Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lowcountry Boneyard

Last year I read Lowcountry Bombshell by Susan Boyer and was hooked.  She includes my favorite ingredients for a fun book; mystery, the south, some humor.

I read Lowcountry Boneyard in about 3 days.  Hilarity in the form of a ghost named Colleen, family eccentricities, a little romance and a little mystery.  Excellent book to read beach or pool side.

Goodreads:Where is Kent Heyward? The twenty-three-year-old heiress from one of Charleston’s oldest families vanished a month ago. When her father hires private investigator Liz Talbot, Liz suspects the most difficult part of her job will be convincing the patriarch his daughter tired of his overbearing nature and left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes.

But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Rivers and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk.

Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.


My favorite part of this was Colleen's awesome appearances where Liz would be put in an awkward position.  I have to say, I'd love to have a ghost as my ride along pal to help me out of jams! I also liked the mystery and how it played out.  Sad for the ending but it all worked very well.  I have to say I'm really getting into the lighter side of mystery books and mostly because of the humor of the authors!

I can't wait to read more about Liz and find out what happens next with her and Nate. ;)

Is there any area of the country that you tend to read many books set near? What mysteries have you read lately? Do you believe in ghosts?

I got this book from TLC book tours.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lavina

I've been saying for a few years that I need to find another, "The Help,".  I loved that book.  I love books set in the 1960s South about race relations.  I was thrilled when I was contacted by Mary Marcus to review her book, "Lavina.".

Lavina tells the 1990s present day of the characters but the bulk is what happened back one hot summer in the 1960s.  Mary Jacob is summoned home by her sister Kathryn because Big Daddy Jack Long is dying and wants to see his youngest daughter again.  Mary Jacob doesn't really remember much of her youth before she was shipped off to boarding school.  She does remember the hatred she has for her father and the tumultuous relationship with her vain older sister.

Shortly after returning home to Louisiana she is confronted by someone from her past which unleashes all of the memories from the summer that changed her life.  Billy Ray is the son of her beloved Lavina.  Lavina who raised Mary Jacob and whom Mary Jacob thought for awhile was really her mother.

My favorite parts were from her memories of the past.  That was the bulk of the story.  That summer shaped the future of everyone involved.  The writing is awesome.  The character's have their own unique voice.  The dialects change with the characters and you can see the characters.  There is a nurse who is mean and racist and I immediately had conjured up an image based on way Mary Marcus used her words. 

The first couple chapters did take a bit to get into.  I actually put it down and read a different book and then I went back.  It helped and I was quickly engrossed after that.  So, if you do read it and the first two chapters are hard to get into, the next bit is far better and I feel like they are even written differently, in a very good way!

If you loved The Help, I'd definitely recommend this book.  It's not exactly the same but if you loved it, you will enjoy this one too!  It focuses on the black housekeeper of an affluent white family in small racist Louisiana town. 

Description: Mary Jacob grew up as an anomaly. A child of Louisiana in the early sixties, she found little in common with most of the people in her community and in her household, and her best friend was Lavina, the black woman who cooked and cleaned for her family. Now, in the early nineties, Mary Jacob has escaped her history and established a fresh, if imperfect, life for herself in New York. But when she learns of her father's critical illness, she needs to go back home. To a disapproving father and a spiteful sister. To a town decades out of alignment with Mary Jacob's new world. To the memories of Billy Ray, Lavina's son who grew up to be a musical legend whose star burned much too bright.

And to the echoes of a fateful day three decades earlier when three lives changed forever.

A decades-spanning story both intimate and enormous in scope, LAVINA is a novel rich in humanity, sharp in its indictments, and stunning in its resolution.
  

Did you read and enjoy The Help? What other similar books have you read? Do you remember all of your childhood or are their chunks you don't?

I received this book for review but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Stitch Fix #6

At the end of April I got my 6th fix! I've really enjoyed getting clothes delivered right to my house.  It's low pressure, I can try things on with the items I own and I always find something new that I wouldn't have either had time to find near me or wouldn't find because my town has nothing.

For those who do not know, Stitch Fix is a personal styling company that sends you 5 pieces to try out.  They may include accessories.  You can keep 1, 5 or none or any number in between.  If you buy all 5 you get a discount off the box.  You pay an initial 20 dollar styling fee which is taken off of the total of the box.  If people sign up under your affiliate link you get a $25 credit.

