Author Archive | maymeetsjune


A Little Luxury on a Budget

Let’s face it, we all love nice things.  Maybe it’s that great designer handbag you’ve had your eye on, or the beautiful pair of shoes, or that perfect little black dress for a special occasion.  Unfortunately, we don’t always love the designer prices.  May and June heard about a resale shop called Clothes Mentor, and decided to check it out.



Clothes Mentor currently has 131 stores nationwide with several in the Chicago suburbs (and for our Buffalo, NY readers they have two stores, one in Amherst and one in West Seneca), with more opening soon.  They are individually franchised so your local store may differ but they all buy and sell “gently used” high quality designer clothing, jewelry, shoes, belts, and other accessories.  Women’s sizes run from 0-26 and include petites and maternity fashions.  There is also a rewards program that earns you points when you shop, resulting in a 20% off certificate.  We visited the store in Arlington Heights, Illinois which is celebrating one year in business this week. It was bustling with shoppers and women dropping off items to be sold.  Here is a peek at some of the items in the store.


A Coach tote for $130.00


A statement necklace for $8.00


Tory Burch flats and Hunter Boots for well below retail price

Unfortunately these great shoes weren’t our size, but of course we did find a few other treats for ourselves.


A few fun cocktail rings for $4.00 a piece


A small Kate Spade purse for $16.25, a Coach wristlet for $25.00 and a cute leopard sequined clutch for $8.00

So ladies, if you want to get paid for cleaning out your closet, or you just want to treat yourself for fun, you may want to check out Clothes Mentor or another resale store near you.

~May and June

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Weekend Away

It seems like everyone is on vacation right now.  My Facebook feed is full of pictures of people at lakes, in the mountains and man made attractions.  Because of work obligations and several out-of-town family weddings this fall, we are unable to take a week long vacation this year.  However, a few weeks ago we were able to get away for a weekend and it was amazing how refreshing just a short trip could be.

We went to Wisconsin Dells which is about a three hour trip from our home.  Wisconsin Dells is known as the “Water Capital of the World” as every other television commercial tells you.  Wisconsin Dells is also known for tons of tourist traps, go-karts, and the infamous “Ducks.”  Because we were traveling without children we managed to avoid all of these attractions, and had a nice adult weekend.

This area holds a special place in my heart because for several years my family had a vacation home on Lake Redstone which is about 20 minutes northwest of the Dells.  It was my dad’s favorite place in the world (and it’s always nice to be somewhere that brings back such happy memories, although it makes me miss him terribly) and we still have family that lives on the lake.

We traveled with my mom, her husband and my brother and stayed outside of the main Wisconsin Dells drag at Christmas Mountain.  We  had a lovely three bedroom townhouse which let us visit, but gave us all our own space.  So fortunately there was no couch sleeping for us which is important for a relaxing weekend.

We started our Friday night with pizza at Sarento’s.  We have been there several times and find one of the best places to sit is in the bar area to enjoy the live music.  The man that typically performs I think is “famous” for the area as he seemed to have quite a few groupies.  It is a fun change of pace to enjoy some live music with your dinner.

The next day the boys went golfing and my mom and I went to Baraboo for lunch and some vintage shopping.  I love Baraboo.  It is a small artistic town about 45 minutes from Madison.  It was home to the Ringling Brothers Circus in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Currently it is home to the Circus World Museum.  I love the vibe in the town.  It is built on a courtyard square.  I can’t imagine practicing law in that courthouse rather than the skyscraper one I frequently visit.



My mom and I had a delicious lunch at Vintage Port Catering.  This place used to be called the Java Cafe but it is the same owner and the same yummy sandwiches and it has a fun San Francisco vibe.


My yummy sandwich


And my mom graciously posing with her sandwich.  Thanks Mom!

We then did a little shopping in some stores on the square.  Cornerstone Gallery carries art and jewelry from different artists some of which are local.  Also, if you are looking for a great art fair, Baraboo hosts Art on the Square in August.  Also, they are the sponsors of the Fall Art Tour in October which is a self-guided tour of various local artists’ studios.  I have not done this yet but it is on my list to do one fall.  We picked up some funky earrings here (although I forgot to take a picture).

We also did a little antique and vintage shopping.


These did not come home with me.  I thought they were rather creepy.

This did come home with me.  It is new but looks vintage.  I found this at Raven House. Raven House has artisan, antiques and vintage home goods.  This is a huge palm reading sign that I thought was very unique.


