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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 a coffee table or mantle.
How about something from a favorite independent book store? In addition to great books, many independent book shops sell t-shirts, coffee mugs, gift cards, and of course tote bags at reasonable prices. Book lovers can always use a new tote bag. They need some way to carry their book haul, especially when all of their holds come in at the library at the exact same time (June knows from experience).
If you’re looking for a great stocking stuffer, you can’t go wrong with a beautiful book mark. We found some unique and beautiful book marks online. Check out this store for a wide selection.
We love Etsy for great book gifts. A favorite shop is Carrot Top Paper Shop, which creates illustrations and quotes of literary heroines including Anne of Green Gables and Elizabeth Bennett as well as their authors Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott.
A subscription to a book club could be fun. Now, before you have flashbacks to the Columbia House record/cassette/cd of the month club, these are more flexible. We have not signed up for any of them, however Book of the Month Club is getting good press. Each month, a rotating cast of judges select five titles. The recipient has the opportunity to select the title of their choice, or they can choose to skip a month.
A reading journal and other tools to help read are also a great gift. Some readers like to track their titles either for a reading challenge or just for their own spotty memories, plus some readers like to mark passages or take notes. The Modern Mrs. Darcy sells really great reading journal kits that include a really nice journal, book darts and other fun goodies. June will tell you those book darts are magical for having the ability to go back and reference ideas, or to re-read a really beautiful sentence.
If the book lover on your list reads physical books, but also multi-tasks while doing so (we are looking at June who blow dries her hair and reads at the same time), a book weight is a great gift. The book weight holds the book open and allows your reader to get one more chapter in hands free, for the most part. June’s husband got her this one last Christmas and it has changed her life. No more trying to figure out if the toothpaste tube is heavy enough to hold the book open.
A lot of readers belong to book clubs and most book clubs involve wine. So, why not give your reader their very own book club of wine. June is currently working on writing a book (more on that later) and her writing mentor, Ann Garvin’s book, I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around, is featured in a new seasonal gift box called Books & Bottles, which pairs two bottles of Francis Ford Coppola’s wine with a featured book. Check it out. It looks like a fun gift combining most readers two loves.
Of course you can always buy the gift of a new book. Readers love new titles and authors to check out. Consider not only the newest best seller, but also look to the backlist titles that may have been missed. As we readers know, there are simply too many titles to read in a lifetime. Get a gift receipt just in case they have already had the pleasure of reading your picked title, and don’t be offended, it just means that you have great reading taste.
Have a great weekend and happy Christmas shopping! – May and June
Books may well be the only true magic. Alice Hoffman
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 community where you can participate. For most podcasts you can listen for free. Some have a paid subscription service or ask for donations where they use the funds to support the cost of producing the podcast.
To listen to a podcast it is very easy. If you have an Iphone there is a built in app that we both use called Podcasts. To listen simply search for the name of the podcast. You can then click on the title and an episode to listen. Because most podcasts are weekly, you can subscribe (for free) so that every new episode shows up in your library. If you do not have an Iphone or you want some additional features there are a couple of apps that can be downloaded on your phone for free. Two popular apps are Overcast and Stitcher. You can listen to these podcasts through any of the apps using your headphones, your phone’s built in speaker or a bluetooth connected speaker.
Here are some of our favorites:
Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. If any of you are familiar with Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday television show, you’ll enjoy this podcast. Always inspiring, Oprah’s guests always leave you feeling a little more soulful and connected to something greater.
What Should I Read Next? This is a podcast by Anne Bogel who writes the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy. This is one of our absolute favorites because the subject matter is books, books, books. The podcast typically follows the same format. Anne Bogel talks interviews one reader about three books she loved and one she hated and then recommends three books for the reader to read next. Even though the podcast is supposed to be limited to only seven books there is often talk about a lot of books. Some of these are backlist books, meaning that they are not an author’s most current title, which is a great way to find books that your library will probably have on your shelf that you can read immediately. The shownotes always have a list of books discussed in case your notepad is not handy.
From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl: May’s daughters told her about this podcast by Rachel Brathen aka Yoga Girl. As a yoga teacher as well as a student, we enjoy connecting with like minded people and her journey is very inspiring and you will find yourself often times laughing, or shedding a few years.
