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Show Note Links
Autumn book club!
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
- Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
- Taste Makers “Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America” by Mayukh Sen
- Check out Pagination Bookshop (which is in Springfield, Missouri, but you can order online, too)
- Emma’s pumpkin chili
- Elsie’s homemade Chex mix
- Emma’s favorite teas: DAVIDs Forever Nuts and Harney and Son’s Cinnamon Tea
P.S. We favor houses that might be haunted…
Miss an episode? Get caught up!
- Episode #150: We’re Back! Summer Recap
- Episode #149: Summer Bucket List + Reading List
- Episode #148: Best and Worst Money Advice
Episode 151 Transcript
Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. This week we’re sharing our autumn reading list and a guide to all things cozy, including our coziest recipe and what we’re looking forward to this fall.
Recording in the Same Studio
Elsie: Yes. So Emma staying at my house all week this week. We are recording together in person in the same room, which we hardly ever do. I mean, we have before, but it’s pretty rare. I would say like 90% of our episodes were recorded virtually. So, this is pretty special and we decided we were gonna do like a couple of nights of it while she was here. Just sort of like get ahead of schedule. We like to get ahead before the fall blog content hits because it is like our busy time. It’s our busy season and we want to be overachievers, which if you’ve ever looked at our Thanksgiving recipes, you know. Emma’s an overachiever every single year like we want to do fall right. So we have to start early. We have to get ahead. We have to plan. So yeah, this is gonna be an exciting time. Then she’s going home for what, like four days, and then she’s coming back. We’re gonna do our, okay, the holiday special. We found a new better way to do it this year.
The Holiday Special
Last Year’s Experience
Emma: So to recap, last year we had this idea to make a holiday special, and we were like, what we’re gonna do is it’s gonna be a 30-minute special and we’re gonna put it on Amazon prime because at the time, as we can see this idea, anyone could put things on Amazon prime. You had to get approved.
Elsie: I was like, oh wow. Amazon prime. That’s cool.
Emma: You had to get approved and stuff so you can’t just put spam on there, but at the time anyone could submit and it was kinda like YouTube in a way. Then like two weeks after we filmed it and had it done, they had changed their rule. So then we just put it on YouTube and, shared it in various ways and that was really fun. We had reels that went with it and it was really fun, but it was just not what we were kind of aiming for. But I think the experience of it was interesting and we learned a lot from that. People really liked holiday content. So we were like, all right, well we’re gonna do something for Halloween and Christmas this year, but it’s not gonna be that. It’s gonna be something else. The ROI on it wasn’t what we needed. We’ll say that.
This Year’s Plans
Elsie: Yeah. It was an enormous investment of time and energy. Then, yeah, just not enough of something that we could use. This year, we like really thought about how can we do this. The thing we wanted to keep from it is like, make the fun videos, still do the costumes. We felt the costumes were a big hit. We loved it. Most people who watched it had something to say about the costumes because it was, I mean, it was kind of over the top.
Emma: Very very funny.
Elsie: Yeah, it was joyful for us. We want to do that again. And then we wanted to do a little bit more elaborate projects because last year we made our projects so easy so that we could teach them literally on camera really quickly. So we wanted to be able to find a way to do more of the types of projects we really love. Like this year, we’re doing some wreaths and we’re doing a lot of like cupcakes and cookies and things that are just a little bit more elaborate, more time-consuming. So anyway, we decided to do them. We are kind of doing like a double whammy. We are shooting the blog post version of most of these, so that we’re basically not wasting all the hard work of making all those projects. Then we are also making reels so it’s gonna be a really good season for our Instagram. It’s not a secret that everyone has their hot take about Instagram. I don’t have a hot take. I’m just like, ugh. That’s like my whole attitude towards it. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Like that’s all I have to say about it, but I’m excited for the season because we have something that we are excited to do and you can feel when that is true and you can definitely feel when it’s not true. So I am really excited for Halloween and then we’re doing a little bit of Thanksgiving and then we’re doing Christmas and then even a little bit of new year’s, like the whole time. Yeah. If it goes well, then we’ll probably keep with our batch working. We’re trying kind of an extreme version of batch working holiday content. I hope so much that this is good for us because I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time ordering all the costumes, ordering all the chocolate molds, just like all, you know, and then like trying to find the perfect recipes that we haven’t done before, which is actually really hard and that we can do on camera. That we’re both interested in, just all the things that make good projects line up. So we are hyped.
(Psst: starting now!)
