Dining Kitchen

Episode #152: Personalizing a New Build

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Show Notes

Best things Elsie did in her 1990s home:

-Adding lots of wallpaper

-Adding vintage, antiques, old light fixtures, and eBay finds 

-Removing signature 1990s features (lots of carpet, overkill of can lights)

-We mention Episode #42: Oops, I’m Moving Again and Episode #107: Cheap Old Houses

Elsie’s wallpaper sources:

-Here’s a photo of the rainbow bookshelves in Elsie’s previous home:

-Elsie’s fortune cookie frame

-Check out Elsie’s favorite Etsy artist, Janet Hill

-If you have pets, we recommend Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover

-Here is the mansion on the beach photo in Goldie’s room.

These are the frames that flip up for artwork that are in Elsie’s kitchen. You can also make your own using this DIY!

-Check out the blog post Where to Buy Cute & Affordable Wall Art Online

-Read the blog post How to Start an Art Collection

How to handle a friendship break-up in your 30s

-Make space for what is coming next.

-Remember that some friendships come and go in different seasons of your life.

Elsie’s family meals to make FAST: 

Emma’s family meals to make FAST: 

-Check out the blog post Easy 30-Minute Dinner Recipes

Episode 152 Transcript

Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. I recently finished renovations on our 1990s home. This week, I’m sharing all the best renovations that we did to give it character and personality. We’re also chatting about friendship challenges in our thirties and our favorite quick family meals. So we had the best week together.

Spending Time Together

Emma: Yes. Yes. Tomorrow I will have been here a whole week and there was one day we went to spend time with Trey’s sister because she also lives near Nashville so that was really fun. But yeah, I’ve just been up in your house for a week. The cousins have been playing together just baby Oscar, baby Oscar, baby Oscar. 

Elsie: It’s so cute. Yeah. They’re pretty much just following him around the house 24 hours a day and making sure he doesn’t put things in his mouth and it was magical. We had a lot of fun and I’m really grateful for this, a whole week is a long time so it was perfect. 

Elsie’s House Story

Emma: Yeah. It was very fun. So you finished your renovation. So let’s check in on the house. So when did you buy this house? 

Elsie: Okay, so I’m so excited about this episode because it is like renovation update time and we finished a bunch of stuff while we were on our break this summer and I didn’t even put most of it on Instagram so it’s like surprise, surprise, bing, bing, bing if you care about renovations. Okay. So we bought the house two years ago. It was during 2020. It was the end of 2020. There’s a whole episode about this back in the past. It’s called Oops, I’m Moving Again. 

Emma: Great title. 

Elsie: I do think it’s one of the best titles we’ve ever had and also What to Expect When Emma’s expecting. I was also really proud of that one anyways. Okay. So we moved here and the reason why, in the short version, is because we had just bought a house right before the pandemic started and it was much too small for our family, but we had been planning to build onto it and do all these things. Then once that started, we felt like that was not a good choice anymore and not something we could handle. So one night I was just crying and I was like, let’s just move to a bigger house. My husband was like, definitely not. Then a week later, it’s always a week later or a month later he was like, okay, great let’s just move. 

Emma: You gotta give people time to think about things. 

Elsie: So yeah, we found this house and we only looked at two houses. It was in the super low inventory time. There’s only two houses that fit our specs at all. We were pretty sure we were gonna get the other one. This house was like, it was a little overwhelming. It was a little bit bigger than we wanted or needed. It was just kind of like ton of tile, a ton of beige carpet, just a lot of rooms and a lot of walls that were completely blank. Like it was a 1990s new build that never from what I can tell, got updated in any way on the inside, but it had a pool and it was my quarantine dream so we ended up moving here. I will say in hindsight now that it has been more than two years, I learned so much, this was probably my biggest learning experience in a house ever. So for that, I am so grateful. But for anyone who is thinking about buying a new build and then just remodeling it to look like an old house, I do wanna warn you that it’s harder than you think and expensive, and also just tedious. Like, we pretty much did nothing but renovate this whole two years and my husband is over it. We had to come to a stopping point so that’s where we are now. 

Emma: So you’re there?

Elsie: We are at that stopping point. 

Emma: You’re at the finish line. I bet it feels good. 

Elsie: I did make some compromises and I didn’t finish everything I thought I would. I just decided not to on some things. 

Emma: Well, life’s full of compromises. 

Elsie: Yes. Life is full of compromises and I think pivoting on your home renovation is kind of essential. 

Emma: You gotta keep it loose because it’s a big project. I feel like a really small project can go according to spec, but like big ones, you kind of have to have that wiggle room. Anyway, so maybe let’s talk about the top five things or something along those lines that you did to the house that you feel like made it, that old house feel to you and cozy and all the things that you wanted that you didn’t have it first.

