Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Potter Park Zoo

My parents and I wanted to visit a bigger zoo than what we have 45 minutes from us and with a time crunch on when it could happen we decided on the Potter Park Zoo.  Isla and I had been before for their boo at the zoo and it was bigger and a nice facility so it seemed like a great idea.  Of course the weather showed some signs of rain showers but besides a few tiny drips as we were finished, NOTHING.  The temperature was perfect.  However, the mosquitoes were insane.  I'd highly recommend bug spray if you are planning on going.  OUT OF CONTROL.   I had just spent 8 days in the woods and left the zoo with more mosquito bites!

The first thing we saw when we got there were the sea otters.  They were highly entertaining! They kept swimming by the window and flipping and doing tricks.  It was amusing for the 10 or so kids around at the time.  I've never seen sea otters that active before.  It was awesome!

 
These bald eagles were right next to the sea otters and they kept 'talking' to us.  Isla then made noises at them and they made noises back.  It was really cute and then she kept asking the rest of the time if the other animals could talk!
 
 
The big Papa Kangaroo and the little baby Isla kangaroo.
 
 
This peacock was gorgeous! I've never seen once so big before! All the peacocks at the zoo were gorgeous and so big!
 
 
As soon as Isla saw the train she HAD to go on it.  Screw the lions! (3 that were awesome!) She made her Gaga head straight over and the two enjoyed a ride together.  It is a little disappointing as an adult that this is the train ride, but to my 4 year old, it did not matter. ;)

 
After the train ride she was of course staaaarving so we sat at a bench and she ate an apple for awhile until the mosquitoes were killing us and a bird wandered over and scared my fraidy cat.
 
 
 
 
Then we checked out the rhino and the meerkat.  Meerkats are creepy.  I felt they were plotting to jump on our necks and kill us.  Okay, maybe not really but I'm not a big animal person.. mmmkay.
 
 
 
 
Overall it was a terrific trip, minus the mosquitoes!! Isla's favorite was the American Toad mainly because of the waterfall feature.  She also liked the sea otters, the red panda and the wolf.  My dad's favorite was the rhino.  My mom's favorites were the red panda, lions and sea otters.  My favorites were the lions, red panda and peacocks.  It took us about 2 hours and we could have probably spent a bit more time but mosquitoes and a starrrrving 4 year old.  We left and had a lovely lunch at La Senoritas before heading home.  Perfect summer outing!
 
Do you like going to zoos? What are your favorite animals to see? What zoo has been your favorite to visit? Do you have memories of going on trips with your grandparents?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lucia, Lucia

I headed out into the woods for 8 days camping with 5 books.  A little optimistic but I like to have choices, plus sometimes I've been a known to read 3 or 4 books it just depends on nap times.

I was able to read 2 full books and start a third and I could have read more but some people apparently wanted to hang out and talk during nap time.  What?? My only alone time of the week and I had to give up a few days to talk.  I am not a people person.  I like to be alone.  A lot.  That's why I read.  Alone. ;)

“When people are filled to the brim with love, they are their most beautiful.”

Anyway, the second book I read of the week was Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani.  I picked up two of Trigiani's books from the used book fair last summer and wanted finally give them a whirl. I'm glad I picked Lucia, Lucia because of how quickly I was sucked into the world of Lucia Sartori.

Lucia is a career girl.  She is 25 and lives at home with her parents and brothers.  Every day she heads off to work doing what she loves and every weekend she irons and cleans her brothers clothes.  She's engaged to Dante and seems to have it all. 

Description: It is 1950 in glittering, vibrant New York City. Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village. The postwar boom is ripe with opportunities for talented girls with ambition, and Lucia becomes an apprentice to an up-and-coming designer at chic B. Altman's department store on Fifth Avenue. Engaged to her childhood sweetheart, the steadfast Dante DeMartino, Lucia is torn when she meets a handsome stranger who promises a life of uptown luxury that career girls like her only read about in the society pages. Forced to choose between duty to her family and her own dreams, Lucia finds herself in the midst of a sizzling scandal in which secrets are revealed, her beloved career is jeopardized, and the Sartoris' honor is tested.

So many times I felt so bad for Lucia.  There were times when if she had been 25 in say 2000 her choices and her life would have been steered in a different path. 

"The good things that happen to us were meant to happen, and the bad things that happen are lessons meant to teach us to be better.”

Lucia seemed to have a peace with the way her life ended up, but it doesn't mean there wasn't hurt and disappointment that came with the changing of her paths. 

