Two Autumn Playlists to Obsess Over (with Sophie Roads)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Being on a college campus for just about two months now, I am realizing how rare it is to find someone without earbuds almost attached to their heads. At first, I found this off-putting due to the lack of opportunity to connect with people you encounter, however, after an extensive study (and by extensive study, I really just mean trying it out for myself) I discovered that having music surround you as you walk to class, study, or just sit on the lawn to rest boosts your mood and can encourage you throughout the day

Today, I am so excited to share with you not only Sophie's October playlist, but also last month's too. Let's just say I did this on purpose and not because life can be crazy and things can go unfinished every once in a while. Once again, Soph KILLS it with both of these playlists. Whether you are on a college campus or on the way to work or school, these songs will make your day go from ordinary to one with more life, joy and growth. And, that is what we are all going for anyways, right? Check out her top autumnal picks below.

October // 16 

September // 16


My favorites from both playlists include "June, After Dark" by Elliot Root (the rest of Elliot's music is beautiful, too. Worth the listen!), "American Money" by BORNS, Bon Iver's "33 'GOD'", and lastly "I Want You" by Marian Hill. You can check out Soph's past playlists featured on the blog HERE (June // 16) and HERE (August // 16). Or, just follow Sophie on Spotify HERE (oh, and me too, HERE). 

What are your favorite picks? And, how will you take this playlist, or just music in general, with you this fall?

Thoughts on Snail Mail & Why it Should Live On

Thursday, October 6, 2016

It is no lie that the days of snail mail are long behind us. Yet, still, we jump up and down and smile at the sight of a small letter in our mailbox. It is then quickly ripped open and our fingers race through the contents like devouring the first piece of cake. Next, if display-worthy, it is carefully taped to our wall among loved photographs and todo lists. While love letters remain the most romantic gesture, what happened to the days of simply writing to friends and family just for the sake of a hello?

Today, I thought I would compile a few reasons as to why the art of the letter should live on. Without further ado,

01 | Captures a Moment in Time

Around the holidays last year, a girl named Carleigh reached out to me commenting that she has followed my blog, Creating A Lovely Life, and Instagram for a while now. After a few emails back and forth, we decided we were true kindred spirits. I suggested becoming pen pals so we could keep up with each other more than just through the picture-perfect perception of the internet. She was immediately up for it and we have been "pen pals" ever since. One of my very favorite things about this practice is looking back on her letters and seeing what has happened in her life, how she has grown, and other small bits of information. While I am an active journal-er, I think it is equally important to share your life in written form to someone else as it is to yourself.

02 | Refreshes Your Addressing Skills

It is sad that less and less people know how to write a proper address on an envelope. Even more so, which side the stamp goes on (the top-right, if you are curious). Though a simple reminder, it is nice to be refreshed on "real life" skills.

03 | The Mere Thought

A sweet text message or phone call takes minimal effort since our phones are our built-in sidekicks, while a hand-written note requires one to go the extra mile. To sit down, think, then write. Though it does seem silly that this is such "effort", this is the world we live in. And, that's okay! The era of the smart-phone and ability to connect with anyone (anywhere, at any time) is beautiful and an easy way to spread joy with each other. Yet, as we move forward in technology, it is a shame to forget the positives of past practices.

04 | Personality in Handwriting

This past spring, I was in a season of writing endless thank you notes. And, while I am very grateful for such generous people in my life, by the 23rd letter I was drained. I could not write "Dear so-in-in, Thank you for the so-in-so, I love it so much..." anymore. Then I took a step back and thought: this is important. I cannot be doing this out of a simple formality, but I should be doing this because not only am I showing my gratitude, but I am showing my personality through a simple handwritten thank you. We all want to be known and valued, and sharing such a small part of you as your handwriting -- no matter if it is neat as a pin, messy, or legitimately kindergarten-level -- is an easy way to do so. 

Who will you write to this week? Grab a cute card (pro tip: buy locally, or better yet- make it yourself!) and write a heartfelt message to your dear friend, roommate, or parent. Do not worry about length-- verbosity is not an indicator of love, mere thought is. 


Seven Things to Remember During Shifting Seasons

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"Each difficult moment has the potential to open my eyes and open my heart.
-Myla Kabat Zinn

As summer moves into fall, we notice the physical change of our surroundings -- the cliche falling of leaves, the warmer colors entering our sidewalks, and even the sweaters taking summer's place in our closets. We smile as we feel the chill in the morning but are instantly filled with regret as the afternoon warmth seeps into our overly excited clothing choice of boots and corduroys. So, here we are, amidst what I call the transition season.

Yet, this term should not only be allotted to a physical changing of seasons, but additionally to the ever changing ebb and flow of circumstances in our life. This can mean a new experience or change in job, a new city, neighborhood, or school, an emerging relationship or loss of one, or even just shift in priorities -- from work to family to friends to everything in between. Times as these can be trying, yet let us not lose heart. Here are a few ways we can keep our head up in a season that is trying to challenge us.

