Thursday, August 2, 2018

Podcasts, Books, Photos, and Favorite Moments of July

Podcasts: I am so not up to date on podcasts so these are all older podcasts.  I am liking Off Shore's season 3 and older episodes of Pod Save America. Also enjoying older episodes of My Favorite Murder.
Books:  I read 10 books in July! And 3 others I helped the kiddo read aloud.  So I rocked July! They were all pretty great reads too!

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett 4 stars

This was a sad tale of a family who is changed by the actions of two bored parents one Sunday afternoon. Probably my favorite Patchett that I’ve read.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie 4 stars  I actually liked this one a bit better than Murder On the Orient Express.  I’m trying to occasionally read more of hers.  Any recommendations?

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes 5 stars 

This was probably my favorite book of the month.  It is a middle grade novel about a young black boy who is shot while he is playing with a toy gun by a police officer.  He becomes a ghost and meets other black boys who have been killed because they were black.  It is sooo good.  I cannot do this book justice.  I learned about it during an episode of The Longest Shortest Time  while the author was being interviewed and I’ve since started reading her other books!

The Girl who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz 5 stars

Loved this latest installment in the Lisbeth Salander series!

17th Suspect by James Patterson 4 stars

I also liked the latest in the Womens Murder Club series.  Some of these are just so so but this was a good one!

Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale 3 stars

Isla and I were excited to finally start this series together but I was slightly disappointed in it.  It’s okay and the 7 year old likes it , but I think I hyped it up too much.

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny 4 stars

Also enjoyed this one in the Three Pines series!

The Lost Saints of Tennessee by Amy Franklin-Willis 4 stars

I found this at the library randomly and gave it a whirl since it was a book set in the south.  It was a depressing tale of a family.  However, it still made for some good reading.

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes 5 stars

This book followed a 12 year old girl in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Loved it!

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick 4 stars 

This was our book club pick.  It was very unexpected.  The description basically gives nothing away which I feel is a good lure in, otherwise you may not start it because of how weird it gets.  But in a good discussion kind of weird!

Photos:  Here are some of my favorite photos this month!

Favorite Moments:
4th of July we had people over for a day of pool, food and drinks.  So much fun!
We also had a random Sunday afternoon day of pool, friends, and drinks and that was fun.
A family wedding was a good time for all.
Finding a new local downtown store that has some cute locally made stuff.
Seeing cousins that live out of the country.
Camping with friends.
Lots of time with my girl.
 What was your favorite book read in July? What podcast have you been loving? What was a highlight of your month?

Friday, July 27, 2018


We have had a great week with a fun mix of lazy and activity!  The kiddo had Art Camp this week which gave me some free time. I did some errands and was a little lazy myself with some of that time.  This weekend we are going to enjoy some time in Frankenmuth which I'm pretty excited about.

Favorite pictures from the week: 

The high of my week was hanging out with friends Thursday night at our community weekly free concert in the park.  It was fun to chat with adults and listen to some music.

The low of my week was my own clumsiness!  I stepped on a cardboard box that apparently had a staple sticking out (darn kids and their forts) and that hurt.  Then while cleaning my spiralizer I cut my thumb.  For like the 234324 time this summer.  Usually I cut it with a knife ha.

For my workouts, I completed 

 Tuesday - a walk through our local gardens which included going off the trails and up and down hills in the hot hot heat.

Wednesday - a short river trail walk/hike with the family at our local nature center!

The best money I spent was on some cute birthday presents for some people in my life.  I love some of the new and not so new local shops that are in our downtown! I also bought the kiddo a really cute dress for school and some underwear that she loves because IT HAS UNICORNS ON THEM!!!!

What I’m listening to (and loving): This week I listened to a lot of old episodes of Pod Save America and a sweet/fun old episode from How to Be a Girl.  I'm trying to sneak in podcasts when I can since the 7 year old likes to interrupt them!

What I’m watching: I'm finishing up Southern Charm New Orleans (just blah) and then moving on to Southern Charm Savannah.  I've also watched a couple episodes of 10 things from PBS and I really enjoyed the 10 roads that changed America!

What I’m reading: A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick.  Not sure how I feel about it..  It's the slowest read I've read in a few months, but it is a book club pick and one I've had on my shelf for a few years!

found this book at the library and it is a good one for young (and some older kids) on problem solving and dealing with anxiety!

What are you reading, listening to and watching?  

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Here is my semi-sporadic update on what is up currently!

