The Friday Five: Books I’ve Read

Well, I shouldn’t quite say I’ve “read” these books. I’ve actually listened to most of them in the form of audiobook. With all the driving I’ve done lately, the audiobooks have been a wonderful way to pass the time. I’m pretty much hooked, and now I listen while I walk, too.

1. The Story of a New Name (Book 2) by Elena Ferrante

I read Book 1 of this series many months ago, but I could not find the time to pick up Book 2. When I set out on one of my road trips, I started listening to it, and I could barely stop. It was wonderful. The book is engaging, interesting, and well-developed. It’s easy to connect with the characters. I’m definitely eager to get started on Book 3.

2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanathi

I remember when I heard of this book via Joanna Goddard (Cup of Jo) a couple of years ago. I had wanted to read it since then, but I never did. It was one of the first audiobooks I downloaded. It’s a great read. True. Sad. Beautiful.

3. Wallflower at the Orgy by Nora Ephron

I’ve always liked reading Nora Ephron’s books. They’re a combination of funny, interesting, light, and serious. This book of short stories entertained.

4. Hungry for Love by Maya Sacher

This fits in the chick-lit category of books. It was easy to be engaged with the story line of a woman who has fallen in love with a man while her husband is in a coma. It’s a good summer beach read.

5. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I opted for this chick-lit book because it came up in one of my library searches, and I was drawn to the cover. It’s an easy read about a couple going through a troubling time. The story isn’t highly original – individuals working too hard, trying to make their relationship work – but I liked how the dialogue evolved in the chapters, and it was overall a good read. I’d say it’s another easy summer read.

p.s. Did you know that June is audiobook month? A little something I learned at the Waterloo Public Library (where I’ve been getting my audiobooks).

Book: Cast: Art and Objects

Have I mentioned how much I love receiving books in the mail? Well, I do. As a child and young teen, I was definitely not a bookworm. Books were my sister’s territory, not mine. As I neared adulthood, however, I became more interested in reading, and when I started university, I basically couldn’t stop. I read all sorts of books these days (slowly, though, I assure you), and I’m still one of those people who actually buys books. Softcover, hardcover, new, used, I’ll take ’em.

Recently, I was sent over a copy of the gorgeous book Cast: Art and Objects by Jen Townsend and Renée Zettle-Sterling to review. This book takes us through a historical journey of made objects. We learn about the process Рhistorical and current Рof making ceramic, metal, and glass objects. The photos are beautiful throughout, and the explanations carry through from objects Рhousehold and decorative Рto art to jewelry.

   

I know I haven’t officially started gift guides yet, but if you’re looking to buy something for an artist, historian, or designer, give Cast some consideration!

Thanks to Sarah M. and Smith Publicity for sending this book my way. All opinions and photos are my own.

Books: Vacation Reads

My blog posts have been scattered this week because it’s back-to-school season, and, well, that means a pretty lively time of year for me! I’m taking a pause from the Friday Five to share with you my recent reading list. This post has been in draft form for a couple of weeks now, so it feels great to finally be able to press publish!

During the academic year, I barely have a chance to read books for pleasure. I know I could/should make time, but the fact is that I don’t. Between my academic day job and my MBA student life, I read a lot as it is, and when I want to relax, I don’t generally reach for a book.

Vacation, though, is a completely different story!

When I’m in Florida lounging around the pool and beach for days and days, I love losing myself in books. I love going to the local library (yes, I have a library card in Florida, too!) and browsing the “what’s new” shelves. And on my recent trip, I managed to read quite a few books. Here’s a brief recap of what I’ve read…in the order that I read them. Do let me know if you’ve read any of them, too, please!

1. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins wrote The Girl on the Train which was a real page-turner. Into the Water was the same. I couldn’t put it down. It was an easy read, and it went by quickly.

2. The White City by Karolina Ramqvist

Truth be told – I picked up this book because of its white cover and its title. When I read the blurb on the inside flap, I learned that the book is a bestseller in Sweden and the winner of the Per Olav Enquist Literary Prize. This is Karolina Ramqvist’s first English novel. Again, it was a quick read, and I read it within one short sitting (lying by the pool!). I felt like it was a lengthier short story than a fully developed novel. The story moved along quickly.

