• What We’ve Learned Lately

    What We’ve Learned Lately

    Today we are celebrating the last Friday in April before we move into one of our two favorite months… May ...

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Summer Porch Refresh

I have probably said this a hundred times here, but our screened in porch is by far my favorite room in our house.  Sitting on a porch simply feels like summer.  This time of year I enjoy listening to the rustle of the leaves, feeling the hot breeze and the sunshine, especially on this first day of summer.  As the summer progresses, the insistent music of the cicadas becomes the melody on the porch.  Life just seems easier and slower when I sit on the porch.  I wish I could spend all my summer days there.

However, after looking around our porch this spring, we realized it was starting to look a little tired.  So, we recently finished a quick refresh of the porch.  And now we have all of the summer days to enjoy it.

To refresh the porch we hired a painter to paint both the inside, including the deck floor, and the outside.  When I was in South Carolina visiting May this past winter, I loved that the ceiling porches were painted haint blue.  The ceiling of our porch is stained but I decided to paint my walls that some color.  In the South, haints are thought to be restless spirits of the dead, that for whatever reason have not moved on.  The haint blue is to protect the homeowner from being taken or influenced by the spirits.  I always like legend stories so this seemed a good reason to paint my porch that color.

There is no color called “haint blue” but instead is usually a shade of light blue with a tint of green.  I chose Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue for our color.  And I have to say I am absolutely in love.  It is cool and fresh which is perfect for a screened in porch.

The other refresh that we did was a new indoor/outdoor rug from Target with shades of my favorite color, pink, and gray.  It has a soft texture that makes our porch feel a bit like an outdoor living room.

I bought a few new chair cushions because our old ones had seen better days.  Once again I picked up the colors of pink and blue-green to keep a cohesive color scheme.

Finally, we took down our old paper lantern lights and hung these rustic string lights.  The bulbs have that old-fashioned appearance of being able to see the filament.  It lends a nice warm glow to our porch making it inviting in the evening.  And my husband did a wonderful job of hanging them up so they are nicely spaced.

I have a sign collection hanging over the door where I hang signs that inspire me or have a special meaning.  The Here Fishy Fishy sign reminds me of when I went fishing with my dad as a little girl and would call the fish to get on my hook.  The sign that says This Home is Open to God, sunshine and friends was a wedding present.  I am always on the lookout for new signs to add.

And my lady planter needed a fresh flower crown.

If you are looking for me this summer, Gatsby and I will be on our newly refreshed porch sipping a drink and reading a book.  However, I am always happy to have company join me.  So come sit a spell with me on my porch.  -June

Nowadays, people are so jeezled up. If they took some chamomile tea and spent more time rocking on the porch in the evening listening to the liquid song of the hermit thrush, they might enjoy life more. – Tasha Tudor

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Author Series- Lisa Wingate

This summer, I have been enjoying a wonderful author series here in South Carolina. It’s put on by Blue Bicycle Books, a locally owned book store in the heart of downtown Charleston. This month, it is showcasing new releases from southern authors. For me, it is a wonderful opportunity to share a meal with like minded friends at a popular Charleston location, and even make a few new ones.

Recently, author Lisa Wingate joined us for lunch and presented her new historical novel Before We Were Yours. This story is based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals. Georgia Tann, who was director of a Memphis based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country, including celebrities Joan Crawford and Lana Turner.

Historical fiction is my favorite genre and although I have heard of Lisa Wingate, I have not read any of her novels. This one is on my list. Ms Wingate was very engaging, read a few excerpts from the book to us, and was happy to answer questions. I always love to hear how an author gets an idea for a book, and how it builds. This book is getting wonderful reviews including one I just read by The Huffington Post.

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge–until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents–but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals–in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country–Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

I would love feedback if you’ve read this one.

Have a great week!

