Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday Five: It's Black Friday

It's Black Friday!  I spent some time online looking at some great deals yesterday and feel like my Christmas shopping is pretty well complete.  The dangerous thing about online shopping is all the great deals I find for myself.  It's almost like my Christmas has come early.  

Here are just a few of the cool things that have caught my eye.

1.  Northern Lights Jeweled Trees

I love looking through the Sundance Catalog, but it is a rare event that I order from them. These trees are beautiful and range from $48-$68 and I would leave them out all year round here.  

2.  Billabong Indian Summer Cardigan

This picture doesn't do this sweater justice.  My friend Jamie had this on last weekend when I saw her.  I loved it. She is a great dresser, anyway, so I like everything she puts together.  

3.  Way back in the early 90's, Sisters was a go-to show for a group of us at college. I gave up checking to see if it was out on DVD, but just recently came across it.  I'm not sure this show would stand the test of time or not, but it reminds me of my twenty year old self.

4. Colorblock Poncho

I love this poncho and should have bought it yesterday when Loft was having their 50% off sale. It's 40% off today, which isn't bad, but is probably going to prevent me from ordering it. That and the fact that I've spent a lot of money already.

5.  Crystal Ribbon Necklace

My oldest daughter is very tricky to buy for right now. She wants clothes which is normal for a fourteen year old. But she also doesn't want only clothes. I've decided to purchase a few nicer pieces of jewelry for her.  This necklace was 50% off at Loft yesterday and will go well with they gray sweater dress she picked out.

6.  Factory Channeled Puffer Vest

I already featured this vest a few months ago, but not instead of costing $98 it is marked down to $39, which is more my speed.  I still haven't ordered it, but I'm definitely thinking about it.

And, I'm off to check out some more bargains.  I'd love to get my shopping finished up as I sit on the couch!

What have you found this week?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick: Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
Due out: April 26, 2016

Product Description taken from Amazon:

From the “wickedly entertaining” (USA Today) Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife, comes a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Equal parts homage to Jane Austen and bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.
This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.
Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.
Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . 
And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.
Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible both honors and updates Austen’s beloved tale. Tackling gender, class, courtship, and family, Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

Sunshine and her mother have just moved to Washington, where the weather is always rainy and gloomy.  Almost from the moment they arrive, Sunshine finds their home to be depressing and gloomy as well.  And it has a constant odor of mildew.

Sunshine's mom is busy with her new job, and doesn't see things the same ways as her daughter.

And when Sunshine hears a girl laughing, or comes home to find every game she owns strewn around her bedroom, she knows her mother won't believe her.

The ghost she thinks she hears is that of a ten year old girl who died in the house along with her father.  And Sunshine's art teacher was the the girl's mother. 

As the story unfolds Sunshine realizes she has some special powers that she must use - to save her mom, her first friend in her new home, and to help the ghost girl find peace.

I liked this book.  And I'm excited to think that readers will be getting to read more about Sunshine.  But as I tried to describe the book to others, I felt a little silly. I'm not much into vampires, zombies, or any paranormal type of stuff.  As I was describing I couldn't help but feel sort of ridiculous.  However, this story worked for me. And it kept my attention. There was suspense that kept me guessing. There was a love interest that was sweet- and tame enough for tween readers.  

If you have readers who are looking for scary books - and this is definitely one I'll be giving to them.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nonfiction November

Despite the fact that I'm a little late to the party to participate in NonFiction November - heck, I almost missed the party entirely, I still wanted to post at least once for the month and focus on some great non-fiction books.

As I've gotten older my non-fiction reading has really started to take off. Sometimes I'm noticing that I might have three non-fiction books I'm reading at once.   Like right now.

Today I've been reading One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment by Mei Fong, a non-fiction look at the one child policy in China that will be published in February 2016.  I'm also reading Wide Open World by John Marshall, a memoir of the Marshall family's year they spent volunteering around the world.  And, I'm working my way through Evicted by Matthew Desmond, another book that won't be out until 2016.  

I am loving every single one of them.

