• 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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Taking a Walk on the Wild Side

Have you noticed how animal prints appear to be all the rage in fashion this fall? We’ve really noticed an abundance of leopard making its mark on scarves, handbags, shoes, coats, dresses, jewelry and even leggings.  Although we are seeing quite a revival of everything leopard, we’ve also noticed that this fun neutral has never really been out of style.

 

I LOVE LUCY

Consignment shops are sure to carry some cool vintage pieces to add to your wardrobe.  In our effort to continue to streamline our wardrobes, we’ve paired a few leopard pieces with items already living in our closets. It was fun to see what we could put together.   We also realize that head to toe leopard is not a good look on anyone, so one pop of leopard is enough to make a statement without looking tacky.

Here are a few more items we found while perusing the internet.

 

Leopard leggings from Anthropologie

Anthropologie Leopard Coat

Leopard Loafers from Zappos

 

Or maybe you just want to be an animal at home.

PJs from Nordstrom

Leopard can work as a neutral or a little spice.  Start small and see how you like it.  –May and June

Style is primarily a matter of instinct~ Bill Blass

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Skeletons on Books

Celebrating the Season with Our Favorite Halloween Reads

It’s that time of year again! The Halloween season is upon us and as we stroll through our neighborhoods, we are enjoying those homes decorated with spooky ghosts, witches, goblins, and carved pumpkins glowing on porches. Cooler temperatures and longer nights have given way to more reading time in our favorite chair, wrapped in a soft blanket. Today, we thought it might be fun to share some of our scary, and not so scary Halloween reads.

May- The books I have chosen are definitely a bit more old school.  I have to admit, I haven’t read a truly scary novel in quite some time. I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to horror. However, as a younger woman and teenager I loved it and for me, when it comes to frightening- hide under the covers reads, Stephen King tops the list. I haven’t read many of his more recent books, but his classics such as The Shining, Pet Cemetery, Salem’s Lot, and Carrie are sure to send chills down your spine. As I think back, the novel IT was by far his most terrifying book. I often like to read before bed, but this book had me so freaked out, before I turned out the light I had to put that book in a different room, afraid if it sat on my nightstand, the characters would somehow pull me right into their horrifying world.  And in case you’re wondering, no, I did not see the 2017 movie based on the novel. Since we’re talking about Stephen King, two of my favorite (not so scary) novels that I plan to re-read are The Stand and Needful Things. 

A brief Amazon summary:

Stephen King’s terrifying, classic #1 New York Times bestseller, “a landmark in American literature” (Chicago Sun-Times)—about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It.

Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.

Readers of Stephen King know that Derry, Maine, is a place with a deep, dark hold on the author. It reappears in many of his books, including Bag of Bones, Hearts in Atlantis, and 11/22/63. But it all starts with It.

When I was in college, I took a literature class where I was introduced to the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve been a fan ever since and enjoy the mystery and darkness that surround his poems and short stories. A few of my favorites are The Cask of Amontillado and The Masque of the Red Death. I highly recommend his book of complete tales and poems.

 

Years ago, I read a series called The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice. The books tell the story of The Mayfair Witches, an old southern family living in New Orleans and the spirit that has guided the women and their fortunes throughout generations. This series was a bit of a commitment, but very enjoyable. Her Vampire Chronicles series is also very good. 

 

A brief Amazon Summary:

From the author of the extraordinary Vampire Chronicles comes a huge, hypnotic novel of witchcraft and the occult through four centuries.

Demonstrating, once again, her gift for spellbinding storytelling and the creation of legend, Anne Rice makes real for us a great dynasty of witches–a family given to poetry and to incest, to murder and to philosophy; a family that, over the ages, is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being.

On the veranda of a great New Orleans house, now faded, a mute and fragile woman sits rocking . . . and The Witching Hour begins.