And my fairies got a new family member and a gnome.

And after all that walking we needed some iced coffee at the Coffee Bean Connection.  We then met up with the boys at my aunt and uncle’s home on Lake Redstone.


The view of the lake.


Relaxing while waiting for a boat ride.


Dega enjoying the boat.

We followed up our boat ride with a delicious steak dinner and grilled vegetables prepared by my wonderful aunt and uncle.

We went home on Sunday feeling refreshed and renewed.  Of course I would’ve loved to run off for a whole week (preferably the Four Seasons) but a little trip close was the temporary solution.  A good thing to remember that it only takes a little break from the every day to renew the soul.  I hope you all find a little time to take a trip this summer and enjoy the summer.  -June

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Fruit Infused Water

We always hear about the importance of drinking enough water, particularly during the hot summer months.  Water flushes toxins from our bodies, boosts our metabolism, keeps the body moving while we sweat, helps prevent kidney stones and constipation, supports healthy skin tone, etc…..Basically water is essential for our health and well being.

For me, drinking plain old water is well, boring.  I know I don’t drink as much as I should and I’m not a big fan of the flavored waters you can purchase, so I started infusing my own water with seasonal fruits and some fresh herbs from my garden.  It’s so easy and for the most part, you can use any combination of fruits that you love.  The water is full of natural flavor and has no chemicals or calories. You can make the water by the glass or you can purchase a fruit infusion pitcher and keep it in the fridge.  Simply add your choice of fruits and/or herbs to your favorite glass, ice and water.  That’s it.  The longer you let the fruit water sit, the more it infuses.

Here are some of my favorites:

-Lemon with fresh mint

-Blueberry and strawberry

-Lemon and cucumber

-Strawberry, basil and cucumber

-Lemon and raspberry

-Lemon and lime

-Orange, mint, and rosemary



I love trying different combinations of fruits and herbs.  I also like infusing fruit in coconut water.  It adds a little extra flavor,  plus coconut water contains potassium and a little sodium which the body needs if you are sweating.

So if you’re tired of plain old water, give this a try.

Enjoy your Monday.


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Summer Quinoa Salad

The dog days of summer have arrived, and the last place we want to be is in the kitchen.  May and June have come up with a great quinoa salad recipe that’s perfect on a hot day, it’s super easy and can be made ahead of time.

1 cup quinoa

1 cup cherry tomatoes (quartered)

1 cup chopped green beans (fresh)

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup sliced green onions

4 large leaves fresh basil, sliced thin

1 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Fresh mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese to top (optional)

Combine quinoa and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and continue cooking until all the water is absorbed.  In a medium bowl, combine cooked quinoa, tomatoes, green beans, green onion and walnuts until well mixed.  In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil and garlic until well blended. Pour over quinoa mixture, add chopped basil and toss until well blended.  Season with salt and pepper.  It’s best if refrigerated at least 30 minutes before serving.

* If you want a non-vegetarian meal, simply grill some chicken breasts, then cube or shred into salad



The beauty about this salad is it’s versatility.  You can make it with just about anything you have in your fridge.  During the colder months, we like to use dried cranberries, walnuts, and roasted and cubed butternut squash.  Let us know if you come up with an extra yummy variation.

Enjoy the last day of July and have a great weekend.

May and June


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Easy Artwork

This is such an easy project to create simple artwork that I am almost embarrassed to post it.  However, I am sure that I saw this idea somewhere else so I thought I would share.

I needed some artwork for my guest room and frankly did not want to spend any money on it.  The room does not get used that often.  Also, I tend to buy art and other decorative items for the home organically.  I cannot go out with the mission of finding artwork for a specific space.  If I see something I may buy it and then figure out where to put it.  So knowing those factors, I decided to make my own artwork for the guest room.  I was at Paper Source  (this is a Chicago-based company with retail locations many places now and online as well) and I found this lovely single sheet wrapping paper.


I love hydrangeas.  They were on my wedding invitations, in my bouquet and centerpieces and we have several of them in our backyard so this was an easy choice.  I bought two sheets of the paper for $3.50 a piece.  I then picked up some inexpensive frames (these are the Ribba from IKEA and the opening is 11×14).


Then I got out my scissors and cut the paper to fit in the frame.  The paper should be cut a little wider than the mat opening so that you don’t have any gaps.  And voila some inexpensive artwork created in around 15 minutes or less.