3. Touch by Courtney Maum

I picked up this book after reading the cover jacket’s summary. It got me hooked with ideas of trend forecasting, tech, and relationships. It was another easy read that I got through quickly. I liked following the story of a trend forecaster who contemplates tech vs. touch in an ever changing high-tech world.

4. Swimming Lessons by Clare Fuller

This book was another one that kept my attention throughout. I wanted to know how the characters developed and interacted, and how the story evolved. The story flips between past and present, which I liked.

5. The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion was the author of the Rosie Project – a book that I quite liked, so I happily grabbed this book off the library shelf. I don’t know if it was because I was tired or uninterested, but it took me a bit to get into this story. Maybe it also was because the other books had some element of mystery to them, and this one was a love story. Once I got through the first 50 pages or so, it was easy going. It wasn’t a page-turner like some of the other books, but it maintained my curiosity about the evolution of the romance.

6. Awkward Age by Francesca Segal

I thought this book was okay. It seemed liked it could be easily made into a made-for-TV movie. It’s about family relationships, tricky family dynamics, and teenager drama.

7. Celine by Peter Heller

This was an amusing read. Part-detective story, part-family drama. Not a must-read in my opinion, but it entertained me.

8. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

I’ve read every book by Sophie Kinsella (as well as all the books she’s written under her real name – Madeleine Wickham). I continue to be drawn to them even though I didn’t really like the last couple of stories. The characters are sort of all the same and the story lines are fairly predictable. That said, I read this recent release, and enjoyed this light read. Sophie Kinsella books area always good for beach-side reading!

9. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

It was fun to discover that this book was written by a Torontonian. It’s a who-dunnit, what-happened kind of book so I was happy to flip each page to learn more about the mystery and drama involved in one family’s life. I could see this being turned into a movie, too.

10. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

So many of the books that I read over my vacation were mysteries of some sort. These books really make me want to keep reading to see how my own predictions come true (or don’t). At the start, there were several characters to get to know, but once I kept track of the action, I enjoyed learning about the characters’ personalities, their interactions, their friendships, and, of course, to see how the drama unfolded.

11. How to Be a Grown-Up

This book was written by the authors of the Nanny Diaries. The tone, pace, writing, and setting is very similar between the two books. The story line, however, is different. In How to Be a Grown-Up, the main character is a 40-something mom learning how to navigate a work environment run by millennials. She succeeds, of course, which makes for a happy ending. Predictable, but entertaining.

12. Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love

Of the books in the list up until this point, Lola was by far my favourite. I picked it up because Lola is the name of my friend’s dog (Hi K! Hi Lola!). Yes, it’s true. This book is certainly not about a dog – although there is a dog named Valentine in the book. The story follows Lola – the leader of a drug cartel – and the drama, chaos, mystery, and tension surrounding the drug world. The character development and story line were different from anything else I read, which caught and kept my attention throughout.

13. I Found You by Lisa Jewell

After Lola, I wanted to read a mystery rather than a romance novel, so I opted for I Found You. The story was progressing in the way that I thought it was, but as I read each chapter, more of the story unfolded, and there were surprises along the way. I really enjoyed this one.

14. The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro

I ended my vacation reading with The Gypsy Moth Summer and I was pleasantly surprised. I loved this book, in fact. Like other books in this list, I enjoyed the development and interaction of the characters.

And that’s it, I think. What have you been reading? Any recommendations?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Marketplace: Favourite Gifts for Babies and Toddlers

Between my own nephews and nieces and all of my friends’ babies, I have bought so many baby gifts over the last decade or so. Like many areas of my life, I approach baby gift buying quite simply. When the babies started coming, I thought carefully about what my favourite items were, and then I basically resorted to buying them in bulk. Honestly. Today I’m sharing with you some of my signature baby gift items; they seem to be well-received by babies and parents alike.

