How to style your book collection

Raise your hand if you’ve got a collection of books around your home! Of course you do. Chances are you might have your books perfectly styled (this is me after an apartment cleaning session.)  Or, chances are, your books might be all over the place (I’m right with you too!)

Well, if you’re in the latter category, you might wonder where and how to display your great reads. I know that real life happens and things get disorganized all the time- that’s why I’m sharing this guide with your. I’ll show how I style my book collection around parts of my apartment (usually after a major cleaning session or before guests come over) and I’ll show you some inspiration from around the web. Let’s start with the living room:

There are SO many options for displaying and organizing your book collection in your living room. Think stacked on a coffee table paired with flowers or candles; stacked under a lamp on your side table; mixed with cocktails and glassware in your bar cart; or simply styled on a bookshelf. Seriously, there are so many options.

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{ Images via The Everygirl & Stylecaster }

If you’ve got your office area in your living room, try displaying your books on a picture frame shelf- so instead of frames, think books.

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{ Images via Apartments Therapy & Darling Magazine }

I encourage you to play around your living room and think of different places you could stack or style your books.

Moving on to the kitchen! Depending on the size of your apartment or house, you either have a large, spacious kitchen, or a REALLY small kitch like me (thanks, NYC!) I’m forever dreaming of my perfect kitchen but for now, I keep my cookbooks stacked conveniently on top of the refrigerator. If you’ve got more space though, you have a few more options:

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Stacking or organizing your cookbooks on your countertop (space allowing) or under some kitchen tools are a great way to have your favorite recipes ready-to-go as soon as you need them- just make sure you keep them away from high traffic areas or away from your stove so you avoid hitting your books with grease spills.

If you’ve got a sizable pantry, cabinets or some extra space on shelves or in an island, use that too! I like styling my books with the function that they go with- for example, pairing books with kitchen tools, near a coffee maker or around some jars of flour or sugar are ideas that come to mind.

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{ images via Yvestown & Golden Boys and Me }

Now, let’s talk about the bedroom. I like to keep a stack of books near my bed because it helps me remember one of my goals for 2015 (no screens before bed-only books:)

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How to Style your Book Collection_blog 1

But there are a few other ways to style your books in the bedroom. Try stacking or organizing them in a bookshelf or wall shelf, behind your bed (this all depends on what type of headboard you have) or in your vanity. Like I spoke about before, mix your books with some items- for example, drape a necklace on top of your stacks, or pair your books with a candle, trinket boxes or picture frames.

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{ images via StyleCaster  }

Other tips… Play around with the color scheme of your books- stack warm or cool colored books together, or stick with an all black and white scheme. Also, be sure to wipe down the area where you keep your books once a week so that dust doesn’t collect on or around the books.

Remember that this is just a guide on how to style your book collection- the way you style your books all depends on your own personal style, functionality (which books you use more often, like cookbooks.)  I know realistically we may not all have that perfect, Pinterest-worthy home, or you may have children, so styling your books of the coffee table may be out of the question, but there are ways of styling your books no matter what your current living situation is. I hope that this how-to will inspire you to organize or style your book collection!

How do you style your books at home? Are they in a variety of rooms or all in one area?

How to Style your Book Collection pin

My Best Blog-Related Purchases

BBar Monthly Linkup

For today’s post, I’m participating in my very first- but definitely not last- blog link up! The lovely ladies at Shop The B Bar asked the question:

‘What did you purchase in the past year that became invaluable to you? Something that makes you think ‘How did I live without this item!?'”

For starters, I’d just like to say that the gift of knowledge can be free- I used this past year to stock up on a lot of free blog-related information, tools and tips via my Professional Development Pinterest board and online resources (like The BBar!) to help me along the way. Also coffee- so much coffee. And I might be lying if I said wine wasn’t involved in some nights.

But moving on to my best purchases, I definitely think these items I bought not only helped me help my skills as a blogger, but as a photographer as well!

Green Smoothie Recipe

1.) My favorite purchase has been my Marble Pastry Block from Crate & Barrel. Not only has it completely elevated my food photography, it also gives my photos the level of chicness that I wanted to achieve. I also use this block for other types of photos as well, and Instagram updates. Definitely my favorite purchase.

2.) My most professional purchase has been my brand new Nikon Nikkor 24-120mm lens. For a while, I was only shooting with my 50mm lens, but soon realized I was going to need something with more scope, especially for a wedding I shot in 2014. This by far has been my most professional purchase because it has actually become my go-to lens when shooting for clients!! (My 50mm still has my heart though.) Honestly, I usually always buy used or refurbished lenses, but this time, I wanted a brand new professional lens to signify the start (or restart) of my photography and blogging journey.