Serial: Serial is a podcast created by National Public Radio and This American Life so it is very professional. Season 1 is the best of the two currently available. In Season 1, Sarah Koenig investigates Adnan Sayed’s conviction for murder of his high school classmate. While the season was being recorded, Sarah continued to receive tips and leads on the case. A compelling told story and it will suck you in to find out the conclusion. Really great if you are looking for a story that will keep you interested for hours. June listened to this on road trips with her husband and that made the miles fly by. This podcast would probably be a great listen to motivate you to get to the gym too.
S-Town: This is another podcast from This American Life (these people know how to tell a story and actually have a podcast of their own). This tells the story of John who despises his town in Alabama and asks an investigative reporter to look into a cover-up concerning a murder done by a wealthy citizen of the town. The story turns to look more into John’s mysterious life, another murder, a feud and a hunt for hidden treasure. June listened to this one as well on road trips with her husband (she has had a lot of driving trips to Buffalo, New York the last two years). The format of serial story telling keeps you listening.
The Next Right Thing: The Next Right Thing is a podcast by the writer Emily P. Freeman. The Next Right Thing is an inspirational podcast with a Christian viewpoint. And it is only 15 minutes. This is a newer podcast so there are only ten episodes (so far) but if you are looking for ways to give your soul room to breathe this is a great way to start your morning. June often listens to an episode in the wee hours of the morning while she is getting ready to go to the office to give her soul some strength and inspiration for the day. Emily P. Freeman’s voice is so soothing and calming that alone can provide you some positive space for your day.
Magic Lessons: This is a podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert that supplements her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. If you love to talk about creativity and how to spark creativity this is a great podcast. Elizabeth Gilbert often talks to a regular person who has creative aspirations but is struggling and she give advice. In the subsequent episode she often has a “famous” creative person to discuss their own process and also offer advice to the previous guest. Some of these names have included Ann Patchett, Rob Bell and Brene Brown.
Do you have a favorite podcast? We’d love to know what you’re listening to these days. There are so many great ones out there so sometimes it is hard to choose.
Have a great weekend.
May and June
Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind.”
― Madeleine L’Engle,
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.
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.
Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.
Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.
Our Thoughts: This book wrecks you in the best and worst possible ways. While the story centers around a hockey team it is not really a story about hockey. It is a story about what privilege can get you. It is a story about small towns. It is a story about loyalty, family, friendship and belonging. It is a story about discovering who you are and what you are willing to stand up for and fight for. This is a hard story because some rather awful things happen but it is a book that impacts you in all the right ways.
The Lying Game: A Novel by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, The Lying Game.
On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…
The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”
The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).
Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.
Our Thoughts: This is a story couched in mystery. What happened to the girls so many years ago and who is trying to discover the truth now? Most of the women in the story have tried to put behind them what they did many years ago. The bonds of that act have kept them connected and now with the discovery of a body their carefully constructed lives are threatened to be pulled apart. A good mystery although I did struggle with some of the characters being a little dumb. The setting lends itself to making even the event more mysterious and the setting ultimately saves many of them from the past.
It is 1950 in glittering, vibrant New York City. Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village. The postwar boom is ripe with opportunities for talented girls with ambition, and Lucia becomes an apprentice to an up-and-coming designer at chic B. Altman’s department store on Fifth Avenue. Engaged to her childhood sweetheart, the steadfast Dante DeMartino, Lucia is torn when she meets a handsome stranger who promises a life of uptown luxury that career girls like her only read about in the society pages. Forced to choose between duty to her family and her own dreams, Lucia finds herself in the midst of a sizzling scandal in which secrets are revealed, her beloved career is jeopardized, and the Sartoris’ honor is tested.
Our Thoughts: Although this is not a new release, Lucia Lucia is the sweet story about the ties that bind an Italian-American family in the early 1950’s. Lucia, is the daughter of a proud Italian father and although she wants to please her family by marrying a childhood friend, she is also struggling to find her own independence. The author had a wonderful way of pulling you into Lucia’s family dynamic and although the book wasn’t very complex, it was enjoyable. The perfect read for a Sunday afternoon.
