Friday, June 10, 2022

Written in the Stars

 Happy Pride Month!

I just finished reading “Written in the Stars’ by Alexandria Bellefleur.  If you are looking for a nerdy queer romance novel with a twist on Pride and Prejudice look no farther.

Elle (Elizabeth) and Darcy are set up by Darcy’s ever hopeful and romantic brother.  Elle is looking for her one true love and Darcy is jaded and wishing she could say no to her brother.

One disastrous first date later and a small little fib lands them in a “relationship.”

Elle is into astrology, Darcy is an actuary.  Elle’s heads are in the clouds, Darcy’s feet are firmly planted.  What could possibly go wrong?

Monday, May 2, 2022

Canary in the Coal Mine

 The SNL skit  about women and murder shows was definitely written about me and I am so that stereotypical person.  Murder shows, murder podcasts, murder books, I'm there.  I've read that people who have anxiety or fears are drawn to these type of books because you learn what NOT to do.  And I mean, I'm definitely not running up the stairs to get away from a home intruder!

Canary in the Coal Mine by Charles Salzberg is about PI Pete Fortunato who is down on his luck (what PI in history of PI's is living the dream???) is visited by a beautiful woman who wants his help finding her husband.  The whole situation seems off to him, but he does his job and bad thing after bad thing befalls him.  

The book is fast paced and untangling the half truths that Pete is told helps the story move quickly.  Pete is a guys guy and the book gave me vibes of David Rosenthal, Jonathan Kellerman or Walter Mosley.  

Description: PI Pete Fortunato, half-Italian, half-Jewish, who suffers from anger management issues and insomnia, wakes up one morning with a bad taste in his mouth. This is never a good sign. Working out of a friend’s downtown real estate office, Fortunato, who spent a mysteriously short, forgettable stint as a cop in a small upstate New York town, lives from paycheck to paycheck. So, when a beautiful woman wants to hire him to find her husband, he doesn’t hesitate to say yes. Within a day, Fortunato finds the husband in the apartment of his client’s young, stud lover. He’s been shot once in the head. Case closed. But when his client’s check bounces, and a couple of Albanian gangsters show up outside his building and kidnap him, hoping he’ll lead them to a large sum of money supposedly stolen by the dead man, he begins to realize there’s a good chance he’s been set up to take the fall for the murder and the theft of the money.

In an attempt to get himself out of a jam, Fortunato winds up on a wild ride that takes him down to Texas where he searches for his client’s lover who he suspects has the money and holds the key to solving the murder.
What is your favorite book about a PI?
Mine would probably be the Laura Lippman series about Tess Monaghan.  
I received a copy of this book for review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Repetitive Reading withYoung Children

One of my favorite things is when you are reading with your child and they start to 'read' with you.  When you give a little pause, and their little voice pops in with the missing word, or when they are even younger and start jabbering and you know in their head they are 'reading' with you!

Books that have repetitive words and phrases are an important part of early literacy. When children hear the words over and over they begin to repeat them and 'read' with the reader.  It gives them the excitement that they are 'reading' too, even though they have just memorized the words.  Yay brain development!

Repetitive books help them comprehend and remember the story, especially if it's engaging and they have you read it 232423 times a day! When they have less overall words to remember and know in a story, it allows for more of their cognitive energy to go towards language.   

If you are wanting to work on a specific set of language, you can pick books that have repetition with a certain sound or phrase.  So if your child is struggling with pronouns (he, her, him, she, his etc) or with certain sounds, you can look for books that have a focus on that and the repetition in the story will help be a model.  

For my two year old some of her current favorite repetitive books are: 

The Three Little Pigs and The Little Red Hen from Usborne books.  They are great for her because it tells the classic story in an abbreviated version that is age appropriate.  Before I had even finished either of the books the first time she was chiming in with the repeating phrases in each book! 

The Pout Pout Fish - My only complaint about this book is the kissing of another without consent, which I do try to change when I read it.  Which, sure may not be a big deal to you, but I spend a lot of time telling my children they do not have to let others kiss them unless they want them to!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do You See?- Love the board book version.  We also have Baby Bear, Baby Bear. This is such a fun book to work with colors, sliding back the flap, and making the guesses of what's next.  It gives lots of opportunities for kids to fill in the blank.   