01 | Remember that being vulnerable is good and brave. Do it often and give yourself major props when you do. (*Que Treat Yo' Self 2016*)

02 | Look outside of yourself. Look up. Remember you are not alone in this.

03 | Breathe. Rest for, like, 20 minutes. Watch some trashy TV and give your brain a rest.

(JK about the trashy TV. But, sometimes The Bachelor does wonders to remind us that we really haven't reached rock bottom.)

04 | Calm yourself with these wise words from Theadore Roosevelt: "Do what you can with what you have where you are." Tomorrow is a new start. Heck, in a minute from now can be a new start. 

05 | Lean on someone. Open up. Allow people to be here with you in this time. 

06 | Even when you feel ______ (i.e. overwhelmed, disappointed, heartbroken), show up. Maybe not to the every party, but show up to life. Choosing to not zone out and escape from your circumstance allows you to grow and focus on the here & now.

07 | Remember that this is all temporary. My grandfather (and later my mother, currently my roommate) would always instill in us that "this too shall pass". And, it's true. It will. Let's have patience and rest in the discomfort of it all.

For those who have experienced a shifting season in their life, what is the best advice you have received to deal with the discomfort of transition?

Celebrating Everyday: Making the Most out of a Meal

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

As this blog's description states, I am I strong believer in "celebrating real lives". The key word there is to celebrate - to honor, applaud, and glorify. While often in association with a holiday or special event, celebrating brings joy. So, I often wonder: Is it possible to have that joy without a life-changing event? And, if so, can we still celebrate each moment with that same joy?

These frequently rhetorical questions are easy to pass by with a simple head nod and sigh, yet when answered open the door to growth. For most, when we think about moments when we are happiest, it is often the days that are counted down to - the birthdays, holidays, concerts, "firsts" and "lasts". Yet, here is the thing: life is more than just that. It is the in between moments that consume the majority of our time, and still they should be celebrated just the same as a large ceremony or grand gesture. One of the best ways I am learning how to do this (and do it often) is to make the most out of a meal. Having food on the table is a gift, and one we often take for granted. Gifts deserve to be celebrated, and how fortunate that many of us get to have three of them each day? So, here are a few simple ways to make the most out of a meal.

01 | Sit Down. 

How simple, right? Yet not done as often as we should. I cannot count how many times that I eat breakfast in the car or shove a bag of chips in my mouth as I do laundry. However, these quick fixes - though needed every once in a while - do not equate to the true meaning of a meal. A meal is something that should be spent in good company. (Even just you is good company!) It is something that is prepared and enjoyed. A meal is an event, and should there for be celebrated no matter if it is ramen noodles in your dorm room or a meal out with family or friends. 

02 | Be Intentional, and Take Initiative. 

I recently heard a sermon on how Jesus' pulpit was a table. I loved this point because it was, in fact, around a table with close friends that He taught. He was sharing a meal with them, and therefore sharing in life with these fellow men. I think that example that is taught so well by many influential leaders of the past and present is one that we should all hold close to heart -- to invest and love others we must share in life with them. And, when sharing in life with them we must choose to be intentional with it, and take initiative. Likewise, with meals, when we are intentional about who we surrounding ourselves with and what we are consuming, we are celebrating. Celebrating life, and celebrating today. 

03 | Treat Yo' Self!

As the common Parks and Recreation phrase states, it is good (and fun!) to treat yourself every once in a while. Maybe not cake every night, but on Friday night. Maybe not a more expensive out-to-eat dinner each weekend, but every few weeks. Moderation, folks. It the little extra that goes a long way. One thing that I have been doing more often when eating a meal is eating on a real plate, with a cute napkin, and drinking out of a colorful straw (see above photo). For most, these details seem silly, but to me they bring joy. It may not be yellow napkins or pretty dishes that makes you smile, yet find your own bit of joy amidst an ordinary meal. 

Let's celebrate a meal this week - intentionally surrounding ourselves with people we love and food that nourishes. (This can be cake or a kale salad. Whatever fills you up, and brings you joy.How do you celebrate a meal?

A Playlist for August (With Sophie Roads)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

It is that time of the month again! (Not that kind, ladies. We celebrate real lives here, but that may be getting a little too real.) Sophie is back to share her August playlist with us (check out last month's here), and give us all a little musical boost as we head back full-force into school, work, etc. Enjoy!


Sophie: Hello! The playlist I've created for August is not cohesive in any sense of the word, but I've done my best to curate a grouping of songs that excite and evoke different emotions. Some songs are killer for car rides with friends (see: fun + upbeat), while others are better for rainy days (see: soft + cozy), or you may even need something encouraging before school starts (see: indie + uplifting).

