4 Kitchen Life Savers.

It seems like every time I turn around there is a new gadget coming out that is supposed to make my life easier. My husband and I have been married for 10 years now so we’ve had 10 years to accumulate hype gadgets that our kitchen apparently can’t live without. Some prove to be lifelong kitchen companions and others take up space in my cabinets until I can convince myself to send it on its way.

My favorite kitchen tools are the ones that are there for every problem, every meal, every situation. The ones you feel like you might as well leave on the counter because you’ll need it again in less than 24 hours. Bonus points if they are pretty.

Here are 4 things helping me rule the kitchen right now.

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THE BEST PAN This Cuisinart 5 1/2 quart saute pan is my everything. I use it almost every day and it never fails me. This sucker is big – it’s capacity for all of the things means it’s a great all purpose pan. I can cook spaghetti in it or cook up all of the ground beef in the house. It is light weight so it heats up quickly meaning I don’t have to stand around waiting for it to get to temperature before I get to cooking already! And it cleans up so nicely – I let it soak for a few minutes after cooking and once it’s cool enough to touch I sing songs about how beautifully all of the grease and grime just washes away. Minimal elbow grease required.

518RCdwL1lLTHE SHORT CUT You guys , we need to talk about these cookie baking sheets because seriously where have they been all my life? I might be showing you just how lazy I am when I tell you that pre-cut parchment paper was a game changer for me, but seriously. It cuts down on the cleanup of my baking sheets like woah and means so much less elbow grease to get burnt off stains removed. Bonus points: They fit my favorite Nordicware baking pans perfectly.

WHAT’S FOR DINNER? I subscribed to Hello Fresh on a whim this winter when I was feeling the absolute depths of ugh in regards to “What’s for dinner?” I felt like I was running in a hamster wheel of the same five recipes and I was bored of all of them. So I clicked one of those ads on Facebook and gave it a whirl. Initially my husband was all kinds of “this costs how much?” and “what do you even need it for?” but then when our dinners started tasting waaaaay better and were also healthier he got on board.

Here’s a peek at some of the meals I’ve made:

Having the guess work taken out of 2-3 meals a week was so liberating – it has made it easier for me to step out of my culinary comfort zones. I’m a pretty Boxed Spaghetti cook (at least I used to be) so initially these recipes felt intimidating but the truth is they are not very hard to make. I just had to get used to actually prepping vegetables and cooking real food on the regular. I’ve started incorporating a lot of the recipes and food preparation methods into my other meals each week and it’s kind of awesome. I feel like I’m going to a private cooking school in my own home. If you have been thinking of signing up, click here for $40 off your first box!

41ZfxX57WhLAFTER DINNER Don’t forget to celebrate your successful domination of the kitchen tonight with a glass of your favorite wine. I just bought these Libbey Classic Wine Glasses and they are kind of the perfect wine glass. The stems are elegant but sturdy, the rim is slightly tapered which is supposed to enhance your wine drinking experience so you can drink fancy. It’s a nice size for red or white wine so you don’t need to make room for an army of breakable wine glasses in your cabinets.

What’s your favorite kitchen work horse item?

What kind of wine should I pour into my new wine glasses next?

Insta Recap: 4.27.17

One of Mama Kat’s prompts for this week’s Writers Workshop was to share a recent picture you shared on Instagram and tell us what you love about it. I have been posting to Instagram a lot lately and had a hard time narrowing it down so you get 5 recent stories inspired by my Instagram feed. Woohoo!!!

1 – A recent illustrated story by my 7 year old:

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I love this – it’s like a mix between Snow White and Belinda the Ballerina. I’d read that book.

2 – We bought a Purple mattress last week and it arrived on my doorstep…

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I mean it literally took up my entire doorstep so I decided to drag it inside before leaving to meet my husband for lunch – no easy feat! This thing weighs like a lot. But once I had it halfway through the door I pretty much had to suck it up and commit to the task. How proud did I feel afterwards? Like ridiculously so. I’ll write more about the mattress later, promise.

3 – I started taking a laptop to the coffee shop to write.

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I’m the one millionth person to find out that working in a coffee shop actually decreases my distractions – I feel less guilt about chores I could be working on and my little Chrome book is too slow to browse the internet but fast enough to load my one tab and let me write. Also the perk of a snack outside the house doesn’t hurt. I’m going to write over lunch today.

