Crafting With Nature: DIY Antler Wall Hanging

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So I don’t know about you, but recycling nature is sort of my jam. God made everything perfect, and when things die or are discarded it just seems like such a waste to let them disappear into the ether. That’s why I use twigs from my backyard for hanging wall flags and autumn leaves for gift tags and dried flowers for center pieces (and etc. etc.).

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In Wyoming, the deer are plentiful and I’ve been dying for an antler ever since we moved here. The possibilities for the things are endless. Just for your peace of mind, acquiring antlers does not require the death of the deer. Every season the male deer sheds his antlers and grows new ones (hence the rack size), so finding antler sheds is merely a part of the natural occurrence of things. The other day I was happy to finally find one in a friend’s yard, so I took it home with great dreams of craftiness. We’ll be moving into our new house soon and I can’t wait to hang it on the wall.

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This antler wall hanging is SUPER EASY. The hardest part about it is actually finding the antler, so good luck and I hope it goes well. Other than that, all you will need is acrylic paint, some masking tape, varnish, and string for hanging it.

First step is to put masking tape around where you want your first color block to be. You can also simply freehand it if you’re more comfortable with that.

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If you are using masking tape to paint, let each color block dry before painting the next color block. Don’t worry – acrylic paint doesn’t take too long to dry. If you are doing freehand, you can do them all at the same time. Paint a few different layers for a nice, opaque look. Let it dry completely.

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After the paint has dried, paint it over with varnish. I used glossy varnish because I like the shiny look. You can also use matte varnish. After the varnish has dried (a couple hours), tie some twine around the ends of your antler and VOILA! easy wall hanging that looks super cute on your wall.

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Believe it or not, you can drop up to a hundred bucks on painted antlers on Etsy. So that’s always an option if you love this decor idea, but I would suggest (if you are able) to find your own antler. It’s at essentially no cost to you and makes a really fun and relaxing craft after a busy day at work.

Shed hunting is huge in this part of Wyoming, but there are certain times when it’s best to go. In the early spring right when the wildlife refuges open up again for the season (near us, Amsden and Kerns) people will skip work and school so they can hunt all day for sheds. Most of these people are looking for more valuable sheds like elk and big whitetail antlers (if found in a set, these can be worth hundreds without alteration), but I’m sure the little ones are plentiful as well.

Before Grant and I move away, if we ever do, I want to learn how to be an expert shed hunter. It takes a bit of knowledge about the behavior of the animals – what types of landscape they like to frequent, etc. – and it can takes years to become really profitable at it. But it seems like a fun little hobby, especially if I can paint the end results!

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I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and if you’re lucky I hope you’ll find your own antler to paint someday!

Happy Memorial Day and a Bump Update

Happy Memorial Day! Grant and I are driving home from a weekend well-spent in Iowa so I thought I’d take today to give you a bump update.

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I don’t have much of a bump yet, and that’s okay with me. I just hit the fourteen week mark last Thursday which means – yippee! – goodbye first trimester! The first trimester is reportedly the worst of pregnancy, what with the morning sickness and constant tiredness. I am still feeling a wee bit queasy, but I cooked dinner twice last week so things are looking up!

The baby is currently the size of a lemon. He/she is wiggling toes and sucking thumbs in there. According to my pregnancy app (The Bump, in case any of you were wondering), he/she is growing at an alarming rate – doubled in size since last week and keeping it up!

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In other news, Grant and I are in the process of purchasing a home. We would appreciate your prayers that everything will go smoothly from here on out, and that we will hopefully be able to move in before our summer starts getting super crazy. I am dreaming about nurseries and home-improvement projects, so moving in can’t come soon enough!

Have a great day of rest on this Memorial Day. :)

Save the Books: Why We Should Stop Destroying Books for the Sake of Home Decoration

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I am sad to say that books these days are becoming more of a novelty than any thing else. It’s hard to find avid readers out there anymore, and many of those who do read do so on a Kindle or Nook. Rarely do I see a bookshelf full of books when I go over to friends’ houses; instead, shelves are adorned with pictures and trinkets, maybe a photo album. Books are becoming more and more obsolete as every day goes by, and with this an unwelcome trend: that of using books (old and new, unfortunately) for craft and decor projects.

