Monday, November 10, 2014

Fun Weekend

I had such a great weekend it was one of those that you need a Monday off to recover.  If only...

My parents invited Isla over for a sleepover on Friday so I picked her up from daycare and dropped her at my parents after I was out of work.  Then I stopped by a friend's house to visit with her because she had an AWFUL fall and hurt her trachea/larynx, eye and broke 6 ribs!!!! She is so lucky to be okay.  I also feel bad for her because her daughter-in-law's mom passed away today and she feels horrible that she can't travel out of state to be with her son and his family right now.  So if you could keep my dear sweet friend in your thoughts I'd appreciate it.

After I visited with her I headed home and we got to pretend like it was 2010 before children again.  We relaxed, changed clothes and got ready for dinner out with our bff! It was so fun.  We ate dinner and chatted and then the husband and I hit up the store for supplies for our Saturday fun and then we went to our local taproom and had a drink before we headed home.

The reason we were very responsible on Friday was because we had a VERY long day of tailgating and attending the Ohio State vs. Michigan State football game in East Lansing! I was so pumped.  I am a lifelong buckeye fan who attended MSU.  So there is never a sad outcome.  Well, lets be real.  I do get sad when OSU loses.  I can't help it.  I always wear both my colors and whichever team is at home is the team color I wear outwardly.

the first layer.. well really there is a long sleeve shirt under here too.. IT WAS COLD!!!

 I'm sure people thought I was crazy in Spartan Stadium in my MSU gear cheering on my buckeyes. We got in to E.L.  about 12:30 and were in our parking lot by 12:52 even though the lot was supposed to open at 1:00.  We tailgated with some family and friends and it was a VERY fun day since the game started at 8:00.  I love college football and I love Big Ten campuses on Saturday's in the fall!

us with my dad's osu friends who came up for the game!

The Buckeyes prevailed and it was amazing.  I was shocked.  I honestly thought MSU was going to do the butt kicking. 

a view from our seats early in the game..

We didn't get home until after 2:00 and I was exhausted.  Especially since our darling was dropped back off home at 8:45 by my in laws.  Because oh yeah, my kid grandparent hopped over the weekend. ;) It was a fun fun time.  I spent most of Sunday recuperating on the couch.  Mainly because I woke up with an out of whack neck on Thursday that has NOT fully recovered.  Today was the first day I didn't require medicine or a heating pad to get out of bed.  Hoping tomorrow is even better!

What was your weekend highlight?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Vineyard

I like the unexpected and The Vineyard definitely is an unexpected book.  The description reads like it may be a chick flick but it goes much deeper than that.  The book begins with Charlotte arriving on the vineyard preparing her suicide.  It is hinted that she meets a fisherman that affects her and soon you meet this person and that person is very surprising to the plot and I don’t want to say much more in that regards.  But the beginning of the book introduces and reveals characters that make you want to keep flipping the pages to find out what is going to happen next…..

Description: From Michael Hurley, winner of the Chanticleer Reviews Grand Prize for his debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, comes a complex and ambitious tale of old money, young passion, and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside town.

Dory Delano, Charlotte Harris, and Turner Graham have been drifting through life since their days as roommates at Smith College, ten years ago. Dory is resisting taking the reins of her family’s legacy and fortune even as she relishes the fabulous lifestyle it affords her in the fashionable seaside resort of Martha’s Vineyard. She invites her old friends to join her for a summer on the Vineyard in hopes of rediscovering the innocence of old days and healing new wounds. But hidden in their midst and unknown to all but a few, a reclusive—some say dangerous—fisherman wanders alone, fueling wild speculation about his purpose and his past. None of these women can imagine the events their encounter with the fisherman will set in motion, the shadow he will cast over their destinies, or the transformation that awaits the world they know.
Here is a link to the book trailer...
I will say that I think this would make an excellent book club selection and I'd love to discuss it if/when others read it!
Have you ever read a book and immediately seen symbolism? Have you ever been surprised in a non eye rolling way by a turn of events?
I received this book through TLC book tours.. all thoughts and opinions are my own!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

And The Mountains Echoed

We read this for our October Books & Bars meeting.  All of us had read and loved The Kite Runner and one of us had also read A Thousand Splendid Suns so this seemed like a perfect pick.  The overall feeling was it was not as good as the others but we all enjoyed it to an extent.  I did think it drug on in spots and was a little blah but the storytelling was good.  We also agreed that while The Kite Runner stuck with us long after we had finished, this just wasn't one of those books. 

Description: Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.

In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.

Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page

My favorite parts were probably Nabi's, Idris's and Pari's.  I really wish instead of learning about Markos and his background there would have been a section on Nila and her upbringing and her feelings after leaving Afghanistan.  It was interesting to see how all the stories were intertwined and how one decision can affect so many in different generations!

Since I know most of you have already read it, I thought it would be neat to share a couple questions and if you remember and want to share some thoughts, that would be great!

1. Ultimately, do you think Pari would have had a happier life if she had stayed with her birth family?

I don't think she would have had the same opportunities and I don't know if she would have been as happy with the life that she would have had with them.  Not to say life with Nila was ideal, but her adult life would have been far different. Of course she would have had her brother but life for girls in Afghanistan at that time in such a small village did not hold a lot of promise for her.  Personally, I'd choose the new life she was given over what her birth family could offer. 

2. The book raises many deep questions about the wavering line between right and wrong, and whether it is possible to be purely "good"—or purely "bad." What do you think after reading the novel: Are good intentions enough to create good deeds? Can positive actions come from selfish motivations? Can bad come from positive intent? How do you think this novel would define a good person? How would you define one?

Nabi was very selfish when he suggested adoption to Nila.  Good did come from that but it wasn't his original aim.  Parwana I struggle with her choices.  I don't think in her heart she was very pure or good. I also think bad things do come from positive intent.  And in the book Idris definitely experienced that when he got too attached to the girl but then didn't follow through because he wasn't strong enough. 

Which book of Hosseini's is your favorite? Have you read any other books set in Afghanistan and/or the middle east that you'd recommend?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Five Things

Good Tuesday Morning! Here are five random things about me..

1. When I was younger I wanted to be a writer and filled many notebooks and journals with stories.  I lived so much in my head I could barely keep all my stories straight.

2.  I love road trips but prefer to be the driver.  As long as we aren't in a city or on a super busy highway.  I love two lane roads for random drives because I tend to get car sick as the passenger.  Unless the car is cold.

3. I spent my freshman year of college spring break with my grandparents in Scottsdale, AZ and would do it again in a flash.  I loved hanging out with them and had a lot more fun than if I had gone with my friends to Panama City, lets be real, I've always been an old person.

4. I hate cold weather.  It's getting worse each year.  I think I need to be in a place where 60s is the low in the winter.  I just cannot do this.  It's only the beginning of November and we had a decent October.  I don't think I own enough hoodies and sweats to get me through the winter.

5.  I don't really like apple cider.  I keep trying but unless it is a spruced up with some liquor and warmed, I'm just not that excited about it. 

What's something about you that I may not know?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Goals for this week

I am taking a page from Kelly and posting my goals for this week.  I can't be trusted to do a whole month of goals.  Meal plan? Yes.  But goals, eek. 

1. Work out twice this week.  My coworker and I are going to try to run/walk together right after school twice this week so I am planning on that being my two times.  We are doing a weight loss challenge and while I've done pretty well food wise, working out has been horrible.  So I need this so I don't have to pay in on Thursday!

2. Read the majority of The Vineyard.  I need to spend more time at night reading.  But it seems that I've spent most of my Internet time at night catching up facebook groups that I'm apart of and that is why I can't even stay up to date on my blog/blog reading.  And then I just want to go to bed early and no reading.

3.  Drink two of my water bottles full of water M-Th.  I've been slacking on the water consumption but I feel like I never remember to drink while I'm at work until after lunch!

What are your goals for the week? Month?

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Reading: The Vineyard!

Loving:  cardigans.. living in them.  that and these awesome jeans i got from old navy that don't fall off my butt and don't stretch out during the day!!

Thinking: about what I want to do with my life..

Frustrated:  my job

Feeling:  crazy, pulled in a million directions and that I am not doing any of my 'hats' well..

Anticipating: thanksgiving crazyness

Watching:  lots and lots of football!

Sad:  that I saw SNOW FLURRIES on Halloween which means WINTER.

Working:   on improving my life

Grateful:  for my child and how hilarious she is.  and smart.  she's so awesome.

Listening:  to kids books on cd on the way to and from work.  ever since my XM subscription ran out I've been very disappointed in local radio stations

Wishing: I could work part-time or in a position that I felt was a good fit.  I've been really pulled in a certain direction that is not where I'm at but I need to decide something soon...

What are you currently reading, watching or thinking about?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November's Meal Plan

Like I mentioned earlier this week, October was super crazy.  To the point where I had meal planned but looking back, we barely ate what I said we were going to each week and we ate out so much more than I wanted and it was crazy.  But, I got a plan for November and I am even going to try a few new to us recipes so I'm excited!