~May

History tells us what people do; historical fiction helps us imagine how they felt. -Guy Vanderhaghe

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About June

Today is June’s Birthday…..Happy Birthday, June!! You have another year of wisdom to carry with you as you continue your journey on this crazy road called life. Today is part two of our Everything You Wanted To Know About Us series and the following is my recent interview with June. May’s comments are in  red italics.

Stats: I am married to Tom and we are parents to a lovable golden named Gatsby. I have been a practicing attorney in the city of Chicago for longer than I care to discuss, and have a great little blog called May Meets June.

Since we’re on the topic of law, why did you choose that as your profession? If you could go back, would you do it again?  No. I always did well in school and loved to do research and write and thought this would be an interesting profession, however, there is a lot about the business of law that I don’t particularly enjoy.

What are some of your favorite childhood books? I loved the Little House on the Prairie series, particularly The Long Winter. I also enjoyed books by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. When I was really little I loved picture books. When I went shopping with my mom, I was often rewarded with a Golden Book if I was a good girl. (June must have had a ton of Golden books because I can’t even imagine her being a bad girl)

What are you reading now? Right now I’m reading The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichart. I needed something a little lighter to read after several more intense novels. I’m really looking forward to starting Bear Town, by Fredrik Backman.

The summer season is here and school’s out. How did you like to spend your summer vacations growing up? I read a lot and enjoyed riding my bike around the neighborhood. On really hot days my mom would take us to the pool. Back then summers weren’t as scheduled as they are now, so we had a lot more down time and freedom. But we were never, ever bored. If my brothers or I said we were bored, our mom always found something for us to do. (Ha! We never said that in our house either.)

What is one thing you would change about yourself? I would be tall and slender with long legs. You miss so much when you’re short.(I completely understand)

If you could live in another state, where would you go? Nashville, Tennessee.

What is your idea of a perfect evening? Well, Friday night is my favorite night of the week because we have the weekend ahead of us. I love to stay home with Tom, take Gatsby for a long walk, enjoy a cocktail on the back porch while we wait for a pizza, and watch a movie. Oh, and I’m in very comfy clothing.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In five years I would like to be a writer who gets paid to write and a lady who lunches and goes to yoga.

What is a pet peeve of yours? I’m a commuter, need I say more? I hate texting and walking, walking too slow, taking up the whole sidewalk while walking, and commuters who don’t check the weather forecast before heading out. ( I have done the walk to the train with June several times, and she is all business)

What is something quirky that we don’t know about you?  I love to wear cardigan sweaters (I don’t like pullovers because I feel like they are choking me) but I never button them because no matter how often I try, I can’t button them correctly and my sweater is all mis-matched. It’s a carry over from childhood. (Hmmmm)

If you could have lunch with an author, who would you choose? It’s a tie between Alice Hoffman and Isabel Allende. I love how they so beautifully mix historical fiction with a little bit of magic.

June, thank you so much for this interview and allowing all of us the opportunity to get to know you just a little bit better. I wish you the happiest of birthdays and know this next year is going to be a special one. Yes, I am moving but we aren’t going to let a little bit of distance change our friendship or partnership, it will only get stronger.

Happy Birthday!!!~

~May

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. -Oprah Winfrey

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Five Ways to Beat the Heat

This week, the weather in Chicago feels like someone’s turned on the furnace full-blast! Our summers often come in this way.  We go from cold to hot overnight.  However, temperatures in the mid-90s is unusual for us in early June.  Yesterday evening my car thermometer read an outdoor temperature of 98 degrees!  I wonder if this portends a hot summer? I personally love the heat (I’ll take it over any day in January) but even I have my limits.  Here are five ways to beat the heat.