Jellycat stuffed animals are the softest, and the faces are super sweet. I tend to buy a lamb or a bunny, but lately I’ve picked up the giraffe, and I just love it. There are so many good chewing options for babies…ribbons, tails, arms…awesome! I’ve got my eye on the unicorn and owl, too. I do tend to stay away from the bear…it’s just a bit too classic for my taste.

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Jellycat bashful bunny

I always buy books for babies and kids. Reading is one of the single most important things that people can do for and with kids, in my opinion, and I do my part to encourage it! My all-time favourite book for babies/toddlers/kids is Each Peach Pear Plum. This was my favourite book as a young kid, and it gives the reader so much to look at and learn!

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Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg

I also buy just about any Dr. Seuss book, but Green Eggs and Ham remains my all-time favourite.

For one-year olds, I often buy One by Kathryn Otoshi. It’s a beautiful book with sweet, simple watercolour artwork.

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One by Kathryn Otoshi

Now that my friends’ babies are turning two, I’ve started buying Two by Kathryn Otoshi in bulk. Why ruin a good thing, right? 9780972394666_IL_2_dfc8f

Two by Kathryn Otoshi

I also find Press Here by Herve Tullet to be an exceptionally fun book and any kid that I have given it to seems to have really enjoyed it (two others in the collection are Mix it Up! and Let’s Play). For Christmas, I sent my nephews and niece a bunch of Laura Ljungkivst’s Follow the Line books, and they seem to have liked them quite a bit. I’m also always on the lookout for Barbapapa books (in French, English, or Italian) for my nephews and niece; I love the creativity of these stories.

Do you have signature gifts for babies, toddlers, kids, or others? Do tell!

Update:

Books: What I’ve been Reading Lately

I read quite a bit (this wasn’t always the case), but my reading lists vary depending on the time of year. During the academic year, I read a lot of academic texts and journals. During my down-time, I read loads of magazines (fashion, design, food, celebrity, anything really!), some non-fiction books (related to living a happy life, promoting one’s strengths, leadership, business, etc.), and random fiction. During the holidays (e.g., spending three weeks in Florida), I lean toward easy breezy beach reads.

Here’s a look at some of the books I’ve recently read:

art-of-tidying-up The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Review: I like that I now know what all the fuss about Marie Kondo is about. The book is a quick read and it makes you think about all the stuff you own and why you own it. That said, some of the strategies, suggestions, and techniques are just too extreme or completely unrealistic for my own life. I took this book out of the library, so it didn’t clutter up my home.

Leave-your-markLeave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job by Aliza Licht

Review: Aliza Licht’s Leave Your Mark is an easy read with some good suggestions about how to navigate the workplace. I probably should have read something like this when I was 20.
funny-girlFunny Girl by Nick Hornby

Review: Let me start by admitting that I have liked Nick Hornby for a really long time, so I am biased. Funny Girl rates high on my list because I really liked the characters and storyline. I am now wondering if a movie is in the works. I hope so!

shopaholic-to-the-starsShopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella

Review: I have read every Sophie Kinsella (and Madeleine Wickham) book. I have a soft spot for Becky Bloomwood, and she makes me laugh. That said, I didn’t love Shopaholic to the Stars. Dare I say it – I might actually be tired of Becky’s ways (same story, different location?). I didn’t like how this book ended (and neither did a couple of other people who have spoken to me about it).

the vacationersThe Vacationers by Emma Straub

Review: The Vacationers looked like it was going to be the best beach read. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it at all. I read it from beginning to end (just because I had committed to it), but I was sort of just bored.

girl-on-the-trainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Review: Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train was amazing. I could not put this book down. It hooked me in right from the first page. If you like suspense/thriller/action, you’d like this book.

Do you have any book recommendations? I’d love to know about them!

Blog Linkup: Summer Essentials

I almost missed this month’s linkup announcement over at The Well. I must already be in summer mode! This month, Meg and Victoria posed this question for us:

WHAT ARE YOUR SUMMER ESSENTIALS?

