Posts in Literary Lifestyle
Literary Dinner | Circe
circe_053.jpg

We honestly feel like we chose the perfect buddy read to take us into fall when we picked up Circe by Madeline Miller. This retelling of Greek myth takes us with our heroine Circe to an island full of wild herbs, carefully tended gardens and forests bursting with flora. To honor her island of Aiaia we set up a simple picnic table out in the sunshine underneath a pear tree, against a backdrop of woods, so we could have lunch and soak up the mild afternoon while we talked about the novel.

circe_066.jpg
circe_067.jpg
circe_063.jpg
circe_065.jpg
But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.
circe_064.jpg

Layers of freshly cut rosemary were studded with the first of the fall berries, and a few fresh blooms were tucked into the fragrant, spiky riot. We love that the rosemary looks a little prickly, but smells so good, especially when it was all piled on the tabletop. Plus, it’s an herb used since ancient times by the Greeks, and seemed the perfect choice to represent the facets of Circe; a little prickly, a little sweet, and quietly powerful.

We primarily used roses for our flowers, both in our tiny bud vases and in the centerpiece, because they were mentioned repeatedly, and because their orangey blush color really suited our early fall color palette. The centerpiece was a glass terrarium stuffed with a spray of cut greenery and roses all set atop a sunburst mirror to reflect (hah!) Circe’s father, Helios. Plates were cut crystal with dipped gold rims, and we finished our place settings with crystal goblets and gold napkins and cutlery. We wanted an opulent, mystical, ancient, natural feel all wrapped up together, and mixing our elements this way worked out really well. It ended up feeling understated, but gilded, just like Circe herself.

circe_001.jpg
circe_005.jpg
circe_003.jpg
circe_004.jpg
circe_009.jpg
circe_018.jpg

Once the table was set, the laden boughs of the pear tree arched perfectly over our simple place settings, and all that was left was to bring out the food. Sticking to a mediterranean flavor profile, we designed a charcuterie board piled with hummus, marinated vegetables, dishes of olives, flatbreads, grapes, meats, hard cheeses, and creamy balls of fresh mozzarella. In the novel, Circe sets up long tables in her house and serves similar fare to visiting sailors, with plenty of wine, of course. Capturing that atmosphere with the food at our own long wooden table felt so right.

circe_023.jpg
circe_016.jpg
circe_024.jpg
circe_025.jpg
circe_026.jpg
circe_029.jpg
circe_031.jpg
circe_044.jpg
circe_035.jpg
circe_039.jpg
circe_037.jpg

Settling in with an array of snacks and goblets full of wine to discuss the book was the best part, of course (it always is!). We easily spend an hour trading insights, picking apart scenes, and weighing outside criticisms with our own opinions when we talk books. Part of how we prepare our discussions is to pay attention to other reviews to see what other people are generally saying about the novel, and then deciding what we agree and disagree with.

With Circe, one of the biggest criticisms we saw was that the novel lacked any “fireworks” from Circe herself, that she didn’t adequately own and display her powers to any real effect. We both disagree. Circe used her powers to defy the gods quietly, and to only please herself. Some elaborate action scene would feel untrue to the character Miller built for us, since Circe is very strong, but intentionally not flashy. What did you think?

circe_041.jpg
circe_046.jpg
circe_045.jpg
circe_043.jpg
circe_057.jpg
circe_056.jpg
circe_051.jpg

With the afternoon wearing on, it was eventually time to wrap it up and exit the dreamy space we had built and enjoyed for the past few hours. These little private book clubs are always worth the extra effort. Existing in such an atmospheric space while we hold our book discussions really lets us live the books in a way nothing else does. Until next time, friends!

circe_055.jpg
circe_061.jpg
circe_068.jpg
Cheers to the Weekend 10.12.18
20181011__RKR5182.jpg

*some links are affiliate, we deeply appreciate your support

It’s another glorious October weekend here in the PNW. We are taking advantage of our remaining few weeks of mild weather and spending as much time outside as possible this weekend with our families before the rains return. This is our absolute favorite time of year, and we are just soaking it up. What are you guys up to this weekend?

Around the Web

Why simply buying books isn’t enough to keep bookstores alive. This was really thought provoking, and a good peek behind the curtain at the realities of owning and operating a bookstore, what we value in our communities, and what you can do to make a difference.

