Archive | May, 2016

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A Day of Remembrance

Happy Memorial Day!

We are coming to the close of a three day weekend that has most likely been filled with parades, BBQ’s, fun with friends and family, and of course celebrating being a proud American. We always think of Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer, however it’s also a day to celebrate and honor the lives of all the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice, so we may continue to have our freedoms.

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The roots of Memorial Day go back to 1866, when women in both the northern and southern states of the U.S. placed flowers on the graves of the soldiers that fought and lost their lives during the Civil War. At that time it was known as Decoration Day. Women in the South were known to place flowers at the graves of Union soldiers as well, as a way to begin the healing process after this unfortunate war between the states.

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Over time, it became a day of contemplation and gratitude for the many freedoms we have in this great nation of ours. In 1971, President Nixon declared Memorial Day a national holiday, which is currently observed on the last day of May.

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In the year 2000, George W. Bush signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” where all Americans were encouraged to give a moment of silence at 3:00 PM, to honor those that have given the ultimate sacrifice. In addition to honoring the sacrifices of prior generations that have defended our country, I feel it’s important to thank the men and women who have served and continue to serve this nation, including my son Lt. Daniel Malone.

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And so, I hope you will all take a moment at 3:00 today, to close your eyes and honor all the brave men and women who make up our U.S. military, past and present, and say thank you.

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We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them.”  

Francis A. Walker

~May

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The Widow

May Books

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!!!  It’s hard to believe that long anticipated unofficial start to summer is here.  We hope your weekend is full of barbecues, good weather and of course time for reading some good books.  We read three new books this past month, The Forgetting Time: A Novel by Sharon Guskin, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney and The Widow by Fiona Barton.  Also, in case anyone is wondering, each of us, May and June, independently write our own thoughts and reviews about each book because we want you to have two opinions.  We know that not ever book speaks to every reader.

The Forgetting Time: A Novel by Sharon Guskin

 

Forgetting Time

From Amazon:

What happens to us after we die? What happens before we are born? At once a riveting mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, The Forgetting Time will lead you to reevaluate everything you believe…

What would you do if your four-year-old son claimed he had lived another life and that he wants to go back to it? That he wants his other mother?

Single mom Janie is trying to figure out what is going on with her beloved son Noah. Noah has never been ordinary. He loves to make up stories, and he is constantly surprising her with random trivia someone his age has no right knowing. She always chalked it up to the fact that Noah was precocious―mature beyond his years. But Noah’s eccentricities are starting to become worrisome. One afternoon, Noah’s preschool teacher calls Janie: Noah has been talking about shooting guns and being held under water until he can’t breathe. Suddenly, Janie can’t pretend anymore. The school orders him to get a psychiatric evaluation. And life as she knows it stops for herself and her darling boy.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has already stopped. Diagnosed with aphasia, his first thought as he approaches the end of his life is, I’m not finished yet. Once an academic star, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw everything away to pursue an obsession: the stories of children who remembered past lives. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he never stopped believing that there was something beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for a case that would finally prove it. And with Noah, he thinks he may have found it.

Soon, Noah, Janie, and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years. When that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Gorgeously written and fearlessly provocative, Sharon Guskin’s debut explores the lengths we will go for our children. It examines what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between.

May’s Review: I first heard about Sharon Guskin’s beautifully written novel, The Forgetting Time from June. This was a debut novel about reincarnation, a subject that is fascinating to me. I was pulled into the story from the very first chapter, with each character trying live their lives as normally as they can, even though they all are battling their own inner conflicts, which makes being “normal” more and more challenging with each passing day.  There were several references to a non-fiction book called Life Before Life: Children’s Memories of Previous Lives where scientific studies of children recalling previous lives were recorded. I read that book a few years ago, and had a hard time putting it down. Although the subject matter may be outside the comfort zone for some readers, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, right up to the end, and definitely recommend it.

June’s Review:  I was not sure about this book going in because I do not believe in reincarnation.  However, I do believe in souls.  I absolutely fell in love with this book.  Each character in this book is suffering from some unspeakable grief.  You feel the love each of the mothers, in particular has for their child, and the pain they are suffering.  Because Janie while her son is right there knows that there is something wrong with him.  And once she finds out why he is acting the way he is acting and believes it she suffers the pain of feeling inadequate as Noah’s mother because there is a mother that he loves more or as well.

Denise’s son is missing and when Janie shows up at her door with the story that she and Dr. Anderson believes to be true she is in disbelief as I think I would be.

The book is full of emotion and also excitement in a somewhat quiet way and will brought me to tears.  I have discovered lately that I find myself taking pictures of pages in novels when I love a book (as well as recommending it to everyone I know) so I can go back later and read certain parts after I return the book to the library.  There was a particularly lovely paragraph that I took a picture of because it struck me.  Denise had trouble believing in reincarnation yet she had a feeling about Noah so she thought “Yet how could it not matter whether this boy carried some little piece of Tommy deep inside of him? Some fragments of his love.  Tommy’s love for her, surviving, inside of Noah. That was something wasn’t it?”

