Friday, May 26, 2017

#ReadADessen: The Moon and More

I’m thrilled to be a part of #ReadADessen, a campaign hosted by Penguin Teen to count down to the release of Sarah Dessen’s upcoming book, Once and For All (out in June! I also just finished reading it the other day, and found it adorable.). This week, I get the opportunity to talk about a Dessen novel that meant a great deal to me on a personal level when I read it: The Moon and More.

The Moon & Moore book cover
The Moon and More is all about a girl who tries to come to terms with what she wants for herself and her future the summer before college is due to start. Emaline has spent all her life in Colby, a small town where everyone knows everyone and their story. She has always been certain of the direction she wants to take with her life... until the summer before college when she meets a boy who challenges her perspectives on the future. As always, I was wooed by Sarah Dessen's ability to create characters - flawed and wonderful and real - that I cared about, particularly main character Emaline. But what really had me loving this story was the nostalgia I felt as I read it. The way Dessen elaborates on Emaline's feelings as she experiences the tumult of a crossroads summer was deeply relatable for me.

Summer has always been my season. While I joke that it has a lot to do with me being a summer baby (Where are my fellow Leos at?), that's not the only reason I've always been drawn to summers. Summer means fun and sun, hours spent doing anything that I fancy and days that feel simultaneously slower and quicker than normal. But summer has also always been the season where I experience the biggest changes.

It was a summer as a pre-teen, for instance, when I fell head over heels into the world of fan fiction and discovered that I liked writing. It was summer when I worked at an internship that eventually landed me my first job after I graduated. I traveled - both on my own or with my family and friends - and realized that I enjoyed visiting all sorts of places. I got engaged in the middle of summer. I fell in love - with my life and with who I was - during one important summer. Each of the things summer brought into (or out of) my life shaped me, but there's one life-changing summer in particular that inspired me to write this post: the summer a year after I moved to New York.

2010-2017 summer photos
I wrote about my experience moving to New York three years ago. Though I was born in the good ol’ USA and raised here for eight years, it was still an overwhelming, exhilarating experience to return and try to find my place here as an adult. But this year, in a couple of weeks, I will be celebrating my seventh anniversary of living in this beautiful, busy city – and despite the ups and the downs, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Every one of my summers here has been filled with colorful memories shared with family and friends.

But it's the 2011 summer that will always be the most memorable - my own crossroads summer. That was the summer where I started attempting to answer this question: How do you hold on to the things you love, the things that shaped you, even as you want to leave and chase after your dreams, even as they hurt you? It wasn't all sunshine, mind you. There were terrible choices and bad moments; there were confusing thoughts and questionable scenarios. But that was the summer that, without a doubt, molded me into who I am these days. Independent, but nurturing of the relationships that matter. Vulnerable, but strong when it counts. Clever and silly and honest and dorky and hopeful and faithful. I was becoming true to the me that was always there, but afraid to reveal itself in its entirety to the world - and by the end of that summer, I had changed for the better.

The magic of a life-changing summer is a real thing, folks. It's not just a story that you read, though Sarah Dessen is one of those magical authors who writes that type of tale well. It's true and it's real, and without a doubt, it's happened to many of us - myself included. I look forward to more life-changing summers to come, and I fervently hope that you feel the same way too. Cheers to the magical possibilities of the summer to come!



Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Library Dreamin'

my current set-up! ignore the messy sides ;)
Last Saturday, I spent an entire morning-into-afternoon rearranging my bookshelves and all the knickknacks on them. While I kept my series specific shelves and rainbow shelves, I moved things around so that they would feel new, and I'm pretty pleased with the end result. It suits my aesthetic perfectly and has the added bonus of utilizing the available space for all the books I need to store. That being said, while I do love how my shelves look and being able to constantly rearrange them when the mood strikes, I still harbor dreams of what my future library will look like if I ever have the space for one. Here's a glimpse of some of my ideas for it!