It begins in our time with a rescue at sea.  Rowan Mayfair, a beautiful woman, a brilliant practitioner of neurosurgery–aware that she has special powers but unaware that she comes from an ancient line of witches–finds the drowned body of a man off the coast of California and brings him to life.  He is Michael Curry, who was born in New Orleans and orphaned in childhood by fire on Christmas Eve, who pulled himself up from poverty, and who now, in his brief interval of death, has acquired a sensory power that mystifies and frightens him.

As these two, fiercely drawn to each other, fall in love and–in passionate alliance–set out to solve the mystery of her past and his unwelcome gift, the novel moves backward and forward in time from today’s New Orleans and San Francisco to long-ago Amsterdam and a château in the France of Louis XIV.  An intricate tale of evil unfolds–an evil unleashed in seventeenth-century Scotland, where the first “witch,” Suzanne of the Mayfair, conjures up the spirit she names Lasher . . . a creation that spells her own destruction and torments each of her descendants in turn.

Skeletons on Books

 
June – I am a huge scaredy cat.  I saw the movie Poltergeist in the fifth grade and to this day, over 30 years later, I cannot sleep with my closet door open even a crack.  I cannot even watch the previews for a horror film so as you can imagine, I avoid any type of scary read.  Instead, for Halloween, I love books that have a gothic feel or have elements of magic or witches.
 
 Gothic books usually have a dark setting and are written in a style that exudes mystery, dread and often grand passion.  Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier  is a classic gothic style novel.  Set in the dark and dreary Cornish coast, the heroine of this story sets out to uncover the mysteries of her husband’s past.  I haven’t read this one in a while but remember feeling chilled as I read this story. 
 
A more contemporary gothic style novel (and one I don’t think got the attention it deserved) is easily one of my most favorite books.  The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Sittenfeld is set in an old and creepy mansion. 
A brief summary from Amazon:
 
When Margaret Lea opened the door to the past, what she confronted was her destiny.

All children mythologize their birth…So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter’s collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida’s storytelling but remains suspicious of the author’s sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.

I am definitely rereading this one soon.

Books that have magical elements are great for Halloween. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen is another of my all time favorites.  How can you go wrong with an apple tree that throws apples when it doesn’t like someone or to protect its inhabitants, or a caterer that can make food to make you or others feel certain feelings.

From Amazon:

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other. 

Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own….

Another great genre for Halloween are books with witches as the main characters.  There are a couple of historical fiction books in this genre including the Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe a novel that explores the Salem Witch Trials.

Another great book that explores history and witches and vampires (and I am not a vampire fan as I made it through half of Twilight before I set it aside and have never seen any of the movies) is the Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  This is the first book in a trilogy.  A young scholar, Diana Bishop calls up a alchemical book from the stacks of the Oxford library.  While Diana knows she descends from a long line of witches but she wants nothing to do with the underworld.  By unwittingly calling up the book, Diana unleashes the magical world, leading her to meet a geneticist vampire, Matthew Clairemont.  Matthew and Diana start a taboo relationship further upsetting the magical world.  A book that is rich in history, magic and romance this is a super engrossing read.  

Finally, in Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman and its prequel The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman the characters are modern day witches .  The Owens are a  family of witches that cannot escape their magical heritage.  The books explore family relationships and love with a dose of magic along the way.  And Alice Hoffman’s writing is just lovely and magical on its own.

Enjoy all of your Halloween spooky reading. –May and June

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.  Edgar Allan Poe

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Thoughts on a Sunday

Fall has (dare I say) arrived here in the south. The heavy wet blanket of heat and humidity that has wrapped itself around us the last several months has finally released its grip, leaving us to bask in the cooler, drier temperatures of fall and winter. I have always loved this time of year, enjoying the vibrant jeweled tones of the changing landscape and the intoxicating scents of pumpkin and spice that make us feel so warm and cozy. 

I am an early riser and with the sun making its appearance later and later each day, I have had an opportunity to witness the most stunning sunrises as my doodle, Sawyer, and I walk into the clearing each morning. I love listening to nature waking up as we make our way down the winding path. The sound of chirping birds and the gentle breeze rustling through the leaves often lulls me into a peaceful meditation. I tend to connect with my breath when I walk so during that time each morning, the distractions, worries, and busyness of life disappear, leaving my body, mind and spirit in a state of tranquility. And, by the time I reach my front porch, I am ready to start my day. 

