Book Report: We the Animals



I picked up We The Animals after a friend from college whose taste in reading is similar to mine recommended it. As predicted, it did not disappoint. I am a total sucker for coming of age stories and family sagas, so this book was exactly what I needed at the time.

This incredibly slim novel is fierce, vivid and so full of love and disappointment. We The Animals tells the story of a boy and his two brothers growing up in upstate New York with their violent yet charismatic Puerto Rican father and their heartbreaking and needy white mother. Set apart because of their mixed race, the brothers are a pack, a “we”. They are wild and destructive, and because their parents work nights free to roam around their rural town at all hours. They get in trouble, they cause trouble, they fight, they bleed, they cry and they grow up.

The novel’s short chapters play out like snapshots into this chaotic, unruly childhood. Fast-paced and both violent and tender, the brothers grow from rambunctious little boys to adolescents all the while coping with and being trapped inside their parent’s destructive marriage.

The writing is beautiful–so beautiful that I have read it twice in the past three months because I wanted to stay inside of it.




Dora Maps

My sweet niece, Finley, loves Dora. When my sister told me she wanted to make Dora maps for her third birthday party, I volunteered to help out. I found this adorable felt map on Sew Homegrown and decided to personalize it for my sister’s backyard. After enlisting the help of my very crafty husband (it runs in the family), we created a template for each piece of the map–Dora, the slide, the tree, and the piñata–traced, and then cut them out of felt. Next, we hot glued the pieces to the white map and then added in the little black tracks. After the map dried we attached circles of Velcro (so you could roll it up), and added the map’s silly face to the outside.

It was a lot more time consuming that I had thought (so many little pieces!), but I am so glad we got them made and mailed on time for her party this Saturday. Even though we can’t be with her on that day, I hope we helped to make it special for such a sweet girl. Happy third birthday, Finny! We love you!



I recently downloaded Instagram (my username is makaylamota, by the way) on my phone and here are some photos I snapped and posted this past week. It has been sunny and lovely in New York, so there have been a lot of walks around town, park visits, and fire escape people watching. Our roommate did move out a few weeks ago, so we are in the process of switching bedrooms. We painted the new bedroom green and are working on getting all of our things moved! I am planning on doing a “before and after” post soon, and I am so excited for everything to come together! We also discovered the entire series of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” is on Hulu, have you ever seen it? We spent pretty much all of yesterday afternoon watching episodes and it is my new favorite thing. The stories are strange, great and so dramatic! I also love checking out the furniture and the clothes!

Stuffed Peppers and fulfillment

I made the Quail stuffed peppers for dinner last night. While I was cooking I started thinking about the two different sides of my life–personal and professional–and how they are so opposite. I feel like two different people.  I have always felt confident and on track in my personal life, but my professional one lacks focus and that sense of being sure. I met a boy and fell in love, we got married–I know that for sure. Professionally I am stuck in a dead end job and I am dying to get out, but how do I do it? What do I want? I have all this creative energy, but I don’t know how to focus it and turn it into a living. I talk to friends who have done it –who have made a career for themselves building on their strengths and creativity and talents–I feel like the only one that doesn’t know how.


I have this bad habit on of riding home on the train wondering if I did a good enough job of being a “person” all day at work. Was I ok? Did I hold it together? Did I do any relevant work? Did I act interested enough? I think part of this stems from the broken escalator at 34th Street, and the sense of vertigo that occurs when you have to walk down it. But maybe not. I actually do this all the time. I question what I am doing and how I am doing it. It’s like taking an empty jar of pickles out of the refrigerator–is it really empty? Did I miss a pickle somehow? Do other people find empty pickle jars in their refrigerators? Do they pour the juice out slowly to savor the smell even though they hate pickles? Is this a real thing I am doing?


This all seems unnecessarily philosophical and silly to me, but it is something that happens all the time. Lately I keep catching myself in moments and questioning the very merit of my being and my life. Maybe it is this year and the fact that I am now 29 and married, yet still feeling very unfulfilled in my career. Shouldn’t I know what I am doing already? Or what I want to be doing? I am so happy at home, bumbling along in my day-to-day life of cooking dinner and watching movies with my new husband. We’re also about to switch our bedroom (which frees up a lot of additional space in our apartment) and I am enjoying making plans with him–plans for us, for our future, for our home. But what about my professional future? Can I live my life being so happy on one side and so miserable on the other? It seems so obvious–change your job, change your life–but it isn’t that simple. I have spent years going from one dead end position to another, which leaves me with no discernible career to speak of. I keep applying and applying for positions and getting nowhere.


I don’t know what I expect to get out of sharing this. Or why making stuffed peppers put me in a tailspin. Maybe I just need to acknowledge that I am stuck. I am so stuck. And I need to figure out a way to change that.


Of Monsters and Men

I can’t stop listening to and watching the amazing video for “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men. I love the exuberance and the combination of the two lead singers voices is so beautiful. Their album, My Head is an Animal, is out on April 3rd, but you can listen to it streaming on NPR now. I love every song.

lemon yellow + bright blue



I have wanted to do a lemon yellow + bright blue combination since  Gina’s comment on my peach + turquoise post. Lemon yellow + bright blue is such an easy warm weather combination, don’t you think? The weather in New York has been very warm and incredible this week. I’ve had the luxury of leaving work a bit early everyday and walking around the city, which has been so vibrant and alive. I love this city so much sometimes, still.

1. J. Crew + Old Navy

2. Fishs Eddy + Fishs Eddy

3. Buffalo Lucy + Essie in Mezmerised

4. Old Navy + Old Navy

5. Daffodils + Dovie Moon

Dead Horse Bay

As I mentioned in my previous post, my mom and I took a day trip to Dead Horse Bay–which lies at the southern edge of Brooklyn. Dead Horse Bay was named because of the horse rendering plants that surrounded the area in the 1850’s. From the New York Times: “Dead Horse Bay sits at the western edge of a marshland once dotted by more than two dozen horse-rendering plants, fish oil factories and garbage incinerators. From the 1850’s until the 1930’s, the carcasses of dead horses and other animals from New York City streets were used to manufacture glue, fertilizer and other products at the site. The chopped-up, boiled bones were later dumped into the water. The squalid bay, then accessible only by boat, was reviled for the putrid fumes that hung overhead. A rugged community of laborers, many of them Irish, Polish and Italian immigrants, lived in relative isolation on neighboring Barren Island, which shared the bay’s unsavory reputation.”

 During the turn of the century the marsh also began to be used as a landfill and was filled and capped by the 1930’s. The cap burst in the 1950’s spewing trash all over the beach. Since then garbage continuously leaks onto the beach from the landfill and into the ocean from Dead Horse Bay.
While a garbage filled beach does not sound like a fun place to visit, I found the area very tranquil and eerily romantic. Littered with both broken and intact bottles from another era along with the occasional horse bones and various other garbage (leather shoe soles, random pieces of metal, rubber hot water bottles from the 30’s) it is a scavenger’s dreamland. Dead Horse Bay is magic. I am glad I went with my mom too. I have lived in New York for over ten years and she has seen the sights–multiple times! This adventure was something a bit strange that neither of us had done and we had so much fun. She also walked away with a bunch of colorful broken glass for a future mosaic project:
And I got pretty bottles to put around my apartment:


Hello there! I am back! I had minor surgery last Tuesday and have spent the rest of the week resting, drinking massive amounts of tea, reading Furious Love (so good!), napping with my kitties and hanging out with my Momma (who flew in to be with me–thanks mom!). I am feeling so much better and am excited to do some new posts this week–including a photo diary of a day trip my mom and I took to Dead Horse Bay. Stay tuned!