Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Currently

Welp, we got our first real snow of the year today.  Here enters the worst 5 to 6 months of the year! Cheers! Dark, cold, wet, wind, fun fun fun!!!




Reading:   Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng



Loving: My current grocery shopping plan.  I've been able to keep our grocery bill about the same and I love it.  I typically only shop at Aldi or Kroger and the occasional other store if there is a sale or I ran out of something and I had to run in.  But I look at the ads when we get them on Monday and decide if any of the weekly digital coupons that Kroger are offering are things we need to stock up on / use.  If there's enough to get a pick up order I'll do my shopping there and literally only by the things on sale or items I have coupons for.  My fruits and vegetable purchases are whatever is on sale.  If I do Aldi, I run in and just get what we need plus extras that we may need to stock up on.  I try not to have to go to both stores but if I happen to by Aldi and did a Kroger run, I will if there is something we reallly need.  But I meal plan on Friday's based upon what we are doing the next week and what we have in the freezer, that way when I shop the next week there should hardly be any items I'll need for our meal plan.  It's been working out really well.  We do get our beef from a local farmer and we buy our chicken at Costco.  Most of the time I keep us around 70 bucks for the four of us.  We freeze things if we need to and if I run into Kroger I love buying the marked down stuff.  Just call me a bargain shopper.  It's my fun game to play.

Feeling: pretty good.  I made a list of November goals that I've been plugging away at.  Which updating this blog is one of them and I am on par to completing all but one of them, so that's pretty darn good.  I need to keep this up because it motivates me to do things.

Anticipating: booking our summer camping trips soon and plotting out our spring break trip and our great wolf lodge trip.  So anything that escapes winter.

Struggling: my patience.  i have none.

Grateful: that my mom has finished her cancer treatments and is getting stronger each day.

Working: on finishing up my class this month, organizing, walking more...

Listening: Podcasts... Friendlier, The Mom Hour, Culpable, etc...

Watching: Miss Scarlet and the Duke

Wishing: that my basement could organize itself

What are you reading/listening/watching?

Monday, November 14, 2022

Beautiful Country


I flew through Qian Julie Wang’s memoir.  She was born in China and then when she was seven she came to America.  She and her parents overstayed the visas they had to enter the country and began a traumatic existence avoiding being caught.  


In China, her dad’s family was shamed because his older brother dared speak out about the government.  This brought poverty, shame, and trauma to her dad’s life that he never could escape.  In China, her parents were professors, but in America they were, as a “friend” told Qian no-income.  


In New York Qian worked alongside her mom in a sweatshop making pennies for her work and looking forward to the bowl of rice provided during her twelve hour shift!!! In Chinese the word for America, MeI Guo, translates to beautiful country.  It’s very hard and rightfully so, for Qian to find the beauty in the America she lives in.


She was able to attend a public school and had to figure out how to navigate the second grade without speaking the language.  They put her in a special needs classroom where she was largely ignored and taught herself to read in English.


Her story was heartbreaking, vivid, and a story that needs to be read and discussed.  


What books on immigration have you read?


Friday, November 11, 2022

Midnight in Delta County


 Midnight in Delta County was a fantastic conclusion to Delta County and Summer of ‘99 by J.L. Hyde.  There were times in the book where I’d read a line and go, “YESSSSS,” because of the insights she drops in her writing.


So, do NOT read this UNLESS you have read Delta County and Summer of ‘99, or you will be a sad panda.  However, once you read both of those, PLEASE read this one! I loved her main characters in the other two books, Heather and Quinn, and in this book you get both!


Both Heather and Quinn have become friendly after their paths cross based upon the two previous books.  Other characters in the previous books appear and you get more peaks into their personalities too.  And that’s a thing I really appreciate about J.L. Hyde.  Her characters each have a unique personality and you easily keep them separated and enjoy their character specific quirks and comments!


A quick synopsis while trying to not spoil…   People in Escanaba start dying.  In an eerily similar way to Quinn’s latest book.  People start avoiding Heather and Quinn because of the ending of Quinn’s book and the assumption that maaaybe they are behind these deaths in a way to make more money for the book, or just because they are THAT demented.  


