Book Detox: 5 Things I Learned On The Way to the Used Book Store.

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My husband and I are in the process of combining bookshelves to try and create a little more room in the master bedroom. The first step means getting rid of some books that we’ve read and don’t need to keep and maybe even some books we don’t think we’ll get around to. I took the plunge and started combing through my stacks on Saturday morning.

I was relentless – I am a self proclaimed bookaholic and sometimes I’m way too liberal with my book purchasing choices.My eyes are bigger than my reading stomach so to speak. I knew my collection of books was bordering on ridiculous and I took this opportunity to get my shit under control. After a morning weeding through all the books, I took two huge boxes to the used book store that buys old books.

Here are some things I learned while going through my shelves.

  1. My reading habits have changed a lot over the years and that’s okay. I don’t have to want to read the same books I did ten years ago. My reading habits are not under investigation and don’t need to answer to anyone.
  2. A lot of the books on my shelves have been there at least as long as I’ve been married. Those were my first victims – If I’ve owned a book for ten years but haven’t read it, I’d better have a darn good reason to keep it.
  3. It’s probably a good thing that I cancelled my Book of the Month membership a few months ago. I absolutely loved getting books in the mail and I look forward to reading them at some point, but I have nine unread titles that I’ve received from them on my bookshelf right now.
  4. It felt kind of amazing when I took those boxes of books out of my room and then came back to admire my shelves. Those unread books were holding some emotional baggage that I didn’t realize I was carrying. Giving myself the freedom to let them go was liberating.
  5. I am a sucker for books on clearance. Have you noticed that your standards drop when something is on sale? A LOT of the books I got rid of had a clearance sticker on them. Is this a sign that I’m good at bargain shopping or that I’m prone to impulse shopping when the price is low enough? I need to remember to choose quality over quantity when it comes to the things I love.

I still have a lot of books to read, but I can feel peace about this because I chose every book on that shelf intentionally. Every book was up for removal this weekend so the books that are left are books I’m eager to read now.

When is the last time you purged your book collection?

Just Checking In. (2/24/17)

What’s new in your world? I haven’t had time lately to share all of the little things going on and I thought I’d share a quick list of recent things. Tell me what you are reading, watching, planning, doing, loving etc. in the comments section.

J28765613ust Read: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult with my book club. I got a lot more out of this book than I was expecting to. The varied narrators forced me to get inside the minds of people from many different walks of life, even when I didn’t want to, even when it was uncomfortable. I liked that every person in this story was coming from a different place, had different things going for them or against them, but none of them were perfect, none of them felt like they had the upper hand in life. This is an emotional and uncomfortable story about racism in America – a timely topic that I was hesitant to read but I’m so glad that I read it.

Just Bought: new cutting boards. I’ve been cooking recipes with fresh produce a lot more lately – which entails a lot of cutting board action. My old tiny cutting boards were not really cutting it and it was making dinner harder than it needed to be. Rather than fall back on old habits, I went to Target yesterday and bought larger, sturdier cutting boards (this one and two of these) and I can already tell a difference just after cooking one meal with them.

Just Cooked: fajitas last night from Hello Fresh. So far I am still loving this meal delivery service. It’s a little pricey (about $30 a 4 person meal) but the meals are all healthy and we’ve enjoyed just about every meal we’ve cooked. I’m getting more comfortable cooking meals that are outside of my comfort zone and learning how easy some foods are to cook that I assumed would be more complicated. I’ve fallen hard for kale, mastered meatloaf, made my own Italian Wedding Soup and I’ve even noticed my kids trying new foods that I wouldn’t have expected them to enjoy. If you are in a cooking rut or want to sharpen your cooking skills, I highly recommend trying it out.

Just Celebrated: my son’s crossover ceremony from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. I cannot stop marveling over how big and grownup he is getting. He also went skiing for the first time this month (without me there to say “Be Careful!” every five minutes) and he had such a great time. One of my good friends was chaperoning and took the pic above and reported that he was a total natural. He’s been purposely trying a lot more sports this year than in previous years and I’m so proud of him.