We’ve all seen these projects – book page covered lamp shades, hollowed out books, book page wall papering, book stack lamps, etc, etc. I’ll admit – they look cool. But every time one of these projects pops up on my Facebook news feed I cringe. The reason I have a problem with them is this: books can make a design statement in your home just as books, no alteration necessary. Now, if the book being used is literally falling apart (aka pages falling freely from the binding) go ahead and use it. Recycle it. Make it into something beautiful. But the thing about these home decor crafts is that the books being used tend to be shiny and gorgeous – clearly not at the end of their lifespan.

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I Capture the Castle Tapestry, Peels and Posies on Etsy, $30

Book decor, I suppose, is part of the “nerd chic” aesthetic which has been steadily growing in popularity over the years. On that topic, I will say this: Book pages on your walls do not make you look more intelligent – books on your shelves do.

Here are a couple straightforward reasons we should not be destroying perfectly good books for craft projects:

  1. Books were made for reading. That is their purpose.
  2. There are people out there who want those books you are defacing, I promise. (I happen to be one of those people.)

Now, I am well aware that sometimes libraries throw books out after library sales because there are simply too many. I know that some books are beyond repair and beyond saving. By all means, if you find a Reader’s Digest Condensed book from the sixties, do something cool with it. But if it’s a beautiful old copy of My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier or a vintage biology textbook with an amazing cover, DO NOT destroy it.

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Mosses From An Old Manse Tapestry, Peels and Posies on Etsy, $25

If you love the look of book decor and definitely prescribe to the nerd chic aesthetic, there are ways of decorating your home without murdering the souls of book-lovers. For instance, I started selling vintage book-cover tapestries in my shop a couple months ago. They capture the spirit of the old book without harming it. Another fun idea (which I totally want to do once we purchase our own home) is to paint a wall to resemble a page out of one of your favorite books. You can also simply make or buy artwork that features your favorite quotes from literature – this is an awesome way to make your home look sophisticated and smart.

Just please spare the books.

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Silas Marner Tapestry, Peels and Posies on Etsy, $30

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Read This: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

“What matters to you defines your mattering.”

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I’m on a John Green kick. Honestly, it seems like everything he writes I can’t put down, which is definitely how it’s been with An Abundance of Katherines.

I particularly like this book because it is humorous and highly relatable. The other John Green books I’ve read have had a mask of humor hiding a rather dark and twisty plot. This one is light-hearted, which is refreshing.

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An Abundance of Katherines is about a grown-up child prodigy, Colin, who has only ever dated girls named Katherines – 19 Katherines, to be exact. When he graduates from high school and gets dumped, his best friend – an overweight, funny muslim named Hassan – convinces him to go with him on a road trip, which lands them in Gutshot, Tennessee. Here, they meet a girl named Lindsey and her mom Hollis, who hires the two of them to interview factory workers for a documentary she is making.

“Here’s to all the places we went. And all the places we’ll go. And here’s to me, whispering again and again and again and again: iloveyou”

Along with interviewing the factoring workers, Colin is intent on figuring out his Theorem: a theorem to essentially predict how a relationship will turn out, based on variables like popularity, attractiveness, age, etc. Ultimately, it predicts dumpee vs dumper. (He has been dumped by every Katherine he has ever dated, which is 19 Katherines.)

He is very thorough in describing the Theorem and the math behind it, and this is probably the only type of math I’m okay with reading about. There is just an element of hilarity throughout the whole book that makes it an entertaining read. There is also, however, an underlying theme of the search for acceptance – not only in society, but acceptance of yourself: quirks, eccentricities, and all. It also goes into great depths about what it means to matter in this world, and paving your own path to importance. I definitely recommend this book if you’re in the mood for a fun, quick read.

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”

Great Gifts for the Grad

Last week, a customer contacted me asking if I could make a graduation gift for her book-loving grad. Being so removed from the world of schooling, I had forgotten about graduation gifts and parties and celebrations (odd, I know, considering my husband is a high school teacher). Nevertheless, it got me thinking about my own graduations and the types of things I would have loved to receive in celebration of my matriculation.

I’ll be focusing on nerdy gifts for the grad as, duh!, I’m a massive nerd. Everything is also from Etsy, of course. Enjoy!

GREAT GIFTS FOR GRADS copy

For the General Studies Major:
1. Pray Continually Embroidery Hoop by Mattson Made Shop on Etsy, $20.
2. Oak Table Light by Solen Studios on Etsy, $120.
3. The World is Your Oyster Hand-Lettered Globe by Wild and Free Designs on Etsy, $230.

