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family fun what I'm into Lately

What I’m Into: June 2017

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I swear June flew by at warp speed. This month had a little bit of everything: visiting relatives, playing cribbage and backgammon, a camping trip, swim lessons, bowling, lots of ice cream, hair cuts, summer reading, doctor’s visits, epic thunderstorms, double rainbows and more. I’m linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer again to share some of the things I’ve been into when I wasn’t here.

Read & Reading

This month I finished two books:

10134852Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe by Jenny ColganFinished 6/7 – Another great story by Jenny Colgan, who is quickly becoming a favorite author. This is another sweet love story set in the UK – this time the book’s heroine decides to open up a cupcake shop after losing her job and her boyfriend on the same rotten day. The book follows all the ins and outs of starting the business but also delves into the inner lives of nearly every character that our MC comes into contact with. Sometimes I liked this, other times it felt distracting from the story but on the whole I really enjoyed the book and fully plan to read more Jenny Colgan soon!

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The Underground Railroad by Colson WhiteheadFinished 6/21 – This book took me awhile to get into initially but I did end up enjoying it for the most part. It’s not an easy book to read – between the rather heaviness of the subject matter and the frequent narrator changes – but it definitely held my attention once the story got going. It was hard to keep reading sometimes as the main character just could not catch a break and often the outcome looked so grim that I could barely keep going but I’m glad I stuck with it. BC

I’m nearly finished reading A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro and about halfway through reading A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle.

TV & Movies

Wonder Woman was our Big Screen Flick of the month. The whole family enjoyed this one. Between the hotness of Chris Pine, the epic girl power of Gal Gadot and the perfect blend of humor, action and heart. My favorite line of the whole movie was: “Beware the world of men, they don’t deserve you.” I kind of want to tattoo this sentiment on the hearts of all the young girls in my life, especially my own little Wonder Woman.

I Love Lucy reruns have been on constant rotation since visiting grammy and papa at the beginning of the month. My son is hooked and Hulu is very accommodating.

Beat Shazam is another show I’ve been watching with the kids. I love Jamie Foxx and the kids are always impressed when I know the songs, too. I’ve played along on the Shazam app a little and man the contestants are fast! I can never guess a song in fewer than 3 seconds which is considered slow on this show.

Jeopardy is also a common occurrence in our house. I’ve been DVRing all the episodes so that I can binge a few on slow afternoons while we wait for Dan to get home. Another opportunity to wow the kids with my random bits of knowledge.

The Handmaid’s Tale has been harder to keep up with now that the kids are home for summer. I’m an episode behind so no spoilers but I think in general OMG seems to apply to every episode. If you haven’t watched this one yet, get thee to Hulu immediately.

Rick and Morty has been the tv show before bed pick for Dan and I lately but we just finished the last episode of last season so now we are stuck waiting until the end of July for more episodes.

We really need a few new 30 minute comedies to add to our rotation. We’ve enjoyed Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, The Good Place, Futurama and the like in the past. What would you recommend next?

Cooking & Eating

 

I’m taking my first crack at pickling with Krissy’s recipe for easy refrigerator dill pickles at Self Proclaimed Foodie. I’m waiting for the brine to cool down as I type this – wish me luck!

This meatloaf recipe from Hello Fresh continues to be in regular rotation around these parts. I’ve somehow managed to convince my family that all credit for its deliciousness goes to me but honestly it’s just a fool proof recipe. The big secret is the tiny individual “loaves” rather than one big loaf. So easy and so delicious!

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I’m minorly in love with this white Moscato from South Africa right now. Found it at the wine cellar where I pick up our weekly CSA. Might be counting the minutes until I pick up our next box of veggies. Excepting the fact that my refrigerator cannot handle any more vegetables right now.

What have you been up to lately?

Categories
books & reading memes & carnivals top 10 tuesday

10 Best Books I’ve Read This Year (So Far)

Because we are now halfway through the year (craziness), this week’s prompt for Top 10 Tuesday is the 10 Best Books You’ve Read This Year (so far). I have only read 15 books so far this year but most of them have been pretty terrific. Here are the creams of the crop, two of which I haven’t technically finished yet but I’m far enough in to know they deserve a place in this grouping.

It’s an eclectic mix: poetry, graphic novels, mysteries, young adult, historical fiction, essays, light and fluffy love stories, science fiction… Whatever you are in the mood to read, it’s quite possibly on this list:

 

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – This timely novel is going to force you to think about uncomfortable things but you’ll be glad you did.

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling – A commencement speech by JK Rowling – a quick read that will leave you feeling inspired.

A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle – My favorite book to read by the pool. Essays on her life, writing and society that make me feel like a better person (and a better writer) just for my proximity to her words.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Historical fiction that brings you to the front and center of the underground railroad but with an added twist.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – A science fiction story about multiverses that will make your head hurt in a good way.