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The Nest

From Amazon:

A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs’ joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the futures they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

May’s Review: I was on a pretty long waiting list at the library for this book, so obviously I had high expectations when I finally picked it up. It was just ok. For the most part, I found the family in this novel irritating, and thought they all needed a reality check on life. I wasn’t able to connect with even one of the characters in this story, and at times got bored and found myself skimming through the chapters. It was readable, but I feel there are too many other wonderful reads out there to enjoy.

June’s Review:  There has been a lot of hype about this book before it came out and it has been on the best sellers list for awhile.  However, I did not love it.  I would say its not a terrible read but not super great either.  Of course I may have a little bias because the central problem in the book revolves around a trust that was created for all four children, controlled by their mother, until the youngest of them turned 40, at which point they were supposed to receive one-quarter of it.  The problem is the mother gave most of it to the oldest brother, Leo, a ne’er-do-well who got himself in a bad situation.  Now all of the siblings are resentful because of it and it has repercussions in their owns lives.  From a professional standpoint this is terrible planning, so obviously I had a problem with this.  I kept thinking to myself “Who was the estate planning lawyer who thought this was good idea?”  But more than that, I really did not like any of the characters.  I thought most of them were big babies who needed to grow up and stop being so self-centered.  It is hard to be very invested in a novel and the outcome when you don’t really like the characters very much.

The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow

From Amazon:  For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

May’s Review: I went into this book with a lot of enthusiasm. I love a good thriller and saw that this novel was being compared to Gone Girl, and Girl on a Train – stories about the secrets between a husband and wife. The book started off ok, but for me it lost its momentum pretty early on. It was neither mysterious or suspenseful and very predictable. I also had a very difficult time getting interested in the main characters. I know I’m struggling with a book when it’s an effort to pick it up and read. This one was pretty disappointing, so I’m giving it a thumbs down.

June’s Review:  Any thriller lately likes to be compared to Gone Girl or Girl on the Train.  Of course considering both of those books disappointed me, I guess I should not be surprised that this book disappointed me.  I kept with this book thinking there was going to be big twist or surprise.  Then I got to the end and thought to myself “that’s it?”  I just had a conversation last week at book club that some of these books like this probably make better movies then books.  However, even this one would probably be a disappointing movie.  This book was a dud the ending just fizzled out.

Speaking of books to movies, if you have not heard Me Before You by JoJo Moyes is  being release as a movie on June 3.  I am sure you will need to bring some tissues with you.

Have a great long weekend.  –May and June

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Swing

A Tale About Fairies, a Garden and a Beast

Once upon a time there was a little fairy named Faye, that was looking for a new home.

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Faye looked and looked.  She thought about hiring a realtor but she had heard that it was pretty much a buyers market at the moment due to the popularity of fairy gardens on Pinterest.  She found a cute little cottage.  The foundation seemed sturdy, someone had added drainage holes and it was in her desired location, but the grounds were a little bare.  However, Faye was into DIY projects so a little work didn’t scare her.  She had after all watched a lot of HGTV.

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Faye was on a budget, though.  And while there were many projects she wanted to do, she knew her absolute must project was some landscaping.  The sun was very hot.  Without landscaping she was going to be very uncomfortable this summer.  She searched until she found some magic plants.  The plants had the magical power of multiplying in quantity on the ride home from the nursery where the gardener had purchased them.  The gardener now had too many plants for her planned garden.  The gardener told Faye that she could use the plants for free at her new home.

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Faye is excited that she has nice smelling plants like thyme and rosemary in her garden.  Faye can also use these plants to spice up her cooking this summer.

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Faye also has some coleus.

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Some pretty verbena.

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And some salvia.

Faye realizes that she may end up living in the Amazon rain forest by the time the summer is over because these plants may get really big and overwhelm her little cottage.  She is ok with that.  Faye knows that when fall comes she may decide to replant some of her landscaping with more appropriate sized plants.  She knows most of the fun of having this type of garden is picking out the plants and planting them.

It’s also fun to pick out the accessories.  So, Faye then went to Joann’s and got herself a dog and some chickens.  She also got herself a comfortable chair.

 

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Faye planted her garden.  She also added a wire for some birds to sit, a pine cone and a heart for decoration.  She built herself a pretty pink stone pathway because pink is her absolute favorite color.  She made sure to post a sign right in front of her garden saying Fairies Welcome.  And sure enough, her friend, Iris, came to visit her right away to tour her fairy garden.

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Faye is hoping to have some time to build a few things for her new home and fairy garden.  She may build herself a little hammock and daydream away some summer days.

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Or a swing where she can while away some hours.

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Faye was feeling pretty content with her new home and fairy garden.  However, she did discover there was a gigantic Beast lurking in her neighborhood.