For the Science or Math Major:
4. Dinosaur Fossil Necklace by Xuanqi Rabbit on Etsy, $18.
5. Hand-Embroidered Geometry Notebook by Fabulous Cat Papers on Etsy, $26.
6. Science Girl Pillow Cover by Pai and Pear on Etsy, $32.

For the English Major:
7. Gone With the Wind Phone Case by Chick Lit Designs on Etsy, $29.
8. Poe Fo Sho Sweatshirt by Little Literary on Etsy, $34.

For the Creative Writing Major:
9. Recycled Newspaper Pencil Set by Social Goods Co on Etsy, $12.
10. Write Necklace by Laurel and Lime on Etsy, $30.

For the Education Major:
11. Teacher Coffee Mug by The Coffee Corner, $15.
12. Grammar Police T-Shirt by Alphonnsine on Etsy, $26.

Most of these gifts would be great for the high school or the college graduate! Congrats Class of 2015!

The Benefits of Sewing Your Own Purses

Or maybe this post should just be called “The Benefits of Sewing Your Own Stuff”… Seriously, teaching myself how to sew was probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. Now, I’m no savant (I can’t make high-fashion clothes or anything like that) but the basics have been pretty easy to master and for that I am eternally grateful.

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Custom Bookshelf Purse, $45

Hand-sewn purses are my topic today.

Let me tell you a story. I used to be a purse addict. Back in middle school and high school, I literally could not get enough of purses. Every time I went to Target I came home with a new one, and eventually I realized I had a problem (this epiphany happened in the form of opening my closet to an avalanche of purses no longer in use). Once I went to college and figured I should be spending my money on more important things, my addiction started to wane.

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Peace Love Books Purse, $35

I still love purses, but largely only the ones I make myself. Here’s why: In making my own purses they can be (1). the exact size that I want, (2). the exact look that I want and (3). cheap. It can be hard to find a purse that fits these three key criteria.

My first foray into purse-making was with this cat purse that I still am very fond of, but it eventually outgrew my needs. Currently, I make and sell (on Etsy) my messenger bags, which are perfect for everything I do in life.

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Custom Bookshelf Purse, $45

The reason they’re so handy is that they’re simple, easy to wear, and very spacious. And whenever I get tired of one, I can just whip into my stash and -BAM!- new purse. I love that I have all the creative power.

In my opinion, taking the time to make your own purses (or curtains or tablecloths or whatever else that can be sewn in the home) is much more rewarding than spending money and gas to go to Target. You’ll always better appreciate something you make with your own two hands anyway.

Learning to sew is not difficult. You don’t have to be an artist to do it. All you need is fabric, a sewing machine, and some patience. I never use patterns, but I don’t recommend this if you’ve never sewn before. Go to your fabric store and find a simple pattern of something you’d like to have. Try it out, and eventually you’ll realize how magnificent sewing things for yourself really can be. Don’t say you can’t do it just because you’ve never tried.

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Mountain Purse, $38

Of course, you probably do need to be an artist if you want to paint your purses like I do mine ;) But I’ll give you a hint: textile medium. Find it at Hobby Lobby.

Have a great Friday and sew something!!! :) :) :)

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Nancy Drew Bookshelf Purse, $38

6 Tips for Staying on Task While Working from Home

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People always ask me how I manage to get anything done when they find out I work from home. “I would just sleep in till like noon everyday,” is one I hear all the time. Honestly, working from home can be just as worthwhile as working in a professional setting, you’ve just got to know your boundaries and limits. If you’ve considered working from home but don’t know if you’d be able to manage it, here are six tips from yours truly on how to stay on task and get a ton done while still being your own boss.

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Let’s Stay Home Wall Flag by Peels and Posies on Etsy, $18

1. Set an alarm and wake up when it goes off. You know, so you don’t sleep in till noon? If you want to be productive, you’ve got to think of what you’re doing at home as a real job. Be as hard on yourself as a real boss would be, and I don’t think a real boss would take kindly to coming in to work at 12. For me, my alarm is my husband. When he gets up to go to school (he’s a teacher, so he goes in at 7 am), I get up and start my day. I don’t let myself sleep any later.

2. Make a daily list of to-dos. This is the best way to start your day – think of all the tasks you need/want to accomplish and write them down in a neat list. As you get these tasks done, cross them off and have tangible proof to how much you’ve gotten done! I even put personal things like working out on my to-do list. It helps me organize my day.