I often get compliments on my artwork and when I tell people it is simply wrapping paper they do not believe me.  I think the trick is to use a heavier paper with a beautiful design.  Have fun picking out some new artwork for your home.  -June


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The Many Wonders of Coconut Oil

Once demonized as an unhealthy saturated fat, coconut oil is now becoming one of our country’s newest superfood.  It’s unique blend of fatty acids is showing promise with such health benefits as lowering cholesterol, promoting weight loss, and possibly aiding in the prevention of Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia.  (  In addition to its health benefits, coconut oil also has many wonderful uses.

I personally have used coconut oil for several years.  For me, it was easy.  I LOVE coconut.  I love it flaked, in cookies, and in candy bars (hello Mounds).  I regularly drink coconut water, and in the summer I love coconut sorbet when I can find it.  (I know June is making a face while reading this as she’s not a fan)  In addition to the wonderful health benefits to my heart and brain, I’ve discovered many other uses for coconut oil that I’d love to share with you.

1. One tablespoon of coconut oil emulsified in coffee.  Make sure you have an immersion blender to mix it well, otherwise the oil will just sit on top of the coffee and it’s not very good.

2. I’ve started to move away from applying chemicals to my skin, and now solely use coconut oil after my shower.  You don’t need much and it absorbs quickly, especially if your skin is a little dry.

3. I’ve discovered if your hair has some flyaways, particularly in the winter, just a dab of coconut oil rubbed between your palms then on your ends does a great job of keeping them tame.

4. In the winter my feet get really dry.  Before bed I rub a little coconut oil on my feet and put on socks.

5. After I’ve been out in the sun, I spread a little coconut oil on my arms and legs.  I don’t sunburn often, but it does give relief to a sunburn.

6. The natural properties of coconut oil also make it a good facial moisturizer.  I only do this in the winter, when my skin is particularly dry.

7.  Coconut oil makes a great makeup remover.

8. Massage oil for tired muscles.

9. My family makes popcorn the old fashion way, on the stove.  We switched to coconut oil and our popcorn turns out perfect every time.  Just put 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot and allow it to melt.  Sprinkle in 1/3 -1/2 cup of popcorn and cover.  Periodically shake the pot so the kernels don’t burn. When it’s done popping, add whatever toppings you like and you’re ready to start your movie.  The coconut oil adds a nice light flavor, similar to movie popcorn.






10.  Coconut oil is a great replacement for vegetable oils if you are doing a sauté, and we use it in the pan for eggs.

11.  A little coconut oil is yummy on toast.

12.  A teaspoon of coconut oil thickens smoothies.

13.  Coconut oil whitens teeth and is great for gums. (oil pulling)

14.  Great lip moisturizer.

15. A tablespoon in a cup of tea can help soothe a sore throat.

16. A teaspoon mixed in your dog’s food promotes healthy skin and a shiny coat.IMG_2609 (2)

The list goes on and on.  I’ve generally used Trader Joe’s coconut oil because it’s available and a good price.  Now you can buy it just about anywhere.  You want to look for a brand that’s organic, unrefined, and virgin.  For more great uses and information on the benefits of coconut oil, check out this link.

What are some of the ways you use coconut oil?


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Girls Road Trip 2015…..It’s in the Journey

Recently, May and June took a weekend road trip to the University of Iowa, in Iowa City.  Our reason for the getaway was to attend the annual Iowa Summer Writing Festival, which offers a large menu of enriching classes to all writers, no experience necessary.  We were there to learn about the art of blogging.  This was June’s third trip to the festival and May’s first.

We hear that so much about life is in the journey and travel is no exception, especially road trips. Many travelers are so focused on reaching their destination they miss out on some of the interesting scenery and towns along the way.  May and June decided to make the most of this trip by scoping out some possibilities ahead of time.  For us, it was the quaint towns and quirky little vintage shops.  We found a cute town along the way called Le Claire, Iowa, a historic town nestled right along the Mississippi River.

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As we pulled into the parking lot, we immediately discovered it was home to Buffalo Bill.  Who knew?


It was a beautiful day and we had lunch outside overlooking the river, and explored many of the lovely shops including a famous one that some of you vintage buffs may recognize.  Antique Archeology, home to the American Pickers television show.  As you can see from the following photos, we had a lot of fun exploring this little gem of a town and ended up staying much longer than we had originally planned.



