Author Archive | maymeetsjune

What We’ve Learned Lately

What We’ve Learned Lately

Today we are celebrating the last Friday in April before we move into one of our two favorite months… May of course! Let the May flowers bloom!! We are always taking away lessons as we journey through life and love to share the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly. Sometimes these are profound and other times, they are just trivial.  Here are just a few things we’ve learned lately.

Our pets are our family. Make sure you stay up to date on their health with regular vet appointments, so potential problems can be caught early. Our furry family members give us so much and depend on us for love, care, and overall well being.

Meal prepping on the weekend is a godsend.  June started using a subscription service called Prepdish that sends her menus for the month.  You can pick between paleo and gluten free which means that all of the food is healthy.  The menus include a grocery list and instructions for four dinners, a side salad, a breakfast, a snack and a dessert.  She spends a couple of hours on Sunday prepping the menu items.  Sometimes this means cooking the day’s food completely and other times it means just prepping all of the ingredients to cook the day the meal will be eaten.  There are no more decisions in the evening about what to have for dinner, we are eating healthier (more fish) and throwing away less.  With only 2 people eating, we easily halve the recipes or have leftovers for lunch.

The only journey we are responsible for, is our own. It is not our job to make choices for others. When we do, we deprive them of their own experiences and life lessons. We all must walk our own path.

Take a moment to observe the beauty of nature right in your own backyard. Are rabbits nesting in the middle of your yard? June has had a mama bunny build a nest in the yard almost right outside the front door.  It has been a bit of a challenge to protect the babies from Gatsby.  We have put a little fencing around, but not enclosing the nest to try and dissuade the dog and also protect it from the lawn mower.  The mama bunny does not sit on the nest but she is always nearby.  Apparently, she only comes occasionally to feed her babies and tries not to draw attention to the nest.

When you’re traveling ,make time for an afternoon pick me up and just enjoy the scenery. (You can do this in your own town too!) It’s amazing how much you can learn by simply observing.

Have a good weekend! –May and June

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. -Henry Ford

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Cantalopue

Some Unpopular Opinions

Are there certain things that are popular and you cannot get on the bandwagon no matter how much you try?  I have some fairly unpopular opinions about certain things.  Here are five things I dislike that everyone else seems to love.

Coconut.  I cannot stand coconut.  The texture, the taste, the everything. I had heard coconut water was good for you so I thought I would try it thinking that because it is water it could not taste too much like coconut.  Blech.  No coconut water for me.  Interestingly, I can cook with coconut milk but I am not ready to try a coconut milk latte at Starbucks any time soon.

Flip Flops.  Everyone loves their flip flops except for me.  I do wear flip flops and I don’t hate them but they are not my footwear of choice.  I wear them for pedicures.  I wear them when it’s hot out around the house or to run quick errands.  I do not wear them if I have to drive, walk any distance or if it’s chilly outside.  The last few days we have had a string of some nice weather but it has been chilly in morning.  The coat and flip flop look has been going strong.  My attitude is that if it is cold enough for a coat then it is too cold for flip flops.  And I can only wear flip flops if the part that goes in between your toes is soft.  Those cheap rubber ones hurt my feet so I usually pick Teva flip flops.

Thriller Books.  Everybody loved the books Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  There was so much hype and buzz around those two books.  I read them and quite honestly they made me so mad that I wanted to throw both of them through the window.  I guess as an author a strong reaction by a reader is not a bad thing although, maybe anger is not the reaction you want.  After reading a few more novels in the thriller genre, I have decided that I do not really like them.  However, because there is often a lot of talk around them and they are typically a fast read, I will probably still continue to read the most buzzed ones.  I guess I will never learn.

Cantaloupe.  This is another food dislike and I think I am the only one.  Every fruit salad or side of fruit includes cantaloupe and I cannot stand it.  I cannot even pick around it because the taste of cantaloupe infiltrates the flavor of every other fruit it touches.   Even the smell or mention of it makes me wrinkle my nose.   My mom likes to make fruit salads for parties and she loves cantaloupe.   However, because she must love me more, she puts the cantaloupe in a separate bowl so I don’t have to eat my fruit contaminated with cantaloupe.

Running.  I think running is a sport that you either love or hate.  I have tried to love running but just cannot.  Even when I was in really good shape, I detested running.  The whole time I run I just keep thinking, “I hate this, I cannot breathe and when is this over.”  I do other cardio exercise such as spinning or interval training but I do not like to run.  I think my body was not built to run.

Although my dislikes often elicit a strong reactions, I think it is good that we all have different preferences.  Otherwise life would be boring.  Do you have anything you really do not like that others just do not understand?  –June

 

I hate with a bitter hatred the names of lentils haricots — those pretentious cheats of the appetite, those tabulated humbugs, those certified aridites calling themselves human food!”
George Robert Gissing, English novelist

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Sugar Men

April Books

It’s Friday and time for our April book picks. The weather is warming up which means fun summer beach reads are just around the corner. We both are dreaming about warm evenings reading on the back porch……but for now, we think you’ll enjoy these recent reads.

The Sugar Men by Ray Kingfisher

From Amazon:

Sixty-four years ago, Susannah Morgan managed to flee the horrors of the Holocaust. But the memories of that childhood ordeal have proven impossible to sweep away.

For most of her new life spent settled in sleepy North Carolina, the flashbacks have been a lonely obsession—one she has hidden from her family, and about which her heart is torn. Because for all the pain and the cruelty of those terrible years, she harbours sweet memories too, of unexpected friends who risked their own lives in order to save hers. As Susannah’s time on earth draws to a close, her innermost thoughts of those long-gone days become questions—ones that demand answers.

