Monday, September 15, 2014

October Group Read Suggestions

Once again, I apologize for taking September off, I needed a breather with certain live issues! Here is a list of books we've already read and discussed...

The Pearl that Broke its Shell
On the Island
Eleanor & Park
Jane Eyre
The Rent Collector
Labor Day
Orphan Train
The Death of Bees
Liberating Paris
Life Sentences
Looking for Me
Ladder of Years
Where'd You Go Bernadette?
Beach Music
The Dinner
The End of Your Life Book Club
Still Alice 
The Song Remains the Same
Those Who Save Us
We Are All Welcome Here
Gone Girl
Prisoner of Tehran
The Wednesday Sisters
Looking for Alaska
Cutting for Stone
One Summer
The Year of Fog
Winter Garden
The Violets of March
Rebecca
State of Wonder
The Invisible Bridge
The Postmistress
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Still Missing
The Sandalwood Tree
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Something Borrowed
The Blue Orchard
Sammy's Hill
In the Woods
Shanghai Girls
The Weight of Water
Water for Elephants
The Color Purple
The One That I Want
The Secret Garden
House Rules
American Wife
Firefly Lane
Middlesex
The Reader
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Awakening
Pride & Prejudice
I See You Everywhere


What sounds good for you in October? Leave a suggestion in the comments on this post until the 19th and I will use random.org to pick a book for October!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September Meal Plan

Back to the grind again so that means back to meal planning a month out.  I let it go after spring break last year and that definitely turned into poorer eating choices and irresponsible grocery shopping.  But I'm starting off the school year fresh again with a plan.  Last year I had good intentions of making muffins on the weekend and having them for breakfast.  I think I lasted one or two weeks.  I'm giving it a go again this year but with the intention of freezing some each week and switching out with other ideas.  So, I will always have a quick to go in the freezer option or the generic cereal/milk or whatever we have around.  We always have oatmeal as well. 

For dinners I'm definitely starting the school year with a collection of your favorite one skillet meals, soups and crock pot recipes!

Week 1 -
Breakfast - Pumpkin Oat Chocolate Chip Muffins

2nd - Cheesy Chicken & Rice in crock pot
3rd - Rotel Chicken (crock)
4th - leftovers
5th - leftovers or take out

Week 2
Breakfast - Baked Oatmeal Squares (big plans to add in pumpkin!)

8th - Quesadillas
9th - on our own (AND MY BABY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL!!!!)
10th - Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
11th - Cheesy Taco Soup

Week 3
Breakfast - Hard boiled Eggs

15th - Southwestern Chicken Skillet
16th - leftovers
17th - Three Cheese Lasagna Skillet
18th - leftovers
19th - takeout

Week 4
Breakfast - Banana Chocolate Muffins

22nd - Skillet Chili Mac
23rd - leftovers
24th - Buffalo Chicken Cheeseteaks
25th - book club / on your own
26th - Italian Chicken

Week 5
Breakfast - Smoothies

29th - Spaghetti
30th - Tacos

When I am doing my weekly shopping I will decide on fruits/veggies depending on what is on sale / our garden and what goes well with what is on sale.  I do rely on a lot of steamfresh bags of veggies for our sides.

Lunches are typically leftovers, quick sandwiches or I'm thinking of using muffins/hard boiled eggs as options too.  I have to eat my lunch with my students so I need something quick.  Especially now that we are eating in our classrooms and I probably won't be able to run out to use a microwave until nap time so then that would push my lunch time back until after 1:30.  So quick lunches with no need to reheat need to happen.  I never have good ideas for lunches besides chicken salad sandwiches and salami and cheese until I get sick of that.  I never really want salads at lunch unless they are taco salads.  Any lunch ideas?

What's on your menu? Any crock pot links that you've tried and loved? How do you make your hard boiled eggs? How do you eat them? Favorite fall food?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Stitch Fix #1

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I am honest.  If I don't like a book, I'll tell you.  I don't change my opinion based on getting free books vs. buying them with my own money. I've only ever had one author angrily contact me because I said his book sucked (and it did).  So please know that I am also completely honest with my Stitch Fix review.