Elsie: I think I way over did that as an opener, but we are extremely hyped and I can’t wait for you to see it and we will probably start them, so this podcast episode is coming out on a Monday, and then it’s September this week. So we can start posting them this week. So that is cool. So as soon as we tell you about it, you’ll get to start seeing them. So you don’t have to wait, which I hate making people wait. It’s sad. It’s like elusive.
Emma: I know you’re supposed to hype it up ahead of time, which we try but it’s more fun to be like, and here it is now.
Elsie: I’m more the two days ahead of time type than like the two months like you don’t need that much hype.
Emma: Well me in my life, I’ll forget things. I’m like if I don’t have a screenshot of it on my phone, I don’t remember.
Autumn Book Club: So Many Books!
Elsie: Screenshots on your phone do not help you remember things in my opinion. That’s just one more thing that’s buried for me. Okay. So anyway, let’s talk about the autumn book club. So we decided to do three books for this next round because, for the last couple of rounds, Emma was like, why are we doing so many books?
Emma: Too many. We had a miscommunication initially.
Elsie: Yes, this time we’re doing one book that I’ve already read so it’s easier on me, but you haven’t read any of these so it’s harder for you. Sorry about that. So I’ll just tell the three books, but we’re doing two fiction and one non-fiction, which I think is more the balance that we’re vibing right now.
The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Elsie: So the first book is called The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. So this is a mega-hit, I’m sure you’ve heard about it. I’m sure you’ve seen the cover. It’s been recommended to us passionately so many times. So that is why I put it on the list. I’m so excited to read it. I actually don’t really know the premise or anything. Do you know the premise?
Emma: I don’t really, not really. I just heard it recommended. I actually started it a couple of weeks ago by the time they hear this and I posted about it on my Instagram. Most of what I posted about on my personal Instagram is just what I’m reading. So anyway, I posted about it. It’s a book Instagram and I got like 50 comments and I would say like 48 of them were like, love it, favorite book ever. They were like that level of like, so I was like, whoa, I’m really excited now because I heard it was great, but whoa. So I don’t really know the premise though. I don’t know very much about it, which I kinda like because I kind of like to just jump on in. You know when you see a great movie and you knew nothing about it? It’s fun.
The Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Elsie: The next book that we chose is The Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. First of all, this is the author from Station 11. If you haven’t read Station 11, she also has a book called The Glass Hotel. I would say she’s definitely one of my top favorite authors. This past year, I read all of her books, but this one is my favorite because it has a little bit of everything that I love from all of her books. It’s like all the worlds collide. It’s incredible. And the reason why I put it on here is because like the other day, Emma and I, so in our hometown Springfield, they opened a new local bookstore. I saw you just linked it in the 10 things blog post but I’ll link it in the show notes.
Emma: It’s been open a few years.
Elsie: A few years? Well, it was my first time to visit this cute local bookstore on Walnut street and I was so excited. I was like, hi, when we went in there, the selection was really, really good. It’s a great bookstore. Emma spent so much money, like $200 on books. She has a huge thing of books. So I convinced her to get this book and I gave her like a hard sell and I feel like I’ve kind of done that to everyone I’ve talked to about it because I’m obsessed with it. I just wanna talk about on the podcast because I wanna share it with someone else who’s obsessed with it. So get obsessed with it. Share it with me. I am so excited about, it. It was one of my favorites from the year and I did do the audiobook and I would recommend it as an audiobook if you enjoy audiobooks, because it has lots of different performers. It’s mixed up and I think it adds a lot to the performance.
Taste Makers by Mayukh Sen
Elsie: Then the last book, so this is a nonfiction book, but it was recommended to me by my therapist. She always recommends books to me and they’re all really different. So I actually don’t even like take it. I think she just remembers them in the moment. You know what I mean?
Emma: Yeah. Like something you’re talking about makes her think, oh, this might be something that connects.
Elsie: This is not a therapy related book. Let’s just put it that way. So this book is called Taste Makers by Mayukh Sen. The tagline for is seven immigrant women who revolutionized food in America and I’m so excited to read this. Obviously, my children are immigrants and I wanna learn more about immigrant food culture, for sure. So I’m really excited to read this. It’s just not a subject. I haven’t read a lot of books about food culture before. Also if you enjoy audiobooks, I already saved it in my Libby and it is a six-hour audiobook, which everyone loves, a little bit of a shorty. Just like easier to get through. When you see the books that are like 25 hours.
Emma: You’re like, hmm, they’re not gonna get to the point until hour 10, you know?