4 – I dyed my hair by myself and I love it.

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My last salon color was more subtle than I was expecting and I didn’t want to ask my husband for help again to fix it. I had a free couple of hours to kill the other day and splurged on this box of L’Oreal Colorista at Target that said I didn’t have to mix anything and that there were no ammonia fumes. Sold. 30 minutes and a slightly stained shower later and I have to say I’m loving it. It’s slightly subtle but way more noticeable. Exactly what I wanted and for the right price.

5 – Look what I found at Walmart the other day??

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Ree (aka The Pioneer Woman) wrote a new children’s book called Little Ree about her experience moving from the big city to a ranch farm but reimagined the story through the eyes of her childhood self. The end result is adorable. It’s similar in tone to her books about Charlie the ranch dog. I read it to my daughter’s class for library story time and they ate up the antics of Little Ree.

5 Apps To Hide in the Bathroom With.

 

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I know a lot of you are home with your kids on spring break right now and maybe you are nearing your breaking point. I mean, maybe you are off on a grand adventure and achieving pure bliss in between hair braiding and picture perfect family picnics – but just in case you are feeling the heavy weight of “when will I be able to watch my shows again and how are you still here???” I’m just saying if you are thinking about going to hide in the bathroom for seventy two hours…

How about a new game on your phone to get addicted to instead? I know we’re supposed to be patient and present and in the moment and smart phones are the worst or something, but whatever. Sometimes a mom needs five minutes with Solitaire to get the skip back in her step.

Here are 5 games on my phone* that I like to turn to when my daughter has been singing the same Moana song for eighteen hours / my son has literally not stopped talking about Minecraft since he woke up.

*I’m an Android girl so my apologies if you are living that Apple life and these games aren’t available — but usually they are on both stores, so definitely check!

We all have different game preferences and different situations call for a different fix.

If you want an artsy kind of puzzle:

Hungry Cat Picross is literally the best picross game you are going to find on your phone. I’m not trying to be Eleanore Exaggeration here. I literally downloaded all of them when I was running out of puzzles and they were all terrible. So save yourself the struggle / data usage and skip straight to this one. I’ve gotten several people hooked on this game. I’m not proud.

If you want to redecorate every day but like for free:

Design Home is the game I never knew I wanted to play. It’s literally designing rooms and then voting your favorite designs, buying virtual couches and potted plants and competing in design challenges. I am way too addicted.

If you are feeling nostaligic for middle school:

MASH is seriously an Android Game now and I won’t like, I made my 7 year old play with me – multiple times. I do wish there were less ads and more varied games but you know – nostalgia for the win. Break this one out when your little girls are getting antsy and need a distraction. Maybe your boys would like it, too, but I’m pretty sure my 11 year old would just roll his eyes at me like my husband did.

If you like hidden picture games:

Fantastic Beasts: Cases has two things going for it – the nerdgasm of Harry Potter universe references and a fun and unique game in its own right that is kind of somewhere between a hidden picture game and a mystery detective game. It may even help to tide you over until the next Fantastic Beasts movie.

 

If you want to take Solitaire to the next level:

Fairway Solitaire is probably the game I open the most frequently right now. It seriously takes Solitaire to new places and has just enough little goals and tasks to keep you checking back in throughout the day. Cute graphics, relatively speedy load times and not too many ads. Plus there is a sneaky gopher causing trouble, so.

What phone apps have you been hooked on lately?

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I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop again. Let me know if you are playing along, too!

 

 

5 Dystopian Novels for Middle Schoolers.

Dystopian novels are one of my absolute favorite genres of literature but it’s a heavy genre that is hard to recommend to your own children. Like, I loved The Hunger Games but I’m not sure I want my eleven year old reading about a reality show where children are forced to murder each other. It’s a lot. But he’s at a great age to dip his toe into the world of dystopian novels so I spent some time researching possible titles to recommend to him. I thought I’d share my findings with you.
51M5034KtPLThe City of Ember
by Jeanne DuPrau
was one of the first titles I found after a quick search. It’s recommended for kids as young as 8 so you don’t have to stress out too hard about recommending this title.

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must race to figure out the clues before the lights go out on Ember forever!

Common Sense Media agrees that it’s appropriate for kids 8+ and had no notes of warning for parents. It’s also available as a graphic novel if your kids are as into that as mine.

