Showing posts with label Fun Stuff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fun Stuff. Show all posts

My Summer Hold List



If you don't like to read or were just living under a rock last week, you might have missed that Anne Bogel put out her annual summer reading guide.  I have to say, every year this guide does kind of kick off the summer reading season for me.  I'm fairly sure that Bogel and I do not share quite the same tastes, but she still rounds up some interesting ones each year, and I enjoy branching out and trying fiction books I wouldn't normally pick up.

This is how it usually goes - I request the books that looked interesting, and somewhere around the beginning of June they all come in at once.  Then I spend the next two weeks reading a chapter here and there to try to figure out which ones are worth committing to, and which ones I can discard.



This year I thought I'd share which books on her list caught my eye and why!  I cannot guarantee that these books are ones that I will, in fact, like or recommend.  There has been many a book from past guides that I have abandoned part-way through after I figured out that I was bored, or that it wasn't for me for some other reason.

I'll try to post updates on which ones I actually read and enjoy as they come in, but for now, these ones are the books that are on my hold list at the library!




The River by Peter Heller 
A disastrous adventure/mystery story set in the wilds of Canada?  I just rediscovered "I Shouldn't Be Alive" and binge-watched it a few weeks ago, so sign me up for this one.



Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson 
I just started a different book by this author, and her style is fun to read, plus I have a thing for southern fiction.  This one sounds like a mystery and involves a book club, so I had to give it a try.




Recursion by Blake Crouch 
I should probably read Dark Matter (by the same author) before I read this one, huh?  Since Dark Matter has been sitting on my shelf and all.  I do sometimes enjoy action books with a little bit of science fiction thrown in, and this one sounds like it involves medical science, which is usually up my alley.




Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey 
I'm very skeptical of secular chick-lit/romance novels, but this one sounds like it stays fairly PG-13 (I will update on this).  A screenwriter works with an annoying actor, but then I'm assuming she eventually falls for him.  Cliche, but I like some light fiction in the summer.



Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald 
I suspect this book has some sort of time-travel element, which I am all there for.  I at least have to try it!




The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson 
Beauty pageants and a Jane Austen retelling?  How could I not pick this one up?




The Island Of Sea Women by Lisa See
This is about an isolated culture on a South Korean Island, where all the women go fishing to support their families.  Apparently this is based on a true place or true events.  I like reading book set in other countries and cultures, but I've had mixed luck with this type of book.  We'll see how I like it.




The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth
I don't typically like terrible mother-in-law stories, but this one sounds like it could be a little redemptive - even though I think the plot involves the mother-in-law being murdered.  Yikes!  The mystery element interested me though.  I don't know about this one, I'll report back.




Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen 
I read one other book by this author a while back, and it was pretty depressing to be honest, but it was a page-turner.  It's also a mystery, which I'm typically drawn to.  So I might try this one.  Or I might not.




The Inheritance by Dani Shapiro 
The only nonfiction book I picked from the guide. I have no idea who Dani Shapiro even is, all I know is that there is some family secret she unearthed that was fairly shocking (don't tell me if you know), and this book is her memoir about it.  Sounds good to me.




The Unlikely Adventures Of The Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Three sisters who haven't seen each other in years travel to Punjab to scatter their mother's ashes.  Once again, I was interested because I like reading fiction books set in foreign cultures.  This is some sort of family drama.  Anne says the author keeps it light-hearted even though the sisters are keeping some serious secrets.  I'll give it a shot.




Hope And Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum
This one involves a mystery surrounding 9/11 and two of its survivors.  I believe this is YA, which I have mixed feelings about typically, but the plot sounded interesting.



Okay, that's it!  Once again, please do not take these as recommendations, because I have no idea if they are decent or not!  They just caught my eye.  I will update this post with my reactions to these books and whether I actually read them or not.

Did any of you take a look at Bogel's Summer Reading Guide yet? 
Which books piqued your interest?  
Have you found any winners from her past summer guides?




Painting With A Twist



After a post yesterday that was very difficult for me to write (and share) and a different heavy post last week, I wanted to lighten things up a bit around here this afternoon!  (Probably for my own sake more than yours.)