After last month’s tough question, I was happy to see this one. This one is easy for me to answer because I absolutely loooooove the summer! I’m pretty sure that it’s because my birthday is in July, there are plenty of warm sunny days, and I have had summer months off from school and work for pretty much all of my life. Summer. Nothing beats it. Wish we had a few more months of it!

Anyhoo, so, on to my summer essentials (apparently I have quite a few). Here. We. Go.

1. Open windows. I love having my windows open and letting the breeze flow through my home.

tumblr_m7ba8hrgM11rsb1bqo1_400via

2. Passport. My passport is always ready to go, but the summer is the most convenient season for me to take a vacation, so I always do. Lucky me!

img17cvia Mark & Graham

3. Bathing suit. I do not have an extensive bathing suit collection, but I put every piece to very good use all summer long. I typically wear navy or black suits, but I’m also open to colour.

NMZ14RZ_mkGucci bikini, via Neiman Marcus

4. Havaianas. I basically live in them during the summer months. I know I should probably up my footwear game, but these flip flops are perfect for grocery store runs, lounging around the pool in Florida, and hitting up garage sales. I currently have brown, black, and orange in rotation, but I think I should invest in a red or fuchsia pair. Maybe even a white pair. Beyond that, by the time June rolls around, I’m just so tired of wearing socks and closed toe shoes (and boots!). My feet need air!

HavaianasWomen-Havaianas40000290001356_medium_PRODUCT_TOP_8261via Havaianas

5. Sangria. Red. White. It doesn’t matter. I just love it. I think this is because when I was in my early 20s, I traveled around Spain for a few weeks with my pen pal (Yes, I have a pen pal. Hi Vanessa!), and I was introduced to this delicious summer bevvie.

Apple-and-Pear-White-Sangria-finalvia Love Grows Wild

6. Hammock. I won a hammock last summer over at Lindsay’s blog, and I just can’t get enough of it. It’s the ultimate backyard perch.

hammock-White-Cabanalook at how relaxed I look

7. Ice cream. I love eating ice cream in the summer. When we’re in Florida, my friend Shannon and I stock the freezer with loads of flavours, and slowly quickly eat our way through everything. It’s glorious. The Magnum mini is my current favourite, but I definitely don’t limit myself to just this type.

Product_varietymini116-745979via Magnum

8. Panama hat. I picked up my Panama hat in New Orleans a few years ago, and I just love it. It’s way better than my winter toque!

White-Cabana-Jordana-2here’s a selfie from New Orleans

9. White shirts, tanks, and tees. I can never have too many of these in my wardrobe! I add new versions to my collection each summer (well, every season, really…I do wear a lot of white).

cn9151519the Gap remains one of my favourite go-to tee shot

10. Camera. I got a new camera recently, but I have yet to really figure out how it works. I am really looking forward to playing around with it this summer. If anyone has a good DSLR how-to book recommendation, please let me know!

white-cabana-camera11. Books. Stacks and stacks of reading material for at home and on vacation. I’ve been going to the library every week all winter long, and I’m planning on continuing this habit over the next few months/forever. The Waterloo Public Library is fantastic.

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12. Mozzarella. Any cheese. Any time. Right? Mozzarella is on the top of my cheese buying list because it will go so well with the tomatoes and basil that are growing in my garden. Hello caprese salad, I’ve missed you!

18734e475c3f5c0098996724457d9062via Local Lemons

13. Bicycle. It’s so handy to take my bike around town, and I hope to do it as often as I can this summer. Nothing fancy. Just leisurely rides around town to get my errands done.

a-beach-cottage-coastal-vintage-style-white-bike-hydrangeas-abeachcottage.com-via A Beach Cottage

I guess that’s about it for now in terms of summer essentials. What about you? What’s on the top of your essential list?