61QU-tHlj6LLegend by Marie Lu is recommended for kids in the 7th grade and up on Amazon. Common Sense Media recommends 12+. This one isn’t quite as squeaky clean with one passionate kiss and alcohol is served but the main characters do not partake in it. It also contains a fair amount of violence.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

51ql88jksmLThe Giver by Lois Lowry has the stamp of approval of my actual child. He read it in school this year and loved it (thus sparking my desire to find more books for him in the same genre). Common Sense Media recommends this one for ages 11+. There are very mild sexual references and some scenes that might be disturbing (the main character witnesses his father euthanizing a baby) but it’s a classic that opens up a lot of room for discussion.

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

51io7AeVp4LThe Maximum Ride series by James Patterson is recommended for kids 11+ on Common Sense Media. The only real warning for this one is that it’s pretty violent. “There are broken noses and bones, knocked-out teeth, and some deaths, guns, explosions, and car chases.”

This one feels a little more science fiction / fantasy than Dystopian but I think it still  fits the bill of being recommended alongside the other titles.

Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it’s like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the “flock”–Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel–are just like ordinary kids–only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time…

51yBE-faNyLThe Maze Runner by James Dashner was made into a movie a few years ago so it might already be on your radar. Common Sense Media recommends this one for 13+ but kids and parents reviewing seem to agree on 12+.

It’s compared to Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games. Some consider this one more violent than The Hunger Games so you’ll want to use your judgement on what factor make the book age appropriate for your kids.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround them is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

Have you read any of these? Do you agree with the age recommendations? Are there any books I missed that you would recommend?

The Nintendo Book Tag.

I nabbed this book tag from, who else, Birdie Bookworm. She’s like my new favorite tag pimp. That’s a thing, right? Anyway this one is all about Nintendo (nerds, rejoice). I’ll be honest, I’ve only owned two of these systems but I’m familiar with the product line and ready to dig in!

NES (Nintendo Entertainment System):
A classic you want to read.

51ml2vt0AFLA Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – I’m basically the worst English major in the world when it comes to the lengthy list of classics I haven’t read yet. I’ve really enjoyed the Dickens that I have read so this one seems like a natural choice. And I’ve had it on my Kindle for ages, so.


SNES (Super Nintendo):
A sequel you liked more than the first.  (Can be a second book in a series.)

9462775The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson was the first book that came to mind because I remember thinking “Wow, I liked this one better than the first book and that almost never happens!” A quote from my review of the book adds, “Something in the writing felt fresher and tighter and it probably helps that I’d grown accustomed to the cast of characters. I also really loved Oliver – probably more than I’d liked Keith in book one.” I think the author was in such a good groove writing this one, but you definitely have to start with book one, no questions asked.


Nintendo 64:
A book that revolutionized the way you look at the world.

28765613Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult left a much bigger impression on me than I was expecting it to. It really got under my skin and surprised me in a lot of ways. This was a difficult book to read and a lot of the people in my book club that read it with me did not care for it but I’m glad I read it. I think I’m a better person for it – or at least a less naive person.


Gamecube:
A popular book that did not go over so well with you.

13449693The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater has a massive following and I think the blogiverse got my hopes up waaaaaay too high before I finally got a chance to read it. Something about the book kept me at arm’s length and I wasn’t able to really lose myself to the story. But to be fair, I didn’t dislike it nearly as much as I hated The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. So you can put the pitchforks away, promise.


Wii:
A new favorite book.

22840421My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows was the last book I loved so much that I started to get weird about it. You know the ones that you recommend so ferociously to people that they take a step back like they aren’t sure if maybe you are trying to sell them drugs or a Timeshare or something? Also why do so many of my favorite books have such preposterous premises. “It’s about Lady Jane Grey except not really and she falls in love with a horse – but it’s so romantic!”


Nintendo Power:
Favorite graphic novel series or a series you want to start.

513pp8o3c2l-_sx354_bo1204203200_I haven’t read a ton of graphic novels but I really want in on this whole series of classic book given the graphic novel treatment. My first choice would probably be A Wrinke in Time by Madeline L’Engle. The artwork looks way too cool and I think it would be a fun way to share some of my favorite stories with my kids.

 


Super Mario:
A character that you’d love to squish like a Goomba.

