Category: seasons

I’m Back, and My Thoughts on Spooky Decor

Hello there! It’s been over two weeks since my last post and every day since the pressure of a really good come-back post increases. Well, sorry to disappoint, but this one’s going to be short and kind of pointless. Thank goodness I didn’t try to tackle the 31 days project. I would be drowning by now. :)

I LOVE this season. So much that I get weirdly sad before it even begins. Does that make sense to anyone else? I woke up on Monday in a panic that we’re in the third week of October: how did that happen?! I love springtime too, maybe as much, but feel fine breezing through those months because a gorgeous summer is approaching. But after this season and the holidays, WINTER is coming. I want to stop time and savor the beauty before the cold, dead winter hits.

But this time of year really is magical. The leaves, the layers, the festivals, the fairs, the pumpkins, the spices, the lattes. I’ll keep my fall love story to a minimum, since I’m sure you’ve already heard other people sing autumn’s praises by now, but yes — this month is beautiful and I love this season.

That said — can someone explain to me how you can decorate your house with spiders?! Curious arachnophobic minds want to know. It seems to be more in this year, but maybe that’s because I read more decorating blogs than I used to. I get the whole spooky Halloween decor thing — skeletons, ghosts, goblins (are they the same as ghosts?) and the like. It’s not my style, but I get it. However, I truly cannot fathom why anyone would willingly put spiders on a wreath that they walk past every time they walk into their house. Or buy a dishtowel with spiders and hang it from your oven. Or bite into a cupcake with an icing spider on top. Shudder. This time of year it’s hard enough managing the real spiders without adding fake ones in the mix.

Last night my friend posted this on Instagram:

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 8.57.52 AM

That is literally a nightmare I’ve had.

J told me this morning we should have our first frost this Friday. Is it diabolical of me to rejoice that all the spiders have a good chance of dying in the frost?

I really need to work on this fear thing. Maybe next year.

October Goals + Fall Bucket List

Oy! I’m feeling a little behind on my updates. I realized today I still have to share my August highlights, my August book club (how did I miss that?), now my September highlights plus a whole host of posts I have sitting in my drafts folder just waiting for me to finish. All good stuff, just need to get my act together to publish them. And I really wanted to join in The Nester’s 31 day series again this year (last year I did a series on financial freedom), there was no time for that this year, people. No time! (Well, let’s be honest, there’s always time, I just didn’t make it a priority.)

Anyway — no room for complaining on the first day of October! It’s fall! I love this month. It is already feeling like fall here with crisp, chilly mornings and gorgeous bold blue-sky afternoons. There are a lot of productive things I want to accomplish this month, plus a whole host of fun things I want to check off my fall bucket list.

October Goals:

– Make changes in my diet. I have been feeling generally “blah” lately, so I think I need to purge all processed foods and either go on a sugar fast or eat paleo for a while. I want to be healthy and in a right state of mind before the holidays arrive (can you believe we’re talking about holidays already?!).
– Run or bike at least three times a week.
– Make or buy curtains for the kitchen. Kitchen is pictured in this post — any ideas on colors or fabrics?
– Clean and organize our home office, including hanging things on the wall. (This is the first room you see when you walk in our house and right now it’s a disaster zone.)
– Continue to unpack and organize, specifically boxes that are in closets I have been ignoring the last few weeks.
– Create a cleaning schedule, and stick to it!
– Meal plan each week and try to only eat out twice, at the most.  
– Publish all those blog posts I’ve been meaning to share!

And now for the fun fall bucket list of things I want to do this season:

Fall Bucket List | My Pretty Pennies

What are you up to this month? Any seasonal goals you would add to that fall bucket list?

Fall Fashion Wish List

I love summer, but not so much late summer. My morning walks with Leia are darker, the bugs are big after months of feeding, and I am tired of air conditioning. A cold front came through yesterday and this morning it was a delicious 65 degrees. That’s unheard of in the middle of August!

This weather has made me long for cool, crisp autumn days ahead. Not winter, mind you, autumn. Let’s not rush into Cold so soon. But I long for those chilly Saturday mornings. The ones when you wake up and put socks on as you drink your coffee slowly and think of all the people preparing for a football game. And as the day goes on the sky turns that deep, rich blue you shed your chunky sweater and open your kitchen window and turn on Patty Griffin and spend the afternoon making an apple pie.

