I have been on a roll these last few months and I attribute it all to my new library membership. There is something freeing knowing that you can pick up and drop off all the books you want! And to be honest it’s even taught me delayed gratification, while these days if there isn’t something available somewhere we’ll just go on Amazon and buy it. So when I saw that I was 250th in line to get a book I really wanted to read, my first thought was, “I’ll just buy it”. I had to actively tell myself to wait and instead, find other books to read in the meantime!

And thank goodness I didn’t buy it, because it really wasn’t all that good.

I’ve been relying on the social media posts by Book of the Month and Reese’s Bookclub for recommendations, but I’ve started my search for books to read in 2024 elsewhere. There are a few articles with good lists that I’ve noted to get me through the first few months of the year, but would love to get more recommendations from you too! If you read anything amazing this year, drop it in the comments and we’ll start our own list.

The Everygirl

The Best Books of 2023

The NYT 10 Best Books of 2023

Bazaar’s 45 Best New Books of 2023 You Won’t Want To Put Down


The first 10 on my list for 2024?


I did find this year that I need to learn to pace myself. Because I’m a speed reader, there were some weeks where I powered through three books. But then I look back at the list of the books I’ve read this year and there are some I have to google to remind myself what they were about. So this year, I’m going to keep myself to one book a week. That way I can still read about 50 books a week, and hopefully I’ll be able to remember them all a little better 🙂

Of the 50 books that I read this year, there were some that I absolutely loved (I’m talking crying at the end, didn’t want to leave the characters), some that I thought were good enough to recommend (most of the time those are my “beach reads”), then others that I was disappointed in. And this is where you have to remember these lists are completely subjective! Everyone has different taste in books and that’s part of the beauty of it. I rarely don’t like a book enough to put it down on that list, but I did provide explanations as to why I didn’t like them to give some context.


Let’s see what I got up to this year…



You will notice that all of Kristin Hannah’s books are on this list, she is 4 for 4 in books that made my cry in the end. And she has a new book coming out in February! Can’t wait.





I was actually kind of disappointed in Tom Lake, that was one that I was over 200th on the waitlist and expected it to be really good! And a lot of these weren’t bad, but they weren’t good enough to really keep me interested enough that when I closed the book I go, “ugh! That was awesome!”




Okay, hear me out. It takes a lot for me to not actually like a book, and again, this is just my opinion. 1) The House In The Pines was predictable, and I didn’t have that gasp moment that I should have had 2) The Marriage Portrait and My Last Innocent Year didn’t really grab me. As I kept reading I was waiting to really care of be drawn in by the plot 3) Maybe Now was the sequel to Maybe Someday and the story should have stopped with the first one. 4) L.A. Weather felt disjointed and other than one thing, nothing really ever happened. The characters and plot didn’t really develop well so I never really connected with anything. 5) Honestly, I skimmed most of Happiness Falls. It really could have been an on-the-edge-of-my-seat kind of book. Maybe it was just the mood that I was in, but I felt like there was so much filler that the whole story just fell flat. There were so many questions, with so few answers that you just kinda left the story like… okay? 6) It’s funny because The Survivaslists was on a lot of people’s “favorites” list but I honestly did not like one second of it! I don’t know maybe it was the mood that I was in or what but from chapter one, I knew that I wasn’t going to be into it. And when I got to the end, I was right. Personal opinion? Nothing happened. The order of events didn’t make sense. And you aren’t sure you like even one of the characters. Overall it is just confusing and I would suggest this be a pass.





The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, which funnily enough can also become the most stressful time of the year; decorating the house, finding the perfect gifts, making lifelong memories, honoring traditions, and your normal responsibilities on top of it all. Personally, I get insanely stressed when I see people start to decorate for the holidays before Halloween, so I tend not to share a ton of this content before Thanksgiving is over. I also tend not to buy too much new decor for the holidays because I think that this time of year is the epitome of traditional decor that you should be able to use over and over. Trendy holiday stuff can be fun, but then where does that leave you next year? Go to your local nursery or holiday stand for your greenery, use those brass bells in different ways year after year, and put up whatever ornaments make you happy on the tree!

