4 book suggestions for spring

Suggesting a book to someone is a tricky, vulnerable situation. Making the perfect recommendation can be hard; am I going to traumatize my mom by suggesting this psychological thriller? Will my friend like the dysfunctional family in this book as much as I did?

4 must read books | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

I’ve rounded up my four favorites books to suggest, in hopes that one (or all four!) makes it onto your to-read list. As always, if you love getting books delivered right to your door, be sure to check out Book of the Month. Many of these great reads came from there, and you can’t go wrong building your personal library!

#1 Two Girls Down by Louisa LunaTwo Girls Down | 4 go-to book suggestions, spring 2018 | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

I feel like psychological thrillers are a dime a dozen lately, but this book did not disappoint and its original plot was refreshing. Two Girls Down was definitely a page turner that left you guessing up until the very end. I devoured this on a plane ride recently, and was so happy to have snagged it from my Book of the Month box.

I also liked that this book wasn’t too-too scary, because as someone who is home alone at least one weekend a month when my Army officer husband is away, it’s important for me to not feel like I have to have every single light in our house turned on!


Nine Women, One Dress | 4 go-to book suggestions, spring 2018 | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

#2 Nine Women, One Dress by Jane Rosen

This book was the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for the mid-twentysomething girl who is all grown up. Nine stories are told from the perspective of the must-have dress of the season in NewYork, and the way that the characters are connected is perfection. I must have suggested this book to every female that I came into contact earlier this year, and can’t stop raving about it!

This is great to take on a vacation or to read on a rainy afternoon… I don’t enjoy taking baths, but I feel like this would be a great read with a bubble bath and a glass of wine!


#3 A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissnera fall of marigolds by susan meissner | 4 go-to book suggestions, spring 2018 | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

This was such a sweet story, told from two different time periods about women in New York experiencing great losses. A nurse at Ellis Island who has exiled herself following the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and a 9/11 widow who is struggling with the approaching anniversary.   This was beautifully woven together, and was such a quick read.

Her most recent book, As Bright As Heaven, was another terrific read. I always enjoy reading historical fiction where I learn a little bit about what life was like, especially in times and places that I’m not entirely familiar with.


the last mrs. parrish | 4 go-to book suggestions, spring 2018 | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

#4 The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

This book was intense. I downloaded this as an audiobook for a long car ride based on a recommendation from a friend and was not disappointed! I’m nervous to explain too much about the plot for fear of ruining it, but this page-turner is about a couple who seems to have it all, and a woman who is dead set on breaking their lives apart. I couldn’t get enough of this book; I listened to it at 2X the narration speed on my phone, and ended up downloading the ebook so I could read it even faster.


Which book is jumping out at you to grab? Think I missed something? Let me know in the comments below!

home and decor

festive entryway table rehab (no headache needed!)

When friends of my husband’s family were getting rid of their console table, I knew that I needed to snag it to refinish and use in our front entryway. The console was a yellow oak finish that needed some updating and modernizing to fit into our decor. I won’t go into how I refinished it (honestly, I probably would barely get a passing grade for following the directions the man at JC Licht gave me when I bought the materials), but I hope to share some insight on how I transition this piece many times a year.
console table original

I wanted to create a space in the entryway to our house that was functional, but also festive. I also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t making a trip to Michaels or Target on the first of every month to buy new seasonal pieces…. because let’s be honest, that was bound to happen!

I started getting the console table set up with a few staple pieces that would work for each season. These were pieces that I accumulated from browsing stores, online garage sale groups, Goodwill, estate sales, and also shopping from within our own house. My mom passed along the wire candleholder/vases to me, and I’m so grateful to have snagged the geometric gold piece and giant vintage key from an estate sale. You’ll see all of these pieces on the console table year-round, along with our gorgeous Waterford frame (a wedding gift from my in-laws).