But truly, if I were asked to recommend some amazing non-fiction books to friends, these are some of my top picks of the year.  (That is pretty incredible that I'm only recommending books from this year . I really should go back further since there are non-fiction books I read long ago that I still think about).

The Smarest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley

A look at education in America, Ripley follows the paths of three American teenagers who go overseas for a year in their education.  I'm an educator and loved this book, but I've had non-educator friends read it and also exclaim how this is a must read.

More Than Happy: The Widsom of Amish Parenting by Serena B Miller and Paul Stutzman

I love good parenting books and this look at parenting from the Amish perspective provides some great common sense advice on raising happy children who are good workers and have a strong sense of family.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Stevenson works as a lawyer working to overturn wrongful death row convictions.  He is able to share stories of many people wrongly convicted and gives evidence showing the many flaws in our legal justice system, especially for African Americans and people in poverty.  I think this is a must read.

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy

This book looks at the many young men in Los Angeles who are killed every year without the killers ever being found.  This story focuses on one murder and the detectives assigned to solve the killing. In this case, they will not be satisfied until the killer is brought to justice.

Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by Brian Stelter

I loved this look at morning television, especially reading a little bit more about the Ann Curry/Matt Lauer debacle at NBC.  This was a great book to read while on the treadmill.

In writing this post, I've thought of so many more non-fiction books that I'd like to share, that this is probably not the last I'll be sharing of non-fiction books this month.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Salon: First Snow of the Season

It's beginning to look a lot like winter.....

Friday afternoon we had our first snowfall of the season - 11.5 inches for us here! 

It should melt throughout the week, but the first snowfall was beautiful with big flakes falling all afternoon and into evening. The road weren't great, but since snow didn't really start accumulating until the afternoon, it was a good evening to be stuck at home.  We had a taco dip for supper with tortilla chips and spent the evening reading, watching TV, and hanging out.

Saturday Middle Sister had her first ever Lego League tournament. She loves it, so I am hoping she will want to do it again, even though they her team The Funky Monkeys (yes, they spelled it incorrectly on purpose) didn't do very well.  It was the first time any of them had been in a Lego League competition, and it was a good learning experience.

Today I've been grocery shopping for Thanksgiving, whipped up a batch of taco soup for supper (which is so easy, it hardly counts as cooking), ran four miles, and went to church and taught the middle school Sunday School class.

I'm excited that this upcoming week is only three days long - at least three days of work - and ready for a little time off.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Five

Next week at this time I'll have already had my annual Black Friday shopping experience with my friend Robin, and will be (hopefully) warm and cozy at home enjoying some post Thanksgiving relaxing.  It's impossible to believe that it's already mid-November!

Every week I think I'll have my Friday Five post ready to go long before Friday, but as the week unfolds, and I try to keep my head above water, that just doesn't happen. 

Especially this week with two late nights at work and a book fair to deal with.

However, as the holidays approach I seem to be spending more time browsing online than normal.  

Here are some of my finds from this week:

1.  Multi Color Reindeer Decorative Pillow

I purchased the top pillow and really managed to get a bargain on it.  It was on the clearance table along with all the other identical pillows.  When I inquired at the register what the price was and explained that it was misplaced, the gal gave me the clearance price.  My youngest daughter was with me and could hardly believe our good luck!  Now that we have the top pillow, my daughters would like to get a few more new pillows to have out. I like the holiday pillows at Target a lot right now, and would like to take any of them, but the bottom one is especially catching my eye.


The Loft had some great sales on sweaters yesterday.  When I looked this morning to link it to this post, it appears the sale is over.  Just my luck.  I love all things Fair Isle, so I'm keeping my eye on this in the hopes that Black Friday sales at The Loft will be good.

3.  Criss Cross High Waisted Metro Leggings

I think it was just last year that I shared a post on Facebook that someone had written about how leggings were essentially the same thing as wearing tights in public - and were thus, not clothing, but an undergarment.  And I still believe that. But.....I am ok with people wearing leggings under long tunics or sweaters.  And if I were a legging person, I would get this pair from Athleta.  They are pricey, but I love the quality of their clothing and I feel like there would be enough spandex so that I felt like everything was sucked in (not to overshare)!