I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do!

Soft + cozy:

Earned It // Bootstraps
Mountain Song // Little Chief
Lost in the Light // Bahamas
Still // The Japanese House
The King of Cape // Alfred Hall
Fake It // Bastille

Fun + upbeat:

Don’t Let Me Down - Illenium Remix // The Chainsmokers

Wanna Lose You // Borgeous
Can You Tell // Ra Ra Riot
Jackpot - The Him Remix // Jocelyn Alice
Not My Day // Keith James
Little Numbers // BOY
Closer // Chainsmokers + Halsey
Monster Lead Me Home // Sara Hartman
Side Note // Palastic + LissA
Outlaws // Alessia Cara
Thinking of You - Roulsen Radio Edit // HEART FX

Indie + uplifting:

Sirens // Woodlock

HAPPINESS // Needtobreathe
TESTIFY // Needtobreathe
Don’t You Cry For Me // Cobi
Home // Dan Croll
Runaway // Ziggy Alberts
Beat & Weathered/One Hundred Years // Typhoon
You Know It // Colony House 


You can follow the playlist on Spotify under the name Sophie Roads, or click the link HERE. Additionally, if you want to keep up with Soph's adventures, follow her on Instagram (@sophsyke). As I emphasized in last month's playlist post, everything is better with a good soundtrack in your ears. This month is a big season of change for me personally, so having music that is comforting to fun to soft, lifts my spirits. And, I hope it will lift yours a bit, too. 

Thanks again, Soph - you are KILLIN' these playlists for us over here on Habit & Heart.

Six Must Do Things in Nashville, TN

Monday, August 8, 2016

Location: Biscuit Love
About a month ago, my friend, Abigail, and I took a long weekend trip to Nashville. It was something  we had planned for a while, so there was lots of prep involved. And by "prep", what I really mean is some extensive Pinterest research. We found tons of blogs and websites on "25 things to do in Nashville" or "How to do Nashville in a Weekend", and gathered a few ideas of restaurants or coffee shops we would be interested in checking out. Yet, the majority of these sites were focused around tourist activities or cliche spots that only allowed you to see the city from one perspective. I am no local, but here is my attempt to tell you how to do Nashville, and do it right in just a few days.

*First things first: Before you read the rest of this post, log onto Spotify and let yourself listen to "Nashville" by Kel as you scroll. You're welcome.*

01 | The Frist. On our first night in town, we spent the evening at the Frist Art Museum. It was one of their "Frist Friday's" nights, accompanied by a Beatles cover band and free admission for 18 and  younger. This experience was not only super fun, but allowed us to truly get a local feel for Nashville on just day one. Also, I would highly recommend visiting the Frist in general - great art, great space. If you plan on visiting in the heart of summer, this stop would be perfect to beat the afternoon heat. 

02 | Picnic at the Parthenon / Centennial Park. Except for the extreme June temperatures in the South, our picnic on the grounds by the Parthenon was one of my favorite parts of our trip. We picked up some sandwiches in the Hillsboro neighborhood, and enjoyed some great people-watching while on my newly purchased picnic blanket. (Note: I've decided this blanket is a must for my summer plans. Because, who knows when a picnic will arise?) Yet, what I think is even better than a summertime picnic over salads and subs, is a crisp fall picnic with soup and tea. I may be biased, but truly everything is better in autumn. 

Location: 12th South next to Edleys
Location: Five Daughters Bakery
Location: Sprinkles Cupcakes

03 | 12 South District. Since I am not one for the country music scene in central downtown Nashville, hitting up lively neighborhoods was top on my list. And, the 12 South district did not disappoint! Just a short drive from Belmont and Vanderbilt, this strip of restaurants, coffee shops, and stores would definitely be considered the "hip" part of town. (Did I just put that in quotation marks? Yikes.) My favorite stops were Five Daughters Bakery, Frothy Monkey, Bar Taco (Note: Good limeaids, great tacos, friendly service. Big fan.), and of course - the famous "I Believe in Nashville" mural*. 

*Tip when visiting the mural: Take the photo then leave. We hung around after our quick snap to decide our next plans, and ended up taking the photos of the next 10+ visitors. It is all fun and games until the subjects ask "can we try a different pose, now?" about seven times. 

04 | See the City from a New Perspective. We decided on a bike ride along the greenway and John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge downtown, and from personal experience, I would not recommend this. But, what I would suggest is to get outside of the hustle of the city and see it from new heights. Whether it is a bike ride along the river (Tip: Rent closest to where you want to start riding) or a walk throughout a neighborhood, exploring through being active allows you to take a mental rest during a planned-down-to-the-minute trip. 