Elsie: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. So yeah, everyone read Taste Makers. So we will link all of these books in the show notes. I would love it if you would join us. Oh, should we tell a little about how the book club works just in case anyone hasn’t heard us talk about it in the past?
How to Join
Emma: Yeah. So essentially we tell you our selections for the season and then in upcoming episodes, not the next episode, we’ll give you some time, but we will discuss them. If they’re fiction and they have spoilers, things that might ruin the reading experience, then we’ll say that up top and kind of let you know when we’re gonna get into that. We don’t usually do that with the nonfiction though because I think generally there’s not really spoilers per se. If we ever had one, we would. That’s pretty much it is. We’ll just talk through them, say what we learned or what we enjoyed about them or, yeah. Then people can chime in on social media if they like.
Elsie: It’s go at your own pace so if you wanna join, read whichever one you want. You can read one, you can read all of them. We do not say what date we’re gonna do the episodes because we don’t know.
Emma: We don’t know.
Elsie: We just do them when we’ve both finished reading the book, then we’ll do it that week.
Emma: Elsie is like, did you finish? And I’m like, no, she’s like, okay, we’re doing it the next episode so we better finish that one. I’m like, okay. That’s how it works.
Elsie: Yeah. I mean, we’ll finish them by November-ish so probably we’ll do one by the end of September but it’s random. So if you’re reading one of the fiction books and you’re still reading it and you come to a podcast episode, then just save that part of the episode. We always put it at the end, so you can just save it and then come back to it when you’re done reading, for sure. So anyway, I just want people to read some fun books and it makes me feel happy to share it, share the love of the books with other people.
Emma: I like connecting with people over books too.
Elsie: Me too. I really love it. It’s something I never knew how special it is.
Emma: Yeah, I would just like to make it more and more common. A lot of times when you hang out with friends, I feel like, you’ll be like, oh, so what are you watching? You’ll talk, especially like, if you’re with another couple or something like that. That’s great because I love TV and movies so much. That’s also storytelling in a whole different way and it’s visual and that’s really fun, but I love it when I have friends who I’m like, what are you reading? What are you reading? We just swap books because it’s great. Sometimes we literally swap books. We’ll give them to each other when we’re done reading and things like that. I just view that as like how it should be. So there you go. You’re a part of it.
Elsie: Oh, I love it.
Emma: All right. Moving on, time to get cozy.
Elsie: Yes. The cozy time. So we’re gonna do a cozy recipe, a cozy movie, a cozy tradition, and then we’ll do a blog project or whatever that we’re most looking forward to because we do a ton of fall content. It’s just a big part of our lives and it puts me in the spirit. It really does.
Emma: The spirit of Halloween, just kidding.
Elsie: Oh my gosh. So I have to tell them this like a little tiny tangent. So just earlier tonight I was putting our seven-year-old to bed. She requested to me that we skip Halloween this year because it’s too scary. So I was like trying to get to the bottom of it, like what’s the thing that you don’t exactly want. It finally came down to that she hates the big, giant fuzzy spiders that we put on the exterior of our home. So we’re just not gonna have those this year and that’s totally fine. Maybe we’ll try again when she’s like eight or nine.
Emma: That’s so cute.
Elsie: It’s so sweet. Yeah. When we opened up the Halloween closet and I was like, point to the thing and she pointed straight to the spider. The spider, it’s like the fakest looking spider, but yeah, not to her though. It’s too much. I guess they are kind of scary, I guess I can imagine how that would feel scary.
Emma: I remember being so afraid of Jurassic park and I was probably a little older than her. It doesn’t really look, I mean, it looks good. It’s a great movie.
Elsie: I think it looks pretty real.
Emma: It looks great. It looks better than your fake spiders, but I just mean, I understand being scared of something like, I don’t know. That makes sense. But no, we cannot cancel Halloween. No.
Elsie: No, we have to draw the line somewhere. I felt like I made a good compromise though.
Emma: Yeah. You got to the bottom of it, it was the spider.
Elsie: Oh, okay. So let’s first start with the cozy recipe. What is the cozy recipe, like the one that puts you in the spirit?
