Dreaming of Paris: Books & Movies Inspired by the City of Love

Bonjour, mes amis!

Raise your hand if you’ve watched Netflix’s new series Emily in Paris! This show gave me such wanderlust for the City of Love that I put together this fun little blog post of some wonderful books and movies set in Paris—plus a few of my favorite spots from past trips there.

What to Read

  1. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: this beautiful piece of historical fiction depicts the life of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. This novel transports you to the City of Light in the 1920’s, with vivid imagery, evocative characters, and a perfect mix of Parisian romance and heartache. I’ve always had a fascination with Jazz Age Paris, and this book hits all the right notes.
  2. Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes: this story collection is equal parts charming and poignant, which I feel is a particular specialty of the author (who also wrote Me Befofe You). The title story “Paris for One” (which, at around 150 pages, I would deem a novella) tells the tale of Nell, a 20-something British girl, who finds herself alone in Paris for the weekend after being stood up by her boyfriend. I read this story in one sitting and very much enjoyed the characters and the magical descriptions of Paris.
  3. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George: this delightful novel is the perfect story for bookworms and romantics. The protagonist Monsieur Perdu, who owns a small book shop aboard his boat on the Seine, has this skill for “prescribing” the perfect book to heal peoples’ hearts—though ironically, his own heart has never healed, after his one great love left him suddenly many years ago.

What to Watch

Movie poster for the 1954 film Sabrina
(This photo is in the public domain. More info here).
  1. Sabrina: though I adore the 1954 version with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, I must admit I slightly prefer the 1995 version with Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford. One reason for this is because of the setting: many scenes were actually filmed on location in Paris, whereas the 1954 version used a sound stage to create Parisian backdrops (after all, nothing can substitute Paris for the real thing!). I also feel like you get a better sense of Sabrina’s experiences in Paris in the remake, and how the city changes her, makes her grow. Also, here’s a fun fact: though the popular quote “Paris is always a good idea” is often attributed to Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, it was Julia Ormond who actually said it in the remake!
  2. Paris, Je T’aime: This movie is actually a series of vignettes (AKA short films). Some of the movie is in English and some of it’s in French, and each vignette has its own characters and unique stories. One’s first experience watching it can be a bit perplexing because it’s an unconventional form of storytelling, but I promise you that every time I see it, I truly enjoy it more and more. This film is not only a love letter to the city of Paris, it is a love letter to love in all its many forms.
  3. Midnight in Paris: Owen Wilson stars as an American writer on vacation in Paris with his fiancée (played by Rachel McAdams). His soon-to-be-wife doesn’t understand his fascination with Jazz Age Paris (honestly, she doesn’t seem to understand him at all). One night as he strolls through the city, he finds himself magically transported back to that era, mingling with famed authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway. His experiences with them end up dramatically changing his perspective and, in turn, his life.

A Few Favorite Spots in Paris

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company is a small, iconic bookstore that’s been visited by world-renowned authors over its many years in business, so if you’re a book-enthusiast like me, this is a must stop while in Paris. It’s pretty cramped and crowded inside, and they don’t allow photos, but it’s definitely worth perusing this famous shop.

Monet’s Water Lilies

Of course museums like the Louvre and the D’Orsay are vast and impressive, but it is the Musée de l’Orangerie that will always have my heart. The reason for this is my love for Monet’s Water Lilies, which reside there in two oval-shaped rooms specifically designed for them. These immense works of art have such a dreamlike quality that I find to be so peaceful and inspiring.

Jardin des Tuileries

The Tuileries Garden is magnificent—or, as the French say, magnifique. Though it was once a palace garden, it became a public park after the French Revolution and is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll, or to simply enjoy the sunshine and people watch.

Though like many of you, I’m dreaming of traveling abroad again next year, there remain so many uncertainties because of Covid-19. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my recommendations for ways to “visit” Paris via the pages of a book or a TV. The beret, of course, is optional 😉

What to Read While in Quarantine

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” —Mason Cooley

Our world has changed so much the past few months. To slow the spread of the coronavirus, we’ve been at home for over a month (the stay home order began here in Oregon on March 23rd). Depending what country you live in, perhaps you’ve been at home even longer than that.