Whenever I shop at Michaels, I always browse their clearance section, especially seasonal. The wine rack and wire basket holding the blanket were on super sale with the end-of-season clearance, despite not being particularly seasonal at all. Both the “BOO” light-up sign and hanging sign were snagged at Kohl’s one December, and stored for the fall. I love nothing more than shopping for next year’s holiday decor right after this year’s holiday has ended.

halloween console table | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

I try to be intentional when I’m traveling and buy pieces that will have a purpose at home, and not just take up space. I snagged the poetry stick along the bottom from Sugarboo and Co. on a work trip to Atlanta, thinking it might work well on a gallery wall. It ended up being the perfect addition to the bottom part of the console table!

I switch out the candles in the candleholders to match the colors, and that seems to go a long way in tying things together. For the record, I don’t usually light these for fear of melting everything. The boxwood ‘K’ was a sale item from spring at Joann, although a poinsettia easily makes it Christmas-y.


I snagged the framed art from Goodwill and painted chalk board paint over the original piece- mercifully, under the chalk paint lives a particularly hideous picture of an old ship.

My Mardi Gras console table is probably my favorite vignette that I’ve done so far; I swapped Christmas for Mardi Gras in the same day, which really helped cure the post-Christmas blues. I worked in all the green, gold, and purple that I could get my hands on, including many beads caught at Mardi Gras the last time my family went to New Orleans for the holiday. I used a few glass jars from Dollar Tree to layer beads in, and cardboard cones from Hobby Lobby to hot glue beads onto.

mardi gras console table decor | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

The beads as decor make this a really affordable holiday vignette, since if you’ve ever been to Mardi Gras, people are throwing things at you to take home. We shipped two boxes of fancy beads and throws back, and have had plenty of supplies to make themed decor over the last two years.

I’m in the process of trying to shop entirely from my own house for our spring console table, to be as budget-friendly as possible. What do you think I need to make sure is included in the spring vignette? Let me know in the comments below!

Console Table Decor | deniseadelek.wordpress.com


The best way to spend a long weekend in San Antonio

When my husband and I were trying to figure out where we wanted to spend our first anniversary, we both kept coming back to San Antonio as an option. We love to eat good food, drink local beers, and have a local experience when we travel, and San Antonio seemed like the perfect place!

San Antonio

Pearl District
We got to experience the Pearl District on our first evening, when my husband *willingly and excitedly* took anniversary photos with me. The Pearl District is a recently rehabbed brewery, developed into a park, shopping and restaurant district that’s really unique. They have a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings, and there’s plenty of restaurant options whether you want an upscale food hall-style meal, southern BBQ, or even a nice, sit-down meal. We really enjoyed Down on Grayson and the Granary. The Hotel Emma has an incredible lobby and a really great aesthetic, a great spot to grab a drink or a meal as well.


Ice Houses, Growlers Stations & Bottle Shops
The idea of a bottle shop is not huge in Illinois, so we loved stopping into places that sold bottled beer and felt like you were hanging out at a friend’s house. Another thing unique to the San Antonio & Texas area are ice houses, which are more or less no-frills bars with a ton of outdoor seating. We hung out at The Friendly Spot Ice House on our way to and from dinner in the Southtown neighborhood. Another great spot was The Luxury, just near the San Antonio Art Museum, overlooking the river.

Local Cuisine
I don’t think that we had a bad meal the entire time we were in San Antonio. My favorite dinner was had at a bright pink, former convent turned into a charming, locally sourced restaurant called the Liberty Bar. Our waiter was so friendly and knowledgable, and the from-scratch nature of the dishes was evident in every bite. The Downstairs at the Esquire Tavern is a phenomenal spot, staffed with amazing people who are extremely knowledgable about everything in their beverage program. The aesthetic there is kind of art deco with a mix of some taxidermy, and despite that sounding odd, it has a really cool vibe! Another place not to be missed is the Hoppy Monk, which has an insane brunch, and is worth the $30 Uber right just north of town.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 9.50.28 AM

We quickly became obsessed with paletas from Steel City Pops– and by obsessed I mean one day we went twice, and we ate there every single day of our trip. Paletas are colorful popsicles, traditional in Latin American cultures. Steel City lets you choose your paleta, choose a chocolate to dip it into, choose your drizzle and a dusting of your choice. The great news is that this company is quickly making its way through the South, and even as far north as Louisville, KY. My husband assured me we wouldn’t be driving to Louisville just for paletas anytime soon, but you should definitely try some when you’re in San Antonio.

