Archive | July, 2017

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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 and The Fortune Hunter―brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.

Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.

Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.

“I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”

Next, people say she must choose a husband. Everyone keeps telling her she’s destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.

On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin’s impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.

Our thoughts: If you’ve been watching the PBS mini-series on Victoria, this book pretty much follows the first several episodes. This historical novel tells the story or Queen Victoria’s first two years as an unexpected successor to the throne. It was definitely a coming of age story as a reigning queen and add to that, the often times funny romance with her future husband, Albert. An enjoyable read.

 

The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up — and she hasn’t looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It’s a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious… and hopelessly in love with her boss.

But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she’s suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers (all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework) and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking — and finds herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea.

But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes… and work out exactly where her future lies…

Our thoughts: May and June are both fans of Jenny Colgan’s novels. She writes the perfect story if you’re looking for a little escape to someplace beautiful, want a little romance, and of course, delicious food. We love that their are always recipes in her books. This takes place in a little coastal town in Scotland where the main character, Flora, must return to her home town for work and has to confront past conflicts with her family. Oh, and she is hopelessly in love with her boss, Joel.

 

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

 

Can you miss something you never had?

Jubilee Jenkins is no ordinary librarian. With a rare allergy to human touch, any skin-to-skin contact could literally kill her. But after retreating into solitude for nearly ten years, Jubilee’s decided to brave the world again, despite the risks. Armed with a pair of gloves, long sleeves, and her trusty bicycle, she finally ventures out the front door—and into her future.

Eric Keegan has troubles of his own. With his daughter from a failed marriage no longer speaking to him, and his brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son attempting telekinesis, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. So when an encounter over the check-out desk at the local library entangles his life with that of a beautiful—albeit eccentric—woman, he finds himself wanting nothing more than to be near her.

Our thoughts:  This book made you root for the heroine.  She has had such a hard life because of her allergy and her mother.  It made me wonder what it would be like to be afraid to be touched by any other person or risk your life.  It would be isolating and we take small touches from our loved ones for granted.  The ending is very satisfying and makes you smile through some tears.  And, of course, we always love a book set in part in a library.

Have a good weekend.  Enjoy the season for all that it is and maybe enjoy some lazy days. –May and June

There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs.  -Henry Ward Beecher

 

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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, my yoga was on my mat and involved a physical practice of asana (movement) where I pushed my body into postures worthy of a magazine cover. At that time in my life, my bliss came from being in my body and I always felt a sense of calm and peace when my practice was over. My physical practice, although it has gone through adjustments over time, is still a large part of my life, but I’ve also discovered other ways of achieving that yoga experience, or connection if you will. 

My yoga is connecting to my breath. Do you ever take a moment throughout your day to simply stop, close your eyes, and truly be with your breath? If you don’t, you should try it. In fact, let’s do it right now. My guess is if you’re reading this you are in a seated position, so close your eyes, bring your awareness to the touch of breath at your nostrils, inhale to the count of four, then exhale to the count of four. Do this ten times and then open your eyes. Do you feel a little calmer? Deep breathing relaxes the central nervous system, which in turn reduces tension in the body and calms the mind. I recommend doing this when you wake up, mid-day, and before you go to bed. Trust me, it works.

By the Light of the Moon

My yoga is spending a little time in what I call sacred space. Is there someplace you like to go for a few moments of solitude? I love the beach during the off season. There are fewer tourists, the kids are back in school and it is so nice to sit and listen to the  sound of the ocean. I also love to sit on my favorite bench in a secluded church yard where I can connect with nature. It’s a lovely spot to meditate or read a book. I always tell my students to enjoy a few moments of quiet time each day, even if it is simply taking a short walk. Of course you can always create a sacred space in your yard or home. 

My yoga is disconnecting from my mobile devices. This is a big one. In fact, I could probably write an entire post on the negative impact of social media, but for now, I’ll stick with simply taking a break from it. Last week my daughter, Nicole, came for a visit, and we had a chat about how attached we are to our phones. She is a soon to be twenty year old college student who will regularly deactivate many of her social media accounts to take a break from all the noise. We spent a day at the beach and purposely left our phones in the car so we could  be completely engaged with one another and our environment. No, there weren’t selfies of us posted on Instagram, frolicking on the beach documenting our day. In fact, at one point, we realized we had no idea what time it was, and didn’t care. We had a lovely day of uninterrupted time together that will forever remain between us. We were completely in the present moment. It made me realize how much I miss that. While Nicole and I were at dinner one evening, she went to the rest room. Now, how many of you would take that opportunity to go on your phone to read the latest “fake news”, check Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or emails? We both kept our phones in our purses and while she was gone, not only did I notice the charming surroundings in the restaurant, I also saw many diners either on their phones, or saw phones sitting on the table. I often see men and women pushing strollers while they are on their phones, or they are on their phones at the park while their children play by themselves. I’ve seen someone step off a curb and fall because he was on his phone, and even though it’s illegal, people still text while driving……all the time. What is happening to us?! Now, I realize there are a lot of great things about social media, but do we need to be informed 24 hours a day? I truly feel we would all benefit from taking regular breaks to allow our brains the opportunity to power down and settle into stillness. In fact, I think it’s vital to our well being. I have cut way back, I don’t miss it, and I am happier for it. If we are always on our phones, how can we have that yoga connection with those we love or ourselves for that matter? I challenge you to curb the amount of time you spend on social media, and see how you feel. 