I’m so grateful to all the healthcare professionals and essential workers here in the US and around the globe, as they work tirelessly to serve and protect others. It’s undoubtedly a difficult time for everyone, in ways we may not even realize. I’m truly thankful to be safe at home with my family.

Books have been an escape for me since I was a kid. No matter what was going on in my life, I could always get lost in a story. I majored in English in college and then went on to an MFA in Writing, so it’s safe to say I’ve read a lot over the years.

When I first started thinking about what to put on this list, I was unsure where to start. Do I choose something from every genre? Do I share only contemporary books or mix in a few classics? That led me down an endless rabbit hole, so then I simply asked myself: what have I been reading lately?

In this time of uncertainty, I’ve found myself primarily reaching for beloved books or favorite writers, the ones I knew I could count on—the ones who’d been there for me, in other times of turmoil throughout my life. In this time of much-needed escapism, these books transport me to other times and other places, and make me feel inspired even in the face of adversity.

Almost all of these are works of fiction—all but one. But that one feels so perfectly timed for the current state of our world that I simply had to add it.

On a slightly different note, I wanted to provide a link to our local independent bookstore here in Portland, Powell’s Books. I’m not sponsored by them or anything like that, I’ve just honestly been a customer of theirs since I was a kid. Their locations have been closed during this time, but their online store remains open for orders. This is such a tough season for local shops and small businesses, and, if you’re able, I encourage you to support local businesses in your communities.

Without further ado, “What to Read While in Quarantine: Hope, Love, Loss, and a Bit of Time Travel.”

There are two historical fiction novels on this list: The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See. Both are beautifully written stories set in World War II, so if you enjoy that era, I couldn’t recommend these two more.

Both novels have strong female protagonists and have overarching themes of love and loss. They do an incredible job with descriptive, elegant language that paints such vivid imagery. I particularly admire the way both novels discuss familial relationships, abandonment, and complex family dynamics during times of great hardship.

All the Light We Cannot See is also an exceptional example of finding light in times of darkness, something that feels especially relevant this year.


Up next is the only work of nonfiction on this list, Everything is F*cked: a Book About Hope. (I paired it with a bottle of whiskey as a quarantine-worthy gift for my best friend’s birthday). This book is from Mark Manson, the bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and is written in the same candid, witty style.

Though I’ve just started reading this, I knew it had to make the list because of our current world crisis with the coronavirus. Manson does such a great job of questioning the anxieties and hopelessness we often feel in our modern world, with his signature curse words and straightforward manner. He’s one of those writers that literally makes me laugh out loud, and these days we all could use a little extra humor.


If you want to dip your toes back into some classics without committing to a giant tome, these two novels are on the shorter side (at least when compared to a lot of classic lit).

The Great Gatsby is something a lot of people only read once in a high school English class, and this great American novel is well worth revisiting as an adult. I try to re-read it every few years, and I honestly gain something new with each read through. This tale is such an iconic portrayal of disillusionment and longing that is just as relevant now as it was almost a century ago.

Pride and Prejudice is arguably Jane Austen’s most famous novel and is equal parts charm, wit, and poignancy. Even though the 19th century customs of the English social hierarchy might feel very foreign to a modern reader, the complex portrayal of relationships (both familial and romantic) feels ageless.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (AKA Sorcerer’s Stone here in the US) is, of course, the book that started the international phenomenon. I included it on this list because Harry Potter got me through some very dark days in my childhood and no matter how old I get, the Wizarding World has never lost its wonder or appeal.

The photo above is when we visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Warner Bros. in London, back in 2017. I’m standing in the Great Hall, where every single movie was filmed. I might be pushing 30 now, but my love for all things Harry Potter will never cease!

It’s been so fun to revisit the Harry Potter books and movies during this past month at home. After all, if there was ever a time for a bit of escapism and magic, then this would be it.


The final two books on the list are The Time Traveler’s Wife and Outlander. Though both of these novels have time travel as a pivotal element, they’re quite different in most other regards.

I’ve mentioned The Time Traveler’s Wife on the blog before, as it’s one of my all-time favorite novels. I’ve read it many times and, though I do love the star-crossed lovers Henry and Clare, something I’ve long admired is the novel’s structure.

Back in college when I was studying literature, my professors talked a lot about “form contributing to content.” This novel is a prime example of such a notion, as it doesn’t follow a typical chronological timeline. Instead, each section is labeled by its date and point-of-view because the story is told in first person from Henry and Clare’s unique perspectives.