 

Wires & Nerve Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer – Fans of The Lunar Chronicles especially need to check out this graphic novel continuation starring Iko. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read this. NOW.

Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson – Scraps of poetry written, literally, on envelopes. Enjoy hidden gems and the inside mind of one of the world’s most famous poets. Then go write some of your own.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro – This is like Sherlock Holmes meets John Green. Extremely readable and fans of Sherlock will especially enjoy this take on the world of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon – A love story starring a girl who is allergic to literally everything. You won’t guess where this one is going.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan – Part love story, part finding yourself. This one is for the ladies with wanderlust who kind of want to drop everything, move to Scotland and open a bookstore.

Have you read any from this list? What is the best book you’ve read so far this year?

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Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke & The Bookish

Categories
family fun IRL motherhood

Swim Lessons: Underwater Pictures and Mom-commentary

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We just finished a session of swim lessons at our favorite pool. I love this place for it’s oh so small class sizes, incredible teachers and lessons that include everything from blowing bubbles underwater to every type of swim stroke you didn’t know existed. They seriously cover every aspect of swimming with detailed charts at the end of each session showing you what skills your kiddo still needs to work on.

But one of my faaaaavorite thing about the swim lessons here: their genius version of fund raising – $2 for an underwater photo of your kiddo during swim lessons. I seriously look forward to these pictures all summer.

Above and below are this year’s pictures. BB’s is only half under water, as you can see. She is kind of the world’s biggest baby about going underwater, even with goggles, especially when it’s cold. That’s our big task for this summer – getting her to be more comfortable and confident under water. Above water she can do basically anything. 🙂

MM is several levels ahead of her. After discovering a love of water slides last year his water confidence grew by leaps and bounds and now he’s working on various dives and strokes that don’t mean anything to me but have him coming back from lessons with a huge grin on his face – and really that is what it’s all about!

What are you up to this summer?

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Categories
family fun kids motherhood

Then and Now: Deep Questions To Ask Your Kids.

So about this time four years ago I asked the kids a bunch of super deep questions about life and shared them with you. I thought I’d ask the kids the same questions today and see how their answers changed and share my findings.

2013 | 2017

Back in 2013 the kids were about 3 1/2 and 7. Those responses are on the left just like the picture above.


Right now the kids are 7 1/2 and 11. Their responses today are on the right hand side, again, like the picture above. Got it?

What is the meaning of life?

BB: um, a sun.
MM: I don’t know, I really don’t know, ok?

BB: hmmm let’s see… god created us and wants us to be saved.
MM: What? I don’t know.

MM still has no idea and no desire to pretend he knows. He’s a realist. BB wanted to tell you GOODDDDD for just about every question but after like the fourth question I told her she needed more variety in life.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

BB: Cinderella
MM: an actor of Doctor Who

BB: I want to be a jewelry maker.
MM: um a video game tester

I’m not sure either kid has career aspirations that will allow me to live in the comfort that I’d like to become accustomed to. Oh well.

What brings you the most happiness?

BB: my brother
MM: well, my favorite thing is Doctor Who, so that’s what I would say.

BB: you (while hugging me)
MM: Skyrim

These answers pretty much sum up my life right now.

When do you feel the most loved?

BB: Sunday
MM: when I’m with everybody.

BB: Really, I ALWAYS feel the most loved.
MM: when you hug me

I’m happy to hear that my daughter feels loved on ALL the days of the week now. Also awww.

What are you afraid of?

BB: those scary birds, the scary ones and they were black…
MM: nothing really. At least I don’t think I’m afraid of anything.

BB: The dark
MM: a world without books

MM is a boy after my own heart. BB has forgotten all about the birds.

If you had one wish, what would you wish for?

BB: um, a telephone.
MM: Doctor Who to be real.

BB: That the pool in swimming lessons would be much warmer than it is.
MM: longer days

We leave for swim lessons like any minute now and clearly BB is hoping for warmer water. MM just wants a later bed time or more time to play video games. Priorities.

What is the funniest word?

BB: button… button.
MM: I don’t know…. plethora – it means a lot of something.

BB: The word “who” because sometimes it’s “who” and sometimes it’s “hoo”
MM: abdomen, I think it’s kind of funny

My kids still have no idea what funny means.

What is the hardest/easiest thing to do?

BB: a present giving up / getting excited.
MM: to make a tent upstairs / to read a chapter book

BB: swim / use my kindle
MM: social studies / creative mode minecraft

These answers are boring but accurate.

What is the best/worst thing in the world?

BB: a present with a doll in it / um… a ring.
MM: The best thing in the world? Wow – sun. / I think that is rain.

BB: my BFFs / my enemies I guess?
MM: YOU! / I don’t know.