Speaking of indie bookstores….

Visiting Atlanta any time soon? Or want some armchair travel? Here’s a how to spend a literary long weekend in the city! What would this look like in your hometown?

Did you see J. K. Rowling’s explanation of Quidditch scoring? So good.

Our friend Morgan has a great list of spooky reads if you’re trying to sneak one in before the month ends!

We’ll also be revisiting our fall book + cocktail pairings this weekend when we mix ourselves a drink. Are any of them to your taste?

Instagram

The loveliest moody vibes I’ve seen yet, plus all the classics

Jamie has great taste in new contemporary titles, a cute kitty, and great light all the time

I don’t even know what to say about Sara, except that I’m extremely jealous. See for yourself!

What We're Reading

Michaela - I’m still making good progress with War and Peace, but I had to put it on the back burner this weekend in order to quickly finish my book club book, Warbreaker! I’m loving both, so no complaints here.

Rikki - I am in a great place with my current reads right now and I love it. As I Lay Dying is my chapter a night read and I’m enjoying every bit of Faulkner’s brilliant prose. I’m also reading and loving Where the Crawdads Sing and There There.

New + Classic Gothic Novels

If we’re going to talk about Gothic novels, it would help to take a look at what Gothic fiction actually is. Basically, if it involves creepy vibes, death, a little horror, intense emotions, paranormal bits, and even some romance—congratulations, you’ve got yourself a Gothic novel! They tend to move away from logic and reason and more toward emotion and imagination, and that shift tends to lead to some really interesting fiction. We absolutely love this genre for this time of year, because neither of us are much into horror or gore, and these tend to give us the suspense and spooky feels without grossing us out.

20181011__RKR5200.jpg
_RKR6960.jpg
JaneEyreDinnerParty_007.jpg

*some links are affiliate, and some books were gifted to us by their publishers. You can see our policies right here!

If you’re looking for the classics:

Wuthering Heights| Emily Brontë- People who go into this expecting a romance story or anything along the lines of Jane Austen are going to be sorely disappointed. The book opens with a ghost sawing our narrator’s arm on a jagged piece of broken window…so yeah, Austen would certainly not approve. The dark and twisted romantic connection between wicked, passionate Heathcliff and fiesty, petulant Catherine is set against the infamously bleak landscape of the English moors, making for an extremely atmospheric story. This book is exceptionally intense and dark, but the flawed characters, the elements of the supernatural, and the deeply human connections coalesce into something remarkable, even if it isn’t exactly pleasant.

Rebecca | Daphne Du Maurier- This one, though published in the 30’s, has aged beautifully. It’s got an aging English mansion and all the morose, rainy atmosphere you could possibly want. The story revolves around a young newlywed, a psychologically manipulative housekeeper, marital secrets, mysteries, plenty of death, and the story climaxes spectacularly during a formal masked ball. Intrigued yet? Plus, echoes of Jane Eyre abound. Speaking of which…

Jane Eyre | Charlotte Brontë- A little less sinister than some others on this list, nevertheless this is a truly exceptional example of Gothic literature. Sad childhoods, creepy, creepy secrets, a bit of romance, a remote mansion in the English countryside (sensing a theme here…) and a good dose of melodrama build this novel into it’s shocking conclusion. Jane herself is quite the admirable heroine, fiery and strong under her calm, plain exterior; it's very easy to appreciate why she is so beloved. Well worth reading, and I guarantee you’ll recognize some familiar tropes, because this is the novel that started them!

The Woman in White | Wilkie Collins- A complex page turner, this one features a mysterious woman in white, whispers of insane asylums, ominous letters, star crossed lovers, grand estates, and much more. It's got just enough of a creepy edge to be perfectly Gothic, while having plenty of other action happening to keep the well layered mystery plot moving quickly. 

Frankenstein | Mary Shelley- Our buddy read/readalong this month, and does this one even need an explanation? It has permeated pop culture so thoroughly, just do yourself a favor and read the original! It’s much better than the green monsters printed on Halloween decorations, or the black and white horror show movie you remember, we promise. Plus, Mary Shelley was fascinating. More on her later.