What I liked about the previous books continues with twists you don’t see coming and keeps you frantically turning the pages to find out HOW THIS ENDS.  


Do yourself a favor and pick these three books up! We have a long winter ahead!


Monday, November 7, 2022

The House Across the Lake

 


The House Across the Lake is my first book by Riley Sager and I think I’ll try another.  Casey is an alcoholic actress who has been banished to her family’s lake house after one too many embarrassing episodes (according to her mother).  Slowly, but surely the reader finds out Casey’s husband is dead, she’s definitely picked up on the drinking, and she may not be the most reliable narrator.


She meets her neighbors across the lake and becomes obsessed with watching them through the binoculars.  She decides that the wife is in danger and when she goes missing, she immediately assumes the husband did it.


In the backdrop of this, we find out that there are missing girls from around the area, there is a hurricane coming, and a possible wife killer also around this lake.


So there is a lot going on.


But if you gut through the excessive bourbon drinking and hang tight, this book will take you on a wild ride!


Have you read this or any other books by Riley Sager? If you have read others, what would you recommend? Thanks!


Friday, November 4, 2022

TGIF!

 And just like that we are in November.  Holy cow. Time to start prepping for Christmas gifts so I don't have to be searching at the last moment and maybe wrap other peoples early this year.  I also need to change out my two Halloween specific decorations and bring out my one Thanksgiving sign.

Photos from the week: 

Heading out to trick or treat

One of the houses we saw decorated

New glasses!

Current Read!






Beautiful November weather to read outside! Barefoot!


The high of my week was : taking the oldest trick or treating with her friends, watching her in her first choir concert of the year, and the gorgeous weather getting us outside more than we would!

The low of my week was  nothing that I can think of.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday -  frozen pizza and salad before trick or treating
Tuesday -  Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper via Iowa Girl Eats one of our fam faves.. I added a red pepper to it this time and we also had queso/chips, salad and fruit on the side.
Wednesday -  We went out for Steak Sandwiches at a diner that is a local hot spot.  We've been talking them up for the last two years as we made homemade ones at home so the oldest has been beginning to try the real deal, and we were going to be nearby the diner (it's 30ish minutes away) to pick up her new glasses.
Thursday - Chicken Fajitas, queso/chips, raspberries
Friday -  chili dogs, fruit, veggies/dip

The best money I spent was on BIG GIRL underwear to try to keep convincing the youngest that using the toilet is the way to be.  

What I’m listening to  Counter Clock, Crime Junkie, The Mom Hour, Culpable...

What I’m watching Winter House

What I’m reading:  The House Across the Street by Riley Sager


My plans for the weekend watching football, clearing up leaves and putting away the rest of the pool floats that need to be cleaned off.

What are you watching/reading/listening to?

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

What I'm Excited to Read Soon

 


Today, I was very happy to find in my mailbox the newest book by author J.L. Hyde! I first found out about her while stalking my friends goodreads TBR to find her a new book for her birthday last year.  I read the description for her book Underground, and found out in the blurb she had an Instagram account (bookandbeerreview) and she was from the U.P. and a CMU grad.  So I had to buy that for my friend who is a CMU grad. And then I began stalking her on her insta page.  Pretty soon, I had to buy her newest (at the time) Delta County for myself.  I took it with me to Mexico, and devoured it.  And I think that might have been when I first sent her a comment as her internet creeper and sent a picture of me reading it in Mexico. Since then, I've been her non-murdery insta creeper.






In January, I decided I needed to buy Underground for myself, so I did, and then when her other book, Summer of '99, came out, I of course had to get that as well.  And I've been anxiously awaiting her very latest book, Midnight in Delta County since I stalked her in person this last May when she did a book signing at a winery about an hour away and said she was making a sequel that ties in Delta County and Summer of '99.

If you are like sure, that's fine, but what are these books about? Let me tell ya.