I've wanted to try out Stitch Fix for about 9ish months or more now.  I've been in love with pieces I've seen in other people's fixes and wanted them for myself.  I was a bit leery on prices because my shopping motto tends to be -- buy it on clearance or buy it cheap.  However, I do really need nice clothes.  I am getting sick of my wardrobe or lack thereof and I hate trying on crap.  So Stitch Fix is genius for me.  Have it delivered to my house and return it pain free.  And it was almost pain free returns until I almost clicked BUY on all of them.  Eeek.  Thank God for the review window or I'd have bee SOL! ha.

So Stitch Fix.. I got my Fix in the mail a day early and COULD not wait for my child to go down for her nap so I could play dress up.



The first thing I did after taking pictures of the box was to quickly try on the necklace because I loved it.  Sadly, the clasp was a bit broken and I was sad.  HOWEVER, they have awesome customer service.  After I had finished trying everything on and realized I did really want to keep the necklace, I emailed their customer service and they checked to see if they had another to send me.  Sadly, they did not, but they said if I thought it could be fixed they'd give me a 15 percent off discount.  I consulted with my husband and we decided to keep the necklace. Yay.  I've worn it twice so far and it has held up fine!


Also, I don't like surprises and as soon as I saw that my order shipped I may have stalked my items online.  I'm horrible at Christmas.  So I was super excited because what I could find online looked cute!!!


So the first thing I attempted to try on were the Emer High Waisted Cropped Trousers.  Just looking at them I didn't think they would fit.  Halfway up my thighs it was confirmed.  No go. Also? They were 98 dollars and I would not have bought them even if they had fit.  That's too much for me!

Then I tried on the Clarice Multi Stripe Knit Fit & Flare Dress.  OMG guys.  I loved it.  It was awesome.  It was THE PERFECT length for me.  But it was too snug at my boobs.  If this had fit better I'd have bought it for sure. 

Then I tried on the Azalea Heathered Open Cardigan.  I live in cardigans.  Sadly, the sleeves were too snug for me so this was a no go as well.


Lastly, I tried on the Adela Embroidered Split Neck Blouse.  I tried this on with jeans, a skirt, leggings, you name it.  I texted pictures to friends. I hemmed, I hawwed.  I decided it was too snug as well and I couldn't justify keeping a snug shirt that I'd have to buy a cami for that was 68 dollars.


So in conclusion, I kept zero clothes and 1 necklace.  I was disappointed.  When I returned my stuff I did adjust my sizing because the stylist had me down but the sizing was not right.  But, it's probably just my fat ass that needs to work out.  I will totally be trying out Stitch Fix again and hoping for some better fitting results.  So, here it is, my first Fix, keeping it real here.

If you've been thinking about checking out Stitch Fix, please use my link https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3976539 to sign up! I do get a 25.00 credit when you place your first order! Thanks. ;)

Have you tried Stitch Fix? What did you think? Do you like shopping?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Chicago Dives and Pizza

A couple weeks ago my husband, my sister-in-law and myself headed down for a Friday afternoon in Chicago.  It takes about 4ish hours to get there and with construction and what not, we were READY to walk and drink when we got there.  We've all been to Chicago before and we really didn't have many plans.  We knew we wanted to be around the Michigan Avenue shopping area, eat some deep dish pizza and enjoy some cold beverages.  By the time we had parked and driven by a few establishments we knew we wanted to start at Timothy O' Tooles and headed back a few blocks to check it out.

We decided our rules for the afternoon were:

1.)Use Yelp, find a dive bar within a short walking distance of current location.
2.)Drink one drink/possibly share an appetizer and move on to the next.
3.) End up at Giordano's slightly after 5pm for dinner.

Timothy O' Tooles was a perfect first stop.  It was nice and cool inside and it was refreshing to step out of the crazy sidewalks into the sports bar area.  I had a very yummy Woodchuck Amber and we split the sampler platter of appetizers because it was closing in on 1:30 local time and 2:30 our time and we hadn't eaten all day.

We were going to go to one place but when we stepped outside on the sidewalk the GPS changed the distance of the next place so we just kind of wandered out to Michigan Avenue to enjoy the people watching and try to decide our next plan.  A little while later we decided on Pippin's Tavern.  This was also a very small divey place where we each had one beer.  I can't remember what I had beyond that it was a New Holland beer.  My sister-in-law tried to get a Stella but the keg was being changed and we honestly felt like it was new bartender-who-doesn't-know-how-to-pour day.  So she switched to something else so we could just get moving ha.  It is next door to Downtown Dogs if you are in the mood for a hot dog ha. ;)

After that we headed out and turned the corner and headed to Streeter's Pub.  As we walked down the stairs into the bar I commented that it reminded me of How I Met Your Mother.  They had ping pong tables inside and a large wooden jenga game to play.  We sat at the bar and I got a McKenzie's Black Cherry Cider.  It was amazing.  I don't generally drink cider's but I was in a mood for them on that day and it helped switching it up between a beer and cider.