Truth be told, I barely have any decor up and it kinda sucks. Our family left town last Sunday and I wanted to spend the week getting everything up and decorated, enter: work schedule and food poisoning. So I’m not feeling as festive as I normally am this time of year but I’m hoping this weekend I can change that. We do have a fake tree that we put in the living room from Balsam Hill, and I’d actually love t get two teeny real ones to put in the blue and white planters we have on our patio. A little touch of holiday without being a huge tree that ends up being so much work to put up.




I think this time of year is the perfect time to use those vintage silver bowls that you have! Last year I used mine for my interior fake tree in our entryway and have used it again on the bar cart in the library. Another new obsession is wide silk ribbon. You can never have too much ribbon; use it on your wreaths, on light fixtures, on mirrors, then of course gift wrapping. I used this antique gold satin ribbon on our wreaths on the front door and the color is so beautiful! Paired with a small set of bells and you are set! Honestly you can’t go wrong with gold ribbon, you can use it year after year in so many ways which is always my goal; get timeless holiday decor that you can use year after year.

But if you are looking for some holiday decor to add to your home every year, here are some classic finds! Including my new favorite ornaments year after year; little frames you can put a family photo in to mark the year.






Another stressor? Gift giving.

Personally giving a gift just to check something off the list is exactly how we end up with too much stuff. Not to mention, I think it’s really obvious when someone doesn’t think through a gift for someone. I’d rather get something really small but thoughtful and personal to me than something that you could literally give to anyone. Here are a few idea for gifts by personality and interest to get you started.
















This Fall has been a whirlwind, and getting Covid was for sure the cherry on top.But before we get to the good stuff (shopping), let’s chat about what’s been going on lately.

The biggest event being the announcement of The Manor Cottage as our first quick-turn flip! I’ve got a few posts out about it, including one talking about our plans and even a few design teases for it. I am shocked by how much quicker this kind of flip has already gone as well as how quickly (I believe) it will be done. Demo started this week and I’m told that framing will be done before Thanksgiving, so we might even have the new layout done before Christmas.



Managing two flips at the same time has been a balancing act, but I’m enjoying the challenge so far. Woodvale Manor is finally through the not-pretty part: electrical, plumbing and HVAC. Now that we are through those inspections, the Sheetrock for the drywall has arrived and I’m hoping drywall will go up soon! You can anticipate a full tour of the house once we have walls up, so stay tuned. The way things are going with both projects it looks like (fingers crossed) they will both be done pretty close to each other; we’re thinking February-March timeframe. Which means I’ll have just that much more good and new content to share this Spring!

I haven’t had the headspace to do much to our house lately except clean, but recently I’ve been focusing on the library (as I like to call it). My former office has turned into a formal sitting room and is currently where I sit down with my books to read, hence the name. I want to make sure that any furniture that I get and layout that we have we can fit in almost any sitting room/setup in the future so I’ve been working veeeeeery slowly. But one moment that happened out of nowhere was the one pictured below. We’ve had this sideboard from Chairish for a while now, and has always been paired with those buffet lamps but I found this vintage etched large bowl and instantly knew that this needed to be  moment in this window. I’d wanted to try out hanging artwork on the window casings in here since they are such a focal point, and Hannah Winters released these small originals and I instantly knew. Right now my plan is to put a settee in front of this sideboard to complete the furniture layout, but at the rate I’m going I won’t finish this space before we move.



Now, to the fun stuff! Shopping.

I am a victim of the too-many-sweaters syndrome and this time of year is always dangerous for me. But as I’ve gotten older I have grown to appreciate my staples, and just wear those in every capacity possible. I’ve also upgraded a lot of my staples, like a higher quality neutral cardigan that I can wear with pretty much anything and will last much longer. While certain all fashion trends come and go, I think there will always be certain pieces that never go out of style, it just might change how you wear it.




Buuuut that doesn’t keep me from shopping a little bit 🙂 a few of my most recent purchases have been from specific outfits that I have seen and loved, as well as trying to up my fashion game a bit.




To be honest, I’m getting exhausted by all the people putting up their christmas tree and the full on holiday decorations on social media. Sure, I’m thinking about it but I’m definitely not decorating anything yet. So in the spirit of preparation, here are a few items that I’ve got my eye on for when I do decorate.




A full Holiday Edit is coming soon! So don’t miss the full post then, as well as my cyber week finds + purchases.