Much in the same way that Henry skips around in time and has no control over what day or year he suddenly finds himself in, we the reader also bounce around in time. One section Clare may be a little girl, and in the next she might be in college or getting married. In this novel, the way that the story is told mirrors the concept of time travel.

As for Outlander, I’m the first to admit that I’m late to the party on this one, but after binging season one of the hit TV show on Stars, I knew I had to read the sensational novel that it’s based on.

Though this novel is quite long at over 800 pages, Diana Gabaldon’s writing is so elegant and descriptive that the page number becomes irrelevant. I love how this story defies genres, since it really has a bit of everything in it—historical fiction, romance, sci-fi, fantasy.

I also find the protagonist Claire Randall to be such a strong and compelling female lead (yes, another main character named Claire, though with a different spelling!). Though some might dismiss this book as “airport fiction,” I truly enjoy the genre-defying storyline, beautiful writing, and historic detail. (And who doesn’t like reading a good love triangle from time to time? 😉)

This list, of course, is personal—I wanted to share books that have been a source of comfort and inspiration to me recently and over the course of my life. If there are books or films that you love, that hold a special place in your heart or bring back happy memories, then that’s what I encourage you to enjoy during these weeks at home. On days when I’m feeling blue or unlike myself, these books have brought encouragement and joy.

And isn’t that part of why we as humans love stories? To find meaning, to connect, to be uplifted?

I’ve always been a bookworm, but I honestly haven’t read this much since grad school. I’ve revisited old “friends” like Elizabeth Bennett, Jay Gatsby, and Harry Potter and discovered a few new ones. I hope these stories provide some escape for you, as they have for me, along with some gems of wisdom and inspiration that—even in times of great darkness—there is always hope and light.

Perhaps Dumbledore said it best in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Stay safe and stay well ❤️

Long Layers and Short Stories

In last week’s post, I had yet to choose a short story collection for my 2019 booklist. Turns out, I had the answer on my bookshelf the whole time! Great American Short Stories: from Hawthorne to Hemingway contains a range of renowned authors and stories. Some I’ve read before (“The Yellow Wallpaper” is a personal fave), but most are brand new to me.

Though I generally gravitate towards novels, one of the convenient things about short stories is that they’re not a huge time commitment. In this particular collection’s introduction, English professor Corinne Demas discusses advantages of the short story. She quotes the poignant words of Edgar Allen Poe: “In the brief tale, however, the author is enabled to carry out the fullness of his intention, be it what it may. During the hour of perusal the soul of the reader is at the writer’s control. There are no external or extrinsic influences–resulting from weariness or interruption.”

I love that notion of staying with a story and it’s characters from beginning to end. We remain fully immersed in the world the author has created and perhaps get as close as we can to the author’s true vision and intent.

I’m excited to share my thoughts on several of these short stories in upcoming posts!

Today I’m sharing how to layer this long wool vest, which was a fabulous find from the Zara sale (still going on in stores and online!). If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know I enjoy versatile pieces that can be styled for a variety of settings and occasions. In this post, I’ll be showing two different ways to style this vest.

Up first is a more relaxed weekend vibe, as I paired the vest with distressed denim and a classic white button-up. This look was perfect for a casual family lunch.

Gray wool vest: Zara (similar here and here) White button-up: Gap Distressed denim: Vigoss (similar) Black sock boots: Mia (similar here and here)

It’s been very windy here the last few days, and I’m not going to lie–I was pretty darn cold when we were taking these photos!

Black turtleneck: J. Crew Faux leather leggings: Spanx Black sock boots: Mia (similar here and here) Patent leather purse: Louis Vuitton (similar patent leather styles here and here)

For a more polished look, I layered the vest over J. Crew’s tissue turtleneck (I’ve had mine for years, and it’s held up so well!) and the faux leather leggings by Spanx that everyone raves about.

Sleek black sock boots and a patent leather purse complete this neutral outfit. I think it’s cool that when the vest is zipped up, it looks like a dress!

Hope you’re having a great week! Thanks so much for stopping by ❤️

This Is the New Year

We are eight days into 2019! It’s been great to hear what everyone is aspiring to accomplish this year, and I find that writing a specific, manageable list is helpful for me.

