Celebrating Harry Potter


Like thousands of other people, I am overwhelmingly excited for this weekend’s release of the eighth Harry Potter installment, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” We fans have, after all, been waiting nine long years for another chance to visit the wizarding world.

This past weekend, Andy, his siblings and I attended a special showing of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” at the local movie theater, adding to the excitement I already possessed.

Now, in order to celebrate all things Harry Potter, I’m using this post to recap all of the wizarding inspired art and cooking that I have made and shared this past year.

I’ve shown you costumes…



And food…


Cauldron Cakes

But mostly magical creatures…






Of course our hearts were broken in January, but we will Always remember.


Clearly, this series acts as constant inspiration for me and it is thrilling to see the story being resurrected again in pop culture.

Aside from purchasing your  book this weekend, you can further celebrate the franchise by tuning in to FreeForm’s Harry Potter Weekend beginning this Friday (don’t forget Harry’s birthday on the 31st) and keeping your ears and eyes open for midnight release parties in your area.

Nearby Colgate Bookstore will be holding a party this coming Saturday and you can be sure I will be in attendance. More on that later, but in the mean time: LESS THAN 4 DAYS LEFT!



2015-2016: Top 5 Nonfiction

Inspiration, Review

Continuing on with summer reading, today’s post is all about nonfiction. While a lot of people shy away from this category, thinking it to be dull or uninteresting, I absolutely adore nonfiction.

Why? A few reasons:

  1. It’s broad. Nonfiction could mean anything from how-to books to biographies.
  2. It can teach you. Whether you are educating yourself on a particular topic or teaching yourself a new skill, I love reading for a purpose.
  3. You don’t have to read the whole book. A lot of times, a nonfiction book can serve a purpose in a matter of pages or chapters. You don’t necessarily have to read it cover to cover.

Here are the top 5 nonfiction books that I came across this year:


  1. “The Bright Bizaar” by Will Taylor

Category: Interior Design/Home Decorating

If you have any interest at all in interior design or decorating, then you absolutely must check out this book. Will Taylor’s sense of style is quirky and unique, while also managing to make complete sense. Having worked at a public library for the past six years, I have seen a lot of home decorating books. This one is my favorite by far.


2. “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook” by Dinah Bucholz

Category: Cooking

This cookbook is a lot of fun and has encouraged me to try cooking traditional British cuisine. Whether you are an amateur cook or an expert chef, this book provides recipes for a wide range of skill sets, supplying Harry Potter quotes as it does so! So far I have tried the cauldron cakes and Kreacher’s French Onion Soup, and both of which were delicious!


3. “Rewire” by Ethan Zuckerman

Category: Anthropology/History/The Internet

I was actually required to read this book for my “Social Media Theory and Practice” course. Despite the fact that it was assigned, I truly enjoyed it! One of those books that will make you think differently about our world and digital landscape, I highly recommend this book to those who have an interest in the internet and the effect it has had on mankind.


4. “The Art of Frozen” by Charles Solomon

Category: Film/Film Production

I have mentioned this book before, as I love the artwork and the behind-the-scenes look at the animated movie that broke records and won acclaimed awards. I loved reading about the research that went into designing the characters, costumes and architecture present in this Norwegian-inspired movie. If you’re an adult that loves Frozen like I do, then you will love this book.



5. “The Wisdom of Walt” by Jeffrey A. Barnes

Category: Leadership/Success

I discovered this book when working on a PR management project. As a PR major, I wanted to learn more about the most successful communications business man in American history. Aside from supplying great leadership advice, the author is also successful in providing useful personal insight. This book will leave you feeling inspired.

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If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out my top picks for novels and series! Happy reading!

2015-2016: Top 5 Series


Summer time is the best time for reading series. Mostly because this is the time we readers can dedicate more time to reading and becoming invested in a specific story and group of characters.

Below is a list of the top 5 book series I have read during this past year:


  1. “A Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin

These books are not new, but have been made popular by HBO’s mega-hit series Game of Thrones. This year, I finally finished reading the published installations of this series, including the prequel stories compiled in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” If you are a reader that loves the show, then you will absolutely love these books. Martin is a first-class world-builder and will probably be recognized as the greatest fantasy author of our time. Also highly recommended is “A World of Ice and Fire.” 


2. “Memoirs of Lady Trent” series

This series is fantasy meets feminism. An adult read, these books are also fun, providing drawings of the different dragon species throughout the pages. The first three books are shown above, with the most recent, “In the Labrynth of Drakes,” having been published this April. I have yet to read the 4th installation but am looking forward to doing so this summer!


3. Harry Potter Film Production Series

This series includes:

  1. “The Creature Vault”
  2. “The Character Vault”
  3. “Magical Places from the Films”

I know that I have mentioned all of these books at least once before, but I’m doing so again because they are just fantastic. My favorite remains “The Creature Vault,” but all three books contain plenty of insider information and concept art sure to please all HP enthusiasts!