 

20181011__RKR5204.jpg
20180926__RKR4793.jpg
fallhalloweenbooks_021.jpg

If you want A fresh take on Gothic lit:

The Thirteenth Tale | Diane Setterfield- A reclusive, dying author hires a relatively unknown biographer, Margaret, to tell her life story. Old world glamour, family secrets, and mysterious ties that bind them together abound in this novel. It has some strong flavors of Rebecca, Jane Eyre and The Woman in White, so expect madness, secrets, the threat of the paranormal, and death (of course), but the book remains exceptionally clever and fresh. Oh! And the majority of the story takes place in…you guessed it: a creepy old English mansion!

Bitter Orange | Claire Fuller- I read this one last month and was blown away. A crumbling English mansion in the countryside (yep! again!), a couple who aren’t what they seem, secrets of both the house and of the people, rich, dark atmosphere despite it’s sunny facade, and yes, death, obviously, because we’re talking about Gothic novels! Bitter Orange is like if Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night and Du Maurier’s Rebecca had an eerily atmospheric, glittering book baby. Plus it was such a clever, clever twist on the unreliable narrator thing. Ultimately, you’re a stunningly written and complex mystery when you pick this one up.

Her Body and Other Parties | Carmen Maria Machado- A short story collection that 100% felt like reading a modern, diverse take on Gothic lit. These stories play with unique formats and blur horror and love into a gorgeously realized collection. Dark, powerful, fresh, and so so good; I absolutely loved it. I will say that it is VERY graphic, so read at your own risk if you're sensitive to that! 

The Secret History | Donna Tartt- Remember the elements that comprise a Gothic novel? The Secret History has them alllllll. Incredible atmosphere? Check. Melodrama and big feelings? Check. Murder? Double Check. Horror? Paranormal bits? Check and check. It’s perfect. I know you guys don’t need to hear me gush about this book ever again, but…it’s a perfect example of a modern Gothic novel, just sayin’!

The Winters | Lisa Gabriele- This one is due to release next week (10/16), but it’s essentially a modern retelling of the infamous Rebecca. All the same elements, but sub the nasty housekeeper for a foul mouthed step daughter with a huge Instagram following, and add in Caribbean cruises, deadly car crashes, and one hell of a twist at the end. All the tension and atmosphere you could ever want, and a brilliant take on an old favorite.

20181011__RKR5208.jpg

What are your favorite Gothic novels, old or new?

Cheers to the Weekend 10.5.18
20180914__RKR4004.jpg

*some links are affiliate, we deeply appreciate your support

October is in full swing and we are HERE FOR IT. We’re enjoying the beginning of the rainy fall afternoons and lighting all the pumpkin candles while we cozy up with our current reads. Aside from books, plans this weekend include a trip to the pumpkin patch, baking up some seasonal treats, and meeting up for one of our weekly Saturday morning breakfast dates! What about you guys? What are you up to?

Around the Web

Pairing novels with fancy grilled cheeses?!? Um, yes please!

Need some spooky, but not scary reads for fall? Anne has you covered.

The perfect list if you love books about serial killers, but also need some depth.

What does a political story look like in 2018? Roxanne Gay wrote an article about it and it is FAB.

October is looking stellar for new releases.

Did you guys hear that Circe by Madeline Miller might be turned into a TV series? Thoughts?

We are dying to visit this magical Harry Potter exhibit! If you’re in New York, go check it out for us!

 

Instagram

The cat and books of Instagram. We’re sold.

Sometimes documenting books in real life is hard, but Ally is pulling it off colorfully

The loveliest book and coffee combos in the prettiest scenes with perfect lifestyle vibes

What We're Reading

Michaela - I’m having a love affair with War and Peace. Yes that War and Peace. I know it’s huge, but it’s so readable and just…good. Aside from that my entire October TBR is sci-fi/fantasy novels, and I’m knee deep into A Winter’s Promise right now, and will likely finish it this weekend! Then it’s on to Frankenstein for our read-along.

Rikki - Class is over, and I’m hoping that means I can finish off As I Lay Dying and Autumn, but honestly, I'm really enjoying the slow reading and time to sit with them. I also started This is How It Always Is, and it’s kind of blowing my mind. It’s really, very good.

Wrap Up | September 2018
20180928__RKR4923.jpg

*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support

Michaela

P.S I Still Love You | Jenny Han - Pretty much everyone has read this series at this point, it seems, and there isn’t much new to say about it. I think it’s warm and cozy and good light fun, but I still think Lara Jean’s voice sounds too juvenile. Shrug. These are cute, but I’m having a hard time feeling motivated to read the third one.