  1.  Air Conditioning.  Truthfully, I am not a huge fan of air conditioning.  I hate artificial air and feeling like I’m all sealed up.  When it gets super hot there is no way to live except with air conditioning, especially at night.  I may open the windows for awhile during the day to get some fresh air but at night I am all about the air conditioning.  I need to be cool to sleep.  And if I can’t sleep because of the heat, then I am sure to be cranky until the heat spell subsides.
  2. Hydrate.  Everyone always says to hydrate during the heat but it really is your body’s best way to cope with it.  I try to drink a lot of water everyday but if I am in the heat I up the water intake.  And for some variety try ice cold water and add some mint or cucumber, or try one of the many flavors of sparkling water.
  3. More Clothes.  While we all look forward to wearing our tank tops and shorts, sometimes as strange as it sounds,wearing a little more clothing in the heat is more comfortable.  I am not talking about sweaters or jackets, but rather wearing light pants instead of shorts or wearing a shirt with a little sleeve.  Less clothing often makes me sticky and, not to be yucky, gives the sweat nowhere to go.  With a little more clothing you won’t stick to chairs and you will have some protection from your searing hot car seats.  Just wear clothing with lightweight fabric and loose fits.
  4. Cool Your Feet.  We do not have a pool but when it’s really hot I go outside and run freezing cold hose water over my feet.  I remember as a kid my mom used to sit with her feet in our wading pool and now I understand.  Just cooling off your feet cools your whole body.  Try it.
  5. Rest.  There is a reason that songs have been written about the lazy, hazy crazy days of summer or as we refer to really hot days as the dog days of summer.  We are supposed to rest in the heat.  Your body needs rest to cool itself.  So sit by a pool, sit on your porch or lie in a hammock.

Rest and enjoy the heat of the season.  I’m going to soak every bit of it in my bones so I can bring it out in the dark cold days of winter. –June

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer -Nat King Cole

 

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Last Minute Dessert Ideas

Now that school’s out and summer is here, we are all enjoying the warm temperatures and longer days. Summer is definitely the season for last minute backyard get togethers with family and friends. Since I love to bake, dessert is usually what I bring to these social gatherings. For a planned event, I love to browse through my recipes to find something perfect depending on the season and number of guests. Sometimes though, if it is a last minute potluck, I often don’t have the time to plan and shop, so I depend on some staples that I always try to keep in my pantry.

Recently, I made a chocolate loaf cake. This is a great dessert for a smaller crowd, as it’s quick,  easy and you can dress it up several different ways, depending on what’s in your fridge.

Chocolate Loaf Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt, room temperature

1 2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

1/2 cup hot coffee (or hot water) I always use coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
  2. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment cream butter and both sugars until combined, about 2 to three minutes.
  3. Add in eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl between each addition.
  4. Next add vanilla and sour cream or yogurt.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and cocoa powder.
  6. Add half the dry ingredients to the mixer and incorporate, then add the rest and mix just until combined- don’t over mix.
  7. Add hot coffee or water and beat on high for one minute.
  8. Fold in chocolate chips by hand and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out mostly clean
  10. Place the cake on a cooling rack and cool completely.
  11. Once cool, loosen edges with a knife and remove cake to cutting board.

 

If you have to leave before your cake has cooled, simply bring the cake in the pan to your party, and cut it there, otherwise you can wrap in foil as you would a loaf of bread. I had some fresh raspberries in my fridge, a carton of whipping cream, and a bottle of ghiradelli chocolate sauce so I tossed them in a bag, and off I went. I individually plated each dessert, and voila. Doesn’t it look pretty? This also works well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream  drizzled with chocolate sauce, a chocolate ganache, or simply dust with a little powdered sugar and if you have an herb garden you can add a sprig of mint.

Chocolate Ganache

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

3-4 tablespoons milk

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to combine. After the cake has cooled, remove from pan and drizzle with ganache. Allow it to firm up before slicing. (about an hour)

Pantry essentials for the baker

Flour

granulated sugar

brown sugar

powdered sugar

baking soda

baking powder

cocoa powder

semi sweet chocolate chips

pure vanilla extract

graham cracker crumbs

active dry yeast

For the Fridge

butter

eggs

milk (or almond milk)

plain greek yogurt (or coconut milk yogurt)

frozen berries and fruit ( great for a last minute cobbler)

There is so much you can do with a few basic ingredients and a little imagination.