10964Jonathan Randall from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Just seeing the actor that portrays him in the miniseries, Tobias Menzies, sends me into a panicked frenzy. I’m so torn when it comes to this series because I loved so much of the first book / season and then that last scene with Jamie and Randall happened and I am basically scarred for life now. I’d like to squish that entire storyline like a Goomba.

 


Zelda:
A newer fantasy that you consider to be a modern classic.

Tbook one of the Lunar Chronicleshe Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer is such perfection. I could totally see it becoming a classic someday. Teenagers of the world would rejoice if this one became required reading. Book one is essentially a futuristic retelling of Cinderella and the series ends up retelling several classic fairy tales, weaving them all into an epic story of adventure and romance.


Samus-Aran:
Favorite Sci-Fi novel or one you want to read.

the girl with all the gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey was such a good read. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started and I loved how the story seemed to kind of unfold itself as I read. The author did a great job of giving you just as much information as she wanted you to have as the story progressed. The characters were wonderfully fleshed out and the story lingered in my mind constantly throughout the day and probably will continue to do so for quite some time.


Pokemon:
Book editions that you want to collect.

61XCzUtRRQL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_I’m kind of obsessed with the Puffin in Bloom collection of novels like Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I’ll be honest, pretty much any pretty edition of Anne of Green Gables or Pride and Prejudice makes me want to buy it immediately which is fairly ridiculous but true. I also frequently find myself wanting to buy updated editions of the Harry Potter series, especially the illustrated editions – gah, gorgeous.


Donkey Kong:
A book with original characters.

16068905I’ll be honest, I really want to mention The Lunar Chronicles again. I think her characters are incredibly well written. Another favorite worth mentioning is basically any book by Rainbow Rowell because she really fleshes out all of her characters to the point that they are living and breathing inside of your heart. My personal favorite is Fangirl but they are all incredible.


Nintendo Fandom:
Favorite Nintendo game(s) or game.

I guess the Mario series in general but I’ve got to be honest, I’m not a big Nintendo fangirl. I like playing Smash Brothers with Dan and the kids but I’m such a button masher, I have no real skill at the game whatsoever. I just liked playing as Princess Peach.

I don’t like tagging people – but if you are reading this and it sounds super fun, then consider yourself tagged!

Here’s What 1st & 2nd Graders Are Reading.

1st2ndreadingSomething you might not know about me: I’ve been volunteering at my kids’ school this year as the 1st / 2nd Grade Librarian. Woah, I know. That sounds like a big job. Don’t worry, it’s a tiny private school so we’re talking about 16 children.

Something you probably do know about me: I love reading and I have a tendency to recommend books to everyone. It breaks my heart when my kids ignore a book recommendation because “Ew, mom recommended it. It’s probably lame.” When everyone knows I have excellent taste in books and I put a lot of thought into my recommendations.

But I get it. I was a kid once, too. I ignored book recommendations all the time because I was terribly busy consuming every Babysitter’s Club book ever written (and boy were there a lot of them!)

Anyway, every Monday I read the kids a story and then help them find a book to bring home. Sometimes they want my help, sometimes they don’t. After about a year of hanging out in the school library, I’ve gotten to notice some trends – a lot of the same series of books pop up over and over. I thought I’d take note and share my findings with you in case you have a 1st or 2nd grader of your own that needs a good book to read.

These are the books that consistently get checked out and devoured by the 1st and 2nd graders at our school:

51dXn5iTpvLThe Unofficial Gamer’s Adventure Series (i.e. THEY HAVE MINECRAFT BOOKS!?!?): We just got these in this year and the kids are obsessed with them. These are a good bet for any kid reading small chapter books – and older kids that love Minecraft will probably enjoy them, too. These aren’t the Minecraft tutorial books, but actual stories written within the Minecraft universe. And there are several variations on this idea – go into any book store or book aisle and you’ll find some.

61dDfZUlpuL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_Geronimo Stilton: You’ve probably heard of these books, at least in passing. It’s a cute series great for kids just getting into chapter books. The kids I read to love books about animals – some other great options include the Animal Ark series, The Puppy Place series and the Mercy Watson books.

51ttDHumHHL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_The Rainbow Magic series is massive and insanely popular at our school. There are a bazillion different types of fairies and the girls love looking for a fairy with their name or a name of someone they know. It’s a very time consuming search. These are great for your kids just dipping their toe into the chapter book universe.