Yes, that. That’s what I long for.

In an effort to save some money, I haven’t bought a single thing since May (okay, except for one single dress that I plan to wear to a wedding in two weeks). It’s been a very creative summer trying to mix and match my limited summer decor. So I am extra excited about this new season of layers and the chance to maybe, just maybe, buy Something New.

Here are some of the cozy clothes I have on my wish list this year…

Fall Wishlist

scarf, sweater, bag, pants, books, loafers

Most of the things I picked out are pretty expensive, but maybe I can find similar styles at a lower price? Challenge accepted.

What is on your wish list this fall?

Summer Bucket List

I love summer. The beginning of it, especially. It’s sunny, delightfully warm, and all you want to do is spend every waking moment outside. I was in Florida this weekend for a wedding, and it was the perfect scene to inaugurate this happy season.

This is my fifth summer working in the big-girl world, and I always get a little jealous when my teacher or student friends get a three-month hiatus from work. So I like to put together summer bucket lists to give me little summer joys to experience and look forward to do on the evenings and weekends.

When I think about this summer, it’s hard not to compare it with last year. Last year we had one of J’s friends living with us for three months (more on that here and here and here), and this summer it will just be J and me, in a different apartment and with a little addition to our family. We don’t have any major trips planned, except for a week-long trip in September, but have lots of little weekend getaways and in-town events we want to attend.


What are the things on your summer bucket list?

Decluttering: When to Hold ’em and When to Toss ’em

Is it possible to be a hoarder and a minimalist?

I hope so, because that is me.

I act on both ends of the spectrum, and watch out! — it changes fast. Suddenly, a post-it note that reads Soup’s on the counter and remote’s on the couch. Feel better babe! becomes a piece of history I want to save and document forever. In the next moment, I look at the box of my wedding planning stuff and want to chuck it all in the garbage in the name of Simplification.

The frugal and resourceful side of me struggles with throwing things away. I ask, What if I need this later? I will have to buy it again! The minimalist in me says, Oh forget about it! If you haven’t used it in a month, be gone! Depending on my mood, I am bound to make some rash decisions and keep things that need to be tossed and toss things that really should be saved.

Maintaining a House is Hard WorkTo help my bipolar tendencies, I decided to put together a comprehensive list of everything I want to keep and toss. My rules for decluttering, if you will. At first this was just a small little list of things I was on the fence about, but I just kept writing and it got a little out of control (or under control, depending on how you look at it.)

In the next few weeks I am going to do some serious Spring Cleaning (J and Leia, you’ve been warned), and these rules will help guide me when my hoarder or minimalist tendencies start to drive me crazy. An important piece I will need to keep in mind is having a designated spot for everything. This is going to take some serious organizing. A lot of things in the keep pile, I will have to donate in order to fit in its designated spot. For example, I will be donating a lot of office supplies. It’s good to have on hand, but two shoeboxes full of pens is a little much. If it doesn’t fit in our desk drawer… off it goes!

Rules of Decluttering



  • Buttons, in a jar
  • Hair ties and bobby pins
  • Old towels (to use for cleaning or Leia), so long as they fit in my designated bag (otherwise donate)
  • Clothes, shoes and bags I’ve worn in the last year


  • Any clothes that are damaged or have pit stains
  • Dresses or skirts that require a slip (I never wear slips, and probably won’t start anytime soon)
  • Summer dresses and shirts that are low-cut and require a camisole underneath (this is a personal preference… I wear light-weight clothes in the summer to avoid extra clothing, so when if it requires an undershirt for modesty’s sake, it feels uncomfortable and never gets worn)
  • Clothes that are see-through or too tight
  • Clothes too big, even if I think I will may wear it if I’m pregnant
  • Wool sweaters or socks (I never wear them)
  • Hats that look funny on me
  • Shoes that are uncomfortable to walk in or worn down
  • Bags I don’t like or never use anymore
  • Old make-up, lotions or hair products I don’t use
  • Missing socks or earrings

KITCHEN & LAUNDRY ROOM | entertaining & cleaning


  • Grocery bags that can fit in my pantry bag-holder (otherwise toss)
  • White fast food napkins
  • Vases, pitchers, outdoor pots, etc.
  • Platters
  • Paper plates, unless they are ugly or flimsy