We did make one more stop but I cannot remember what it was called.  I had a red that was unremarkable and they did have rum punch special that my sister-in-law got and enjoyed.  It was SUPER close to Giordano's though, like right down the block.  I stink at remember names! Also, it was not so divey ha.


Giordano's was as good as I can remember.  The wait did suck but we were there on a Friday night right at dinner time, so I can't complain.  I liked being able to pre-order so that by the time we got to our table we only had to wait about 5 more minutes for our food.  And oddly enough, a table of older women next to us offered to let us try their thin crust pizza because they weren't taking it home with them and they had a ton left.  So since we were all starving and may have had a few beverages, we totally tried a strangers pizza.  The whole time we were like, umm I hope they didn't poison us! But all is good in the world, we survived.  I definitely preferred the deep dish to the thin! If only I could get that exact same pizza at home!


We had a great quick day visit into Chicago.  I'm glad we got to be carefree and just jump from place to place.  Our one complaint --- to us dive bars = cheap beer.  6 to 6.50 a beer didn't seem to cheap to us.  But the insides of the bars definitely = divey! ;)

What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago? Do you like to bar hop in new cities? Deep dish or thin crust? New York or Chicago style pizza?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Don't Try to Find Me

Rachel comes home from her job and finds a note from her daughter, "Don't Try to Find Me.." written on the whiteboard.  Her daughter, Marley, is 14 and has run away from home.  The point-of-view switches between Marley and her mom Rachel.  It also changes from months before Marley goes missing and in the days after.  The twist in all of this comes as you learn more and more about the narrators and you have to decide who can you trust? Are either of them a reliable narrator?

In the days following Marley's disappearance her parents, led by her father, put on a whole out social media frenzy in attempt to find her.  As they get more and more exposure, more details emerge about Rachel and her relationship with another man and other parts of her life that lead the police to think of her as a person of interest. 

In theory this is a book that I would really enjoy.  In reality it took me over two weeks to read it.  It just didn't hold my interest, was way to predictable and I just didn't get into it.  I honestly think I will end the month of August with possibly one book read, this being it. 

There's nothing wrong with the story.  It has unreliable narrators, a bit of a mystery that slowly explains itself and it has some pretty sad characters.  It's not a perfectly put together mystery and there are bad things that happen. If I read it at a different time, perhaps I'd think differently.

Description: When a 14-year-old runs away, her parents turn to social media to find her-launching a public campaign that will expose their darkest secrets and change their family forever, in this suspenseful and gripping debut for fans of Reconstructing Amelia and Gone Girl

Don't try to find me. Though the message on the kitchen white board is written in Marley's hand, her mother Rachel knows there has to be some other explanation. Marley would never run away.

As the days pass and it sinks in that the impossible has occurred, Rachel and her husband Paul are informed that the police have "limited resources." If they want their 14-year-old daughter back, they will have to find her themselves. Desperation becomes determination when Paul turns to Facebook and Twitter, and launches FindMarley.com.

But Marley isn't the only one with secrets.

With public exposure comes scrutiny, and when Rachel blows a television interview, the dirty speculation begins. Now, the blogosphere is convinced Rachel is hiding something. It's not what they think; Rachel would never hurt Marley. Not intentionally, anyway. But when it's discovered that she's lied, even to the police, the devoted mother becomes a suspect in Marley's disappearance.

Is Marley out there somewhere, watching it all happen, or is the truth something far worse.


Do you like books with unreliable narrators? Do you think using social media to find lost/missing people is helpful or does it possibly hinder the process?

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for review. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Discussion: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

Description: Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?


1. Rahima says that Khala Shaima’s story about Bibi Shekiba transformed her, and indeed, this is a novel about transformation. In what ways, besides dressing as males, do Rahima and Shekiba transform themselves?

2. When we first meet Khala Shaima, we see that men frequently mock or insult her because of her crooked spine, but her nieces and sister don’t seem to pity her. Does Khala Shaima’s disability work to her advantage?