Howls’s Moving Castle | Diana Wynne Jones - A nostalgic re-read for me, because it’s a childhood favorite and one I repeatedly come back to. I love Howl’s for it’s humor, wonderful characters, and warmth, but I am not an impartial judge at this point— it’s been a staple in my life for too long. I know this is sacrilege to some, but while I love them both, I think I like the movie just a tad more! This was a re-read I desperately needed in my life this month since I was disappointed with so many of the books I read or tried to read, and it helped buoy me up.

Where the Crawdads Sing | Delia Owens - Get out your pitchforks…because I DNF this one. I made it about 200 pages, and while I could see it was well written and was telling it’s story well, I am just not the reader for it. I am not at all drawn to this kind of story, and that’s okay. I passed it over to Rikki, and I’m reasonably sure she is going to absolutely love it. Thanks to Putnam for gifting us a review copy.

Passing for Human | Liana Finck - This is another book (well, graphic memoir) that I am just not the right reader for. It’s doing something very specific, and very trendy with it’s style, but I am just not someone who enjoys it. I also see what the message was supposed to be, but I think it could have been better executed. Thanks to Random House for the complimentary review copy.

Fun Home | Alison Bechdel - And yet another book that was not for me! Hooray! Fun Home falls into the category of “I can see that this is good, but I don’t like it” It’s well executed, it has a clear intention and is well layered, but I did not enjoy reading it. Part of it is that pseudo-grief memoirs, especially when they are wrestling with the death of a parent, are hard for me, but part of it was just…again I am not the right reader for this style.

The Picture of Dorian Gray | Oscar Wilde - Another much needed re-read, because Oscar Wilde never disappoints. This book is full of Wilde’s particular brand of wit and humor while tackling some deeper philosophy and darker themes. It’s cynical and dazzling in equal measure, with gorgeous prose and well constructed ideas. If you’ve never read any Wilde, do yourself a favor and pick him up; he’s nothing short of mesmerizing to read.

There There | Tommy Orange - This book really reminds me of Junot Diaz, except Orange is being a lot more straightforward than Diaz, if that makes sense; there’s less nuance and reading between the lines required. I sincerely enjoyed it though, and it was certainly one of the best books I’ve read recently. I think the use of multiple perspectives is interesting and well done, with the right amount of connection between them. Also the ending was a little shocking, even though I expected it, and the lack of closure ultimately served the story well. Thanks so much to Knopf for gifting us a review copy.

 

20181001__RKR4945.jpg

Rikki

The Witch of Blackbird Pond | Elizabeth Speare George - This month’s buddy read with my oldest, I would have so appreciated this book more at a younger age. Nonetheless, still a charming book, especially to share with your children. (side note from Michaela: I read this as a kid and really loved it!).

Cinder | Marissa Meyer - So many people recommended this book as another buddy read for my oldest, and it fit the bill perfectly. I enjoyed it much more than anticipated and he’s in the middle of reading it and liking it as well.

The Kitchen House | Kathleen Grissom - A long awaited read, I loved this book. A fictional, yet realistic look at life for an orphan girl and the servants of a plantation. The story follows the orphan girl through the majority of her life and through the relationships she makes. It’s very well done.

The Picture of Dorian Gray | Oscar Wilde - This book is excellent! It’s full of satire and often crude offbeat humor. For being written in the late 19th century, it’s even more brilliant than one might realize at first!

The Penderwick’s | Jeanne Birdsall - I’ve been meaning to read this book for some time, wondering if my kids would like it as well. It’s a darling story of four sisters on their summer vacation, and I can’t wait to pass it off to my daughter!

White Oleander | Janet Fitch - I loved this book. It’s a beautifully written portrayal of a girl navigating life after her mother murders a former lover. Astrid comes of age and learns to navigate life, learn the not-so-pretty person her mother is, and in certain small ways, I was able to relate to many aspects of her struggles. The book ended as it should have; a closed chapter of her life, not an ending.