And of course- The Riverwalk
We had a lot of fun wandering around on the Riverwalk outside of the super busy downtown areas. The Riverwalk actually runs for about 30 miles through the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, and feels extremely safe no matter what time of the day it is. Know that of course, the downtown areas are super touristy and not really representative of the city itself, but others areas off the beaten path are a great way to have an authentic experience. We wandered away from downtown to Blue Star Brewing and really enjoyed the area, as well as getting to the Alamo up close and person (spoiler alert- it’s a little smaller than you’ve been imagining it!).

We stayed at the Westin Riverwalk hotel, which put us steps from a bunch of vibrant neighborhoods in the area. We enjoyed relaxing on the rooftop patio & pool, and being right in the heart of the city.

Anything that I missed? Think that we need to take another trip back to check something in particular out? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!



Just how much I’m loving the Book of the Month Club

BOTM No Link

I’ve always been a voracious reader, and as my free time gets more and more scarce, I’m finding that I’m drawn to reading even more. I’d gladly fall behind on any tv show in favor of sticking my nose in a good book! When I saw the Book of the Month club on Instagram, I signed up without giving it a second thought.

I’ve impulse tried a few other subscription boxes in the last year- Ipsy (meh) and Boxy Charm (YES!), so of course a book subscription box would really round out my mailbox.

I was prompted to narrow my choices down to a few genres, and from there I was given the choice of five books for the month: Red Clocks, The Woman in the Window, The Music Shop, Two Girls Down, and As Bright As Heaven. This was a serious conundrum for me, because all five books sounded right up my alley! I have a hard time making decisions when faced with too many- just ask my sweet girlfriends who went bridesmaid dress shopping for my wedding and were probably ready to call it quits after my 900th indecisive moment.

I ended up snagging Two Girls Down and The Woman in the Window from month #1 (because two is always better than one, right?). I devoured Two Girls Down on my flight to New Orleans, and can’t wait to pick up The Woman in the Window. I’ve read a lot of suspenseful, psychological fiction lately, but Two Girls Down really felt original and kept a fast-pace the whole time. I really liked the characters, although a lot of them had similar names that kept me flipping a few pages back.

I’ve raved about the Book of the Month Club to a few friends and coworkers, and everyone seems to agree that books getting sent right to your house is a great way to 1. read more 2. stay accountable and 3. look forward to mail! Reading 12 books in a year?

Want to try it out? You can get your first month free if you use this link. If you have a hard time narrowing down your month, you can add a second book each month for only $9.99. What a deal! I’m in the middle of The Woman in the Window right now, and I stayed up way past my bedtime reading it last night.

Check it out and let me know what you think you’d choose? What are some other great titles you’ve read lately or are looking forward to?


6 Must-Visit Places in New Orleans


It goes without saying that my favorite place in the continental United States is the city of New Orleans. Despite growing up in the amazing Chicagoland area, nowhere else has worked its way into my heart and soul like the Crescent City has. My parents raised me to live and die by Saints football, and Drew Brees is the end-all-be-all in our household, whether my Bears fan husband acknowledges this or not.

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to New Orleans many times, and in fact, this post will go live as we’re there celebrating Mardi Gras (Follow along on Instagram to see what I’m up to -> @deniseadelek). Here are my six favorites:

6 places you must visit in new orleansOne- Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral
As my friend Mark of the Beyond Bourbon Street podcast puts it, there is so much more to the city than what you see on Bourbon Street, and even the French Quarter itself. To me though, Jackson Square is my favorite way  to start off a trip to New Orleans- something about the sound of the bells in the cathedral mixed with 8 different bands and street performers, palm readers, riverboats, locals and tourists alike is just so quintessentially New Orleans. Walking down Royal Street to Jackson Square feels like coming home to me.