This project has moved so quickly and that was something I didn’t anticipate! But I kinda love it. It’s half the size of other projects that I’ve had so it seems like a super manageable amount of work and designs and honestly, kinda powered through it. Now I’m just hoping that the actual renovation work goes as quickly.

Let’s start with the exterior.

We’re going to brighten the brick with some Sherwin Williams Swiss Coffee with an accent of Farrow & Ball French Gray on the doors and shutters. And the landscapers have come in and cleared out the plants in the front and that alone has improved the look! Not that I don’t love dead boxwoods but, she needed a clean-up. And the cherry on top?

A rendering of what it’ll look like


I wanted to find a way to upgrade the front without it hitting the budget too hard. The options were to add a third window nook upstairs, gable the front covered porch, or add a railing. Going with the railing is not only the most cost effective but in my opinion also the most updated. Because this is an older home I wanted to find little ways to bring her into the 21st century without going “modern”. I think that this is a great way to do that will be a great touch to the curbside appeal.

Now, let’s go inside. The kitchen/living room space is going to be the most “wow” in the after photos, because the view below is going to be a look into the new kitchen, WHICH will be featuring:

  • a 7 foot island, a 30 in farmhouse sink
  • a 30 inch range from Italy
  • a panel-ready dishwasher and fridge
  • extra seating area around the island to double as a kitchen table if you choose not to add one in the living room area (although you definitely have room for one).




Another big layout change that is for the better is the upstairs bathroom. While it was already a pretty okay size, it only had hallway access. With two large bedrooms upstairs I figured it would be nice to be able to have one en suite bedroom, so by moving the mechanical closet to the first floor and expanding that space into the bathroom we’re making a much bigger bathroom as well as some storage too! I’m thinking white hexagon mosaic tile with wood frame mirrors and a dark countertop!



Because this is such a small house I was able to get my head around the designs rather quickly, and put them together even quicker! I’m still working through details and specifics but we’re on the right track and I’m really excited about the direction it’s taking. After starting with the exterior, we’re going “elevated luxury cottage” throughout the interior. I was concerned in the beginning with our small budget but to be honest with a few small touches here and there we’re going to be able to make a big impact when it comes to the finishes. And two of those spaces that I’m excited about already are the powder room and the primary bathroom. I had this dream of the powder bathroom that I think is going to be a game-changer!

And while the primary bathroom is getting a major facelift, the thing I’m most excited about is brightening it up and making the counter space more efficient. We’re able to have two separate 36″ vanities, recessed medicine cabinets and even a 2 foot makeup counter (I can’t wait to stage that little area)! Take a look at the designs below and keep an eye out for more details on my social soon! Hopefully we’ll have loads of updates sooner rather than later and this project gets moving.




This all came together rather quickly. And thank goodness.

This 2,300 square foot house is such a special little house, nestled on .3 acres with a beautiful stone lined creek in the back yard. I could not wait to get my hands on this house, and while this project is going to be very different than our others, we’re still able to make a big impact.



The Manor Cottage will be our first quick-turn flip! That means we aren’t adding any square feet or anything structurally, merely giving her a major facelift, and she needs it.

This was the perfect house for our first quick-turn because while the original character is there on the exterior and the floor plan and footprint are super workable, she still needs lots of work. Not only is it super dated, has carpet on the second floor that I don’t even want to think about (gross), but also has loads of electrical issues due to some DIY project the last few decades.

We’re going to make this house feel completely different from the second you walk in, adding an entrance hallway and adding grand double doors into the new dining or office space! The biggest changes to the first floor? Moving the kitchen. We’re going to expand that space and move it closer to the living room so that we can get a bit more of an open floor plan as well as a nice sized laundry. The existing kitchen space will host the mudroom/laundry, and next to it a new powder room.



I‘m hoping we can expand the primary bathroom and closet a bit, but this space will get absolutely gutted and redone along with the bathroom upstairs. I don’t even want to mention this nasty carpet again, but yes, that’s gotta go! We’ll do a new durable carpet up here with a slightly new layout to allow for one bedroom to have an en suite bathroom.

Now, what I’m really excited about? The exterior.