61JEW68FtyL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_When your kiddo is ready to try something a little longer, check out the American Girl books and The Babysitter’s Club which is making a comeback thanks to the Graphic Novel versions of some of the first few books in the series. (If your kiddo is interested in these books but having a hard time with the size, try the BSC Little Sister series or the new Wellie Wishers American Girl series.)

51se0cN2C4LFor the kids that are really into the graphic novel / lots of illustrations book life: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate and Captain Underpants continue to be a force to be reckoned with. They also love pouring over old Calvin and Hobbes books.

51N7ZWBubnLSome other oldies but goodies that go over well are the Magic Tree House (for the earlier chapter book kids) and Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events (for the big readers).

61X+b-tbMpL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_The Eyewitness Books by DK are also extremely popular. No matter what your kid is interested in, DK seems to have a giant book all about it. The kids I read to spend a lot of time pouring over these books. They are an especially nice choice for kids who have kind of outgrown picture books but don’t have the patience for chapter books yet.

What are your kids reading these days?

11 Things About My 11 Year Old.

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My first born is eleven today and, I’ll be honest, I can barely handle this information. I think this is the first birthday he’s had where I find myself in denial. Why eleven feels sooooo different from ten, I’m not sure. But here we are.

In celebration of his big day, here are 11 things you should know about my newly turned eleven year old.

  1. He is a very considerate, kind kid. I’m not saying he is never in a bad mood, but by default he is friendly and compassionate. He cares how you are doing and loves to make people smile.
  2. He is always helping out around the house – emptying the trash, running the dog, helping out with laundry. He’s my right hand man during the day and he does it with a smile (most of the time).
  3. He is a voracious reader and loves to return to old favorite stories. He’s probably read his favorite series, Gregor the Overlander, more times than he can count.
  4. He is strong. I’m always surprised and impressed by the things he can lift and carry – he’s quickly becoming a little man rather than a little boy.
  5. He loves video games, just like his father. When he’s not working on homework or curled up with a book, his default favorite activity is playing Minecraft or Skyrim.
  6. He’s a creature of habit and likes to have a set schedule for the day. What time things are happening is important to him. He totally gets this from his mother.
  7. Some of his favorite foods include tacos, bacon cheeseburgers with mayonnaise, breakfast burritos and cold cut sandwiches. He’s really come a long way this year with trying new foods though and has graduated from picky eater to willing to try most things.
  8. He loves to play board games with us, especially Munchkin (we love this Marvel edition) and Forbidden Island. He also likes designing his own games – I might be raising a future dungeon master. My kids are often found playing complex story telling games that I do not understand at all.
  9. He’s not an especially sporty kid, but this year he has started to discover more and more games that he does enjoy like soccer and kickball. This is making recess a lot more fun for him!
  10. He started Boy Scouts this year after graduating from Cub Scouts and he and my husband are avidly looking forward to all of the hiking and camping and knot tying and rock climbing in their future.
  11. He would wear running pants a t-shirt every day if he had his way. He’s a creature of comfort and doesn’t care about fashion at all (typical boy). He loves witty t-shirts and a relatively dark color palette (but probably doesn’t know what a color palette is).

Happy birthday MM! 

UN-Planning an 11th Birthday Party.

My son turns eleven tomorrow – hold on

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Sorry about that – and we’re throwing him a small party. I’m not sure if party is even the right word. He’s having two friends over for a sleepover that will mostly involve video games and eating food.

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The hardest part of planning this party is reminding myself I don’t really have anything to plan other than buying enough food for 3 tweenage boys.

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I’m not saying I have a record for throwing amazing, Pinterest-worthy birthday parties. ‘Cause no. But I do enjoy running with a good theme and picking out a corresponding menu and party favors, paper goods, etc.

Some moments from the highlight reel of MM’s birthday parties past:

The 5th Birthday Race Car Dinosaur Party. He really put us through our paces that year but with a minimalist bent, I pulled it off. This was his first birthday party in our current house and we made full use of our gigantic back yard.

The 7th Birthday Little Big Planet Party. In which he helped me make his birthday cake using a recipe that apparently all French children learn to bake cakes with. Which we then decorated with blue and green frosting in an attempt to make it look sort of like Earth. The kids made their own Sackboys and played lots of video games.

The 8th Birthday Doctor Who Party. Which I might have been more excited about than anyone else. I worked magic on invitations, I made TARDIS goodie bags and bought blue everything.