3. “It is up to you to find a way to make things easier for yourself,” Shekiba’s aunt tells her. How do the different women characters in this novel find ways to make things easier for themselves? What about Rahima’s mother? Bobo Shagul? Abdul Khaliq’s wives? The women of the king’s harem?

4. The word naseeb, or destiny, comes up often in THE PEARL THAT BROKE ITS SHELL, as each woman is repeatedly told that she must accept her fate. When Rahima asks Khala Shaima “Wouldn’t people say that is blasphemous? To change the naseeb that Allah has for us?” her aunt responds “…you tell me which of those people who say such a thing have spoken with Allah to know what the true naseeb is.” When do Shekiba and Rahima accept their naseeb and when do they rebel against it? Do you believe in the concept of naseeb in your life?

5. Do you believe that Rahima and Shekiba’s stories end happily? What do you think became of them in the years after this book ends?

Thanks for participating! I am taking the month of September off for the group read so I hope you will join us again in October! Thanks for understanding.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Things That Have Given Me Anxiety Today...

- The book I'm reading and how I can guess how it is going to play out and that just makes me anxious

- That I forgot to get the scissors out for my kid to play with this summer...

- That I do not have an associate teacher  yet....

- That I still don't know if I am 100 percent for sure 2 part day sections or just a full day...

- How I am going to do 32 home visits, get a classroom ready and lesson plan and train a new associate in two weeks time...

- How to successfully make an activity calendar for my classroom...

- If I should make more literacy bags now or if I should even continue doing them...

- What all I need to buy for my kid still for preschool....

- What I should do in regards to my Stitch Fix that I got in the mail...

- How I am going to read my two book club books before next week...

- That I should stop procrastinating all of life and do something...

- How messy my room will be after I got new flooring...

- How lunch time/breakfast time in my classroom is going to look...

Ahhhhhhhhh......

Too much stress.

I need more ice cream.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

This Past Week...

I have been so busy this last week that I'm sadly STILL reading the book I was reading last weekend and haven't made much progress.  Too much other stuff that I've wanted to do.  And my TBR pile is growing as I've recieved books for fall reviews.  EEEK!

Things I Read That You Should Too....

It's Okay to Just Be Sad -  The lovely Law Momma shared this beautifully written post about depression and why it's okay to just be sad, it's not necessary to always be smiling.  If you're sad, you're sad.

Be The Light - Miranda shared this and I couldn't help sharing it also on facebook because there are a lot of people who need to read it.  I have so many loved ones who live with depression and just as many love ones who say stupid shit in the name of being helpful.  A must read if you read nothing else I link.

If you are NOT reading Law Momma's blog, you really should.  I've said it here before and I will continue saying it, she's an awesome writer.  Also, if you haven't heard about Ferguson, Missouri than you REALLY need to get start google searching because it is completely unacceptable and ridiculous!

Best Parts....

Monday - The weather was yucky but we still went to my parents and I ended up wading in the lake as Isla got to enjoy an impromptu swim in her underwear.  She thought THAT was pretty awesome.

Tuesday - A fun library trip together during the morning and then I had a lovely solo trip to our local mall and was pleasantly surprised to find two work shirts, a pair of jeans and a potential dress for some upcoming weddings!

Wednesday - We went to the local farmers market and walked around downtown.  Then we went to our local gardens for the luch time concert and ended to the childrens garden for some fun time playing with bubbles and water and craft time.

Thursday - I spent 4 hours shopping with my best-friend and ended up with new shoes, skirt, jacket and a suit jacket.  I also picked up an outfit for my child. 

Friday - A lovely out doors lunch with my mom and then a fun time at the county fair as a family.  And a chocolate malt was enjoyed and a Lemon Berry Shandy.  Was kind of disappointed overall by the fair food (typical) but my treats at home made up for it. ;)

The Not So Good...

At the park yesterday, my kid was thrown off the play structure by a child who was clearly special needs right in front of me.  It was the most terrifying moment of my life and I have so much anger about it that I won't say anything more but THANK GOODNESS she is okay and doesn't seem to be as scarred by it as I was.  And right after she had finally gotten the courage to try something new and be brave (she's super cautious).  Ugh. 