Location: Local Honey
05 | Belmont / Hillsboro Neighborhoods. If you love admiring homes and picturing your future life as stare at large front porches and ivy on brick, then the Belmont and Hillsboro area is for you. After walking around the Belmont University ground and ooo-ing and aah-ing too many times, we walked along Belmont Avenue and popped in a few shops. My favorite was a vintage and thrift store, Local Honey. I picked up the perfect pair of vintage jean shorts, so I declared it a success. Another place to stop in while near Belmont -- Proper Bagel. 

Hillsboro is a neighborhood just a short drive or walk from Belmont / Vanderbilt, as well. For a meal, a quick and delicious spot would be Fida. I would also recommend walking along the main strip to aimlessly explore the various shops. As book nerds, our favorite stop was Bookman/Bookwoman. Wall to wall, ceiling to ceiling books -- this place was to die for. If I had more time, I would of curled up with a good book in one of their many reading alcoves throughout the store. 

06 | Stay in an Airbnb. For the first part of our trip we stayed with family who live outside of Nashville in Murfreesboro. It was an easy commute, and most importantly - free! (Just kidding. Spending some extra time in the summer with my sweet aunt & uncle was the best thing about our accomadations. Very thankful.) However, on our last night we stayed in the cutest Airbnb just five minutes from downtown. We were seeing a concert at Bridgestone that night, making it a short Uber ride to and from the venue. I think the best thing about our set-up in our Airbnb was how easy it was; communication with our host was simple and mostly done by text, and though we shared the space with her, our room & bathroom were in the back of the home making it very secluded. 

Personally, I think that Airbnb is changing the game in travel. Rather than a hotel, you are able to truly experience living like a local in a city.

Location: Nashville Farmers Market
Location: Barista Parlor Golden Sound
Location: Biscuit Love
Other highlights of the trip include: Brunch at Biscuit Love (the "bonuts" are amazing & you can get the perfect snap of the light-up "Nashville" sign), Hatchshow Print (Simply Amazing. A typography lover's heaven), The Barista Parlour (We went to Golden Sound, due to its proximity to Urban Outfitters. Priorities.), and the Nashville Farmers Market.

There you have it! If you cannot tell, I would highly recommend exploring Nashville as a long weekend trip. I felt as if we did it all in just three and a half days. It was one of those places that I thought "I could live here" (I have only had those feelings a few other times -- once in D.C., and another in Kansas City), and I love those urges. So, I say -- plan a trip and GO.

Which of my top six places to visit interests you? And, if you are a Nashville local (or feel like it if you visit often), what are your have-to stop spots? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on social media. 

Tips for Organizing Like a Pro + Why Living Simply Is Good (With Abigail Nowell)

Monday, August 1, 2016

If I know one thing to be true, it is that my dear friend, Abigail, knows how to organize. Through the years of our friendship, we have bonded over our love for the Container Store and our shared giddiness when our room is clean. Not to mention, we could talk about the pros and cons of our planners for hours. No joke.

During the weeks of planning and preparing for this blog, I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate an organizing aspect. Yet, I wanted these posts to reflect more that physical cleanliness. Because, here is the thing: having an organized space you love is all about living simply. It is about surrounding yourself with items that are purposeful and make you happy (flashback to last week's post, here). It is about coming home to a clean home in order to spend more time on moments that matter-- family, friends, hobbies, leisure, etc.-- rather than hanging up clothes for the fourth night in a row. It is about making a house not just four white walls, but a home.

Therefore, I am beyond excited to introduce you to Abigail's first of many posts focused on the art of organization and the wisdom behind a simple space. Get ready for some serious tips, my friends. This girl is the definition of a pro.


Abigail: So, right off the bat, I have to say that organizing is my go-to stress reliever. It is one of the only ways that I feel like I have a grasp on things. Plus, living in a clutter-free space is nice too. Here are a few of my tips for organizing like a pro. 

01 | Beware of what you buy. 

Y'all I am all about a good ole shopping spree, but lately (especially since I'll have a shoebox closet in about two weeks) I've been very conscientious of what I buy. I've downsized my closet in the past few months and realized that a lot of the items I get rid of, I've only worn once or twice. That being said, I make sure I really love something before I buy it

02 | Find a Place for Everything

As soon as I bring something new into my room, I automatically find a place for it. It could be hidden away in a junk drawer or displayed on a bookshelf, but it has its own spot. Now, it will not be cluttering my desk and I won't be straining to find where I put it. 

03 | Group Things of Similarity Together

This one seems kind of obvious, but people with cluttered spaces often forget it. If you have a mountain size pile of "stuff" on your closet floor, go through it and figure out what is inside. Do you need to grab a few storage bins for t-shirts? Should you group all your shoes together? Chances are, your clutter will filter out because things will start having more of a place.

04 | Two Words: STORAGE. BINS.

