Book List: My Fall TBR

I'm a really bad book nerd. I love to read but I feel guilty as hell anytime I sit still (that's why I have to knit or sketch ideas at breakfast dates and while watching TV). So I binge read, which often leads to greater guilt, a stiff back and a lack of sleep. But with wedding season slowing down, being more on top of holiday and portfolio prep and the studio running a bit more independently, I have a bit more free time. And let's face it,

I really need to take some down time now and then.

Plus, I have stacks of books with stiff spines like mine dying to have a little crack in them...but just a little, they need to stay pristine in their boxes on the bookshelf. So I've made a TBR for autumn and it's a big one. (Little known fact, I have an MO for buying lots of books and taking a million years to actually read them.) Here's what I have stacked on my bedside table for the next three months:



Siege and Storm

Leigh Bardugo

Unintentionally, I keep picking up YA novels because I get hooked on beautifully styled IG shots of moody and powerful covers  and then binge buy a series...Costco and B&N make this entirely too easy around the holidays when I'm feeling spendy and more bookish so let's blame them. My first YA was the Red Queen series...great idea, terribly written and apaling editing. The Grisha Trilogy has, so far, been a saving grace to present a similar story that is well written (and obviously well edited). I already started this second installment and am a bit turned off by the naivety of the main heroine, but hey, she's supposed to be a late teen and I know I was hot headed and and naive when I was her age so I'll cut a bit of slack. I'm still full captivated by the imagery and writing and interested in what comes next every chapter. I'm not sure I'm looking forward to the end of this long novel (I read the last few paragraphs of most books...tsk tsk...but I'm a goldfish and often forget halfway through what I read) but I'm hoping to see some growth of Alina and rooting for the demise of the Darkling while enjoying the imagery and fantastic languages Leigh Bardugo injects into the story.


Lily and the Octopus

Steven Rowley

Okay, technically I started this a while ago but it's taking me a long while because we all know how it will end and I really can't handle sad animal stories. (I silently balled at the end of Alex and Me in front of an entire room of visiting family. Highly recommend.) Steven Rowley does a great job with his characters and keeps your heartstrings taught. As a beyond avid dog lover, this book is difficult to take in but also something of an emotional outlet that allows me to share the grief of loss, not only of pets but also of family, with Ted (Lily's dad) and other dog parents. I'll let you know how much I cry when I reach the end...


Martin Marten

Brian Doyle

I technically started reading this one too and then forgot I did until delving into Siege and Storm...I think I only got a bit into it so I'll just restart to refresh the bit I've already forgotten.  This book was recommended to me by my mum and she had a copy so of course I accepted the loan. Plus, who doesn't like adorable martens? I've been lucky enough to see a little family in the wild and, whether or not there are actual martens in this story, I was hooked with the cute little mustelid on the cover. I've never read a Brian Doyle novel, but I've heard great things and I love nature themed novels so I'm hopeful to discover a new favorite author.


The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

 Imogen Hermes Gowar

My reason for spontaneously buying this book? The alluring, Victorian sounding title and a curiosity of why one Mrs. Hancock would be fraternizing with said mermaid. Yup, Cerise's reasoning on picking up a novel. It doesn't always work out in my favor. Here's to hoping this lives up to it's Goodreads reviews.


The Silence of the Girls

Pat Barker

Honestly, in my book spending spontaneity with Book of the Month, I added this on with The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock because it was "free." I did read the summary and it does sound like a powerful story highlighting the strength of women in a misogynistic world. And I do love a good historical fiction novel.


My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry

Fredrik Backman

My grandma had this book next to her chair last I visited (was she trying to tell me something??) and she said she was really enjoying the read. My mum also said it to be good novel and had a copy (she's a library!) so yes, this is on my shelf begging to be read. I've been curious about Ove and this may help me decide whether or not to add that to the winter TBR. I also may or may not have been drawn in by the cover art.


Ruin and Rising

Leigh Bardugo

Being that I read the first and second installments of the Grisha series, I probably should read the third installment, right? Plus, I have Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom waiting for my winter TBR. And since I accidently read the end of chapter 1 of this novel thinking it was the end end of the second novel and I have yet to goldfish it away, I'm intrigued, worried and I need to know what happens dammit.


Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert

Everyone in my creative circle and their mum has read this (actually, don't quote me on their mums but my mum read it) so I figure I should give it a go. Seems to be a powerful and mayne introspective read. Plus, galaxy covers are pretty, 'nough said.


Where the Crawdads Sing

Delia Owens

The synopsis of this novel sounds fairly intriguing but in all reality, the title pulled me in instantly. Spoiler alert, I don't think there are any cute crawdad quartets involved in this story. I will admit that I am turned off by the comparison to Barbara Kingsolver (I couldn't finish Flight Behavior. The idea and imagery were fantastic but I'm really turned off by whiny and naive main characters like Dellarobia. Please recommend another Kingsolver novel to change my mind about her books.) Aside from that hitch, I expect that this will be an interesting and perhaps culturally insightful novel.



And that is my autumn TBR folks.

It's a little overwhelming like an eager to-do list of house cleaning that's been negleted for months, but I'll let it go through the end of November with the hopes that I cram a ton in over Thanksgiving break. I'm a binger, remeber?

Have you read any of these books? Let me know if you did and whether you loved them, hated them, or?? I'm also taking suggestions for my Winter TBR, though my want to read list is already very, very long of course.


Let connect on Goodreads, Instagram and email!



Thumbnail Image Source:

3 Must Try Lavender Honey Tea Lattes


Are you a lavender fanatic like myself?

Maybe a tea AND a lavender lover?

Then you came to the right place! I kicked the coffee chug a few months ago and noticed a huge benefit to my overall health and productivity. (Don't worry, I'm not here to soap-box about switching off your coffee intake, I know it's amazing, it's just not right for me right now.) But I really missed having a hot drink in the morning. So I decided to make matcha almond milk lattes.

Amazing as they are, I got a little bored with matcha every morning.

Even with a maca interruption every now and then, I was wanting something new. So I decided to experiment with some fog style variants. Early grey is one of my fave teas so I grabbed the last sachet in my tea cupboard, pulled out my favorite morning mug, set the tea to steep and turned on the espresso machine. While waiting for the Breville to heat up for my almond milk, I wandered past my dining room and experienced a wonderful scent of lavender from the drying bouquet gifted to me earlier in the week. It smelled so pleasant, I thought to pluck off a cluster of flowers and plop it into my steeping tea. The scent was amazing! After steaming my milk, I pulled the tea bag and lavender out of my mug, mixed some local honey into the hot almond milk , poured in the "fog" and was eager to drink my little experiment.

My tastebuds were in heaven!

I loved the flavor so much that I decided to try a few different teas with the lavender and honey. Her are the simple recipes for my favorite lavender honey teas:


Lavender Honey London Fog

- 1 Earl Grey Tea Bag or Loose Leaf Tea (my favorite is Double Bergamot Earl Grey  by Stash)

- Pinch of lavender buds (about one flower head worth or 1 tsp)

- Almond Milk (Califia barista is a fantastic and frothy)

- Honey (preferably local and really is yummier!)

- Hot water

- Steamer or a frother whip

- Your favorite mug


Making the lattes

1. Start your water to boil and place your tea bag and lavender into your favorite cup

2. While the water comes to a boil, turn on your steamer and pour your almond milk into a steam pitcher. Steam your milk, making sure to allow air into the very top layer of your milk to achieve a lovely foam. If you don't have a steamer, heat up your almond milk on the stove top or in the microwave. If you like foam, invest in a little frother whip. They work really well!

3. As your milk continues to heat up, pour hot water over your tea bag and lavender and let steep.

4. Remove your milk from the heat, clean your steam wand and add honey into the milk. If you're using a frother whip, whip air into your hot milk for a frothier top. But be careful! It can get a little wild and milk may go flying out depending how full your container is! (Yes, I speak from experience.)

5. Remove your tea bag and lavender from your mug, then pour your honeyed almond milk into your tea and enjoy! (If you're an American tea heathen like me, you can leave your tea bag and flowers in the mix...I like my flavor STRONG. Sorry for making the rest of you tea drinkers cringe.)


Jasmine Green Tea Lavender & Honey Latte 

- Jasmine Green Tea or your favorite green tea in bag or loose leaf

- Pinch of lavender buds (about one flower head worth or 1 tsp)

- Almond Milk (Califia barista is a fantastic and frothy)

- Honey (preferably local and really is yummier!)

