Book Review: “Little Fires Everywhere”

Hi everyone! Happy Wednesday! We made it- halfway through the week- and through the hardest half . Today is my first book review blog post! I am going to incorporate my thoughts on books that I read on my blog, hereinafter known as dun-dun-duh: #OHLBookReviews.

I received the recently released, “Little Fires Everywhere,” as a Christmas gift and started it right away. I originally saw this book featured on @ReeseWitherspoon’s feed, and wanted to give it a read myself since everything Reese touches is gold, IMO. So, without further ado…

I read, “Little Fires Everywhere,” in probablyyy three evenings and likely could have read it faster but was trying to pace myself! This book is beautifully written and hard to put down. It takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio (almost exactly where I grew up so extra- personal for me!) and the author Celeste Ng describes this area extremely accurately- almost viscerally, and paints a vivid picture of the town. It focuses on two different families, both of whom reside in Shaker Heights. One family who has been rooted in SH since the Village was laid out, and another who has yet to lay down roots anywhere and is just passing through- or so we think.

Celeste develops all of the characters so well, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to not relate to one of the main characters on some level. Whether that is Pearl, the young, bright daughter of the nomadic artist Mia, or Mrs. Richardson, the perfectly manicured matriarch of a Shaker Heights family rooted in tradition and nobility. Each character is developed in a multifaceted way such that I connected with several (if not all) of characters throughout.

Without giving too much away, the crux of the story involves race, morality, motherhood, and purpose. I was very invested in the characters themselves regardless of where the story went (and it does go to a dramatic and thrilling place) in my opinion. The writing around motherhood and family was particularly moving to me, and struck a chord deep in my heart. The teenage angst depicted in the halls of Shaker High brought me back to my middle and high school days- because honestly, who hasn’t felt like the “new kid,” at some point in their lives?

My only criticism is that the author Celeste builds up such a beautiful network of people and places, and the ending seems to come a bit too soon for me. I think more pages could have been dedicated to the conclusion and events that took place both prior to the ending, and afterwards as well. Perhaps a lack of complete clarity is what the author (and many writers) intended. Perhaps she wanted the readers to paint possibilities in our own minds, but to me it almost lacked good closure and seemed a bit forced after such a thoughtful and tense build up.

Overall, I would still recommend this book for an easy, exhilarating, and raw look at the ties that bind us all. The relationships that Ng builds are her strength. Hint: book pairs perfectly with a cup of tea or cocktail 😉.

If you’ve read this or have any suggestions- leave a comment below!


Long weekend

Hi 👋🏻 all!

Hope everyone had a nice (potentially) long weekend!

We enjoyed a relaxing 3-day weekend here in Cleveland with hardly any plans on the calendar (a rarity these days ).

On Friday Ryan and I both worked from home due to an impending ice and snow storm. We got about 6+ inches here in Lakewood, prefaced by a solid sheet of ice.

We took it easy and stayed in watching “Planet Earth,” on Netflix all night. PE came out 10+ years ago but wow, is it amazing (and terrifying at times)! The photographic prowess of the videographers is seriously awe-inspiring and I’ve learned a lot to boot! My favorite part thus far has been watching the elephants and penguins make their journeys across their respective habitats.

Saturday we had our wedding cake design session at Wild Flour Bakery. I was blown away by the store and staff. Our wedding cake coordinator Liz was so friendly, warm and helpful. We basically picked out the aesthetic design in the store, and they sent us home an entire cake to sample. Each piece of the cake was a different flavor and each flavor was amazing.

We also got to try the frostings and OMG- so delicious. We picked out our cake and frosting after trying every single possible combination, multiple times, on Saturday evening.

It was so fun to pick out our wedding cake because it’s one of the less mundane “tasks,” if you will, involved in planning a wedding. Between reserving hotel rooms and figuring out our table linens, the idea of selecting a cake really stands out as a fun thing to do. It also allowed us to be creative and have fun. It’s so important to not get bogged down in the “tasks,” of wedding planning and remember what it’s all about- for me, a life long union with my partner and best friend, celebrated with us by our friends and family. Just typing that makes me so happy!

Also – All of the cakes were so beautiful in the shop!