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This is a better picture of the Beast!!!  He looks scary here.  And he is very loud.

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Faye spoke to her new neighbors, the Gnomes.

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The Gnomes said the Beast can be tamed with dog treats.  She was relieved to hear that.  Faye was worried that she was going to have to  find something equivalent to a Prince that could slay a dragon to rid herself of the Beast.  And, in modern times, she knew that most likely she would end up having to rescue the Prince from the dragon.  Have you seen the movie Enchanted?  So, rescuing herself with dog treats in her pantry seems simple.  She is sure in no time she and the Beast will be best of friends in true Disney-esque fashion.  And Faye in her fairy garden and the Beast will all live Happily Ever After.

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THE END! –June

 

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Yes, I am an Introvert

I have often thought about doing a post on being an introvert, after all it’s part of who I am, but I wasn’t quite sure how to find the words to express what I wanted to say. Recently, my daughter Nicole tagged me on Facebook when she came across these words that define me so well, and so it inspired me to write. Yes, I am an Introvert.

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I looked up the word introvert and found this:

A term introduced by the psychologist Carl Jung to describe a person whose motives and actions are directed inward. Introverts tend to be preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings and minimize their contact with other people. 

As a child, I was always happy entertaining myself. I can remember playing doctor to all my dolls, or playing school by being a teacher to my imaginary students. I also loved to read. At the time we had two large cottonwood trees in our yard, and I would lay a blanket under one and spend hours reading Nancy Drew. Sometimes I would play with my Barbie’s, or watch the clouds. I still loved being with my friends and spent quite a bit of time with them, but I was always someone who needed time alone as well.IMG_3841

As a young adult, I sometimes wondered if something was wrong with me because I never really enjoyed large gatherings, or being in a crowd for that matter. The constant noise of being around so many people could get overwhelming after a while, and I would always be so happy once I made it back to the sanctuary that is my own home, where my energy would once again be restored. I’m still that way and sometimes have to force myself out of my comfort zone but not because I’m anti-social, I’m simply wired in a way that’s different from a large portion of the population. I’m an introvert.

My husband, Bob, is a classic extrovert and when we were first married, there were several discussions because he labeled me as “anti-social” when comparing me to his personality. I wasn’t though. I love being around people and can be quite the social butterfly, depending on the company. However, I love a more intimate setting, talking one on one or in a small group about interesting topics. I absolutely hate small talk with a bunch of people I don’t know. That’s one great thing about being married to an extrovert. He is very good at small talk, which makes it easy for me, because I would rather be the one listening and observing. I’ve often thought if I should ever write a novel, I would have so many interesting characters just from all my observations.

I am much more creative when I’m alone with my thoughts. I think that’s why I love walking so much. I have my pup Sawyer as my companion, but without all the chatter. It’s a time where I can truly let my thoughts go for a bit. Most people don’t realize that there’s so much more to me than what they see. Only those closest to me are allowed inside. Introverts are generally very private.

I do have to say that being married to an extrovert has it’s positive qualities because Bob has many times brought me out of myself to try something new, and I’ve had a lot of fun. Something I might not have done on my own.

A few years ago, The Huffington Post posted a very interesting article called 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert. I identified with every single one. I immediately copied it and casually placed it on Bob’s desk. After reading it, he really had a better understanding of who I am, and I feel he has more respect for my feelings now. He gets me. I had to chuckle during parts of this article because I thought I was the only one who could relate, but there is a certain comfort in knowing that we introverts are not alone. Here are a few that stood out for me.

  • You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.” This is so me. I swear I have an on/off switch. I can only give so much of my energy away, and when it’s gone, it’s gone and I need to be alone to replenish myself.
  • Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.”  So true!!  As a yoga teacher, I’ve been in front of large groups of people on a regular basis and I don’t even think twice about it. Having to chat afterwards takes a lot of effort.
  • You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation.” Um, hello….That’s one of the first things I check out before going.
  •  “You screen all your calls – even from friends.” (Ha!) Guilty! To         all my friends, I apologize. Sometimes I just don’t feel like talking.
  • When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench, not in the middle.” I had to laugh at this one because every time Bob and I go to the movies, it’s an issue. Bob wants to sit smack dab in the middle because he apparently feels that he will miss out on something important if he’s anywhere else. I, however, don’t want people on all sides of me and like the aisle, so I can easily get away when I’m ready to go. In case you’re wondering, he usually wins.
  • You notice details that others don’t.” I am a very, very visual and observant person and notice everything. Instead of talking, I’m taking in my surroundings.

Interestingly, both my boys are introverts as well, especially my youngest son who is a writer and extremely creative. People have often labeled him as shy and somewhat anti-social which I understand, and yet when he is in certain social situations, he is very interesting and funny. My daughter Nicole is also an introvert. I feel that one of the many reasons why we enjoy each other’s company is because we don’t always have to be switched “on”. Introverts are comfortable with the silent moments, and often retreat into their own world for a bit.

