Big News! I Wrote a Book and It's Being Published

I've been waiting to announce this news technically since I was a little girl when I started writing my first book called "Paradise Pink" (inspired by a paint chip color I found while my mom was doing some shopping at Home Depot.) My writing has evolved a lot since the "Paradise Pink" days. I don't even remember the plot of the book, but it was something to do with a girl re-doing her bedroom (so cutting edge, really I mean, it was even before HGTV!) I've had a few other attempts which I call "practice books." But I never submitted them or even actually finished them.

Anyway, I'm burying the lede, as my journalism professor would say. I'm excited to announce that I wrote and finished a novel called The Young Wives Club, and it's actually going to be in book stores next February thanks to the wonderful Emily Bestler at Simon & Schuster and the amazing team at Alloy Entertainment!


via GIPHY

When Christopher and I were making the decision to move to Oxford, it wasn't just about his career I wanted to do this for mine, too. I started writing the book over there, and it was such an awesome experience. Even though it takes place in small-town Louisiana, the Oxford landscape was a perfect place to write it. Fun fact: there are a couple of things in the book that randomly were inspired by my cafe experiences and/or the people that I met over there. I can't wait to point those out when the book is out!

Here's the announcement that went out today:


Pretty neat, right?! I'm really proud of this baby and I can't wait you to meet these characters maybe because they're a figment of my imagination, but I'd totally be friends with these girls and hope you'll feel the same way.

Stay tuned for more info on the book! I'll keep you updated here (sign up for emails so you'll never miss a post) and on Twitter. And thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support. I couldn't have done it without such a loving community of friends and family. Cheers!


via GIPHY

Do You Believe In Magic?

The first magic trick I can remember witnessing was in my grandpa's living room. He swiftly put his hand behind my curly blonde hair and grabbed a shiny quarter from my ear. Eyes wide and jaw dropped, I demanded, "How'd you do that?!" He explained to me it was magic and left it at that. A part of me still really wanted to know the explanation, but another part of me was satisfied with the answer. Magic. It sounded pretty enchanting.

Since then, I've loved magic tricks. So, when I heard about magician Steve Cohen's standing show "Chamber Magic" at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC, I knew we'd have to pay a visit. Christopher's parents came into town this weekend for his birthday, and we thought, what better a way to celebrate?

The evening takes place in one of the grand suites in the luxury hotel. The room--decked out in classic mahogany furniture, lavish gold hues, and a sparkly chandelier--holds about 50 people. The audience dons cocktail attire, and Steve, who's been doing this particular show for 16 years, is wearing a dapper three-piece suit. He makes a point to thank the audience for dressing up.


He explains that he got his start with magic by watching his great uncle do tricks, and that this intimate setting is kind of a tribute to that. He invites those who can't see to the front of the room to watch him do some card tricks--you know, just to make sure he's not trying anything funny. We all watch with focused eyes as he manages to guess one of the cards in an audience member's hand. And he does it every time--without fail, no matter how much the cards have been shuffled by different people. 

A Trip to the TABASCO Factory!


There are some things I would never put together. For example, me and running--that's a no. Also, jalapenos and ice cream. ??? But I had the latter during a recent trip to the TABASCO Factory in Avery Island, Louisiana, and I was surprised how yummy it was!

For just a dollar toll to get onto the island, you can try it for yourself and also see how the hot sauce is made. During our tour, we got to see the factory where the world-famous bottles were being filled, capped, labeled and checked for quality. The shipment we were watching was going to France (au revoir, little bottles!)


Remember those wine barrels we saw in Bordeaux that were used for a couple of years and then sold to whiskey producers? Well, there's a chance they could be used for making TABASCO, too. After the Jack Daniels team is done with their barrels, they're sold to this factory and are used to age a mash of pickled peppers and salt.

Pinterest Test Kitchen: Halloween Party Food Edition




If you're anything like me, you've got a Pinterest board full of cute little holiday-specific appetizers but when it comes down to making them, you'd rather just buy chips and dip and be done with it. Well, it was my turn to host wine club this weekend, and I decided I needed to get my act together and try these cute recipes out. Of course, Pinterest has some wins but it also has some misses as we all know. With my fingers crossed, I tried these recipes out so that you don't have to (or maybe you want to! Some were really easy and fun). Reviews, below -- pictures, above. Enjoy!

