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A Rug that Will Tie the Room Together

rugs

I love my new apartment.

In December, when my old place flooded, I was really frustrated and upset. Then, the opportunity to move into the completely renovated place next door (with more cabinets, counters, and new wood floors!) came up, and I was like yesssss.

Okay, the night before I was scheduled to move, I freaked out and called my sister contemplating pulling out of the deal (I hadn’t signed a new lease). The prospect of committing to another year in Santa Barbara, as opposed to just six months, plus the reality of not having the cats move when Mister BS came out west, was freaking me out.

Even though I hadn’t accumulated all that much stuff since moving in (remember, I came to California with two suitcases and that’s about it), the prospect of moving it all next door completely on my own was daunting. But she calmed me down and I decided in the end, the slightly higher rent and hassle of switching over my utilities was worth it.

I am so glad I didn’t let my anxiety talk me out of it. I love my new place, and I can see Mister BS and me being happy hear for as long as we live in Santa Barbara (which, more and more, I hope is for a long time).

Now that I have wood floors, a new rug has shot to the top of my apartment wishlist. Continue Reading…

Style

What makes a ‘real’ writer?

I have this old, vintage typewriter at home. It’s not my father’s—my sister has that one—and I can’t exactly remember how it came to be in my possession. It might have been something that Mister BS rescued from a garage sale for me. It’s turquoise. It doesn’t work. I love it.

I have to decide whether or not find a place for it in my Santa Barbara apartment.

The jury is still out.

One thing I know I’m not parting with: my Kate Spade typewriter bag.

It was an ill-advised, early morning purchase on my iPhone after a notice of a Kate Spade sale popped up in my inbox. I’d seen the style in person before—a number of YA authors own one, and I’d seen it at a conference. I’d lusted after it, but thought it was discontinued. The surprise sale notice rocked my world. I had to have it.

And now it is mine. I own a lot of purses, most of them ill-advised purchases. But purses are garments that hold their value and always fit. They’ve been my favorite for a while. I may wear cheap Old Navy jeans, but I carry high quality bags. Continue Reading…

Home

Plants You Can’t Kill

Guys, I love plants. But I have realized I’m not nearly as good at tending them as Mister BS.

succulents

One of about 57,368 reasons why I can’t wait for him to move out to Santa Barbara.

I’ve killed some plants since moving here. My fiddle leaf fig tree, and my mother of pearls succulents. Others aren’t thriving—at least not like the jungle back in Lawrence that has taken over our entire house.

Mister BS gives me a FaceTime tour of our Lawrence house every now and then, and even with the cats, his succulents are doing amazing! I am seriously jealous of his jungle.

He also inherited a ton of plants from his grandma when she passed earlier in the fall, and I am so sad that they can’t come with him when he moves. He’ll have a great time finding them new homes with friends.

Meanwhile, I’m doing the best I can to take care of what I have, and wait for Mister BS to expand our collection and also make me tons of macrame plant hangers since I have a huge window that faces the street that I’d love to camouflage with plants.

But I still want more green in my apartment, so I’m currently on the hunt for more plants. In a non-traditional sense. Continue Reading…

Books

(More) Favorite Books of 2016

My favorite books of 2016 are an eclectic mix, and I probably spent to much time thinking about which books I really wanted to feature here. This isn’t a best-of list, it’s my personal favorites. Just saying.

I said goodbye (and good riddance) to 2016 this weekend, and I’m back after some time off from blogging, when I intermittently thought about writing this over the course of oh, the last eight weeks. I just had to get this out there, and then I’m back and recommitted to hanging out on the internet again.

I’ve read about 125 books this year—but before you gasp at the number, it includes many graphic novels and picture books, so it’s by no means all full-length novels or works of nonfiction. And many of those books were titles that were published before 2016, and even some that aren’t coming out until 2017. While these represent my favorites of books that hit shelves this year, it’s by no means anything representative.

favorite books of 2016

I’m also not repeating any from my mid-year list of favorites, but I stand by all of those choices! Continue Reading…

Books

[recently read] | november 2016

I used to be really diligent about reviewing every book I read, and I’ve fallen out of the habit. In lieu of individual reviews, I want to share my top five books I read each month.

the-careful-undressing-of-loveThe Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu

This new YA novel comes out in January, and I can’t wait to hear what others have to say about it!

Everyone knows that the girls on Devonnaire Street are different—are cursed. Any boy they fall in love with is doomed to die.