- Hot water

- Steamer or a frother whip

- Your favorite mug

- Matcha (optional to sprinkle on top of your foam)


(repeat prep instructions above)





In preparing green tea, you may want to remove the bag or tea strainer before adding the honeyed almond milk. Green teas can be quite strong and earthy and cut the flavor of this recipe if steeped too long. You may also want to start your green tea steeping with cold water to get the best benefits from the tea!


Lavender & Honey Chai Tea Latte

- 1 Chai Tea Bag, Loose Leaf Tea or Chai Concentrate

- Pinch of lavender buds (about one flower head worth or 1 tsp)

- Almond Milk (Califia barista is a fantastic and frothy)

- Honey (preferably local and really is yummier!)

- Hot water

- Steamer or a frother whip

- Your favorite mug

- Nutmeg (optional to sprinkle on top of your foam)


(repeat prep instructions above)

Are you using your favorite chai concentrate like Tazo or Oregon Chai? Add it directly to you milk and steam!


I hope you enjoy these recipes! If you do, you can prep your teas ahead of time and refrigerate them to heat up later or drink iced. I make a weekly batch of lavender and earl grey tea and keep it in the fridge to make my drink prep in the mornings go just a bit quicker. You can add your tea concentrate directly to your milk when you steam or heat! And to make it even more fun, I made a tag to hang on the bottle I use for my concentrate. You can download one for yourself here! Let me know what you think of these and if you've tried any others that you love to kickstart your morning!


6 Background Boards That Will Up Your Flat Lay Game

Do you STRUGGLE to make your flat-lays look professional? Are they lacking the POP to make them stand out? Is scrapbook paper your go-to background? Then it's time to up your flat-lay photography game! I've been honing my flat-lay game for the past few years and I've learned a few tricks and found some great supplies to make my photos stand out on social media. Join me over the next few weeks to learn how I create better flat-lay photos that get MORE CLICKS and MORE LIKES on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

6 background boards.png

Our first flat-lay topic: Background Boards

Let's start with the basic backbone of a good flat-lay. Background boards are an absolute must have if you want to showcase your work or product. Not only does having an attractive background cause your photo to stand out, having the right background for your shot allows your product or art to stand out. Using a good flat-lay board adds better texture to your photos and are often more photogenic than a flat piece of colored paper. Scrapbook paper can add some fun color and design to your shots but it can also be distracting and overwhelming if you are trying to showcase products. (Don't throw out your paper stash yet though! We'll talk about using them in a later post on adding pop to your pics.

Here are some of my FAVORITE flat-lay boards that I recommend for flat-lays shots of jewelry, stationery, makeup, etc. These can can even be used for staged upright shoots of plants, glassware, pottery, whatever you need to photograph!


1. Feather Park Lettering

Lucky me, I got to sample a flat-lay board from Gina at Feather Park Lettering in a GORGEOUS blue. Gina's boards are quite stunning, lightweight, and very sturdy. Her board line is currently in the works, but I can tell you already that you are going to love the colors she has lined up for her release. I've used my sample board for flat-lays and upright shots and I'm jonesing for more colors and sizes because I'm IN LOVE! Super plus side: these won't dent or flake if you need to place heavier objects on them like table settings or big rocks (yes, I use big rocks in some of my shots!). Be the first to know when these are available.

2. Medium Boards

I came across Medium Boards while searching and I'm so happy I took a chance to try out their marble board. Not only is it cheaper than real marble, it's a lot lighter! Besides being a bit heavy and cumbersome, my real marble boards are also much too small to be useful. Medium Boards are a great size and are easy to store since they are so thin and lightweight. They look pretty convincing too! A plus to real stone: no shine or glare! The downside: they are more sensitive than plaster and stone backgrounds to heavy objects and scratching.

3. One Stone West

These beautiful boards are quite stunning and classy. I will admit that I have not yet invested in my own board from them, but all the shots I've seen using their plaster boards makes me know I really need one! They have a wonderful organic look in a variety of soft and moody tones. One Stone West also offers canvas backdrops that are large enough for bigger scale photo shoots that go beyond the flat-lay.

4. Ink and Elm

Vinyl is always a win for any messy photo shoot. If you're using liquids or foods, Ink and Elm has the perfect high-quality vinyl drops. One of the benefits to using vinyl drops over plaster, wood or stone backgrounds: travel. Ink and Elm makes it easy to pack-and-go for off site photo shoots. They are also versatile since you can use them flat or as a backdrop without adding much weight or storage space for larger sizes. (Psssst: One of these will be making a special appearance in a later post!)