We are big college football fans in this family.  This goes back to Derek's childhood.  When he was a boy, his dad took him to the spring practice for their college football team every year, and they created alot of good memories around college football!  So when his dad asked Derek if he and our boys wanted to go to spring practice with him this year, obviously they said yes!  I love that they can create multi-generational memories now.

That left the girls and I with nothing to do on a Saturday, and Derek insisted we should do something fun too.  So he did some research and signed us up for a Mermaid Tea And Painting Party.

I did not even know there was such a thing, but the day arrived and the girls and I jumped in the car to head to the paint shop.

I have to admit, it was pretty magical.  First the girls each got to decorate a little plastic teacup.  They got their faces painted.  Disney princess music was playing in the background.  Then we were instructed on how to paint mermaids by a mermaid.  Later she gave us cupcakes.












It was adorable to see how the girls chose to decorate their teacups, and to watch them as they concentrated on filling in the lines on the canvases with paint (we obviously helped them quite a bit).  Every time I look at the pictures in the girls' room now, it makes me smile.

Afterward I was informed repeatedly that it was the best day ever, and really it's thanks to Derek.  I was a little skeptical about whether this was something we should spend money on, and I probably wouldn't have done it myself, but he signed us up and insisted we go.  Husbands are pretty smart.  It ended up being a sweet memory with me and my three girls!  I'm glad we went (and I'd recommend a painting experience with your kids if you ever get the chance, it was pretty fun!).

Little Letters | Springtime Notes


Dear Blog Friends, I have a disappointment to share.  I had intentions of writing a Little Letters post each month, because I like the format and and there was even a linkup attached!  Remember linkups?  The really early ones that were fun because they were small, and people actually commented on each other's posts?  But the blogger who was running the linkup seems to have dropped it.  I was waiting around to see if she'd bring it back, and was disappointed when she didn't.

However, I've finally decided, hey, why should that stop me?  So I'm sharing a few little letters from the past few months, and if you want to join in and share YOUR little letters (Michelle, Amanda, Bekah, Anyone-In-My-Sidebar, I know you would be great at this type of post, so consider this an official tag) - well, please do write one, and let me know.  We'll have our own informal linkup.

March

Dear Bathroom Renovation, I think you might be trying to kill us.  Or at least our budget.  And maybe also my feet.  I am tired of getting splinters while I'm trying to brush my teeth.

Dear Library, Why didn't you tell me you have a gorgeous back room with tons of windows?  I would have been visiting you each time I get away to work on computer stuff.  Do you know how much money I could have saved in Starbucks drinks?



Dear Bomb Cyclone,  I'm sorry, I'm just not that impressed.  I thought you were supposed to be like a hurricane, but our power didn't even go out.  (Just to clarify, this is not an invitation to try again, so don't get any ideas.  Let's just move on.)

April

Dear State Sales Tax System, I don't understand why I have to file two separate returns for two separate addresses when I'm just selling digital products out of my house (and I just happened to move).  I'm not even totally sure I have to collect sales tax on digital products, I'm just trying to be safe and follow the law and all that, but you are kind of making my life miserable.  Businesses that sell digital products are more common these days, right?  Can we come up with clearer rules please?  Thank you.

Dear Confused Reader, If you didn't know I have a "business", it's an Etsy shop in which I sell these pretty printable Bible verse cards. "Business" is in quotes because I just set it up and pay my taxes and do zero marketing, so it kind of feels like I'm cheating by calling it a business.  I'm just not very business-y, can you tell? #notabossbabe

Dear Swimsuit Shopping, Ugh.  Can we just...not?

Dear Warm Weather, I'm happy to see you and all, but can you please visit on a day when we are able to take a trip to the zoo?  Thank you.

Dear Self, It might be a little weird that you find it so satisfying to clip your kids' fingernails. Similar to how it might be weird to admit how satisfying it was to scrape mineralized bacterial colonies off people's teeth for a living for seven years.  Something about cleaning things up, and putting things back in order...maybe we shouldn't mention this to people.  They might not get it.

May

Dear New Swimsuit,  Where have you been all my life?

Dear Internet, Some of us do not have cable and must watch the new episodes of the Bachelorette one day late on Hulu.  PLEASE DO NOT SPOIL ANYTHING.  I like to analyze the show myself before I read your analysis.  Thank you for your consideration.