For older preschool kids I also like Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. I have the Pete the Cat books on cd and when my oldest was younger she would bring the book in the car and I'd play the CD and she would read with it.

I also have The Little Red Hen Makes Pizza, which is great for preschoolers and can be used to do so many fun activities I also have lots of variation so The Three Little Pig story.  Comparing and contrasting stories was always a fun preschool activity.  And such great books!

Other fun repetitive books:

If You Give a ... books such as a Mouse a cookie, a pig a party etc..

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Is Your Mama A Llama?

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

I know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and other variations

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Gingerbread Man

That's Not My Lion

What are some of your favorite repetitive books? What books do your kids enjoy hearing over and over again?

Tuesday, March 15, 2022


Reading:     Stuck in Manistique by Dennis Cuestra .  It is our March book club pick.

Loving: chex mix.  I made some on Friday and I ate the majority of it.  So addicting.

Feeling: ready for summer!!!

Anticipating:  my peanut butter chocolate pie for my birthday

Grateful: for not having to work.  

Working: on making plans for spring and summer

Listening: all the true crime podcasts ha

Watching: Land Girls and Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

Wishing: that someone could come and clean my house and organize it for me.

What are you reading/listening/watching?

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Early Literacy: Vocabulary

 I obviously am a huge proponent of putting books in kids hands.  It's my go to gift and we live surrounded by books.  We use the heck out of the library but, I do love having books that we can read or look at in our own home.  I also don't like checking out board books at the library cuz I can't even handle thinking about germs on the other books, but baby books I just can't do it.  I was a huge germ avoider pre-covid and it's just gotten worse!

The last few times I've read new books to my two year old I've really been thinking about how vocabularies in kids that are read to are more robust than kids who are not.  In our home, we have two college educated adults, and a ten year old avid reader.  Even with that, and knowing how to include bigger or rare words into conversations to introduce them to our toddler, just by picking up a book, I get new words that aren't spoken on a daily basis.

Take for example while reading Corduroy Lost and Found by B.G. Hennessy based on the character created by Don Freeman I was thinking of words I don't think we've said in our house:

- perked 
- crept

Also in the book When Will it Be Spring? by Catherine Walters I came across:


It may not seem like a lot but try as I might I'm not sure I'd easily work these into every day conversations a lot.  And I try very hard to use unique words and an expansive vocabulary in our house.  Children learn the language spoken in their home and around them most often.  A lot of what we (general we) say is lazy and nicknamy and kids have to decode what you mean, which are also skills to learn, but when learning to read and speak to others an expansive vocabulary helps you get your point across.

The more words kids have the better they can describe what they are feeling, what they need/want, and what they are thinking.

Books are a great way to learn new words, use them in different ways, learn about new places, and have kids use their imagination.  I have to say that sometimes my ten year old busts out with words and descriptions that I know came straight out of a novel because there is no way she heard or learned from any person how to say certain phrases! Love it! Also when she mispronounces things because she's only ever read them! Love the confidence of using new words in sentences.

These are some of my favorite children books for vocabulary:

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Harry Potter series

Fancy Nancy books

Amelia Bedelia books

Anne of Green Gables series

On the Night you were Born by Nancy Tillman

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy 

Not Your Typical Dragon 

Meet me at the Moon

Little Owl's Night

Dream Big Little one

CeCe Loves Science

ABC What Can She Be?

Reading is such an easy way to introduce so many concepts to small kids and there are so many good ones out there! I have a picture book problem, so I probably have a book for any topic one could dream.

What books do you like to read that have expansive vocabularies?

Monday, March 7, 2022

What I read in February

 I read 6 books in February and I find that to be quite impressive since most of them either were read in a day or it took over a week.  I have not been able to focus.  It's been horrible! And I honestly really enjoyed all of the books I read!

Malibu Rising was soo good.  I love books that introduce the reader to a family and then takes the different viewpoints of each member, slowly giving their sides of a story and having it lead up to an epic event.  

Some Choose Darkness appears to be the first in a series based on the main character, Rory Moore.   Rory is a quirky forensic reconstructionist who gets thrust into the role of lawyer/mentor to a convicted killer.  The book goes back and forth between a hot summer a couple decades early and the current time while Rory tries to figure out why her father spent so much time on this one client and if he was responsible for more murders that he wasn't convicted of, but many thought he had committed.  It's fast paced and quite the thriller.