The only disappointing part was when it changed back to present day with Kit.  Lucia's voice was strong but  Kit's parts read a bit awkward.  Such a small part of the book, so I'd highly recommend it for a quick summer read!

Have you read any books by Adriana Trigani? I just started Big Stone Gap and I wasn't sucked in as quickly as Lucia, Lucia.  Have you read any other books set in the 1950s you'd recommend?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Fun Saturday in the D

My first week off from work was quite hectic.  On my very last day of school my amazing, caring, selfless adorable grandpa passed away.  I am so very lucky to have had some amazing grandparents on my mom's side.  As I looked through many photos I was reminded that they were at every important moment in my life and the small ones.  I'm so glad I have memories to pass on to my little love who is named for her wonderful great-grandma whom she never got to meet.  I didn't mean to start this post out this way but it needs to be acknowledged and I'm not fully able to discuss how sad and how much I will miss them for the rest of  my life. 

Needless to say my first week off was stressful.  My in laws also had some issues (sprained ankle, fractured bone in hand and a burst appendix) soo yeah, stress.  I had major issues finding someone to watch my kiddo while I went to the visitation and funeral but thank god for friends. 

I also had a second interview and so by the weekend I was spent. 

We took a party bus to the Tiger's game and I'm so glad we did.  I needed it.  It was great to unwind and just have fun.  Probably the best way to end that hellish week!

  Our seats were high.  Way high.  When we got there we went straight for a foot long coney dog cuz we were hungry.  Then we walked up and up and up and sat down.  These weren't even technically our seats because there were open seats when we got up there and we didn't want to crawl across people.  I think we may have watched a half-inning of the game from here.  The sun came out and it was hot and we knew our cousin was at the game too so we started wandering to find him.
 
 And oh yeah, that tiny spec on the mound? Justin Verlander making his first start of the season!!


We ran into this guy.  The guys decided that they needed to find chocolate bacon on a stick.  (ew why ? ) so we went wandering.  We found some kind of bacon that they tried but not chocolate bacon.  No one seemed to know where it was located.  Though we did end up with some Java Vanilla Ported that was delicious.


My aunt, uncle and cousin were also at the game and we found her wandering out of a bathroom after we stalked her seats and could not find her. Then we walked back to where our cousin was sitting and then the guys decided they needed to find brisket nachos.  So we were watching the game from right beside this stand when a group of people got up to leave and asked us if we wanted their seats.  Uhh yes.  They had awesome big comfy seats!


Our view upgraded considerably! It was a very exciting last two innings which sadly ended with the Tigers losing to the Indians.  Boo.



We still managed to have a good time. ;)  When we got back to town we ended up going to our favorite local bar and then came home.  It was fun to pretend we were 21 again. ;)

We won't mention that I spent all day yesterday on the couch watching McBride movies.  Or whoops I just did.

This week is a bit more relaxed but I have a lot to get ready for our annual camping trip!

Did you have a good weekend? Do you like going to baseball games? Does chocolate bacon sound good to you?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Daughter

The Daughter by Jane Shemilt intrigued me when I read the description. It sounds like a perfect family is destroyed by the disappearance of a girl.  Then the details start emerging.  The perfect family has some issues.  The narrator may not be reliable.  And what happened to Naomi?

Description: Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.

As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.


I don't want to say too much about the book because it's hard to not give away the tiny details that are slowly given to you as read.  The book alternates between the time period of Naomi's disappearance and a year later. 

You really are wondering what has happened to this girl until the very last page.  There are small hints at what might have happened, who might be responsible and what not littered throughout but no until the very last is there somewhat of a conclusion.  And even then it still leaves a few lingering questions.  It's definitely not neatly wrapped up ending.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.  But, if you read it and want to discuss it, I'd be glad too. ;)

I thought it was interesting the more the other characters interact with the narrator, you start to begin to wonder if she is a good parent or if her children are that horrid of people or if she may or may not be giving all the details about herself honestly.

I'd really recommend this if you like books that aren't exactly what they appear.

Do you like reading happy books or books that are emotionally heavy? Do you find that characters are attracted to other characters that help them frequently in books? Does this happen in real life? What is a recent book that you'd recommend?

I received this book from TLC Book Tours but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Stitch Fix #7!



Tuesday, I got my 7th fix.  I had  requested maxi skirts or dresses for summer time, along with tops/tanks that wouldn't keep me too hot.  It did not disappoint.  Out of my 5 items, 4 of them fit the description.  The 5th was a purse which was similar to a purse I had pinned in a different color.