Dear Trees,  I do not approve of the delay and general sub-parity in your flowering this year, but I will grudgingly give you props for at least not skipping it altogether.  Good job.  But do better next time.




Dear Email Inbox,  Is this an episode of The Twilight Zone?  You've delivered a mere ONE email from a blogger who just had to tell me about the Build Your Bundle Homeschool sale tomorrow.  ONE.  What is happening?  Where are the other 25?

Dear Build Your Bundle Sale, I'm not really sure why you are so tempting.  I think I've used a mere two or three of the resources from the massive bundle I bought from you last year.  I feel like you tricked me.  And yet, I see all your shiny new printable curricula and worksheets, and I still get sucked in every time.  Maybe the homeschool inspiration and excitement you offer is worth something, but let's just say I'm going to keep a tighter hold on my wallet this year.  Just please don't offer me coupons.

Dear New Books I Bought,  Look what you made me do!  I was supposed to refrain from new-book-buying until the library sale.  Now you are making me feel guilty.  But also not too guilty, because the way you freshened up my to-read list has given my reading a boost.  I feel so torn.  Let's just not tell anyone about my lapse, okay?

Dear Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges,  Wow, you are timely.

Dear Bathroom Renovation,  It's almost time for you to move on.  It's been fun, but also not.  But look at what we have (almost) accomplished together! It's a beautiful thing!  But really, it's time for you to go now.  Thanks for all you do.

Dear Mother's Day Weekend,  You were nice to me this year.  Really laid back.  You gave me time with my mom and my kids, and that's really your purpose, isn't it?  We brought my mom breakfast, went to church, bought some loose-leaf tea, went to a park.  Derek made me my favorite dinner after the kids went to bed, which we ate while we watched our show.  I felt no stress of unreasonable expectations of you, and you even gave me some time to relax too.  Let's do this again next year.




Dear Summer,  Hurry up please, and no more fake-outs!  My poor sunlight-starved heart can't take it.  I have big plans for you.









How I Kept My Hair Under Control In New Orleans



I have had a long, contentious relationship with my hair.

It's too much to get into that whole story here, but let's just say that when I hit puberty my hair decided to rebel against me.  It frizzed and curled and waved and did weird things, and I've been wrestling it into submission ever since.

Thankfully this is typically very easy to do in my usual dry climate.  I straighten it, and nothing really messes it up unless it gets wet.  There is no real humidity to speak of.

Well, last time I went to New Orleans, I learned what humidity truly was.  I would go outside literally for two minutes, and I'd come back in and my hair was doing that weird frizz/curl thing it does.  It was bigger.  The frizz obscured all shine.  My bangs were sticking straight out to the side of my head in a strange attempt to curl.  It might have even made me cry one day when I realized how ridiculous I looked (please keep in mind I was hugely pregnant and hormonal, which may have also been a factor).

For our second trip to New Orleans I was determined to plan for the frizz, and though my hair didn't 100% held it's ground (is that even possible in New Orleans?), I have been overall pretty pleased with how it's held up.  This is what I think went better this time.



Hair Training

I mentioned this briefly before, but I've been training my hair recently to need less washing.  Part of this method includes brushing your scalp oils into your hair each night, which is supposed to be good for it.  This is totally anecdotal, but I suspect that the scalp oils have helped my hair hold it's shape a little better in this humidity.

Chi Shine Infusion Spray

I knew I was going to bring this spray on this trip, because last time we came my best hair day was the day I had used this product.  I just spray it over my hair after blow-drying and before straightening, and it makes my hair smoother and shinier, and that seems to tamp down in the humidity-induced frizz. (It's only $8 on Amazon today, which is a great deal!)

Joico Humidity Blocker Finishing Spray

This is the big guns.  I sprayed this on my hair every time I left the hotel in New Orleans.  It's basically like a very touchable hair spray.  Even after spending most of the day walking around outside, my hair looked like this:



It waved a little, but didn't frizz or stick out weird.  With my hair, I call that a success.

All my southern friends, how do you keep your hair under control in that humidity?