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We wish we could’ve taken this home and made it our official May Meets June vehicle

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A cute gift shop in a historic home, Grasshopper’s.

We also had a great time in Iowa City.  In addition to the informative workshop, we enjoyed everything the city had to offer including some great food and fun shopping.  The sudden downpour one evening was not about to stop us from enjoying ourselves.

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Yummy Sushi at Takanami


Dinner at a charming retro diner called the Bluebird Diner.  May had the best ratatouille ever!

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Spotting Herky the Hawk

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And while vintage shopping at a store called Decorum, we spotted May’s dog, Sawyer’s doppelganger made out of paper.

Everything in life is a journey.  Taking a walk, commuting to work, meeting friends, etc… Being mindful and enjoying what each path has to offer, no matter where it takes us is part of the fun of getting to wherever it is we’re going.  When we were planning this blog we knew we wanted to explore being more fully present in the everyday.  This “business trip” gave us the opportunity to achieve our goal of completing our class but also allowed us to set the tone for what we want this journey to be.

Have a great weekend!!  Hopefully have some adventures, both planned and unplanned.  -May and June

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Virtual Retail Therapy

I think we all have things that we like to do just because they make us feel good.  I like to go shopping.  It is not the acquisition of “stuff” that makes me happy (although sometimes it is that) but it is the actual act of shopping.  Usually shopping for me is a social activity.  I shop a lot with my mom and we usually make it a fun thing.  We treat ourselves to lunch or coffee (or if we go for a long time both), we talk and catch up and sometimes try on interesting clothes just to be silly.

I also love to go shopping because I get a lot of joy at looking at pretty things.  It ends up being a whole sensory experience.  I love stores that not only sell items that appeal to me but also do beautiful displays and merchandising.  Anthropologie is just a few blocks from my office, and sometimes if I need a break I will walk over there at lunch just to walk through and enjoy some eye candy that is a lot prettier than the piles of papers on my desk (plus it smells wonderful in there too).

I tend to gravitate towards stores like Nordstrom and Anthropologie primarily for this reason.  Because while I love to score a bargain like anyone, I have trouble shopping at discount stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Those stores to me tend to be a jumble of clothing and other items that make no sense to me.  Homegoods is the one exception here but that may be because I feel like they try to do some merchandising of their items (and their items are bigger and sometimes a little weird).  Apparently, I am every marketing person’s dream.

Sometimes, though, I do not have the time or energy to actually go browse at one of my favorite stores.  You know I have to get dressed, drive there and then find parking so it seems like too much trouble.  But I am craving that little thrill I get from looking at things that fill my senses.  So I do what I call online window shopping.

I have found that virtual shopping is even more satisfying though if you actually click and put items in your cart.  When you go to the store you can touch the items (and smell them if its Anthropologie) but when you are just looking at a website you do not get that same tactile experience.  So what I do is if I find something that I like I put it in my cart.  Later, I can easily go back and look at things if its in my cart.  And if I am looking for something specific and trying out my options it makes it simpler to compare them if they are sitting in my various carts.  Also if I check my cart often (and depending on how long the website will keep things in your cart) I can see if the item goes on sale.  It also prevents impulse purchases because things can sit there and I can think about if I really want them.  By being in my cart it feels like I sort of already have it even if it never is delivered to my doorstep.

Apparently, I am not the only one that does this because I get frequent emails from the websites reminding me “Your Shopping Bag: Get These Items Before They’re Gone!” to remind me that the store really thinks I should give them my credit card number to purchase. I think a lot of people do this probably for reason similar to mine.

So today I did a little virtual retail therapy.  It always makes me laugh a little when I’m finished “shopping” because there will be a ridiculous number of items in my shopping cart at a price that is astronomical.  But today I needed to do a bit because I am thinking about a DIY project (which if I do it will probably appear in a future post) and I can’t figure out what exactly I want it to look like.  I am in love with this bedding but I don’t need new bedding.  And I was feeling a bit blue because I have a broken toe and I’m hobbling around. So my cart ended up looking a little bit like this.



Am I the only crazy person who does  this? -June


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Flamingo Love

Family traditions.  There are all kinds.  They are those wonderful rituals that we pass down through generations that give our families a sense of connectedness.  A special bond that only family members can share, and the memories of those traditions last a lifetime.  I personally love the fun, silly traditions that always make us smile when we reminisce. For my family, it’s the plastic garden flamingo.

