Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Five

I didn't do much online shopping - or browsing- this week. I've been fairly busy at work, and have had something every single night after work, too.  However, even when I don't do a lot of browsing, it seems I am capable of finding things I'd love to spend money on.

This Tunic at the Gap reminds me of an old rugby shirt I had from JCrew when I was in college. I loved that shirt, despite the fact that my husband couldn't stand it, and held on to it long after I wore it.  I would love to have this to add to my wardrobe for spring, even though I am pretty sure my husband would say the same things about this shirt that he said about my JCrew one.

Gap Tunic - The Gap must be where it's at, because I've seen quite a few things I like online. I feel like this one would work well with jeans, capris, or dress pants.  It might be a tad too long for me, but it's still on my list.

Mystique Tank - Title Nine is one of my favorite catalogs, yet I hardly ever order from them.  I need to change that - as soon as I pay off our kitchen remodel.  I love this tank, especially since I don't like low cut or plunging necklines on my workout attire.  Since the weather is heating up, this would be great for summer workouts.

 Despite the fact that spring is one it's way, this Rose Reverie Cardigan from Sundance seems like a great spring wardrobe addition. I love how the model is wearing it with a striped tshirt underneath.  And even better, this one is on sale for just $49.

I had a library meeting at work earlier this week.  We did a bit of sharing of fun items, and this Kid Snippets Library youtube video was a hit.  I think I'll be sharing it with my upper grade students next week.

That's it for this week. What's caught your eye?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Where They Found Her

Kimberly McCreight's second novel, Where They Found Her, opens with someone getting rid of evidence.  Although at first it isn't revealed what is being thrown away, it soon becomes obvious.

Someone has left a newborn baby in a small creek near a local college.  Molly is asked to cover the story, and although she is still grieving the loss of her own baby who was stillborn, she eagerly takes this chance to further her career.

Several people narrate various chapters, and at first the many ways characters were connected with each other was confusing, but it is truly the way small town life works. 

Sandy is searching for her mother, Jenna, who has disappeared.  Jenna has never been reliable, but after Sandy checks everywhere, she decides to go to the police, risking a possible foster care placement for herself.  When she tells the chief of police, Steve, her mother's name, she can tell by his reaction that there is something he isn't telling her.  

Barb and Steve have two children, Cole and Hannah.  Steve spends most of his time at work, while Barb raises the children.  Her demanding and unhappy personality truly show through as the novel unfolds.

Meanwhile, Molly is trying to uncover who may have left a newborn in the creek.

McCreight's story has many twists and turns, and even as I thought I had things figured out, I was surprised by developments. And somehow, all the characters and pieces come together nicely and believably into a believable resolution.

This is a novel I couldn't put down, and read in just one sitting.  Suspenseful, enjoyable and totally engrossing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick: The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster
Due out: August 4, 2015

Product Information taken from Amazon:

Bridesmaids meets The In-Laws in a novel told from the alternating perspectives of two women who define the term frenemies—from New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster.

Jacqueline Jordan knows conflict. A fearless journalist, she’s spent the past decade embedded in the world’s hot spots, writing about the fall of nations and the rise of despots. But if you were to inquire about who topped Jack’s enemy list, she’d not hesitate to answer: Kitty Carricoe.

Kitty reigns supreme over the world of carpools and minivans. A SAHM, she spends her days caring for her dentist husband and three towheaded children, running the PTA, and hiding vegetables in deceptively delicious packed lunches.

Kitty and Jack haven’t a single thing in common—except for Sarabeth Chandler, their mutual bestie. Sarabeth and Jack can be tomboys with the best of them, while Sarabeth can get her girly-girl on with Kitty. In fact, the three of them were college friends until the notorious frat party incident, when Jack accidentally hooked up with Kitty’s boyfriend…

Yet both women drop everything and rush to Sarabeth’s side when they get the call that her fabulously wealthy husband has perished in a suspicious boating accident. To solve the mystery surrounding his death, Jack and Kitty must bury the hatchet and hit the road for a trip that just may bring them together—if it doesn’t kill them first.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blast From the Past

A decade ago there were a lot of good books I enjoyed in March.  Here are a few of the highlights:

1.  Center of Winter by Marya Hornbacher- a story of a father's suicide, narrated by his family, the people impacted by his choice to leave them.