Camera

3.) My Macbook Pro – So, it was my dream to have a an Apple desktop computer so I could set up my own in home office, so as a post-deployment present to myself, I bought one. Well, because I’ve been going back and forth from living in New York to house flipping in Iowa for weeks at a time, I needed a way to blog. Having my Macbook has helped me SO MUCH in the times that I’ve been traveling, and I love that it syncs directly to my desktop for the times that I am home.

4.) My most helpful  purchase has been monthly subscriptions to Coschedule and Adobe. Coschedule is a great way to schedule out your blog and social media posts for the months! There are other free scheduling apps that I’ve tried but honestly I loved Coschdule the best. Every photographer needs a good editing system, so of course I have Adobe Photoshop. Adobe came out with a great way to have the newest versions of the program by getting a monthly subscription! And you can pick multiple programs- I’m debating getting InDesign also just to sharpen my layout and design skills.

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And of course like I mentioned above, KNOWLEDGE and SELF REFLECTION can sometimes be free! There are so many great resources online for bloggers like you- take advantage of them! There are also e-books and online workshops as well. And don’t forget to peek around your neighborhood- you might find a photography class or a great book to help you with grammar and other skills.

Thank you for reading! DON’T forget to visit these other blogger babes and see their purchases!

THE PARTICIPANTS: The B Bar | Girl in Betsey | Glitter & Bow | Pretty Much | White Cabana | Healthfully Ever After | Boulevard House | Always Craving | Southern Charm & Prints | Perfect Enough For Us | Modish &Main | Alessandra Marie | Jenn Inspired | Luv in the Bubble | A Little Leopard | All the Pretty Stars | York Avenue | PR Blonde | Alyssa J. Freitas | A Loyal Love | Burlap & Lace | Brunch on Chestnut  | Average Girl’s Guide | The Yuppie Files | Cassandra Monroe | Always Anita | PR Girl Diaries | Life Modifier | Business Betties | Cake & Lilies | Little Wild Heart | The Not Quite Adult | Annie Reeves | Rossetto | Lemon Stripes | Meg Biram  | Victoria McGinley

What has been your best purchases this last year for you personally or professionally?

In-Flight Carry On Essentials

Heading to the airport and flying is just so second nature to me that I don’t mess around when it comes to in-flight carry on essentials. Having served in the military for several years and flying on multiple international and domestic flights as well as flying, on average, once a month last year alone, I definitely consider my flight skills on point. 

That’s why I’ve decided to do a little series of post discussing my travel tips and essentials to make your process of flying easier. You might be thinking “Okay girl- EVERY blogger does a post like this.” True. But what makes blogging so special is that everyone has their own story to tell and has different experiences. So, here’s mine.

I don’t know about you, but when I fly, I like to keep things simple, easy going and relaxing. The airport is the last place you should be feeling stressed! For me, a plane is either a place where I can catch up on sleep (but you should know, I could literally fall asleep anywhere- I used to fall asleep on loud, rumbling helicopters all the time, if that tells you anything about me) or it’s a place where I can catch up on work and blogging.

For this post, I’ll be sharing my in-flight essentials for girl on-the-go! (Keep in mind, this is regarding domestic flights. I’ll be doing international flight essentials in another post in the series!)