Against the wishes of her children, Susannah returns to Germany and the scene of unspeakable crimes. There she will come face to face with the Holocaust’s terrible, wretched legacy, and will finally make peace with the ghosts of her past.

Our thoughs:  We’ve both read a lot of books about WWII and the Holocaust. This particular novel focuses on the life of Susannah Morgan, going back and forth between present time in North Carolina and Nazi occupied Germany. This was our first novel read by this particular author and we felt the transition between time periods was smooth and the book was written with much sensitivity considering the subject matter. A tissue or two may be needed.

Savannah Blues: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews

 

From Amazon:

Meet Weezie (aka Eloise) Foley, a feisty antiques “picker,” banished by her spiteful ex-husband from the house she herself restored in Savannah’s historic district, who must come to terms with a life that has suddenly changed…and  not, it, seems for the better. In Mary Kay Andrews’s delectable New York Times bestseller, Savannah Blues, readers will feel the sultry Georgia breezes and taste sea salt in the air, as they lose themselves in a wonderful, witty tale brimming with sass and peopled by a richly endearing cast of delightfully eccentric characters. Revenge is sweeter than sweet in Mary Kay’s capable hands, and readers of Fannie Flagg, Adriana Trigiani, Emily Giffin, Rebecca Wells, and Jill Conner Browne will definitely want to spend some quality time in Savannah.

Our thoughts:  This was a fun, fun, fun novel by Mary Kay Andrews. It was easy to fall in love with her quirky characters and if you love Savannah and antiques, you are going to enjoy this mystery. Her descriptive writing makes you feel that you are actually part of the sultry Georgia climate and by the end, you too will want to spend a little time in Savannah. If you enjoy this one, don’t worry, Mary Kay Andrews has many more novels worth reading.

Exit West: A Novel by Moshin Hamid

From Amazon:

As featured in the Skimm, on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Fresh Air, PBS Newshour, the cover of the New York Times Book Review, and more, an astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands.

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .

Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Our thoughts:  This is first and foremost a love story about the two main characters.  And sometimes how being with the familiar is more important than true love.  This is also a very timely story about migrants given current events.  This is not a story about the journey of migration which is a story that has been told many times, but is a story of how you acclimate once you have migrated.  The author uses a trip through a special kind of door to move the characters from one place to another.  The story does not focus on this but it is adds an element of magic to the book.  This book has been much buzzed about as of late and is worth the read.

Happy reading and have a great weekend. Don’t forget to share your great reads!

~May and June

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
 

 

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Happy Easter! – Treats and Tablescapes

Are you hosting Easter this year? Perhaps you’re having a brunch or a dinner? It’s hard to believe spring is here and we’re about to celebrate Easter this weekend, but we are not complaining. We are loving the longer days along with the daffodils and colorful tulips popping out of the ground. Today we have an easy holiday treat and centerpiece to celebrate Easter.

May is not hosting Easter this year, but wanted to bring a festive treat for the dessert table. She preferred to keep it quick and simple and while looking at some favorite recipes, decided to put a twist on another holiday treat, peppermint bark. To make the Easter version of this classic sweet, just follow the directions for melting the chocolate, but instead of using crushed candy canes, you can add roughly chopped Cadbury Mini Eggs. Another option is to use M&M’s in their spring colors, and you don’t need to chop them up.

I left a few eggs whole and stuck them in the chocolate here and there before putting the pan in the fridge for the chocolate to harden.

You can put these on a plate, or if you have kiddos you can place them in a clear bag with a festive ribbon and put them in their Easter baskets.

June decorated her table for Easter.  You know she likes to keep it simple and inexpensive.

She used fresh tulips from the grocery store.  Always a fresh spring flower.  The bunny she got from Pier One (this one is similar).  She then took pink bunny Peeps candy and used them as a vase filler.  A bit controversial but that is the only thing she thinks those Peeps are good for.  There is a candle in that vase.  Because she has not lit it yet, she is not sure whether or not the Peeps will turn into a gooey mess.  The tray which makes a good corral for a multitude of centerpieces is from Target.

After Easter, you can simply replace the Easter theme with a spring gardening theme.  June just switched things out and added the gnome and the kid’s gardening tools from the dollar section at Target.

Happy Easter!

~May and June

“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.” Janine de Giovanni

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Forever is the Worst Long Time

March Books

It’s time for some book picks for March.  These are books we have recently read.  We are also busy reading book news and listening to podcasts and getting excited about books being released this summer.

Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan

From Amazon:

From acclaimed author Camille Pagán comes a wry, heartfelt exploration of love and loss.

When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.

As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.

When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.

Our Thoughts:  First, we love the title of this book, it is thoughtful and true.  This is a story of several loves that should not come to be. It is about complicated but beautiful relationships.  It is a story of how messy life can be and things are not always simple.  In order not to give away the ending, we cannot tell you about certain characters or ultimately how the story ends.  But be prepared for a beautiful ending that will put tears in your eyes.

A Piece of the World: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline

From Amazon:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

Our Thoughts:  This book is by the author of the Orphan Train, which if you have not read, we highly recommend.  This is a book of historical fiction centered around one Andrew Wyeth painting.  I did not know anything about the artist Andrew Wyeth before reading this book, although it was a name I was familiar with.  This book centers around the subject of one of his most famous works called Christina’s World.  The author researched both the subject of the work as well as Andrew Wyeth, and he also invented certain aspects of the book.  I love books about art and the art world so I really enjoyed this read.  The painting Christina’s World is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and I will have to make sure to see it if I ever visit.