Emma: I view fall or cozy season or autumn hasn’t really started for me yet until I make chili. So I have to make chili. What I’m planning for this year is I actually have a number of chili recipes on the blog that I love, but there’s this really old post that’s three different kinds of vegetarian chili recipes, all in one post. One of them is this kind of pumpkin chili. It’s a really good recipe, but it is a little bit buried in that post. So I think I’m gonna revamp that a little bit with some of the tweaks and changes I’ve made to it over the years anyway and make it a new, its own post. So it gets kind of like the shining that it should get because I feel like it’s not having that right now, but that’s really what I’m in the mood to make anyway. So it will be work, but it’s also definitely what I’ll be eating for dinner that night because I love chili and to me, that kicks off the season. You’ve gotta make chili.
Elsie: I love chili so much. I can eat it kind of a lot, very consistently through the whole season.
Emma: If I go to a party and they have a crackpot of chili, I’m like stoked.
Elsie: That’s really cute. We’re gonna do one in one of our videos so you are obsessed about the little mini bags of Fritos like when you use the bag.
Emma: You gotta use Fritos in your chili.
Elsie: It’s magical.
Emma: It’s a part of it for me.
Elsie: Okay, so this is gonna random so my husband’s favorite cookie is gingerbread cookies, and I don’t think they’re the best cookie by any stretch
Emma: The best no, good yes.
Elsie: Yes. I will say. I learned to make them really soft, like really soft because the ones that are like crispy where you can break it and it like makes the sound, that’s a no for me. Maybe if you have it with a ton of milk or something. It’s nice but I like soft cookies so I figured out how to make them. They’re kind of almost a hybrid between the sugar cookies that I love and gingerbread cookies because they taste like gingerbread and they’re brown, but they’re soft, like sugar cookies. So I guess that’s my favorite thing because I do make them kind of a lot that time of year. They’re really fun to decorate. I think the thing that’s cool about them is that you don’t really have to use as much icing on them. You can just do like an outline or something. I think that gives it a better balance where it’s not just a ton of icing like the sugar cookies can be kind of like a lot of icing. I like to do a gingerbread, a classic gingerbread man, but with a skeleton outfit for Halloween. I do those like every year and I think I’m so clever every time I do it.
Emma: Genius. I do also love the smell of baking that type of cookie. It really kind of sets the mood. It’s like a scented candle, but the real thing so that’s pretty nice.
Elsie: The real thing. Oh yeah, a recipe that makes your house really smell the way a candle claims to. That’s special.
Elsie: Okay. Let’s do a cozy movie. So I am just like still in my Knives Out kick. There’s not a better movie for me to rewatch right now. The other movies that I rewatch a lot are, so Emma shared with me Practical Magic, which I hadn’t seen ever until last year. I’ve watched it a couple of times recently in my office. Sometimes I just watch movies to like, I usually do it when I’m working on the weekends. Maybe it like makes me feel a little bit more cool or something. I don’t know.
Emma: Yeah. Like you’re having fun too.
Elsie: Practical Magic, it’s like a fun movie. It’s nineties magic. Is it from the 90? It feels like it must be, but it might.
Emma: Yeah. I’m not sure, but it might be on the fringe. It feels like it.
Elsie: Yeah, it is magical.
Emma: I mean, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman and other wonderful actors too, but they’re kind of the leads and they’re witches and they grow up as children into adults. Their aunts are witches and you just see their whole story of being sisters and taking care of each other and magic and there’s also a love story. It’s definitely a romantic comedy. It’s great.
Elsie: One more. Jeremy promised me that this fall, he thinks Nova’s old enough that we would watch E.T. I haven’t watched it in years so I’m really looking forward to that.
Emma: She was scared of the spiders though. I don’t know.
Elsie: It might not be right for her age.
Emma: I don’t know, man. That alien’s a little freaky deeky. It’s a great movie.
Elsie: Do you think it’s too scary?
Emma: I don’t know. I thought it was a little scary when I was a kid.
Elsie: Oh, I thought it was like cute and sweet.
Emma: It is cute and sweet but alien’s kind of scary a little bit. I don’t know. Don’t listen to me. What do I know?
Elsie: What’s your cozy movie?
Emma: So every year my friends do a Harry Potter rewatch marathon.
Elsie: Oh my gosh. Every year. That’s so fun.
Emma: They recently moved to a new house, so I will also get to scope their new house so I’m stoked for that, hopefully. So I love to re-watch the Harry Potter movies because I also feel like they feel a little Halloweeny and they feel a little Christmasy because it happens over the school year.
Elsie: In the first movie, it has both holidays. The first movie’s my favorite.