Reading A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick for our July book club pick.  I just finished Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes, which is a great middle grade book about a 12 year old girl getting through Hurricane Katrina.  

Loving making new veggie recipes with stuff from our garden!

Feeling like summer is flying by.  The kiddo has Art Camp this week and it kinda sucks up our days since we are extremely lazy in the morning, but next week I need to plan some adventures for us.  There are a couple museums I want to take her too and some parks we should visit before summer has flown by us!

Thinking about which area of the house I should organize next and if I should just have a garage sale with the kiddo or try to sell some more stuff via facebook posts.  I have most everything separated clothes wise. but I hate going through the sell groups when people get wishy washy on meeting.

Anticipating our epic road trip we have planned for Spring Break.  I'm slowly finding spots to add to our 'might do' lists.  Trying to plan out some healthy eating for the massive road trip so we don't get sucked into the fast food for every meal on the road vortex and what we should make for our beach rental food wise so we don't spend extra down there.  We are obviously frugal travelers concerned about food hahaha.

Watching finishing up Southern Charm and then moving on to the other Southern Charms and then I have a massive list of old movies I've recorded with some PBS history shows...

Working on nothing right now... I need to get back into the house organizing project I was doing, but I'm really enjoying summer time with my kiddo.

Grateful for all the time I get to spend with my kiddo!

Listening to podcasts whenever I get a chance.  Some of my favorites lately have been the newest season of In the Dark, that I'm still not finished with, Pod Save America ,and NPR.  Oh and Oprah's Super Soul Conversations are always good.  I introduced my mom to podcasts last week and can't wait to hear what she thinks!

Wishing that snapping fingers was an effective way of making dinner appear, transportation to occur, shopping to happen and yourself to get magically dressed.. so not much!

What are you reading and watching and listening to? 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Summer Eating

I love eating in the summer.  Well, I love eating any time, but I love eating fresh foods from my garden and that all the veggies are cheaper.  We have been eating a TON of zucchini, cucumbers, green and yellow beans, and sweet corn lately! Soon we will add tomatoes to this list.  Everything but the sweet corn has come from our back yard!  We also tend to grill more in the summer and that is my favorite way to cook steaks and chicken!

part of the garden in early July.. we've had about a week of rain now and everything is huge!

I also have gotten to expand my zucchini recipe repertoire this summer because I have more time to invest in cooking and I am in charge of meals again!

Some family favorites have been the zoodles I've made.


1. Use the spiralizer, put it in the colander, shake on salt, put it in the fridge.  I've left it in there up to a few hours.  Then I squeeze the water out. 

2.  In a pan melt butter, throw in some red onion.  Cook a bit, then throw in a garlic, cook a bit.  Then toss in the zoodles and warm them up. 

3.  YUM!  I have thrown in a few sprinkles of parm cheese a few times.  Also delicious.

Another zucchini fan favorite was following this recipe for Parm Zucchini rounds!  I threw salt on them in a colander and left them in a fridge for the afternoon and then squeezed out the excess water!

I've also zucchini tots which are  fave.  My least fave way to eat them is grilled plain ha. 

Any zucchini ideas?

another view of the garden.. we have strawberries, raspberries,peach trees, apple trees and asapragus elsewhere.. you can't really see the blueberries at the end of this picture but we planted 4 this year to try again!

For cucumbers, I've mixed them with equal parts vinegar and water, dash of sugar and some diced red onion.  Yum! I do like to eat the plain or with a dash of salt.

Green and yellow beans we made a green bean casserole one night that was a hit and besides that we've been just sauteing them with garlic, salt and pepper.

Sweet corn has just been boil for about 20 minutes and then serve with butter and salt.

Last night we had an excellent dinner.  I made thin pork chops that I drenched in egg and then dipped in a jalapeno pretzel/parm mix.  SOOO GOOD.  We've made it a couple times like this and it's a win.  We make the kiddos with a panko/parm mix and then I add the jalapeno pretzel mix into that with some more parm.  You just need to make sure you smash up the pretzel good.  But it gives it a great flavor.  We inherited this bag of pretzels and they were almost just a bit too spicy on their own, but on the pork chops it's fabulous.

before the pork chops were cooked up.. 

The pork chops were then served with green and yellow beans, parm zucchini rounds, cherries, and mac and cheese.  So yummy!

What have you been eating this summer? Any veggie recipes you swear by?

Friday, July 13, 2018


We have been having such a good summer! The days are flying by and we are doing so many things and I feel like there are so many more we could do and I will be bummed about NOT doing in the fall but there is only so much time!