Before I share my story, I thought it would be fun to give you all a little history about the garden flamingo.  You know, the plastic (shall we say slightly tacky) lawn ornament that many Americans  love to put in their yards.  The garden flamingo was first designed by Don Featherstone in 1957.  The name Flamingo comes from the Latin word flame.  Flamingos are one of the most famous lawn ornaments next to the garden gnome, and there are more plastic flamingos in the United States than real ones.  The flamingo has become an icon of pop culture and can often be seen in restaurants, bars, and casinos from coast to coast.

My personal relationship with the garden flamingo began in the 1970’s after my grandparents moved from their suburban Park Ridge, Illinois home, to the seaside community of New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  On my family’s first visit, we all walked out into the yard and there they were, two strategically placed bright pink flamingos, basking in the sunshine next to the pool.  We couldn’t believe it, my grandparents had crossed over.  Back then, little did we know those original birds would become permanent fixtures in the newly landscaped backyard.  They would survive many storms, gale force winds, a hurricane, and of course the blistering Florida sun.  For years, every May my mom and I would travel down for a visit, always joking about whether or not our “friends” would still be residing poolside…..They were.  As time passed, my grandparents beloved flamingos began to show their age.  Their vibrant pink color fading and cracking, until they were almost white.  Their long skinny legs rusting in the harsh elements.  Unfortunately, the hands of time did not stop there.  Each year, my grandparents became more elderly and frail as well.  I lost both my grandparents in 2004, both dying within six months of each other.  So much is always lost when a loved one dies.   Our girls trip to Florida every year was such a wonderful time in our lives, and now there was no one there to visit.  As funny as it sounds, those silly flamingos were a large part of the laughter we shared there and we weren’t quite ready to let them go.  So…..we decided to keep the spirit of my grandparents and their flamingos alive by giving the gift that keeps on giving. It all began with a flamingo ornament at Christmas. (We both now have enough flamingo ornaments to decorate an entire Christmas tree!) We then tried to out do each other every year, buying something a little more outrageous.  Together, we have Flamingo Christmas decorations, cards,  nut crackers, tea towels, water colors, serving platters, coffee cups…etc.  You name it, we’ve found it. Here is just a sampling.




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You get the idea. However, last winter I found the mother of all Flamingos.  June and I were browsing a local vintage shop, The Lucky Junk Shop, when there before my eyes stood two vintage lawn flamingos.  They were very sturdy, made from cement and although they have definitely seen better days, they were beautiful.  The owner of the store found them in an old barn and unfortunately didn’t know their history.  It didn’t matter though, they were mine and thirty minutes later, they were in the back of my car making the journey to their new home.  I couldn’t wait to show my mom the new find.  Now, they reside in my back yard near my pool.  They are appropriately named Bob and Virginia after my grandparents, and the flamingo tradition continues.

What is your favorite silly family tradition?



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Dress Shop of Dreams

May and June’s Monthly Book List

Because we both love to read we thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite and not-so-favorite reads each month.  This month’s picks include Rainwater by Sandra Brown, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Dress Shop of Dreams: A Novel by Menna Van Praag.



via Amazon

Acclaimed bestselling author Sandra Brown celebrates the spirit and determination that kept our country proud even through the Great Depression, in this moving tale of a bygone generation and a strong young widow who must rise above her circumstances.

Ella Barron is determined that even the ravages of the Dust Bowl will not affect the well-ordered life she has built for herself and her special child, Solly, who lives in a world of his own that even she can’t enter. Aware that he evokes pity and distrust, Ella holds herself aloof from her small community, but her new boarder, David Rainwater, comes into her life— and changes it forever. As economic desperation creates bitter social unrest in the town and surrounding farms, Ella finds herself relying on Mr. Rainwater’s soft-spoken advice and the steely resolve of his convictions. But tensions escalate in the summer heat, until one violent night everything they believe in will be put to the ultimate test.

Sandra Brown’s Rainwater is a poignant, lyrical novel that will speak straight to your heart, a story that bears witness to a powerful truth: love is worth whatever price one must pay for it.

May’s Review – I thought it was a decent read.  I learned a lot about the hardships of the Great Depression, particularly the Dust Bowl and enjoyed the love story between the two main characters.  A very quick read.

June’s Review – I did not like this book and while short had trouble finishing it.  I had trouble relating to the characters.  Also, there was somewhat disturbing scenes involving dead cattle that I did not like at all.

Nightingale Front

via Amazon

In love we find out who we want to be.