Elsie: Okay. When we first bought the house, the whole bottom level was large beige tile and it was very like echo-y. There was not one single curtain in the entire house so it felt very, just like undressed. Like just very naked. If you can use that word about a house and then the upstairs was entirely carpeted and the footprint is the same. So it’s like half of the house was just beige carpet. One of the first things that I wanted to talk about is what we took away from the house to make it look less nineties before I talk about all the things that I added to make it go with my personal aesthetic because you can make it any aesthetic, obviously. I wanted, like I love old houses, I wanted an old house and it wasn’t in the cards for us in this area. So I decided to create one, which was a great creative challenge. So the first one is that I got rid of almost all the carpet. I say almost because we did decide to keep the carpet in our movie room because it was a very, what do you call it? Low pile when it’s like not very fluffy. 

Emma: That sounds right. 

Elsie: More like a carpet you would see in an office building and less like a carpet you would see in a house from the nineties if that makes sense. I’m not a carpet expert, but we kept it in that one room because my husband’s, he’s in music and stuff and he wanted it to have like a certain sound. So it was like a sound factor thing. Honestly, our dog, we had an elderly dog last year who passed and she had some crazy accidents in there on the carpet, which is beige or white and it’s the freaking Folex. Have you heard bloggers ever talk about Folex, the spray? It’s like a miracle. 

Emma: Yeah. We used to use it. We had an elderly pug too before he passed. He had a lot of accidents.

Elsie: I can’t believe how much better it is than any other spray I’ve ever tried. So definitely if you’re a person with carpet in your house, get that Folex. It actually is really legit. So when we first moved in, we pretty much immediately, I think it was like a month after we moved in, we booked the floors for the upstairs. So they took all the carpet out and we went to Missouri for a week or so and they put in wood floors. I will say that I think floors are one of the easier things you can do to your house. Do you agree with that? 

Emma: I think it depends on who you’re working with because some people could be really slow. 

Elsie: They’re high impact and like it’s expensive, but it’s not soul-crushing like some projects are. I feel like it makes just such a quality difference. I mean, most people prefer wood floors. I know someone’s like no. 

Emma: Yeah, I think most people do. Yeah, I think so. I mean, it depends on the space, but yeah. Like some people might want them in bedrooms. I mean, you kept some in the movie room you’re saying so I think there’s some spaces, but generally, yeah. I think people, like wood floors.

Carpet and Can Lights

Elsie: I did get to experience what it was like to have the carpet everywhere and if you love it, like, I love that for you, but I wouldn’t want it. It was in the halls and everything so it was really kind of everywhere. Anyway, so yeah, we added wood to the whole upstairs. So we had a huge amount of canned lights, like recess lighting, like the flat lighting where it looks like a little can stuck up in your ceiling. I know people call it by different names. So we had like a huge, huge, huge amount. I have gotten the most conflicting advice and opinions from Instagram and from even my friends about whether or not you should have them at all, or you should have a normal amount, like a small amount of them, maybe a minimal amount, and then a large amount of them. So I think you just have to find where you fit on that spectrum. For me, if I was building a home from scratch, I can confidently say I would go zero. It’s just not my kind of lighting and I just prefer other lighting. 

Emma: I can’t wait for you to see how many can lights we put in our house that we’re renovating right now. It’s more than zero.

Elsie: Okay. But I will say for this house, I was trying to renovate it, for myself design wise, but with a resale mindset when it comes to practical, functional things. Which I think is always smart. If you can, just a balance. So I did keep some, we minimized them. 

Emma: You did have an excessive amount. It was kind of wild. 

Elsie: I will show a picture in the show notes for anyone who doesn’t believe me, but even in each bedroom, there would be six to nine can lights in a bedroom that also has a chandelier. Now we have four in each bedroom. So, that’s kind of what I’m saying when I say we minimize them. If I was building from scratch, I like that old houses don’t have them, so I probably would stay away or stay minimal. Then other than that, we did get rid of some of the beige tile in the downstairs and we replaced some of it with wood, which was a really, really hard decision between me and my husband. He felt that the tile was like this pool friendly thing and I felt that wood is also just as pool friendly if you wipe up the water, which we always freaking would. So we kind of just went around about it for a while, but when we put down the wood, which was kind of like, I’d say three-fourths of the downstairs. He does really like it now and he feels really good about the decision now. So I think it gave the home a much better feel. So the next thing I wanna talk about are the bookshelves. 


Emma: So these are things you added? Now we’ve moved on to things you’re adding into the house. 

Elsie: Yes. I’m gonna talk about bookshelves. I’m gonna talk about wallpaper and I’m gonna talk about vintage stuff and art. So that’s the table of contents for what’s to come. So when we first saw this home, there’s so many blank walls. I knew that I wanted to put a lot of bookshelves because in our previous home, you guys might remember the rainbow bookshelf, I’ll put a picture in the show notes. It was my first floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, and I loved it. It took a blank wall in a room that wasn’t getting a lot of like play. It was just kind of a boring wall, never got in a photo ever. Then all of a sudden it was like the bell of a ball. It just was so special. It was on the cover when we did the parents’ magazine cover. It was used in a lot of photos. I know it’s in Alyssa’s book. I know it’s in the domino book. Rainbow bookshelves changed my life and I actually got into books recently. So when we moved here, I had just watched Knives Out. I have a quota to fill that I have to mention Knives Out in every episode of our podcast.