Just Finished Watching: Awkward, an MTV show that is streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime. The show centers around a girl named Jenna who begins her Sophomore year of high school feeling invisible and suddenly finds herself the center of attention but not for reasons anyone would want. It’s a fresh, funny comedy that feels very real – the cast of characters is eclectic and the writing is sharp. I fell for it hard and fast and watched all six seasons in about a month. Which means I’m now in major withdrawals.

51rcearazqlJust Started Watching: Victoria on PBS which we’ve been recording since it premiered in August. It stars Jenna Coleman from Doctor Who and I have to say it’s fantastic so far. Dramatic without being gut wrenching, it’s pretty perfect. This afternoon I watched the first episode of Big Little Lies on HBO (which I’m subscribing to via Amazon Channels for anyone following along on my Cord Cutting Journey). Big Little Lies is based on a novel by Liane Moriarty. It’s a murder mystery set in the middle of suburbia and the mini series is starring some big names like Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Adam Scott and Shailene Woodley. I started to read the book but had to put it down for a book club pick awhile back and never got back to it. So I have no idea whodunnit or even who it was done to – I’m looking forward to finding out.

Just Planned: a quick spring break excursion to make up for our summer plans being thrown into the air like confetti. We’re going to get in a little indoor water park fun and hopefully some paintball and frozen yogurt. Also busy planning several small camping trips to keep us from going stir crazy this summer.

What have you been up to lately?

5 Things I’d Want On a Desert Island

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We’ve been having the world’s weirdest warm snap that I’m not even complaining about. But when it’s 65 degrees in Wisconsin in February, it bears mentioning, you know? Anyway, being t-shirt weather outside has me dreaming of summer when I won’t be looking behind my back for another cold snap. And thinking about summer can lead to thinking about relaxing on an island, or being deserted on one.

I was reading this list of 50 blog post ideas at Wear Daisy Went and one of the prompts was Desert island beauty products. That list would be really short for me – sunscreen and a hat. But the whole concept of “what things would you hope you had if stranded on a desert island” is an oldie and a goodie so I thought I’d play along in a more generic sense. Here are 5 things I’d want on me if I somehow tripped and fell on a desert island, minus children and husband because obviously I’d want company if possible.

  1. A good book. At first I was thinking my kindle with loads of books on it, but on the off chance that I’m stranded long enough for batteries to die, I’d better rely on something a little longer lasting. And it needs to be a favorite that is always enjoyable to pick up even when you have already read it. Something like Pride and Prejudice or Harry Potter comes to mind.
  2. A journal and something to write with. I’m going to be pretty bored and have fairly unlimited writing time so something to write on would be ideal. I can wax poetic about Island Life and all the deep thoughts that come to me when I have too much time on my hands like “if a blogger screams on an island but no one is around to comment, did she really make a sound?” and “what good is prime shipping if you are stranded on a desert island?”
  3. One of those water bottles that can filter ocean water to make it drinkable. That’s gotta be a thing, right? It makes sense to stay hydrated while working on my tan. Add to this list of sensible items the aforementioned hat and sunscreen.
  4. Also a Swiss army knife seems like it could be useful. I can go all Girl Scouts of America and make my own shelter out of bamboo and leaves and sticks and stuff. I can crack open coconuts and carve my initials into all the trees so that everyone knows I was there. Posterity, you know.
  5. A deck of playing cards. Solitaire for the win, you know? In a pinch I could pretend the coconuts are friends and totally own them in a game of Poker.

Frivolous add-ons: good sunglasses, a cell phone so I can play some games until my battery dies (I assume there won’t be cell service otherwise I’d have called for help or posted my dilemma on Facebook), a magical button that makes Starbucks iced coffee appear in my hand, pizza delivery, cabana service, a camera (so I can photograph my magic button coffee and pictures of the sunset)

What 5 items would you want on a desert island?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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An oldie but a goodie. 🙂 Just wanted to take a quick minute to say Happy Valentines Day to all my readers. I hope you get exactly the kind of chocolate you were hoping for and that your kitchens clean themselves tonight.