Gorgeous cake:

More beauties:

A little detail- insane that this is edible!

A classic looking confection below:

I happened to have my camera on my from last weekend and was glad I did because after we designed our wedding cake- we did what all people do- got donuts!

We went to a donut place in Rocky River called, “City Girl Donuts.” I got a glazed donut and cinnamon roll donut and Ryan got an apple fritter and chocolate Long John (whatever that is!). They were aaaaamazing! If you are anywhere near the area I highly recommend!

My glazed beauty:

Donuts for daysss:

I’m drooling 🤤

After our donut excursion we cleaned and relaxed the rest of the day (and had our cake later that evening). We also watched “The Fugitive,” which I hadn’t seen in at least ten years. Still. So. Good.

Sunday was more of the same- I went shopping and got ingredients to make Thai Coconut Curry at Trader Joe’s. It was literally one of the best homemade meals we’ve ever had, ever.

I also picked up some goodies at Sephora. I may or may not do a beauty review in the near future. I’ve been obsessed with good skincare products lately, specifically the Korean skincare regimen (thanks to my sister!).

Later on, my mom came over and we all went for a walk at our usual tried and true location- Lakewood Park. We never would have guessed this when we left, but Lake Erie looked like the most beautiful glacial field I have ever seen since living over here.

The lake was perfectly calm and reflected like a mirror, broken up by giant sheets of ice. It seriously looked like what I imagine Iceland might (I know it’s nothing actually like Iceland but a girl can dream!). We even saw a piece of ice break off, creating a tiny ripple in the otherwise glass like surface. Some pics are below, but it was honestly hard to capture on camera. The colors of the sky grew warmer as the sun sank lower in the sky, reflecting warm and gold in the icy water. It was truly something to behold in person.

Lake Erie.

#2 #3 #4 #5 I have 70+ pics from our walk because I was in such awe. Incredible and definitely solidifies my desire to go to Iceland or Greenland or somewhere remote. It was beautiful and incredibly peaceful- probably because it was in the 13 degree range!

Monday was filled with more relaxing and eating (it’s a lifestyle 😂).

Avo toast:

I also recently finished a book, called, “Little Fires Everywhere.” It was really good and I’ll do a book review (no spoilers) soon.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend! Stay warm.


Weekend in Pittsburgh

This past weekend Ryan and I went to Pittsburgh to visit my bestie from college and her hubs. We always have such a great time there, probably because we are usually stuffing our faces with delicious food and drinks with the best company.

Our friends live in the cutest neighborhood in Pittsburgh, called Shadyside. It is super close to downtown and yet it has a really nice neighborhood-y feel to it. The houses there are beautiful and old, many of them look like Victorian era homes. I always love walking around the neighborhood and taking in the scenery.

We arrived around 7:30PM having left directly from work. After an uneventful drive, Sarah and Brandon greeted us with whiskey sours and champagne- talk about a warm welcome! This was especially nice because the temperatures outside maxed out at 4 degrees. After our drink and catching up, we walked to a delicious Italian restaurant called Girasole. I love this place and always want to go when I’m in town.

Pasta at Girasole

We were joined by another good friend and all caught up while enjoying a bottle of Chianti. Perfect first evening in #daBurgh as I like to call it.

The next day, we got coffee at a local coffee place called, “Jitters” (seriously love that name) and drove out to a nearby suburb to visit Sarah’s sister and her new baby boy. I was loving her home decor and snapped a few pics for future home inspo.

Love these drapes- they pop well with the neutral color palette and are so unique!

Also loving the Christmas decor!

A beautiful holiday bouquet:

After our visit with Sarah’s fam and the cute little tots, we headed backdown to an Argentinian BBQ place for lunch, called “Gaucho.” It was amazing. I got a skirt steak sandwich with carmelized onions and grilled red peppers (the only bell peppers that really matter IMO) and a Mexican coke. Ryan and I also split a side of potatoes with roasted garlic that were crispy and delicious.


My delicious sammie:

Yummy potatoes:

After lunch – we headed to a bowling alley in Lawrenceville- another town adjacent to Shadyside. I hadn’t bowled in probably two years, and before that probably not in 5 or 10? Not sure but I somehow got a score of 134! It was really fun and we met up with some other friends of Sarah and Brandon’s while honing our skills. I think I need to look into a league here in Cleveland- preferably one that indulges in White Russians whilst bowling!