3. Take breaks if you need to. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have to be working every second. Give yourself half and hour for lunch, fifteen every now and then to enjoy the sunshine. Taking breaks always helps freshen me up, especially in between tasks.

4.  Break up your day into different categories. For instance, in the mornings I tend to work on computer stuff – dictations for my transcription business, blog writing, any Etsy or social media promoting for Peels and Posies. Around ten, I’ll package any outstanding orders and get them ready to take to the post office at lunch time. In the afternoons I work on product development. It’s a basic and flexible arrangement, so if I need to make adjustments I can, but it really helps me make the most of my day.

5. Set a time to “go home.” Obviously, you’re already home. But when working from home it’s important not to let it take over your whole life. You still need family time and though it’s super easy to get sucked in to work when it’s right at your fingertips, it’s simply not conducive to your emotional well-being. Obviously, there will be some days when you may need to work late, and that’s okay – just try not to make it a habit. My work day generally ends when my husband gets home. In the late afternoons I allow myself to cook and bake, read, watch a little tv, and hang out with my husband. It’s great.

6. Enjoy yourself. This is ultimately the most important thing about working from home. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing at home, you need to find a new job, something that you do enjoy! The main reason people decide to quit their “day jobs” is to do something more exciting and personally rewarding – so hopefully that’s how you feel too. I wake every day and feel blessed that I get to stay home and do what I love – not many people are able to do this.

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Live Happy Wall Flag by Peels and Posies on Etsy, $18

Do you have any more tips on how to stay on task while working from home? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Chocolate Coconut Banana Energy Bites

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I’m going to be honest with you: I haven’t cooked or baked anything in the last seven weeks or so. This first-trimester-of-pregnancy thing is really hitting me hard in the food department. AKA: essentially every food I’ve ever loved before makes me want to vomit. Luckily my wonderful husband has been picking up the slack and doing some cooking around here (otherwise he would starve LOL).

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So needless to say, this energy bite recipe has actually been sitting in limbo for quite a while, just waiting to be shared. I made a batch a few months ago and they were delicious, so the time has come to impart my knowledge on you. Maybe someone else will get pleasure out of making them, since I’m definitely not right now. :P

IMG_1104Chocolate Coconut Banana Energy Bites

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups oats
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp chocolate protein powder (or cocoa powder if you don’t have protein powder)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 banana
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp flour
2 to 3 tbsp water (if necessary)

METHOD:

1. In a large bowl, mix together oats, salt, protein powder, coconut, and flour. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, add banana, honey, and coconut oil (melted, if necessary). Process until smooth.

3. Pour the liquid mixture into the oat mixture and stir until all oats are incorporated. If the mixture is too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time.

4. Once fully mixed, roll mixture into balls, using about a tablespoon of your dough per ball. These will last up to two weeks in the fridge. Enjoy!

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10 Books That Should Be Made (or Remade) Into Movies STAT

So, I’m not one of those people who obsesses over books and consequently hates their movie counterparts (I do obsess over books, but I also obsess over their movies). You know the type – they whine about book scenes left out of the movie, characters whose hair is the wrong color, music choices that seem too upbeat for the moment, etc., etc. Minutiae is what I call all of this.

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I love movies based off books because the movie is someone’s artistic interpretation of a novel that is already a work of art. So it’s basically turning art into more art, and who can hate that? Some of my absolute favorite movies are based off of books: The Great Gatsby (2013), Anna Karenina (2012), Pride and Prejudice (2005) (though many people fault this movie for being too “artistic”, which I think is absolutely ridiculous), Jane Eyre (2011), the Harry Potter series, Divergent (2014), and I could go on and on. When one of your favorite books becomes a movie it’s just adding to the magic of the story – it’s like the book will never truly end, and that is a special thing. There are many other books I have been anxiously waiting to become movies though, so if any of you reading this are movie producers…GET ON IT! Note that a few of these books are already movies. I know, I know, but honestly, some things just deserve to be updated.

1. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. This short novel would make an awesome movie, no doubt about it. I know that not a lot of people know about it, but that definitely shouldn’t be a reason for its absence in the big screen world. Ethan Frome has poignant themes and stark imagery – perfect for translating to movie. Ethan is stuck in a marriage to a sick, cold, and bitter woman, but when a young Mattie Silver enters his world (hired by his wife to help keep the house) it’s like he’s seen spring again. So they start an affair, and we all know that movies about affairs are too juicy to resist.