Especially if your hair is sort-of curly like mine?  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I do think my hair strategy would have to change if I lived down south.  This shorter style I usually sport is doable in dry weather, but requires a lot of maintenance when you breathe a significant amount of water in with your oxygen.


 Me and Derek, and I just went with my curls (with my humidity blocker spray) at the end of our trip.

Stuff I Like | April 2019



It's May 1st!  It snowed yesterday, and there is frost dusting my porch as I write this, but I can hear the birds chirping from the tree just outside my window, and golden rays are busy melting the ice.  So  it's a typical start to the month.  May there be more golden rays, more rain and dew, and less snow this month!

On to what I enjoyed in the month of April.


Bible.is App.  

Derek randomly decided to search for audio bibles one day, and he found this great app!  You can get the ESV version of the Bible for free to listen to through the app.  But my favorite part is that they have a normal reading and a dramatic reading.  The dramatic reading has music in the background, and the actor does different voices.  It's so fun to listen to!  Different sections of the text are linked to well-done videos too.  It's just cool!


Skylar's Scent Club

(The link is a referral link that is supposed to give you 25% off? And then I get a credit if you decide to try it.)

I have a tiny weakness for subscription boxes, and in April I decided to try Skylar's Scent Club.  Skylar is a company that makes perfume that is supposedly more natural and less "toxic", which is nice...but to be honest, I just signed up because I like things that smell good.  Each month they send a rollerball with a  limited-time scent.  In April they sent one called Magic Bloom, and it was so fresh and happy-smelling.  May is going to be Vintage Rose.  I may be checking my mailbox daily until it arrives.


Spearmint Oil For Laundry. 

Speaking of things that smell good - that is also the reason I have a little essential oils stash in my cabinet.  I just don't buy alot of the claims made about essential oils, but I do know that I like nice-smelling things, so I use them for some things around the house.  In April I felt like I had a ridiculous amount of laundry, but the process was made just a tiny bit more fun by putting a few drops of spearmint oil on a dryer ball.  Each time the dryer is running my laundry room smells like a pack of gum.

It's the little things.

This is where I buy oils. (Another referral link here that is supposed to give us both a $10 discount.)  And I feel great about the company, thank you very much my oil-selling friends.  You know I still love you guys!


The New Little Women Movie.

Last year they came out with a modern movie version of Little Women.  After a very long wait in the library hold line, I finally watched it yesterday, and it is so cute. I loved it!  It stays true to the characters, and doesn't "dirty up" the story at all with modern nonsense.  It's basically the same as the old movie, but set in the present day.  It was very well done!  I honestly don't even know how it got a PG-13 rating.  Aside from a scene with some teen drinking and making out, it was pretty clean.  I'll definitely watch it with my girls when they are older.



A New Swimsuit.  

Guys, you don't understand, this has been a months long process.  After having Georgie, I knew my old swimsuits were just not going to cut it anymore.  I bought a new top last summer to tide me over, but it was time to hunt down something new and more flattering.

I've been eyeing swimsuits all winter, I ordered a couple items that I ended up returning.  I finally found these bottoms a few months ago that were a little higher waisted, so they smooth out my tummy lumps nicely.  I've been on the lookout for a top to match, and finally ordered this one.

It's a winner!  I've found it!

I may order another pair of the swim bottoms just for a different look, but I finally found something that makes me feel pretty good about visiting the pool this summer.  Victory!  A picture of the swimsuit on me is in my Instagram stories today if you want to see (I'm not sure I wanted a permanent record of that on my blog, haha!).


None Like Him by Jen Wilkin.

I'm late to the party on this one.  I've been listening to this audiobook about God's attributes after my Bible time in the morning, and it is very good.  I usually end up taking a full page of notes on each chapter, and she gives Bible verses for further study of each attribute.  Highly recommend!


Spring Flowers.

In late April, I finally found some flowering trees!





Spring is officially here now.

What new discoveries did you make in April?

Currently | April 2019



Do people publish blog posts on Saturdays?  Is that done?  Well, I guess I'm doing it.

Currently...

Reading...A Serial Killer's Daughter by Kerri Rawson.  Why do I get sucked into these true crime stories?  This one is a little different because it's actually less about the crimes and more about the daughter's own experience finding out what her dad had done.  It's a Christian publisher, so I'm hoping there will be some hope from her perspective, because I imagine that would be pretty traumatizing.  Why am I reading this book again?  It is interesting though.

