Anything but Grey Gardens

May 20th, 2015

Last year, we bought our home and did a massive overhaul on the interior. It had been a rental for several years and was in pretty rough shape. After we each sold a kidney to pay for the renovation, we then turned to the landscaping. With the exception of one azalea bush and 50 million varieties of weeds, there was no landscaping to speak of. I designed the landscape layout myself (I like to say that because it makes me sound like a real go-getter, when in reality we just had no budget left for a professional) which is something I loved doing but will probably prove to have been a terrible idea.

The way I make landscaping decisions is to wander through the local nursery calling out to the owner, “what’s the likelihood of me killing this?”. To which he usually replies, “high.” In addition to my horticultural ignorance, I also have a debilitating fear of snakes, so the second I hear a rustle of any sort I run screaming like a 3 year old. Needless to say, it took me a whole summer to plant four rose bushes. In the end, my husband and I decided that we were just going to plant a whole bunch of stuff with no rhyme or reason and create a wild English garden in the middle of Tennessee.

Seeing as how it will take ten years for said English Garden to actually mature, in the meantime I thought I would share some of the gardens that I aspire to have one day. By that, I mean the garden I aspire to have a gardener tend to while I sip cocktails on the veranda behind some sort of magical snake barrier.

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Holiday Shopping Guide 2014

December 8th, 2014

I really don’t care what anyone says, October, November and December are the jolliest, happiest, most festive months and nothing can get me down (it doesn’t hurt that my birthday is right in the mix there). Of course then the January blues set in and all is lost and my husband has to give me gentle shoulder pats and remind me that Easter isn’t too far away (it doesn’t help). But now that we are right in the thick of these magical months, let’s celebrate by buying presents for our near and dear (and those we are obligated to buy gifts for because of social norms)!

Hannah and I take shopping pretty seriously and we find this years’ list to be a no-nonsense, perfect gift-giving-guide – be it for yourself or others. As consumer-conscious shoppers, most items are locally made or found at our favorite mom and pop shops. Also, as a Gender Studies major I would like to apologize for categorizing these gifts into the confines of gender norms but sometimes The Man wins a round; we just have to keep fighting the good fight.