Emma: We are apparently super fans. 

Elsie: So I was like, how many bookshelves and also fireplaces can I fit in this home? So I decided a lot. So we added them in this room we’re sitting right now is Jeremy’s studio, which is the size of, I would say a good size bedroom. It’s kind of a squarish room though. It’s not long, it’s square. He has bookshelves that go all the way around, which we did that because in this home we didn’t do any soundproofing. But we discovered that books can be like a form of a sound diffuser and sound really good. Hopefully, you’re listening to this podcast and are not like, oh, it sounds horrible, actually. So they look cool. It sounds good. It’s really cozy. We would definitely do this again. And we would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to do a budget music studio because it works well. Then the next one we did was the big green shelves in our living room. We decided to put a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in the living room as sort of like an accent wall. There’s a fireplace in the center and then to one side, you’ll see the home theater room, and then to the other side is a huge bookshelf. It’s so big that you can’t go to the top without, I mean, I pretty much just climb up on like the countertop part of it every time but you would need a ladder if you wanted to reach the top. That one, I feel like it changed the room maybe more than any of the other renovations. I’m just gonna put the before and afters, I guess, in the show, you have to see it to believe it. Then the last bookshelf situation that we did is I saw this one picture on Pinterest of a bookshelf dining room and it was like a fire lit and it could never go out, an unquenchable burning desire for a library dining room. 

Emma: I love it. 

Library Dining Room

Elsie: So we decided to do the library dining room and we had already added this arch, which is so sad because it was the scale was wrong because the arch was way higher than the doorways, by the time we put in the doorways and stuff and I was like, oh no, that’s not gonna work anymore. It just all looks weird. Our dining room table looks like dollhouse furniture when we first put it up, like I’m telling you this scale issues were weird. So I was a little bit nervous about losing space because when building out the bookshelves on three walls, we did lose about a couple of feet from each side and so that was a little bit like, is it worth it? But I can say now, like 1000000% I would do it again. We also added a little faux fireplace and some sconces around the bookshelves, which are great lighting whenever you want something kind of dim, and bookshelves with cabinets underneath. So what I store there is like my vintage shopping stuff. So it’s like a place where I can collect even more random stuff, which makes me so happy. So the library dining room was definitely, I think a turning point for our house because we used a vintage fireplace mantle that we found at the flea market and then sort of built, it was kind of like Frankenstein fireplace because we got one piece of it, but then they had to build the rest to match. By the time it was done, I would say it’s my favorite room, and the renovation I’m the most proud of because it had so many doubters and Jeremy tried to talk me out of it really, really hard because I get it, like, why do you wanna spend so much money on bookshelves in a dining room? It doesn’t totally make sense, but for this house, for this dining room, it just like needed something to make it feel cozy and so it worked. 


Emma: Let’s talk about wallpaper. I’d say that’s a massive thing in your house. If anyone who’s ever walked through it, like I have, there’s just like lots of different wallpapers. Some of it’s like just on the walls or half the wall. There’s a lot of spaces where it’s on the ceiling which is a fun feature. So how do you pick wallpaper? What’s your deal with wallpaper, man? 

Elsie: For this house, I picked almost only traditional wallpaper. The first wallpaper that I got really inspired by is the one in my office and it’s a Hugo and West wallpaper. I picked it because it like, had like this little bit of Gucci feeling about it so I will link in the show notes all the wallpapers with the pictures. So you can see what they look like because um, remembering all the brands and stuff off the top of my head isn’t easy. I stayed with mostly traditional floral wallpaper, but they all feel really different. They’re not all the same. And then we have one that we haven’t really shown yet. There’s a little like sort of like landing room at the top of our stairs and it connects to our hallway and our main bedroom and the kid’s secret library. And in that room, we did this dark green, I think Morris and Co wallpaper and it’s on the ceiling too. I call it my vampire room because it really is so moody. I’ve never done a room this moody before.

Emma: It’s very moody. I don’t know. I heard you say vampire room and I was like looking for like bats in the wallpaper or something or like eyeballs or something because it doesn’t really feel spooky. It just feels very rich, like velvet, you know what I mean? 

Elsie: That’s nice. And then we finally did the entryway ceiling, which was kinda like a, I mean it’s a big look. I think it turned out really cool. It’s definitely like, probably like the biggest statement that we did in the house.

Emma: The thing I noticed a lot with that area, the entryway is the wallpaper on the ceiling looks beautiful, but it also makes that chandelier stand out more. I feel like if it was a white ceiling, I wouldn’t notice the chandelier as much, or it wouldn’t be as visible and it’s really pretty chandelier. So I don’t know. I was like, oh, I never really thought about it, but yeah, in the same way, like a painted ceiling would do that. I feel like the wallpaper does it, but it also kind of felt like an outfit where you see someone who has some kind of cool pants on and a very patterned shirt. And you’re like, oh, I wouldn’t put that together, but it looks amazing. It looks kind of like that. 