This Is How It Always Is: A Novel by Laurie Frankel

 

From Amazon:

This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

Laurie Frankel’s This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

Our Thoughts:  This book is so good and I cannot stop thinking about it.  It also made me want to be the parent to five children, but that is not central to my thoughts here.  It involves an ordinary family in a somewhat extraordinary situation.  It’s about how two very good parents approach making decisions for their children to keep them safe, but also allow them to be themselves.  I loved the ending and I am still thinking about it.  In the world where we live it seems that there are only two choices when confronted with big decisions.  But what if there is not?  What if there is something in between?

Do you have any good book recommendations?  We are always looking for some books to read.  Have a good weekend! -May and June

No two persons ever read the same book.

–Edmund Wilson

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Rainy Day Adventures

It is officially spring and along with new life poking up from the cold damp earth, we are starting to hear the beautiful sound of chirping birds in the morning, as well as the wonderful feeling of the warm sun as we gently turn our faces up toward the sky, our bodies eager to drink in some much needed vitamin D. Spring is also the time we experience those rainy days that are so needed to wash away the stillness of winter, and encouraging new growth to take its place with beautiful blooms in shades of pink, yellow, and red.

As much as we love blue skies and sunshine, every now and then we enjoy a rainy spring day.  A rainy day is the perfect time to stay in our comfiest of clothes, make a bowl of popcorn, and snuggle up on the couch with a great classic movie. How about Gone with the Wind? Yes, it’s a bit long but that’s the great thing about having a pause button, right? If you’re like us, you have probably seen it several times, but if you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

A rainy day is the perfect time to put on your boots and raincoat, grab your umbrella and explore your neighborhood. It’s mother nature’s way of cleansing the body and soul and you’re never to old to splash through puddles.

A rainy day is the perfect time to bake chocolate chip cookies. Is it just us, or do cookies smell better on a gloomy day?

A rainy day is the perfect time to take a nap. There is something so peaceful about the sound of rain falling in an otherwise quiet room. There are even apps that mimic that sound for a better night’s sleep.

Of course a rainy day, or any day is the perfect time to curl up on the couch with a great book and a cup of tea.

What do you like to do on rainy days?

Have a great weekend.~May and June

The sound of rain needs no translation.

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Celebrating A Little Luck of the Irish

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today everyone is Irish, whether by birth or by choice.  Both of us do have Irish in our heritage so we thought it would be fun to list all things Irish to help you celebrate.

The Shamrock. To impart an irishness on anything, shamrock is added to it. We have the McDonald’s shamrock shake. Foot races called the shamrock shuffle or the shamrock beer run.  The shamrock is the symbol of St. Patrick’s Day because of the patron saint of the day.  Shamrocks, a clover type of grass, grow plentiful in Ireland and were considered sacred by the Druids in ancient times.  St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain to the Druids of the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). His use of the shamrock plant, convinced the Druid priests to allow St. Patrick to contine his missionary work in Ireland and convert many to Christianity.

The Leprechaun. The leprechaun is a type of fairy in Irish folklore. They are usually depicted as bearded little men who partake in mischief.  They spend their time making and mending shoes and have a pot of gold hidden at the end of a rainbow. If they are captured by a human, they will grant three wishes.

Irish Soda Bread.  One of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day treats.  We shared a great recipe for making your own here.

The University of Notre Dame. June’s alma mater, The University of Notre Dame loves all things Irish.  They are called the Fighting Irish and have a leprechaun as a mascot. While the official school colors are blue and gold, a lot of officially licensed merchandise comes in green and has shamrocks on it.

Lucky Charms.  The cereal is magically delicious. Yes it is super sweet.  And yes you can only eat two bites before your teeth hurt.  The marshmallows are so cute and make your cereal bowl look festive, and the marshmallows are the best part to eat.

Irish Coffee.  If you want to start celebrating early on St. Patrick’s Day, start with a cup of Irish Coffee.  A mix of coffee and Bailey’s Irish Creme with some whip cream, it is so delicious.  We made some last year for a little happy hour.

Corned Beef and Cabbage.  Corned beef and cabbage is the quintessential St. Patrick’s Day food.  You can make your own at home or go out to any number of restaurants tonight to enjoy the holiday meal.  For those of us who are Catholic and currently abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, the Cardinal in Chicago has granted us dispensation to eat corned beef today.  So enjoy without guilt!

There are so many ways to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day.  Hope you find a way to celebrate. –May and June

May the road rise to meet you,
may the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

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What We’ve Learned Lately

Happy Friday! No matter what is happening in our busy lives, we are always learning new things. Sometimes these new things are profound. Sometimes they are silly. Sometimes they are little hacks that make life easier, and sometimes they are an interesting fact or two that can make life more interesting . Here are a few things we’ve learned lately.

The difference between a graveyard and a cemetery is that a graveyard is connected to a church.  If the church closes then the graveyard becomes a cemetery.

If you are having any work done around your house, clean your closets first.  The contents of June’s master bedroom closet were let out of their confines during the course of painting, and have now taken over the whole upstairs.  She has a lot of work to do.

Make a list when you go to the store. If you don’t, you will buy items you don’t need, and forget the item you went to the store for in the first place.

Pay attention to your pets. They remind us to stop, breathe, go for walks, and give belly rubs.

Our Dogs and their Black and White Enemy

Gatsby

Sawyer

Dress for the weather- not for the calendar date.  And check the weather before you leave the house.  If it is 70 degrees in February you do not need to wear a coat.  If it was 70 degrees in February the day before it does not mean it will be 70 degrees today.  If it is not going to be 70 degrees, please do not wear flip flops or shorts.