I cannot reiterate it enough when I say that storage bins are your best friend when it comes to organizing. Every time we go in Target (which is too much for the average person), Cate and I linger around this section of the store. Bins, containers, baskets, etc., are perfect because you can put whatever you want in them and it looks clean (even if the contents of your last three purses are inside). I keep two big bins of workout clothes, several with scarves and swimsuits, and one massive bin of my hoarded t-shirt collection on my closet shelves. 

05 | Find a System that Works for you

The term "organized" is different for everyone. I would like for my definition to be somewhere along the lines of "we are getting ready to have an open house and your room needs to be spotless", but that never tends to happen. If organizing for you is putting your laundry away, then great! If it is making sure every lipstick has its own spot in an acrylic drawer from the Container Store, even better. I have my jeans, pants, and shorts neatly stacked on a shelf. A lot of my friends keep their in drawers. It is all about personal preference! Just keep in mind that your room/space is yours. 

06 | Take Inventory

If you notice a particular collection of something seems to be expanding a little too quickly, take a little time to sort through it. If you have a collection of bottle cap necklaces from elementary school that are collecting dust, it is probably time to trash them (or donate!). If there is something you are questioning whether or not to give away, give it another chance. My rule is to keep it throughout the season (i.e. if it is March, try though May), and if I do not wear or use it, then I get rid of it. 

*Cate's Closet Organization System: Ditch the plastic or wire hangers, and invest in some huggable hangers by Joy Mangano. Not only do they look nicer, they take up less space and are sturdy. 

All in all, what I have realized as I have tried to clean through my room/closet is that I have way too much stuff. When we start to get too much stuff, we become overwhelmed by the amount but also by how it is affecting our lives. I try to keep my space clean because it helps me have a clearer mind throughout the day (instead of worrying about how much laundry I have to put away when I get home), I can fully use everything I already have, and I get to be more creative with outfit choices! (All that to say, I still have a terrible online shopping habit. The college student budget will be changing that soon.) A fun idea is to spend an afternoon with a friend going through a space that needs some major organization. Turn on some fun music and make day out of it!


Abigail, thank you so much for sharing your wise words concerning not just the physical space that surrounds us, but shedding light into how that affects all aspects of our lives. I think we are all prepared to head to the Container Store this afternoon to grab some storage bins. Who's with me?

Pin this post with photo above!

Included content provided by: Abigail Nowell, 18

12 Instagrammers To Follow Right Now

Thursday, July 28, 2016

There is no denying the fact that I love Instagram. I would say it is my favorite social media due to the creative aspect of it. Yet, while I love to take, edit, and share fun moments, what truly inspires me is following other creatives. Therefore, I have compiled my "top 12" of Instagrammers to follow, each account diverse from the next in content, location, and artistic style. There is truly someone on the list for you to follow and be inspired by. Enjoy!

01 | For The Travel Guru: With The Locals (@withthelocals) | I found this account when my own home town of Little Rock, AR was feature over a year ago, and have loved following along ever since. Each week, a new Instagrammer "takes over" the account showing us around his or her city. Exploring a town through a true local's eyes allows you to see a city in all its glory-- and often without the tourist cliches.

02 | For The Artistic Soul: Face The Foliage (@facethefoliage) | These pretty floral faces are not only crazy creative, but will inspire you to take apart that bouquet and start creating! Plus, that fox portrait. *Heart eyes*

03 | For a Peak at the BTS Life of a True BOSS: Jen Gotch (@jengotch) | Founder and CEO of, Jen's life is anything but boring. Her feed showcases fun behind the scenes action at the office as well as her a close up look at her own life. 

04 | For The Target Lover: Target Does It Again (@targetdoesitagain) | As a Target-addict myself, I appreciate the daily reminder that, YES, I do need to go to Target. Again.

05 | For Baby Fever: Mary Lauren (@marylauren) | There is just something about following along a growing babe. Beautiful images abound of doing life & doing it right on this mama's feed.

07 | To Get Office Inspo: Wandering Office (@wanderingoffice) | Anyone else obsessed over pretty work spaces? I'm so obsessed that I have an entire Pin board dedicated to it. This Insta-account is perfect for office inspo while also a push to get to stop staring at the phone and get to work.

08 | For the Adventurous Spirit: Jannik Obenhoff (@jannikobenhoff) | The 16-year-old, based in Munich, Germany, describes himself as "just a boy with a camera", yet his photographs portray much more. These stunning images will make you gasp each time he posts through his amazing composition and use of light. Now, I have decided that I must travel to Germany to see these sights in person!

09 | For the Hip Pet Lover: Warby Barker (@warbybarker) | Honestly, I'm not much of a dog lover. But these pups + my favorite specks (Warby Parker) get me every time. Sadly, my pup, Eleanor, will not for the life of her let me get a good shot of her in my glasses. I mean, come on!