You also fill out a style profile and can write notes to your stylist.  I had requested dresses or tops only for this fix.

Here's what I got in April..

41 Hawthorn Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan


I really liked this and probably would have kept it if it was a different color.  I love the navy but I already had gotten a similar cardigan that I kept from Stitch Fix in January.  It was also slightly long but I love cardigans and I love navy. RETURNED

Lovesppella Abella Maxi Dress

I realllly wanted to like this mainly because I wanted to have a maxi dress I love.  I did not like it.  Not a fan of the print.  It was far tooooo long for me and it was too big on top. RETURNED

41 Hawthorn Kasey Strip Hem Fit & Flare Dress


Love this! It fits right above my knee which is so hard for me to find dresses that lay right! It's cute, navy and I can't wait to wear it this summer. KEPT

Papermoon Rylie Embroidery Detail Tank

This is now one of my new favorite shirts.  It fits perfectly.  Sometimes shirts like this are baggy at my arm pits or hang too long over my butt.  This fits perfectly on my arms AND is not too long.  PERFECTION.  KEPT

Papermoon Scoop Neck Blouse

Sadly, I did not take a picture of this because it was one that I saw in the box and was like uh hell no.  (it was pink and black or brown checked, I can't remember now) but it was sheer and very very see through.  It came with a cami that didn't fit and this shirt didn't fit either.  Too snug.  RETURNED.

I was lucky to get many generous gift cards to Stitch Fix for my birthday and a couple credits from friends signing up, so I am getting another fix this month too.  Usually I try to do it every other month but since I had more credits I figured I wouldn't wait.  I'm hoping for some light weight tops for summer.

Which item is your favorite? Do you use Stitch Fix? What color is dominate in your wardrobe? Can you guess what is my favorite color right now??? If you haven't signed up yet and are interested, please follow my link and sign up! (I will get a credit if you end up sending for a box!)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

April Workouts

Well, I'm pretty much averaging two workouts a week and then a week off at the end of the month.  Need to increase this! I have a plan for this first week of May and I hope to keep on keeping on!

Monday, April 6th - 2 miles on the treamill
some abs, some arms
- Getting back into it after about a 3 week full absence of working out.. ech...

Tuesday, April 7th - 1.13 miles on the treadmill
some abs, some arms, leg lifts

Wednesday, April 8th - Kickboxing via this youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vve4BVTZ0QU
This was my first attempt at any type of kickboxing.  I liked some of it but sometimes I just felt like what the heck are these jabs and uppercuts doing for me?(see 24 hours later = making me sore!!) Towards the end I enjoyed the more cardio part of it and it got me breathing pretty heavy.  I liked that it was not too complicated for my uncoordinated self to do!

Abs - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LebPal5gKrc
Holy crap.  This may kill me or may make my abs amazing. 

5 minute cool down walk (aka I needed to hit my step goal for the day!)

Saturday, April 11th - Couch to 5k Week 3 Day 1
My friend and I decided to sign up and run a 5k at the end of May to support a local agency! So I figured I should go back to this program to get me running the whole thing! It was tough but it was doable so I think it was a good starting point!

Sunday, April 12th - 35 minute walk
It was soooo gorgeous outside! I wore a tshirt and shorts and was sweating! Windy and glorious!!!

Tuesday, April 14th - Couch to 5k Week 3 Day 2
This was at the end of a super long day.  I walked a lot on a field trip, played outside when we got home and then ran at 8pm.  But I did it! I was also impressed because I realized I had the speed on the treadmill up higher than normal for my last 3 minute run span and I only realized with 30 seconds left when I felt like dying! ;)

Wednesday, April 15th - 20 minute run/walk on the treadmill
I could not motivate myself to do the butt and thigh workout so I just did a 20 minute run/walk that helped me hit my step goal for the day as well.

Saturday, April 18th - yard work
HOLY CRAP.  So we live on 2.5 acres.  A lot of which is covered by pine trees.  I raked.  Three hours of raking.  And other stuff.  It was a workout ha.

Tuesday, April 21st - Couch to 5k Week 3 Day 3
I was able to go a little faster and felt really good!

Wednesday, April 22nd - Couch to 5k Week 4 Day 1
Phew. 