I hope you all have a present moment today.

Enjoy your Sunday.

~May

Eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure. ~ Tibetan Proverb

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Widows of Malabar Hill

Some Book Recommendations for July

There’s something about summer that makes us want to find lots of time to read.  While we still have to manage regular life, let’s picture ourselves sitting on the porch, or relaxing in a backyard hammock with the sounds of nature in our ears, and a tall cool glass of iced tea at our side as we lose ourselves  in a fabulous book. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? Here’s what we’ve been reading lately. 

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

From Amazon:

From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes the instant New York Times bestseller (May 2018), an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.

Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best―a masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.

Our Thoughts:  Put this book at the top of your list to read.  It is sweet, a little funny and a little sad in all of the best ways.  June was glad that she finished this one on her back porch instead of public transportation so she could enjoy her cry without the fellow commuters thinking she was crazy.  Margaret goes from the best day of her life to the worst day of her life in an instant.  She has to learn to accept a life that is not how she envisioned but is still perfect in its way.  A feel good book that makes you appreciate how your messy imperfect life is exactly the life you need.

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

From Amazon:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A shocking discovery on a honeymoon in paradise changes the lives of a picture-perfect couple in this taut psychological thriller debut—for readers of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Shari Lapena.

“A psychological thriller that captivated me from page one. What unfolds makes for a wild, page-turning ride! It’s the perfect beach read!”—Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick)

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?
 
Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .
 
Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?
 
Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .
 
Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?
 
Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

Our Thoughts:  This was a pick for the Reese Witherspoon book club so you may be seeing it everywhere and as a result your library hold list may be long.  This is a well done thriller.  You do have to suspend disbelief a bit to believe that the characters do what they end up doing.  However, none of know to what extent we would go if we thought we found treasure that could change our life.  A good summer beach read.

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

From Amazon:

1920s India: Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer, is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in full purdah when the case takes a turn toward the murderous. The author of the Agatha and Macavity Award-winning Rei Shimura novels brings us an atmospheric new historical mystery with a captivating heroine.
 
Inspired in part by the woman who made history as India’s first female attorney, The Widows of Malabar Hill is a richly wrought story of multicultural 1920s Bombay as well as the debut of a sharp and promising new sleuth.

Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes women’s legal rights especially important to her.

Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X—meaning she probably couldn’t even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah—in strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are  in further danger.

Our Thoughts:  This is a charming mystery with an absolute delightful heroine based on true person.  Set in the 1920s, Perveen is the first woman lawyer in India.  The setting of India is intoxicating and the time period lends a certain formality to the characters and the story.  However, it is also an interesting story of the role of women and the fight for equality.  In the course of settling an estate, Perveen takes an interest in protecting the decedent’s wives who live a cloistered life.  In this case, Perveeen’s gender is a positive because she has access to the wives that men do not.  Unfortunately, a murder occurs in the wives’ home and Perveen’s quest to protect the wives becomes more urgent as she tries to solve the case.  Perveen is utterly charming and brave and I hope that this is the first in a series of books about this heroine.   

The Address

The Address: A Novel by [Davis, Fiona]
 

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else…and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in…and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives—and lies—of the beating hearts within.

Our thoughts: May loved reading about historical New York City and the Dakota (apartments). She knew very little about the Dakota other than it being the site of John Lennon’s untimely death. She enjoyed this story about 2 strong women, one hundred years apart and the mysteries revealed inside the walls of this majestic landmark building. The characters are memorable and the story holds your interest to the very last page. 

The Price of Inheritance

The Price of Inheritance: A Novel by [Tanabe, Karin]

From Amazon:

After eight years in the American Furniture department at Christie’s, twenty-nine-year-old Carolyn Everett is a rising star. But one wrong decision and a scandal leaves her unemployed and broken. Desperate to piece her life back together, Carolyn leaves New York City to work in a tiny antique store in Newport, Rhode Island.