4.  Polka Dot Shoulder Button Sweater

As I said before, Loft had an amazing sweater sale yesterday. This one caught my eye, too.  I love sweaters, which is probably the result of living in a climate where sweaters are part of the wardrobe eight months out of the year.

I apologize for the focus on sweaters, but seriously, I had to dig mine out this week since it is getting cold. And seeing what I have to wear makes me want to do some updating.  This would go with pretty much everything I own.

6.  M Gemi Felize Loafers

I will never buy these for myself at $198 a pair, but I love that you can choose the tread and the color and the website is fun to play with.

7.  Women's Under Armour Take a Chance Tank

Exercise clothes are some of my favorite things to buy. This shirt is a little different with the knot in back.  I'm not thinking it would be great if I had to lay on my back and the knot kept digging into my spine but I like how it looks.  And of course, exercising is all about how you look, right?

These are the things that caught my eye this week. What caught yours?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Saving Wonder

Saving Wonder by Mary Knight is set in Appalachia, in the beautiful mountains that are soon going to be destroyed as part of a company's mountaintop removal method for obtaining coal.

Curley has always lived in the mountains and loves them.  His Papaw has always taken care of him after he lost his father and mother and brother.  Each week Papaw gives Curley a new word to learn, knowing that words and education will be his grandson's ticket out of the poor community he lives in.

Each chapter focuses on a different letter of the alphabet and therefore the word of the week that Curley gets from his grandfather.  The word is incorporated into the story and into Curley's dialogue, expertly fitting in with the boy's quest to help keep his home safe from a big company that has moved in and wants to destroy the mountain he calls home.

This was a fantastic debut novel, entirely enjoyable from start to finish.  Mary Knight's story is one I will be encouraging students to check out and teachers to read aloud to their classes.  I can't wait to see what else Knight writes next.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick: The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
Due Out: February 2, 2016

Product Information taken from Goodreads:
Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah's single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now - and life as she knows it stops. 
For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought - I'm not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn't care - something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he's found it.
Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years - and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.
Sharon Guskin has written a captivating, thought-provoking novel that explores what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between. In equal parts a mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, THE FORGETTING TIME marks the debut of a major new talent.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

All The Things We Never Knew: A Timely Book

This past summer I noticed the various friends that were dealing with mental health issues in their families.  Although I had always known that mental illness was more prevalent than many people think, I was still amazed that people I know - people that I talk to when we run into each other- are struggling with mental illness.

All The Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness by Sheila Hamilton is the story of Hamilton and her husband David who suffered from bipolar disorder.  Her story mirrors that of many people who are living with someone who is mentally ill.

As Sheila shares things about their courtship and marriage it is easy to see that David's behavior is often a bit over the top.  Yet, the idea of mental illness isn't the first thought Sheila has when she is trying to deal with David's behavior, holding down a job, and raise their young daughter.  

Sadly, David kills himself just weeks after receiving his diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  

This is a well written memoir that gives voice to those who love someone who is mentally ill.  Hamilton tells her story but she also provides data about mental illness and the way it is treated and diagnosed. 

I've carried this book around with me a few places and as friends have seen what I'm reading and read the synopsis on the back, there has been a lot of interest from them about All The Things We Never Knew.  

I'm glad that Hamilton is courageous enough to tell her story. Her book will reach many people who are living the same nightmare

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mindy Who?

I am not a TV watcher at all, so I'm not sure what exactly possessed me to check out Mindy Kaling's book Why Not Me? aside from the fact that I am seeing it everywhere. 

However, despite knowing absolutely zero about Kaling, I rather enjoyed this book.  She is a funny writer, and I liked hearing about her life.  This is no deep, meaningful memoir, but it is a fun look at this actress and gives me an idea that I would enjoy reading her first book, and would probably enjoy watching her on television.  

So, if you're looking for a celebrity memoir, or something fun to read, Why Not Me? is a great choice.  

And when I finally catch an episode of The Mindy Project, I'll know who I'm watching.