Elsie: Thank you. I’m really excited about that. I think it turned out really cool and that particular pattern I have, like had this like obsession with it for so long and I’ve always wanted to use it. And I really love how it turned out. In the powder bathroom, we did a paneling wall that goes up about three-fourths of the way, and then we left the top part and it’s an irregular ceiling. So it’s like a ceiling with three walls and then a sloped wall if that makes sense. Like three straight parts and a sloped part. So it kind of needed like there’s certain patterns that make irregular shaped rooms, like really forgiving. That’s what I used in my office as well. They work really well for like nineties architecture. It’s kinda weird. Then you just see the wallpaper and you don’t see anymore, the like weird angles. So yeah, I used one of those patterns and I love how it turned out. I was like, very happy with it and it’s kind of like, I feel like it’s a little more of a coastal vibe than some of the other rooms.

Emma: Your light fixtures are.

Light Fixtures

Elsie: Yeah. We used the Stray Dog Designs light fixtures, and then I used a ratan looking shade. Then just like with the white beat board and stuff, it just kind of feels like, I don’t know, very opposite. I should make a video. The most opposite of how it was when we first moved in because that room was very dungeon and dark.

Emma: Yes. I used to hate that bathroom plus it is such high ceilings in there and it’s like this long rectangle so it was just really like a weird room. And now I feel like where you did the like three-fourths beat board and then the wallpaper, it just breaks it up visually. It kind of also in a weird way, made the ceiling feel a little bit lower, but in a good way. 

Elsie: Thank you. 

Emma: So it’s really nice. 


Elsie: Should we talk about the fireplaces?

Emma: Yes. How many fireplaces do you have and how many of them are real and how many of them are fake?

Elsie: Okay. So when we moved in the house had one fireplace in the living room that is real, and it still has that one fireplace in the living room that is real but we did have to redo it because it got destroyed when they were demoing the tile. Which I wasn’t planning to do. It turned out to be beautiful, but so expensive. Then I added a few faux fireplaces. And I still would add more if I had the chance to be honest because they make me so happy. So we added one in our bedroom. So our bedroom just especially had a lot of unused space and we knew we didn’t need more furniture. It wasn’t the furniture. It was just kind of like, and there was scale issues. 

Emma: It’s a wild bedroom. I’ve never seen a bedroom that big.

Elsie: And it’s a little bit square. 

Emma: So it makes it like, there’s kind of no reason, I feel like there’s times you see a bedroom and it’s big and it’s like, oh, well, it’s kind of connected. It Almost has a hallway that’s leading somewhere, but yours is just like a big empty box with super high ceilings and there’s just nothing going on in there. 

Elsie: I’ve seen a lot of bedrooms where you have room for like a sofa and a coffee table and a TV and whoa, whoa, whoa. But this room doesn’t actually have room for any more furniture, but it is big. So we added a TV and we could put chairs there. We just prefer not to because we’re not sitting there but you could easily have chairs. We’ve put them there sometimes and then it has a dresser and then, the bed and the bedside tables, but then there was just this whole other wall. So we decided to have a faux fireplace. And I found this arts and crafts fireplace on Pinterest that I just like fell in love with and so we just like emulated it exactly. So it’s a vintage fireplace and they made it look, I would say pretty close to the real thing. We used the kind of tile where it’s like has a little bit of color variation so it’s like some of the pieces are white and some of the pieces are like a little bit gray and a little bit beige, but that was probably I think the best choice for the bedroom. And then other than that, we paneled the ceiling, which really helped the feeling of the room to just feel more cozy. Like a paneled ceiling. I found out when I first showed Ting, what I wanna do the house he’s like, you cannot panel this many ceilings. It’s like too expensive and you don’t need it. He’s like pick three. So we picked, but so far we’ve only done one, but we thought maybe we might do it in the kitchen. And then we picked the bedroom because the bedroom just like the ceiling is kind of like a statement, but it didn’t look good. So it looks so good now it’s probably my favorite ceiling in the world. Yes. Oh my God. I’m so excited now to like take all because this will motivate me to like take all my pictures.

Emma: I know you have to show it because people will be like, show me it. 



Elsie: Yes. Okay. So the next thing I wanna talk about is like adding vintage antiques, old light fixtures, eBay finds, and stuff like that.

Vintage Details, Artwork, and More

Emma: So I think of this as like the small stuff. You know, like if you were to move, you would take these things with you. I guess you could take a faux fireplace depending if it’s like really built-in or not, but like bookshelves, things like that you’re not taking that with you. Wallpaper, you’re not taking that with you. 

Elsie: Our fireplaces are definitely permanently fixed.

Emma: Yeah. Yours are like in place. 

Elsie: Yeah, the light, I mean, I wouldn’t take a light fixture, but you could always swap if you wanted to. The antique light fixture I found that we used is in the kids’ library and it is a cathedral chandelier. Is that what it’s called when they do the kind of loopy thing at the bottom?

Emma: I think of it as a Titanic chandelier myself, you know, the movie Titanic 

Elsie: Titanic chandelier . Yeah, that’s a good description. It’s so sparkly. The sun hits it every night at a certain time. It’s just so magical. If I could do my whole house in vintage light fixtures, I would love to, but I think., I mean, they’re such a big time commitment to like source them, and then they’re not returnable and there’s a lot of risk associated with them. Sometimes you have to get them rewired. So I think picking a couple for me was like I got the feel of it without doing all of them and going too deep in.