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2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I know that the 1939 version of this movie is still highly regarded and loved, but to quote the famous line “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” I think that the strides we’ve come in cinema and technology could make an absolutely amazing version of this timeless saga. Joe Wright, this one’s for you. Scarlett O’Hara’s trying and inspiring survival through the Civil War and Reconstruction is a story that should be told again.

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Gone With the Wind Bookmark by Peels and Posies on Etsy, $6

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. There are a few versions of this movie available, but like Gone With the Wind, I think major things could be done for this story. Imagine Baz Luhrmann directing it – it could be a masterpiece. Wuthering Heights is a dark, twisted love story, which is what people want to see! Cathy and Heathcliffe love each other deeply, but are too selfish to do anything about it, so they end up simply destroying everything around them. So full of heartache and tribulation and beautiful images of the moors, what could be a better movie than this?

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4. House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Honestly, I think every Edith Wharton book should become a movie because I love them so much. House of Mirth would be great on film because the story of Lily Bart is so relatable, heart-breaking, and tragic. When a strong character is the center of a story, you know it’s going to be a fantastic movie.

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House of Mirth Bookmark by Peels and Posies on Etsy, $7

5. The Wrinkle in Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle. Take a hint from Narnia – this classic childrens’ series needs to be made into a  series of movies. While I obviously hope that children will continue reading the series through the ages rather than skipping the books for the movies, I think movies could do the series a service. Because Narnia has been made into a couple of movies, kids know about the series and are more interested; I could see the same thing happening with The Time Quintet. The series is based on the Murry children, who are the children of scientists and are intelligent young things. They are forced to grow up quickly as they find their world in danger from evil forces in parallel universes.

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6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I cannot believe that this hasn’t been made into a movie recently. Sci-fi always has a huge following, especially when it hits the big screen, it seems, and this story deserves a rank among the best. It’s about a future society that has banned all reading material and is simply obsessed with technology (sound a little familiar?). The story focuses on the firemen, whose job is to keep fires at 451 degrees – the temperature that burns paper. When Guy Montag, a fireman and the main character, meets Clarisse McClellan, a girl who loves people, nature, and simplicity, his eyes are opened to possibility that destroying the practice of reading might not be so good after all.

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Fahrenheit 451 Bookmark by Peels and Posies on Etsy, $7

7. Any Agatha Christie books. I love the old Agatha Christie movie renditions – so debonair, so classic! – but I think we need a couple new ones. Maybe directed by Wes Anderson. Kind of like how they redid Sherlock Holmes except more quirky and less dark. Those would make for great movies. Agatha Christie basically invented the modern mystery story, so all of her books are pretty flawless. My personal favorites: Death on the Nile, And Then There Were None, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

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8. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. This is a new favorite for me, and I think it would make a really cute movie. It would fall into the ranks of movies like The Spectacular Now or the Fault in Our Stars; a deep-feeling story about the inner lives of teenagers muddling through this weird world of ours. What I like about Stargirl is that it is optimistic – not many movies about teens are, these days. Stargirl is a quirky, individualistic, fantastic character, one who refuses to back down and disappear into the realm of social norms and peer pressure. With the beautiful Arizona setting and the humorous tone, Stargirl would make a wonderful movie.

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9. Macbeth by Shakespeare. I’m sure there are lots of versions of this on film, but I really think a Tim Burton version needs to happen. With the witches and the potions and the crazy wife and the murder…it would be a thriller no one would soon forget.

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Macbeth Bookmark by Peels and Posies on Etsy, $7

10. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. This book. So dark and funny and twisted and weird. The perfect setting for a movie. Another option for Tim Burton or Baz Luhrmann. It takes place in this huge house with this messed up family, the Blackwoods. As the story progresses, you discover that this family has a very dark past – a past of poisoned sugar on the blackberries one  night six years ago at family dinner. Only three of the Blackwoods are left, and two are seriously impaired. The narrator, Merricat, seems the most likely culprit, but was it her? See how perfect this movie would be?!?

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So these are my top ten choices for books that need movie counterparts ASAP. What about you? What books would you like to see made into movies? Leave your opinions in the comments!

PS: If you’re curious about these books, I’ve got more in-depth reviews on a few:

House of Mirth

Stargirl

We Have Always Lived in the Castle