We headed back to S&B’s place to relax before dinner. I snapped a couple of more pics around their house just to practice using my camera. Also more #homeinspo.

Love this little bit of green in the doldrums of winter:

Had to document their cute bar set up! Ryan and I have similar napkins and love them.

After relaxing for a bit, we got ready for dinner and headed out for a truly incredible meal at a restaurant called Soba in Shadyside. I didn’t take any pictures- way too dark and just didn’t feel like it 😂. I had a “Khaleesi” cocktail which was amazing- gin, citrus juice and simple syrup with jalapeño- yummy and again, perfect for the freezing temps because winter is definitely here (couldn’t help myself!). Ryan and I split a bunch of food: a delicious California roll with real lump crab meat, a chopped salad with papaya and avocado, veal medallions over grits, and the ‘piece de resistance’- Pad Thai! The Pad Thai was incredible- full of flavor and bursting with shrimp, chicken, veggies… and of course loads of noods. Sarah and Brandon loved their dishes too and the atmosphere at the restaurant was perfect for chatting and enjoying friendly company.

We ate fairly late and were pooped from our busy day so we hit the hay right when we got home. Plus I’m old- so I hit the hay early and often.

On Sunday, we got Jitters coffee (again!) and went to brunch with Sarah’s family and said our goodbyes. Another fun weekend in the books! But the fun wasn’t quite over 😉. Ryan and I stopped at IKEA on the way home, since I have been needing a new dresser to keep all my clothes in (in our guest room).

I took a few snaps whilst walking through the maze that is ikea. I loved this island:

And table- would be so cute with either modern chairs or chairs upholstered in a fun printed fabric. I picture it with a runner and some ceramic vases filled with fresh flowers. It doesn’t look like much but is very similar to a Pottery Barn table that goes for way more and is made from solid wood.

Finally- I got my dresser assembled! It has so much more storage and looks great.

Anyways- it made for a full and fun weekend. I always love visiting my friends and seeing new places.


Home for the Holidays

Hi friends! With the winter holidays wrapping up, I wanted to write a quick recap on the holiday season and post some fun pictures I took around town.

As the song goes, “There’s no place like home for the holidays!” For me home is who you are with and what memories and experiences you share vs. where you are. Ryan and I spent Christmas in Cleveland which was so nice and relaxing. We were able to see his family on Christmas Eve, my Dad and stepmom Ruth on Christmas Day, and my mom and sister/ her hubs a week later when they visited from NYC.

The entire family got together for New Year’s Day to watch football (thankfully Premier League soccer, not the NFL- because the Browns are awful) and eat delicious food. Mimosas and a good time were had by all.

Usually I find the holidays to be incredibly hectic but this year everything seemed more relaxed and spreading out all of the celebrations kept everyone much more sane (in my humble opinion- or maybe it was just me!).

I took the below pictures of a gorgeous and weathered barn on the way home from my Dad’s house. I’ve seen it dozens of times and have always loved it. On this particular sighting it just looked so peaceful (and Christmas-y with that little pop of color!) that I stopped on the side of the road and snapped a few quick pictures! It was ten degrees out so I had to be super fast.

Ryan and I also walked around Chagrin Falls. Chagrin Falls is a small, picturesque town on the east side of Cleveland. Ryan went to high school there and my grandparents lived in the area when I was younger. Now my Dad lives out this way as well, so safe to say there’s a connection to this quaint little village for me. It always looks so cute around the holidays (honestly, it looks cute all year) so we decided to spend some time walking around and exploring! Pics are below.

The Chagrin Falls popcorn shop- so cute and classic!

A candid I snapped of Ryan while walking around 😍.

rom Chagrin Falls. The community takes its name from the waterfall on the Chagrin River (pictured below).

We ate lunch at Yours Truly- a Cleveland staple that serves delicious diner food – and then walked and shopped. We picked up a few Christmas gifts from the local bookshop “Fireside Books,” and sipped hot cocoa as we strolled around the historical little town. We had a wonderful time exploring, even with the temperatures dropping down to single digits. Near the end of our adventure we stopped for ice cream at Jeni’s. I had peppermint dark chocolate and salted peanut butter. Amazing!

