Monday, May 4

Discovering Dragons

If you have yet to discover the fantastic world of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, now may be the perfect time. You've probably been watching the latest season of Game of Thrones and been wondering if there is any way to infuse more dragons into your life... especially since Khaleesi seems to have lost all control of her dragons. And if you haven't been watching Game of Thrones... that's OK, because once you get past dragons and a vaguely Medieval world, that's where the similarities pretty much stop.

In Seraphina's hometown of Goredd, dragons are accepted as an unfortunate part of life. Dragons used to hunt humans just a few decades ago, but thanks to the current queen a treaty was signed and an uneasy peace has reigned ever since. Dragons have analytical minds, much like the Vulcans of Star Trek, and make decisions based entirely on reasoning. Their lack of emotions and refusal to understand emotions keeps dragon/human relations from improving past the point of tolerance. No longer allowed to take their natural form around cities, dragons must fold themselves down into human shape and are thus allowed to attend court, live in the city, and work for living.

The anniversary of the treaty is coming soon and Seraphina, who works as a musician at court, is busy preparing the musical entertainment for the celebration and arrival of the leader of dragons. In a time already filled with tension, a member of the royal family has been murdered and all the evidence points toward a dragon as the murderer. Seraphina is worried for both sides as the big day draws near, for she is half human and half dragon due to the illegal marriage of her father (a human) and mother (a dragon). No one must be allowed to discover Seraphina's secret as she would surely be killed as an abomination. Will the treaty hold? Will the human race be able to survive if it doesn't? Seraphina joins forces with the captain of the Queen's Guard in attempt to save the peace.

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece of YA Fantasy Fiction. The plot was fast paced and yet enough time was spent on character development that I felt as if I knew the protagonist. Seraphina is a smart young woman who learns to accept herself for who she is during the course of the story. She knows how to be alone and relies on her own strength, and yet she also understands the importance of relationships and working as a team. While Seraphina does fall pray to some typical YA motifs (of course she falls for the prince...), the novel feels unique and always remains entertaining. I couldn't put Serpahina down and finished it in a couple days, only to be disappointed when I learned the sequel was not yet out.

It is your lucky day, though, because Shadow Scale came out in March of this year. I purchased it on day one and had read the entire thing by the weekend. I won't go into details for fear of spoiling book one, but I will say that Shadow Scale is every bit as good as Seraphina. If you are looking to add a little bit more magic to your day, this book will be waiting for you.

Do you enjoy YA books? Have you ever read Seraphina and/or Shadow Scale and, if so, what did you think?

Published: May 4, 2015

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Wednesday, April 29

Closet Inspiration 101

Prepare yourself, the rest of the pictures aren't going to be so pretty. A little background before we get started. I stumbled across the blog Unfancy by Caroline and became inspired by her pictures of her beautiful wardrobe... made up of only 37 pieces, including shoes. Not only do I love all her outfits (I want to steal her clothes), but the level of ease and organization associated with each post made me wish for something similar.

I started by throwing every single piece of clothing I own onto my bed. This picture doesn't even do justice to the mound of clothing. I then divided everything by category. Anything with unintentional holes went into the throw away pile. Everything that was still in good shape, but that I knew I hadn't worn in over a year went into the Goodwill pile. The rest was divided by the type of clothing (shirts in one pile, shorts in another, dresses in yet another, etc.). From there I picked out pieces that were must haves, such as my favorite jeans. I kept all my workout clothes and PJs. Then I sorted down the rest of my clothing based on how often I wear it and how much I liked it (generally they are one and the same). Eventually I got that huge pile of clothes down to minimal closet space.

I wish I had taken better pictures, but I didn't originally think I would write a post about this. I was so happy with the end result, though, that I wanted to share! I ended up with four trash bags full of clothing to donate. I'm feeling pretty accomplished and it really did make deciding what to wear that much easier! I've decided that my new rule for clothing is that anytime I buy something new, something old must go.

Be sure to check out Unfancy's pages defining what a capsule wardrobe is and how to build one yourself.

Happy organizing!

Lauren Michelle (Instagram: @laurenmichellie)

Published: April 29, 2015
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Monday, April 27

Bright Blues

Nothing quite like a bright blue manicure to get rid of the grey day blues. Don't forget to add a little extra bling.

Index Finger Rings: H&M

Happy Monday,

Lauren Michelle (Instagram: @laurenmichellie)

Published: April 27, 2015
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Friday, April 24

Fashion Friday: Scandal-ous

On a request, we're channeling Olivia Pope in this week's Scandal-ous Fashion Friday. 

Both on and off screen, actress Kerry Washington is know for her sophisticated style. Through crisp cuts and clean lines, she always has a look ready to rock the White House and help America’s upper crust through some sticky situations.

While describing Olivia’s powerful look to Vanity Fair, Kerry reminded us that “people come to Pope and Associates on the worst day of their lives. I’m giving them the hard truth. Olivia is a person who is really smart about the performance of identity—she tells people how to dress for court, or for a press conference. So she, herself, would make a similar decision about her aesthetic.”

We channeled Olivia’s “Gladiators in Suits” mentality by pairing black Jessica Simpson slacks with a crisp white button-down from Christopher & Banks. The contrast of black-on-white piping along the shirt coupled with white-on-black piping of this Macy's jacket make the perfect power duo.

But no look is ever complete without accessories. "The biggest thing for me are the shoes," says Kerry in a recent interview with Huffington Post. "I’ll wear Uggs around set, but I can’t rehearse a scene in them because I don’t feel like Olivia until I put the shoes on. Shoes define how you walk in the world and how you stand, like: what is your posture in life?" In a world where things are never just black or white, these houndstooth heels from Nordstrom's can go with everything when the going gets tough. 

With a busy schedule to keep, a watch like this one from CJ Banks is absolutely necessary to stay on track. Rounded out with Ralph Lauren sunglasses and a Coach purse catch-all, we think there is no doubt this outfit would make Olivia proud.

On figuring out fashion for herself, Kerry had these words of wisdom to pass on for readers of  Marie Claire: "I just put myself in a boot camp of figuring it out—and realized that I really loved it. I guess because I came to it later in life, I realized, 'Oh, going to a fashion show is like going to the opening of Degas at the Met or going to see Swan Lake.'" Here at HTMH, we completely agree. A good outfit is a work of art, and Ms. Washington certainly wears her art well.

Jamie Ohl (@browneyelovely)

Published: April 24, 2015
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Tuesday, April 21

Lovin' Leftovers

If you have a some Crock Pot Chicken Chili left over from yesterday and aren't quite feeling the stew vibe, make a sandwich! It's great for a quick, easy, and healthy lunch. I used rosemary sourdough bread and reading raclette cheese for a well balanced sandwich that is great hot or cold. Don't forget to add some fruit or veggies on the side!

Published:April 21, 2015
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Monday, April 20

Ridiculously Practical Meals: Crock Pot Chicken Chili

It is still April showers season and there's nothing quite like hunkering down with a warm bowl of stew when it is raining outside. Even better if there is barely any prep-work and you can just sink right in after work. This slow cooker recipe doesn't take very many ingredients, so you can just throw everything in, turn it on, and walk away!

You will need:
  • 3 bone-in, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 yellow bell peppers roughly chopped
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can of hot chili beans
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced roasted garlic tomatoes

Throw everything in a crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours. Afterward the chicken will be falling off the bone. Simply use a fork to shred the chicken, simultaneously removing the bones and throwing them away. Stir everything together and serve!

Published: April 20, 2015

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