One day at a small county auction, she discovers a piece of Middle Eastern pottery, which she purchases for twenty dollars on a hunch. Curiosity sends her on a mission to find its original owner, and she eventually winds up in the town’s United States Navy Base—and in a relationship with notorious womanizer Marine Sergeant Tyler Ford, who claims the relic came to him as a gift from his translator during the early days of the Iraq War. From two different worlds, Tyler and Carolyn become obsessed with the mysterious relic—and each other—until the origin of the art comes under intense scrutiny and reveals a darker side of Tyler’s past. Carolyn still feels like there’s more to the story, but can she risk attaching herself to another scandal—and does she truly know the man she’s fallen in love with?

The Price of Inheritance is a rare find of a novel. Engaging, suspenseful, and full of intrigue, it delves into the elite world of big bucks deals and dangerous black market promises, where one woman must decide whether she’s willing to gamble her greatest asset—her heart.

Our thoughts: As someone who appreciates antiques, May enjoyed the subject matter, historical factor, and of course you can never go wrong with a little mystery and romance. This was a perfect read to take on vacation, or if you’re just looking for something light to read out on your back porch.

Happy Summer Reading! –May and June

One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by. Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

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What We Are Loving This Spring

Happy Friday! As we head into the weekend, May and June have been thinking about what we’ve been loving this spring. You know, those items and experiences that enhance our present moments.  It feels like warmer temperatures have finally arrived in the midwest, and it’s definitely feeling like summer down in the south. We are so ready for longer days and playing outside. Here are a few things that have us smiling.

As you all know by now, we love fashion and shopping. We did quite a bit of damage together when we lived in the same town, so you might think that living in different states has slowed us down a bit. Nope. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and we still have fun shopping together. We are seeing a big trend toward hair accessories this summer. Pretty scarves for ponytails and colorful, jeweled rubber bands are showing up in most department stores, but our favorite is the colorful headbands we are seeing. We both have longer hair this summer and the headband adds just the right touch to a simple ponytail or bun. The one below is from Anthropologie but you can find them just about anywhere, including Amazon and Etsy.

I (May) have planted a vegetable garden every year for most of  my adult life. The planning, planting, tending, and finally harvesting of the vegetables in the fall is always so fulfilling. Plus, playing in the dirt has always been so therapeutic and grounding. My new yard is a work in progress. I have a vision but of course that comes with a price, and landscape takes time. I am thinking about a raised urban garden at some point, but we have some projects coming up that prevent us from doing anything this summer.  So, I decided to just do a few favorites in pots. For me there is nothing like a tomato picked fresh from the vine, so I bought a potted tomato plant and already have lots of baby tomatoes growing. To go along with the tomatoes I have fresh basil and rosemary. If you don’t have space for a more traditional garden, a potted one is a good alternative. Below is my mini garden this summer.

Part of the fun of moving to a new city is exploring a fresh array of eating establishments, especially when the culture is different from what you’ve always known. It’s always fun to try the trendy hip restaurants where you may need to wait weeks for a reservation, especially in a city like Charleston. However, the little family owned out of the way joints are fun too. A group of us recently had lunch at Martha Lou’s Kitchen, a cozy family owned pink shack that locals frequent for soul food and sweet tea. We enjoyed great food, lots of laughs, and look forward to our next great adventure in lunching. 

Spring and summer are always a good time to change up one of your makeup products, in particular your lipstick or lip gloss.  It’s a relatively inexpensive and a low committed way to add a little summer color.  June had heard about  Dior lip glow which changes to the PH of your own body, to create the perfect color.  It is unfussy, you can simply swipe and go, and it provides moisture much like a lip balm.  This is super fun and while it is a little pricey, June is loving it, and is looking forward to trying other color options.