Delta County
is about Heather Matthews who after being gone for 10 years returns to her hometown, Escanaba.  10 years ago the worst thing in her life happened and she barely looked back. Now back in her hometown she is finding out things she never knew before, does this change everything she's ever known about the incident and the people she is closet too? 

Summer of '99 OMG as someone who grew up in the 90s she nails the time period.  This is also set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I read this book in less than 24 hours.  So soo soo good.  

"For over four decades, Camp Shady Oaks was the premiere youth camp for a summer filled with nature, survival skills, and fun in the remote woods of the Hiawatha National Forest. In 1999, it was forced to close abruptly when tragedy struck.

What is now the abandoned location of one of Michigan’s most notorious unsolved mysteries gains national attention when former camper Quinn Harstead pens a best-selling account of the events that occurred.
The camp remains empty and frozen in time for twenty-three years before Quinn receives an invitation for its grand reopening. Will she return to the place that continues to haunt her memories in search of answers, or will the secrets of Shady Oaks stay buried forever?"

Midnight in Delta County is a sequal to both of these books.  So if you are interested read them in order of Delta County, Summer of '99, and then  Midnight in Delta County.

Then her very first book is a standalone, Underground.  

"After suffering for years in her thankless and stressful role working for a restaurant group in Illinois, Lindy Michaels finally catches a break when her husband, Hayden, receives a promotion that will allow her to quit her job. The only catch? It requires them to move to Oklahoma City.

After relocating, Lindy spends more and more of her newfound free time with her online group of true-crime enthusiasts and even makes a real-life friend from the group, who happens to live in Oklahoma.

The women quickly become close as they meet weekly to drink coffee and discuss their lives and the latest headlines. The peace is short-lived when they find themselves in the middle of their own true crime nightmare after a terrifying encounter connects them to the case of a local missing woman. Just how far will they go to find answers?"

Let me tell you, the twists at the end of these books are sooo good.  Sometimes I hate super dumb twists, but THIS IS NOT THE CASE.  These twists are amazeballs.

And at bare minimum you should follow her on Instagram to follow along with what she's reading and drinking and the other funny stories she shares!

Have you read any of these books by J.L. Hyde??

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

What I Read in October


When I was looking through my books to remember what I finished this  month, I'd almost forgotten about three of them! It had seemed so long ago, but they were just at the beginning of the month!


 Murder on Cold Street was better than the last in this Lady Sherlock series and I'm still intrigued by it!

Book Lovers cracked me up and was much better than People We Meet on Vacation.  I was sad because I had ADORED Beach Read by Emily Henry and this just as adorable/laugh out loud goodness I needed.  If you also loved Beach Read, feel free to skip over People We Meet on Vacation and just say yes to Book Lovers!

Beneath A Ruthless Sun was soo soo soo good.  It was a hefy read but I flew through it.  It is based on the true account of a corrupt sheriff in Florida.  Three Supreme Court cases came from this county.  It was horrific to read about how badly things were rigged against Black people and the scariest part, is how not that far in the past this all was.  HIGHLY REOCMMEND.   

Middle School Matters is a book written by a middle school counselor.  My daughter's school hosted a book club to discuss this and I found it easy to read and had great conversational starters that parents can easily add into their repertoire as they are navigating middle school / adolescents with their children.  

The Diamond Eye was also a pretty hefty book but sooo good by Kate Quinn.  I confess to not being able to finish The Alice Network because it was giving me too much anxiety, but this one I really enjoyed about a woman sniper in the Russian Red Army.  It's based on a real person and I am still googling to learn more.

What was something you enjoyed reading in October?


Friday, September 16, 2022

TGIF!

We are finishing up the 4th week of the school year already and I am just getting into this new routine.  And oh my lanta someone in this household has been sick since the 4th day of school.  I feel like we are almost at 100 percent now and I swear to god if we don't all feel 100 by Monday I may just week.  Okay, let's be real if I'M not feeling 100 percent by Monday I may weep.  I have been having a heck of a time focusing and feeling so damn blah.  I have tried all my tricks and am well hydrated but I feel like the snot needs to go from my head to make this better.