Like I said she’s already got so much character, which is a necessity when looking for flips. This adorable little fence in the back is absolutely going to stay, plus the old brick pathways. We might give them a little cleanup along with the yard which will already go a long way… I mean, some of the weeds are taller than I am! Adding a fresh coat of paint, accent shutters and maybe a modern railing above the front porch and you’ve got yourself some great curbside appeal.

I’m so excited for this new challenge in a different and quicker project and can’t wait to take you all on the journey with me! Stay tuned for loads of updates, because they’re going to come quickly on this one.





Edit V


We’re at a really exciting spot over here at Manor Designs. We are kicking off our second flip, which means the plans and designs are so close to being finalized.

And this house has me super excited. It is much more “my style” than Haverford was. While Haverford Manor had a classiness and timelessness to it I think the character I’ll be bringing to Woodvale Manor suits my personal style a bit more. Plus it fits the exterior facade perfectly, which is always a good thing! And this go around I’ve decided to share more of the design + concepts through the process instead of waiting until the end. I’ve already posted a bit on the exterior, and plan to share lots more in the future. But in the meantime, here’s an exclusive look at a few designs I’ve got so far!



We’re actually finishing up the framing in the coming week, so I’ll be anxious to share those updates and give you a walkthrough of the addition.

Now, on the personal side, I’ve been doing some shopping :-/ I feel like I finally felt the confidence to truly clean out my closet and lean into my true style. I haven’t been throwing money out the window but at 34-years-old I do feel like I finally know my style, my personality when it comes to fashion, and able to know that each piece that I am buying are not only ones that fit that personality 100%, but also pieces that I can and will be wearing for the long haul.

What have I been buying? Stone colors.

I’m not going to call it beige because that word gets a bad rap for being boring. I prefer the term ‘stone’. I’m realizing how much I love dressing in neutrals and how when you have the right ones, wearing each piece together to assemble your outfit is even easier!




I’ve also been lucky enough to join the Ambassador roster with The Container Store which has meant getting my house truly organized. I mean every last closet, corner and drawer! No one is safe.

In the past I have truly left certain boxes unpacked because 1. I didn’t want to deal with it 2. I figured I was going to have to leaf the stuff in a box in the closet anyway. Well? No more. Now that we aren’t moving so much I am finally unpacking those boxes, getting rid of stuff that needs getting rid of, and getting those areas organized like we plan on staying for a minute.

The first project? My closet, which I got some lined baskets for my shelves to not only keep everything in its place, but also keep each of those categories down to the necessary quantities. I’m no longer stuffing my shelves with things that I keep buying and never even reach the bottom of the pile.




The upcoming projects? We’ve got some on-the-go pieces that are perfect for your summer trips and everyday chores, as well as reorganizing my desk to hopefully optimize my office space. So stay tuned for some great projects and lessons in organization.





The plans for Woodvale Manor are officially here!! And we’ve even already submitted for permits so we are well on our way with Woodvale Manor.

I’m really excited about these plans because while we had an architect help us with the final drawings, they were off of my initial designs, so seeing these ideas come to life will be so gratifying. While Haverford Manor had such a workable first floor plan, this was a little trickier, but I think we made the best of it. Adding a good 2,000 feet of livable square footage to the footprint, we were able to get a great flow from the garage to the mudroom to the kitchen and living area. Because I loved the flow from Haverford Manor so much with the easy access to the pantry from the garage, that I incorporated a similar concept in this house.

With a large mudroom right off the garage, and immediate access into the kitchen, we had enough room to add an opening into the pantry as well. So instead of walking the groceries all around the kitchen to access the pantry, it’s right there off of the garage for a quick drop off!



A fun detail about upstairs is that the front two existing bedrooms are going to stay as is! Well, kind of. One is going to get a little bigger, and they are both getting en suite bathrooms. Then we have a super private “guest wing” as I like to call it, which is a large guest room with an en suite bathroom and walk-in closet above the garage. It’s super private because you have to walk around the hallway to access it. With that and the primary bedroom with vaulted ceilings and walk-in closet, this house is turning into a 5 bedroom, 5.5 bath!

Not bad…



A few of my favorite details?

– the nook in the kitchen was super intentional, not only did the bump out in the footprint allow for a much bigger pantry too, but having a little sitting area for every day was a must-have and I’m so excited we were able to fit it!