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So now you all know a little bit more about me. If you’re not sure you’re an introvert, take the test. You may just learn a little bit more about yourself. ~May

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A Birthday Celebration for May

As I’m sure you all know by now, the name of our blog, May Meets June, was born from the months of our birthdays. So, since we are in the beautiful month of May, we thought we would have a birthday celebration for May with a very special Happy Hour (her birthday is tomorrow, May 21). When we were thinking about this post, we were looking back at everything going on in the world the decade May was born. It was the 60’s (yikes!!) and the U.S. was getting its first taste of The Beatles, gas was 25 cents a gallon, the Ford Mustang was in production, Barbie was everywhere, and of course John F. Kennedy was assassinated. There was also a long list of great films that came out in the 60’s, and since May loves everything Audrey Hepburn, a Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) theme seemed like a great idea (although just to clarify May was born after 1961). For those of you who have never seen the film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is loosely based on Truman Capote’s novella of the same name. Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly, is a young country girl trying to find herself a rich husband by socializing with the wealthy in Manhattan.

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Today, we will be celebrating Happy Hour with a retro drink that was popular in the late 60’s called a Slow Gin Fizz. However, we are going to give it a fun modern twist.

Ingredients for  1 drink

Rosemary simple syrup:

3/4 cup sugar

4 rosemary sprigs

Rosemary Gin Fizz:

1/4 cup gin (Tangueray)

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

About 1/4 cup seltzer

1 small rosemary sprig

Directions:

Special equipment: Cocktail shaker

For the rosemary simple syrup: Combine the sugar, 3/4 cup water and the rosemary sprigs in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring and muddling the rosemary with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Take off the heat and cool to room temperature. Strain into a small container. The syrup can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container up to two weeks.

For the rosemary gin fizz: Combine the gin, lemon juice, lime juice and 2 tablespoons simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top off with seltzer and garnish with a rosemary sprig.

** Recipe courtesy of Valerie Bertinelli

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A refreshing cocktail for a warm summer day.

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This delicious Tiffany blue cake was made at our favorite bakery, Sweet T’s

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Our lovely tiaras were purchased at Target.

And from June a special birthday message to my dear friend May.  I am so glad I decided to give yoga another try many years ago and ended up in your basement for that class.  You were one of those people that I knew I wanted to be my friend.  It’s funny how sometimes I have that sense about people.  And you put up with me hanging out with you before class because my train got in early and it was easier just to come early rather than to go home.  A year and a half ago after we both talked individually about pursuing different creative pursuits including blogging, you came to me with the proposal of starting a blog together and it’s been a fun adventure.  For that I thank you because you have made me brave.  You have made me brave to start writing and to put my words out in the world and to pursue this dream that I have had since being a child.  I know that this past year has been one of your harder years, and you have suffered such a loss and because we are in many ways kindred spirits, you hold that loss so close inside your heart and do so much for others with still a smile on your face.  I have for so long needed a best friend like you.  You proof my posts, you convince me that I need that pair of shoes or shirt (which is usually not that hard), you are the only person I know who reads as much as me,  you read and respond to my crazy texts even when they are sent at 6 am (good thing we are both morning people) and I love your spirit.  I hope your birthday and this next year is filled with so many joys and blessings, and I am glad that I will be a friend beside you along the way.  Happy of happiest birthdays!!!!

Have a great weekend! ~May and June

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Derby Hats

My husband and I live minutes away from a thoroughbred horse racing track, Arlington Park Racetrack.  This year my youngest brother’s birthday fell on the Kentucky Derby, so we celebrated with him by spending the day at the racetrack.  Interestingly, I found out the night before that if you attend the horse races on Derby Day, you simply must wear a Derby hat. Apparently, it is quite the fashion faux pax not to wear a hat, but even if that wasn’t the case, it is still a fun thing to do.

I read up a bit on the tradition of wearing hats to the horse races, especially  since we do not see men or women wearing them in this day and age, unless of course they are the ball cap variety, or the winter hat type.  The tradition of wearing hats to the Kentucky Derby started in 1875, when the founder of the race, Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., modeled the race after high class European racing events.  At the time, these events were seen as places of vice and ill repute.  So, he and his wife went on a campaign throughout Louisville, Kentucky to convince his target clientele, that the new race track was a place for the upper class. They promoted that a race such as the Kentucky Derby, was going to be a see-and-be-seen affair so that more women would attend.  The tradition of the huge hats did not really begin until the 1960s, when television made women want to stand out more.  In the 1970s and 1980s, the devotion to hats dropped a bit, but picked back up in the 1990s and has really experienced a resurgence in the last decade, thanks to the royal wedding in 2011.

I saw some very interesting hats while at the race track.  The pictures are not super great because I was being a stealthy picture taker.

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Some chose the English fascinator look ala Princess Beatrice.