Worrying...About Harvey.  If you didn't know, Harvey is our dog that we got before any of the kids were even on the way.  We found out last week that he had a tumor, which we initially thought was a simple skin tumor that would most likely be benign.  Turns out it was bigger than anticipated, so the prognosis is not looking as good now.  But we don't know what it is yet.

It's hard sometimes to be a pet owner.  You love your pets, they bring so much fun to your life, but you will almost certainly outlive them.  I had an engagement present Yorkie, Ralphie, that died a few years back after an attack, and I never could bring myself to write about it here.  I have a hard time knowing what to say, or if I even want to write about grief or worry related to dogs.  Every time one of my pets gets sick or dies, I experience a weird mix of grieving for the dog I'm going to lose, but also gratefulness that my children and husband are all healthy and happy.  Maybe that's just what experiencing death so close does, at least for me, and perhaps because it is a dog and not a person.  I'm sad for what I might lose and grateful for what I have.

And I honestly just try not to think about it too much in the meantime.  Hopefully it's not too aggressive and we have a couple years left with our clumsy, lovable mutt.

Frightened by...Mice!  Why are mice so scary?  I think it's partly the surprise, and partly germophobia.  When we moved we realized we had mice in this house, and after some trial and error, we figured out they were coming in through a gap in the subfloor beneath our stove.  Derek taped it up to seal it, which solved the problem for a while.  But then when we were gone in New Orleans my mom saw a mouse in our house.  She laid out some traps and caught 2.5 mice while we were gone!  Yuck!  We then realized the little varmints had torn down the tape that Derek put up.  He fixed it, and we haven't caught any others, but still.  Yuck.

Awakened by...Woodpeckers.  Every morning.  One that does slow, exploratory pecks on the wall right above my head.  And another one that does a jackhammer peck on the metal flue that goes up from our laundry room, which causes an obnoxious echo through our entire house. (It's metal, bird!  Give it up!)  We would pull out the BB gun, but apparently woodpeckers are protected under some migratory bird law or something.  So we just yell and hit the walls first thing in the morning.  Great way to start the day, right?  So far the birds are not taking the hint.

Puzzled by...The lack of flowering trees this spring.  I have seen a few in town, but not many, and not at their best.  I'm genuinely disappointed by this.  The flowering trees in town are the main thing that redeems this muddy mess of a season for me.



Itching...To do some spring cleaning.  I haven't had a chance or the motivation yet to clean out the closets and organize things in preparation for summer.  You would think out house wouldn't be too cluttered since we just moved in October, but you would be wrong.  That's what five kids and Christmas will do to you.

Excited about...Jury duty!  My entire adult life I've wished I would get called for jury duty so I could participate in the civil process, do my civic duty, all that.  I got called once 12 years ago, but the trial got cancelled.  I finally got called again!  This is my chance!  I'm pretty sure they are going to dismiss me on the first day, but I'm still interested to see how it all works firsthand.

Planning...For all the summer fun.  I know it's still spring, but I am ready to be in full summer mode. I bought all the kids summer clothes a couple weeks ago.  (I feel like I didn't do too well price-wise, even though I shopped secondhand - is it just because my kids are getting bigger?)  I'm thinking ahead to an August vacation (not sure where we're going yet).  I am planning for little outings I could do with the kids, and day trips we can take as a family on the weekends.  I'm dreaming of afternoons spent reading on the porch in the sunshine while the kids play outside.  One more month and our summer break is on!

Looking forward to...Taking my girls out for some girly fun today!  Derek and his dad are big fans of the local college football team, and they decided to take the boys to spring practice.  The girls would probably enjoy going too, but this is kind of their guy thing, so we're going to let them have their time.  We are going to a Mommy-And-Me Mermaid Tea Party.  Yes, apparently there are such things.  It should be crazy keeping Georgie out of the paint (did I mention there is paint?), interesting to see what a Mermaid Tea Party is, and impossibly cute for obvious reasons.

What are you up to this fine Saturday?