Side note- Mark’s podcast is a great resource for those who are traveling to the city for the first time, or looking to experience the city like a local. And his Instagram account? Game-changer.

Two- Lionheart Prints & Three- Roux Royale 
There are so many great ways to experience the city as a visitor in the French Quarter, and of course it’s always best to grab your beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde simply to say that you went, but you’ll find so many great spots right off the square or in other neighborhoods throughout the city.. I love to stop and shop at Lionheart Prints, New Orleans Forever and Roux Royale for gifts (for myself, and others, I suppose), accessories and essentials.

Lionheart Prints is my new favorite store, thanks to their owner being featured on the Beyond Bourbon Street podcast. The staff there is incredibly friendly, and we even got a demo on how their letterpress works from Ross, who is often featured on their Instagram stories. Thanks Ross! I was excited to check out their Zodiac sign candles, but strangely found that I liked my husband’s one better than my own.

I’ve taken to collecting practical souvenirs for myself and those back home over the last few years (I collected thimbles as a kid… has anyone ever actually used a thimble before? Just sayin’), and I try to snag a Christmas ornament from every place we visit. One year, I did almost all of my holiday shopping at Roux Royale, and managed to get items for almost everyone on my list! I love Lionheart Prints because there’s always a great party item to grab that also doubles as a souvenir.

Four- Pralines from Southern Candymakers
I’m the kind of person who would willingly eat Sour Patch Kids for breakfast, so please believe me when I say it that Southern Candymakers has the best pralines, period. They have two locations in the Quarter, one right by the French Market, which is a nice way to spend a morning wandering through the stalls and tasting more local flavors. The market is covered, as well as the area that Southern Candymarkers is at, so if you ever find yourself caught during the rainy season but still want to be outside, this is a great spot!

My last stop in New Orleans before the airport is always Southern Candymakers to talk a pound or two of pralines home. Try not to act like a crazy person and pace yourself when you eat them. Sorry, dentists of the world.

Five- The Catahoula Rooftop (and a few other hotel lounges)
New Orleans has some incredible architecture, and the interiors also don’t disappoint. There are some amazing properties across the city to eat and drink in, notwithstanding where you’re staying during the trip. The Catahoula Hotel has a great bar on their property with an even prettier rooftop patio and amazing craft cocktail menu.

In the Warehouse District, the Renaissance Arts is a great place to stop on a rainy day. The lobby features a rotating art exhibit with a beautiful atrium and restaurant/bar. When my mom and I happened upon the hotel on our girls weekend last June, the hotel had a hand-beaded Mardi Gras Indian suit on display along with other local artists.

A few other picks: The Ace Hotel, Sheraton New Orleans, The Roosevelt (especially for Christmas!), The Ponchatrain Hotel and of course, the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone.IMG_4560

Six- Oyster Happy Hour at the Blind Pelican
I’m going to go right out on a limb and say that I know oysters a. are not for everybody b. look kinda weird c. are an acquired taste or d. are all of the above, BUT I LOVE THEM. Nothing makes me more excited for a trip back to New Orleans than remembering that oysters are cheap and fresh in the gulf. If seafood isn’t your style, there’s a million other amazing happy hour specials across the city and you’re sure to hit the jackpot somewhere. But if you’ve never tried oysters, this won’t hurt your wallet for ‘just a taste.’

The Blind Pelican is right off the St. Charles streetcar stop, near another great spot called The Avenue Pub. The Avenue Pub is open 24 hours (YASSSS) and has an incredible beer selection.

My list could go on and on, but six seemed like a great number to start. I hope that this post has you looking for airfare to the Crescent City, or at least scheming up ways to make pralines in your own kitchen.

Think I’m missing something? Want to hear numbers 7 thru 91,458 on my endless list? Leave a comment below!