GUEST REVIEWER

Nicole | @nicoleviolabooks

IMG_0684.jpg

Hello, fellow Ardent Biblio readers! I'm Nicole, a renaissance mama, and a reader with a deep abiding love for YA lit. I also enjoy classics and chick lit (is that still a term?), middle grade, light sci-fi, and I'm trying to venture into fantasy. I take my time with non-fiction and memoir, but I generally blow through fiction. I'm currently a bit burnt-out on historical fiction and I've finally come to terms with the fact that despite studying literature in college and grad school, I'm just not drawn to literary fiction or books with heavier themes. I'm currently writing a YA novel and querying another and also homeschool my kids part-time and cheer for lots of sports games. You can find me online at nicolevbennett.com.


IMG_0683.jpg

Daddy-Long-Legs | Jean Webster - This book has been waiting on my Kindle for years, ever since I read one of my favorite books, Dear Mr. Knightly (a retelling of it by Katherine Reay). Well, the original did not disappoint; I thoroughly loved Daddy-Long-Legs! The narrator is quirky and clever, and her humor still holds up over a hundred years after the book was written. Written in an easy, epistolary style (which I always love), this book was simply a delight for me.

The Cafe by the Sea | Jenny Colgan - I'm a big Jenny Colgan fan and loved this story, which, while reminiscent of some of her other books, drew me right in, thanks to its heartwarming story and atmospheric setting on a fictional Scottish island. I loved how she wove strands of Scottish lore and culture into the story, and of course, Jenny Colgan sure knows how to weave in a good romance (or two) as well. I'm ready to take a trip to Scotland and to the fictional Endless Beach now!

Renegades | Marissa Meyer - When I find an author I love, I become a loyal reader. Since I loved the Lunar Chronicles so much (it was my first real foray into anything sci-fi), I was drawn to Renegades simply because of who wrote it (that, and its eye-catching cover!). I've never read any superhero stories before but really liked this one. I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out in November! The different super powers in the book were crafted so creatively, and my eight-year old son kept sneaking the book away from me to re-read the cast of characters and their powers in the front of the book. I love the questions about society that this book raises, too. 


What did you read and love this month?

Cheers to the Weekend 9.28.18
20180922__RKR4577.jpg

*some links are affiliate, we deeply appreciate your support

Well hello, fall! We are getting into full swing with ombre trees and falling leaves, crisp mornings and increasingly chilly nights. We’re soaking it up, and we’ve got family in town this weekend to share the season with this weekend, too. October is just around the corner, and we can’t wait! It’s both of our favorite month here in the PNW, hands down. What are you guys up to this weekend?

Around the Web

We believe in the comfort of re-reading favorite books. Pair that with seasonal reading (insert: read Harry Potter every fall); here’s proof we certainly aren’t the only ones who feel this way.

An intimate insight to a magical part of Paris— Parisian Carousels. We’re in!

We’re so impressed at this list of young authors (5 under 35!). Have you read any of these books?

On that same note: we are equally impressed with authors who still believe in their dreams and writing, no matter their age. I guarantee you’ve read one of these (we have)!

Some of our favorites are on this list of under-appreciated books, which just so happen to be perfect for your fall TBR.

Books from popular authors that you likely haven’t read yet.

An interview with Reese on her latest book, Whiskey in a Teacup.

 

Instagram

We love Lupita’s book and beer pairings and the way she shows books in her everyday life

My favorite type of books to read: Diverse Classics, and this account DELIVERS with excellent book choices and monthly discussions

A fellow library lover and contemporary reader, Lindsey has lovely, light-filled literary lifestyle photos

What We're Reading

Michaela - This month has been a frustratingly slow and disappointing reading month for me, but I’m spending the weekend back with the Gentlemen Bastards in The Lies of Locke Lamora, which is such a great, hilariously witty fantasy. I’m also looking forward to picking up my library holds for Lethal White and A Winter’s Promise.

Rikki - I finished The Picture of Dorian Gray this week, and LOVED IT! I’m still reading As I Lay Dying and Autumn, but I’m taking my time with them, as they are to be savored. I’ve also been powering through White Oleander, and I cannot put it down! Lastly, I’m really looking forward to starting Other People’s Love Affairs next. Fingers crossed I can get some solid reading time in this weekend.

Bad People Book Club | September 2018
badpeople_unknownamericans_001.jpg

*We were sent this box in exchange for an honest review, and of course, all opinions are wholly our own. You can see our policy right here

Pairing drinks with books is something we’ve been doing for awhile now. Sometimes, we just don’t have the time or ability to throw a dinner party, but want a fun experience with a book, and this is a really great way to do it.