I give these as gifts constantly. I saw a display of them at White’s Mercantile in Nashville and fell in love. A celebrated chef or food-person curates a small cookbook on only one food – i.e. grits, apples, honey, and so on.
Mociun Double Triangle Ring
This is such a sweet little trinket for the one you love or the one you want to love you back. I obsess over Mociun’s pieces so much that half the photos on my iPhone are screen-shots of their Instagram account.
Grace Lee Rectangle Stud Earrings
The perfect diamond studs. Subtle, interesting, and still classic.
Rachel Comey Tote
I love this bag! It’s not something one would buy for themselves – which happens to make it the perfect gift.
Katsufumi Baba Teapot
You know how the steam from your teapot burns your hand? Well I think this beauty solves that problem.
A tambourine, but a beautiful tambourine. What fun!
Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food
A classic! Anyone who lives in their kitchen will love to have this on the shelf.
Board & Bread cutting/serving board
Such a lovely cutting board – always a thoughtful gift for a hostess or those who love to curate a beautiful cheese spread and then panic whenever someone sullies your work by enjoying the food you’ve provided.
John Patrick Organic Slip
My mother-in-law got me this as a surprise gift a few years ago and I live in it. I’ve got my eye on the long navy version currently. Surely an appreciated gift. Surely!
ABC Carpet and Home mini bud vases
Hannah brought her whole family to New York for Thanksgiving this year and found these mini bud vases at ABC Carpet and Home. She now spends her days instagraming her tiny floral arrangements (I would use them for small potions). At only $6 a piece they really are perfect little gifts.
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Ursa Major Face Wash
Let’s get honest. My husband, Daniel, stayed at Hannah’s husband, James’, old house and sneakily used his (well-stocked) Ursa Major facewash and was then hooked. I do have to give a disclaimer here – this stuff is the real deal. If Dan takes a break from using it for more than a week and then starts up again, he breaks out like crazy – but that is because it is pulling out all the gunk he let rest in his face. Or maybe Ursa Major has figured out how to keep their customers loyal. Either way – we love it!
The Hill-Side tie at Hickorees
A Hill-Side tie will always be one of the greatest gifts (besides world peace, a puppy, or a military parent popping out of a box on Christmas morning).
Pocket Change Dish
Every night, Dan unloads his pockets on his bedside table and then restocks in the morning. Is this something men do? I don’t know. But anyway – I found a dish just like this at an antique store in Nashville and thought it was just about the perfect gift. I wish I had saved it for Christmas, actually.
Void Analogue Watch
Hannah’s husband James has this watch and she loved it so much he bought her one of her own last Christmas. A beauty of a watch that is actually affordable. And according to Hannah, unisex.
Tan Flap Wallet
I spent a festive October weekend in Nashville with the owner of Joinery, Angela. She is so pretty and has such great taste and I spent a lot of time staring at her that weekend. Her shop is one of the best in Brooklyn and this money clip is a delight.
Brass Bottle Opener
A beautiful, albeit illuminati-esque, bottle opener. May all your bottle-opening be bright and solid brass.
Tivoli Radio
Hannah and James are a little bit insane and have one of these in every room in their house constantly tuned to NPR. But let us not judge this holiday season and instead purchase this one in bright yellow for a loved one and make one room in their home a little bit brighter.
Ridley’s Chess and Checker Set
Really a gift for the whole family. I am a firm believer that owning a chess set makes you smarter even if you don’t know how to play it. When I was young I would set up the whole board and then invent dramatic and romantic story lines between all the pieces – so clearly this is the gift that keeps on giving all year round.
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Belle Meade Bourbon
Not a gift for the whole family but a great one for a bourbon drinker. A four generation family-owned distillery in our beloved Nashville that makes a mighty good bourbon (I’ve been told). I gave James a bottle last year for his birthday and felt very proud of my choice in bourbon.
Hill-Side Socks from Hickorees
I can always be counted upon to give socks as holiday gifts – I am currently looking at three wrapped pairs under the tree. And if we’ve said it once we’ve said it 400 times – we love everything the Hill-Side makes including these perfect socks!
As Is Shop
Hannah’s husband, James, runs an amazing online men’s clothing and accessories shop. He was once named the 42nd most fashionable man in New York City so you know it’s good stuff. I would venture to say he is now the 2nd most fashionable man in Nashville (after our father, Rodney, who somehow manages to make Ugg boots look cool). Vivian and June readers get 20% off until Dec. 20th with the code CrowellGirls.


Fisher Price Record Player
Let your child discover the joy of laying on the floor and crying while listening to Blue by Joni Mitchell earlier than his/her peers.
Sun Prints
I love sun printing so much that I had to stop for awhile because the whole living room was set up as one giant sun-print-studio. I fancied myself an expert – because it is so easy your children could do it. So let them!
Sailng Ship Kite
Sailing Ship Kite
Harmonica Necklace
Possibly annoying, but precious.

Our dear friend, Day, is having a baby in February and Hannah and I have been given the task (albeit the best task ever) of designing her nursery! This mobile (also a Joinery find) would be so cute over little baby Lehning’s Oeuf crib, even though it might induce carcosa dreams.

 Little House Books
These were my absolute favorite books growing up. I “learned” how to make maple candy out of snow, churn butter, use potatoes as hand warmers, and cope with my sister, Mary’s, impending blindness (it’s called method reading). I also had an intense crush on Almanzo Wilder (I was a delusional child). Give your children the gift of imagination (or delusion) with these amazing books.
Twoolies Handmade Wool Lion

Maybe I should have put this in the “gifts for her” section because I need one of these little fellas for myself!


 Maileg Matchbox Mouse

It’s a big sister mouse who wears a little outfit and sleeps in a matchbox with her very own pillow – what more could you ask for? The company has many mice to choose from – including a mouse in a tower which seems exciting.



From me and Hannah to you (with our confused sister, Chelsea, in the middle) Happy Holidays!

– Carrie


The Getaway : Serenbe Farms

March 27th, 2014

Flipping through Garden and Gun sometime last summer, I came across an article on an idyllic little community just southwest of Atlanta, GA called Serenbe located in Chattahoochee Hills. It looked like a perfect little family vacay paradise and just this past spring break, we made the trip. The first of many I am sure.