A Hundred Summers was another Beatriz Williams winner! I really have enjoyed all the books of hers that I've picked up.  It's set in 1930s and is set in the northeast among high society families.  

Untamed is a memoir from Glennon Doyle and she cracks me up! I really appreciated her words and it I was glad I made time for it finally.

The Woman in Cabin 10 was a bit of a let down but I still enjoyed it.  I read a Ruth Ware book probably two years ago and LOVED IT, so then I thought I'd enjoy all her books and the other book of hers I read I was slightly disappointed and I was worried about this one because I had heard far too much hype about it.  It was good, but it wasn't amazing.  Keeps you on your toes thinking about whodunnit though.

It happened One Summer was a funny romance where the main character is based off of Alexis Rose from Schitt's Creek. Cracked me up and I totally enjoyed it.  Can't wait to read the second book in this series.  

Still trying to work on the focus but I have a ton of books out from the library that I'm hoping to read soon!

What did you read in February?

Monday, February 28, 2022

Weekend Recap

The weekend started out with a surprise snow day for the 10 year old! I had known that it was supposed to snow maybe 3 inches over night but it hadn't even started by the time I went to bed so I was like ahh they lied.  Yeah... no.  I woke up around 6:30 and checked my phone and surprise, snow day! 

We started Friday off lazy with taking turns picking shows, then I warmed up the requested canned chicken noodle soup while the 10 year old shoveled a path from our door to the driveway.  After lunch, we went outside and I finished the shoveling around the garage and sidewalks and the girls played outside for awhile because for once when it snowed, the sun was shining and it was near 20 so it wasn't horrid.

The two year old took a ridiculously short nap and the oldest watched a disney plus movie while I didn't accomplish much! Lucky for us my husband surprised us and came home early.  We ended up having a couple errands to run so we hopped in the car and dropped off our winter taxes, dropped off his employees paychecks, got a car wash and picked up milkshakes as a pre-dinner appetizer.  When we got home we made brisket nachos for dinner and had a lazy evening.

Saturday I took the 10 year old to the library and we picked up our holds and browsed for awhile.  Our library still hasn't fully reopened since the flood in May 2020.  Hopefully it will be finally finished and ready the first week of April.  During nap time I read and the 10 year old and my husband started playing Ms. Monopoly, but it was another SUPER short nap so they had to hide the game away until later.  We took a walk in our woods and hung up a new camera so we can see animals in our backyard.

My husband spent all day Saturday making homemade beef broth and beef stew for dinner. It was delicious!  Saturday night I drank wine and read and the 10 year old and her dad played over 2 hours of Ms. Monopoly!

Sunday we went to to the local nature center and the kids played at the nature playground and then we did the short trail loop in hopes of tiring out the 2 year old to take a better nap, because we were allllllll needing her to do that.  Or to poop, since I'm sure that would have helped the other issue.  That took up just over an hour and then we stopped and got a drink and fries for a pre-lunch car snack.

The rest of the day was spent watching basketball, playing with the nerf gun, and then we had another delicious dinner of steaks, asparagus, baked potatoes and rolls.  yumm.  The two year old finally pooped and we ended our weekend watching Dr. Pol.

                                                           Just started this late Sunday night!

Hopefully this was our last 'winter' weekend.  I would really like to be able to venture out some more without having to worry about all the winter gear.

This week we have the last battle of the books virtual written battle, second swim lesson for the 10 year old and the weekend includes a 71st bday dinner for my dad.  Slightly less busy than last week but we are slowly adding things back in to our schedule.

How was your weekend?

Friday, February 18, 2022


I have no idea how weeks can fly by in the blink of an eye and I feel like I am still needing to do all the things I was supposed to at the beginning of the week.  I think that's life entertaining a 2 year old and maintaining sanity.  I have been meaning to do quite a few things for awhile but nap time and after everyone is in bed have become my time to do whatever the heck I want and that is none of the things I need to be doing.  Whoops.

 Pictures from the week:

These Tiny Polka Dot cards are so cool.  There are so many math games you can do with then.  Right now we are in the dumping them and then very delicately returning the to the box stage.  She recognizes "no dots" (zero) and will count up to 3 dots on a card.

Last Saturday night, the oldest brought me her Harry Potter cookbook and said she wanted to make sugar biscuits because they are practically cookies here! :)  So she baked for us.