Have a great week!~ May

Where there’s a whisk, there’s a way.

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Summer Dresses For Everyday

Although summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21, school is out, temperatures are warming up, and we are all enjoying the longer days. For us, summer is here. WooHoo!! It’s the season for iced tea,  the pool and the beach, long evening walks, BBQ’s, and of course enjoying the lighter layers that come with a summer wardrobe.

May and June are all about sundresses this summer. Not only are they feminine and flirty, sundresses can easily transition from day to evening, they keep you cool, and there are so many styles to choose from. So, if you don’t like your legs or you want to camouflage your arms, or you want something a little looser around the middle which let’s face it, we all want when it’s 90 degrees outside, chances are you will find the perfect dress.

You can also find sundresses at every price point.  From the pricier at Anthropologie or Nordstrom to the more reasonable Target or Old Navy.

Here are a few we have seen online that we may need to go and try on:

 

Tulip Patchwork Dress

Women’s Knit Ruffle T-Shirt Dress

Floral Drawstring Henley Dress

V-Neck Jersey Maxi Dress

Bo & Nic sheath dress in Vera Cruz Daisy  May found this at a little downtown boutique and loves it. The print is so cute and the fabric doesn’t wrinkle in the South Carolina heat.

Printed Maxi Dress

Enjoy the heat and toss on a sundress wherever you are going.  Great for errands or a dinner out.  Have a good weekend. –May and June

“A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.” —Sophia Loren

 

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Free Libraries

Anyone who knows me, knows I love libraries.  While I love the smell of libraries and the hushed atmosphere, I mainly love all of the books.  And I love that I can check them all out for free. As a child, I spent a lot of time at the library.  It was so hard to pick which books would go home with me until my return.  I wanted to take them all home, but sadly my mom only let me check out 10 books at a time.  Should I take home some old favorites or some new yet to be […]

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Our Backyard Makeover

My backyard has always been my sanctuary.  I love to garden and over the years we have slowly turned our yard into a bit of an oasis. Our home in the suburbs of Chicago is in close proximity to our neighbors, and as much as I enjoy them,  I wanted an outdoor space that was private and beautiful. We put up a privacy fence several years ago, and since then have added layers of trees, bushes, a pool, and beautiful flowering plants to the space. We also had room for a vegetable garden. Honestly, I think I’m going to miss […]

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The Cafe by the Sea

Summer Reading- New Releases

Hi everyone and Happy June!! We love this time of year!!! As we head into longer days and warm summer nights, we can’t think of anything better than a page turning thriller sitting out on the back porch with a glass of iced tea,  a sweet love story as we relax in a beach chair with our toes in the ocean, or a great work of historical fiction curled up on our favorite easy chair. Plus, we must not forget that it’s June’s birthday month. We both take our books everywhere with us because you never know when you might […]

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Recharging

At the end of last week I was tired.  Not just physically tired but spiritually tired.  I felt as if I was suffocating under a pile of worry.  That feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious was a bit consuming so we took the weekend to recharge.  It is tempting on a long holiday weekend to plan lots of activities, social events and projects.  I knew that going into the weekend we should do none of that and instead take the time to recharge. So this weekend we spent time porch sitting and napping.  We watched a very schmaltzy movie on […]

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Loving Julia Child- My Life in France

I’m sure all of you know by now that May and June love books- really, really love books. As a child, I always enjoyed riding my bike to the library or bookmobile when it came to our park, ready to devour the next installment of Nancy Drew under the shade of our backyard cottonwood tree. I’m still that way. To me, there is nothing like getting lost in a great work of fiction. Although I’ve read my share of non-fiction, usually the self-help variety, I really haven’t gone down the aisle of memoirs for no other reason than they really […]

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The Art of Arranging Flowers