10 | For Beautiful Photography: Kinsey Mhire (@sincerelykinsey) | Kinsey uses light so beautifully in her images and captures moments that will be cherished forever. Her skill + natural surroundings makes every shot truly killer. 

11 | To Follow an Up-In-Coming Graphic Designer: Connor Dwyer (@connor.dwyer) | As a current SCAD graphic design student,  Connor's minimalistic aesthetic & clever creations are too good not to follow.

12 | For Endlessly Creative Content:  Design Love Fest (@designlovefest) | I mean, the Design Love Fest creative director, Bri Emery, makes even lightbulbs and junk food look cool. Now that is what I call a true creative.

Pop on over to Instagram and give these creatives a follow! While these people inspire me, who on Instagram inspires you? 

P.s. For those who saw this post un-finished this morning -- I am so sorry! I accidentally scheduled the post without realizing I was missing a few things. ;)

Why Printed Images are Better than Digital (with Artifact Uprising)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Surrounding yourself with things you love is important. Whether it is artwork, handwritten notes, concert tickets, or those vintage owl figurines you just had to buy, these items are physical reminders of your personality and treasured moments. While the remnants may appear to be mundane or insignificant to your neighbor, to you they are lovely, sentimental, and make you smile. That simple grin alone is why I am a big believer in immersing yourself in the good and the true things of life -- from friends, to experiences, to the cute pillow on the sale rack at Target -- to understand that each day brings joy. While physical items do not equate or are necessary for a full life, I think that in a world with so many problems, pain, and injustice, it is okay to remind yourself there is still beauty. In the people you encounter, the situation you are currently in, and on the walls of your home, there is still beauty.

We often decorate with art and various knick knacks, and yet our photos -- a memory that appears so personal -- tends to be kept on our phone, only visible to our own eyes. We often forget that our photographs, too, are an art form. And, like the beautiful painting passed down from your grandmother, they should be showcased. So I ask: why is the art of a physical photograph lost? I have narrowed it down to this: convenience. (That, and well, saving the trees. But that's another story.) The cool thing about this issue is there is a easy solution -- take action. We live in 2016, and printing photos is easier than ever. Most orders can be placed in five minutes on your Smartphone during your lunch break, and picked up just a few hours later.

There is something about taking a photo of a special moment, and therefore getting to keep that memory forever. More than that, what a privilege it is to have those images go from your five inch iPhone screen to a beautiful print. For me, Artifact Uprising* does just that. With just twenty-five bucks and a few clicks on your phone or computer, you can get twenty-five 5 x 5 inch high-quality prints. Additionally, AU's products include framed photos, photo albums, cards, and wall art. All beautiful, simple, and personal. 

All in all, a printed photo is better in view of the fact that it is physical. Because, we as humans inevitably remember occasions best in their most concrete form. It is that "proof" that we need to remind us that it happened, was accounted for, and can be recollected. However, what makes a printed photograph so valuable is the memory itself; truly, it is the intangible things of life that are forever.

So, I encourage you to print a few photos this week. Maybe it is the last three photos on your camera roll or your favorites from a trip a few summers back; but, whatever it is, let's get it off a screen and into your hand. Let's practice remembering with fondness. Let's surround ourselves with more beauty.

*Note: This post was not sponsored. But, heck-- I wish! Let's connect, Artifact Uprising.

03 | In the Process with Sally Nixon

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Today, I'm almost giddy because I get to share an interview I did with Little Rock local artist, Sally Nixon. I have followed her work for a while now, and am always impressed with her drive to create consistently as well as portray women in a beautiful, yet real, light. Nixon has been feature on The Creators Project, Bustle, Its Nice ThatCosmopolitan, and The Huffington Post. This interview is a part of H&H's "In the Process" series (look at previous posts with Helen Hung and Laura Supnik), where I am interviewing various creatives from all walks of life, locations, and artistic work. Nixon's work inspires me everyday -- and often to the point of not just looking at her detailed illustrations, but testing the water with my own creations. As you read the following interview, I hope you enjoy her work and artistic outlook as much as I do!
H&H: How did you get where you are today? 

SN: I grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the youngest of five girls. I’ve always been interested in art and telling stories through images. In 2013, I graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a BFA degree in studio art with an emphasis in illustration. Since then, I’ve been doing freelance illustration for a number of magazines and businesses.

H&H: How would you describe your work in three words?

SN: Detailed, colorful, feminine

H&H: Where do you find inspiration for your art? How do you continually look to that inspiration in your profession despite deadlines and the occasional creative-block?

SN: I find inspiration everywhere. That sounds really cliche, but it’s true. I’ll be watching TV and see an object or a pattern I like and design an illustration inspired by it or make a note to include it in the next project I have. When I have creative blocks, it’s usually because I’m not that interested in whatever I’m drawing, which can happen with certain freelance jobs. So I’ll look at my Pinterest boards or my sketchbook where I keep notes and photos of things that inspire me and I’ll try to find a way to include some of those things in the project at hand. 