This story has a thread of magical realism running through it told in a voice that is fierce and tender. A beautiful coming of age story about friendship, family, faith, and first love, this novel is perfect for fans of Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff or Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke.

vinegar-girl by anne tyler

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

This retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew was a delightful palette cleanser of a book. The narrator is delightfully acerbic and the familiar plot moves along breezily.

In fact, it feels more like Jane Austen than Shakespeare, with it’s witty humor and comedy of manners. It certainly belongs on my list of modern books for fans of Pride and Prejudice.

I enjoyed this so much, I’m even considering going back and reading some of Tyler’s backlist—do you have a favorite? Continue Reading…

Books

What Books Comfort You?

I woke up the morning after the election in a bed littered with wrappers from Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups and tissues with a still half full glass of red wine sitting on my bedside table next to a copy of the only book I could fathom trying to read through last night’s tears: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

I don’t have many books in my apartment. I brought a few with me, and had Mister BS mail me a box with a few more, but there wasn’t a huge selection for me to dig through last night, and none of the books I’d checked out from the library held any appeal.

I didn’t have my worn paperback of A Little Princess, and had to download it on my Kindle.

a-little-princess

It’s hokey as hell. Sara Crewe is grossly perfect, even if she is “not quite pretty.” But I read that book over and over as a child. I even remember my mom letting a seven-year-old me stay home to read it. My first mental health day.

I don’t get a mental health day today. Continue Reading…

Recipes, Sweets

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Honey Frosting

Muffins are just sad cupcakes without frosting. Don’t get me wrong; I love pumpkin bread, but pumpkin cupcakes are even better because you can add honey frosting to them and stop pretending that it’s healthy. Although I did substitute coconut oil for the butter in this recipe, because I only had one stick of butter and I knew I needed it for the frosting. So, I don’t feel too guilty eating these for breakfast. Because I am an adult.

pumpkin-honey-cupcakes

If you don’t like sweet, these are still good without it, too. The spices aren’t too strong, they baked to perfect peaks even in my finicky oven.
pumpkin-cupcakes-with-honey-frosting

These pair perfectly with a rainy afternoon of alternating laying in bed reading and cleaning your apartment, and are as good with a tumblr of whiskey as they are with a cup of coffee (I of course taste tested it both ways). Continue Reading…

Books

Best Books for Book Clubs

What makes the best books for book clubs?

I’ve thought about this question a lot of over the years. Every book club is different, but I’ve found that most people want to to join a book club to talk about books. It’s a great way to get to know people, but you have to get people talking. So the best book for book clubs are not necessarily the ones that everyone would like, but are ones that generate discussion and are a little divisive. You want people to have an opinion beyond “it was okay, I guess.”

Books that Get People Talking

Books that prompt conversation are often about a big issue or theme. Sometimes it’s good to choose books with interesting format or structure, as that can also be topic of discussion. Unlikeable characters are great, too—I love hearing people dissect their motivations.

Read Outside Your Comfort Zone

I also think book club is a great opportunity to get people reading outside of their comfort zone, whether that means picking up a new genre or trying books written by authors from diverse backgrounds.

The best book clubs mix nonfiction and fiction, and occasionally try a middle grade or young adult novel. Variety keeps things interesting. Even in a mystery book club, there’s room for mixing it up with supernatural thrillers, police procedurals, and cozy mysteries. Readers may surprise themselves.best-books-for-book-clubs

In Lawrence, I was in three different book clubs: one with teen readers, a YA for grownups book club, and a feminist book group. Now that I’ve moved, I really miss it talking books! At the top of my list of new programs to add to my new library is all the book clubs (or at least one), so I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to read for book club. Here would be my picks for a year’s worth of monthly book club meetings.

Continue Reading…

Books, Crafts, Home

Halloween Decorations Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe

Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday by any stretch, so Halloween decorations are not at the top of my to-do list.  But I am competitive, so when some co-workers decided to enter the local downtown organizations Halloween window display contest, I was all in. Someone brilliantly suggested we use Edgar Allan Poe as a theme since it was spooky and literary, and we ran with it.

edgar-allan-poe-decorations

It all came together so well, in fact, we actually won first place! Most of the items we borrowed from library staff, like the awesome jewelry tree that was perfect for perching our ravens on, and the spooky candelabra, and the bell jar or cloche to cover the “tell-tale heart” we bought from the Halloween Store.

edgar-allan-poe-halloween-decorations

I designed the posters using a creative commons transparent anatomical heart and Canva.com, plus printed a portrait of Poe. And can you believe that someone had that wonderful edition of The Tell-tale Heart and other stories? It was perfect. This is perfect for a library display or home decorating for a holiday part, and was easy and inexpensive to put together. Continue Reading…