Emma: Yeah. Ting was like pick three. 

Elsie: I think that for my Enneagram seven, the pick three is good when you come in with this huge list, that’s a good method. Yeah, I definitely think I’ve bought the most eBay stuff of my whole life since we moved here because I’m like collecting those little brass insects. Yes. There’s some like ladybugs and frogs and I did get so inspired by Knives Out. I just wanted to have like, just that like every room feels like a priceless collection. But it’s like priceless because you could never find it again. You could never replicate it again. Anyone can buy a chair from Serena and Lily, which is amazing, but not anyone can buy this certain, you know. If you take the time to find a velvet chair on eBay, then it’s like one of a kind or essentially. 

Emma: Yeah. Or finding it where it just like fits your space perfectly. Like you have one little brass butterfly thing at the end of the bookshelf that just like fits the space perfectly or whatever. So that, and then I also just think there’s a feeling of like, oh, this has been not just thoughtfully curated, but like, it takes time to like put together things like that. Whenever you look at a catalog, that’s like all one brand. The rooms don’t look curated in that way because it’s all one brand’s furniture and they actually don’t wanna put a bunch of weird stuff in there because then it would probably pull focus. They want you to focus on just their items and when you walk into a house like that, it’s really tidy but I think your house feels very opposite of that. It’s like, you know, things come from all over and from a lot of different eras and just have a vibe. It’s got a vibe. 

Elsie: Thank you. That is the best compliment. I think that’s something that you can do on any budget because we did start thrifting the first day I got my driver’s license and the stuff that we would find thrifting back then in the nineties, it’s just as cool as the stuff that now I spend way too much money on eBay buying. So I think if you’re willing to put in the hours, and there’s all the people who are obsessed with Facebook marketplace, estate sales, like all the things. I think I’ve said that like a million times on this podcast, but I do think it’s the number one way that you can get an expensive looking home that’s like just your style on a small budget but the time commitment is huge. But for me, I love that. I love collecting stuff and I love analyzing and learning about the history and I think it’s fun. For me, it’s just like a hobby and I think collecting vintage stuff is a great hobby. 

Emma: Oh yeah. Definitely. 

Elsie: When we had Elizabeth from Cheap Old Houses on the podcast, I asked her, what is the best way to get an old-looking house if you actually have a new house, like what do we do? She told me the number one thing is just buying vintage and I really do. I’ve lived it now and I can just like testify that is the number one thing. I think it’s so special and it’s super fun. I feel such a bigger bond with my vintage collections that I do with anything else I own. So I think it’s really special. Ooh, we’re gonna talk about art. So when Emma first got here, I had a table full of frames and I was like trying to like put all my art, like I had just gone and finally got all the frames, just like collecting prints for a couple of years,  but in a pile in my office. So I finally got the frames and I was like, I’m gonna finish this. So I figured that I should probably like hurry up and hang them because she has a little baby that’s crawling around. 

Emma: He definitely like was knocking over some of the like frames here and there. So it’s like, oh, I’m sorry. This is what he does. He’s interested. He’s very interested. 

Elsie: But he helped me so much because I would’ve overthought it and like set them there and then thought about it for a week and like, things like that. But I just hung them all without thinking hardly at all. 

Emma: Oscar’s gonna break it. I’m gonna get my command strips out and get this done.

Elsie: Yeah and it helped. So anyway, yeah, we wanted to talk for a sec about art because Emma was saying she liked how it was like a weird, it’s like weird art.

Emma: You have a mix because you have what I would consider like fine art stuff and maybe it’s prints or maybe it’s an original, but like things that artists have made. Then you also have like kiddo art from your girls, you have family portraits, and then you even do like kind of an eclectic version of family portraits. Some are like you guys smiling at the camera, but then there’s lots of like more candid feeling things that I know you just took with your phone, like moments that are happening quickly so you have to like grab a photo. It’s just a very big mix and I really like that. Then you’ll even put in weird things, like at least two places in your house, you have these little like fortune cookies frame that are like you’ll be receiving a call soon. Was that from when you got the call about Goldie? When Goldie joined the family? 

Elsie: Yes. 

Emma: That’s what I thought. Yeah. I was like, it’s either Goldie or Nova, but I can’t remember the story now. You even have like tiny little gold frame for the actual fortune cookie that I found. 

Elsie: Oh my gosh, you noticed my fortune cookie frame.

Emma: Oh, I immediately was like, I’ve gotta bring this up at some point so she could put a link on the blog because I just want to buy it. That’s the only way I’ll remember is that it’s like linked somewhere that I can find later when I remember. It’s such a cute little frame and I have a special fortune cookie too. It’s like on my bulletin board in my office. And I was like, I would love to put it in a tiny gold frame. 