No matter how much plastic surgery the Hollywood stars have, you can always tell their age by their neck.  Find a good neck cream.  We are looking for one and if you have found a magic neck cream, please share.

Have a good weekend. –May and June

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

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How To Choose Paint Colors

We are in the process of having the main floor in our house painted.  The last time we painted was 10 years ago right before we moved in. After we decided to paint, I started noticing all of the dirt, fingerprints and dog smudges on the walls.

If you hire a painter (which we did), the hardest part often is choosing the paint colors.  Have you ever noticed that the color on the little paper strip you get from the paint store rarely looks like the same color on the wall?  That is the worst.  That green that looked like a pretty spring green now looks neon on your walls.  Often a painter will repaint if you hate the color and ask nicely.  Also, how do you get your house to reflect your personality and the ambiance you want to set?

I have spent a lot of time looking online and in print magazines at color trends.  I knew I wanted colors that were fairly neutral, so that they did not look dated in a short time, but also had some personality.  And because I like to add color with accessories that I often switch around I do not like to be stuck with one color scheme.

My husband thought that we should just repaint the walls that same color that we had painted them 10 years ago.  Of course, this is the same person that when an item of clothing wears out wants the exact same item with no differences.  The colors that we had were popular when we previously painted, but now looked dated.

Tones of grey seem particularly popular right now.  It also can serve as a good neutral. Grey is a tricky color though because some lean more brown, some blue, some green and some almost a purple.  Go to the paint store and get lots of the paint strips that have greys and line them up next to each other.  You will see what I mean.  It is amazing.

We do not have an open floor plan.  We have different rooms.  Because of the different rooms, I thought different colors for each works better rather than painting them all the same color.  However, you can see most of the rooms from one another.  So I knew the colors had to coordinate.

After deciding that a grey color would be my base, I then searched Pinterest and started a Paint Color board.  Our painter uses Benjamin Moore paint so rather than go through every grey Benjamin Moore paint, I searched on Pinterest for the most popular Benjamin Moore grey paints.  There are a lot of pins on this.  I figured if lots of other people like the color then it must be for good reason.

My next step once I narrowed down the greys I liked best was to get a sample paint color from the store.  You can go to any store and they will make you a Benjamin Moore sample.  You do not have to buy the Benjamin Moore sample which is often pricier.  It may not be an exact match but for sample purposes is close enough.

Putting the sample on the wall makes a huge difference.  I loved the color Gray Owl.  It is a light gray that leans a little blue or green but pretty neutral.  My mom has it in her house and it is really pretty.  When I put it on the wall in our living room it looked awful.  Our living room has white crown molding and baseboards plus built-in.  It also has southeast exposure which means we get lots of sunlight during morning to early afternoon.  The Gray Owl was so light, I was afraid we were going to have to wear sunglasses in the house.  I am so glad I put the sample on the wall before having the whole room painted that color. I am keeping this color on my list to use in our basement family room when we repaint it.

Thanks to Pinterest I found a color scheme that suggested Chelsea Gray, Revere Pewter and Oystershell would coordinate well.  And that became my living room, foyer/stairway and dining room scheme.

For the kitchen and our back family room, I knew I wanted color and not a neutral.  The kitchen I wanted to be light green (but not minty) and once again I searched for popular green colors. I settled on one of the brand’s historical colors, Prescott Green.

For the back family room, which I often use as a place to work, I knew I wanted pink.  I did not want a baby pink but a neutral pink.  I found a color called Mellow Pink that is described as having grey undertones.

Finally, because the powder room is tiny, I decided to go a bit bolder and chose a deep purple called Vintage Charm.

The other thing to consider when choosing paint colors is to think of your house as a whole rather than as individual rooms.  It is good to choose colors that coordinate and complement each other .  I put all of the swatches on one wall to see if that would hold true.

 

Also think about what mood  you want to set in your house?  Do you want vibrant and loud?  Do you want quiet and peace?

The colors that you choose for your house are extremely personal.  They set the mood and tone in your house.  I want my house to be a peaceful, comforting and a warm sanctuary from the outside world.  I want it to be a cozy place to retreat.  I also want to be inspired and creative.  My colors tend to be a bit subdued but the pink inspires me and makes me happy.  And while we are not painting the bedrooms and the basement family room yet, I already have selected those colors as well. –June

 

Color is a power which directly influences your soul. Wassily Kandinsky

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March Weather Essentials

Happy March!! Spring is just around the corner and it is time to replace our parkas, snow boots, and mittens with a few pieces that will work well with this season’s more mild temperatures, as well as the rain showers that often arrive with spring.

Here are a few items we like.

Hunter Boots from Nordstrom

 

Hunter boots have gotten quite popular over the years, and for good reason. They are so darn practical!! These boots are great for those rainy mornings splashing through puddles as you make the commute from the train to the office, as well as running the dogs out. They keep your feet nice and dry and come in some great styles and colors. They have all different heights for whichever size you prefer.  You can also purchase fleece liners for colder days. We both love ours!

London Fog Trench from Nordstrom

Since we are on the subject of spring showers, we feel every girl should have the classic trench coat. There are so many colors and styles out there right now, but here is an oldie but goody, the classic London Fog trench coat. This particular coat comes in regular as well as petite sizes and it has a removable liner, which makes this coat a great option for the somewhat volatile temperatures that occur this time of year, as well as later in the fall. This particular style has a hood which always comes in handy on particularly windy and rainy days.