Photos from the week: 


Grabbed these from the library on Tuesday when I was waiting for the oldest to get out of her book club.


Let's label this the hand me down picture.  Riding her older sister's old scooter and wearing a dress she also used to wear hahaha.


Sunset from our camping trip last weekend.  We stayed right on the beach!

The high of my week was  hearing how excited the oldest was about going to her first yearbook meeting, and hearing about a book club she joined.

The low of my week was  not being able to focus at all.  Like scrolling on my phone is about all I can handle.  I was on a good three week straight of working out and then bam my body fell apart and I have only managed one walk a week the last two weeks.  I have only been able to read like 60 pages in a book as well.  Dire straights here.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday -  spaghetti, garlic bread
Tuesday -  subs from subway
Wednesday -  orange chicken and rice
Thursday -  taquitos, queso, pico, salad
Friday -  butterfly shrimp, salad, broccoli and cheese

The best money I spent was on an apple cider donut from our local tea shop today. IT WAS SO GOOD.  Adeline got a pumpkin smore donut that she enjoyed as well.

What I’m listening to  Counter Clock, Crime Junkie...

What I’m watching Southern Charm and Chesapeake Shores.  We just caught up on The Neighborhood from last season.  

What I’m reading:  People we Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry


My plans for the weekend watching football, picking apples/making apple cider, taking the oldest to and fro, hopefully walking.  

What are you watching/reading/listening to?

Thursday, September 1, 2022

What I read in August

I finished 10 books in August and the majority of them were amazing!

The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne was our book club pick and we ALL liked it and we had so much to discuss.  It's very rare that we all finish and like a book so yay! This book is set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a place I'm familiar with in a since that I am a Michigander who has traveled there a few times.  By no means an expert but I felt it was very well done.  It's been compared to Where the Crawdads Sing, and I liked it better.  If you were a huge fan of Crawdads and are looking for other books I'd also recommend The Girls in the Stilt House.  




The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont is actually our September book club pick but it came in my library holds earlier than I anticipated! I was delightfully surprised that this book while historical fiction, also had a bit of mystery involved.  I LOVED IT!  A couple books I read this month actually referenced Agatha Christie and it's pushing me into picking up a few more f her books to try.  This book gives a fictional account of what happened with Mrs. Christie went missing for a bit of time.




The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse is another book club pick for October but my hold came in early for this one too.  I really liked this book about a police detective on holiday to this luxury hotel that used to be a sanatorium to celebrate her brother's engagement.  His fiance disappears and then there is an avalanche.  People are stuck in the hotel and more start disappearing.  And the bodies start being found.  Who did it? Why? Will they survive alone in a hotel snowed in? This one reminded me of One By One by Ruth Ware.



I also read With Love from London by Sarah Jio,The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas, Cruelest Month by Aaron Stander and really enjoyed those.




Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwarz was a disappointment.  It didn't end up being what I thought, but it was a YA read with a strong female lead.

Switchboard Soldiers by Jennifer Chiaverni was also really good.  It is about women telephone operators in WWI that were recruited to go to France and help the United States military because the men they had working as operators were too slow and clumsy.  If you are interested in kick ass women in history (even fictional) highly recommend.  It is quite thick and gets into some WWI history, but I read it quite quickly because it was engrossing! Another good one about WWI is Band of Sisters.




The Vanderbeekers of 141st is a middle grade book that I have wanted to check out for awhile and the beginning was a bit clunky but it was cute.  Not sure I’ll read the rest of the series.  But if you are looking for a book for a 4th grader I’d recommend it!

My last read of the month was Nine Lives by Peter Swanson.  I stayed up waaaay too late and read it one day.  Nine people got a letter in the mail with just their names on it.  Then they start dying.  It’s a  take on an Agatha Christie novel, And Then There Were None.  I had a few irritations with writing/character details but overall I really liked trying to figure out the who/what/why!




What did you read and enjoy in August?

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?