5. Photo Boards

For those of you on the other side of pond, Photo Boards a UK company that makes amazing flat-lay boards. With lots of color ways, textures and tones, there are definitely backdrops and boards for every shoot theme. They are also great for food photography as they are easily cleanable. I definitely have a few of these on my wishlist!

6. Every-Day Backgrounds

When you're just starting out and low on supplies or money, look no further than your home or neighborhood for a great background. Utilize your heirloom kitchen table or your deck for a fun wood surface. Maybe your local coffee shop has a bad-ass tile floor that you can spread out on near a window or you have some tile in your kitchen or bathroom that could add a little pop to your photo. Blankets, rugs, fabric, shawls, patios, gravel drives...all fari game. They key to making an ordinary background is dressing it up to go beyond the basic. But more on styling next week.


Have you tried any of these flat-lay board or backdrops? Tell us how you liked them! If you have other brands or every-day background suggestions, share them in the comments below!

Until next week, happy background hunting!

5 Wedding Planning Tips for When You Say “Yes!”

Congratulations! You’ve said yes and you’re excited to start planning for your important day. But you're already overwhelmed with everything that comes with planning an important event. So where should you start and what can you do to create the best bash ever while staying healthy and happy? Read on for some tips for brides-to-be!


1. Don't Put the Cart Before the Horse

First thing's first. Announce your engagement! Whether you tell all your friends and family by phone, Facebook or a formal announcement, let the important people in your life know that you said yes! Sit down with your partner and make a list of friends and family who should hear from you first. You can add on your list and use this later as your guest list for your wedding.


2. Set a No-Budge Budget

Money is one of the most stressful things when it comes to weddings. Before getting ambitious with all the possibilities for your wedding, plan a budget with your partner and families and stick to it. Know what areas of your wedding are worth more to you (photography, dress?) and which are a little less important (high-end linens, shoes you'll only wear for a few hours). Research the cost of wedding planners, photographers, venues, rentals, stationery, caterers, etc., and divide your budget accordingly. Were your thinking, "Money isn't really what's worrying's time!"? Not only is it important to stick to your financial budget, it's also important to budget your time and create a wedding planning calendar.


3. Don't Leave Out Important People

Once you decide on a wedding date, make sure people in your family and wedding party are able to attend. Double check your date with holidays, seasonal events and, yes, even sports calendars. Trust me, Superbowl Sunday could ruin your beautiful winter wedding! Besides the must-attend family and friends,  make sure to start researching services. Wedding season is CRAZY. Planners, photographers, calligraphers, venues and caterers may booked up to a year or more in advance so the sooner you book, the better. But make sure to check reviews and ratings and stick to your budget when booking!

4. Don't Compete

"This is going to be the biggest, bestest wedding EVAHR!" Okay, okay, yes, it is. But make it amazing for your and yours and don't compare your wedding to Kate Middleton or the Kardashians. Remember those high-end linens I mentioned before? Forget them. Unless you have an endless budget and the highest end planners, caterers and guaranteed spot in a spread in Martha Stewart Weddings, keep it real. You will be in such a joyous blur on your big day that you will most likely not even remember all the little details of your wedding. Sticking to your budget and realistic plans doesn't mean your wedding won't be the best. If a planner isn't in your budget, enlist the help of your wedding party and family to set-up tables and decorations. Does your cousin do calligraphy? Ask them to create signs, placecards and address your envelopes as a wedding gift.

5. Stay Healthy & Happy

Though your wedding will very well be the most important day of your life so far, it may also be the most stressful. So what can you do to make sure you still have fun and stay healthy when planning? Make sure you're taking time for self-care and quality time with your partner that doesn't involve wedding talk. Take a mini weekend trip camping, have a spa day, enjoy wine tasting without considering a few bottles for your big-day dinner. Grab your party for bridal yoga and bubbly the morning of the big day! If you're feeling in over your head, get your wedding party to help with planning and coordinating. Assign tasks to family and friends. Not only will you lighten your load, people will be happy that they were involved in creating a spectacular event.


Want to know what comes next for planning a perfect wedding? Subscribe to the blog! More tips and resources right to your email! Do you have any other recommendations that helped in your initial wedding planning? Share your tips below!