H&H: Many creative people (myself included) struggle with the idea of originality and creating something new in a world when everything has been done already. Do you struggle with this? What are your thoughts on getting past this inner conflict?

SN: I used to worry about that a lot, but I finally just accepted the fact that everything has been done and there is no such thing as a completely original idea. And that’s okay. Every creative person has their own unique style and it’s more important to focus on honing that than trying to come up with a brand new idea.

H&H: The Creators Project comments on your work stating, "[s]eeing women in art who aren’t being watched and aren’t being assessed, who aren’t sucking in their stomachs, arching their backs, or dewily parting their lips, is wonderful, refreshing, and deeply relatable." How do you hope to portray women, and the human person in general, through your art?

SN: Realistically. I want my artwork to be relatable to the average person. My favorite comments to get are “oh, that’s so me!” or “that reminds me of my best friend!” 

H&H: Most of your work is very detail-oriented. About how long do you spend per illustration?

SN: It depends on the size of the drawing. All of the pieces from my 365 project were four inches by four inches, so I could get those done in one to two hours. The larger the piece, the longer it takes. I just recently finished one that was 11x16 and it took a week and a half. 
H&H: I loved your 365 days of illustrations you shared on Instagram. What was the hardest part about that process? What lessons did you learn along the way?

SN: The hardest part was probably finding the energy to draw on the days when I really didn’t want to. There were a few times when I was sick and the last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed and draw. But I did it anyway and didn’t die, so it all worked out. The whole reason I started the 365 challenge was because I was bored with what and how I was drawing. Doing an illustration a day forced me to branch out creatively. Plus, the more you do something, the better you’ll get at it. 

H&H: What is next for you and your art? 

SN: I’d love to do a book(From Cate: I will definitely be your first preorder.)

H&H: What advice would you give to fellow artists with the same desire to create?

SNWhatever your area of interest is, do it as much as possible and think about it as much as possible. And be stubborn. If someone says you’re not good enough, then get good enough. And tell that person to fuck off. 
For me, Sally's creative work gives me permission to be myself, yet also finding rest in that fact that there is someone else out there sneaking in a piece (or five) of cake at midnight. So for that, and this beautiful conversation, thank you so much, Sally! You can check out her work on Instagram under @sallustration or on her Etsy page here

What about her work inspires or draws you in? Share in the comments below!

The Perfect Summer Indie-Dance Playlist (With Sophie Roads)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sometimes I like to think of my life before iTunes or Spotify. Then I quickly stop because that is a sad life, and just not worth the time. Yet, if I am being completely honest with myself, my music taste was not shaped by own accord. Maybe 20% of it is, but the other 80% is due to two people-- my older brother, Jackson, and my long-distance bestie, Sophie. 

Sophie currently lives in North Carolina, but has lived near and far-- from Dallas to my hometown of Little Rock to the UK. There are a lot of words to describe her, but most of all she is someone who is always kind, a constant encourager, and incredibly creative. Soph lives her life with a lot of grace and a lot of creativity. I am more than proud to call her one of my best friends!

Sophie's encouragement and advice has been a large part in the creation process of this blog, so I owe one big thank you to her (thanks, Soph!). She is good a multitude of things, but what she is a pro at is finding the perfect playlist for you. There have been many times that she has sent me a song to listen to on a hard day or a good playlist that makes you want to dance. And, I simply can't keep her stellar music choices to myself. So, once a month, we get to metaphorically gather around Sophie's laptop and see what is on her current music playlist. This month, we decided the best way to describe it was indie-dance. I don't know if that makes us wannabe hipsters or not (*cringe*), but at the end of the day it is the perfect soundtrack for your summer. Enjoy!

01 | Broken Record - Louis the Child Remix feat. Joni Fatora // Soysauce

02 | Send My Love (To Your New Lover) // Adele

03 | Lost // Jack and White

04 | Good Grief // Bastille

05 | Oceans // Coasts

06 | Better Love - From The Legend of Tarzan // Hozier

07 | High You Are - Branchez Remix // What So Not

08 | Rising Water // James Vincent McMorrow

09 | Hell No // Ingrid Michaelson

10 | Amadeus // Family and Friends (Cate's favorite pick!)

11 | Boardwalks - Sonny Alven Remix // Adele

12 | Welcome To Your Life // Grouplove

13 | Bridge Burn // Little Comets

14 | White Flag // Joseph

15 | Alaska // Maggie Rogers

16 | Moving Mountains // The Brevet

You can follow Sophie on Spotify where this playlist is found (or click the link HERE) under the name Sophie Roads. Now, grab a friend & take a drive or have a solo dance party in your home; the latter, which tends to be my favorite mode of music listening, is actually happening right now to the song "Alaska" by Maggie Rogers. Yet, whatever you do, life is better with a good soundtrack in the background.