In Flight Essentials

  1. First and foremost, I have to include electronics. Your cell phone is a no brainer, but bringing your tablet is a great option to your laptop- not only is it way smaller, but it’s less cumbersome and you don’t have to take it out during security. If you must bring your laptop, invest in a good case. DON’T forget your chargers or headphones.
  2. Life essentials- Make sure you’ve got all your IDs, bank cards, stuff like that. I know, this sounds like a ‘duh’ bullet point. I’d like to bring up the last time you switched your purses around- did you try to pull out something that you needed only to remember you left it in your other purse or wallet? I thought so! It happens to everyone so don’t feel bad. Just remember your essentials.
  3. Small refresher kit: This one was a HUGE bullet point for me when I was in the military- ESPECIALLY during international flights. Granted, the longer the flight, the bigger the refresher kit, but for this post, we’ll stick to smaller items fit for domestic flights. The point of this kit is to make you feel refreshed and ready for your final destination as soon as you deplane. For me, this kit includes: Face wipes, a small toothbrush and paste and/or mints, a fragrance rollerball, small deodorant, feminine products, chapstick and lotion, facial tissue and medications (prescription/over the counter.)
  4. Entertainment: unless you plan on sleeping your way through the sky, a little in-flight entertainment wouldn’t hurt. For movies, games or light reading, you can stow everything on your smart phones on tablets. If you’re a paperback fan, bring along your latest read or some magazines. Flights are actually the perfect time for me to catch up on blogging. I’ll open my laptop and start typing away for future blog posts (would you believe me if I said this post was written in flight?) I’ll also bring along my planner because flying is the perfect time to lay out my plans for the week and jot some notes down.
  5. Snacks: Who would I be if I didn’t include food? Elevate your in-flight snack game by bringing some homemade concoctions that are easy to eat and not messy. I always bring a homemade granola mix or trail mix, granola or health bars, the occasional dark chocolate chip cookie. Make sure you stay hydrated too- drink plenty of water!
  6. Sleep and comfort essentials: Bring an eye mask and ear plugs if you know you want some shut eye on your flight. For comfort, bring a small neck pillow, a comfy sweater and a blanket scarf (most airlines have small pillows and blankets in first class, but usually if you ask the flight attendant for one, they’ll give the to you.)
  7. A Carry-On luggage bag itself! There are many cute options for bags out there. Believe it or not, I actually use an old military bag I bought during my first deployment. They’re called ‘Bug Out Bags’ because you could quite literally fit a million things in this bag. They were made for troops who were going on multiple-day missions and needed carry deployment essentials and field gear. (Pictured is the one I use.) If you’re not feeling the military vibe, there are many other options. I’m loving Kate Spade Saturday’s custom design weekender bags.

If you’re bringing an actual small suitcase as your carry-on, be sure to add a day’s worth of fresh clothes, under garments, and small toiletries, just in case your baggage doesn’t make it to your final destination on time.

I do recommend that you give using a backpack for a carry on a try. That will leave you with both hands free and free to roam around the airport without having to keep track of as much. I pack my handbags and just use my wallet that I keep in my backpack, and then I carry my camera bag as well.

In my next post in this series, I’ll be discussing how to style a comfortable yet stylish airport outfit.

Do you prefer to have a carry on or purse full of in-flight essentials or do you just hit the snooze button and knock out?

Kale and Potato Soup

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As hard as I try, I always try to use up all of my leafy greens before they expire. But, I’m human and sometimes, I end up with a quarter of the bag wasted! Well, I’m through wasting my precious greens and I’m on a mission to find recipes that include ingredients I can use up before they go bad!

This Kale and Potato Soup is a perfect example of a dish that will use up any veggies- BEFORE they’ve wilted and lost their freshness of course.

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A couple notes- The more kale you add, the brighter green of the soup. Also, the blender I used (Ninja) couldn’t hold all of the soup at once, so I had split the soups into two parts, blending each part separately (and using a few bowls in the process.) If you have a blender that can hold the soup in it’s entirety, your’s will come out more well blended than mine pictured above. None the less, no matter if you’ve got bits of kale, the soup will still taste great!

This recipe really worked perfectly for me because I was able to use up my bag of kale, 3 large potatoes and some heavy cream in the process! Now I have a delicious soup and more space in my pantry and refrigerator. The texture of the soup is really velvety and smooth, while the taste is really mild while still being to taste each ingredient. When this Kale and Potato Soup is hot off the stove, it’s the perfect way to settle in from being outside in the cold, frosty weather.

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Goals for 2015

New Years Resolutions

If you read my post reflecting on 2014, you already know that it was quite the year for me! So, although this is a few days late, I’m focusing on what this beautiful new year will bring me- hey, better late than never, right? I know I listed these as ‘goals’ but I’m using that word loosely: of course, I will recognize these bullet points as goals, but I’m also focusing on a lifestyle change in many different ways. In addition to fitness and life goals/changes, I’m also putting a lot of focus into blog and business goals. Let’s get to it!

2015 Resolutions for Health + Wellness:

1. Exercise: There’s really no excuse that I can’t get back in shape. If you didn’t know, I was like SUPER SUPER in shape this time last year- I’m talking running about four miles five times a week, doing Crossfit, etc. But, life happens and after my deployment, I just kept vacationing and eating and one thing led to another and I just simply lost my discipline. Along with losing my fitness determination, I gained a LOT of weight, quite literally, I ballooned. I guess one good thing is that I learned to love my body the way it was, and I love food so, I was happy. But, I have a family history of heart disease and diabetes- so keeping my weight in check and monitoring what I put into my body wouldn’t be such a horrible idea. So, for 2015, I pledge to be active 3 to  4 times a week- for me, being active means walking and taking the subway instead of taking my car. Being active means starting the morning off with yoga and pretending I’m back in the Army and set myself to a standard of doing pushups, sit-ups and a two mile run everyday. Being active for me also means stretching and everything else in between.