Emma: To me also a cozy movie is something that you can be watching, but also be painting your nails or even like making a painting or something. It’s like, you’ve seen it enough times or the plot is so obvious that you could kind of zone out for 10 minutes and come back and you’re good. No problems. So I kinda like movies like that. A lot of times when I’m by myself, I watch old nineties romantic comedies and things like that too.
Elsie: During the week of Christmas, when we stay at the pink house, we just put Harry Potter on the entire time.
Emma: Yeah. I’ve seen it so many times.
Elsie: It’s not like we’re watching it. It’s kind of just like in our background in the atmosphere of the room is Harry Potter. I think that that’s a fun Christmas tradition. I think it’s like the week after Christmas, it’s the weirdest strangest week of the year and I think it’s the perfect Harry Potter week.
Emma: I agree. Yeah. There’s no bad time to re-watch a Harry Potter movie in my opinion. Anyway, so yeah, that’s it for me.
Emma: How about a cozy tradition?
Elsie: Oh my gosh. It’s so hard to pick. I’m gonna have to go with making Chex mix. You know I couldn’t get through this episode without talking about Chex mix.
Emma: I thought it was gonna be your recipe so I was like, that was weird, but here we are, she’s still getting it.
Elsie: It’s fun. It’s fun. I mean, we kind of just like baking and making recipes together all through the year. Like Emma, she’s staying with me this week so she’s like really experienced it. How much our four-year-old wants to help in the kitchen. It’s a lot. It’s more than you think and she wants to help with almost every single recipe, especially if it’s baking.
Emma: She gets a little upset if she’s not helping.
Elsie: You have to save a piece for her to do always and curses to you if you forget.
Elsie: What’s yours?
Emma: Yeah. Cozy tradition. So the thing I think of most is like, I get a big tea habit once it starts to get cool. I do a tea advent every Christmas time for the whole month of December so I’ll be doing that. Even before that, just like once the weather changes at all, any amount I’m like hardcore into tea. Which some nights I turn into a little hot toddy if you just spike it but you know.
Elsie: That’s true. Tea is the perfect cocktail I think. A hot Toddy is definitely one of my top favorite cocktails.
Emma: Yeah. It’s so comforting. Drink it slowly and yeah, it’s just great.
Elsie: I drink tea basically every day, year-round so I don’t think it’s seasonal, but I do think flavors are seasonal. Normally I have summer flavors too. I like lemon and I like kinda weird flavors too like licorice and I don’t know. But then in the fall it’s that cinnamon tea that we always talk about goes to the top. Then what’s the other one?
Emma: I like forever nuts, which is David’s Tea.
Elsie: Oh my gosh. Forever nuts is so good.
Emma: So the cinnamon tea that we’re always talking about is Herney and Sons and it is bold. If you like your tea, bold, this is it.
Elsie: It tastes like red hots for real.
Emma: Then forever nuts, which is from David’s Tea, it’s not super, super bold. It’s still like really flavorful and good, but like it’s a little bit pink and a more subtle cup. Tastes kinda like spiced almonds.
Elsie: Dabid’s Tea is magical. I love it.
Emma: I buy that as gifts a lot for people. It’s either candles or David’s tea because it’s just great.
Elsie: That is a great gift. Our four-year-old drinks a cup of minty tea almost every day and how I make it is just like a tea bag and the hottest water from the sink. That works really well for her because they don’t need it to be actually hot, but it does get some flavor in but like it’s a special four-year-old tea.
Emma: That’s so cute. Okay, so what is the blog project that you’re most looking forward to this upcoming season?
The Video Shoot!
Elsie: Like hands down is the video shoot that we’re doing this week or I guess at the time of this when this episode comes out, it’s like the video shoot that we just did. So that has been, it’s like magical because in July or June we started planning it.
Emma: Yeah. I was like, we need to plan this. I’m gonna be there the end of August.
Elsie: We knew we wanted to do it in August. We like to have our fall stuff ready to go on September 1st. It’s important to us. That start is essential. All the planning I have just gotten really, really super into it and I’ve been really on Pinterest this year. Pinterest is my main, I don’t think it’s social media, but it’s like my main thing, my main media, I guess, that I’m interested in right now is just like a cozy ideas and stuff. So yeah, I’m really excited just to do the holiday recipes because that’s the one thing I have been doing, I guess kind of a lot of for Childhood Magic, but for A Beautiful Mess, I haven’t done anything fall or Christmas yet. I’ve been saving it all for this shoot so it is very magical. What are you most excited for?