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Some went with the understated country garden look.  And yes, that is a camel in the background. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you.

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Others just went big and red, matching their clothes to their hat.

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This was a sea of straw hats with many bows, feathers, and flowers as far as the eye could see.

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This personally was one of my favorites.  It is a little hard to see,  however there is a whole row of My Little Ponies attached to the brim of her hat.

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This was my hat.  I borrowed the hat from my mom and had this huge flower from Target that I use for something else.  I attached the flower to the ribbon that was already around the hat, and voila.

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Here are me, my mom and my brother’s girlfriend in our lovely Derby  Hats.

We had fun wearing our Derby Hats for the day.  We did not go all out on our dress since it was cold that day and we had to dress for warmth, but our hats gave us a little Derby spirit.  –June

 

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Summer Weddings? Check out Rent the Runway.

The month of May is here, and we are officially into wedding season. Some of us will be attending several weddings between now and September, and attire for us girls can be a little challenging, especially if we’re going to be seeing a lot of the same people at different events. In that case, one dress isn’t going to cut it. However, we also don’t want to spend a lot of cash on dresses that may be worn just a few times (or even just once), for a special occasion. Let’s face it – today we can rent anything from tuxedos to cars to yard equipment and even furniture. So, why not rent a designer dress from Rent the Runway for your next wedding?

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A few months ago, one of my yoga students, Allison, told me about this great company called Rent the Runway, a fashion rental service started by Harvard MBAs Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss. Rent the Runway is for women who don’t want to spend $1,000.00 on a designer dress that will be worn once and then sit in the closet for eternity, because ladies, we all know we don’t want to be seen in the same formal dress more than one time.

In addition to signature gowns, Rent the Runway also has leather jackets, sweaters, sunglasses, and even handbags that you can rent for just about any occasion. Rentals are for four or eight days, very reasonably priced, and you get a free backup size and choose your delivery date. Along with your dresses, you are given a bag that you simply place the dress in when done wearing, zip it up, and you’re good to go. There’s no dry cleaning and you return everything for free.

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Oh, and if that’s not enough to entice you, your first rental is 20% off.  Sometimes availability can be an issue, so make sure you plan ahead. For Allison’s event, she picked out a beautiful dress by designer Monique Lhullier, and because she had a promo code, the dress was only $50.00.

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It arrived on Friday, and she mailed it back Monday morning. She suggests that before making a commitment to a particular dress, you read the reviews to see if it runs big or small. Chicago has an actual bricks and mortar store so if you’re not satisfied with your dress, you can go to the store and trade it for something you like.

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I think this is a brilliant idea for women, and will definitely consider Rent the Runway before attending my next formal event.

Have a great week. ~May

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We Love Target! (Part 2)

TGIF!! The weekend is nearly here, and May and June are back for Part 2 of our We Love Target post. Today, it’s all about the home. We found some great summer accessories for both your home and garden. For May, Target is on her list of stores where she shops for great finds when decorating homes for clients, as well as her own house. June has discovered some great finds as well. You can get some fun seasonal decorations for the home, and don’t forget to check out their $1.00-$3.00 aisle for cute seasonal items. Here are a few things we love.

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The Target home department is definitely ready for summer. We loved this color palette and the wonderful textures for the season. Most of Target’s decorative pillows are between $14.99-$24.99.  For that price, you can pick up one or two and easily switch out the look on your couch for the summer.

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  We found these interesting chairs and they were on sale too!  June wished she had the space to bring one home.

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     We also loved this neutral color palette with aqua touches. The wicker baskets are great for storage.

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There was a wonderful assortment of outdoor pillows for $15.99.  These would look great on your patio or back porch.  They are made with outdoor fabric and are resistant to the weather.

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Target has a wonderful section for your patio and garden. Aren’t these gardening boots adorable? These were $18.99. May is thinking about going back for them.  They will keep her feet nice and dry when she is out playing in the mud and planting her vegetable garden this summer.

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There was a nice assortment of watering cans and planters, but these metal ones really caught our eye.  It would make the chore of keeping our container gardens hydrated a little more fun.

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We were both drawn to these adorable gnomes for the garden. These cuties were $12.99 and were the last two left!! We couldn’t resist!! They came home with us and add a wonderful touch to our outdoor spaces.  The myth is that if a gnome has something in his hands, he can’t get into mischief.  I guess because the red hatted one has no hands, we will be safe from gnome misadventures?

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Target is always having wonderful sales, so don’t forget to check out a store near you this weekend if you are looking to spruce up your home for summer.  ~May and June

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The Americans

In the evening, my husband and I like to unwind by watching a little TV together, but it is so hard to find shows that we both really enjoy watching.   He probably gets tired of watching HGTV with me and I can only take so much political news commentary.  And while we could go watch TV in separate rooms, we like hanging out together.  So it is always a treat when we discover a new (to us anyway) show that we both look forward to watching.  We recently discovered, The Americans, which is currently on FX.  Since we are several seasons behind, we are catching up on Amazon Prime.