As per the linkup tradition, I would encourage you to read through the essential items of my fellow bloggers:

26 and Not Counting
Alyssa J Freitas
soak and simmer
The Not Quite Adult
Carrie Loves
The Yuppie Files
PRBlonde
Knowing Kelly
Something Good
Feathers and Stripes
Cassandra Monroe
Otherworldly
Sunny Side Up
Life Modifier
Leigh Clair
Rae Loves
Rose Colored Water
Rossetto
Fashion to a T
PreppyPanache
Emilie Lima Burke
Ember & March
Business Betties
with love from ellie
Mint Julep Girl
Love Peace and shimmer
Rae Everyday
Little Wild Heart
star-crossed smile
Luv in the Bubble
Perfect Enough For Us
LIFE BY BRI
Sorcha Eleanor
Brikasia
Dreams and Colour Schemes
Elana Lyn
Sequins & Strawberries
Pattern Me Pretty
Beauty and the Pitch
White Oak Creative
The Toppy Top
White Cabana
In The Grey
Taryn Williford
Cooper + Thames
Mrs. on the Move
Magnificent Temptations
Meg Biram
Victoria McGinley

Read my previous linkups here: January, February, April, May. Thanks to Meg and Victoria for bringing us all together again this month.

Books: What I’ve Been Reading

Winter¬†in Canada. It sucks. I have complained¬†so much about it (and I just can’t stop). It puts such a damper on my mood and motivation. I’ve tried to embrace it in the past, but, really, it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve been coping with the cold, dark days by watching a lot of television (I’m sort of completely sick of television now, too) and by reading more books¬†(rather than just my usual stack of magazines and list of blogs).

In addition to about a dozen academic books (for a fun-for-me project that I might share one day), I’ve read¬†the following…

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

rosie effect

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

I’d recommend all three books. Gone Girl was a slow start for me, but once I got into it, I couldn’t stop reading it. It was amazing. The Rosie Project and Rose Effect were both amusing and interesting. Because¬†one of the main characters is a professor, I could relate.

I’ve also been reading a whole bunch of money and tax books. Here are some¬†of them:

White-Cabana-booksI think Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s books have been the most relevant,¬†useful, and¬†informative.

Design: Office Desks

It was one year ago today that I had my PhD defense (an oral exam, an examination of my research). It was a full, intense, and very special day. Even though the day flew by incredibly fast, I hope I remember the feelings I had that day for many years to come.

Considering the countless hours I spent at my desk during graduate school, I thought today’s celebratory post¬†could focus on some absolutely stunning offices and desks.

white-office

I love the chandelier (via My Luscious Life). 

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I love the big window (via TaloSanomat). 

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I love the desk and copper accents (via Avotakka).

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I love the black and white art (via Apartment Therapy).

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I love the old desk (via Paper & Stitch).

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I love the sleek lamp and desk (via Pinterest).

desk_window_emmas_designblogg_53393228e087c3392ed45f5b

I love the twin desk area (via Emmas Blogg).

Aren’t these spaces lovely? Tell me that I’m not the only one who loves office design!

Books: My July Reading List

I¬†was never the reader in my family. I only started to really enjoy books when I was about 16. Since then, I’ve read a decent amount of books for pleasure, but most of¬†the books that I have read¬†in my adult life have really been all school and research related. I try to keep a few for-pleasure books in my rotation, but I don’t get through them as fast as I’d like. One of the things I wanted to do on my Floridian vacation was to read. And so that’s what I did.

Florida-White-Cabana-12

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden: This isn’t the type of book I’d naturally reach for, but a friend was telling me about it before I left, so when I saw it at the library (yes, that’s right, I go to the library when I’m in Florida), I thought I’d give it a try. After reading the first 10-20 pages, I didn’t actually think I was going to make it to the end, but then I really got into it, and I’m so glad I did. This award-winning Canadian novel is¬†beautifully¬†written. The historical narrative is set in the early 17th century, and depicts the struggle and conflict of native life in Canada.

The Jane Austin Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo: This one falls into the enjoyable chick lit category. It was a quick and mostly entertaining read. As the title suggests, it was a very Jane Austin type of story.

The Body Book by Cameron Diaz: This book can basically be summarized by the following statement:¬†the “secret”¬†to a healthy¬†life¬†is to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Obviously this is not really a surprise, right? There’s nothing really new or thought-provoking in this book, but¬†it’s¬†well-organized and an easy read.