I was channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw for the above New Years look in my fabulous tulle skirt by Portland-based fashion brand Tulle on Lace. I had the pleasure of meeting the designer Harriet at FashioNXT in October, and she is so sweet and incredibly talented. You will definitely see me styling this skirt for more occasions and blog posts this year!

Today, I’m rounding up eight of my favorite looks from 2018, and also sharing some goals for 2019–from my booklist, to travel plans, to blog goals and personal resolutions.

8 Favorite Looks from 2018

Gray Blazer: Zara Scarf: Burberry (similar) Boots: Blondo Waterproof

Classic chic attire with a statement scarf (see original post here)

Yellow Gown: Eliza J (similar)

A bright floral gown for our friends’ wedding in Miami (see original post here)

Striped Jumpsuit: Monteau (similar here and here)

A striped jumpsuit that was perfect for dinner on our Caribbean cruise (see original post here)

Chambray shirt: Calvin Klein Jeans (similar) Striped tank: H&M (similar) Leggings: Nike (similar) Hat: Portland Gear

A comfy athleisure look for a date night at our local drive-in theater (see original post here)

White Blazer: J.O.A. (similar) Graphic tee: Eleven Paris Jeans: Topshop Boots: Sam Edelman (similar) Purse: Prada

A fun weekend look featuring my fave Kate Moss graphic tee and a windowpane-print blazer (see original post here)

Beanie: Kyi Kyi Faux suede vest: Bebe (similar) Belt: Gucci Striped shirt: Romy (similar) Boots: Blondo Waterproof

A layered look for crisp fall days with a faux suede vest and a versatile striped tee (see original post here)

Camel coat: Calvin Klein Gray sweater: TJ Maxx (similar) Boots: Blondo Waterproof Purse: Chanel

Cozy neutrals and a camel coat for fall/winter (see original post here)

Faux suede jacket: (similar here and here) Cable-knit sweater: H&M (similar here and here) Black jeans: Topshop Boots: Blondo Waterproof Purse: Louis Vuitton

A faux suede jacket layered with a cable-knit sweater and black skinny jeans (see original post here)

Booklist

This list isn’t complete yet, but here’s what I have so far:

  • Finish a series: I really enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians, and I plan to read the sequels.
  • A Young Adult novel: I haven’t chosen one yet, any suggestions??? (I loved both The Hunger Games and Divergent series, so I definitely enjoy dystopias.)
  • A classic that I’ve never read before: Either Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion or Emma (maybe both).
  • Re-read some old favorites: The Stranger, The Bell Jar, and Great Expectations are some of my all-time faves.
  • A short story collection: To be determined
  • A poetry collection: I’m thinking about revisiting Shakespeare’s sonnets (I read a lot of them in college), but would also like to read some modern poetry as well.
  • A contemporary bestseller: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple years, so I figure it’s about time I finally read it).
  • Nonfiction: Dirt Is Good (I’m a bit of a germaphobe, and I was gifted this book awhile back.)

Travel Plans

  • Paris: traveling to the City of Lights later this year to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday (this has been on her bucket list for a long time!).
  • Italy: traveling to the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre with my husband (we honeymooned in Italy, and we’re so excited to go back for more of a coastal vibe this time around).
  • California: attending the wedding of my husband’s cousin. We don’t get to see his extended family often so we’re really looking forward to this!
  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival: I enjoyed this so much for my birthday last year and would love to go again this summer!

Goals for the Blog & Social Media

  • On Instagram I’ve decided to start doing Workwear Wednesdays. I always get a lot of positive feedback on my posts about business attire, so I want to make this a more regular feature.
  • I also get a lot of great feedback on my posts that illustrate how to style an item multiple ways (these have been some of my favorite posts to put together!).
  • Reach 10k Instagram followers. Right now I’m not far from 6k, but the 10k goal is a blogger milestone on Instagram because of the swipe up feature you gain access to in Stories!
  • Be consistently active on Pinterest
  • Collaborate and build relationships with local designers, boutiques, and bloggers
  • Attend New York Fashion Week as a blogger (this one is more of a long term goal, but definitely something I want on the list!)