November 1st - Chicken & Dumplings
Nov. 3rd - Tater Tot Skillet Casserole
Nov. 4th Chili (frozen leftovers from last month) over potatoes
Nov. 5th leftover chili
Nov. 6th beef enchiladas
Nov. 7th out on a date or leftovers
Nov. 10th Peasant Pasta
Nov. 11th Chicken fajitas
Nov. 12th Cheesy Taco Soup
Nov. 13th leftovers
Nov. 14th homemade pizza
Nov. 17th Penne alla Rosa
Nov. 18th homemade chicken nuggets
Nov. 19th Quesadillas
Nov. 20th Three Cheese Lasagna in a skillet
Nov. 21st leftovers
Nov. 23rd Jambasta
Nov. 24th leftovers
Nov. 25th rice & veggies
Nov. 26th steak

I'm excited to try a few Rachael Ray recipes that I found in some cookbooks that I really haven't cracked in years but I wanted to try to liven up the meal planning because I was sitting and looking at my calendar with a ahhhh look! What's a weeknight favorite recipe of yours that you keep in your rotation?

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Discussion

Happy Friday! Here are the discussion questions for the October Group Read...
  1. At the beginning of the story, Amelia says she is considering quitting online dating. How would you compare the act of buying books online to the act of dating online? Is it relevant to the story that Amelia meets her eventual husband in a very analog location, a bookstore?
  2. Consider the setting. Why do you think the author chooses to set the book on an island? How does the island setting reflect A.J.'s character?
  3. Perhaps oddly, vampires are a recurring motif in the story: for example, when A.J.'s wife throws the vampire prom and when A.J. watches True Blood to court Amelia. What do you make of the references to vampires?
  4. Lambiase moves from an occasional or nonreader, to a reader, to a bookseller. How do you think becoming a reader changes him? Consider the scene where he decides not to confront Ismay about the backpack. Do you think Lambiase's reaction is different than it would have been if he hadn't taken up reading?
  5. Did you find Ismay's motivations for stealing Tamerlane to be forgivable? How do you think she should pay for her crime? Why do you think Lambiase lets her off?
  6. At one point, Maya speculates that perhaps "your whole life is determined by what store you get left in" (page 85). Is it the people or the place that makes the difference?
  7. Compare Maya's "fiction" about the last day of her mother's life to Ismay's version. Which do you consider to be more accurate and why?
  8. What do you think the future holds for physical books and bookstores?
Thanks for participating!

Sadly, I do have to announce that I need to take a break from hosting a monthly group read.  My life is a bit too chaotic at the moment to fully commit to a specific book and what not right now.  I'm trying to stay afloat with my current in person book club and possibly join another parenting one and well work is crazy and sadly right now this is what has to give.  I may revisit it again in the new year or do it sporadically but right now I can't give it the attention and time that I have in the past.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, October 27, 2014


I've been super busy lately.  Work has been insane.  Social life has been insane.  Family life has been insane.  I'm looking forward to a relatively better week.  By better week I mean I only have book club, a field trip, half-day training with time to work in my classroom on Friday, Halloween and then a weekend with no hard commitments.  It's been a month.  Basically, it's been a fall!  But, I love busy.  I just hate when it keeps me away from my loves.  My loves  being my kid, books, my blog, friends, alone time and a clean semi-non messy house with laundry caught up.

A MONTH ago, my school had homecoming and we enjoyed the parade with my parents.  After the parade in my hometown we headed to my husband's hometown and enjoyed our favorite nachos at our favorite establishment there and then went to the football game in that town to see his old high school team play against their rival.  That was surprisingly the child's first live football game.  She was in a mood that was probably caused by a long day and then a parade, some candy, sitting through dinner and then an outdoor event near bedtime. 

In the middle of this month we had family pictures taken.  This was on my cell phone while we were waiting for the photographer.  This is at her school and she was telling us about the 'field trip' they had taken to the farm and how there were 2 goats.  I was not super impressed with our family pictures but I was thrilled with a couple of shots of the kiddo.
I spent a weekend in the Louisville area with my parents to attend a wedding of a family friend.  My mom and I decided we needed a selfie to capture our beautifulness before the wedding.  I also felt like crap this weekend and ended up in urgent care that Monday because of a severe abdominal /back pain that never was truly explained away but answers given were NOT pregnant, NOT a UTI and nothing showing up on an ultrasound.  But it was bad.  I have a physical scheduled with my midwife practice but couldn't get in until December.  To say I am a bit worried is an understatement.

While I was in Louisville, this cutie made a cake with her dad.