In this truly inspirational memoir, Anita Moorjani relates how, after fighting cancer for almost four years, her body began shutting down—overwhelmed by the malignant cells spreading throughout her system. As her organs failed, she entered into an extraordinary near-death experience where she realized her inherent worth . . . and the actual cause of her disease. Upon regaining consciousness, Anita found that her condition had improved so rapidly that she was released from the hospital within weeks—without a trace of cancer in her body! Within these pages, Anita recounts stories of her childhood in Hong Kong, her challenge to establish her career and find true love, as well as how she eventually ended up in that hospital bed where she defied all medical knowledge. As part of a traditional Hindu family residing in a largely Chinese and British society, Anita had been pushed and pulled by cultural and religious customs since she was a little girl. After years of struggling to forge her own path while trying to meet everyone else’s expectations, she had the realization, as a result of her epiphany on the other side, that she had the power to heal herself . . . and that there are miracles in the Universe that she’d never even imagined. In Dying to Be Me, Anita freely shares all she has learned about illness, healing, fear, “being love,” and the true magnificence of each and every human being! This is a book that definitely makes the case that we are spiritual beings having a human experience . . . and that we are all One!
Our Thoughts: Although we don’t do many memoirs, this one was mentioned on several podcasts and as a follower of Wayne Dyer, it was worth checking out. It was an inspiring story of Anita Moorjani’s struggle with fitting in not only with society, but also her family’s cultural expectations, followed by a cancer diagnosis and near death experience which she shares in detail. It is a lovely book about life and living it on our terms, rather than the expectations of others.
We’d love to hear what you all have been reading lately. Enjoy this first weekend of Fall!!
~May and June
“If the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid down at my feet in exchange for my books and my love of reading, I would spurn them all.” – François Fénelon
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 with my mom, grandmother, children, friends and husband. This past Christmas Eve, our family was in several different locations, so my hubby and I decided to make a special dinner together at home, and we had a wonderful evening. There are so many memories to be made right in your own kitchen! Now, back to the tacos. There was a little prep required, but with some cool background music, a little wine, and great conversation, dinner was on the table in no time. I love how versatile this recipe is too!
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tabs. fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 lb. medium carrots, cut into 3″to 4” sticks
1 tsp. ground cumin
8 whole grain tortillas (you can also use taco shells or flour tortillas, your preference)
crumbled goat or queso fresco cheese
sliced black olives
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion, pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chili powder and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add black beans and 1/3 cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir occasionally until thickened. Mash beans with the back of a spoon or potato masher until thick, then stir in lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, toss carrots with cumin and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast turning occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes, until carrots are tender.
Divide beans and carrots between taco shells or tortillas. (We warmed our tortillas in a pan.) Finish with toppings, a squeeze of lime and enjoy. We made a tossed salad as a side.
Enjoy and have a great week!
“I’m just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.” Maya Angelou
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 painful getting back on the wagon. Summer tends to lend itself to getting out of your eating and workout regime, so give yourself a bit of a break knowing that you will make up for it when the regular schedule of life resumes.
For those of us who are very structured with our schedule (May and June), it’s ok to take a break, re-evaluate, and try something new. Remember, change is healthy and can even open new doors.
If you’re not already in one, join a book club or start your own. You will get an opportunity to read something you wouldn’t ordinarily pick on your own, it’s a great place to cultivate new friendships, and of course there’s always great food and wine.
This is a difficult one, we know, but try to embrace adversity. Generally, when something difficult enters our world, it is a tap on the shoulder that a new road is waiting for us. Try to understand what that challenge is teaching us, and go with it. Change always results in growth, even if it is wearisome.
Similarly, stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something that scares you shakes things up. It may be uncomfortable in the moment, but ultimately the feeling of pride overrules fear.
It is nice to have the house to yourself for a few days, and even better when your spouse comes home. Absence sometimes makes you remember how much you miss each other.
Chocolate makes everything better. Indulge (in moderation of course)!
Have a good weekend. –May and June
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. Mahatma Gandhi
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
These last six months, I have lived somewhat out of my comfort zone. I have been traveling between houses preparing one home to be put on the market, while creating a comfortable space in the new one. I have also spent a lot of time away from my husband and the security of what has been our home life. Although I am feeling more settled and connected to our new digs, I still find comfort in the place I have called home for so many years. I will be traveling back to Chicago over the 4th of July holiday, the […]
This week we celebrated the first official day of summer. So, we can’t think of a better time to check out some summer beach reads. Beach reads are a little tricky. On the one hand you want to read something that is light and fun that doesn’t contain long involved prose and themes, but on the other hand you don’t want something that makes you feel like your brain is slowly melting due to stupidity. There are a few tried and true authors that almost always write a novel that fulfills this requirement. We have also included a few other […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. Air Conditioning. Truthfully, I am not a huge fan of air conditioning. I […]
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 […]
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 […]