I have no idea who my daughters enemies are but apparently they are the worst thing in the world. MM has never encountered the worst thing in the world but I guess it isn’t rain anymore.

What makes you mad?

BB: a computer (I swear she’s just looking around the office and naming things)
MM: sometimes when I don’t get my way, that’s one thing.

BB: when something is really hard and frustrating
MM: sometimes my sister storms out of the room.

I think my kids only understand anger when they are feeling it. They were totally at a loss here.

What is the meaning of love?

BB: a heart
MM: well, it means that you really like something.

BB: hope
MM: happiness

This. All of this.

If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?

BB: I would… buy something.
MM: Huh… I would buy a lot of things…

BB: I would buy jewelry and a bunch of dress up clothes that I love.
MM: Like infinite money?? I would buy a lot of stuff, I would buy a mansion and a dog that does not bark. I would become Tony Stark and I would have a lot of nice food.

Neither of them offered to buy me anything. I don’t know how I feel about that.

Let me know if you and your kids play along!

Categories
books & reading reviews

Book Review: The Bookshop on the Corner

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The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan 368 Pages | $7.99 on Kindle

Nina Redmond is a librarian with a gift for finding the perfect book for her readers. But can she write her own happy-ever-after? In this valentine to readers, librarians, and book-lovers the world over, the New York Times-bestselling author of Little Beach Street Bakery returns with a funny, moving new novel for fans of Meg Donohue, Sophie Kinsella, and Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan scratched several literary itches of mine. It features a bookish main character, Nina, who is struggling to decide what to do with her life. After losing her library job, she decides to move to Scotland and run a bookshop out of a gigantic van. This isn’t as crazy as if I decided to move to Scotland because she lived in London before whereas I would have to cross an ocean and obtain a work visa but the end result is that she finds herself surrounded by Scottish accents and idyllic countryside. She soon finds herself in a total Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennet style romance which is basically my favorite kind.

The story is a good balance between Nina deciding what she wants out of life, literary references and much talk of book loving, exploring a new place and a solid love story. I enjoyed every little second of it and when I finished I went on a ‘What Else Has Jenny Colgan Written?’ wish list spree. My only complaint is that the title and book cover totally make you think it’s about a book store or possibly related to You’ve Got Mail. 


READ THIS NEXT

So you read this book and loved it (or anticipate doing so) and now the question is what to read next. Here are my suggestions:

 

For More Jenny Colgan: Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe is another solid Colgan title. Issy Randall can bake. No, more than that – Issy can create stunning, mouth-wateringly divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe’s bakery she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. So when she’s made redundant from her safe but dull City job, Issy decides to seize the moment and open up her own cafe.

For More Scottish Romance: The Highlander’s Hope by Cali MacKay is a perfect blend of romance novel / legit story with plot. It’s slightly more racy than Jenny Colgan but definitely a solid story. When Dr. Catriona Ross discovers clues to a long lost highland treasure, her only hope of finding the jewels is to obtain the help of Scotland’s most eligible bachelor and playboy, Iain MacCraigh.

For More Sweet Love Stories: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han has that same kind of sweetness and another narrator who is shy and a little bit clueless in love. 16 year old Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed.

Your turn! What books would you recommend to fans of Jenny Colgan?

Categories
family fun

5 Things We’re Enjoying This Summer

Now that summer is in full swing I’ve definitely had less time to keep up with my dear old blog. I know you guys have probably been missing me so I figured I’d check in and let you know what we’ve been up to out in the real world.

  1. We’ve been keeping busy indulging in old fashioned summer fun like sidewalk chalk:

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2. Visiting family back home and basically eating our way across central Massachusetts. Ice cream was had often, sugary cereals were purchased by doting grandparents and the world’s prettiest cupcake was discovered:

3. Getting hair cuts for the summer. Miss BB got the shortest hair cut she’s had in years and she’s kind of in her glory over it. I can’t stop squealing about how cute she looks either:

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4. The kids have been in swim lessons all week and even the dog enjoyed some water fun, err well okay fine he went to the groomer but he was basically the happiest dog on the block riding in the back seat with the kids:

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I enjoy swim lessons, too, but more in a sitting in the semi shade, curled up with a good book and enjoying some quiet time for thirty minutes:

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5. Speaking of good books: Right now I’m reading A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle (fitting title, no?) which I actually started reading during swim lessons last summer and then forgot it in my beach bag all year. It’s been a happy reunion and this year I’m determined to finish it:

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The kids are reading, too. We’ve been stocking up on good reads at the library and filling in our Summer Reading Bingo sheets:

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Yesterday the kids picked up these summer reading lists at Chick Fil A. They are excited to fill in their next three reads so we can go back soon for free peach milkshakes!

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What have you been up to this month?