Included playlist provided by: Sophie Roads, 17

H&H Update: Out For The Week!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sweet, consistent followers! I will be out for the week due to a mission trip. Though I schedule most of my posts, I will also be taking my annual "social media cleanse" as well as a quick break here on H&H. I am learning that it is perfectly OK to rest for a second and focus on the real stuff, you know? Yet, if you are reallllly missing those two posts of mine and needing some good content (remember the chat about content that uplifts, here?) to read throughout the week, here are five places to check out.

01The Art of Journaling on Creating A Lovely Life (A favorite post from my previous blog of five years)

02Four Ways Anyone Can Fight For Justice via Darling Magazine blog (SO good)

0323 Ways To Treat Yourself Without Eating or Buying Anything via (Save yourself some money and calories this week)

04 | The Lively Show podcast, specifically episode #100 with Elizabeth Gilbert (have gushed about this here) by Jess Lively (New episodes every Thursday / Can find on Podcast app on iPhone)

05 | @SaraDietchy on Youtube (Especially her series, Creative Spaces TV)

And, a quick word-to-the-wise: Immersing yourself in creative, uplifting content not only inspires you throughout the week but is necessary to a life of growth & creativity. What will you engage in this week?

[P.S. As I will be out-of-town, please pray for me and my team as we share our lives + true Love with those we will encounter. Specifically, for leadership + patience + authenticity in conversation. *Hugs*, Cate ]

Art as a Necessity [Quote by Rainer Maria Rilke]

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A lot of times we run out of words, and I think that in these moments we must choose to listen. With intention and with narrow focus-- to not let outside distractions fill our minds to the point we are no longer engaged. Because, it is when we are fully engaged that we learn.  So, to keep it short & sweet, here are some wise words from 20th century German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke on the need to write.

Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. 

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose...

...Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty - describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.” 

Let's continue to the conversation. What in your life do you see as a necessity? Do you see the need for creation, in any & all forms, dire to a full life?

Creative Content That Uplifts: Little City Magazine

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

*Note: Due to the (American) holiday yesterday, this post has been delayed a day. Will be on schedule for this Thursday!

In an era that is continually throwing content at you, it is easy to fill your mind and heart with words, images, and messages that are empty. By "empty", I mean that places like your Instagram / Facebook / Twitter feed often leave you feeling jealous or with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), the Youtube Videos you watch make you feel as if your life is far less pretty or adventurous or [fill in the blank here] than the person behind the camera, and the blogs or articles you read seem as though everyone has it figured out except for you. Here's the thing: that is normal. At least we can all rest in that fact alone, yet we must not let that be the end of the discussion. I think the problem here is that we spend more time looking at our phones and computers than we do with people we love. We spend more time contemplating an edit or caption than we do asking about someone else's day. We spend more time pinning pretty images than we do actually creating them. That, too, is a fact of our generation that is both sad but very real. 

The cold, hard truth of this is that these are issues that we must face head on in order to live a full life. The first being we need to put down the dang phone. We just do. Yes, it is hard. But, no, we will still live. When practiced, we will not just "do life" through a glowing screen, but truly live a life that is both beautiful and messy, and most importantly, a life that is in the here and now. One with people you love looking at you in the eyes during a moment that does not have to be captured in order to be remembered. That is a full life. It is something much easier said than done, I will admit as this is a goal I continually try and fail and try again at achieving. The other problem is that when we are on the internet, we are not surrounding ourselves with content that uplifts. Whether is be the images we look at, the words we read, or the overall meaning behind the work, it leaves us empty

But, guess what? There is good, uplifting, authentic content out there. I am slowly finding it and choosing to fill the time I spend looking at a screen with it rather than scrolling through my Instagram feed for the 12th time in the hour. (Pro tip: Start small. Try just limiting yourself to look at your various socials once every hour.) Therefore, I want to share these places that celebrate real lives, like I hope H&H does and continues to do. 

Little City Magazine is where you should start. The online magazine launched just last week and is described as "a community of creatives led by faith". With articles on fashion & beauty, entertainment, lifestyle, college & career, and adventure written by various contributors, it not only uplifts but also inspires you to take action to grow. And, some exciting news in this, too: I have the opportunity to be a contributor as well! I am overjoyed to share an article on the topic of college & career in a week or so, and cannot wait for you guys to read it.

So, hop on over to Little City and fill your heart & mind with more than empty content. Even if it is simply a click away, this is a way we can actively pursue the good and the real things of life. 

Where do you find content that uplifts? Let me know in the comments below.

by mlekoshi