Product Info: Athens Library in NimbusHenri 2.5" Swag Kit in Antiqued Nickel
Preston 53" Upholstered Tufted Chair in Vernon SmokeJames Floor Lamp
I love the idea of a secret entrance into my library that's hidden behind a simpler bookshelf, because the idea of having a space that's private and just for me has always appealed to me. When you enter, however, you come into a large room with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that have a ladder (*coughs* I blame Beauty and the Beast *coughs*) that are filled with books and knickknacks. There will be pendant lighting like this scattered creatively around the room, as well as a floor lamp and an end table right by my reading chair. I'd throw in an accent rug for color, and spread my collection of candles all over the room.

Product Info: Gunn & Swain Siren Throw Blanket / "Within" by EvieSEO
"Adventurers" by CrisUnplugged / "The Inner Circle" by Charlie Bowater
But the thing that I'm particularly keen on having is a window nook! I've always loved the idea of having a little nook with shelves in front of large picture windows, so I could sit there to read or write or think while I looked outside. I'd like that area to have decorative, comfortable couch cushions, a cozy throw blanket and maybe a row of succulents for some greenery too. It would be such a lovely spot to relax in, and I'm still crossing my fingers it'll be in my future home one day.

What does your dream library look like?
(Thank you the lovely team over at Arhaus for encouraging me to write this post!)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Table for Two #5

I'm really excited that Rachel of Hello, Chelly and I have teamed up once more to bring you a brand spanking new collaboration that involves two of my favorite things - New York City and food. We're proud to introduce Table for Two, where the two of us will be highlighting restaurants and dessert spots in New York City. You'll be hearing our personal opinions on the place and the food, as well as where you can go to try it out for yourself!

For our fifth edition of Table for Two, we're doing something a little bit different! Both Rachel & I will be talking about the same restaurant, and it will be the place for both dinner and dessert. What is this place that deserves its very own post from both of us? It's a very special restaurant located in upstate New York called Pandorica. Now, if you're a Whovian, you'll instantly guess what the theme of this place is. But if you aren't, well, now you know - this is a restaurant inspired by Doctor Who!

I officially became a Whovian in 2015, which is when I started binge watching the series from the 9th Doctor. I really love the show - the storytelling, the characters, the themes - and I could probably write an entire post about that, but I digress. I was really excited when Rachel suggested we do the nearly two hour drive up to visit Pandorica, as I'd heard of it before (thanks to Kristin over at Super Space Chick) and had always wanted to go. And it was just as fun as I'd imagined it would be! 


You can already tell from the street just how much thought was put into the design of the place. There's a blue painted front door that mirrors the door of the T.A.R.D.I.S., and a gigantic Weeping Angel all set to greet you in one of the window displays. 


(Yes, we're both in black and gray. No, it was not intentional - just a happy coincidence!)
And once you step in, your eyes are immediately drawn to the gigantic mural at the back of the restaurant (which is one of my favorite designs. But you'll also see the colorful artwork sprinkled on the walls which is all done by a local artist, the fandom paraphernalia scattered all throughout and the TV that is constantly playing episodes from the show. It's a Whovian's dream come true, and both Rachel & I were giddy with excitement to be there.


I found it clever and tongue in cheek to realize that many of the menu items have names inspired by Doctor Who. It was difficult to narrow down what we wanted to to eat, but we eventually picked two different menu items to try for our main meal.  I got the Hooverville BBQ'd Pulled Pork (which is pulled pork with fries drenched in melted cheese on top - so good!), while Rachel got the Are You My Mummy Bacon Bound Meatloaf. We also had dessert, choosing to indulge in the Madame de Pompadour Cake and the Fish Fingers and Custard (which was amazing!).

All in all, Pandorica is worth a visit if you're a fan of Doctor Who! It's not only fun to be sitting amidst all the Doctor Who decor, but the food is pretty great too. You can find Pandorica at 165 Main Street, Beacon, NY 12508.

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