Elsie: I have bought almost all my art from Etsy so it’s not that it’s like anything fancy. I keep saying like, I wanna buy a couple of originals. I think that would be a good next step for me and I would love to support some painters and things like that, but I haven’t done that yet. Most everything that we have is in the under $50 range or at least under a hundred dollars. Etsy is the greatest art resource in the world because also a huge amount of the art that I have is the kind that you buy it as a download and it’s like $5 and then you can print it in any size you want, which is so nice because sometimes I don’t know what size I want. 

Emma: You just know you love the piece in your life. 

Elsie: Yeah. And I buy a lot of thrift store frames, so it’s helpful to be able to like resize things yourself. I really like that. I’d definitely prefer it to like having to pick the size on their website and get it mailed to you. So, yeah my favorite Etsy artist is named Janet Hill. So she’s the one with like the eye patch one and like the guy that’s smoking the pipe. Her stuff is very Wes Anderson. She also wrote a novel, so she has two children’s books. I love her so much. She’s definitely just like such a cool painter. So I have a bunch of hers and then let me think a lot of historic prints, like, did you see the print in Goldie’s room? I think it’s from San Francisco. It’s a historic print of like, pretty much like a mansion, almost a castle built on the edge of the beach. It’s super cool and weird. 

Emma: She showed me her Elsa poster, but we didn’t get to the, we didn’t get to that, I guess.

Elsie: Yes. Yes. She made a DIY Elsa. It’s three feet tall so we have that. 

Emma: It’s got a lot of jewels on it. 

Elsie: Yeah, Elsa is life. So our daughters do a ton of art obviously so I just try to like frame as much as I can. In our kitchen, I just got these frames from Amazon that flip up so you can change the art anytime you want so I’m definitely gonna link those because I think it’s perfect for the kitchen. Just because like you can be changing it constantly. For us, at least it’s where we have the backpacks and we’re getting the school art out and all of that. So it’s just like slap it in the frame. You can just like, put one on top of another, on top of another in that frame. And I think that that’s really cool because it just goes so fast and like the amount of art that we’re accumulating is bizarre. 

Emma: Well, I love that it’s like put the kid art in among all the rest of the art as it should be. So I like that. I also think like you definitely have, like, your whole refrigerator is like covered with kid art, which I think as it should be, of course, what else are refrigerators for. Also, I feel like seeing them in frames just like elevates it a little bit which I really love. So it’s like, I love the refrigerator art and I think everyone should do that. I have tons on mine, little footprint things that Oscar’s done on there, but I think putting it in frame sometimes is like really special and kind of elevates it. I don’t know. I like it a lot. 

Elsie: No, I think you’re totally right. It signals that it’s like something you’re gonna keep forever, which I think is so special. If you have kids, you understand, like I actually think it’s easier in real time to pick the ones to put up than to accumulate this huge archive of stuff and then have the pressure of displaying it later on when they’re older. So yeah, for me it works best to just kind of like put it up. 

Emma: You know, too because I walked in your office and Elsie’s desk is like covered with her work and then her kids work like, so it’s just so much like art everywhere, but immediately I saw these tiny Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that Nova had clearly made. And I immediately was like, these are fantastic because they’re like cut out, 10 outta 10. And I was like, oh, Elsie, I saw those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and she was like, oh, I’m framing those. I almost thought they were lost so it’s like, you know, right away when you’re like this one’s a framer, it’s going up right away. 

Elsie: It’s true. You don’t even really have to think just go with your gut.

Emma: You’ll know, the art tells you and that one said cowabunga, put me in a frame. Get it. Michaelangelo. 

Elsie: He’s a party dude. Yeah. Yeah. Oh my God, Nova’s blasting the Ninja Turtle’s theme song every day. So she’s a party dude. Our house is very cool. Anyway, I’m trying to think if there’s anything else about art, but I will link, we have a couple of really thorough blog posts where it’s like art for every single room and those have a lot of art from my home in them. Yeah. Yeah. Collecting art. That’s a great post. So I’ll be sure and link to all of that, but I think that just breaking the seal and just hanging stuff up is the way to go.

Emma: You can change it. 

Elsie: No, I’m like so relieved. I would’ve spent so long, but I just like put the art up and it’s up now and it’s done and in our hidden library, the whole walls full and it just feels, it’s not perfect and I could have overthought it more and I could have been like my picky self, but I think it’s just not worth it with that kind of thing. It’s better to just like do it and enjoy it. And I think, yeah, just let your eyes, get used to it and then just be like, that’s good enough.

Emma: Yeah. I think too, taking the time to put up art in your house, whatever you like, whatever it is you want, or family, photos, whatever, just stuff on your walls. I think it’s just very inviting because like we visited some friends when we got to Nashville for this trip. They’re both like very artistic, like a musician and a graphic designer and they’re just like really cool. I’d never been in their house before and of course, they had such an interesting curated, collection of art on their walls of like original pieces and clearly pieces probably from friends and different things like that. And I felt myself walking around their house, looking at their art. I like to snoop houses and I’ll be like, just really honest with people about it like I’m gonna Snoop your house right now and people don’t care usually. I just think like when you have art up, it’s like you’re inviting people to snoop. You’re like, I’ve displayed something. I would like you to come into my dining room and look at the piece that I’ve put on my wall or come on into our kitchen and see what I framed in here or whatever. Like I just feel like something about it is very like, go ahead and look, I’ve put this on display for you to look at and it’s just like a very inviting atmosphere and so I dig it. I feel more at ease walking around someone’s house if they have a bunch of art up because I feel like I’m supposed to look at it and potentially comment on it and tell them how cool it is or what piece I like or hear their story about where they got it or whatever it is like. So it’s a very fun thing. 