In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can … completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

May’s Review – Loved, loved, loved this book. Two French sisters fighting Nazis during World War II and their love for each other which has them do things that are otherwise unthinkable.  I couldn’t put it down.  Have tissues nearby.

June’s Review – This was one of my favorite reads in a long time.  A novel about women in the French Resistance with one sister seeking out the opportunity to save her homeland and the other becoming a fighter due to her circumstances.  This was the best kind of good cry story.  Do not read the last third in a public place unless you want everyone to see you as a blubbering fool.

Dress Shop of Dreams

Via Amazon

For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

May’s Review – A fun story about magical dresses that includes a mystery.   A great summer read and a refreshing story in comparison to my typical historical fiction novels.  I would love to find a dress shop of dreams to explore.

June’s Review – I love books where the story has some magic in it. Etta’s shop is quirky and fun but she has a higher purpose of allowing women to achieve that thing they most desire or need.  This novel shows that true love in its all its forms prevails.  I really, really enjoyed this book and it would be amazing to find one of those magical dresses.

Happy Reading!!! Let us know if you have read any of these books and what you thought.  -May and June

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Tiny Houses and Creative Spaces

I recently came across a show called Tiny House Hunters on HGTV and I have become obsessed with Tiny Houses.  I don’t actually want to live in a Tiny House.  I can’t imagine paring down all of my worldly possessions to live in a space less than 500 square feet (my husband said my shoes would need their own Tiny House).   And living in that small of a space with another person and a large dog would probably make me claustrophobic, but what I really want is a Tiny House in my backyard to use as my own dedicated writing studio, office and creative space.

Tiny House

(Photo from

I have discovered that I need a space that inspires me to think and read and create.  It rejuvenates and relaxes me.  We do not have a big enough house for me to have a room that is dedicated only to me.  Our space at home is multi-use which I generally have decorated with art and items that I love, but I have still tried to carve out some spaces in some of those rooms that are just for me.

We have a screened-in back porch that in the summer I use as my creative space although it also doubles as entertaining space.   I have decorated it entirely with items that inspire me.  It has twinkle lights and paper lanterns strung from the rafters that provide lighting in the evening.  The color scheme of pinks, reds and turquoise give me joy when I sit there.  And most importantly it offers a fresh breeze and the green garden landscape as its background.  I spend most of my free time in the summer sitting there reading, writing and just breathing.  I also love to share that space with my family and friends.  I have found that because it is a space that inspires me, those  people that I  love gravitate to it as well for drinks and good company.



I have more trouble with my creative space once the temperature dips below comfortable “porch-sitting weather.”  Last year for my birthday, my husband bought me a vintage desk that had been repainted pink and finished with knobs that have little green crowns on them.  I call it my “Queen Desk.”  It’s not quite the Resolute Desk, but this was one of the best gifts he could have given me because he knew I was looking for a creative space in the house.  I put the desk in a corner of our guest room.  I thought it would give me that same inspired feeling as our screened-in porch.  The room has plenty of light and is painted a soft light lavender color.  However, despite some effort it is just not a spot I want to sit and be for long periods of time.  It just does not inspire me.  My chair is uncomfortable and often our guest room acts as an overflow closet with items that have not yet found a permanent home in our house.  And even when the mess is cleaned up it still feels like I am just sitting in a bedroom.

So my project between now and the end of porch season is to improve my indoor creative space.  Especially when the winter comes and I am cooped up inside, it is so important to have that spot where you can feel your best and work on some inspiring projects.   I’ll also keep dreaming and designing my Tiny House for the backyard someday.

Do you have some place that you have created just for you that inspires you?  Any tips for creating that space?



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Breathing Space

I love yoga, and was hooked after my very first class.  When I began the yoga journey I was a runner and loved the calming effect it had on  the mind chatter in my head, the postures stretching and soothing my tight muscles. As a student, I know when I cross the threshold into the sacred space of the studio, I can leave my stress and worries outside the door, giving my mind, body, and spirit a much needed break from everyday life. As an instructor, I always look forward to my very first class with fresh yogis new to the practice. I love watching them as they walk into my room with brand new rolled up mats, ready to have their bodies twisted and shaped into postures they’ve seen many times in magazines. I also love to see the confused looks on their faces when they realize the majority of their first class will be spent stretched out on their mats, learning the art of breathing and finding the peace that comes with stillness.