I was also excited because in this fix I got some items were petite.  I debated when signing up for petite items when they started carrying petite because I tend to be in between and I don't always like how petite shirts look on me.  However, I got one petite top and one petite maxi dress and both did fit.  The top was iffy for me on length but it wasn't too short.

On to my box...

Papermoon
Remmi Ikat Print Maxi Skirt $58.00


(disregard my end of a sweaty day in a non air conditioned classroom and the shirt I randomly had on that day and my child's messy bedroom ha)

This hits me in a perfect length.  If I had different students this year it would be perfect to wear to work.  It's so soft!! I am 99 percent sure I will keep it.

Le Sample
Kahlo Embroidered Solid Tank $38.00


I am so disappointed with this tank.  I love it.  But it's huuuuuuuuuge.  I wanted it too because I love the colors and everything but it is waaaaaay tooo big.  It is going back.

Papermoon
Briar Printed Maxi Dress $68.00



This is the first maxi dress to fit me at a good length! And I don't immediately hate it at my waist! I am so undecided on this one.  I love it.  It's soft.  I really want a maxi dress.   I just need some encouragement.  I think this or the maxi skirt would be perfect for summer.  I'm always so hot and I'm always on the go.  What do you think? I'm about 95 percent sure I'm going to keep this one too.

Collective Concepts
May Chevron Print Knit Back Top $54.00



I was not feeling this shirt coming out of the box and I liked it better on but it's a no.  It came in a petite size and it's bordering around perfect and too short on the length for me to feel comfortable.  But it's kiss of death is the dry clean only tag and see through in the back.  So no. ha.

Urban Expressions
Marsha Bowler Satchel Bag $68.00


I am not a fan of the color or the overall structure of this bag.  I have been eyeing up some Urban Expression bags but in a turquoise color and not a bowling bag knockoff! It just is a no ha.  Plus, I just got a new purse for Mother's day so unless it was ammaaaaaaaaazing I have no need to keep another one right now.

I've been really pleased with my 7 fixes and with my now favorite stylist, Heather.  I love the novelty of getting clothes to my house and help styling them.  I suck at shopping.  I suck at makeup.  I suck at hair.  The more help, without leaving my house I can get? AWESOMEEEEEEEEE.

If you want to check out Stitch Fix, please use my referral link.  If you sign up and get a fix, I get a $25 credit for more clothes. ;)  You fill out a profile, pick a date, link up a pinterest board and wait for your box! There is a 20 dollar styling fee that gets taken off your box and if you buy all 5 items you get a discount.  And if you get obsessed like me, you can join buy/sell/trade groups on facebook and stalk new ideas. ;)

What items would you keep? What do you wear in the summer? Your favorite maxi dress?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Eyes on You!

The perfect start into my summer reading is something quick, fun and a little mystery. Something I don't have to think on because I have students for 6 more days!!! I've read two other books by Kate White but this was the first in a few years.

Description: After losing her on-air job two years ago, television host Robin Trainer has fought her way back and now she’s hotter than ever. With her new show climbing in the ratings and her first book a bestseller, she’s being dubbed a media double threat.

But suddenly, things begin to go wrong. Small incidents at first: a nasty note left in her purse; her photo shredded. But the obnoxious quickly becomes threatening when the foundation the makeup artist uses burns Robin’s face. It wasn’t an accident—someone had deliberately doctored with the product.

An adversary with a dark agenda wants to hurt Robin, and the clues point to someone she works with every day. While she frantically tries to put the pieces together and unmask this hidden foe, it becomes terrifyingly clear that the person responsible isn’t going to stop until Robin loses everything that matters to her . . . including her life.


If you are looking for a serious mystery this is not for you.  If you've read Cosmo or Glamour and enjoy a little sex and celebrity mixed with your mystery? This is the perfect beach grab.  The characters aren't always like able, being shallow tends to turn me off from characters but it is fun!

 “The shoes had made a nasty dent in my paycheck, but I wasn’t sorry I’d splurged. They were Chanel, black-textured with a peep toe and a gold zipper up the back, really more of a booty than a stiletto. And not what you’d ever call “Fuck me” shoes-there was nothing about them that would make a guy want to bed you, unless he was the type who liked a razor-sharp heel at his throat.”

If you are looking to add a light summer suspense to your beach bag, look no further!

What books do you take on vacation? What are your summer vacation plans?

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

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?