But now he’s turning Eleven.

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No, not that kind Eleven. Just the oh so grown up, this doesn’t really include you mom kind of Eleven. This year there is no theme except “we will play video games as late as humanly possible and maybe watch a movie and I want cake.” Hopefully I’m allowed in the room for some of it.

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Here are my ingredients for a sleepover for eleven year old boys:

  • Walking tacos – small bags of Doritos with taco fixings tossed on top and a salad so I feel like a mother.
  •  The most chocolatey of chocolate cakes – and I might put cherry pie filling between the cake layers because I’m craving cherries.
  • My step mom’s rotel cheese dip – with tortilla chips and probably some salsa, too.
  • Paper plates and napkins – actual color / pattern to be determined aka doesn’t matter.
  • Video games, movies, board games, sleeping bags, go away mom.

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PS: I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop today. One of her prompts this week was a post inspired by the word party and well… yeah. Let me know if you are playing along on your blog. It’s a lot of fun and there are multiple writing prompts to choose from so even if you don’t have parties on the brain, she can hook you up.

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Book Review: The Crown by Kiera Cass

26074181The Crown by Kiera Cass (The Selection #5)

Page Count: 278

Published: May 3rd 2016

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Note: If you are new to this series, make sure you start at the beginning: The Selection by Kiera Cass is where it all began. If you haven’t read the other books yet, I don’t recommend reading this review because spoilers.

You have been warned.


I hummed and hawed a long time before finally picking up the final book in The Selection series. I know I am not alone in my disappointment with book four, The Heir. How the daughter of America and Maxon could be so unlikeable was shocking. I think I actually took the blow of Eadlyn’s personality flaws better than a lot of readers, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to read book 5 if there wasn’t going to be a lot of character growth, you know? So I put it off.

But this series is so addictive and I really wanted to know how it all turned out and eventually I fell into one of those reading slumps that can only be cured by a favorite fluffy series. A series that pulls you in and owns you until the last page. The Selection has always fit that bill.

I was so relieved to find that The Crown totally delivers that character growth that Eadlyn desperately needed. She comes out of her comfort zone, grows up a lot and even falls in love.

And here’s the honest truth: I think we all have a tendency to be a little self absorbed and oblivious to the actual world around us, especially as teenagers. And usually we grow out of it and start to notice the needs and feelings of the rest of the world. Eadlyn just happened to be extremely self absorbed and grew up in a life designed to spoil her and coddle those tendencies. So let’s be real – she’s pretty normal. She just lives in the spotlight and you know how we love to judge people in the spotlight.

If anything, this character flaw made for an extremely satisfying reading experience for the last book as we get to see her grow and mature when the stakes are high and blossom into a pretty awesome person. Add to this some family drama, some political intrigue and even better: a love story.

So if you are also sitting on the fence with this one, allow me to reassure you: it’s worth the read! 

The Goodreads Book Tag.

I saw this Goodreads Book Tag over at A Book. A Thought and couldn’t resist playing along. I’ve been a Goodreads user since 2008 – that’s so long ago that I can’t quite remember not being a member (you can friend me here).

If you’ve never heard of them, it’s an online book community where you can keep a list of the books you are reading or want to read and connect with other book lovers and see what they are reading. They also have book giveaways, discussion groups, reading challenges and lots of other fun features.

Anyway, here is the book tag, all about your reading habits as viewed from your Goodreads.com Profile.


Copia de SPRINGTIME (2)


What was the last book you marked as ‘read’?

The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of HyggeThe Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg

Great concept, kind of average book. I love the idea of hygge and enjoyed reading more about it but I found the book to be longer than it needed to be to get its point across. It almost could have existed as a short series of blog posts, but I did enjoy reading it and it was a short read, so I can’t complain too much. My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What are you ‘currently reading’?

currentlyreading

I actually have five books marked as ‘currently reading’ right now but I’ll be honest, I’m not actively reading all of them.

I was reading A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle last summer during swim lessons and the book is still in my beach bag waiting for pool-side reading time. I know I could have taken it out and kept reading it but I really enjoyed saving it as a book that only exists at the pool if that makes any sense.