  • Recipes that weren’t good from my recipe binder
  • Expired food
  • Expired medication or old prescriptions
  • Grocery bags that don’t fit in my pantry bag-holder
  • Cleaning products with chemicals
  • Cookbooks that are too complicated or require expensive ingredients I’ve never heard of
  • Ugly or outdated mugs I never use
  • Any kitchen spatulas, etc. that are broken or have too many duplicates

GUEST ROOM & OFFICE | organization, decor & hobbies 


  • Pens, paper and post-it notes that can fit in my desk drawer; all others get donated
  • Arts and craft supplies that fit in my designated drawer
  • Baskets and storage items, unless broken or ugly
  • Yearbooks
  • Fabric, ribbon, wreaths and seasonal decorations, unless it’s ugly or never used
  • Paperclips and clothes pins
  • Financial documents from the past 5 years in an organized folder
  • Unused plain picture frames for future gallery walls
  • Magazines from the past 4 months (put all recipes I want to make in a recipe binder)
  • Half or full marathon medals
  • Manuals or programming directions for technologies or electronics we own and use, saved in a file folder
  • College diplomas


  • Magazines older than 5 months
  • Books I will never read, don’t care to display or have duplicate copies
  • All bulletins, wedding invitations, or announcements after the date from acquaintances or extended family.
  • Unused ugly picture frames
  • Financial documents older than 5 years old (shred)
  • Scrapbooking stuff (at this point in my life I won’t be doing any)
  • CDs or DVDs that skip or never watch/listen to
  • College notebooks (if it has a lot of great content, store it in my office at work)
  • Empty notebooks (at this point I’ve created a notebook for everything I need, and if I need to buy one they’re like $1)
  • Manuals or programming directions for technologies or electronics we don’t use, would never consider returning, selling or having a question about
  • Expired coupons or giftcards
  • Trophies, medals or certificates that aren’t important
  • Retail receipts we don’t need
  • High school or earlier diplomas
  • Pens or markers that don’t work
  • Old calendars and planners
  • Wrapping paper or gift bags I would never use
  • Used tissue paper



  • Bulletins, wedding invitations or announcements only from my immediate family or closest friends in a designated box
  • Anything from my wedding or early dating of significance
  • Photo albums (for now until I can create a digital version)
  • Tickets that have significance (this list is small)
  • Childhood journals


  • All tickets that have no significance (which is most — such as plane, bus, concert, game tickets)
  • Old photos that are unflattering or poor quality
  • Church study guides (unless it was a really good one I wrote a lot in)
  • Post it notes, birthday cards, letters that don’t have any significance

Whew! I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. I know these rules are a bit over-kill and most of the stuff is intuitive, but having it written down is going to help me immensely. I’ll let you know how it goes in the next few weeks. :)

What would you do differently?
Do you tend to tend to be a minimalist or hoarder?
How do you decide whether something is worth saving for later?

My Spring Bucket List

Yesterday was the first day of spring. Huzzah! Of course you wouldn’t know it as the high is 43-degrees today, but the trees and flowers have started to bloom and I know soon the temperature will catch up soon enough. I love putting together intentions and goals for each season, and decided to create a spring bucket list:

Spring Bucket List

What is on your bucket list this spring? 

Winter in the Woods

I love the woods in the winter. I love that familiar paths you take in the summer look completely different. Everything seems more open, more spacious. I love that you can walk through thick brush without running into spider webs. I love that earthy, wet smell walking over leaves that have been dead for months. I love the cold air that fills your lungs and makes you feel alert and alive.

Sunday afternoon was one of those classic, cold, sunny North Carolina winter days. I decided to take Leia to the Umstead State Park, a huge park of forests and trails in the middle of Raleigh. We hiked for a long time, trying to get lost, but my sense of direction always took me back to a trail I knew.

I’m the kind of person who likes to keep moving. Rush to the next meeting, the next activity, the next goal, the next season. My mind is going so fast, from activity to activity, it’s like I’m a cartoon character, barely touching the ground as I go. But being in nature grounds me. During those hours of hiking, just my sweet pup and me, I experienced that rare, beautiful moment of stillness and peace.

Umstead State Park

Umstead State Park

umstead state park

Umstead State Park

Umstead State Park

Umstead State Park

Umstead State Park

Umstead State Park

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

PS – Raleigh locals, have any of you been to the Umstead State Park? What are your favorite trails? Also, a post about the park in autumn.