2.  The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin - a non-fiction account of the blizzard of 1888, which killed several children and adults who came to the prairie hopeful to start life anew.

3.  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls - Walls' upbringing was extremely unconventional, and she recounts her childhood in this memoir.

4.  Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld- Sittenfeld's novels are some of my favorites. Prep centers around the school drama of a group of girls

5.  The World Still Melting by Robley Wilson - despite some mediocre ratings on Goodreads, this books is one I think about often.  Wilson, a former professor at a nearby university, has set his novel in a nearby town. Despite the change of names, I was fascinated to discover the real locations to which he refers, and loved the plot (developed from an actual crime that occurred).

How about you? What were you reading ten years ago? Five?  Have you enjoyed any of these books?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives

Gretchen Rubin is probably my favorite author of self-help books.  I loved The Happiness Project. I loved Happier at Home and now I absolutely love Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives.

Rubin has begun to feel a bit like a friend.  As she writes about her family, I found myself thinking, "oh, yeah, that's right....Jamie (her husband) does have health problems." "Are her girls really that old already?"  I feel like Rubin and I are catching up.

This time Rubin sets out to write about our habits. Although I view myself as a creature of habit, I am guessing that people who are not will still relate to this book.  

In fact Rubin is able to divide people into categories based on their behavior.  Although I wasn't ever sure I fell firmly into any one category, I could then see how Rubin counseled each category of people to be the most successful in accomplishing their goals and helping them develop habits that were helpful to them.

Rubin's book reads much like her previous self help books. I appreciate the variety of friends and family she shares with readers, which gives a more well rounded view of the topic of which she writes.

I finished this book a few weeks ago, and felt it spoke directly to me.  My mom is now reading it, and after she is done, I would like to pick it up again. I rarely re-read books, but Rubin's Better Than Before is one book I feel that I could turn to time and time again and always find something new to learn.

I can't wait until this one is released in a few days, and I'm already looking ahead to what topic Rubin will tackle next.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Salon

I'm so excited that today is March 1, which means spring must be right around the corner. Another sign of spring is the local ice cream store opened yesterday. After the girls cleaned their room, we visited it as a treat.

Little Sister and her friend

I am enjoying a three day weekend since I had two nights of conferences last week at school.

On Friday Big Sister had surgery on a six year molar that never erupted.  The shot in the roof of her mouth was not a big hit, but I think the soreness and swelling are not much fun, either.  The goal is that by removing the gum covering this tooth, it will now erupt. If it doesn't there may be another surgery to remove it since they are worried the root will grow around her jaw.  This is just peanuts compared to chemotherapy and all the other stuff she has been through, but it still isn't much fun, and may be one of the late effects of the drugs she was given.

So, our weekend has been low-key with quite a bit of cleaning involved.

I did do a bit of reading, a bit of running, and also a bit of lesson planning.

Today I am hoping for more of the same.  I have enough leftovers to get us through today, and a few easy meals ready for supper this week.

At church today we celebrated three baptisms this year with a baby blessings reception.  I couldn't help but take a picture of the cake which I am still a little bit intrigued by. Very odd.

Despite the fact that there were three naked babies on the cake, my girls managed to eat plenty of it.

I'm off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, too.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Five

I've had my Friday Five picks ready to go since midweek. And, I could have added many more than five things this week.  These are the highlights:

Gap Scarf - I feel like the daisies make the scarf look spring-like, yet I love the color combo, which isn't the traditional yellow. I'm still waiting for this to go on sale.