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The Americans stars Keri Russell (who plays Elizabeth) and  Matthew Rhys (who plays Philip) are two KGB agents posing as a married couple living in suburban Washington D.C.  It is set during the Cold War beginning in 1981.  Shortly after the start of the show, the couple gets a new neighbor who happens to be a FBI agent newly assigned to the counterintelligence unit.  The show was created by a former CIA agent turned author.  So, despite my skeptical husband trying to tell me that he does not believe there were really all those spy networks, maybe some part of the series is based on truth.

Not only is the show about spies which is exciting and full of twists and turns including double agents and some interesting plots, it is also a story about marriage and family. Elizabeth and Philip from all outward appearances seem like a happily married couple with two children.  As the season develops, you learn more about their personal relationship. They act like any married couple with affection, intimacy, and emotional connectedness.  They also have their share of hurt feelings. Although they were just put together as part of their job, by the end of the season you do wonder whether their marriage is just a front, or if there is something more to it despite any protestations.

Similarly, the FBI agent has to deal with his own relationship issues after working deep undercover for his job, then getting a little too invested with a source.  So while he and Elizabeth and Philip have vastly differently interests politically, at home they are dealing with the same issues.

It is is also an interesting look at patriotism and identity.  Elizabeth and Philip are Soviets.  They were born in the Soviet Union and were trained to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country, if it comes to that.  However, their children have been born in the United States and are being raised as Americans and at this point have no idea of their parents identity as Soviets.  There are other characters as well who are confronted with the question of patriotism and how far they should go to protect their country, or do they betray their country for their own self interest?

The show also brings us back to the early 1980s, a time that I remember well. I recognize a few of the fashion choices including argyle sweaters, perms and over sized eyeglasses. One episode centers around the response of the KGB agents after the attempted assassination of President Reagan, an event I remember when it happened (I also remember that Pope John Paul II was shot a few months after that date, and both made an impression on me).  I also remember when the Soviet Union was a superpower and an enemy of the United States. The show has many car chases, people getting put in trunks, kidnappings, sex and murders.  There are subtitles for the Soviets when they speak Russian, and there are a few characters that flip from spying for one side to the other, so pay attention.  Plus, who doesn’t love Keri Russell? Remember watching her on Felicity?

We just finished Season 1 and are looking forward to watching the next two seasons on Amazon Prime, and then the current season.  Hopefully it will keep us entertained for a couple of months.  If you are looking for a complex action filled drama, and especially if you and your significant other like to find shows to watch together, check out The Americans. –June

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The Magic of Walking

Whenever I’m asked about hobbies and things I love to do, walking is always at the top of my list. I have enjoyed walking for as long as I can remember, and whenever I’m on vacation, you’ll  always find me being a walking tourist rather than taking the tour bus, every single time. I’m also a daily power walker. There is something about waking up and walking with the sun in the morning that sets the tone for my day, especially this time of year through the summer. The birds are singing, the breeze is cool, there are beautiful blooms to see, and there is something so peaceful about being out in nature first thing in the morning.

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Did you know that a thirty minute walk everyday also has a host of health benefits? A brisk walk can prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. It improves your mood, reduces stress, slows the aging process, and reduces the risk for osteoporosis. Plus, there’s no better way to get your daily dose of vitamin D.

I walk year round and in all kinds of weather. I’ve often thought that I would have made a great mailman, in fact there were some winter days where I think the mailman and I were the only ones outside. I rarely walk alone though. I’ve always had a furry walking companion by my side. For twelve years it was my doodle Molly. Every morning she would get up and wait by her leash until it was time to go.

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Molly

My doodle Sawyer is the same way. As soon as he sees my athletic shoes coming out of the closet, his whole body starts to wiggle in anticipation. A good walk is as important to the health of our pets as it is to us humans. At eight years old, Sawyer has maintained a healthy weight, is definitely calmer, and sleeps so much better after he’s had his daily exercise.

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Sawyer’s ready to go!

The physical benefits of walking are great, however the mental advantages I receive from walking are so beneficial to my mental/emotional health. I am someone who is always battling  mind chatter. Unfortunately, this constant playing of thoughts can mess with my sleep, causing a whole host of issues including increased stress and loss of concentration and creativity. There have been days that, because of severe weather or illness, I haven’t been able to get out, and I definitely notice the difference. For some reason, I’m always able to solve problems when I’m out walking as well as get my creative juices flowing. I’m a very visual person and enjoy checking out my neighbors curb appeal (and get ideas), and I always, always, always, feel better in mind, body and spirit after a walk. We also live near a bike path that is partially wooded and often see deer on the path, the occasional snapping turtle, and even a few coyotes. (Yikes!)