My book club will be discussing The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson next month and I started reading it a couple of days ago because I anticipate it taking me awhile to get through. It’s nonfiction written in a more narrative style but his last book I still found a little “school history book” at times and struggled with. This one is better so far and the subject matter has me extremely intrigued so that will probably help.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Roseblood by A.G. Howard are both books that I was basically halfway done with when I had to put them down for book club picks of previous months and for some reason I’ve had a hard time getting back into them now even though they are both very good books. I’m at a weird place with both of them in that I’m too far in to start over but it’s been long enough that the spell has worn off and I can’t just ease back in. We are at an impasse, you could say.

I’m not really reading A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallard yet – I opened it on my kindle today because I remembered I’d bought it on sale awhile back when I noticed a friend was reading it and I got excited and wanted to read the first few pages to decide if it should be my next read (answer: quite likely).

What was the last book you marked as ‘to read’?

26245850Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, it was one of the books from the Book of the Month Club awhile ago and while I didn’t choose it as “my book” – I was interested in possibly reading it at some point. Here’s a description of the book:

“On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.”

Interesting to note, there are only 27 books in my “to-read” folder. I seem to use Amazon to organize my future reading goals / wish list and Goodreads to organize what I’m currently reading and what I finish / reviews of the books I read.

What book do you plan to read next?

27833670I’m hoping to get to at least one of the books I listed as “currently reading” that I haven’t finished yet, likely Roseblood or A Study in Charlotte. In May, my book club will be discussing Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, a kind of science fiction thriller about a man named Jason who wakes up to discover that his life is not the one he remembered as his own. “His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.” He has to figure out which world is the real one and what he can even do about it.

Do you use the star rating system?

Definitely, my average rating is 4.22. Most books that I really enjoy get a 4 star rating. Books I liked but found some flaws with get a 3. Books that I feel the need to squeal about to strangers get a 5. I think you can guess what books get a 2 or 1.

Are you doing a reading challenge?

Yes, I’ve been doing them for several years now. I’m a bookworm with limited reading time and tend to read around 20-30 books a year. I only challenged myself to 30 this year – I tried to shoot for 50 last year and didn’t come close. I much prefer setting goals that seem reachable and feeling way too proud of myself when I reach them. 30 will still be a push for me though as I average 2 books per month. I’ve read 5 books this years so far which puts me 2 books behind schedule.

Do you have a wishlist?

Not on goodreads, I keep my wish list on Amazon and I price watch it like a hawk because kindle editions are prone to popping up on sale for $1.99 all the time. It’s not often that it’s a book on my wish list, but it happens often enough that I’ve started saving all of the books I want under their kindle edition so I can quickly scan the list for big sales.

What book do you plan to buy next?

513pp8o3c2l-_sx354_bo1204203200_I don’t have any planned book purchases right now but the three that I’m probably most anxious for are actually all celeb memoirs that came out recently. I’m itching to read Carrie Fisher’s last book, The Princess Diarist. Lauren Graham and Anna Kendrick both wrote books recently as well that I’m eager to own a copy of. I also really want to get the graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle for the whole family.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
― Groucho Marx, The Essential Groucho: Writings For By And About Groucho Marx

“Her majesty is one verb short of a sentence.”
― Jasper Fforde, Lost in a Good Book

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Stories

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

“Never give us what we really want. Cut the dream into pieces and scatter them like ashes. Dole out the empty promises. Package our aspirations and sell them to us, cheaply made enough to fall apart.”
― Scott Westerfeld, So Yesterday

 

Who are your favorite authors?

My list of favorites on goodreads.com is kind of massive so I’m not going to share the whole thing. Some stand outs worth mentioning are (see the whole list here):

Marissa Meyer

Rainbow Rowell

Lisa Lutz

Jasper Fforde

 

Jane Austen

 

 

Stephanie Meyer

Scott Westerfeld

J.K. Rowling

Have you joined any groups?

I’m in 6 groups but I’m not terribly active in any of them if we’re going to be honest. Some of them were specific groups for an author I love, some are more open ended like the What Should I Read Next? group.

Do you think Goodreads could do better?

There’s always room for improvement. I wish they were slightly better integrated with Amazon – I’d love for all of my shelves on goodreads.com to appear on my kindle and vice versa. I’ve also found that sometimes the pages load pretty slowly compared to other websites. And I agree with A Book. A Thought. – half stars would be amazing!

Do you use goodreads? If you fill out the tag on your blog, let me know so I can check out your answers!