June has also been busy cleaning out her bookcases.  One thing, she realized, is that there were a bunch of books on the bookshelf that were in the to be read pile.  The question became what to do with the to be read books?  June thought back to her high school days when she worked at the library and decided a book cart would be perfect.  June found this utility cart at Target, which works perfect as a book cart.  This cart could also work great for craft or laundry supplies, but we think it looks super cute as a book cart.

Lastly, Monday (May 21) is May’s birthday.  So we are loving her on her special day!  

Have a good weekend! –May and June

My favorite things in life don’t cost any money.  It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. Steve Jobs

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I was Anastasia

New Spring Releases

For the last several months, many of us have been hunkered down in our homes reading our latest novel under a warm blanket, cozy by the fire. However, even though the temperatures aren’t always showing it, spring is officially here. We love spring! It’s time to clean out our homes, open windows, lighten the layers, enjoy longer days and stop to notice the beautiful colors on spring blooms. There are so many books coming out this spring and we are excited to get started. Here is just a sampling of what we’re looking forward to reading out on our back porch.   Some of these have already been released this spring and others will be coming soon.  

Beach House Reunion– Mary Alice Monroe (May 22, 2018)

Beach House Reunion (The Beach House Book 5) by [Monroe, Mary Alice]  
From Amazon:
Whisking you back to the shores of her bestselling Beach House series, Mary Alice Monroe weaves together a tale of the struggles and triumphs of the historic Rutledge family of Charleston, South Carolina. Beautifully wrought and rich with keen insight, this is an illuminating tale of new beginnings, resilience, and one family’s enduring love.

Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Everything is comfortingly the same, yet each detail is rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara release the hold of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new love, career, and hope for the future.

Meanwhile, her niece Linnea, a recent college graduate who doesn’t know where her life will take her, leaves her historic home in Charleston, with all its entitlement and expectations, and heads to her aunt’s beach house. On the island, she is part of the freer, natural ocean lifestyle she loves, rejoining the turtle team, learning to surf, and falling in love. Remembering the lessons of her beloved grandmother, Lovie, the original “turtle lady,” Linnea rediscovers a meaningful purpose to her life and finds the courage she needs to break from tradition.

In this heartwarming novel, three generations of the Rutledge family gather together to find the strength, love, and commitment to break destructive family patterns and to forge new bonds that will endure long beyond one summer reunion.

 

The Perfect Mother– Aimee Molly (May 1, 2018)

The Perfect Mother: A Novel by [Molloy, Aimee] 

From Amazon:

THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE SUMMER—SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING SCANDAL’S KERRY WASHINGTON

An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.

A night out. A few hours of fun. That’s all it was meant to be.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.

When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar, they want a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed. 

Thirteen days. An unexpected twist. The Perfect Mother is a “true page turner.” —B.A. Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors  

 

The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go– Amy E. Reichert (May 15, 2018)

The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by [Reichert, Amy E.]
From Amazon:
Three generations. Seven days. One big secret. The author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake unfolds a mother-daughter story told by three women whose time to reckon with a life-altering secret is running out.

Gina Zoberski wants to make it through one day without her fastidious mother, Lorraine, cataloguing all her faults, and her sullen teenage daughter, May, snubbing her. Too bad there’s no chance of that. Her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys them both, no matter how hard she tries. Instead, Gina finds order and comfort in obsessive list-making and her work at Grilled G’s, the gourmet grilled cheese food truck built by her late husband.

But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine’s kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother’s failing health and her daughter’s rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go…

 
 
 
In an enthralling new feat of historical suspense, Ariel Lawhon unravels the extraordinary twists and turns in Anna Anderson’s 50-year battle to be recognized as Anastasia Romanov. Is she the Russian Grand Duchess, a beloved daughter and revered icon, or is she an imposter, the thief of another woman’s legacy?
 
             Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.
 
Russia, July 17, 1918: Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed. 

Germany, February 17, 1920
: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia. 
     
Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson. 
     As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
     The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.
 
 
The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. 

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.

Optioned for film by George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures, with Scarlett Johansson to star

America’s next favorite Australian author!