In honor of Saint Valentine, here is a list of things I love, in no particular order.

  1. My husband – he has to be first on the list because he puts up with my nonsense every day and looks cute while doing it.
  2. My adorable children who manage to drive me insane while being the best children in the world at the same time. Clever, funny, kind – we’re raising them right.
  3. Coffee. It helps me do the things.
  4. Apple cider vinegar – because I just remembered how good it is for cold and flu season.
  5. My new dog groomer because they keep the pooch smelling less terrible and I don’t have to be involved in the process.
  6. My new glittery water bottle – it makes hydration look fashionable.
  7. Awesome friends who laugh at my terrible jokes and remind me not to hide inside every day.
  8. Frozen chopped onions – they save me from the horrible onion tears and speed up dinner time.
  9. Nadine West for perking up my jewelry collection and consistently sending me shirts that simply fit like that isn’t a difficult thing to achieve.
  10. Books – all the books – losing myself in a story is basically my favorite hobby.

That’s all for now – I have a class Valentines Day party to throw in half an hour. Wish me luck and have a great day!

3 Movies Your Kids Won’t Stop Singing Along To.

We’ve seen three movies in theater over the last few months that were all good enough to gush about but I’ve been busy so I haven’t had a chance to give you guys the skinny. I thought I’d do a quick review of all three of them with some feedback from their primary target audience, my seven year old daughter and 10 year old son.

MOANA

“I love it so much that I listen to the radio music a lot! Moana’s adventure was very mysterious! I also loved Moana’s grandmother  because she cheered Moana up in every way she could.” – BB, Age 7

When I saw the trailers for this one I was kind of ambivalent – they honestly just don’t do it justice. I think a way better taste for this movie is this clip of one of the best songs in the movie:

But honestly, all the songs are fantastic. Like, ‘I bought the soundtrack and listen to it on my own sometimes’ fantastic. Add to this information a heartwarming ‘bring your tissues’ story that isn’t focused on a girl winning a guy’s heart / mixed with ridiculously funny characters and antics and you can kind of understand why our entire family became obsessed with this movie after seeing it in theater over Christmas vacation.  The love affair is still going strong and I’m anxiously awaiting the DVD release.

“Moana is cunning and adventurous. No matter what she faced, she didn’t give up. And Maui was funny and crazy!” – MM, Age 10

SING

“I enjoyed it. I loved Ash, the Porcupine. She was my favorite character.” – BB, Age 7

How about a star studded spectacular in which a group of rag tag singers with modest dreams audition for a singing competition that seems failed from the start? Both my kids loved this one and I was really into it also. I liked that it balanced hopefulness with reality and wasn’t too stereotypical. Great music to be found in a very balanced mix of genres so no worries that this will be all pop music / no substance. A killer soundtrack and a good story.

TROLLS

“I loved it a lot! Music made the trolls happy because music was one of their favorite things to do and it spread on all trolls.” – BB, Age 7

I took my daughter to see this at the budget second run theater over the weekend when the boys were off on a cub scout sledding trip. It was so good that we rented it on DVD the next night so the whole family could watch it. Again, the music is excellent. My daughter has not stopped singing since. My husband was very pleasantly surprised that the movie wasn’t sugary sweet fluff but had a real story and plenty of humor and self awareness. The back and forth between the main characters, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake), is basically magic.

“I really liked how Poppy was always happy about everything. I loved the “I’ll Just Get Back Up Again” song! That was a really funny song.” – MM, Age 10

5 Romantic Comedies To Netflix & Chill

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First of all, I want to state one more time for the record that I reject the pervy connotations of the phrase Netflix & Chill. I’m a grown ass woman so if I tell you I want to stay home and watch Netflix, I promise you I’m being 100% literal about my intentions. Real women don’t need innuendo.