Monday, April 27th - 30 minute walk

Miles - 12.48 
I didn't include my walks, just my treadmill run/walks.

I think my plan for May will include more kickboxing, more squats, running and abs. 

What types of workouts have you been wanting to do more of?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Hurricane Sisters

I still remember the way I devoured Folly Beach after I picked it up from the used book sale at the library and decided that Dorothea Benton Frank and I needed to get together again.  And so I've now read quite a few of her books set in the Charleston area, including her newest, The Hurricane Sisters.

Ashley Waters is a 23 year old bored artist wasting away working at a gallery in her Charleston hometown.  Her roommate Mary Beth is right there with her subbing occasionally but mostly working for a caterer.  They both have horrible 23 year old taste in men and make some horribly awesome 23 year old choices.

Liz Waters is Ashley's mother and a bit misunderstood by the rest of her family.  She has a very important job working with abused women and children and deals with her adorably obnoxious mother and her jerk self-absorbed husband.

The book bounces between different narrators and sadly I found that they all seemed to sound like the same person.  There really weren't any unique personalities.  They lacked a depth that made you want to root for them.  Possibly Liz was my favorite character but I'm not sure I'd make the same family related choices she did.

We also hear from Liz's mother, her husband Clayton, and a little from her son Ivy.  There are llamas.  A ridiculously state senator and a lot of hilarity.

This book does a wonderful job of weaving minor details in to go back to the first chapter where it's hinted at trouble but I think it was missing something, which made me sad since I do enjoy escaping to her books now and then.  Don't get me wrong, it's still a great beach read but just a tad disappointing.

Have you read any books by Frank? Any books set in Charleston/Lowcountry? It is one of my favorite areas to read about.  I may have a South problem.  And I may have gotten a guilty pleasure show in Southern Charm started.  I may also have a problem..

I got this book from TLC tours but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Break: Day 1

We sadly did not go anywhere warm for our spring break this year but we did travel around the lovely mitten state.  Thanks for Groupons popping up in my emails on a daily basis it gave me the idea to visit Saugatuck.  A few cold weekends later we decided to add a day on to our trip and check out Grand Haven as well.

We left our house early on Saturday morning and it took us just over an hour and a half to get to Perrin Brewing Company.  We meant to check this place out when we were down in the Grand Rapids area last December on our brewery tour but did not make it.  So it was our lunch stop on this trip.

I tried the Razzberry Blonde which I had already tried a few weeks ago at a bar here but it was delicious and I decided to start the day out with lighter stuff as to not fill up too early in our travels.  The husband had some bourbon thing I assume or something that sounded like a gut ache to me. ;)

We split the Black & Blue burger and it was delicious.  You could add on for fries or get homemade chips so we stuck with the chips and they were okay.  Isla got the grilled cheese which came with fries and they were just okay.

After we left Perrin we drove into Grand Haven and headed straight to the shopping/restaurant area.  We visited the Tri-Cities Historical Museum which was free with donations welcome.  We each picked out our own post card from there as a souvenir.  Then we walked around and looked at some of the shops and visited The Blueberry Store which had tons of blueberry products from local blueberries.  Then we decided to go find our hotel and get some beer at the store before we checked in.



We were slightly detoured when we saw a sign for Rays Drive In.  We decided we needed ice cream.  So we each got a small malt and split some onion petals. Yum and super cheap! Definitely recommend it.

Then we picked up some beer and headed back to the hotel.  We got the child down for a nap and we had a beer.  I read and the husband napped.  After nap we checked out the pool.  Oh my lord.  Here is where I am glad we had a groupon and where the cheapness started showing.  It was full of teenage boys being teenage boys.  And it was cold.  So we didn't hang out there long. I did enjoy the hot tub a bit but it was overrun by children as well. 

We headed back to get ready for dinner and we were going to check out Tip a Few Tavern for dinner but it was a Saturday night and the NCAA tourney was on.  It was packed and not a good idea with a 3.5 year old.  So we ended up at Joe's Wooden Nickel.  I had Oberon (yum!) and pork tacos.  Anthony had the brisket sandwich and the child had a chicken and cheese quesadilla.  It was all yummy! Loved the inside of the bar too.  Quick service and good for a quick dinner.