“With jaw-dropping discoveries and realistic consequences, this novel is not to be missed. Perfect for lovers of Big Little Lies.” ―Library Journal, starred review

Small, perfect towns often hold the deepest secrets.

From the outside, Essie’s life looks idyllic: a loving husband, a beautiful house in a good neighborhood, and a nearby mother who dotes on her grandchildren. But few of Essie’s friends know her secret shame: that in a moment of maternal despair, she once walked away from her newborn, asleep in her carriage in a park. Disaster was avoided and Essie got better, but she still fears what lurks inside her, even as her daughter gets older and she has a second baby.

When a new woman named Isabelle moves in next door to Essie, she is an immediate object of curiosity in the neighborhood. Why single, when everyone else is married with children? Why renting, when everyone else owns? What mysterious job does she have? And why is she so fascinated with Essie? As the two women grow closer and Essie’s friends voice their disapproval, it starts to become clear that Isabelle’s choice of neighborhood was no accident. And that her presence threatens to bring shocking secrets to light. 

The Family Next Door is Sally Hepworth at her very best: at once a deeply moving portrait of family drama and a compelling suburban mystery that will keep you hooked until the very last page

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

From Amazon:

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. In this haunting, moving, and beautifully written novel, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife…

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

We hope you’re as excited as we are to dive into these new releases. What’s on your reading list?
 
Have a wonderful weekend!
~May and June
 
There is no friend as loyal as a book- Ernest Hemingway
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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Simple Spring Wardrobe Items – Joanna Gaines Style

In some parts of the country, spring has sprung and in others it is slow to arrive (Chicago we are looking at you).  But regardless, we know it’s coming soon and we’ve been enjoying all the spring clothes in store windows and online.  It’s so refreshing to look at light easy styles after the bulk of winter layers. Although neither of us is lacking in the clothes department, we are trying to be more deliberate about simplifying the stuff in our lives, and that includes our closets.    While she probably did not set out to be a style icon,  […]

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Soulful Simplicity

What We’ve Been Reading in March

Happy Spring! It’s time to lighten up our clothes, our homes, and send those long dark nights of winter behind us. We love this time of year as the days grow warmer and we can walk our pups in the evening and still have daylight. However, no matter the season, you can still find us curled up with a good book. Here’s what we’ve been reading in March.  Lilac Girls- Martha Hall Kelly From Amazon:  NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For readers of The Nightingale and Sarah’s Key,inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this remarkable debut novel reveals the power of […]

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A New Year

Here we are, a full week into 2018. After a fun and festive Christmas with family, my husband and I enjoyed celebrating New Year’s Eve with great new friends. We made it home just in time to put on our pj’s, get comfy on the couch with our doodle Sawyer and watch the ball drop in frigid NYC. So long 2017.   As I look back, 2017 was a year of many ups and downs, which ultimately ended in loss and heartache, similar to the year before. Losing one family member is difficult, but losing two in less than two […]

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For The Book Lover On Your Gift List

Happy December!! The most wonderful time of the year has arrived, and along with it comes the question of what to get that special someone on your Christmas list. Since May and June both share a passion for everything books, we thought we would give you a few fun gift ideas for the book lover in your life. For us, there is nothing like an old edition of a favorite book. Many Christmas’ ago, May’s mom gave her a vintage edition of a beloved book from childhood, Little Women. It is old and beautiful and is the perfect accessory on […]

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What We’ve Been Listening To- Our Current Favorite Podcasts

As two devoted podcast listeners, we thought it would be fun to share some of our current favorites. May often listens to podcasts while on her morning walk with Sawyer, or while preparing a meal.  June also listens to them when she preps meals for the week.   Podcasts have become so popular these days, sometimes it’s difficult to choose! Some people are confused about podcasts and how to listen them.  Podcasts are a short audio file that is a lot like a radio show but you can listen on your own time.  Often the podcasts have a website or online […]