After a two day stop in Atlanta with visits to the aquarium, LegoLand (lord help me!) and the High museum and to some of our favorite restaurants both old and new, and determined to impart some sense of the awe inspiring power of nature upon the children after the cultural overload of Atlanta’s urban sprawl, we arrived at Serenbe ready to be out of the car and to all breathe in the fresh air of the country right on the cusp of a very long, strange winter turning to a very welcomed spring. A 1,000 acre sustainable community with great, locally sourced restaurants, lovely little shops, a spa and a wonderful old Inn, needless to say, we loved it!

We’d decided on renting a loft in the community; white, modern and stark and perfect for our little family with a lofted bed above the master suited perfectly for a pair of little girls. A short ways away, the kids could run free on the farm and got to pet and feed all manner of furry creatures. A pair of baby goats named Salt and Pepper (think we made those names up) were almost assuredly to come home with us if it were up to the kids. We hunted four leaf clovers. We found thirteen. We all ate one in some odd family ritual we concocted on the spot. We took walks on which we played a strange “hobo game”, a crude kin to rugby, with sticks we’d found in the woods and an old, rusty tin can. We took a beautiful, mozying trail ride through the woods, what was certainly the highlight of my children’s young lives.

The morning of our departure, we ate amazing sausage, egg and cheese biscuits at the Blue Eyed Daisy which might be the highlight of my not-so young life. In the end – and true to whatever fantasy I’d dreamt up over Garden and Gun a year ago – it truly was the idyllic get away I hoped it would be. Below, a taste of our (too) few days in the country, care of Serenbe. Next visit, we stay on the farm.

baby goats


be mine. now go clean up.

February 5th, 2014

I would love nothing more than to be the consummate mother who spends afternoons and weekends with her children baking the perfect gluten-free, agave-kissed sweets, sewing tiny, stylish outfits for their cherished American Girl dolls or devoting hours upon hours to creative free time or outdoor activities. However, the reality is I have two children, I constantly fret over my perpetual mess of a home, I have a company to run and I need to devote a minimum of four hours weekly to either watching, thinking about or internet stalking the cast of Downton Abbey (priorities?). So simply, there isn’t time for all that. I do, however, revel in the making of Valentine’s cards and early each February, I turn my home into a Valentine’s DIY sweat shop of sorts. Several years ago I started marbleizing my own paper which involved making rakes out of toothpicks, figuring out just what the hell methyl cellulose is and blocking out the very time I usually reserve for sleep. An art teacher friend of mine told me about marbleizing paper with shaving cream and food coloring which seemed like a much more civilized craft for small children. My dear friend Gina brought her son, wine (do other mothers do art projects without?!?) and our little sweat shop turned out some pretty cute little Valentines if I do say so myself. Below, a how to…

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Gift Guide : For the Little Ones.

December 13th, 2013

For the little lady:
1. Coral and Tusk bunny ears 2. Little Red Riding Hood earrings 3. B-52’s t-shirt from Lucky Wang 4.Coral and Tusk kitty cat pouch necklace 5. Girl’s classic Puffin book set 6. Girl’s Marimekko apron 7. Girl’s Billieblush shoe 8. Piggy Paint non-toxic nail polish 9. Blabla kids Suzette the Fox knit doll 10. Peter Rabbit chess set
For the little guy:
1. Coral and Tusk tiger badge 2. Lego digital camera 3. Alien Workshop Grant Taylor + Kieth Haring Skateboard 4. Camo Vans 5. The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse 6. Crocheted Superman plush 7. Beastie Boys t-shirt 8. Lego architectural series 9. Mini Radiocon robot 10. Les Joutes Libres bowling game 11. Wooden bow & arrow set


Gift Guide : For Him.

December 10th, 2013

him header

1) Wallace & Barnes Weekender duffel bag 2) Fort Standard bottle opener 3) Fellow Barber candle 4) Ranger hat by Camo5) Wallace & Barnes Shetland wool Sutherland sweater 6) The Hill-Side blanket lining scarf 7) Best Made Co. flask and waxed canvas case 8) Phigvel key holder from Hickoree’s 9) Working Man’s grooming kit 10) “How to be a Man” by Glenn O’Brien


Gift Guide : For Her.

December 9th, 2013

hers gifts 1
1. Minnetonka Cally slippers 2. Leif stackable ring set 3. Leif color block touch gloves 4. Diptyque candle set 5. J. Crew gem stone necklace 6. Asos square stack bangles 7. Sisely-Paris black rose cream mask 8. Coral and Tusk hot pink and silver earrings 9. “SWANS – Legends of the Jet Society” by Assouline