Florida-White-Cabana-8Everyday is for the Thief by Teju Cole: A student I met earlier this year mentioned Teju Cole, and so I thought it was about time I focus on his writing. The reader follows the main character from NYC to Lagos, Nigeria. In this original work of fiction, the main character (who remains nameless) tries to make sense of the fraud he witnesses and the changes he has observed in his home country of Nigeria.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington: Do you remember the world pre-Huffington Post? I barely do! HuffPost is¬†the¬†go-to hot spot for news and¬†information. It was interesting to read Arianna’s stories and her approach to work and life (balance, people, balance!). She has some valuable pieces of advice¬†to help us thrive in achieving our goals.

Marry Smart: Advice for Finding The One by Susan Patton: This book was written by the author of that article advising women to find a husband while they’re young¬†before it’s too late. Ugh. The¬†book was ridiculous and¬†condescending. I really just hated it. The¬†writing was less than stellar, but I won’t even get started on that. If it wasn’t such a¬†quick and amusing (as in, how did this actually get published?) read, I would have stopped reading after page one.

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding: A great girly beach read. Who doesn’t feel a connection to Bridget Jones? I won’t spill the beans, but in this story, Bridget has aged, has kids, and learns all about social media.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova: I really enjoyed this book. Although the story is more sad than light-hearted, I liked the character development and the way the characters interacted with one another. They felt real. The main character, Alice, is a professor who is dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s. I saw myself in her at some points.

Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons by Seymour Schulich:¬†The author is¬†the Schulich. If you’re in Canada and you attended a post-secondary institution, you¬†may have taken classes in a Schulich building. Schulich. Is. Everywhere. I¬†enjoyed Schulich’s¬†perspectives on business, philanthropy, and relationship building.

I also read Good Boss, Bad Boss¬†by Robert I. Sutton¬†(many worthwhile points)¬†and¬†a stack of amazing magazines (House & Home, Southern Living, Dwell, Martha Stewart,¬†Air Canada’s En Route, etc.). Beach time is the perfect time to get lost in texts!

I’ve¬†now got¬†two books on the go: Italo Calvino‘s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and¬†Jennifer Weiner‘s Then Came You. Both are enjoyable so far!

And that’s about all I’ve been reading. It’s¬†been an eclectic mix of¬†texts this month!

Marketplace: Chapters-Indigo Spring Collection

Chapters-Indigo is one of those stores that is continually improving. Each season brings new home decor, fashion, beauty, and food and entertaining items, not to mention a variety of new and interesting books. I know I’m not alone when I say that spending an afternoon at Chapters-Indigo is really relaxing. If only I had more time, I would read every one of those best-selling books!

Anyway, I headed to Toronto’s Eaton Centre a couple of weeks ago to attend Chapters-Indigo spring kick-off. I snapped some photos of some of the things that caught my eye.

Mugs…why am I such a sucker for a good typographic mug? I’ve got most of the ones featured in these photos (I spoil myself regularly, it seems):

Chapters-Indigo-Spring-White-Cabana-Mugs

The fashion/style department is the largest I’ve seen it, what with the jewelry, scarves, totes, clutches, and watches. The items are super cute.

Chapters-Indigo-Spring-White-Cabana-Fashion

Chapters-Indigo has partnered with Etsy and has featured collections from 8 Etsy designers. Way to support artists, Indigo!

Chapters-Indigo-Spring-White-Cabana-Etsy

I was surprised to see the¬†Nest¬†thermostat in the electronics department. Then again, I shouldn’t have been that surprised considering what a hot product it is for the design conscious customer.

Chapters-Indigo-Spring-White-Cabana-Electronics-Notebooks

The selection of gourmet food and home decor items seems to be expanding. I loved the little jars of salt (reminds me of the jars I picked up in France earlier this year).

Chapters-Indigo-Spring-White-Cabana-food & decorAnd some books…of course…wouldn’t be a bookstore without a great selection of books!

Chapters-Indigo-Spring-White-Cabana-books

Photos by Jordana.

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