Elsie: No, I completely agree. I love that. That is such a nice way to put it and it makes me wanna hang art even sooner in the future so that’s like really encouraging. So yeah, hopefully, everyone is like gonna hammer some holes in some walls now after listening to this. That makes me happy to think.

Emma: All right, well, we also have a topic request that we got from Instagram. So the topic is how to handle a friendship breakup in your thirties. 

Elsie: I thought this one was a really good question. We get questions like this pretty frequently. I think it’s a pretty common experience. 

Emma: Yeah. Friendship in your thirties and beyond I think, I mean, generally friendship in adulthood, I think can be different than it was like in high school and college where you’re just constantly meeting new people and stuff like that. 

Elsie: I think it’s very different. Okay. So for me, I was thinking about this and I don’t necessarily think I’ve had a friendship breakup in my thirties, so I couldn’t think of a breakup but I have had quite a few friendships where we just sort of like lost touch. But for me, I pride myself in having a high capacity for being low maintenance where like, I don’t have to talk to someone for six months or a year, but then we can catch up and like be synced back up really quickly. And I like to be that friend for other people and I like friends like that for myself. Like as far as like the friends that I fell away from a little bit, like, I don’t know. I kind of just think it’s normal. I couldn’t say anything bad about it. It just seems like life.

Emma: That’s kind of what I think because even when I think about usually when people say the term breakup they’re talking about romantic relationships. So even like thinking about that, I’m like, it was always a good thing because it led to the next thing. Which is not to say like, so I don’t cherish past things. Like if you have a friendship breakup, you’re probably still gonna like cherish the time you had together and all of that but you may just be in the season for the next thing like maybe someone has moved or something of that nature. I don’t know. I don’t even really think it’s totally necessary to have any kind of sit down talk, but I guess there are times you do need to set boundaries and just someone isn’t getting it so you have to be a little more direct, but I’ve never really had that, either someone doing it to me or me needing to do that. So I’ve never really had, I guess, a friendship breakup either. I think similar to you, it’s like I’ve had some that, some relationships that it kind of wax and wan or whatever or just like, oh, we’re not that close because I noticed they weren’t really there for me during a hard time and all these other friends were. You notice things like that. I think it’s just kind of like a, oh, well, there you go. I don’t know. 

Elsie: Yeah, I guess my advice is to try to think of it as making space, just like anything else in life, making space for something, for what’s next, and also to just become comfortable with the idea that some friendships are like best in a season. I think even with your close friends, you can think of seasons where you were like, really like close and synced up, and then you can think of other seasons where you felt a little bit distant like anyone would,. So I think that it’s just natural. It’s sad for sure especially if you got your feelings hurt. I could understand that. 

Emma: No, that sucks. 

Elsie: Yeah, but I think maybe thinking of it as normal hopefully will help because like, I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve gotten a question like this. I do think it’s because so many people are experiencing it. For me in this time of my life, I have so many times where I just feel guilty because I feel like I just don’t have a lot to offer to other women. At the end of working and being a mom, I’m depleted. Perfect word. I think having grace for people who are depleted is also a really wonderful thing. If you can muster it because I would hate to think that there could be people who think that I had a friendship breakup with them just because I’m like going through a difficult time. And that could be too because so many people are going through things we don’t know all the time. So, yeah, that’s a sad one, but we’re sending you a hug for sure. Then when I say that, I actually really mean it every single time. So I hope the hug is received. 

Emma: Oh, also one last thing, whenever I make new friends or I’m hanging out with someone I don’t know that well and they seem to talk really poorly about their old friends or someone they’re not friends with anymore. Just so you know, anyone listening, I always notice that and it immediately, it does a little alarm in my head where I’m like, don’t tell this person anything, do not trust them. They’re gonna do the same thing to you. 

Elsie: I actually have had that experience recently also and it’s sad because I don’t think that people know that that is a red flag.

Emma: Yeah. That’s why I wanted to say, it’s just like, you’re not a bad person for doing that. Sometimes you feel like you need to vent through something that was painful. I get that, but let me recommend therapy. It’s a great place to vent through things that you need to work through but if you’re just out kind of like, basically sh*t talking someone, just so you know if other people around you seem to not really trust you because they might be feeling like you’re gonna do that to them because they’re seeing you do it to another person. 

Elsie: Well, I would think they for sure will.

Emma: I would, if you talk to me about someone, I’ll be like, oh, I’m not gonna tell you anything because you’re probably gonna do that to me when you feel like it

Favorite Quick Dinners

Elsie: So our last segment is family meals you can make fast. They tie right together. 