– the dedicated office is small, but the perfect size for a desk and chairs. Plus we are going to include some built-ins on both sides of the pocket doors for some storage + character.

– the bathroom in the guest wing has the vanity in front of the mirror and I’m actually super excited about that. We’ll be able to fit to sinks in that vanity and for a touch of character + function I’ll get pivoting mirrors to put on the walls. So what might look like a bad idea on paper is actually going to turn into a unique design moment.

Ready for the really exciting part? Here is your exclusive look at the 3D rendering of the exterior. I’m so glad I did this to be able to visualize the outside, not only did it help with finishes and colors but it also is an amazing resource to reference in the coming construction months.

Plus, it’s like, really exciting!



And don’t worry, we aren’t losing the courtyard! That sloped brick half wall is still there, and the fence line will get a bit of an upgrade but there will still be a beautiful little courtyard off that side entrance. And I’ve even brought that slope detail into the back porch as well! Adding a beautiful punch of style to what could have been a simple back porch. Not that there was anything wrong with the original screened-in porch, but now we’ll have a covered sitting area with an extended uncovered patio with stairs leading to a walkway to the garage + rough-in for a grill!


Stay tuned on social media for concepts and designs coming soon!




Yup, we did it again!

I had been on the hunt for months before finding this cutie and instantly fell in love with it. To be honest I was really unsure we were going to be able to find another one after we lost a historical find that I loved, but this one has its own beautiful charm. Built in the 1930’s, it has great bones and is in shockingly great shape for its age!

Plus, the view from the front is absolutely adorable.



This courtyard had me swooning, and thankfully we are able to make updates to the footprint without losing it. While it currently stands at under 2,000 square feet, we know that for a better resale we need to make it closer to 4,000 square feet. Right now we’re thinking we can make it almost 4,200 by adding on to the back, and attaching a two-car garage.

It already has a cottage feel to it and I want to stay true to that in the renovations. And with over doubling the space I’ll have plenty of opportunity to enhance that with finishes. But, we actually closed back in August so not only have I had tons of time to think over the concepts but we have already made some progress on it that I’ll be excited to share soon.



Like I said, so much character! To give you a little idea as to what’ll be doing…

  • the front will stay pretty much the same! While she’ll need a coat of paint and new windows, the biggest change will be the location of the front door. Instead of hiding it to the side (like it is now) we’re going to bring it front and center!
  • The footprint will actually change drastically! Taking down the detached garage and adding an attached 2-car garage with space above it as well as bumping the back exterior wall out quite a bit. Unfortunately that means losing the darling screened in porch, but hopefully we’ll make up for it with a great new outdoor space.
  • Because we are bumping the back wall out we’ll be making room for a great kitchen and living space. While the house will be bigger and still feel completely different I really want to lean into the cottage feel on this one to enhance its original character.
  • That living room pictured above will get enough of a facelift to feel like a new space but honoring what is existing. Keeping the fireplace mantel but upgrading it with a new paint color and surround. I also think we need some fancy lights in here too, what do you think?

Up next? We’ll be sharing more of the plans that we worked on super diligently to make sure that we maximized the space but also made it feel like the floor plan was always planned that way and felt familiar, but also completely different. That doesn’t sound too hard, right?

Stay tuned!





Everything that I am loving for Summer this season, from crucial SPF to new beauty, these are some covets that will make it into your rotation throughout the rest of the year.





Having a full season of gardening this year has brought so much joy for me! The combination of working outside and growing my own vegetables has been so much fun, and quite the learning experience. And one of the biggest lessons is that each season will teach me something different! I didn’t expect to know everything going into this year, but I definitely expected to have some failures. Here are some things that I’ve learned so far this season:




I started some seeds inside the first week in January! And while that might seem a little aggressive, I did the math back from our last average frost date and followed the instructions. There isn’t much you can start that early, especially depending on what zone you live in. But I started some shallots and onions then and they are still looking really good!

If you’re planting everything in your garden when it’s consistently warm out, you’re probably a little too late.


To be honest, I don’t know the difference between good and bad soil but I got what seemed like really good soil and compost form a local spot in Nashville and I think that really makes a difference!




Just because you don’t have a huge garden doesn’t mean you can’t plant things! Some of my favorite items this season have come from a planter, like these cut and come again blends. If you have a big enough planter, you can put the whole bag in it!