Learning to quiet the mind for even a few moments can be one of the most challenging aspects of a yoga practice. We humans love to obsess about the past, or worry about the future and often miss out on the simple act of being.  Let’s face it, most of us take breathing for granted because it’s automatic and we are usually unaware of it, unless of course it’s somehow compromised.  But did you know that how you breathe can actually effect how you feel?  Did you know that the more stressed you are, the shorter your breath becomes which can actually make you more anxious?  The word yoga means union.  In this beautiful practice we unite the body, breath, and mind and they all work together. Breathing correctly is vital to a yoga practice, which is why I teach it first.  It fuels our muscles with energy.  Our breath also lives in the present moment.  Taking a few minutes everyday to connect with the breath, whether you’re practicing yoga or sitting at your desk, calms the central nervous system. It allows the mind and body to experience the bliss of what is here and now.  We’re able to release the past which is gone, and stop the what if’s of what may or may not happen in the future, giving us the opportunity to enjoy the present moment.

To learn more about the basics of diaphragmatic breathing, check out the link below.



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One Dress Two Weddings

When we receive a wedding invitation we are grateful of course that the couple wants to include us in their special day.  But then the next thought is “What am I going to wear?”  The practical side says that you should wear something in your closet.  However, the other side of you looks at it as a good excuse to buy something new.

This year May and June have a total of seven weddings to attend between the two of them.  June has five weddings.  Because most of them are family weddings it means that she will be seeing the same people at almost all of the events.  A new dress for each wedding is not in the budget but who wants people to start thinking “Oh look there she is in the same dress again.”

So we thought it would be fun to try and use the same dress and create different looks.  We took a shopping trip to Nordstrom and purchased a few new accessories.  We picked accessories that could be used also with work or casual wear.  For other pieces we pulled items out of our combined closets.

We started with a simple black maxi dress.

This one is new from Anthropologie although I did have one in my closet that could have been used (except I wore it to several weddings last year).  Everyone has a black dress in their closet and it is a nice starting point because the dress in and of itself is not overly memorable.

Then we decided to create two looks, one for a dressy (but not formal) wedding and the second for a more casual backyard wedding.

For the dressy wedding we added a gold statement long necklace, a gold bangle and gold hoop earrings along with a silky lightweight printed shawl for a pop of color.  We also added a dressy black sandal with a bit of embellishment (similar).  Finally, we finished off the look with a vintage black and gold clutch from May’s collection.


The second is for a more casual wedding such as a farm wedding or backyard event.

We started with the same dress.  Then we added a black wedge sandal with a cork heel.  We then added a long turquoise bead necklace with a druzy at the end and used the same gold hoop earrings.  We then added a black and white striped cloth clutch with a wood frame and topped it off with an airy open cardigan that pulls in the turquoise and black colors of the other pieces.


And Voila!  Two different wedding looks using the same basic black dress.



Happy Wedding Season!  -May and June

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20 Fun Facts About June

1. I read probably at least one novel a week.

2.  I am able to juggle.  I learned in junior high P.E. class (probably the only thing I was good at in P.E. class).

3.  I commute to work on a train.

4. I have two brothers.  I am the oldest.


5.  I am terrible at math.  A clue should have been that I had a tutor in second grade for subtraction flashcards.  I did not like taking something away from another number.  And algebra was a nightmare mixing letters and numbers together.  The last math class I took was my junior year of high school when I squeaked through precalculus.   My college counselor told me I would “go nowhere unless I took calculus.”  I refused and my dad stood up for me.  In college my major did not require a math class so I did not take a class.

6.  I met my husband in a small faith group when we both lived in Chicago.  I did it for the social aspects.  I thought it would be a nice place to meet people.  I guess I was right.

7.  Me, my dad and my brothers all have degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

8.  I went to law school at University of Notre Dame.  This makes me a “Domer” and a fan of the Fighting Irish.

9.  I played the clarinet in the band starting in fifth grade and through high school.

10.  In third grade I won a Young Author’s Award for a story I wrote about my dog Widget.  It was then that I decided I wanted to be an author.  Obviously by my illustration I am a better writer then an artist.  I got a little off track but I am working on it again.



11.  I like many kinds of music but I really like country music.  I usually listen to the country music radio station in the car.

12.  I have a golden retriever named Gatsby.  He is named after the book “The Great Gatsby“.  We named him Atticus after Atticus Finch the character in “To Kill A Mockingbird” for about two days.  His little sweet face did not exude the tough guy image of an Atticus so we changed his name.  See….