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Now that we have longer days and warmer temps, I’m out twice a day. The morning walk gets my body and brain ready for the day, and the evening walk calms everything down for sleep, and yes Sawyer joins me for both. In fact, it’s about time for our evening stroll. I hope this has inspired you to get out for a daily walk. Your body and mind will thank you.

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~May

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We Love Target! (Part 1)

May and June are both regular shoppers of Target. It’s one of those great one stop shopping stores where you can get great buys on just about everything, including groceries. We recently took a little afternoon field trip to Target, and wanted to share with you some great fashion finds, at great prices.

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Today we are all about fun fashion accessories. We are on the brink of summer and as we roamed the aisles, we both got lost in a sea of light summery scarves, cute and colorful tasseled totes, great hats to block the sun, and more! We loved putting together some great looks with just a plain white t-shirt and a few accessories. We also loved the great prices. We don’t know about you, but both May and June find that most of their wardrobe investment leans toward the heavier fabrics associated with winter clothing. In summer, our clothes tend to have brighter colors and lighter fabrics which don’t quite wear as well, and are washed more often. Keeping costs down for a lot of basics makes good sense, whether you’re on a budget, or not. What we love about Target is that there are so many great styles! Here are some items we loved.

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Straw hats

Whether you’re sitting poolside, walking the beach, or working in the garden, a cute little straw hat is a must to keep the sun out of your eyes. These hats were 12.99-19.99.

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T-shirt and Necklace

A plain white t-shirt (sometimes several) is a fashion staple during the summer months. You can pair it with a fun necklace or colorful scarf. These white t-shirts were $9.00, the necklaces were $16.99, and the scarves $14.99.

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T-Shirt paired with scarf and straw bag

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Of course a cute bag is a must for every occasion in the summer whether you’re going to a great summer concert, or the beach. Target has loads of great bags, and as you can see, it’s all about the tassels this summer. The summer clutches and totes were priced from $14.99-$34.99. Now we’ve come to one of our favorites……sandals!!

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Cork Wedges

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Black Fringed Sandal

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Strappy Leather Slide

Needless to say, we spent a lot of time in the shoe department. We were thrilled to see so many cute styles for every occasion. The prices were great too. Most of the sandals ran from $16.99-$34.99.

Now, our outfit isn’t complete without a great pair of shades. We’re talking the sunglass variety of course! There was practically a whole wall devoted to sunglasses of all kinds and the prices ran from $14.99-$19.99 which is a great price, especially if you tend to leave yours places.

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Doesn’t June look like a movie star?

So there you have it! Our fun Target fashion accessories.  We can’t wait to share our Target home and garden accessories with all of you next week! Have a wonderful weekend. ~May and June

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Why is Mother’s Day Not the Whole Month Of May?

When we attended open mike night at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville a couple of weeks ago, one of the songwriters performed a song she had written about Mother’s Day, and the chorus to paraphrase was something like, “it should be more than one day. Why not the whole month of May?”  She then went on to list some of the things her mom had done for her.  So that inspired me to list all of the things my mom has given to me.  Because let’s face it, our moms give us so much from the time we are children, and continue to do so even when we are supposed to be all grown up.  Because even as a grown up, I still need my mom.  This list of course is infinite so I will try and limit myself.

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My mom gave me (and my brothers) a brown bag lunch every school day all the way through high school.  Except for Fridays.  On Fridays she took the day off and gave us lunch money.  I guess the good news for my mom is that it was in the days before Pinterest, so she did not have to be creative with our lunches.  We were happy with peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches, maybe with some pretzels, a piece of fruit and a little treat.  But every weekday morning (except Friday) she would be up wrapping our sandwiches in wax paper and sending us off to school with lunch.

My mom encouraged my love of reading.  My dad had served in the military so he went back to college on the GI bill after he and my mom were married, and I was a baby.  Because of that, my parents were on a strict budget but somehow my mom found the money in her grocery allowance to buy me a Golden Book.  I still have that collection of Golden Books.  She also regularly took me to the library where I was allowed to take out ten books (it was always ten which seemed like a lot, but I now know it was her way of keeping track of how many books we had out).  We always read stories together even if I insisted on having the same one read over and over again.  She even let me name our first dog, Widget, after a picture book I loved.

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My mom gave me my pretty blue eyes.

My mom gave me independence and taught me to stand up for myself.  I was always pretty shy and sensitive.  When I was very young some of the other kids would take my sand toys in the sandbox and she would make me go over and get them back myself.  She also made me do this as I got older, whether it was speaking up for myself to a teacher, or one of my peers.  She also made me go to preschool even though I would’ve rather just stayed home with her.  There were many times that she pushed me to do something that I was not comfortable doing and even though it often resulted in tears (probably from her too), she knew that I needed to be pushed to be independent, to be successful, and to live the best life possible.  Heck, sometimes she still gives me a kick in the butt when I need it.