Personal Goals, Big and Small

  • Go ice skating at least once a month: Skating over the holidays always makes me realize how much I miss my skating days and that being on the ice still brings me a lot of joy. For years I’ve been telling myself that I’ll skate more frequently, and I want this to be the year I finally do it!
  • Work on my strength and endurance: I wish I was one of those people like my husband who absolutely loves going to the gym (and believe me, I’ve tried). Instead, I’m going to start with small changes like taking the stairs at work and going for a walk during lunch. I’m also looking into purchasing a stationary bike to use at home.
  • Save more $$$: In all honesty, I’ve always been more of a spender than a saver, and I’m currently reading up on strategies to save more consistently. My husband and I have been working hard at paying off his student loans.
  • Improve on organization: I’ve heard rave reviews about the Netflix show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, and I could definitely use some more organization in my life.
  • Weekly journal: I received a really thoughtful Christmas gift from my cousin’s girlfriend called 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal, which has weekly writing prompts for the entire year. Super excited about this one!
  • Host afternoon tea: Tea, mini sandwiches, and decadent pastries make for the perfect get-together! Macarons from St. Honore Boulangerie would be a sweet dessert option for an afternoon tea.

What are your goals for this year, personally and professionally? Any travels or adventures planned?

I also would love to know: which of these looks from 2018 is your favorite? Share in the comments below! ❤️

I hope you have a wonderful week, and thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunsets and Subtleties

Hello, all! Can you believe it’s December already?

In the midst of holiday decorating over the weekend, I took a break to dive into Mark Manson’s bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. I’ve heard rave reviews about this book from so many people that–even though I’m usually more of a fiction reader–I had to check it out.

First off, if profanity is not your thing, then this probably isn’t your cup of tea. However, I personally am loving his blunt, no-nonsense approach and life advice.

One of my favorite passages so far: “The person you marry is the person you fight with.  The house you buy is the house you repair.  The dream job you take is the job you stress over.  Everything comes with an inherent sacrifice—whatever makes us feel good will also inevitably make us feel bad… We like the idea that there’s some form of ultimate happiness that can be attained.  We like the idea that we can alleviate all of our suffering permanently.  We like the idea that we can feel fulfilled and satisfied with our lives forever.  But we cannot.”

Basically, life is a constant work-in-progress and nothing is sunshine and daisies all the time. I’ve noticed that people (myself included) often think things like, “oh once I get this degree or get this job or get married or buy a house or (fill in the blank here with whatever it might be for you), THEN I’ll be happy. Then I’ll be satisfied.”

But it doesn’t work like that. Even our partner or spouse, whom we may love and adore, will of course sometimes make us mad or drive us nuts. And even that job that we’ve been dreaming of for years will still cause us stress at times.

Just because we may attain a dream or goal doesn’t mean that our life just stops there in a permanent state of perfection. There will always be ups and downs, and Manson asserts that “True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.”

There are many thought-provoking ideas in this self-help sensation, and I will definitely do a full review once I finish it!

I’ve been a big fan of this warm caramel shade of orange this fall. This faux suede moto jacket was a TJ Maxx find recently, and I love the vibrant color paired with classic neutrals.

I also got really lucky that my jacket coordinated so well with the beautiful autumn sunset (sometimes it’s the little things 😉)!

Faux Suede Moto Jacket: (similar here, here, and here) Cable-Knit Sweater: H&M Black Jeans: Topshop Boots: Blondo Waterproof Bag: Louis Vuitton (similar) Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster

I’m wearing this jacket with a timeless cable-knit sweater from H&M, my favorite Topshop high-waist jeans, and pointed-toe boots from Blondo. My Louis Vuitton crossbody bag I’ve had for many years, and the vachetta leather trim of the bag accents the color of my jacket nicely.

I’m really enjoying all the different colors of moto jackets that I’ve been seeing lately from a variety of brands (I linked several options above in faux suede and suede, and also in the LIKEtoKNOW.it app).

I have lots of holiday-themed content planned for the coming weeks, including outfit inspiration and some festive activities if you’re local or visiting Portland! Do you have certain holiday traditions that you do every year?

Have a great week! Thank you for stopping by 🧡

Oregon, Home Sweet Home

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I’m dedicating my travel series for the month of June to the beautiful state of Oregon that I’ve always called home. I’ll be sharing my personal picks for Portland (from restaurants to breweries to activities) and several quick and easy day trips–from Mt. Hood to the Oregon Coast.