2. Liquids and Diet: I’m really pretty good at drinking water, but I want to make sure I’m hitting 64 ounces daily. I also want to reduce my coffee intake to once a week and replace my caffeine fix with green tea. I used to drink tea all the time and I love tea, so I’m excited to get back into drinking it. As for diet, I want to pay attention to what I’m putting into my body. I already eat a lot of fruit and veggies but want to double my intake, add more color to my meals and reduce carbs and bread whenever and wherever I can. I’m interested in the paleo diet but I’m not really interested in restricting myself TOO much- so I would like to try to introduce paleo-like diet tendencies without fully committing- yet anyways.

3. Morning Meditation and Stretching: I’ve been doing a lot of yoga lately and I can already tell a difference in the way I carry myself and how I feel less achey. I definitely pledge to continue my yoga practices daily, but want to add doing wake up sun salutation sessions and stretching.

4. Positive Reflections: Getting into shape is one thing, but if you aren’t mentally fit, you can’t fight the battle – sorry that’s the Soldier coming out of me! But this mantra is so true. In 2015, I pledge to stop comparing myself to others and focus more on the positive things I’m doing in my life with those close ones around me. I also pledge to reflect on three positive things that filled my day or things I’m grateful for every night before I go to sleep.

5. Sleep Sleep Sleep! As adults, we need more of it. My schedule is pretty crazy right now- some weeks I’m working everyday and weekends on house flipping, then other days I’m back in New York. One thing I can be consistent with is my sleep. I pledge to be in bed with book in hand/NO SCREENS by 10:30pm and be up by 8:00am.

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2015 Resolutions for my Blog + Career:

1. Consistency is Key: I really need to be more consistent with posting here! Somedays I have a bunch of posts lined up, and then I get busy and let life take over and not post. Well, I need to stop that! I really want to grow was a blogger this year- I think 2015 will be my year to do that! But in order to grow my readership, I need to be more consistent with my posting schedule. So for you, my reader, and for me- I pledge to be a consistent poster for this blog!

2. Add the Style to Life: I’m a lifestyle blog. Lifestyle includes style- a topic I rarely post about on this blog. I love fashion and style and I want to show off my personal style through posts. Honestly, I’m really self-conscious in front of the camera and I’m not used to getting my photo taken. I PREFER to be BEHIND the camera! But I pledge to start adding more style posts to this blog and get over my fear of being in front of the camera.

3. Ask For What I Want and Seize Opportunities: Exactly. I need to elevate my blogging game and start asking for what I want, doing more research on how to do what I want and do it. There are so many opportunities out there for me, especially living in New York City, and I need to start creating those opportunities for me and asking for what I want and deserve.

4. Update my Media Kit and Resume: Hopefully this is on everyone’s list- this is so important for both blogging and your career.

5. Improve My Media and Add Variety: I personally feel like I finally have my food styling down, but I always see where I need to improve. I would like to continue the path I’m on with photography but also improve my skill tremendously. I also would like to improve my writing and copy editing. I’m guilty of just typing, doing a couple read throughs and pushing ‘publish.’ I would like to improve my writing a little more, along with my grammar. As far as adding variety to my blog, I am working on a lot more ‘lifestyle inspired’ posts. I have to admit that my first year of blogging was heavily based on food and recipes. I’ll be adding more variety when it comes to my blog in 2015. 

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2015 Resolutions for Life:

1. See more of NYC: Um, I live here and I have BARELY scratched the surface of this amazing city!! So, in 2015 I pledge to explore more of my city.

2. Going Back Overseas: This time, WITHOUT the military or deployments! Jay and are are planning a trip to Paris, Spain and somewhere tropical in 2015. Stay tuned!

3. Close Dad’s Chapter: If you didn’t know, I lost my father in the summer of 2014. So far, I’ve been flipping his home to sell and closing out his estate- all a process of it’s own. It will be SO BITTERSWEET to close that chapter by selling the home, but it needs to be done and I feel that a lot of stress will be alleviated.

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I know, these are a lot of goals/resolutions!! But I’ve actually printed out a couple copies of this list and posted them on my fridge and bulletin board to keep me motivated. What are some of your major 2015 resolutions?

{ images via 1 & 2 }