I also got to spend two days with my dad to travel to Ohio for a football game! We got to eat our favorite pizza together on Friday night and then tailgate with friends and go to the game on Saturday! I love that place! It is just magic.  If I could bottle fall Saturday's on OSU's campus for a bad day, I would!
 Our town has an annual Pumpkin Festival where they have TONS of free activities for families.  We met up at my husband's downtown office for a pizza picnic before we took the snow queen to the festivities.  We did the trick or treating and played two games but it was super crowded and we aren't really at the stand in a long line for fun age.  The parents stopped at the local taproom for a growler on our way out of downtown. ;)

My sister-in-law and I took our kiddos down to Lansing to the Potter Park Zoo for their Zoo Boo and the kids had a riot.  I totally credit her cousin for her even attempting to sit on top of this to take a picture.  She's not a risk taker.

On the way back they passed out quickly! My kid was trying to channel weekend at Bernie's here.  I was dying at the book placement while passed out!

To continue with our fall fun my mom and I took the little one to a pumpkin farm to check out some animals and pick out a carving pumpkin because the pumpkins our garden grew were not big enough to carve. ;) We may have also got donuts and hot chocolate.  It was a good fun morning.

I do have some sad news to end with unfortunately.  My grandpa who suffers from dementia has been diagnosed with three different cancers and has been moved to a hospice facility in a VA hospital.  I'm trying to process this as best I can while also trying to help process this as being the mother of a three year old who also loves her great papa.  It's so hard.  And it sucks.  And it's so not fair.  Dementia nor the cancer.  And I hate them both and it's awful.  I just don't really have the words to process yet.  Just the tears. Grandparents, special people they are for sure.

Here's hoping November treats us a tad gentler than our busy, fun, crazy, stressful October.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Double Strike

The third installment of the Davis Way Crime Caper series is as laugh out loud funny as the first two.  I read it in less than 24 hours and it had got me rolling with laughter.

"She'd mentioned it.  She made me hang my head out the window on the ride over.  No hair and Makeup Angela had somehow gotten her hands on a gallon jug of bull goo (I didn't ask) and I was treating myself to a Viagra mask before this Monday got into full swing.  Angela taped a note to the bucket: Get it on for an hour in the mornings, let it sink into your scalp, and even after you shampoo it out it will work its magi all day.  I had a shower cap over the bull mask and a cashmere sweater tied around the shower cap (a last-minute grab because I tossed ten drawers in our closet and still couldn't find a scarf) but bulls are stronger than plastic and cashmere.  I couldn't do the keep-it-cold business, because I just didn't have time to fashion an ice hat for myself, and I didn't want to freeze to death.  After battling the sleeves of the sweater out of my face a hundred times, I gave up and tied them in a knot on top of my head.  "This isn't a fashion show, Fantasy."

The book begins the day before Davis is supposed to marry Bradley Cole, but of COURSE nothing goes as planned. 

Description: Bellissimo Resort and Casino Super Spy Davis Way knows three things: Cooking isn't a prerequisite for a happy marriage, don't trust men who look like David Hasselhoff, and money doesn't grow on Christmas trees. None of which help when a storm hits the Gulf a week before the most anticipated event in Bellissimo history: the Strike It Rich Sweepstakes. Securing the guests, staff, and property might take a stray bullet. Or two.

Bellissimo Resort and Casino Super Spy Davis Way has three problems: She's desperate to change her marital status, she has a new boss who speaks in hashtags, and Bianca Sanders has confiscated her clothes. All of which bring on a headache hot enough to spark a fire. Solving her problems means stealing a car. From a dingbat lawyer.

Bellissimo Resort and Casino Super Spy Davis Way has three goals: Keep the Sanders family out of prison, regain her footing in her relationship, and find the genius who wrote the software for futureGaming. One of which, the manhunt one, is iffy. Because when Alabama hides someone, they hide them good.

DOUBLE STRIKE. A VIP invitation to an extraordinary high-stakes gaming event, as thieves, feds, dance instructors, shady bankers, kidnappers, and gold waiters go all in. #Don'tMissIt

This book was great.  Davis, Fantasy and Baylor keep getting into ridiculous predicaments and it is down right hilarious! I really enjoyed all the different hash tags and the making fun of social media.  It was genius.  I also loved the new story lines and new characters that brought hilarity to the group. 

This is a smarter, funnier Stephanie Plum series.  Or maybe like the early Stephanie Plum was.  It's great!  If you need a laugh or a new series to check out I highly recommend the Davis Way Crime Capers by Gretchen Archer!

The only sad part is that I will have to wait so long until the 4th book comes out.  YOU however can catch right up to the series as this book comes out today!!!

What was the last laugh out loud book you read? Do you ever wonder what behind the scenes at a casino would look like?

I received this book from the publisher for review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.