The high of my week was when swimming with Isla in the pool this week she showed off her improved skills! She has been apprehensive about keeping her face under water for longer periods of time and when using strokes.  She improved by about 4 seconds earlier in the week and by yesterday she was under water for almost a full 20 seconds!!! I am so proud of her and the bravery she is using to improve her swimming.  She is so not a risk taker!! Though she claims to be haha.  We have spent a LOT of time in the water the last few weeks and we started summer with a week of swimming lessons so I'm thinking of adding on another week next month!

the child's new door sign!!! hahaha

The low of my week was the scratchy throat I woke up with.  Allergies? Wtf? It's July.  I thought I had escaped this year.

The book I am reading is The 17th Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro.  It's part of the Women's Murder Club series.  I've read some really good books recently including The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz part of the Millennium series started by Stieg Larrson, Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (AMAZING juvenile fiction about a young black boy who is shot in the back by a white police officer -- HIGHLY RECOMMEND), Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union and The Abosolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  

a little pool side reading...

A Recipe I made was garlic and onion zoodles! We have are first zucchinis of the summer from the garden.  I used Iowa Girl Eat's advice and used my Vegetti spiralizer on the thick side and then cut up the spirals.  I put salt on it and threw it the fridge for about 30 minutes and then absorbed water with paper towels.  Then in a pan I melted butter and sauted onions.  After that I threw the zoodles in and added some garlic powder.  I cooked it for a few minutes until warm.  So good! I had it with spaghetti sauce and meatballs once night and then the next night with beef and broccoli.  I won over the child and the husband admitted it was 'okay.'  yum!

The best money I spent was mmm.. I think the only money I spent was on groceries and then i threw in a dollar when my mom took us to lunch.. soo the good lunch shared with my mom and kiddo!

enjoying our free slurpees on 7-11!

My plans this weekend include going down state to a family wedding.  Besides that, who knows!

What are you reading? What was the high of your life?

Friday, July 6, 2018


Howdy! It's been awhile.  I've been a bit busy since school got out and on the go with my munchkin! Here is what is up currently with me!

Reading:  “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie.  I read one of her others earlier this year, “Murder on the Orient Express” and a book based off of that one for book club, and decided that she would be a good every now and then pick me up for an interesting mystery.  It does read a bit slower as I am able to pick it up and move on quickly, but I do adore her writing.

what I read in June!

Loving:  spending this summer with my kiddo! We have done a real good job so far of being busy and lazy.  So far we have had a week of swim lessons, a long weekend camping, 4th of July party with friends, boat rides, multiple nights at our town’s free concerts, trips to the local beer garden with friends, and many trips to the library!

  thankful we got central air!!! It has been super muggy and being able to stay cool at my own house has been so nice.  I roll my eyes at people who choose not to use their air since I’ve spent the last 12 years sleeping like shit.  Bring on the air.  Plus, cuddling a kid and hanging out all day at a house with no air IS NOT FUN.  Especially when you sometimes get the fresh smell of manure from down the road!

Anticipating: our busy month ahead! Our weekends are all full.  This weekend the husband and I are enjoying a kid free Saturday night to enjoy a dinner at a nice local restaurant that we got a gift card for our birthdays, then taking a morning kayak trip down a local river before we join the kiddo with my parents for afternoon boating on the lake they live on.  The weekend after that we go downstate for a family wedding, the following weekend we head up north to Interlochen with friends, and then down to Frankenmuth for a quick weekend trip.  Definitely a Pure Michigan summer in the works here!

caught a fish on a recent trip up north!

Watching: not a lot… we are trying to finish off the season of Blindspot and besides that I am usually reading or surfing the internet.  Or watching tv with the kiddo which seems to be The Loud House or Double Dare lately!

that we have so many fun family friendly things to do in our area.  In the summer alone we have free Thursday night concerts, farmers market twice a week,  a local gardens that does kids activities and a free lunch time concert once a week, a wonderful public library, beer gardens, festivals, and rivers to explore plus much more!

on decluttering this house.  One baby step at a time.  I’ve put dents in Isla’s closet, the office closet/that whole room, plus our winter clothes.  Each day I have Isla going through some of her stuff since she is such a packrat.  The art scraps everywhere! I’m also trying to decorate more around our house since we’ve basically done nothing to our house because we really haven’t cared in the 12 years we’ve lived here.

sadly to not a lot of podcasts right now because I always have little ears around me and some are just not little ear friendly! Ha.  But I am enjoying the new season of In the Dark and Order 9066, which is about Japanese American incarceration during WWII. 