If a book doesn’t have an obvious drink of choice, it can prove challenging to decide what might pair best. You have to think of the season, food mentions, and other details from the book that might fit. Since most of the time, you aren’t trying to come up with all of that yourself, we fully support a Bad People Book Club subscription.

badpeople_unknownamericans_010.jpg

This subscription is a no-fuss type of goodie box that comes with a carefully selected book highlighting diverse, strong female authors and a custom cocktail to go with it. The box arrives with the book and cocktail ingredients (sans alcohol) along with a recipe card—and just like that, you’re ready for a good time! The card also has discussion points on it that pairs with their podcast on the book, which we really enjoy.

badpeople_unknownamericans_007.jpg
badpeople_unknownamericans_014.jpg

This particular box was enjoyed with good company, and a drink we all loved and made all night long! Getting an excuse to sit down, sip on something delicious, and talk about books is always a really good time. We really appreciate the partnership we’ve gotten to have with Bad People Book Club, and we encourage you to give it a try!

“Bad People Book Club is a book box that transforms books into cocktail recipes.”

If this sounds like something you need in your life, you can use our code ARDENT10 for 10% off your order. Cheers!

"But What Else Will You Do With It?" A Story About How We Bargain Hunt for Our Literary Dinner Parties

Fun fact: we thrift almost everything for our literary dinner parties. Actually, a combination of thrifting and a bit of scouring the clearance sections at HomeGoods and Target is probably more accurate. We do this as a hobby, friends— so our budget for these things is basically non-existent. I think the most we've ever spent for one dinner (excluding food/flower costs) is about $30, but we generally stay under $10. We've always tried to emphasize that these dinners are doable for anyone, and since we've covered the basic how-to's, we decided to share a little more about how we source our decor. 

 Thrifted creamer jug, silver platter, egg basket, lace runner, and cans. Teacups are thrifted and clearance Anthropologie.

Thrifted creamer jug, silver platter, egg basket, lace runner, and cans. Teacups are thrifted and clearance Anthropologie.

 Thrifted platters and milk bottle vases. Crackled pot is clearance Anthropologie, napkins, rose gold bottle, and marble candleholder are from Target clearance.

Thrifted platters and milk bottle vases. Crackled pot is clearance Anthropologie, napkins, rose gold bottle, and marble candleholder are from Target clearance.

 Thrifted brass candlestick, votive holder, and jar. Drink glasses, and rose gold bottle are clearance Target. Napkins are from clearance HomeGoods.

Thrifted brass candlestick, votive holder, and jar. Drink glasses, and rose gold bottle are clearance Target. Napkins are from clearance HomeGoods.

The first step, honestly, is to have a vision, or at least some kind of aesthetic feel that you want to create. We generally use Pinterest to do this! Next, round up everything you already have that fits your vision, and identify where the gaps are. Maybe you need a serving tray, or candle holders, or napkins. Whatever it is, keep those items in mind when you go to the store. 

 Thrifted vintage china and books. Candle holder with flowers is clearance Anthropologie, marble candle holder is clearance Target.

Thrifted vintage china and books. Candle holder with flowers is clearance Anthropologie, marble candle holder is clearance Target.

 Thrifted vases, sheet music, red table runner. Plates, napkins, clear candlesticks are clearance HomeGoods, tall gold candlesticks are clearance Anthropologie, and the napkin rings and cloche are Halloween clearance from Target.

Thrifted vases, sheet music, red table runner. Plates, napkins, clear candlesticks are clearance HomeGoods, tall gold candlesticks are clearance Anthropologie, and the napkin rings and cloche are Halloween clearance from Target.

 Thrifted sheet music, red table runner, vases, and goblets.

Thrifted sheet music, red table runner, vases, and goblets.

Now here's the tricky part: try not to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff in the store. When I walk in, I try to really focus on finding those couple things I need first and foremost. Sometimes it's glassware, or a table runner I need to complete the scene in my head, but I also have my eyes open for items that fit the aesthetic I want, and if I come across something, then I think about how I want to incorporate it.

Also, whenever I find an item I'm interested in, I ask myself "but what else will I do with this?" If it's just too specific to one dinner, and costs more than a dollar or two, I have a hard time purchasing it...because then what? I store it indefinitely? I toss or donate it? It feels like a waste. I make a point to prioritize items: if I think it's going to completely make the set up, I go for it, but if it's just an accent and it's really too specific, I pass.