My mom gives me the gift of her organizational skills.  I struggle with being organized and even though I like to be organized, it is not something that comes naturally to me.  So she comes and helps me clean out my closets.  My mom keeps me on task, makes me get rid of things and makes the job more fun.  Even my husband knows that when it needs to be done, he tells me that I should call my mom.

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Similarly, my mom has helped me move so many times.  When you go to college and then go to law school and then have several apartments and then have a condo and then have a house, do you know how many times you move?  We won’t count because it is easily in the double digits.  Each and every time, she helped me pack and unpack.  Also, she is really good at lining kitchen cabinets with shelf paper, if you need someone.

My mom is my best shopping partner.  We spend some of our best time together going to our favorite stores and having lunch.  Sometimes we just go to Target together just to buy our necessities although even those trips usually end up with a few extras in our carts.  She will even go shopping with me for a new pair of  jeans.  I also know that her opinion will be honest and kind and vice versa.

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As a child she was always the one to soothe the skinned knees and wipe away the tears.  And as I grew and even now, she tries and soothes my hurt feelings, and life’s disappointments and frustrations.  While she cannot take them away entirely, her support and sympathy are sometimes enough to assuage that hurt feeling, if just for a bit.

My mom showed me that life does not end when the worst thing imaginable happens.  When my dad died suddenly, we were all devastated, and she understandably more so than the rest of us.  However, she did not give up even though I am sure there were days she really wanted to.  She helped me plan my wedding which happened only six months later.  She hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon a summer later which had always been a dream of hers.  After five years she opened herself up to the possibility of having another relationship, and not living the rest of her life alone.  Basically, my mom was able to transform the life that she thought she was going to have, into the life that she now has, and is happy again after something so devastating happened to her.

My mom has helped me become the person that I am today.  She (along with my dad) gave me my strong values about family and treating others with kindness and respect.  She taught me that to stand by and watch something wrong is as wrong as doing it yourself.  I know many women worry that as they get older they are going to turn into their mother, but there are many things about my mom that I would be happy to be just like her.  Happy Mother’s Day (for the whole month of May)!  –June

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For My Mom

Happy May!!! Mother’s Day is just around the corner. In fact, it’s this Sunday, and so it got me thinking about all the ways we celebrate our moms. As a kid, I remember the sweet Hallmark commercials on TV which started weeks before and always left you in tears, and do you remember the FTD Mother’s Day bouquet? When my brother and I were young, there were always flowers on Mother’s Day, for my mom and my grandmas who we would visit, and we celebrated the special day by going out for dinner.

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As a teen, my mom and I would take an annual trip to New Smyrna Beach, Florida on Mother’s Day weekend to visit her parents, while my dad and brother enjoyed their weekend together at home. We would go out for lunch, or my mom and I would make dinner and a special dessert to celebrate. After my grandparents passed away, we did the traditional Mother’s Day brunches, but more recently, my mom and I started traveling again. We had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend in Savannah, Georgia a few years back, and this year we will be spending Mother’s Day in Charleston, South Carolina.

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As children, it’s difficult to have a true appreciation for our moms, and what they do for us other than taking care of our basic needs at any given moment. I thought my mom was so cool because she was my Brownie leader, introduced me to what would be a life long love of foreign films, and, of course, took me on many trips to the Art Institute. Her love of culture definitely rubbed off on me, and we still enjoy doing those things together.

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Let’s face it, the teenage years can be a little crazy. This is especially challenging between a mother and daughter, when we daughters think we know it all. I’m sure there were times when my mom wanted to give me a swift kick you-know-where, but she never did. I’m happy to say that our relationship never underwent the almost constant turmoil that many mothers and daughters experience. We may not have agreed on matters all the time, but there was always a mutual respect for each other’s feelings. Besides, we always enjoyed each other’s company way too much. I have to say it really wasn’t until I was older and became a mother myself, that I truly understood the depth of love and sacrifice a mother makes for her child. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without my mom’s presence during those early years, when I was a young mom. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and was terrified that I would somehow inadvertently “break” my child. She literally moved in for a few weeks after my first son was born, not only to help me out, but to give me the confidence I needed to take the reigns when it was time for her to go. She’s always been there for advice and, many times, a shoulder, and she has been a wonderful grandmother to all seven of her grandchildren.

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Like everything in life, there is an ebb and flow that occurs, and this includes relationships. Our relationship has changed with the hands of time. We’ve both grown wiser as women, as well as mothers, and it’s deepened our relationship with each other. There is a friendship that has developed, she’s still the most beautiful woman I know, she’s my business partner, my confidant, and yet, she will always be my mom.

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I hope you all enjoy celebrating your moms this weekend. Here are a few quotes about mothers and daughters from two of my favorite authors. Happy Mother’s Day. ~May

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No, we didn’t plan the same color shirts… 🙂

“Even as a small child, I understood that women had secrets, and that some of these were only to be told to daughters. In this way we were bound together for eternity.”

―Alice Hoffman, The Dovekeepers

“As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.”

―Kristin Hannah, Summer Island

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