What We Are Reading In May

It’s hard to believe we are actually coming to the end of May. We are on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, and although many of you will be celebrating your day off watching a parade or getting together with friends for a great BBQ, we can’t think of a better way to spend some of our time off sitting out in the yard, or by the beach getting lost in a great book. Here is what we’ve been reading this month. Love Walked In- Marisa De Los Santos From Amazon: When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop […]

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Limiting Beliefs

Recently we were working on handstand in yoga class.   To feel more comfortable, we were working against the wall which meant that when you kick up, with your feet over your head, you cannot fall over.  However, as soon as I got in position my brain told me that I was not strong enough and that I was going to fall on my head.  Guess what happened?  I could not get my feet off of the ground and it was because of limiting beliefs. I find that limiting beliefs can prevent me from doing so much that I am […]

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Another Step Closer

The last few days I have been in Chicago. Our youngest daughter, Alyssa, just attended her senior prom and is graduating from high school tomorrow. I can’t believe our adorable and feisty little redhead is going off to college in a few months. In addition to celebrating her graduation, I’m also back for a doctor and dental appointment- my last before moving, I’m staging the house for selling, and of course a day of play (ahem, work) with June. I also celebrated my last birthday in my home town yesterday. Although this visit has been filled with more work than […]

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know – All About May

This Sunday is May’s birthday.  So first everyone wish her a Happy Birthday!  Second, in our birthday months we always like to do something a little special.  So we thought it would be fun to interview each other.  I, June, interviewed May to find out everything you ever wanted to know about her.  Well, maybe not really but there are some interesting tidbits here. The following is not an accurate and completely editorialized interview of my interview with May.  June’s comments are in pink italics. So give me your stats – I am married to Bob.  I have two sons and […]

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Dog Massage

Did you know that your dog can get a little bodywork done through massage?  I won a dog massage in a raffle and this last weekend, Gatsby had a massage. The woman who owns the company also works in a veterinary office helping rehab animals that have had serious injuries or surgery.  The massage therapist took a 10 month course in canine massage which included learning all of the dog’s anatomy and is a certified canine massage therapist.  For Gatsby’s massage she came to our home where he is most comfortable. We are fortunate that at 8 years old, that […]

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What’s Awesome Lately – May Edition

We think it is always a good thing to recognize your life for being awesome.  The awesomeness does not have to be saved for big moments but can be appreciated in small moments.  Here are a few things that we think are awesome lately. Friday.  It’s Friday!!!  Friday’s are always awesome.  You can do anything on Friday. Mother’s Day.  This weekend is Mother’s Day.  If you are a mom take time and enjoy being celebrated for the sometimes thankless but rewarding job of being a mom.  And we all have a mom so make sure to celebrate your mom.  If […]

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Ribbon Cutting

Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies

I went to a ribbon cutting ceremony last Saturday.  As old as I am, can you believe that I have never been to a ribbon ceremony?  The ceremony was full of all of the pomp and circumstance that such an event should contain.  There were speeches and pictures.  Then the grand event of cutting a big red ribbon over the front door with giant scissors opened the building to all visitors! This ribbon cutting was special for me because it was the grand opening of a new library where my brother is the director.  The project has taken over a […]

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Home Inspiration

This past weekend was absolutely gorgeous here in Charleston. We were blessed with blue skies, moderate temperatures and best of all, low humidity. It was the perfect weekend to walk the beach, eat at a favorite outdoor cafe, or take a stroll through a nearby historical neighborhood and enjoy the beautiful homes and gardens, which is what I did on Saturday morning. Window boxes are overflowing with colorful blooms and I love that every house on the block is unique and filled with history. If only each home could tell us its story! I love to take pictures of homes […]

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Celebrating Mother’s Day

Have you thought about how you are going to celebrate your mom this year? For a few weeks, we have noticed the sweet Mother’s Day commercials showering mothers everywhere with flowers, candy, and of course a Hallmark card. Last year, May and June posted a special tribute to their moms, and today we thought we would offer a few out of the box suggestions for celebrating those women who mean so much to us.                               Along with your mom’s favorite flowers, how about writing and sending […]

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