We also liked this Via Spiga trench coat with a pleated bottom. You can purchase this coat in red, blue, sand, and black, it comes in petites, plus right now it’s on sale.

Of course our spring shower ensemble wouldn’t be complete without a great umbrella. How many times have you run to your local drug store to pick up an inexpensive umbrella, only to have it blow inside out the first time you use it? Do you remember the bubble umbrella? It enjoyed popularity back in the 70’s, and May remembers having the child’s version with little yellow ducks on it. And if you are a fan of the Crown and Queen Elizabeth II, it seems that this style is a favorite of hers as well.

They are great for keeping your head and shoulders protected from the rain, plus they don’t blow inside out. One downside is it isn’t portable enough to just throw in your bag, yet what good is your umbrella if it doesn’t provide protection when the wind picks up? The price tag is a little higher, but you’ll keep this one for a long time.  And if its good enough for the Queen, then it definitely is a must have.

What are some of your rainy day essentials?

Have a great weekend. ~May and June

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.- Roger Miller

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Gentleman in Moscow

February Book Picks

Happy Friday! We hope you all have had a great week (for some of you it was a short one). How about settling in for a new read this weekend?  These books are fairly new, but we feel well worth the wait if you plan to check them out at your local library.

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

From Amazon: When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft.

But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

Our Thoughts: This is a mystery about the murder of three women on Halloween night, in 1989. The story is primarily told from the perspective of Callie who was a five year old witness to the murders, which included her mother. This is Brunonia Barry’s third book set in Salem. We both read one of her previous novels, The Lace Reader, and although there are a few recurring characters in this story, you don’t necessarily have to read it to understand this novel. We enjoyed the Salem setting as well as the history of the Salem Witch Trials. Although the book is 432 pages, it was a quick read.

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

From Amazon:  The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don’t they teach you anything at school?

So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who’s been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she’s confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.

One Saturday, the boy doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed. The boy’s mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that the world can surprise us at any age, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find ourselves again.

Our Thoughts:  This book is lovely, poignant and heartwarming.  Ona is a character that you learn to love her heart and her spunk.  And even at her age she is willing to try new things and change her life.  You learn about her life spanning 104 years.  The boy’s father has suffered an unimaginable loss and because he was not always the best father, he is determined to make amends for past mistakes.  I loved this book.  I first heard about it from the blog site Modern Mrs. Darcy (if you love books I recommend her site and also her podcast What Should I Read Next).

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

From Amazon:  He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel 

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

Our Thoughts:  I was skeptical about this book before starting.  I mean, how much story can there be for a man held prisoner in a hotel?  Actually, a lot happens within the confines of this hotel over the course of several decades.  Due to people that come into his life in the hotel, the Count is challenged and grows.  I would call this a quiet book because it is very character driven without a ton of action.  However, the characters and the setting were so interesting that  I could not put this down.  It also helps that the book is well written.

Have a great weekend!

~May and June

A room without books is like a body without a soul.

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It’s Spring at Target!

Happy Friday! We hope you are all looking forward to the long holiday weekend and perhaps you will be motivated to go out and bring a little spring  into your home? We recently took a field trip to Target, and loved seeing so many shelves displaying beautiful spring accents for the home. This is the time of year when we are all craving the rebirth that comes with spring whether it’s brightening up our beds with lighter fabrics, swapping out our flannel throw pillows for cotton, or bringing shades of spring green and yellow into our homes with vases of tulips or daffodils. What we love about Target is they have wonderful seasonal accessories for the home at great prices, so you won’t break the bank bringing a few fresh lovelies into your living space (and we just saw they are having a President’s Day home sale).

We know that when we see forsythia wreaths, spring is just around the corner. This bright yellow flower screams spring and displaying this happy wreath is welcoming on any front door.

We love the bedding at Target. The colors and styles are always in line with current trends, and they hold up well even after going through the wash. We both have those sets of sheets and they are smooth, soft and don’t wrinkle much.  If you like to change your bedding with the seasons, Target will most likely have what you are looking for.

We both like to swap out our throw pillows in the fall and spring. We found these cute pillows in spring colors and also loved the brass lamp (which May purchased for her desk) and white ceramic and brass succulent vase.

This is a great time of year to lighten up things in the house.  The weather is not quite cooperating quite yet with enjoying the outdoors (although the rumor is Chicago is going to have temperatures in the 60s this upcoming weekend) but we all feel the need for a fairly inexpensive refresh.

Have a good weekend. –May and June

Let spring breathe new life into your home.

The links in this post may contain affiliate links and we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link.

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DIY Valentine’s Day

February is here, and not only is it the shortest month of the year, but it is also the month we celebrate all things LOVE!  It is the season of cards, chocolate in heart shaped boxes, giant teddy bears, roses, champagne, diamonds, and romantic dinners for two. Although we both enjoy celebrating this special day of cupid, we tend to keep the evening with our significant others a little more low key. May loves to bake, and June loves to craft, and together, we are embracing a Valentine’s Day that not only comes from our hearts, but also our hands!

May took a simple peanut butter cookie recipe that she uses at Christmas, and swapped out the chocolate Hershey’s Kiss (which you can still use since it is a “kiss”, after all) for a Dove chocolate heart. She found a large bag of Dove mixed chocolate hearts at Target. You can make the dough a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake. Put them in a pretty tin with red tissue, and you have a sweet, festive treat that your valentine will love.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Hearts

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Sugar (to coat)

Dove chocolate hearts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixer bowl, beat butter and peanut butter with electric mixer on medium speed about 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup sugar and brown sugar, beaut until fluffy.

Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat well.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture, beating well. If necessary, cover and chill about 1 hour for easier handling.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in additional sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on an un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are firm. Immediately press a chocolate heart atop each cookie. With a spatula, lift cookies onto cooking rack and allow to cool until chocolate hearts are firm.  Makes about 60 cookies.

June created a simple Valentine’s Day table centerpiece.  You probably have a lot of the items at home to create this centerpiece, but if not they can easily be found at Target.

All you need are the following:

Clear candle holders

Pillar candles

Candy conversation hearts (2 bags)

A green plant

A table runner or placemat in Valentine’s Day colors (you could even reuse a red one you have from Christmas)

I simply put the pillar candles in the holders and poured the conversation hearts around the gap between the candle and the holder.

I treated myself to the maidenhair fern.  I was craving some more green in the house and as long as I keep it alive, it can continue to be decorative.

To give my centerpiece a bit of height, I put the fern on a small cake stand I had in the house.  I also added the paper arrow straws that I found in the dollar section at Target.

The centerpiece probably took me fifteen minutes to pull together.  And it gives my dining room table a nice pink cheer on these often grey days.

Have a good weekend. –May and June

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. Charles M. Schulz

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Styling Different Outfits With the Same Pieces

One of the many fun things we like to do is shop together.  However, that often means that we go home with the exact same items in our respective shopping bags.  And while we are close, we by no means want to look like twins.  What we have found, though, is that we each take those pieces and style them a little differently.  May’s style tends to be more classic.  June’s style tends to be a bit boho and because she works in a professional environment, she likes pieces that can go from work to casual.

We had a recent shopping trip which included two of our favorite stores, Anthropologie and Target.  We went home with some identical pieces, then pulled things out of our own closets to put our own styling stamp on them.  And for a little added twist, June knows that for the next few months she is going to be in the tundra that is Chicago, while May enjoys the spring-like temperatures of Charleston.  So, these outfit choices also show how you can transition the same piece from winter to spring.

Long-Sleeve Twist Front Top

When we were at Anthropologie we found this long sleeve twist front top that is super flattering.  It comes in multiple colors but we both chose the basic white.

May styled hers with a pair of red pants she had purchased last year from Loft and it looks like they still sell them.  She then added a black and white lightweight scarf and a pair of Ugg driving moccasins.

June styled hers with with a little pink cashmere poncho, grey jeans and some comfortable neutral sneakers.

Short Sleeve Sweatshirt

Also at Anthropologie we both found a short sleeve sweatshirt in in the sale room.  On the hanger it doesn’t look like much, but the fit is super cute with a slight a-line.

May styled hers with white jeans and sandals.

June styled hers with a long sleeve white tshirt underneath, blue jeans and black booties.

Knit T-Shirt Dress

We found a great discovery at Target of all places.  We came across this adorable knit t-shirt dress.  Because sizes at Target can run a little small on less expensive items, we both decided to try it on to check the size.  The fitting room was like a meat locker, so when we both came out of our adjoining fitting rooms to show the other, we were both still wearing our jeans  under the dress and burst out laughing. Great minds…

May has styled her dress with a neutral necklace and black ballet flats.

June has styled hers with a black t-shirt underneath so it can be worn now, leggings, black booties and a colorful long necklace.

Striped Short Sleeved T-Shirt

Finally, our last look is a short sleeved black and white striped t-shirt.

May styled hers with army green tailored pants, brown moccasins and a long multi-metal arrow style necklace.

June styled hers with a black open cardigan, jeans and sneakers.

It is a fun expression of style to take a piece and put your own spin on it.  Hope these give you some ideas on how to style some outfits for yourself.  Have a good weekend.  –May and June

Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak. — Rachel Zoe

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Woman in Cabin 10

January Book Picks

We always think it is a good season for reading, however, it seems like the colder months call for meatier more complex novels compared with the light beach reads we enjoy on lazy summer evenings.  So, here are some January book picks for you.  Two are from of our favorite authors, Ann Patchett and Alice Hoffman, and also a thriller set in the cold North Sea.  We hope you find something that you can get lost in reading on these cold January nights.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

From Amazon:

The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives.

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

May’s Review: I always enjoy Ann Patchett’s novels, and just recently finished Commonwealth. This is a story about the complexities of a blended family, told primarily from the point of you from one of the daughters, Franny.  The story begins with an affair, and continues to build as we follow the lives of all affected. As always, Ann Patchett does not disappoint.

June’s Review:  As I have said before I am a huge fan of Ann Patchett and I went to see her speak as part of her book tour for Commonwealth.  Commonwealth was just selected this week as a finalist for the National Book Award and deservedly so.  This is book that opens with one of those single moments that changes the course of your life and the moments that follow.  The story is primarily told from Franny and you feel a bit of pity for her but cheer for her to find her way.  This is not a book to rush through but one to savor the pace of the story being built, the characters being developed and the words and language on the page.

Faithful: A Novel by Alice Hoffman

From Amazon:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

May’s Review: Always a fan of Alice Hoffman, I found this to be a very moving novel about a young woman dealing with the guilt after surviving an accident, where her best friend is forever in a coma.  It is definitely a coming of age story for this young woman as we get pulled into her ups and downs as she seeks to find herself.