My yoga is living in the present moment. Let’s not dwell on the past, it’s gone. Let’s not worry about the future, it’s not here yet. Let’s fill ourselves with gratitude for today.

Have a great week ~May

“Yoga is the space where flower blossoms.”

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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 of May Meets June (who is also our wonderful blog designer) works at the garden which put them back on my radar.  The Chicago Botanic Gardens are located in the northern suburbs of Chicago and a short car ride from my home.  

I have always loved gardens although I am not a gardener myself.  I love to look at other people’s gardens.  My grandmother always had a beautiful flower garden with lots of cutting flowers, which one of these days I may try and replicate.

My mom and I visited on my birthday.  We enjoyed the beautiful plants and flowers, and had a refreshing lunch with a glass of wine under a canopy of green trees overlooking the blooming rose garden.

This museum felt peaceful.  There were people and there was information about the plants to read which could have overwhelmed me.  Instead, though, being in a beautiful natural setting just exuded calm and was refreshing.  Rather than a museum it felt like a giant park.  

If you have botanic gardens in your area, I suggest you check them out for a moment of beauty.  They may be a gem for you to discover.  Your soul and spirit will thank you. -June

If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden. 
― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

 

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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 sundress and sandals. Comfy sandals. However, I also want my sandals to be stylish and transition from daytime to dinner out. When I first arrived in Charleston, I came across a great little shoe store called Charleston Shoe Company. There were so many styles and colors and although I tried on a few pairs, I wasn’t yet ready to make a purchase. After hearing more about the shoes I went back, and I’m now the proud owner of two pairs of sandals, and I have a feeling there may be more in my future.  

I had them on all day while traveling with no sore, tired feet plus I’ve walked all over downtown Charleston in them, even on the cobblestones! Oh, and you can machine wash many of the styles too. I also love that they come in wedges as well as a chunky heel. A little extra height on my 5’2″ frame is always a good thing. 

Neely Woodson Powell is the founder of The Charleston Shoe Company. I loved reading about her journey and want to share her success story with y’all. 

Charleston Shoe Company founder Neely Powell spent her childhood summers in a colonial town in central Mexico. In the summer of 1996, while at the College of Charleston, she met a cobbler whose simple sandals were a wardrobe staple among the villagers and visitors alike. It was Kismet.

With suitcases stuffed with the made-by-hand shoes, Neely and her mother boarded a plane home, plotting to sell sandals alongside her mother’s own burgeoning import business at furniture markets. The shoes were embraced by young and old, and before they knew it a wholesale business was created. In 2009 when dreams of her own brand began swirling in her head, she enrolled in an accessories design program at the Savannah College of Art & Design with her young daughter, Gigi, in tow. Neely drew upon her shoe and accessory design coursework and, in collaboration with a fourth generation cobbler in Mexico, launched her own line of hand-sewn footwear then called Savannah Shoe Co.

An entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in Neely’s family – her father developed a five star resort in the Florida Keys and her mother started the wholesale interior furnishings mecca, Worlds Away. An idyllic childhood on Little Palm Island, where swimming and snorkeling were the order of the day, gave her an appreciation for the relaxed ease of island living. Coupled with the fact that she had highly creative and artistic parents, it’s no surprise that her design influence errs towards laid back sophistication meets comfortably chic.

In 2010, Neely opened Savannah Shoe Co in Savannah and then a small storefront called Charleston Shoe Co. on a quiet and historic section of King Street in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. This proved a pivotal moment for the brand as the community and tourists alike embraced the collection and the charismatic proprietor. With locations in Charleston, Savannah, & Del Mar, they still could not meet the demand for the “cobblestones to cocktails” shoe and the wholesale line launched in January 2011. The Charleston Shoe Co. line is now currently sold in over 150 boutiques nationally.

From Boca Grande to Nantucket & Del Mar to Carmel, women can’t get enough of the comfortable, versatile and stylish shoes. When she is not in the stores in Charleston & Savannah you’ll frequently find Neely traversing the East Coast selling her shoes to adoring fans of the Charleston Shoe Co line, with Gigi still in tow!

Her stores are popping up all over the country but if one is not near you, no worries. You can buy all her shoes online and if you sign up for emails, you’ll receive 10% off your first pair. 

Have a great week! ~May

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.’ – Marilyn Monroe

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