Then we headed back to the hotel where we had a quick tea party with cookies leftover from my birthday and then the child headed to bed while we read/watched basketball a bit and then we passed out too.

It was a great day to explore Grand Haven.  The only downfall was the hotel.  You HEARD everything.  Children were RUNNING in the halls and it was annoying.  And the double beds sucked.  Minus that we liked Grand Haven. ;)

Do you ever explore your state? What's your go to meal when you don't know what to order? Do you use Groupon?

Friday, April 3, 2015

March Workouts

I was motivated by Amber to record my workouts and then I kind of bombed the month, but it's a journey not a race!

Monday, March 2nd -  110 squats, 5 push ups, 10 seconds of punches, 10 bicep curls
2.53 miles on the treadmill
 
Tuesday, March 3rd - 20 squats, 15 seconds of punches, 15 bicep curls
1 mile express YouTube video
 
Wednesday. March 4th -  30 squats, 10 push ups, 20 seconds of punches, 20 bicep curls
2.1 miles on the treadmill
 
 Tuesday, March 10th - 20 squats, 30 bicep curls, 25 punches
1.22 miles
 
Wednesday, March 11th - 40 bicep curls, 30 second punches
5 minute warm up, 3 x 400 @ 6.0mph, ran 1 minute, walked 1, ran 30 seconds, walked 30 seconds (wasn't feeling well so I adapted what I was going to do..
1.51 miles
 
Thursday, March 12th - 50 bicep curls, 35 second punches, other arm stuff
2 mile walk away the pounds youtube...  (slightly disappointing because it cuts off about 5 minutes in the middle..)
 
Monday, March 16th
1.37 family walk (lame I know but it was a Monday ha)
 
 
Tuesday, March 17th
1.35 miles on the treadmill and I did strength training and squats but I erased it from my weekly doc before I recorded it)
 
And in full transparency this is when I stopped working out for the month of March.  I did plan for that next week but things got crazy and I just stopped.  I do have a great kickboxing YouTube video to try out and some other cardio options.  I'm trying to make sure I hit my 10,000 step goal for the rest of Spring Break and hitting the beginning of April strong again.  I'm also going to focus on my eating because I know I can do better there.  I have seen a different in my butt after doing so many squats so I want to continue that and my clothes are fitting better so I know I'm doing better, I just want to see numbers go down on the scale! So frustrating.  I hope that with the foundation I've started will help in the summer and I can get more workouts done in the morning and NOT have to wake up at the ass crack of dawn to do them since I am so not a morning person.
 
Embarrassing total of miles for March: 10.08 miles
 
According to my fiitbit I traveled: 127.4 miles. 
 
Was March a good workout month for you? What kind of salad dressing do you like? What are the recipes to some lunch salads you make? Or dinner sides that are healthy?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Big Little Lies

We read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty for our March Books & Bars pick.  As soon as I started I had a hard time putting it down and even though I had a super busy late night filled weekend I stayed up late on a Sunday to finish!

My favorite part of the book was the input from the parents at the end of each chapter.  They were interviewed and asked bout the events that had occurred and the responses were hilarious.  They were so dead on for those that know suburbia parents! Plus, it gave some insight to the minor characters as they popped up through the book.  I also liked that it didn't include any comments from the 'main players' so to speak so that it gave more of a who is dead? who did it? urgency to finish.

We sadly hardly discussed this book at all at book club, but we have such a small group that when we get together the wine was flowing and our conversations were flying all over the place, which is still awesome for me since I loved the connection I have with those ladies.

Description: Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive


I think my favorite character was Celeste or Stephanie (one of those random parent comments that you never get to know but IS SO DEAD ON).  Madeline was a bit much for me.  Way too attention needy.

Have you read Big Little Lies? Have you read any other books by Liane Moriarty? I'm interested in reading The Husband's Secret. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

World Gone By

I've read a lot of great books recently and World Gone By, by Dennis Lehane is yet another! I devoured Mystic River, and did the same with World Gone By! I read it in just over 12 hours with obvious parenting/cleaning/life breaks.

Description: Dennis Lehane, the New York Times bestselling author of The Given Day and Live by Night, returns with a psychologically and morally complex novel of blood, crime, passion, and vengeance, set in Cuba and Ybor City, Florida, during World War II, in which Joe Coughlin must confront the cost of his criminal past and present.