June’s Review:  When I read the synopsis for this book and having read all of Alice Hoffman’s previous books, I assumed that the story would be about the girl who lies in a coma and performs “miracles.”  However, ultimately it is about Shelby the one that survived the accident, at least from outward appearances, intact.  Alice Hoffman writes Shelby in a way that you feel her pain and her guilt from walking away from the accident.  You want her to feel that she is worthy of love.  And as you walk her path with her you revel in the small human and spiritual miracles that keep her going and ultimately coming out on the other side.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

 

From Amazon:

From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful and haunting novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

May’s Review: There was a lot of hype about this book, and honestly I was a little leery because often with suspense novels, I’m sadly disappointed at the end. I thought this was a solid read and it held my interest from start to finish. It was suspenseful without being scary and if you are into mysteries, you will enjoy this book.

June’s Review:  These suspense thrillers are not usually my favorite because I end up being disappointed by the end and want to throw the book through the window.  That being said this book held together pretty well at the end and it was not dangerous for anyone to be around me as I reached its conclusion.  I did figure out the twist before the conclusion but sometimes that is ok because it means the author is leading you down the right path rather that throwing you a curveball at the last minute.  This book got to me a bit because the idea of being confined on a small boat with no land in sight makes me feel a little clammy. If you are looking for a suspense to keep you reading, this one is recommended.

Have a good weekend.  Happy reading! –May and June

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. –George RR Martin

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Things We Are Loving In January

January is the month when we can all get stuck in the doldrums.  The weather is cold, cold, cold.  It is grey and slippery outside and there are no events to look forward to.  So, we thought this would be the perfect time to share some things we are loving this month.  Maybe you’ll find a new love too!

The Crown by Netflix

If you have not seen the series The Crown on Netflix yet, you absolutely must! It is worth the price of a Netflix subscription to watch it.  June is a huge English history buff and in fact she took several semesters of it in college so this was right up her alley.  And now she has gotten May hooked on the series.  The acting is so good.  Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill are amazing.  Not only is it respectfully about the personal lives of English royalty, but it also discusses the politics of the country and the strange division of power between their democratically elected government and the monarchy.  It is also fascinating to see what used to pass as scandalous has now become the the norm of society.  This is a great way to spend some of your indoor time.

Fresh Sugar Cream Lip Treatment

If you have trouble with dry chapped lips then check out this Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment.  June has used Fresh lip products before and they are moisturizing and smell nice too.  This product is a lot like a lip gloss, but also provides lip protection and moisture.  This blush color is so pretty and she may have to try out the pink as well.

Drybar ‘Buttercup’ Blow Dryer

This blow dryer is expensive.  However, if you have thick hair that seems to take forever to blow dry this thing is a life saver.  The time for drying is significantly cut and your hair ends up smooth and non-frizzy.  Also, it doesn’t burn your head like some of the cheaper blow dryers.  And while it is pricey, if you use it every day or even every other day, it is easier to justify the price.

Bobeau One Button Fleece Wrap Cardigan

This is a great fleece cardigan from Nordstrom with an asymmetrical hem and one button design that also looks great unbuttoned. The fabric is soft and cozy and it comes in lots of colors as well as petites. (This color is heather oatmeal) May finds this sweater perfect for cooler nights in Charleston, and right now it’s 30% off.

Girl’s Weekend

Charleston sunrise

 This is a great time to grab one of your besties, and do something fun. Next weekend, May and June are going to reunite in Charleston, South Carolina for a little girl’s weekend.  We are looking forward to warmer weather for June, fun shopping, beach walks, sightseeing plus good food and drinks.  And of course friend time cannot be beat!

Have a great weekend. ~May and June

We love the things we love for what they are. ~Robert Frost

 

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New Balance

The Sneaker Revolution

Have you noticed that athletic footwear has become insanely popular the past few years? They definitely aren’t just for working out anymore and with so many wonderful styles and colors, choosing the perfect pair can be a little challenging, especially if you love shoes as much as we do. We’ll take one of everything!! (Ha!) Women are wearing sneakers with leggings, skirts, dresses, capris- just about everything. And it is so much more stylish then the 1980s when only commuting women wore sneakers with nylons and their business suits.  We love this because it means we don’t have to walk around in uncomfortable shoes and suffer from sore feet just to look fashionable. Here are some cute styles we found.

Of course you can never go wrong with a classic like Converse. We remember the popularity of these shoes when we were kids, and here they are again. They look great with jeans, leggings, or even a fun skirt. As cute as these are, they don’t have a ton of arch support so be aware if you plan to do a lot of walking in them.

Black Nike’s are all the rage right now, in fact both of May’s girls wear theirs often. They are a great travel shoe with a comfy pair of leggings if you are going to be flying to destinations near or far.

Superga is a shoe brand that May heard about from a travel blog she follows called Travel Fashion Girl. These shoes were high on her list of recommended footwear for traveling, and May is seriously considering purchasing a pair in white for an upcoming trip to Italy. They come in several colors and you can get them on Amazon.

And if you want to go a little more athletic and colorful, June found these while browsing and they may have just jumped in her cart and on their way to her.  They have that classic retro look which was so popular when she was in junior high and her parents would only buy her cheap gym shoes from Sears.  So uncool.

Now, some of you may be wondering how you can pair your newly purchased kicks with a cute skirt or pair of jeans. We did a little internet search and found some great ideas!  You can find these ideas on Pinterest under June’s board “My Style.” , or May’s board “Sneaker Style”.

What’s great about all of these looks is that they are all pretty much made up of basics we all have in our closet.  A striped tshirt, a grey sweater, dress pants,or a scarf worn with a pair of athletic shoes gives you a cool vibe.  And even if you are not a 20-something you can still totally pull it off.