Gatsby Puppy

Who me?

13.  I’ve always lived in the Midwest.

14.  I could eat cheese and crackers for dinner many nights.  I do not but I do save it for special occasions.

15.  I have worked in a library and also two bookstores.

16.  I am an introvert.

17.  The first time I tried yoga I hated it.  I have grown to love it and usually take two classes a week.  I am terribly inflexible (still) but I find it improves my mental health as much as my physical health.

18.  I prefer to wear cardigan sweaters over pullovers.  Pullovers make me feel like I’m choking.  I always misbutton my cardigans and have always had that problem from the time I learned to button.

19.  I love shoes, jackets and bags.  I have too many of all of them but that does not stop me from wanting others.

20.  I only write with blue ink pens. I hate black ink.

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20 Fun Facts about May (Pam)

1.  I’m a Chicago native.

2. I have one brother who is three years younger than me.


3. I’m left handed.

4. I started ballet at age 5 and danced into college.

5. I took piano lessons as a child and wish I had stuck with it.

6. As a pre-teen I was a hospital volunteer.  I think back in the day we  were called candy stripers.

7. In high school I traveled to Paris, France with the French Club.

8. I know how to drive a stick shift car thanks to my dad and his Honda Accord

9. I’m a neat freak.  My family compares me to Monica from Friends.

10. I have a Labradoodle named Sawyer. We adopted him just before his fifth birthday, and can’t imagine life without him even though he always messes up all the pillows on the couch…but I’ll save that for a future post. 🙂


11. I have two sons and two step-daughters and love our family.

12. My love of home design started with my mom and a doll house.

13. I’ve been a yoga teacher for 16 years.

14. I LOVE dark chocolate and eat it everyday.

15. I’m terrible with electronics/technology, ask anyone.

16. I’m a classic introvert.

17. I’m a huge fan of Downton Abbey and Walking Dead.

18. I still struggle with a dedicated meditation practice even though I preach it to my students often.

19. My husband is 5 years younger than me (six if you ask him).

20. I visit the library once a week, and always have my nose in a book.

Happy Monday. — May







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Happy Hour Friday

Welcome!!!  We are so happy you stopped by to read.  We thought what better way to kick off this blog then with a Happy Hour Party!  Hope you enjoy it.  What is your favorite Happy Hour drink?  We’d love to hear from you.

Summer is here and today we have a great cocktail and appetizer to celebrate the start of the long holiday weekend. What could be better than a classic margarita on a hot summer day? My husband, Bob and I fell in love with margaritas several years ago on a Mexican vacation. Since then, he loves experimenting with different ingredients and has come up with a margarita that brings us back to sipping them on the warm, sunny Mexican beach. It’s all about using high quality, fresh ingredients. We think this is one you’ll enjoy.



2 oz. fresh lime juice (Mexican and key limes are slightly sweeter)
.5 oz. agave nectar
.5 oz. orange juice
1.5 oz. Patron Blanco Tequila
.5 oz Patron Citronge orange liqueur
salt (optional)

If using salt, place kosher salt in a shallow dish or saucer. Rub a lime wedge around a glass, then dip into salt. Fill a shaker 3/4 full with ice. Place ingredients in shaker and shake vigorously until shaker is frosty on the outside. Strain into glasses and add a lime wedge.

If you want a frozen margarita, place ingredients into a blender, adding 1 cup of ice per serving. Blend then pour into glasses, adding 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier to float, then enjoy.

It’s like a fiesta in a glass!!


Let’s face it, there’s no better appetizer for a margarita then chips and salsa. Here’s a homemade salsa recipe that’s easier than you think.



1 (14 1/2 ounce) can tomatoes and green chilies (Rotel)
1 (14/12 ounce) can whole tomatoes (plus the juice)
4 teaspoons jalapeños (canned, diced, not pickled)
1/4 cup yellow onion (diced)
1/2-3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sugar

In a food processor place jalapeños and onions, processing for just a few seconds. Add both cans of tomatoes, salt, sugar and cumin. (You can add a little cayenne or tabasco for a spicier salsa). Process all ingredients until well blended but do not puree. Place in covered container and chill. A few hours of chilling will help blend and enhance the flavor. We like to serve with a mix of traditional tortilla chips as well as kale and chia chips. The chips are great served warm too.  Just place on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.


Have a fun and safe 4th of July!   —May and June

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