We had a day where it was a high of 48 and so of course we had to get the sidewalk chalk out! Even though it was 44 and cold at this point in the day.

Trying to make a point of reading books aloud each day, even if someone is distracted away.  Her favorite thing is to read alone which is turning her own pages of a book while I turn my own pages.  But I've been trying to read even when she is wandering around the room.  She's stopped taking them from me so it's progress.  She's a do it yourself type and doesn't want my help ha.

Playin in this tub of water is seriously her favorite thing ever.

I recommend all of these books! So good!

The high of my week was coaching our battle of the books team in their first virtual battle this week.  

The low of my week was  eh.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday -  seafood ravioli, garlic bread, corn
Tuesday -  taco pie, sunflower salad, corn, cherry tomatoes
Wednesday -  Pesto Chicken, buttered noodles, kiwi, sweet kale salad
Thursday -  my husband was in charge of this and he did a,  frozen pizza, homemade potato skins (we had frozen these awhile ago when making soup) and street corn dip and chips
Friday -  Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper via IowaGirlEats, huge fam favorite here.  Cherry tomatoes and corn on the side.

The best money I spent was on probably the frito snack bag that I got the girls for battle snacks! They loved them haha! I also bought groceries, more kids KN95s, and a lazy susan to try in a cupboard. 

What I’m listening to  Human Hope podcast, southlake, undistracted, pod save the people...

What I’m watching Summer House.  I am almost done with season 5 and then need to catch up on the current season 6.  I started Real Housewives of Salt Lake City and then paused when I got sucked into Summer house.  As a family we are watching Abbott Elementary and Matlock.  My husband and I are watching Yellowstone.

What I’m reading:  Untamed and The Woman in Cabin 10

My plans for the weekend nada.  I really want to go through all of my clothes because my dresser is out of control.  I was going to do it last weekend and got distracted.  We have planned out very yummy dinners because we need to clear out some room in our freezer for the new cow we are getting Tuesday.

What are you watching/reading/listening to?

Tuesday, February 15, 2022


  Phew, we are in the cold blah part of winter.  Running out of things to entertain ourselves, bored, reality tv obsessions, reading slump, and ugh.  Come on spring.  Or maybe just temperatures where we can go outside and also if coyote mating season could end, that would be grand too.  Currently not walking outdoors or going in our woods because I am a fraidy cat and there have been a few in our neighborhood during the daylight lately.

Reading:     The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, or I will be as soon as I open it up. :)

Loving: I don't know if this is loving or just obsessed but I am currently obsessed with catching up on Summer House.  And I completely blame the pandemic for bringing me back to reality tv for the first time since I lived with people in college ha.

Feeling: ugh, I believe sums it up.

Anticipating: hmm..ummm... summer time fun?

Struggling: with focus.  I didn't have any outward covid symptoms and never technically tested so I am unsure if I had it, but every other member of my family had it and I have not been able to focus since.  So I am blaming it on that.  I have drank a lot more water than normal, worked out... just been hard.

Grateful: that my mom was able to get her hysterectomy quickly and hopefully now she will be fine.

Working: on getting the motivation to get rid of the stuff we need to donate.

Listening: to podcasts by Black people and about Black people for Black history month.

Watching: currently on Season 5 of Summer House

that someone could come and clean my house and organize it for me.

What are you reading/listening/watching?

Monday, February 14, 2022

A Hundred Summers

I recently read A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams.  She is an author that after I read one of her books, I'm like, "OMG I loved it, I need to read all her stuff," then I promptly forget for a good while and the cycle continues.

Lily Dane is a young woman in the fall of 1931 when she meets Nick Greenwald and falls quickly in love with the tall dark athletic Dartmouth quarterback.  They both come from privileged New York families, but Nick's father is Jewish and that makes a world of difference in the Dane household.

Something happens in the winter of 1931 that changes the lives of many in the insular group that Lily and Nick inhabit.  Soon there is a broken engagement, a move across the ocean, lost friendships, new lives, and a swirl of rumors.

The book moves back and forth between the summer of 1938 and the fall lead up to the winter climax.  The original group reunites altogether for the first time in years and misconceptions and misunderstandings slowly are cleared up.

It's a fast paced book that I managed to read in less than 24 hours while taking a Super Bowl break.  It  helped break a reading slump that I had at the beginning of February. I need to make sure I don't go as long in between her books next time!

What have you been reading?