The Tiny Library
Emma: Well, that as well, for sure. But then I figured I should say something else, something additional because it’s not totally fair to be same. But definitely,that because there’s just so much that we’re doing, that’s gonna be really fun, also really excited. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be sharing, I talked about in the last episode that we’re moving house. I have this tiny library that’s off our main bedroom. I think I’m gonna share that. I think I’m gonna get to share that sometime in October, I think it’ll be completed. It’s a really small room. When people see it, they’ll be like, oh, okay, it’s truly like a closet area.
Elsie: It’s sort of a closet-sized room but with windows.
Emma: Yeah, with windows. So anyway, I think I’m gonna share that and I’m just excited about that because I just love libraries. It’s not a real library. It’s just a room in my house where I’m gonna keep a lot of books, but it’s just fun. I have this feeling though, I’ll probably get the project done and I kind of would rather collect books slowly over many years because I’m just like that. I’m very slow about things. So I will probably photograph it, just to get like a nice vibe, like the vibe that I’m going for. I think I’m gonna recruit my friends and be like, can I borrow all your books and do some kind of color-coordinated post-it scenario in their books or something. I kind of dig that idea anyway. I feel like some people would be like, why would you borrow books just to get their photo? But in my mind, I’m like, actually it sounds like really sweet to me to like kind of have my friends’ books in my house just for a weekend or something. Anyway, so I don’t know. I don’t even know if I’ll need that though. It’s really not a very big room, but I’m just kind of looking forward to making that and photographing it. I think it’ll be fun.
Elsie: I’m excited to see it. I mean, I would say in the home I live in now, adding the bookshelves and the libraries is my number one favorite thing that we did. I think the number one thing that added charm.
Emma: It feels very cozy.
Elsie: Thank you
Emma: Rooms with lots of books and your house has lots of books all over and it’s just fun to browse like you would a library or a bookstore or something.
Elsie: That’s so nice. Yeah, I’m super, super, super looking forward to seeing your library. Living in the dream, sister. Okay. Do you wanna hear one of my library dreams? I’ve had a lot of library dreams come true now. I wanna do a bathtub that’s surrounded by bookshelves because I saw it one time and isn’t that great.
Emma: I love it. Yeah. Sounds very cozy but maybe the steam would bother the books. I don’t think so though. That’d be fine. Yeah, it’d be fine. Plus what’s a little steam, no big deal.
Elsie: People make too big of a deal about bathroom steam, I think. Says the woman who just got her wallpaper reinforced. It was peeling off a wall in a bathroom, but it was worth it.
Emma: At least you admit it.
Elsie: No, I always admit my failures. That’s one of my strengths. Well, it wasn’t my wallpaper. It was the wallpaper that came with the house so it wasn’t my failure. That’s true but I fixed it. Didn’t I? Okay, what’s next?
Listener Request: Historic Homes
Emma: We have a listener request.
Elsie: Okay. So this is a listener request that I got from the question box on Instagram. So it’s worded really short and that’s why nice, but it just says the pros and cons of owning a historic home. So I thought this would be a really great time for us to do this because Emma is just about to move away from the historic home that she’s been living in for a couple of years. Then I’ve owned a couple of historic homes with my husband and then also our pink house in Missouri is a historic home. So yeah, I think that we can be honest about the pros and cons of them. I will say upfront I’m pro-historic home. If I ever move again, I only want an old house. Absolutely, I think that they’re great. I’m the super fan, the number one super fan of cheap old houses. But I also think there are cons, there are disadvantages and there are tricky things that you should know because some people take it harder than others.
Pros: charm & neighborhood
Emma: Yeah. I’m also pro historic home but I’m pro many homes, I suppose. Yeah, let’s see. Okay. I’ve really only lived in one so I feel like it’s very specific to that house. But some pros is there’s tons of charm and for us, the neighborhood is just lovely. The lots are kind of close. It feels very neighborly, love walking in that area and it’s nearby a bunch of things like a coffee shop and things like that. That’s wonderful, but that doesn’t really have to do with the home, I suppose. But it’s that historic district, I do feel like a lot of times historic homes are kind of near things like city centers and things like that. I guess there’s a historic farmhouse. It’s like out in the middle of nowhere.
Elsie: I think you’re right. A lot of times they do have really good locations.
Emma: Yeah because they’re kind of like the beginning of a town a lot of times.
Elsie: Also sometimes they can have really weird locations because sometimes the home was once a home on many acres and now it’s in a neighborhood and it’s the only one like it surrounded by like all newer homes. I’ve seen that a lot too especially where I live.