I feel truly blessed to grow up in such a gorgeous, green region; we may get lots of rain, but that rain lends itself to colorful seasons and lush landscapes. Also, if you’re planning a visit to the Portland area, our summers are lovely, with mostly warm, dry weather from July through September.

Unlike my travel posts from May, however, I’m spreading out my favorite places and recommendations over the course of the whole month of June, so these will each be shorter, more succinct pieces.

I’m starting with a bit of nostalgia today and sharing one of my family’s favorite restaurants that makes the perfect pit-stop on Highway 26, when en route to coastal towns like Seaside or Cannon Beach.

Also, my summer reading list is at the bottom of this post!

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Camp 18 is a charming, rustic restaurant about an hour’s drive west of Portland (and only 25 minutes from Seaside). The restaurant’s name comes from the fact that it’s located at mile post 18 on Highway 26 (one of the major highways that runs east/west in Oregon, stretching from the coast to the Idaho border). Its structure is a beautiful log cabin with massive wooden beams, hand carved front doors, and a picturesque creek located just behind it.

We adore their brunch and have been coming here since I was a little kid (highly recommend the “flatcars”–aka giant pancakes–with the locally made marionberry syrup!). This family-friendly spot is great for locals and tourists alike (pictured above on a recent visit with my younger brother!).

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Striped Top: H&M (similar here and hereBlack Jeans: 7 For All Mankind (similar)  Leather Jacket: Wyatt (similarMules: Topshop (similarPurse: Prada (similar style here)  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster  Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar)

The weather has been hit-and-miss lately; we’ve had some hot, sunny days, but also some cloudy, mild ones. This outfit is perfect for those temperate Oregon days, typical of spring and early summer. I’ve been loving the off-the-shoulder trend, and this version from H&M is an awesome striped option. My mules are from Topshop and are a comfy, 90’s trend that I’m definitely a fan of. My Prada purse was a purchase on our honeymoon in Italy; above, I linked the exact style and also a less pricey option that is a similar size.

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My summer reading list (so far!):

  1. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
  2. The Light We Lostby Jill Santopolo
  3. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
  4. Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins
  5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitgerald

Currently reading The Little Paris Bookshop (and LOVING it)–I’ll share my thoughts on the full novel in a few weeks. The Light We Lost was recommended by a friend and is one of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club picks.

As for the first novel of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, I’ll be honest: I’ve been trying (and failing) to take the plunge and read the series for years. I’ve been obsessed with the show since season two debuted back when I was a senior in college, but I have yet to read the book series. Trying to make this the summer that I at least read the first one.

My best friend and I wanted to read a poetry collection that we haven’t yet done, and we chose Collins’s collection Aimless Love. And last, but certainly not least, I want to revisit one of my all-time favorite novels, The Great Gatsby. I try to reread this American classic every few years, and it’s one of those incredible books that no matter how many times I read it, I get something new out of it.

I would love to hear what you’re reading this summer! Have you made it through A Game of Thrones and the other books in the series, and/or are you a fan of the show? Are there novels you love that you reread over and over again? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Endless Light

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Happy Mother’s Day Weekend to all the moms out there! Doing a special post today to share last-minute gift ideas and what I’ll be wearing for an afternoon of lunching and shopping with my mom and my grandma! I’m so thankful to have them both in my life–they are truly strong, intelligent, and kind women, and I wouldn’t be who I am without them.

In keeping with the Paris theme this week from my travel series, I wanted to start out with a book recommendation. If your mom loves to curl up with a phenomenal book and enjoys historical fiction, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot Seewould make a wonderful gift. I mentioned in an earlier post that this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was on my spring reading list. I finished it recently, and there is so much to say about this moving story, I scarcely know where to start! I don’t want to give away the ending for anyone who has yet to read it, so instead I’ll share a quote, a major theme, and my overall impression.

“Color–that’s another thing people don’t expect. In her imaginations, in her dreams, everything has color… Bees are silver. The huge cypress trees she and her father pass on their morning walk are shimmering kaleidoscopes, each needle a polygon of light. Her father radiates a thousand colors, opal, strawberry red, deep russet, wild green… He glows sapphire when he sits over his work bench in the evenings, humming almost inaudibly as he works, the tip of his cigarette gleaming a prismatic blue.” 