I also particularly love container lettuces, like this small buttercrunch lettuce. One harvested is the perfect amount to make a big individual sized salad.


Again, I still have so much to learn, but I have the perfect story to show you just how important fertilizing is. I had planted two cauliflower and broccoli plants and they were getting huge, like growing out of the garden box huge! But, there was no actual head of broccoli, just the large surrounding leaves. So before I gave up completely I put some fertilizer around the base of each of them, and you’ll never believe that no more than two weeks later I had two cauliflower and broccoli heads growing! That’ll teach me not to forget to fertilize.

Each vegetable requires a different NPK level, so make sure you do your research before throwing some fertilizer in your soil.




While I wish you could grow whatever you want, whenever you want, plants are particular. Lettuces for example hate the heat, they will “bolt” and essentially stop growing. So I made sure to plant tons in March so that I could harvest through until June, then stay away from growing any cool season plant between June – mid August.

Some plants like the heat though! I know tomatoes grow in the warm season, and I’ve got 6 tomato plants that I am dying to start harvesting from, so fingers crossed they keep doing well.

Two of my favorite resources for seeds is Botanical Interests and Renee’s Garden, and check out this post for a few of my staple garden tools + accessories.


MDW Holiday Weekend Sales 2023


Here is a breakdown of some of my favorite retailers and the best sales we have found for the holiday weekend. Personally my favorite thing to do during big sales are:

1. Big purchases: if you’ve had your eye on something for the home? Now is the time to get it!

2. Staples: things like white tees or even pajamas! I have several pieces that are just worn out and need to be replaced, this is the time that I do that.

3. Organizing + cleaning: if you have a closet or room that you’ve been wanting to reorganize? Get those things now! Huge savings at The Container Store, but also on cleaning products. Again, a great time to shop for staples.


Jenni Kayne

20% off with code MDWEVENT 



25% off through 5/30 with code LONGWEEKEND 

Scout & Nimble

Up to 25% off!

The Container Store

30% off sitewide

Abercrombie & Fitch

20% off everything!

Visual Comfort

20% off


40% off your purchase plus an extra 50% off sale items with code WEEKEND

Serena & Lily

20% off with code SPLASH



It’s that time of year that Pinterest board is full of exterior landscaping from the Hamptons and Nantucket. I’m talking wood shingles, hydrangeas and boxwoods, soon followed by the urge to watch every Nancy Meyers movie ever made. From all of this we can only make one conclusion…

It’s coastal grandmother season!

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it was an aesthetic defined a few years ago as a ‘clean and classic of women living in luxurious oceanfront properties set in the Hamptons’. Glamour describes it as

“Being a coastal grandmother means wearing loose, breathable fabrics and doing strength training by shifting a full glass of Sauvignon Blanc from hand to hand. It means shelling peas on a chaise lounge, or getting up at six to drink coffee with local cream in the still, cool promise of the morning.”

I mean, what doesn’t sound absolutely lovely about that?




There are three pillars to this aesthetic, and they are:

1. Neutrals

2. Linen

3. Classic + Timeless

I love any excuse to wear a beige sweater over my shoulders and if you’ve been following my Instagram stories the last month you will know that has been my go-to move. And to be honest I think a draped sweater is a power move in the coastal grandmother handbook.

Let’s review the staples of this look and just how easy it is to accomplish this aesthetic:




Whether you are wearing these as a cover up with a swimsuit, or maybe pairing them with a neutral stop and sandals for a stroll through the farmers market, these are not only so comfortable but great pieces to transition from spring to summer because of the breathable fabric.




An oversized white linen button down is a real strong coastal grandmother move. Go with cotton and you can pair it with jean shorts and a straw bag for a fresh + stylish vibe for Summer.




You can’t go wrong with these styles all year round. And did I mention I like to drape them over my shoulders yet? The perfect outfit for when you’re a little chilly on the beach in the Hamptons 🙂




I actually love these styles for this time of year no matter what aesthetic you’re going for. And the idea of filling them with produce for a farmers market, then walking to your beach house afterward makes me want to pick up and move pronto.




Another piece so crucial to a comfortable spring/summer wardrobe. And dare I say, a great piece to pair with a sweater draped over your shoulders?!





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