Hope you all had a great week! Were you busy? Did you read a lot? Any new book recommendations? What is your favorite fair food?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Library Haul

I'm very proud of us.  We've made it to the library almost every single week this summer minus the beginning of summer when we were a tad busy.  Each week we've colored, played trains and played with the other toys our library has out.  And each time, my little sweetheart gets to pick out books. 

Now as a big believer in let the children read what they want to read because it encourages them to like reading, it has pained me a few times with the god awful commercialized crap that gets picked out.  But, I can't really complain because most of my picks for the child have been based on covers this summer as I run by the stacks as she's grabbing books left and right.  Sometimes we learn of new favorites.  Sometimes I grin and bear it and sometimes we surprise each other.  Books and reading are two things I couldn't wait to share with a child and this summer has been so much fun.

My mother never told me I couldn't read something and I have the same attitude towards my three year old.  Read and learn.  Read and discuss.  Don't hide things and don't discriminate even when you think things are god awful.  I'm looking at my husband on the subject of vegetables! ;) I want to foster a love of reading and a thirst for knowledge and an acceptance of all people regardless of their life choices.  I think we're doing a good job so far.

And listening to my child "read" to me? PRICELESS.  Listening to my child 'retell' a story? PRICELESS.   Listening to my child name off almost every single letter of the alphabet capital and lowercase? PRICELESS.  Listening to my child recognize almost every single color? PRICELESS.  Listening to my child SPELL her name? PRICELESS.

That paragraph is me just basically boasting about my child because I'm just in such awe at what she picks up and what she knows.  Thank you books.  Thank you reading.  Thank you library.  I never say no to books. ;)

 
Thoughts so far -
Dora, still cringe worthy but has taught some new vocab words in two different languages and the child loves it
The Beach book looks cool, it's written in postcard form but may be too old for most 3 year olds attention span
Doggie in the Window - ADORABLE.  Lisa, must get this book.  It has a monsieur and a mademoiselle.  A cute story.
Elephant & Piggie - We've basically checked out all the library has to offer on this subject!
Lionel book - Pretty cute.  We read it before nap time.
 
Not so bad of picks this time!
 


I finally got this book that I had on hold which happens to be our group read of the month!

What have you recently picked up from the library? Are you reading with us in August? Who have you shared a book recommendation with lately? What is a passion you hope to pass on to others?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Downtown

It was suggested to me to check out Anne Rivers Siddons because of my infatuation with the south, Dorothea Benton Frank and Pat Conroy.  I think Lisa suggested her, and if so, thank you! If not, whomever it was, thank you! I finally got around to checking out her book Downtown, one of two I checked out from the library in July.  Totally reminded me of Pat Conroy for sure.  There were bits of of pages where it got a tad wordy and a tad flowery about the south/Atlanta but the meat of the book was good!

Description:  The year is 1966, a time of innocence, possibility,and freedom. And for Atlanta, the country, and one woman making her way in a changing world, nothing will be the same . . .

After an airless childhood in Savannah, Smoky O'Donnell arrives in Atlanta, dazzled and chastened by this hectic young city on the rise. Her new job as a writer with the city's Downtown magazine introduces her to many unforgettable people and propels her into the center of momentous events that will irrevocably alter her heart, her career, and her world.


This book captured Irish Catholic Smoky O' Donnell's entrance into "liberal' Atlanta in 1966.  She comes from a small town with a drunk for a dad and a very religious mother and basically there is something wrong with her because she wants to move to Atlanta and not pop out babies.  I mean she is after all 26. 

I loved that Smoky was incredibly small town and had been raised extremely Catholic and how that shaped her actions in the beginning of her time in Atlanta.  Birth control? The HORROR.  And how awkward she was as a minority white face in a crowd full of black people whom she didn't want to think she was racist.  That scene was cracking me up with the awkward!

“I think that sometimes the great changes in our lives, the ones that divide time, happen so deep down and silently that we don't even know when they occur......It frequently happens that the seasons of the greatest change are the times that feel the most tranquil, the most suspended, the most...timeless.”  

This is a really interesting look at Atlanta in the late 1960s when civil rights and the Vietnam War are very controversial popular topics and the black panthers make an appearance and the old rich south intermingling with their more free thinking children.  Oh goodness.  It's a good one!  It also is loosely based upon her time as an editor for the Atlanta magazine. 

If you've enjoyed Pat Conroy, you will enjoy this. 

Have you read any books about the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s? Do you like books that read like realistic historical fiction? Have you experienced culture shock during a move/job change?