We also went for some winter strolls around my Dad’s house, which is very close to Chagrin Falls. The area is wooded and rural- quite different from Lakewood, where I live. When we went for a walk, it had just snowed at least eight inches and it was so serene and peaceful (and cold- seeing a theme here?).

It’s important to take care of yourself during this time (and all year). It’s so easy to get wrapped up thinking of when you’re expected somewhere, or what gift you are buying for whom and what their expectations may be, etc.

I took some time for myself the week before Christmas to do absolutely nothing (except binge watch (admittedly awful) Hallmark movies and curl up under my blanket) and it left me feeling seriously relaxed and recharged.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and a chance to reconnect to whomever or whatever makes them happy. To me there is nothing better than getting outside, relaxing by a fireplace, and spending some time with family and friends.

Cheers to 2018!


p.s. sorry if the formatting is off- still learning the ropes 😄

Welcome to “On Hillbrook Lane”

Hello and welcome to my very first blog post! My name is Molly and I have talked about starting a blog for at least five years, and with the New Year upon us, I have finally made good on my promise. I have wanted to start a blog as a way to showcase my adventures around the world, and locally here in Cleveland, Ohio. One of my favorite hobbies is photography and I want to use this blog to post pictures of places, people, and experiences that make me happy. I hope they make you happy too! To let you know a little bit more about me, I will try to do a semi-regular “about me,” bit. Here are ten facts about me to get started:

  1. I live in Lakewood, Ohio- a suburb just west of Cleveland in Northeast Ohio. I love Lakewood and Cleveland in general. My fiancee and I live in an apartment just across the street from a gorgeous park that overlooks Lake Erie, and I have to say I feel spoiled most of the time.
  2. I love to travel. This past year, my travels have taken me to some amazing destinations: Mexico, Morocco, Nantucket, Naples, NYC, and beyond. It all culminated in a trip to London and Paris where I got engaged to my amazing boyfriend under the Eiffel Tower. Yes, it still feels like a dream writing this sentence.
  3. I have one sister and two step-sisters. I am close to all three and love them all dearly. My sister Jennie lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband. This has been a blessing and a curse (haha). A curse because they are far away (relatively), but also a blessing because their living in NYC has allowed me to visit numerous times. There is always something new to see and do in New York and I love visiting the two of them.
  4. I am close with my entire (modern) family. I go for hikes and walks with Mom regularly and she is truly one of best friends. My parents divorced when I was very young, and I was lucky enough to gain another family when my Dad remarried my stepmom (who is one of eleven siblings!). My parents and stepmom all get along quite well which makes it easy to enjoy everyone’s company.
  5. I met my fiance at work. I had been working at my company (a local bank) for 3 years when Ryan started in my department. I was tasked with training him and the rest is history.
  6. I got engaged this past October under the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower. If it sounds like a fairytale, then you’re getting the right idea! I never imagined in my life something like that would happen to me, with the best person I know. I feel so happy and lucky to have a partner in my life like Ryan.
  7. I love to cook (and eat). I try to cook at home as much as possible. Not only is it cheaper and usually healthier, to me, it often tastes better than going out to a fancy restaurant. Food pics will be on the way!
  8. I love photography. That is the whole reason I decided to start a blog. Note: me loving photography and actually being a talented photographer are two different things! I am working on learning and consider myself a novice. I just bought my first camera and am still learning the ropes, but have always had an eye for certain “shots.”
  9. I love being outside in any degree. This includes walking, sitting, eating, drinking, etc. You get the idea. Something about being outside is refreshing and makes me reconnect to whomever I am with. My fiance (Ryan from here-on out) and I love to go for walks in almost any kind of weather (yesterday it was 12 degrees out and it was still a lovely time!).
  10. I am obsessed with streaming television. I can (and do) easily watch several hours of Netflix each night. Currently, I am loving the Crown. The cinematography and costumes are spectacular and I love the history that is worked into the show.

Thats all for now! I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little bit, and I can’t wait to see where this blog goes. Follow me on instagram (on my newly created account OnHillbrookLane) to see a slice of life!

More to come-