But we all need a good Netflix rom com binge from time to time. My favorite romantic comedies honestly haven’t changed much since the nineties so be prepared for some throwback nostalgia. Or for you young folk reading, some like super old movies your mom used to watch.

These 5 movies all bear the honor of being movies I would literally sit down and watch any day, any time.

Clueless

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This movie has everything – it’s a ridiculously funny Jane Austen modern adaptation with great clothes, catch phrases you’ll remember for the rest of your life and Paul Rudd at the beginning of his Paul Ruddiness. The stairs scene above still makes me feel like a weak kneed teenager every time I watch it.

10 Things I Hate About You

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Another classic adaptation, this one is a modern interpretation of Taming of the Shrew. You could also call it Heath Ledger’s Dimples and OMG Joseph Gorden Levitt when he was young and adorkable. Come for the serenade on the football field and stay for the white girl rapping. And if you don’t cry when she reads that poem at the end, you have no soul.

Amelie

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If you want to feel more cultured about your rom com binge, I recommend this French film that absolutely purchased my heart the first time I saw it. Introverted girls everywhere realized that Amelie is our Kindred Spirit Queen when this movie came out and it still gets me every time. If subtitles put you off, I urge you to reconsider for this one – the movie is beautiful and funny and about halfway through I forget I’m reading the subtitles at all. Fair warning, this one is R rated for a reason – don’t watch it with your teens.

The Decoy Bride

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This is one of my more recent romantic comedy obsessions and it’s a must watch for all my Whovian friends because David Tennant in some rather fetching plaid pants happens.

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More than that, though, is the utter charm of Kelly Macdonald and the ridiculously funny but heart warming story. It takes place on the fictional Scottish island of Hegg where a celebrity couple has secretly traveled to in an attempt to get married without the paparazzi but that all goes awry (of course) and Macdonald’s character gets subbed in when the bride goes AWOL and much confusion, comedy and eventual romance ensues. If you like Scottish accents and awkward but awesome heroines, this one is for you.

You’ve Got Mail

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Okay so this is the only movie on my list that isn’t streaming on Netflix right now but I couldn’t leave it off because it’s classic Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, it pretty much started my fantasy of owning a bookstore someday and the early days of the internet are so much nostalgia it hurts a little. If you haven’t seen this one yet, oh my gosh you need to fix that immediately and it’s only a few dollars to stream it on Amazon. #worthit

What are your favorite romantic comedies?

Mama’s Losin’ ItI’m linking up with Mama Kat’s weekly Writer’s Workshop – you should, too!

My Top 6 Picks for the Next Doctor Who

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News is spreading throughout the Geek Kingdom of Whoville that Peter Capaldi has announced that he’ll only do one more season of Doctor Who. This shouldn’t surprise us as three seems to be the magic number for most actors who pick up the helm of the TARDIS. The Internet is, of course, doing what the Internet does best – churning out lots of speculations about who will steer the TARDIS next.

In years past, this has been a difficult prospect for me – it’s hard to accept an entirely new personality in the same role you’ve been knowing and loving for years. But I’m starting to get the hang of it and I have a few suggestions of my own. I tried to narrow this down to three people but failed miserably so you’ll have to settle for this list of 6 people that I think are worthy of the blue box.

Richard Ayoade

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Ayoade seems to actually be in the running already and this mystified me for a hot second but honestly I am loving the whole idea the more that I think of it. I absolutely loved him on The IT Crowd and I think his quirky, Dork Chic kind of throwback classic vibe would be perfect for The Doctor. We seem to oscillate towards brooding and comedic on Doctor Who and I think the show could use a comedic breath of fresh air. He’d be great at this.

Eddie Redmayne

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There is no doubt that Redmayne would have the acting chops to handle one of the most beloved roles of all time. He’s funny and charming and British, obviously. He has that lanky nearly awkward thing going which I find important in my Doctor and he’s not bad to look at. I think the biggest problem with Redmayne is that he’s possibly too Big Hollywood right now and perhaps far too busy.