Cons: small spaces & maintenance
Emma: Which I don’t know. I just think it can be kind of quirky, which is sort of fun I think. Anyway, those are some pros. For us, a few cons is really small closets, usually a lack of pantry or just like small kitchens. Ours has a shared driveway with our neighbors. It has a detached garage, which isn’t a big deal, but we have all four seasons and it can be sometimes kind of harsh weather. So when you’re hauling a car seat in and it’s freezing cold and snowing, it’s like not ideal, but anyway, those are some things. Then also old houses, you just have to know about some maintenance. Like it’s a hundred years old so in some ways, I feel like it’s more sturdy than other houses, more than you might think. Because it’s stood that test of time. But also building codes and permits and things were different probably in the era that it was made. There’s gonna be things that got updated and were they done? There’s just gonna be things like that. That’s just part of it.
Pros: original details (& potential haunting!)
Elsie: Okay. I think my pros and cons list is pretty similar to yours. Hopefully, I can make it like succinct. So pros for me, there’s nothing better than like a charming home with original details. I love woodwork. I love moldings. I love plaster work. I love stain glass. I love a pink bathroom. Things like that are really special and kind of can’t be emulated in a new house. I mean they kind of can’t because even someone like me who loves and worships old houses, if you build a new one and you try to make it look old, there are certain parts of it that will always look new, like the windows and stuff. So I think that there’s like a certain charm that if that appeals to you and just the feel of it feels good to you, you can’t get that. There’s a lot of, if you like history, there’s so many things you can learn. For me, it’s like a part-time hobby, just learning about all the different types of roofs and things like that.
Emma: Higher chance it could be haunted.
Cons: things you can’t change & style limitations
Elsie: Oh, yeah and that’s obviously a plus to me. Looks more like a movie house usually. I mean, I guess to be fair, it depends on what kind of movie, but the types of movies that I love are usually filmed in older historic homes that are sometimes mansions and sometimes just cozy like neighborhood homes. Okay. So cons. I think that people are too negative and act like every historic home is a money pit. I think using even the word money pit about historic homes is just kind of rude. So I hope that people will just chill out a little bit on that because for me, it’s never been this enormous waste of money. The home I live in right now from the 1990s costs just as much to fix as an old home would. Obviously it’s an investment to renovate a home and a home that needs extensive renovation is always gonna be a big investment. And a lot of times it should be like out of pocket and that is hard like I get that. But I think there’s also a lot of historical homes that are move-in ready and that kind of thing. Anyway, cons I guess just the things you can’t change. It’s the closets, the kitchens, and the bathrooms. They’re just not as big. They’re not as grand. Sometimes you’ll find homes where they’ve kind of like made it into something like made two rooms into a kitchen. A lot of times they just used to make kitchens smaller. Then, closets there’s just not as much like storage, although a lot of historic homes I look at have basements, which I think is like sufficient storage for everything you need pretty much.
Emma: As long as it doesn’t flood.
Elsie: Other cons, I think if you love new trendy decor, you shouldn’t buy historic home because it’s limiting on what styles work because I don’t think it looks good. I did that once, but I don’t think it looks good to mix a lot of new trendy stuff in an old historic home. I don’t think it is what’s best for the home or what honors the history or whatever, because I used to think it was good to just do whatever the hell you want to any home. But I don’t know if I think that anymore, just because like years of house shopping old homes like to me, it’s really sad when someone puts a modern, like an ultramodern minimalist kitchen with stacked tile in a house from the 1900s. I just think like, why didn’t you just pick a different house that was more the style that you wanted, more the style that you like. Is that snobby?
Emma: I mean, it’s definitely snobby.
Elsie: Ouch. Okay. Well, I’m glad we’re almost to the end. Sorry for snobbing out on you everyone and like no shame to anyone for any kind of home renovation because like I said, I did those things myself. This is just my opinion now. Opinions can change.
Emma: You can be snobby. There are worse crimes in life.
Elsie: I honestly am snobby about old house stuff because I want it to look old. I think that doing them like cool and trendy with neon paint colors, or trendy wallpaper, it’s fun for some people. It’s just not fun for me.
Emma: Yeah. That’s cool. Okay.