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Dying to be Me

September Book Picks

We took a little break over the summer from blogging, but are happy to be back just in time for the start of Fall.  And there’s no better way to begin than with one of our favorite topics, books!! There are some great new titles coming out this Fall, but to get you started, the following are some books we have enjoyed over the last few months. Beartown: A Novel by Frederick Backman   From Amazon: People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But […]

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Sharing Summer Meals

When the weather outside is sizzlin, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time slaving in a hot kitchen. I generally don’t have a big appetite for heavy meals and meaty dishes, and I like to keep summer food prep a little more simple. My daughter, Nicole, and I recently tried out this yummy recipe for vegetarian tacos. Although I’m sharing the recipe below, I was thinking about how enjoyable the actual process of creating a meal is when you do it with someone special. I have so many fond memories of cooking or baking […]

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What We’ve Learned Lately

Well, it’s official. We have entered the dog days of summer. Store aisles that have been filled with coolers, beach towels, and gardening tools the last few months are now stocked with pencils, spiral notebooks, and other school supplies, ready for a school year that is quickly approaching. We know the pumpkins are next! With that said, we’re not quite ready to say goodbye to the long days of the season just yet, and here are a few things we’ve learned this summer. It’s nice to take a vacation from healthy eating and our workout routine, but always a bit […]

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Here’s what we’ve been reading in July

Our days have been a little out of control lately around May Meets June.  Summer does that.  Your schedule gets thrown out the window to enjoy the fleeting season.  If you are looking for a little grounding this weekend, though, sitting with a good book may be a good option.  Here are a few books we’ve read lately.   Victoria by Daisy Goodwin Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin―creator and writer of the new PBS Masterpiece drama Victoriaand author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress […]

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What Is Your Yoga?

I can’t believe it’s Monday again! Is it me or does it feel like time keeps moving faster and faster? I often find when there is a lot happening in my life at one time, I start to feel a little off and need to move inward. For me, it’s about staying connected to the ancient practice that always brings me back to a feeling of balance.  The word yoga means “union”. For me, it is a conscious connection to something such as my body, breath, mind, spirit or environment resulting in a feeling of peace and contentment. For years, […]

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Discovering a Museum Gem – The Chicago Botanic Gardens

We are blessed in Chicago with a plethora of renowned museums, but I rarely visit any of them.  I think it is a function of taking them for granted because I live here.  Also, as an introvert, I don’t find them particularly relaxing.  There is a lot of noise and crowds and I feel like I need to comprehend every piece of information that is presented to me.  I leave most museums filled up, but also exhausted.  However, I recently discovered (or rediscovered to be more accurate) a museum of peace and beauty at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. A friend […]

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My Current Shoe Love

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. I know many of you, including us here at May Meets June, took a little extra time off last week for the 4th of July holiday. We are into the middle of summer and here in the south, it is very steamy. I can’t walk outside without my sunglasses fogging up and it only takes minutes before beads of sweat begin to form on my body. I was warned and all I can say is thank goodness for air conditioning!! My current wardrobe on these sultry days is usually a […]

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Celebrating the 4th of July

With the long 4th of July weekend ahead, we are looking forward to celebrating our country’s birthday by taking in a town parade, attending a festival or two, having a backyard BBQ with friends, and of course it wouldn’t be the 4th of July without fireworks. Today, we have put together a perfect treat that everyone will enjoy, as well as a table centerpiece to make your home a little more festive. Let’s face it, one treat that everyone loves is a dessert with chocolate chips. Instead of a classic cookie, May decided to make chocolate chip cookie bars for […]

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Things I Know To Be True – Birthday Reflections

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my birthday.  My birthday often makes me reflective.  I am neither young enough or old enough to be proud of my age.  So let’s just say I celebrated the anniversary of my 29th birthday again.  In honor of that, here are 29 truths I have discovered.  Not all are easy to remember, but always good to keep in mind. All moments in life are temporary.  In moments of discomfort or sadness or pain, it is difficult to remember this fact.  Some moments in life last longer but eventually time moves forward.  The one thing […]

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