Emma: Cause you know what nobody wants family meals that take forever. 

Elsie: Do you even have a family meal that you do that takes forever? 

Emma: Thanksgiving. 

Elsie: Okay. I was gonna say for me like pizza because it is a bigger commitment because you have to prep the dough.

Emma: I got three things that we do at home a lot, and I’ll preface by saying my son’s at an age where he does eat the dinner that we eat, but he goes to bed at seven and he doesn’t eat everything that we eat like he’s one. So essentially, he has a dinner and we have a dinner. We’re not at the place yet where we kind of all eat dinner together. We will be one day and that sounds actually really cute and fun. That’s just not really the season I’m in. So anyway, these are like three family meals that Trey and I make for just us basically after Oscar’s sleep and we want it to be really fast because we’re really hungry.

Elsie: That makes sense. 

Emma: Okay. So the three things are we make air-fried chicken wings which I’ve definitely talked about on this podcast before. So I’m sorry, but I love them and they’re on the blog. We eat them at least once a week, at least often more. Okay. So yeah, chicken wings. Then a lot of times we will have a cheeseboard dinner or charcuterie, I guess because it’ll have meat too. It’s not necessarily fancy, every once in a while we will, we’re like we’re gonna have an at home date time. We’re gonna get some fancy cheeses and fancy things. Sometimes though, we’re like string cheeses on the board. Like it’s not that fancy, but it’s just like meat and cheese and fruits and maybe some vegetables, but mostly just those things and it’s just like really fast. Maybe we pop popcorn. I don’t know, feel free to judge, whatever. So it’s that kind of thing 

Elsie: if someone’s judging you for popping popcorn, they’re in the wrong place.

Emma: I mean, I’m sorry for having a cheeseboard for dinner. I’m just kidding. 

Elsie: No, no one can judge you. I want popcorn to be in my dinner always. Especially like when we have like family movie night, it kinda ruins your dinner and I love it.

Emma: I show up a lot at my book club and it’s like, everyone eats dinner, like as we get there and then go into talking. A lot of times I’m just eating a bag of popcorn. 

Elsie: You bring your own popcorn? 

Emma: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I bring my own dinner.

Elsie: Does everyone bring their own dinner?

Emma: Yeah. And a lot of people have like these cute little glass Tupperware and it’s like a whole meal or they have some kind of nice takeout. I just show up with this bag of popcorn and sometimes an apple. One time, I just bummed an apple off someone because I was like, I wish I had an apple and they were like, here you go. So I don’t have my life together.

Elsie: Oh my gosh. That’s funny. 

Emma: Yeah. Okay. That wasn’t my third one. That was a bonus. My third one is stir fry. Which I also have a blog post about how to build a great stir fry and it has basically a stir fry food pyramid. Anyway, I’ll link it. It’ll make sense when you see it, but I love stir fry because it can come together really fast and you can basically use anything you have to like make it happen. So that’s really nice and you can change the flavors and yeah, so we love stir fry. We make that at least once a week. 

Elsie: Nice. Okay. I have mine. So I just made a blog post for this one totchos which is tater tot nachos. So we had them at this restaurant in Nashville called the Mockingbird and we love them. They have a brunch version and a dinner version so I thought that would be fun. This is a really good one for my kids because they can help. It’s kind of just like putting things on a sheet pan and then baking it. So it’s like something where they could like help spread the stuff, pour the stuff. My four-year-old, pretty much her favorite food is hash browns, like the McDonald’s kind the little hash brown. The little patty kind that you get at Trader Joe’s. So tater tots are not all that different from that. So, yeah, we love a tater tot. I put one pot pasta, but really it’s just like, I just make pasta really. I just make pasta all the time, butter noodles, and garlic. Also, I really like, for a Trader Joe’s dinner, the ravioli is like my number one Trader Joe’s food because you can take it straight from the freezer to a boiling water to your plate in like 10 minutes. It’s so fast and you can keep it forever, which I love that, not as much pressure to like use it quickly.

Emma: It is interesting it’s in your freezer because I think usually think of fresh pasts, like in the fridge and you would need to use it like that week sometime. 

Elsie: I freeze them and you can still heat it up within a few minutes. 

Emma: Great mom hack. 

Elsie: Then I put chili like chili is chili. There’s nothing better than chili. What’s next? I put frozen dumplings because dumplings are everything to our family. So we like the always pan it has like the steamed baskets and you can double up where there’s like two steamed baskets and it’s so cute. So you can do buns, like bow buns and pot stickers and sometimes we have shumai. So I get most, all of my frozen stuff from Trader Joe’s also. They’re like frozen Asian food section, it’s like pretty good and I love it. It works well for me right now because I just can’t go to a bunch of stores.

Emma: Same. Yeah. 

Elsie: Winner for dinner. That’s my last one. Well, I guess that that is everything. Thank you so much for listening. This week’s show notes are at abeautifulmess.com/podcast, and they will be very photo heavy. I’m finishing my tours and sharing the house with you guys this season. So thank you so much for following along and we’ll be back next week.

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