and would work whether you're tall or short or somewhere in between. I love how this cut accentuates feminine curves but leaves a little to the imagination, you know? To me, that's the ultimate sophistication--it exudes confidence and class and style!

p.s. My take on joggers....

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Packing Tip

I'm starting to pack up our townhouse for our move to ???? (I know, it's getting to the point where I feel mean for not saying) and I have a simple but super helpful--at least I think so--packing tip to share.

It's twofold actually. Start early, and pack in layers.

We don't have a firm move date yet, otherwise I'd be shouting it from the rooftops and certainly from the pages of Something Ivory. But that doesn't mean that I should procrastinate on the packing because really, that will just add to the stress. So I pack in layers. (And maybe everyone does this, so forgive me if this isn't news.)

Instead of packing room by room in a flurry, I start with the things that I know we won't need over the next few weeks or months, things that are more decorative or that I don't use on a daily basis. Things like vases and pretty jars--one box. All of our books--I've packed one big box and I have one or two more to go. My craft supplies were packed up yesterday. Our tablecloths and other linens went into a box. Also my DIY tools like spray paint and sanding sponges. I tackled my winter clothes, because I won't be needing those for months.

I plan to pack up a big box of shoes later today, leaving out a few pairs to wear over the next few weeks. I've also been steadily going through closets, drawers, and cupboards, getting rid of things and organizing so that there aren't any mysteries and big problem areas to tackle later on. As we get closer to move date, I'll take down all the art on our walls and bubble wrap each piece. I don't want to start that just yet because things will begin to look bare at that point.

Then when it gets down to crunch time I'll mainly have the kitchen to worry about. Clothes that haven't yet been packed can go in suitcases, and furniture can be wrapped up by the movers. Cleaning supplies are also packed last so I can give the house a good scrub before we hit the road.

Pretty simple, but this way of packing makes me feel 100% more relaxed about the move. It makes things manageable. Procrastination has no place in packing up a house, as far as I'm concerned!

Another tip: never pay for boxes. I get mine from places like Starbucks and grocery stores. I do, however, pay for clean packing paper for all breakables.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Houses And Homes

A house....a home....I've got them on the brain in a big way these days. Why they're important and what it is that turns brick and concrete and wood into a space that feels like "home" and why these spaces mean so much to us.

The timing is almost eerie. My husband and I are looking for our first house to buy--and while that may not happen, and we may just rent, we're looking and hoping and trying to determine if this is the right path for us to take. Meanwhile, my parents have just sold my childhood home in Upstate New York. While we play the role of the buyer my parents have been playing the role of the seller, and it's made for some interesting perspective.

I'm glad that I've had this very apt distraction while my parents' home is changing hands. It's sort of poetic actually. I know that I haven't lived in my childhood home in 7 years, and that my husband and I made a home of our own 2 years ago. But this house I grew up in was home, it was familiar in a way I haven't really had since. I always felt so proud of it and loyal to it. I'll always treasure this photo my brother snapped on the morning of my wedding. Me, on the most important day in all of my 23 years, heading to my parents' room to look at myself in their full length mirror right after getting dressed, in a hallway I traipsed through thousands of times over many years. This photo juxtaposes "once-in-a-lifetime" with normal, familiar, known.

And now, my husband and I are searching for precisely this. Our first home. It may not be in the cards just yet. A rental is still a home and we'll fill whatever place we end up in with our things and our particular scents and our love and struggles and joy. It's ok if we have to wait.

Either way, I know we have a lot to look forward to. If it's in 2 months or in 5 years, someday we will have the opportunity to make a home, a home, for ourselves and for our children, just as my parents made one for us.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Trip In Photos

Setting up for dinner with friends at our Airbnb. 

A "small world" experience I had with the owner of a house we looked at.

A fuzzy photo of our dinner with my parents, who came down to treat us to some good food and house-shopping wisdom. We're so glad they made the trip!

My dad fearlessly climbing onto the roof of a house we looked at. He has years of experience in old houses and we were so happy to have his expert opinion.

Yup, that's a potbelly pig in the front yard. This was NOT a house we looked at, just a hilarious, weird thing I had to capture on camera.

I never knew I loved mountains so much. 

On the way home we picked up this vintage brass bed in Birmingham. A Craigslist steal!

Not pictured: 

My beautiful, kind, lovely sister-in-law and our wonderful girl-talk and Prosecco date. I love her, and love that she's my sister and my friend for life.

My spunky mother-in-law who helped us house-shop and who doesn't mind peeking into windows and backyards and who gives so generously of her time and energy.


The incredible laughing fit my mom and I fell into as we were trying to decide what to get for dessert. Tears were streaming, our men didn't get it, and the waitress thought we were crazy.


The 3 or 4 other dinner dates with our good friends who have welcomed us with open arms into their city, which will soon be our city too.


My partner in crime, who drove the whole way there and whole way back and listened to books on tape with me and let me rest my eyes in the passenger seat when I got sleepy. He is the best part of this whole new adventure. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014


A totally retro kitchen. I can't decide if I hate it or if it's actually sort of cool?

Well, house-hunting has been an experience, and it isn't over yet. We've seen maybe a dozen homes or more in the span of a few short days and we have the stories to prove it. At one house, the owner had cats and I actually stepped in cat vomit while checking out the living room. (The realtor was embarrassed and apologetic. I smiled and told her not to worry about it and then we left, never to see that house again.) We've seen 60s-era kitchens and all kinds of pink and mint green bathroom tile. It can be fun to see a home that is still occupied, I think. To get a glimpse into how people live, what their home looks like when the kids are at school and the parents are at work and only the dog is there to keep watch over silent pieces of furniture and ticking clocks.

It hasn't been all bad or weird, of course. We've seen lovely homes too and well-kept rooms and walls that hold histories and countless stories. My sweet husband would probably be pretty happy living in a brand new home, but it's me that gravitates toward the old ones, the ones that are creaky and not-quite-perfect and filled with character and charm. So we've been mostly looking at older homes and with that comes a fair share of datedness. It's pretty hard to find the right mix of vintage and modern!

I've been missing my writing and my blog and my dear readers so I just thought I'd check in to say hello. No news, really, yet. As soon as I can share I will! Please keep us in your prayers, if you think of it?

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