I had crafty ways that would help decorate the house/improve it without having to pay other people.  Let’s just be real, no amount of youtubing can give you skill.

What are you reading? What are you anticipating? What are you listening to currently?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Last Town on Earth

I was introduced to Thomas Mullen by my friend Alli who suggested Darktown by him, but when I went to my library that wasn't in so I got The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers and The Last Town on Earth which he also wrote.  I read Firefly brothers first and that was super good! I enjoy historical books that have a bit of truth but a lot of the authors imagination involved and he delivers.

The Last Town on Earth is set in Washington during 1918.  The Great War is on in France and and the Spanish Flu is raging around the globe.  Commonwealth is a town in the state of Washington that was started by Charles Worthy and his wife, Rebecca, who is a political activist.  They own a mill and he believes in fair wages and treating workers with respect. 

The town decides that they will cut themselves out from the rest of the world to try to keep the flu away from them.  They close off the road to town and set out guards to keep people away.  Anyone who wants to leave can leave, they just will not be allowed to re-enter until after the quarantine is lifted.

As the quarantine continues and food supply starts to shrink and the townspeople start to learn some interesting traits about themselves and their neighbors.  Was the quarantine the best solution? Would they do it again?

It brings up a lot of questions to think through and would be a great book for discussion.  I liked that it took ideas from the time (Great War, Spanish Flu, women's right to vote, patriotism, unionizing, etc) and put a personal spin to the situation.  And I liked that the characters were developed enough to re-think some of their past choices and see how what they did had a domino affect on others in the community.

DescriptionSet against the backdrop of one of the most virulent epidemics that America ever experienced-the 1918 flu epidemic-Thomas Mullen's powerful, sweeping first novel is a tale of morality in a time of upheaval. 
Deep in the mist-shrouded forests of the Pacific Northwest is a small mill town called Commonwealth, conceived as a haven for workers weary of exploitation. For Philip Worthy, the adopted son of the town's founder, it is a haven in another sense-as the first place in his life he's had a loving family to call his own. 
And yet, the ideals that define this outpost are being threatened from all sides. A world war is raging, and with the fear of spies rampant, the loyalty of all Americans is coming under scrutiny. Meanwhile, another shadow has fallen across the region in the form of a deadly illness striking down vast swaths of surrounding communities. 
When Commonwealth votes to quarantine itself against contagion, guards are posted at the single road leading in and out of town, and Philip Worthy is among them. He will be unlucky enough to be on duty when a cold, hungry, tired-and apparently ill-soldier presents himself at the town's doorstep begging for sanctuary. The encounter that ensues, and the shots that are fired, will have deafening reverberations throughout Commonwealth, escalating until every human value-love, patriotism, community, family, friendship-not to mention the town's very survival, is imperiled. 
Inspired by a little-known historical footnote regarding towns that quarantined themselves during the 1918 epidemic, "The Last Town on Earth" is a remarkably moving and accomplished debut.

Have you read any historical fiction recently? Any that you'd recommend? What are your thoughts on quarantining a community when there is a mass outbreak of illness? Do you think that it is wise? UnAmerican?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Not Quite Narwhal

Since our children section in the library is back in action we got visited and got books last week.  My kiddo is in full on unicorn obsession mode and this book had a cute cover and beautiful illustrations so I convinced her to give it a try.  (SHE HATES WHEN I TRY TO GIVE TOO MUCH ADVICE on book picking ha).  

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima is a winner! My seven year old could read it on her own, but she enjoyed it more when I read it to her.  (As did I).

Kelp is a little different from his family of narwhals.  He can't swim as well, his tusk isn't as long, and he's not a fan of the narwhal diet.  No one in his family ever makes him feel bad about himself, but he just doesn't feel like he fits in.  And I'm sure we all have felt that way at one point or another.

One day the current pulls him away and he ventures on to land where he meets unicorns and realizes that he's actually been a unicorn his whole life and the traits that made him a lousy narwhal were on par with other unicorns.

He misses his family and then he goes back and tells them he realized he was a unicorn.  His family responds that they KNEW but loved him anyway.  SO FREAKING CUTE!!!

I really like it and will probably be gifted to a few other unicorn loving kiddos I know on their upcoming birthday's.

The message is great and the illustrations are too! Definitely check this one out if you need a cute story or have a unicorn lover too.