Ten years have passed since Joe Coughlin’s enemies killed his wife and destroyed his empire, and much has changed. Prohibition is dead, the world is at war again, and Joe’s son, Tomás, is growing up. Now, the former crime kingpin works as a consigliore to the Bartolo crime family, traveling between Tampa and Cuba, his wife’s homeland.

A master who moves in and out of the black, white, and Cuban underworlds, Joe effortlessly mixes with Tampa’s social elite, U.S. Naval intelligence, the Lansky-Luciano mob, and the mob-financed government of Fulgencio Batista. He has everything—money, power, a beautiful mistress, and anonymity.

But success cannot protect him from the dark truth of his past—and ultimately, the wages of a lifetime of sin will finally be paid in full.


This was fast paced and the mystery of who would want Joe Coughlin dead made for quite a page turner. 

My only complaint of this book how Lehane had Joe seeing ghosts.  It was just odd to me and took away from everything else.  I mean, in the sense of the book I get it and I get where the book was going, but it wasn't doing it for me.

I loved the different gangsters and the stories of things that had happened.  I loved how people would say or do something and it would make you wonder if they were the one plotting to kill Joe.

This is the third in a series of books about Joe Coughlin, but honestly I hadn't read either and I didn't think it was necessary to read this one.  I know some people complained about how some threads to the plot were just there and how many different people were involved but only one instance did it stand out to me when he ended up at at house and knew everything about the guy in what seemed in the timeline of the book like a day after knowing about him and not having mentioned anything about having someone follow him but then tells the guy that's how he knows things, did it really stand out to me.  For the most part, it's a quick thriller not meant to make you think too much and it's good.

I definitely recommend it if you like thriller fast paced books!

Have you read any books by Dennis Lehane? Watched any of the movies based off his books? Do you like books or movies about the mafia?

I've only read Mystic River and only seen Mystic River.  LOOOOVED the book, hated the movie.  I have a few others of his that are on my shelves that I need to read. I love books/movies about the mafia.

 
I received this book from TLC Book Tours, all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My 5th Stitch Fix

I got my 5th Stitch Fix today! I always get excited to see what will be in the mail. 


I like how the scarf is the pop of color here!I got a vest, a tshirt, a dolman top, the scarf and another casual shirt.

First thing I did, was pop on the scarf over the shirt I wore today...

Henry Birds on a Branch Infinity Scarf - $28.00

 
I'm leaning towards yes on this.  It's so soft and I've wanted a new scarf for awhile but haven't found one I love. And I don't own one this color.  Need to decide if it will match enough items in my closet.
 

Pixley Malynn Aysmmetrical Soft Moto Vest - $58.00


 
I zipped it and then unzipped it.  Bad photo.  It fits, it's soft and cute but I'm not sure I want to pay $58.00 for it.  Maybe if it was another color since I already bought a vest this winter that is black and for only $14.99.  So, probably not. 

 

 
Sawyer Space Dye Dolman Sleeve Knit Top - $58.00
 


So... I didn't think I'd like this when I saw it  And I didn't much like it much on. I was going to try it on again with some black pants I have and I just don't think I will.  The shirt is too big.  I feel like when they send me a shirt that's stretchy or loose the are always far too big.  Eh...
 
Loveappella Canon Button Detail Striped Knit Top - $48.00
 
 

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this but I really ended up liking it on.  So I'm debating on getting this.  I want to try it on again with a cardigan and what not.  Think about it.
 
 
Market & Spruce Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee - $44.00
 
 

 
I'm kind of disappointed I got sent this.  I've seen others get it and I had no desire.  It's a tshirt.  And it's an unflattering tshirt at that.  It's also super thin.  I had it on for like 30 seconds and yeah, no way.
 
I was a little disappointed because I asked for some cardigans or shirts to wear under cardigans and I suppose if I liked the tshirt I could wear it under a cardigan and possibly the Loveappella shirt.  And I'd much have rather gotten a cardigan than the vest.  Oh well. 
 
So... leaning towards scarf and possibly the loveappella shirt.. Thoughts? What would you keep? I was contemplating the vest until I thought about the fact that I really like my other vest that I got for 14.99 but it was soft.  But yeah...   What do you think?