The reason I chose this particular passage (especially when there are SO many gems to choose from) is because light is such a recurring theme in this novel; it truly is at the center of this World War II story, the thing that everything revolves around. Light is in the title, of course, but it’s also a constant presence.

Two big reasons for that have to do with the novel’s protagonists: Marie-Laure and Werner. Marie-Laure is a blind Parisian girl, who flees the City of Light with her father upon the German occupation of France. Even though she is physically incapable of seeing light, her mind imagines the world in the most vibrant of colors (as illustrated in the above quote). Throughout the novel, her intelligence, perception, and intuition make her notice things that others often don’t.

In contrast, Werner grows up facing a different kind of darkness. He’s a German orphan boy who grows up in a small coal-mining town, and in his early teens, he’s sent to a school that trains Nazi soldiers. The terrible darkness that he faces is the spread of Naziism in Germany and Europe, and the horrendous realities of World War II.

This novel spans the course of several decades and explores the darkness in this world– but also the ever-persisting light. It asks us to think about the things that can’t be seen literally, but still exist: love, strength, hope, bravery, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Doerr’s elegant writing style and mastery of metaphors paint the most vivid story that is equal parts beautiful and heart-wrenching. The contrast between his eloquent, graceful syntax and the dark subject matter is truly memorable and poignant.

Another Paris-inspired novel that I just delved into is Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop. It was gifted to me by my mother-in-law, and the story’s premise captivated me instantly. It’s the tale of a man who owns a bookstore on a boat that sails on the Seine in Paris. He’s a literary doctor of sorts and prescribes specific books to those who are in need of them. I’m really excited to see where this charming story goes, and I’ll share a more detailed review in a future post when I finish reading it!

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Here are some more gift ideas for the moms in your lives!

Does your mom have a favorite perfume? My mom loves the original Juicy Couture scent (pictured above), and my brother and I take turns replenishing her stash for her birthdays and holidays. My grandma and I both adore Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, and I know a lot of ladies who really enjoy this fresh, floral scent.

My mom is a big coffee drinker, so my brother and I often give her adorable mugs! I love getting mugs at TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and Target, and I’ve linked some great options (the following mugs from Target are online and available in store at select locations: “Monogrammed Floral,” “Mama Needs Some Coffee,” and “Mom’s the Boss“).

My mom and I are huge fans of the candles from Bath and Body Works. Our all-time favorite is the Mahogany Teakwood candle and is perfect for those who love woodsy scents. Yet lately a candle we’ve been loving is their Watermelon Lemonade–it’s a yummy, fruity scent that’s perfect for spring and summer!

Another great gift idea (or to wear yourself to brunch, or shopping, or on vacation!) is a striped dress. I love black-and-white stripes because it’s such a timeless color combo (I own several because they’re so versatile–knee length, maxi, jumpsuit, long-sleeve, sleeveless, etc). There are so many silhouettes out there for a variety of tastes and personal styles. The one I’m wearing was a TJ Maxx find (have you guys noticed yet how much I love TJ Maxx?), so I’ve linked some stylish options that are all currently on sale.

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Panama Hat: J. Crew  Striped Dress: Monteau (great striped options all on sale: here, here, here, and herePurse: Chanel Classic Flap (similar structure/style here and hereMules: Topshop (similar here and hereWatch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similarSunglasses: Chanel (similar) Lip Color: Birthday Suit by Tarte

For this particular look, I paired my striped dress with a classic Panama hat (mine is from J. Crew and is a constant warm weather companion). I also wore a pair of mules that are by Topshop and are a recent purchase from Nordstrom Rack (I linked some comparable styles). I’m so happy mules are trendy again! My sunglasses I’ve had for awhile and are Chanel, so I’ve linked a similarly shaped option.

Continuing the Parisian theme this week, my Chanel classic flap bag was purchased at the flagship boutique on 31 Rue Cambon (which Gabrielle Chanel first opened in 1918). It’s such a timeless and elegant style and has been a dream bag of mine for many years. I’ve also linked some fabulous black purses with a similar structure and aesthetic to the Chanel classic flap.

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Happy Friday! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend celebrating the moms, grandmas, step-moms, mothers-in-law, and honorary moms in your lives. My mom and my grandma are such sources of light and love in my life, and I truly cherish the time I get to spend with them (below: one of my favorite pictures of the three of us from my wedding).

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