Have you read any great children's books lately? What is a book you usually gift?

Friday, June 8, 2018


It's been awhile since I was able to post one of these!  I tend to remember them on Monday's or Tuesdays ha.

The high of my week was painting part of the outside of our house.  Our house was built in two parts a decade or so apart.  So the bottom have has a concrete look and above is siding.  The concrete part REALLY needed a paint fix up so we painted it on Tuesday after about a week of postponing due to weather.  Hopefully weather permitting this weekend we can do the floor of our porch and the tops of our steps! It looks so good now and starts the slippery slope of now our siding looks like it needs a touch up! New siding is a wish list, but first comes our central air (being installed NEXT FRIDAY), then new windows.. then dealing with siding and or an addition.

we also took a trip to one of our favorite local places after school this week

The low of my week was the slow process after you've gone so long neglecting yourself via eating/working out and no immediate improvements.  

my mug after a walk this week

The book I am reading is The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen.  I went to start this last week but had to finish another book for the library first.  So far I really like it.  It's about a closed off town in Washington State during the flu epidemic of 1918.  

A Recipe I made was Chicken pesto sandwich! I took canned chicken and mixed with with pesto.  I cut up radishes and onions to put it on and then ate it on bread.  It was delicious! I can't wait to make it again this summer and add some mozzarella and tomatoes!

The best money I spent was a new hat for the beach/boat this summer.  I've wanted this hat since I saw it last summer on Zulily and they had it in stock again this year in the color combo I wanted.  I'm excited for it to get here!

My plans this weekend include probably putting up our pool.  We were supposed to have a day date tomorrow going kayaking down the river but the weather is not looking good so we may go downtown and have a few drinks instead.  This is probably one of the last few non-crazy weekends for awhile.  My husband got poison ivy this week so I'm not sure how much more yard work we will get done but we have to finish pulling out a bush/tree for the ac to go next week.  A bonfire if it's not too rainy.  And possibly just having a night sitting on the porch listening to the police scanner and talking.  A lot of this is weather dependent.  If all else fails we may just clean and watch movies ha.

What are you reading? Any fun weekend plans?

Thursday, June 7, 2018


Last June, there was a very sudden rainstorm that drenched our local area.  I forget the specifics but inches of rain fell over night.  We luckily slept through the ENTIRE thing.  We woke up and nothing seemed abnormal to us until we looked out the south side windows of our house.  We were 'lakefront' and we live in farm country ha.  At the corner which is a house away from us the road was under water.  Further down our road it was washed out.  The way I took to get to the main road had lawns covered in water.  We actually had gotten water in the very corner of our basement but wouldn't notice it until later.  Luckily, nothing was damaged.  We were lucky.

In my town, many roads were under water.  Neighborhoods had were full of ruined basements.  Because there was also a sewer backup.  For months, you could be in some neighborhoods and contents would be on lawns.  It was horrific.  Our mall and supermarket parking lots were underwater.  It was just incredibly crazy.  Roads would be open one minute and closed the next.  Our HIGHWAY closed.  It was also the weekend my SIL was getting married and our route was okay on the way there, but coming home we got trapped on a dirt road off a dirt road and powered through because we were looking at MILES of back tracking.  When we got home after her rehearsal our road was closed because water was over a bridge  and THANK GOODNESS we lived on the south side of it or we'd have been out of lock for 48 hours and no wedding clothes. 

this is supposed to be a ditch and then a farm field

This is a lot of backstory to lead up to one of the most devastating community wide losses.  Our local library's lower floor had extensive damage.  The lower level is all of the amazing kids and teens area.  It happened right at the beginning of the summer reading program.  It was over $1.5 million dollars in damage and no insurance covered it at all.  For the past year, we've had a very subdued kids area in an underused room of the library.

this is supposed to be a park/ball field next to the road..

Until this week... It FINALLY RE-OPENED!!! It's not 100 percent finished and books are still being moved in but it's back in business.  You can bet we were there the very next day after school to check it out.

We love the new floors and the new set up.  They reconfigured a few things that just make sense and the teen area looks really neat now too. 

We spent about 40 minutes playing with toys and looking at books.  Also, can I say how much I LOVE our library? My daughter and I are greeted with smiles and even know a few of the employees who greet her by name.  LOVE IT!

The kiddos library selections yesterday

I'm so glad it's back just in time for the summer reading program to start next week!!

Do you utilize your public library? Did you use the library as a child?