The Big Easy (Our Trip In Photos)



My hopes for my little getaway to New Orleans basically boiled down to two things - I hoped Derek and I could get some quality time together, and I hoped that getting away for a couple days would give me a fresh perspective and get me out of my months-long discouraged funk.

I can report back in the affirmative on both counts!  

Derek and I had a great time together, first of all. We had beignets for breakfast in a cute cafe, went out to our favorite NOLA restaurant (twice), listened to some live jazz, and watched our favorite show before going to bed at a decent hour (because we are wild and crazy like that).  We had good chats about deep things, practical things, and silly things.  He indulged my photo-taking, and New Orleans is a photogenic city, so I have lots of good shots to share.  It was a lovely time.

On my hope of getting enough space to renew my perspective, that happened in the first two hours on the plane.  I picked up a fantastic audiobook that immediately hit on some of the things I've been so down about lately and gave me a biblical perspective on it.  It was completely something the Lord blessed me with, because the book was so timely and brought my focus back to Him.  By the time we touched down in New Orleans, I was feeling ready to bring that encouragement back and tackle my real life again.  The rest of the trip was just icing on the cake!

Highlights of New Orleans:

A plantation tour - I hit two plantations in one tour, Laura Plantation and Oak Alley.  Laura plantation was unusual in architecture, but oh man, the history!  It was probably my favorite just because I learned so much. (Also, those people were crazy.  Someone should make a TV series about it.)  Then I went to Oak Alley, which had towering oak trees on both sides of the drive and was completely gorgeous.  I wish Derek could have come with me, but he had to stay at his work conference.  I nearly missed my bus back because I misheard the pickup time, but that was the only hiccup.

Mr. B's Bistro - I had a chocolate molten cupcake and a bowl of gumbo at Mr B's the last time we were in New Orleans, and I've thought about that meal several times since then.  So of course we had to go back to Mr. B's (a couple times!).  I sprung for the bacon-wrapped shrimp and cheese grits one night, and oh my word.  It was so good.  Why is there not a Mr B's where I live?  It's expensive, but totally worth the splurge.

The Hotel Monteleone lounge - We were planning on doing a riverboat cruise again, but there were tornadoes or something while we were there?  I never witnessed this supposed bad weather, and the rain and wind weren't even too bad where we were, but we decided to be safe and just hung out at our hotel lounge.  Monteleone has the famous carousel bar that rotates slowly.  We didn't try that, but we did order a pop and sit in the lounge listening to the band one night.  It was just nice!

Cafe Beignet - Everyone tells you that you must go to Cafe Du Monde for beignets when you are in New Orleans, but last time we went there we just felt crowded and rushed.  It was busy.  So this time we went to the Cafe Beignet on Royal Street.  It was tiny and quiet, the patio was pretty, the beignets were just as good, and we were serenaded the entire time by a street musician.  I'd recommend it over Cafe Du Monde!

French Truck Coffee - And I have to mention this coffee shop, because as much as I was dreaming about that molten cupcake for two years, Derek dreamed about French Truck Coffee!  It's probably his favorite coffee place of the many we've tried over multiple states.  So far, anyway!

Without further ado, some pictures for you!

Coffee Run


(French Truck Coffee before my plantation tour the first morning!)

Laura Plantation

(Me, solo on my plantation tour - yes, I propped up my phone so I could be in some of the photos.  You do what you have to do.)




Oak Alley








An Evening Walk Down To The River

 (Of course we had dinner at Mr B's first!)







Beignets For Breakfast









(I pretty much spent the rest of the day lounging around the hotel and blogging and reading.  It was lovely.)

Dinner And Jazz
 (Our hotel was so pretty!)

(Mr. B's.  The amount of forks there was a little overwhelming, but it was still worth it.)

 (Had to dress up fancy for dinner one night, you know.)

(The carousel bar at our hotel, which we did not try, but which definitely added to the atmosphere.)

Beignet Encore




(Last picture in New Orleans before I had to leave to catch my flight!)

New Orleans is such a fun city to visit as a couple.  Plants grow on buildings, there is always jazz playing somewhere.  There is just something in the air down there, something musty and mysterious and romantic.   I'm glad we got to go again!  

Have you ever been to New Orleans?





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