 Heirloom lace table runner and thrifted silver candelabra, goblets. Napkins and rings from Target clearance.

Heirloom lace table runner and thrifted silver candelabra, goblets. Napkins and rings from Target clearance.

 Thrifted candlestick, silver platter, pillar candle holder, lace doily, and vase

Thrifted candlestick, silver platter, pillar candle holder, lace doily, and vase

 Thrifted candle holders galore.

Thrifted candle holders galore.

Some trips are more successful than others, and that's okay. I prefer to think of the whole process as a treasure hunt instead of something stressful, and it's okay if I don't strike gold every time. One thing that does increase my success rate is looking at creative uses for things. Can that jar be a vase? Can that cool piece of lace be cut into a table runner? Can I put a pillar candle on that little plate? You have to think a little outside the box sometimes!

It’s also worth noting that we plan for our next buddy read and dinner well in advance. As we're reading, we each take our own notes and develop a vision that we'll talk about and combine. If we had only a few days of planning and gathering materials, we would like be more stressed and would have a harder time including so many details. And really, the details are our favorite elements of a dinner party: the menu, drinks, and decor, we've found that they add a richness to the experience and aesthetic quality. Lastly, we really do compliment each other in setting up these dinners. From styling to small adjustments, photos, and food, we couldn't create what we do alone, at least not as wonderfully. Of course, that isn't to say you need a best friend to throw your own dinner party with, but it certainly helps!

If you have any thoughts or questions, we’d love to hear!

Cheers to the Weekend 9.21.18
20180922__RKR4576.jpg

*some links are affiliate, we deeply appreciate your support

Annnnnnnnd we’re only a week away from October??? But seriously how!? Regardless, we are loving every minute of watching the trees burst into glorious fall color and are over here seriously anticipating our favorite month (and a new dinner party!). This weekend has been low key for the both of us, just taking care of the dreaded “adulting” and spending time with our families. Anyone do anything fun this weekend?

Around the Web

Did you guys see the Man Booker shortlist? I’m impressed with the representation of independent publishers and it also includes the youngest nominee ever!

TBR toppling? Let’s talk about the merits of erasing it.

We aren’t the only ones excited about fall reads, and for good reason.

Do you follow any authors on Twitter?

We love our banned book club, and these are some of the most beloved books that have been banned.

If you’re struggling with historical fiction, you aren’t alone + some recommendations for unconventional ones you might try!

I’m OBSESSED with this concept and though I’d never fire Gatsby, I do love some of the suggested alternatives.

 

Instagram

Stephanie’s feed features lovely photography + great reads; what more could you ask for? 

We love the travel + lifestyle vibes on Tim’s feed!

Need some autumn coziness? Head over to this gorgeous feed.

What We're Reading

Michaela - I’m settling in with The Lies of Locke Lamora, but I’ve also got my eye on Warbreaker for book club!

Rikki - I’m still immensely enjoying The Picture of Dorian Gray, satirical and hilarious! I’m also reading Autumn and As I Lay Dying. We have a lot of working going on around our homestead, so reading is getting neglected a bit, I’ll likely spend the rest of the month finishing these novels.

What We're Excited to Read This Fall

There’s about a two week transitional period here in the Pacific Northwest that sees us through the last heat wave of summer and into the inevitable, seemingly abrupt, turn to autumn. It’s a welcome time, as we’re so accustomed to our often mild weather and dressing in layers, plus one can only read so many fun beach novels before craving something different. At least, that’s the case for us. This time of year, as we slide back in to misty mornings, shorter days, and brilliantly colored trees, we find ourselves drawn to atmospheric campus novels, classics, fantasy, and usually a good door stop or two as we cozy in with warm blankets and tea.

After much debate and scouring of shelves, these are some of the many books we’re most looking forward to reading this fall.

*some links are affiliate, we deeply appreciate your support

20180922__RKR4105.jpg

Rikki

There are a few novels that I’ve simply been meaning to read until the weather shifted and the slow, dark prose was well-suited to the overall mood and atmosphere of the season. When you fully immerse yourself into the atmosphere of a novel, matching the weather, the seasonal food, the clothes, etc., can all be felt in a greater context. I’ve started most of these actually, seeing which ones I really wanted to commit to, and well, they all made the cut.