Craig Ferguson

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Is it cheating if we had his bandmate as The Doctor already? Is that too keeping it in the family? I don’t care because Scottish Doctors are my favorite variety and I need more Craig Ferguson in my life anyway. If he wants to come take over my favorite tv show, I won’t hate him for it. If you want your Doctor to be sarcastic and irreverent and just a little bit creepy, Craig is your guy. And maybe he could sneak Geoff into the TARDIS while he’s there?

Stephen Merchant

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I know he’s technically more of a writer than an actor but I love him and I think he’d be pretty fantastic. If he doesn’t want to be the lead, maybe we could just get him to do a long guest spot on the show? Merchant was co-writer for The Office in the UK and the voice of Wheatley in Portal 2.

Richard Hammond

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Okay, I know. Weird choice. He’s also not really an actor – but Richard Hammond is my very favorite thing about Top Gear The Grand Tour and I’ve always thought he’d make an excellent Doctor. He is super funny and has a penchant for getting into trouble, likes fast cars and if he can put up with Jeremy Clarkson, I think he can handle some Daleks and The Master.

Kelly Macdonald

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Lastly, obviously, I have to mention a female actor worthy of the TARDIS. Because it’s time, of course. I’m not sure that the show is ready for a female Doctor, but if they are then Macdonald has my vote. She’s been a gutsy princess in Brave, a witty writer dreaming of travel in The Decoy Bride (alongside David Tennant) not to mention Trainspotting, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Nanny McPhee and Boardwalk Empire. She’s funny, clever, has mad acting chops and most importantly – she’s Scottish.

Your turn! Who would you like to see as the next Doctor Who?

What’s Saving My Life Right Now.

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This is a rough time of year for a lot of people. It’s cold and gray and we get weirdly amped up and excited when the sun deigns to honor us with its presence even for a minute. I’m tip toeing through parking lots trying not to fall on ice and plans are  getting cancelled left and right due to winter weather blah. I’m sure you can relate.

Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy has made it a tradition to share a list of things saving her life right now on February 2, the halfway point of winter when we are all very much in thick of it and totally over it. Positive thinking can be a miraculous thing.

Here’s my list of life saving little things worth being thankful for:

Crock Pot Oatmeal. I don’t know why having it premade makes it so much easier than, say, microwave oatmeal. Technically I have to microwave both after the second day. But my brain is convinced it’s easier so I am much more likely to go through the effort of making myself breakfast when there are half a dozen little containers pre-measured and ready to go. I use our smaller crock pot or there would likely be at least a dozen servings.

Also crock pot liners. Because cleaning crusted on oatmeal out of a crock pot is one of the most soul sucking chores known to man. Also a big fan of precut parchment paper by the way. Hurray for not needing to cut in a straight line.

Chopped Salads. I thought I didn’t like salad, but I really just don’t like munching on giant leaves. Chopped salads are my life line – and all the grocery stores have them! I’m sure there are terribly clever moms out there making their salads from scratch but I’m not there yet. It’s a season of convenience for me right now. #knowthyself

Hello Fresh meal deliveries. Speaking of a season of convenience. I’ve been in the world’s most mundane recipe rut so I’m trying out this service for a bit to get some new, healthy, fresh food focused recipes into our repertoire and bellies. The recipes so far have been super yummy and I kind of love having all the guess work and decision making taken out of the equation for a couple meals a week. Follow this link for $40 off your first box.

Heated mattress pad. Because winters in Wisconsin are no joke. See also space heater under my desk and heated seats in my car. Also:

Thermal under layers. Cuddle Duds are like the super hero of my wardrobe these days – they keep me much warmer but have very little bulk.

TIVO. I told you guys about how we cut our cable bill in half recently. Still loving our TIVO and Hulu subscription and I love how TIVO keeps everything organized.

Friends so great they might as well be family. We’re at a good place right now – we have a handful of amazing friends that make Wisconsin feel more and more like home every day. And when our friends are married to people that our spouse also likes – and maybe our kids all get along, too? Bliss.

What about you? What’s saving your life right now?