Martha Stewart Weddings

January 14th, 2015

2014 was the year of the wedding in the Crowell Family. My sweet sister Carrie married Dan Knobler, a fine young man that we all love and adore. Their wedding was so spectacular it garnered the attention of the folks at Martha Stewart Weddings and is featured in their January issue. Rightfully so! Everything from the music (our Dad wrote a song for them that had us all ugly crying) to the beautiful little details were absolutely perfect. Carrie carefully and thoughtfully curated every facet of the wedding and the result was a beautiful day that truly represented who they are, what they value and how much they love each other. May Carrie and Dan enjoy a long marriage filled with love, laughter and lots of babies!
(to read more click here)
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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


Tulum, Mexico

November 12th, 2014

My husband and I went to Tulum last month and if it weren’t for the fact that we have 2 kids at home, we would still be there. It was truly an idyllic spot that we never wanted to leave.
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It all began when we walked out of the airport in Cancun and were greeted by 80 degrees and a giant margarita stand. ¡Viva la Mexico!
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We wanted to stay at The Beach Tulum Hotel but my inability to plan in advance turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to us. The hotel was booked and they suggested we try next door at Ana y Jose. It was the most perfect place on earth and once there, we couldn’t imagine staying anywhere else. We arrived to flower petals on the bed, sparkling rosé, and a private dipping pool! With 23 suites, you’d expect to feel on top of other guests but they’re spaced out really well with ample tropical foliage so it feels intimate and small. Since it was off season, it was quiet, uncrowded and just right for us.
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This is Ana y Jose, who I want us to be in 30 years.

Our first night we were tired and ended up just eating chips and guacamole (an omen of many a snack/meal to come) and drinking margaritas on our back patio. We spent the evening only speaking to each other in our version of the Spanish we learned in high school, long since forgotten. We found this to be wildly amusing, though I would imagine any eavesdropping staff thought we were idiots.
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While we did not stay at Coqui Coqui, we did walk down the beach to take full advantage of their spa services and a mojito. And by a mojito I mean several mojitos. There is a masseuse named Sara who was so amazing we ended up going back for seconds! I want her to come live with me. Had my Spanish been a little better, I would have invited her to do so. Coqui Coqui  is so lovely: small, impeccably furnished and definitely the prettiest hotel on the beach. I was in heaven in the perfumeria and can no longer imagine a life without their rose oil.
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Our second night we tried to go to Posada Margherita but they were closed for a wedding. The owner, Alessandro, was so gracious and apologized numerous times, gave us a glass of wine and drove us down the street to Casa Banana. While not our favorite, I have heard others rave about it and we loved the setting: a little jungle paradise at the end of the main road in Tulum. The next evening in a rain storm, we walked the pitch black length of the beach back to an open Posada and it was such delicious meal. We had pasta with broccoli and mushrooms and the most amazing red snapper cooked in sea water with ginger, everything unbelievably fresh and cooked in their open air kitchen. It’s a must-go spot for sure.
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When we planned the trip, I was adamant about visiting the ruins. Once we got to the beach and found our chairs under the straw umbrellas, that plan went out the window opting instead for lazy days with margaritas and chips with guacamole. We read and swam and did absolutely nothing. It was a dream.

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So sad that the only picture we have of us together from the trip is a #selfie! I am also taken aback by the fact that we were comfortable being sun glass twins on this particular day.
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I paid $20 for these three bracelets because I am incapable of understanding foreign currency.

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Our fourth night we had delicious drinks at Gitano and dinner at Hartwood. There is so much hype surrounding Hartwood and for good reason. We had the best ceviche in the history of ceviche. Red snapper and jalapeño. I could eat it every day. I had lobster and my husband had the charred octopus and every bit of it was perfection.
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Our last day, we strolled in downtown Tulum to get little gifts for the kids and experience life away from the posh hotels. It was a sleepy Sunday morning and we wish we had gone at lunch time and with a good appetite because there were so many taquerias that were the real deal and all smelled so delicious as we passed them by. I begged to take this baby hammock home. Mind you, we have no baby. I was denied despite my numerous pleas.
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I fell in love with this pup.

Our last night, we ended up at Gitano after we had a massage across the street at Coqui Coqui. We had pork and red snapper tacos and they were so good. Gitano might be my favorite spot in Tulum. The al fresco bar is so beautifully designed and with an October breeze it couldn’t have been more perfect. I just loved everything about it. The second we walked up I thought, “Why don’t we have anything as beautiful as this back home??”. And then I remembered Nashville is not exactly a little bohemian beach town. Sigh.
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It was such a beautiful trip with the most amazing food and perfect weather and I got to read TWO books which never happens in my real life. Our trip ended at a Margaritaville in the Cancun airport which is both humorous and endlessly depressing. After 5 days of the freshest fish imaginable, I ended our perfect vacation with a giant platter of “Volcano” nachos in an airport chain restaurant. And that’s when the finality of our vacation became very real.
Come hell or high water, I was bringing all of our sea fans we’d collected home with us. I managed to pack 4 in my suitcase but our big one wasn’t going in to any bag. I actually carried it home, swaddled in laundry bags like a very sad little baby. It smelled like horrible rotting fish and I thought I was going to be asked to deplane as I was making my fellow passengers (including my extremely annoyed husband) physically ill. We were red flagged at Miami customs, sent to agriculture and made to go through the X-rays normally reserved for drug smugglers. I was accused of stealing it from the Ocean’s floor to which my response was , “Oh good lord no! I have a very real fear of touching the bottom of the ocean.” That man hated me. But alas my beautiful sea fan made it home and after a vinegar bath (god bless Google for knowing everything), it sits atop our piano as a daily reminder of our happiest place on earth.
Next day it was back to our real life. Paradise just a blur.