As a little side note, we are still mad about our booties, heels, and little ballerina flats, however it’s nice to know that there is a cute, comfy, and versatile sneaker out there when we want to be a little more casual, or don’t have a ton of room in our carry on.  Have a good weekend. –May and June

Fries Before Guys 

And

Sneakers Before Stilettos.

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Classic Christmas Books

Christmas is just a day away,  and if you’re looking for a fun last minute gift, how about a classic Christmas story?  There are so many wonderful books that bring back such feelings of nostalgia for Christmases gone by, and among our favorites are How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a perennial favorite for both the book and the television special.  As with all Dr. Seuss books, the rhymes make it a fun read aloud book.  The Grinch is so evil and conniving in the beginning.  Making his little dog wear that big antler and haul the sled, stealing all of the Who’s presents and food.  But whose eyes don’t get a little misty when the Grinch’s small heart grows three sizes the day he discovers the true meaning of Christmas? This was a favorite of ours as children, and May enjoyed reading this one to her boys during the holidays.

Polar Express  This is a sweet and magical story about a little boy who takes a journey to the North Pole on a train called The Polar Express. He, along with other children all in their pajamas, visit Santa and his elves as Santa prepares to deliver presents on Christmas Eve.  The book has wonderful illustrations and will appeal to readers both young and old. “Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

Little Women is a book that all little girls should read and this is a beautiful edition.  The book tells the story of the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, whose father is away serving as a chaplain in the Civil War.  The sisters have many sacrifices to make because of the war but find ways to entertain themselves through performing plays written by Jo, celebrating Christmas, doing charitable works and getting to know their neighbor Laurie.  The book is a true tearjerker.

This book holds a special place in our hearts.  In fact, June was named after the character Beth. May still keeps her original book she received as a young girl on her shelf.

We hope you have a joyous and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  We will see you in 2017! ~May and June

Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see. The Polar Express

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Peppermint Bark

A Sweet Holiday Gift – Peppermint Bark

Since this is the time of year for gift giving, we thought it would be fun to give the gift of a sweet holiday treat. Homemade peppermint bark! May does a lot of baking during the holidays and has always given tins of homemade cookies as gifts to family and friends. However, if you’re not a baker, or don’t have the time to bake, we have a great DIY that is fun, festive, doesn’t take a lot of time, and most importantly-it’s delicious!  You can make this with your kids or with a friend. May and June spent a few hours in May’s kitchen last week making these great little gifts.

INGREDIENTS -PEPPERMINT BARK

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a 9×12 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate (use the method you prefer, either double boiler, or microwave – cook 30 seconds in a heat-proof bowl, stir and repeat until you have a smooth consistency.
  3. Pour the melted dark chocolate on the parchment paper, spread the chocolate out until it is about 1/3″ thick. You can do this by hitting the pan on the countertop repeatedly, or maybe you could use a spatula to spread the chocolate.

4. Melt the white chocolate, using the steps above. After the chocolate is smooth, pour it on top of the dark chocolate – trying to make the layers the same thickness. (it’s best to do this step while the white chocolate is still very soft — I’ve had them separate when I broke them into pieces, I think the layers “stick” together better if the white chocolate has not hardened).

5. Unwrap the starlite mints, or peppermints of your choice and put them into a heavy duty ziplock bag. Using a hammer or meat tenderizer – crush the mints then, while the white chocolate is still melted sprinkle on top.

6. Let the chocolates harden in the refrigerator for 2 hours, then break the candy into pieces. This needs to be stored in the refrgerator if you live in a warm/humid climate.

Since the peppermint bark is so pretty and festive, we thought some simple clear packaging would look best. You can wrap the peppermint bark in cellophane and finish it off with a cute bow, or place it in a mason jar and decorate the lid. We also tied on some cute ornaments which can be hung on the gift recipient’s tree.

We hope you have a great weekend and if you’re in the Midwest, stay warm. ~ May and June

“Baking and love go hand in hand, for as one bakes a tasty treat and fills the room with its sweet aroma, the true joy is to take what has been made and share it with another.” 
― Heather Wolf

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Our Favorite Target Stocking Stuffers

Does Santa fill stockings at your house?  At our homes, stockings are always a fun little treat after opening presents under the Christmas tree.  And since all good things come in small packages, you never know what fun surprise you may find.

Recently, we took a trip to Target to search for great stocking stuffers. When you are the Christmas shopper in the family,  you know that by the time you get to the stocking stuffers, you are exhausted and just want to to be done with the whole Christmas shopping experience, instead of being creative.  So, hopefully some of these items we picked out will be helpful to you too.

img_4881Let’s face it, every stocking needs a little candy. We also found  a cute winter hat, flannel pajama pants, a festive Star Wars t-shirt, a small book and a classic movie. These are all fun little items perfect for a child.

img_4884If you are shopping for a girl or woman, cosmetics like nail polish or tinted lip balm are always a good option.  How about a sparkly wristlet, necklace or a new phone case?  Hand sanitizer of course is a practical choice, especially during our current cold and flu season.  We also loved these cute little printed socks (in fact both May and June bought those pink sheep socks for themselves).

img_4880The dollar section at Target has a great selection of stocking stuffers that won’t break your budget.

img_4887img_4889Small toys for kids such as Hot Wheel cars or Star Wars figures fill out a stocking nicely.

img_4888And for those of you who remember playing Oregon trail on your school’s lone computer with terrible graphics such as little “v’s” for bullets, you can now buy a card game version of Oregon Trail for the whole family to play.

We hope you are finished, or nearing the end of your Christmas list.  Have a good weekend. –May and June

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there. -Clement Clarke Moore

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