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Monday, April 14, 2014

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

It's no secret that I adore YA literature, or that I have a thing for murder mysteries. So it's no surprise that I couldn't resist a supernatural YA murder mystery set in France. That and the gorgeous cover led me to pick up Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender on a recent trip to the bookstore.

Heads will roll! Paris, France: a city of fashion, chocolate croissants, and cute boys. Colette Iselin is thrilled be there for the first time, on her spring break class trip. But a series of gruesome murders are taking place around the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours the sights, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks like Marie Antoinette. Colette knows her status-obsessed friends won't believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they discover that the murder victims are all descendants of people who ultimately brought about Marie Antoinette's beheading. The queen's ghost has been awakened, and now she's wreaking her bloodthirsty revenge. And Colette may just be one of those descendants . . . which means she might not make it out of this trip alive.

First impression? Love! This was the perfect book for curling up with a mug of cocoa after a long day. The descriptions of France, especially the food, had me closing my eyes to soak up the atmosphere. I've been on a French food kick ever since. I also particularly enjoyed how Katie was able to imbue modern-day France with an air of centuries old supernatural flair. The transitions between the two created the perfect amount of tension.

While the mystery itself wasn't packed with twists and turns, watching Colette come into her own as she navigated an increasingly complex situation was key to her character development. Starting out frozen at the thought of deviating from her popular friends she finds her voice as the novel progresses, and while the conclusion felt a little abrupt for my liking Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is a worthy and enjoyable read.

Some favorite quotes...
"They resumed their conversation, Hannah glancing around the room, collecting bits of other people's envy like seashells." - Page 76
"Ah, but that's not me. That's France. Perhaps that's why I want to be a historian - so that I can become more interesting by knowing things about the past" - Page 175

Final Rating: ★★★★☆
Pick it up for a fun weekend read, especially if you love all things France.

Monday, March 31, 2014

In March...

If I had to sum March up in a single word it would have to be change. This month I relaunched my blog. I bought new furniture and reorganized quite a bit of my space. I broke out some supplies that I've been hoarding and did some craft projects. I stepped out of my comfort zone and celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a table full of strangers. I took a staycation and enjoyed the beautiful change in weather.

Some change is more difficult to photograph. Bittersweet news from a dear friend and mentor. Finding my voice. Learning how to let go. My relationship with this past month is complicated, but that leaves me all the more ready to seize everything that April has to offer.

I have some fun new projects on the horizon that I can't wait to share with you so here's to fresh starts. Here's to taking more photographs. Here's to celebrations, both big and small. Here's to simple joys and the whimsy of the everyday. Here's to April.

PS. Want to see more photos from me? Follow me on Instagram (@alittlefancifully)! I have some fun plans for this month...

What are you most looking forward to this April?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Weekend!

Did you have a fun St. Patrick's Day? Dinner ended up being just about the best thing I could have imagined. Plate after plate of the most amazing food. Fresh veggies with whipped ricotta. The best salad with manchego and locally grown greens. Ale braised lamb shank. My eyes glaze over just thinking about it. Even the community style table was a surprisingly enjoyable experience. I ended up sitting across from two food writers and talking with them about their work was fascinating. They do these events twice a month and I know I'll be back.

Other than that it's been a lovely, languid week full of long work hours, kitty naps, and planning out my mini-vacation this weekend. Life has been so intense lately that this little break is much needed. What are you up to this weekend? Anything fun to celebrate Spring?

Some of my favorite things from around the internet this week...

These beautiful pens. I saw them in the new issue of Domino and I am smitten with the pretty colors.
• This pretty chipboard album project.
• Have you seen the Oh Joy! line for Target yet? The colors are so prefect for Spring.
• I need these banana blondies with chocolate peanut butter ganache in my life.
• I want a stove top smoker if only to make this spicy smoked sweet potato salad.
These 3 tips for creating your perfect pitch.
• The entire new Capri line from Kate Spade and the gorgeous lookbook shots.

Have a most wonderful weekend!

Monday, March 17, 2014

DIY Shamrock Straws

Happy St. Patrick's Day! How are you celebrating today? I have dinner reservations tonight for one of my favorite restaurants that's doing a specialty prix fix menu for the occasion. Even though I'm not doing dinner at home this year I still wanted to make something fun for my cubicle. Something quick and cost effective. It's not too late to add a last minute touch to your holiday table!

My first thought? Cute paper straws. They're everywhere these days and collected in a small cup or vase they add a cute touch to any party table. First, you'll need your paper straws. I picked up these green striped ones on sale at JoAnn, but I've seen variations on these just about everywhere. These would be adorable with polka dots too. Next, and last, up you'll need some self adhesive shamrocks. These felt pieces were also from JoAnn, but I've seen pre-cut craft foam that would also work. If you're feeling crafty you can also make your own with felt and embroidery floss.

Before you start putting the straws together it helps to clear a surface and match up your pieces. I toyed with the idea of using all the same style, but I really like the combination of designs when they're displayed later. Nice and festive.

This is literally the only step to this project once you have the supplies on hand. Leaving an inch at the top of each straw peel off the backing and stick your shamrock to the straw. Flip over and peel off the backing on the corresponding piece and mirror the two no adhesive is left showing. Continue until you're finished with your matched pairs.

And that's it! Gather your finished straws in a pretty cup or a mason jar tied with a matching bow and you're set to go. Serve with your favorite green drink like cucumber mint lemonade or sour apple soda.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Inspired By: Texture

I've been fighting a cold all week and the extra downtime has given me a chance to work on my goal of getting my photos organized for printing (I am really behind on getting my photos in albums). As I look back at the past year through the lens of the photos that survived the cut I can see a clear trend emerging. It's no secret that nature inspires me. Today though it was the texture of the plants that was really standing out to me. The little spikes and vibrant green veins. These are a few of my favorites from my most recent trip to Carlsbad.

What's inspiring you this Friday night?

Monday, March 3, 2014

March Goals

Welcome to the re-launch of A Little Fancifully! Please pardon the dust as I settle back in here. What better way to get things started than with a little goal setting? Now that we're a full two months through with the new year I've learned once and for all that New Year's Resolutions just don't work for me. I get so caught up in the big picture that I totally freeze and get absolutely nothing accomplished. I work better in the details.

That said, these monthly goals are going to be a mix of fun and frivolous alongside the more work heavy. Balance is a good thing. Big goals are motivating, but sometimes it's the little things that keep you going.

March Goals
• Get A Little Fancifully fully up and running. Social media and all.
• Finish cleaning off my old laptop.
• Organize and upload all of my current photos for prints.
• Work more color into my spring wardrobe. Especially my new teal purse!
• Sort through my crafting cabinet.
• Pack my lunches during the work week.
• Bake something to share with my neighbors.

What are your goals for the month? Do you have any lunch box favorites? I could really use some new recipes to freshen up my routine.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dress it Up: Cheesecake

A Little Cheesecake

Needing to kill some time isn't always a bad thing. Living next to an elementary school, I've learned to avoid the beginning and end of the school day. This means getting to work early and going on mid-afternoon adventures on the rare occasion that I head home around 3 o'clock. Yesterday that meant cheesecake.

On it's own, this cheesecake is nothing special. Just a sweet something that I picked up at Marie Calendar's on my way home. Honestly, I was a little disappointed that they discontinued their caramel apple cheesecake. The trick to turning that disappointment into delight? Chocolate sauce. Chocolate makes everything better. In this case, a little King's Cupboard Bittersweet melted and dripped over the top. A cup of Remus Lupin tea doesn't hurt either. Bliss.

Do you have a favorite way to dress up a lackluster store bought treat?

Cup of Tea