4. The “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon

I started reading this series many years ago, probably when I was too young to be reading it. Having read through the first three books, but not remembering a lot, Starz’ drama encouraged me to revisit the series. Reading them through again as an adult, I have so much more appreciation for these books. This past year I re-read the first two books (“Outlander” and “Dragonfly in Amber”) and plan on reading the rest of the series this coming year. Whether you are a fan of the show or not, I would highly recommend these books to just about anyone.


5. The Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier

This YA series was entertaining. Unlike many other books in this category, the main character was devoid of angst,and the fantasy and time travel elements were approached from an entirely unique standpoint. If you are looking for a quick yet entertaining read, give these books a shot.

Be sure to also check out my top 5 picks for novels!

2015-2016: Top 5 Novels

Inspiration, Review

I have always loved to read. As a professional communicator, reading and writing is part of the job description, as is love and understanding of story. But as a professional artist, I also find reading to be a major source of inspiration.

As with many people, I am a big fan of summer reading. Even though I read (and listen to audiobooks) all year round, I certainly dedicate more time to reading during the summer.

So for those of your who are prepping your summer reading list, here is a list of the best novels that I read during the past 12 months!

(This list is not in ranking order and includes both new and dated publications).


1. “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

This book took me by surprise. I did not expect to love it as much as I did. Full of believable magic, mystery, drama and romance, this YA book will pull you in no matter what your age is. I loved it so much, I was even compelled to purchase it and may even describe it as one of my all-time favorite books. As author Lev Grossman describes it, it is “an instant classic.”



2. “At the Water’s Edge” by Sara Gruen

I have been fascinated by the loch ness monster since I was a small child. Seeing that this book was set at Loch Ness and revolved around the story of Nessie, I was instantly drawn in. Although the main characters start out as being absolutely despicable, the historical fiction will enrapture you. While there is a love story present, it is by no means the book’s main prerogative. This is a great all around story.



3. “The Silver Witch” by Paula  Brackston

I had tried reading Brackston’s bestseller “The Witch’s Daughter” years earlier but found it hard to get into. In this book, Brackston’s developed writing skills are noticeable as her style moves from more occult to, I believe, targeted towards a mainstream readership. Through two unique characters, Brackston draws readers into two separate but equally compelling story lines.



4. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins

I’m not usually one for mysteries. That being said, I thought this book was very entertaining. Listening to it via audiobook on my commute to Syracuse, I would find myself looking forward to the next day’s drive so that I could listen to more of the story! Even if you are not a fan of mysteries, I would recommend this read. (Unless you have a drinking problem, in which case the main character will not be a good influence on you).



5. “The Book of Speculation”

Like “The Silver Witch,” this novel revolves around two separate but mysteriously connected story lines. A story about a family of circus-mermaids that all meet eerily similar ends, this book follows a man’s struggle to solve the family mystery and save his sister from enduring a similar fate. Just enough mystery and magic that it is almost believable, this book is hard to put down.

Coming soon: top series and non-fiction!



Inspiration is Novel

Food, Inspiration

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I think it is very important for artists and other creative people to identify the roots of his or her inspiration and keep track of it. If you know what inspires you then you will have a much easier and much more enjoyable time creating in the future.

As some of my readers may know, this past weekend was my 22nd birthday. And, lucky as I am, I received the gift of inspiration from two individuals. In both instances, such inspiration came in the form of a book.

The first came from my brother who gave me “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook .” This book has inspired me in the kitchen, providing me with classic English recipes that I probably would never have thought of or tried otherwise.

the unofficial hp cookbook

Although I do not have much time to cook, I have already tried the recipe for cauldron cakes, or as we may know them, pancakes. Granted pancakes are a simple food, but this recipe was very different from the classic American version or what you might expect from Jiffy mix. The pancakes were much sweeter and took special care when flipping.

To those who want to try this recipe I would advise waiting longer then expected before flipping your pancakes. Though you make think they are done on one side, rest assured they are not. Give them a minute longer than you typically would allow.

cauldron cakes

My second inspiration piece came from Andy who gifted me “The World of Ice and Fire” a very large, very beautiful prequel to the “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, more commonly known as the “Game of Thrones” series. The book is fantastic, containing not only fabulous narrative to the world that George R.R. Martin has created but also a wide array of artwork.

the world of ice and fire

Glancing through this enormous book I am especially inspired by the artwork. When you are an artist that chooses to focus on fantastical imagery such as myself it is always helpful and inspirational to see how other artists are approaching the fantasy realm. Especially, for me, how they are portraying dragons.

Fantastic illustration from the book

Fantastic illustration from the book

Having always been inspired by books I am lucky to have people in my life who not only care enough to buy me birthday gifts but also know what to give me. As I work my way through both of these books I know I will not only be content and entertained but also inspired.