1. Candy Corn & White Chocolate Softbatch Cookies 
Difficulty
-- Hard
Outcome
-- Tasted fine, but they weren't pretty.

When I came across this recipe on Pinterest, I was like, "This is gonna be awesome!" I've never thought about putting candy corn in cookies, so already this blogger was a genius. I followed the directions to the T -- one thing she stresses is that you have to make sure the candy corn is covered by dough when you put it on the baking sheet, otherwise it'll ooze while in the oven. I thought I did that, but when I took it out, it looked like orange, yellow, and white blood was coming out of my precious cookies. I guess that makes it spooky though... I just cut around the gross parts, and the girls seemed to love the cookies. So there's that!

Hey! I Know Her: Hannah Robinett

In the second installment of my monthly post where I get to gush over the girls in my life who inspire me every day, I'm featuring Hannah Robinett, designer and side-business-woman extraordinaire! Hannah is the founder of mynlyn, a 3D-printed jewelry line based out of Brooklyn. Another fun fact: she's one of the links that brought me and my husband together. But that's not the only reason I love her. She's also one of the sweetest, funniest girls I know.
Photo credit: @hannahrobinett on Instagram
I was over at her house the other day for a playdate with her and her dog Gif (who I'm also obsessed with and you'll meet in a second...) and asked her a few qs about her business and 3D printing (which I'm absolutely fascinated by!) Check out our Q&A below:

Q: So, can you explain the process of 3D printed jewelry to those of us who are intrigued but have no idea how it actually works?
A: First, I just sketch a bunch of designs -- these may not necessarily be ring designs or necklace designs, just something I consider a work of art. And then I work in a program where you can design 3D and turn it into something wearable and tangible. I then use a maker bot, which is an at-home 3D printer, where I can print out all my prototypes. It's kind of a long process getting every step to be what I want it to be.

Q: That's interesting that you don't always design specifically for jewelry first.
A: A lot of pieces from my original line were taken from my works of art before I was even designing jewelry. I just looked at that work of art and made it into a piece that someone could wear. It's works of art that you can wear!

Q: Did you get the 3D printer with this business in mind or did you get the idea after you bought it?
A: I bought it with this idea. I just wanted to create more 3D products since everything I was doing was 2D, and I thought that a 3D printer would give me to opportunity to do that right at home.

Photo credit: @hannahrobinett on Instagram
Q: But I know you don't only use the printer for jewelry... I've seen the adorable Gif-shaped cookie cutter you made. What else have you come up with?
A: I try to make things I need around the apartment. Like, I made a jewelry tray. I also make a lot of toys for my goddaughter, niece, and nephew -- like little animal figurines, which probably take about 30 or 40 minutes to print. I made a flower pot to put some succulents in. It's fun to say, "What do I need?" and then you print it. I call the 3D printer the sewing machine of the 21st century because I feel like in another 20 years, I could see people just having them in their home and if they need a screw, they'll print a screw. If they need to fix a piece of a chair, they'll print exactly that piece.

Proof That "The Secret" Is Really a Thing...

Ya'll, the power of visualization and positivity really works! I tried it out yesterday at a mini-golf course in Connecticut and can attest that it's a thing...

.
I'm not going to go into detail about how that was the first hole and I psyched myself out of keeping up the pace and ultimately came in last place. I'll also spare you the details about how I kept announcing I'd get a hole in one for, like, every hole after that and never got another one again. But I will keep re-playing that video in honor of one of the proudest moments of my life. At least it happened. Thanks, The Secret!

Have you ever been totally shocked that something you said was going to happen actually happened? Honestly, I feel that way in my life on a regular basis....and finally got the video to prove it! #pinchme #holeinone

See you at The Masters!
Love,
Julie

Go See This Play: Fun Home


This past weekend, my lovely in-laws came to visit us in NYC, and the four of us went to see Fun Home on Friday night. In case you haven't heard of it, the play recently picked up the Tony Award winner for Best Musical and has been getting rave reviews.

It's also been the subject of a lot of controversy lately. The play is based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel. You may have heard about the Duke students refusing to read the required book assignment because of its gay theme and nudity.

The university's vice president for public affairs and government relations Michael J. Schoenfeld said in a statement that Fun Home was chosen because of its controversial, conversation-starting subject matter. (It looks like they certainly accomplished their goal.)

I haven't read the memoir, but I can say this about the play: it was thought-provoking, emotional, and overall entertaining. What I loved most was that there were so many different themes, but it felt like nothing was really forced.