Listener Question: Christmas Tree Emptiness
Elsie: So we have a listener question from Jackie before we go. I love this question by the way. By the way, this question came via email and you can email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Actually, our email is the best place to ask a question because we always get them and they’re organized. So it says I have a conundrum, the space where I put my Christmas tree is kind of a sad, empty corner the rest of the year. I don’t wanna put furniture or something big there that I can’t move when it’s Christmas time. I’ve been debating buying a fake birds of paradise plant to put there, but I’m not settled on it. How do you style the space where you put your Christmas tree during the other nine to ten months of the year?
Emma: I like that her tree’s up two to three months of a year, as it should be.
Elsie: Yeah. I mean, I would say a solid two months.
Emma: Yeah, a solid two months.
Elsie: This past year though, I did take mine down kind of late in the middle of January and not the beginning of January so that’s probably where the three is coming from. Can’t really put up your Christmas tree before Halloween. Maybe someone can.
Emma: If you got spooky ornaments, I don’t know.
Elsie: So I think that this is a really great question, especially if you have a smaller home, you don’t wanna buy something big. I thought that was a really good point. I don’t wanna buy something big that then I can’t move around. So for me personally, I would definitely do a fake tree and I will link in the show notes the fake tree places that I really like. There are really good options. I think they are kind of expensive but they run sales so wait for a sale. It’s really not more expensive than the real version of the plant, which you might or probably would kill eventually.
Emma: I would.
Elsie: Yeah, I always have. But in my home, I have a lot of the fake fiddle trees and then some other types of olive trees. I feel like those are a little more like people are doing those now. I think those are great. They’re pretty versatile. I move them around and I don’t feel like it’s a big deal. One year I put a trash bag over mine. I put it in my garage during the holidays. Sometimes I don’t want that green plant vibe messing with my Christmas which makes sense. So you can totally move it for that amount of time, but yeah, I think good call on not buying a big piece of furniture because then you won’t have your Christmas tree spot, and that matters. Christmas tree spots matter.
Emma: Yeah. Or you’ll be just like trying to move it somewhere and it’ll get shoved somewhere weird. Then it’s like, you have your Christmas tree, but then you have this other problem for those two or three months.
Elsie: In my home, my Christmas trees are not in places where I have to move anything though so it does feel a little bit more empty during the rest of the year. I also think maybe it feels a little bit more cluttered during Christmas, but cluttered in a good way though.
Emma: Yeah. I pretty much same thing. I have a very large fake fiddle plant, fiddle leaf, that is the spot where my Christmas tree goes. I have a couple of Christmas trees.
Elsie: Doesn’t he have Christmas tree lights on him?
Find Your Perfect Tree
Emma: Yes and I light him up pretty much all year, except for the summer. Which I could light him up in the summer, but I just don’t. Anytime I want it to feel cozy, I light him up so it’s kind of like I have a different version of a Christmas tree in that spot. Just a more acceptable version. Perhaps her birds of paradise plant would be the perfect fit in her space. I don’t really know. I’d have to see it. I’ve never really seen a fake birds of paradise plant. Sounds cool. Sounds like more colorful. So that’s neat.
Elsie: There’s so many good types of plants. So just pick the one that suits your style and fits. I have a lot of fake plants on my porches and Emma can tell you, they look really real. They’re really awesome. I killed some the first year we moved here. So after that, I was like, I’m committing myself, like under the porch where it can’t get rain, fake only.
(We Really Like Fake Plants)
Emma: Yeah. I only really do fake plants. I don’t do real plants because I kill them. Just a waste of money.
Elsie: Yeah. I have a few, I have a few real plants, but I also have a lot of dead plants so I’m not a perfect person with plants. I did, I had a plant era. There was like a time when I had like 60 plants in my house. Remember, before I had kids.
Emma: I don’t feel a lot of pressure to be a plant lady. I’m just not, maybe I will be one day. I don’t know. I think it’s cool but I don’t think everybody has to be. It’s fine.
Elsie: I would love to be more into it in a different point, but anyway, Jackie, we really hope that that helped. I’m glad that your Christmas tree has such a sentimental value to you that the rest of the year feels empty without it. That makes me happy because I feel the same way.
See You Next Week!
Emma: Yeah. I get it. All right. Well, thanks so much for listening. We will be back next week. We have so many great episodes this season, so we’re just really, really excited to be back and sharing everything with you. If you have a few minutes, a few things you can do to help our podcast grow is leave us a review. If you never have, that really does help us grow. Then also, if you know anyone who you think would like our odd ramblings about mostly holiday-related content, share it, share it with the friend. That means a lot to us. We see it whenever you’re doing that on Instagram or other social media and tag us. So it means a lot. So thank you.
Elsie: See you guys next week.