Michaela turned me on to Oscar Wilde a few years ago with The Importance of Being Earnest, and after needing a palate cleanser, I started The Picture of Dorian Gray. I’ve been making my way through this book this past month, and have found myself laughing out loud on so many occasions. It is a hysterical. While also craving something slow and intentional, Karl One Knausgaard’s Autumn was a no-brainer! One of the most charming stories of simple every day things that one may or may not ever reflect on as they go about their day, raise their children, meander through orchards, and watch the sun set.

Needing even more mood, I can’t resist Faulkner, whom I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time. As I Lay Dying is the deeper, make-you-think type of novel I can easily get lost in on a rainy day. A perfect compliment to Faulkner is Leaf Storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I’m excited to explore both author’s work.

I’m keeping the rest of my options open for campus novels and moody books, so if you have recommendations, feel free to send them my way! Speaking of recommendations, The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon was recently recommended to us as a “hard to put down campus novel. I’m really looking forward to reading this! The reviews are quite controversial and all over the place, which is all the intrigue I need.

20180914__RKR3977.jpg

Michaela

The colder the weather gets, the more I crave fantasy, big tomes, and atmospheric reads. I seek this same mood every year, I know, but I can’t help it! Nothing goes better with a steaming mug of tea than richly drawn worlds and dark atmosphere.

Fantasy

For fantasy this fall I’m kind of running the gamut this season. I’m picking up Diane Setterfield’s (The Thirteenth Tale, anyone?) forthcoming novel Once Upon A River, which is a all myth and fairytale and mystery; you know, the good stuff. I’m also reading the third installment of Becky Chamber’s Wayfarers series, Record of a Spaceborn Few. If her past books are any indication, this one will be a warm cozy hug of a sci-fi novel and I can’t wait to just be wrapped in her magical world building and characters.

I’m also picking up two, big hefty plot-driven fantasy novels: The Lies of Locke Lamora, because I’ve been meaning to read it forever (and it is soooooo delightfully sassy and fun so far!), and Warbreaker for book club, which sounds like it’s basically going to be kickass princesses and magic and gods. Obviously I am here for it, plus Sanderson is another author I’ve been meaning to read.

Atmosphere

I’m mixing up my atmospheric books this year, and instead of going and hiding in The Secret History forever and ever, I’m looking to a few authors I trust to give me that moody ambiance I crave. Lief Enger (of Peace Like A River fame) has a new novel out October 2nd called Virgil Wander, and from what I’ve read of it so far, it is just exquisite. The plot is nearly irrelevant, it’s enough to just bask in Enger’s writing, but it revolves around a man, his life changing accident, and his relationships with the people in his small town.

Speaking of exquisite writing, I just finished reading Claire Fuller’s forthcoming title Bitter Orange, and was so blown away by the level of skill and atmosphere, I was immediately inspired to pick up her previous works Swimming Lessons and Our Endless, Numbered Days. Though the plots are all different, I’m hearing she has that moody undercurrent I love in all her books.

I’m also excited for The Essex Serpent, which has been on my TBR for a while thanks to everyone praising it’s atmospheric Victorian setting, spooky bits, and deep dives into the main character and her relationships. The last two novels I’m anticipating are Home Fire, which I’m sure you’ve seen absolutely everywhere thanks to it winning the women’s prize for fiction and getting long listed for the Man Booker, and Gentlemen and Players, which should fulfill my Secret History cravings quite nicely with it’s campus setting and murder-y vibes.

Doorstopper

Call me crazy, but I am head over heels in love with War and Peace. It’s famously enormous, of course, but whenever I pick it up I always, ALWAYS get sucked into it and end up reading for an hour—or three. I’m currently about 300 pages into it, and you can read a bit about why I decided to read it and how I chose the translation I’m reading right over here.

Also, maybe this will sound silly, but it’s really helped me to watch the mini series as I make my way through this behemoth. I’ve been watching an episode, reading up to where the episode cuts off, and then watching another, then reading, etc. It helps me to know where I’m going in the book and the show is just so deliciously well done; it’s been a great companion to the novel. I’m hoping to finish this one well before the year ends, so wish me luck!

What are you looking forward to reading this fall?