Bat Wing Top - from Dress Lily.  I ended up ordering this top, which cost me all of $11 including shipping. I love how it looks on the model, and am hoping I like it as much when I have my own.  At least since I only have $11 invested, I won't be totally upset if this gets handed down to someone else.

Athleta Top - I like the bright color of this top, which is now marked down to $34.99.  I'm not sure yellow is my color, since I am more pale than not, but it would definitely perk my exercise wardrobe up.

Pendant necklace - If there is one item I would buy from this Friday's Five, this pendant necklace from Nordstrom, is my choice hands down. It's not super expensive, and I could wear it with nearly everything.

Brianna Knight Dress from Garnet Hill - I told my mom I liked this dress and wanted her to see it.  She texted back that it was very dotty and had a low cut neckline. So.....I still like this dress, but would like it better if I had a different body. I bought a great navy blue dress years ago now that is pretty standard. I think it is perhaps the only dress I own, and would like to update this a bit.  I'm just going to have to keep my eyes open for a good replacement.

What things have caught your eye this week?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting

After hearing my youngest daughter carry on this morning about wanting more Shopkins, More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting by Serena Miller
has been a very timely read.

Serena Miller is not Amish, but has Amish friends and has close ties with the Amish community near where she lives.  In her interactions with them, she often marveled at how well behaved the Amish children were, and also how happy.

After talking with a variety of Amish parents, there are a few things that stick out:

* The Amish are taught to think of others first.  Their own happiness is secondary, and grow up seeing their parents put others' needs before their own.

* The Amish don't focus on material possessions, and the absence of television helps in freeing them of the desire to want for things. They are happy spending time together and can find ways to entertain themselves.

*The Amish children Miller observed ate whatever was served at meal times.  The parents also eat whatever is served, without criticizing or expressing their dislike for any food. They are also a part of daily food preparation, and as I have noticed with my own children, if they help fix the food, are more likely to eat it themselves.

* Amish children understand that they are expected to obey their parents.  Parents are firm in their discipline, and expect their children to do what they say.

* There is a lot of good, common sense advice in this book. There are several little tips that I wish I had known years ago when my children were younger.  And, unfortunately, there are no "do-overs" in parenting.  I loved Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, but More Than Happy by Serena Miller is more applicable to my own life and child-rearing philosophies. This is a parenting book that every parent needs to read.

Read Alikes: 
Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick:  The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna
Due out: June 2, 2015

Product Description taken from Amazon:

A memorable coming-of-age story and love story, laced with suspense, which explores a hidden side of the home front during World War II, when German POWs were put to work in a Wisconsin farm community . . . with dark and unexpected consequences

The war has taken a toll on the Christiansen family. With food rationed and money scarce, Charlotte struggles to keep her family well fed. Her teenage daughter, Kate, raises rabbits to earn money for college and dreams of becoming a writer. Her husband, Thomas, struggles to keep the farm going while their son, and most of the other local men, are fighting in Europe.

When their upcoming cherry harvest is threatened, strong-willed Charlotte helps persuade local authorities to allow German war prisoners from a nearby camp to pick the fruit.

But when Thomas befriends one of the prisoners, a teacher named Karl, and invites him to tutor Kate, the implications of Charlotte’s decision become apparent—especially when she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to Karl. So busy are they with the prisoners that Charlotte and Thomas fail to see that Kate is becoming a young woman, with dreams and temptations of her own—including a secret romance with the son of a wealthy, war-profiteering senator. And when their beloved Ben returns home, bitter and injured, bearing an intense hatred of Germans, Charlotte’s secrets threaten to explode their world.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


This past weekend I was hunkered down on the top bleacher of an all day volleyball tournament for Middle Sister.  Usually I sit with the other parents, but I had brought along a few books to read, and once I started Her by Harriet Lane, I didn't need anyone else around.  I was totally entertained.

Emma and Nina take turns narrating this story.  Emma's life centers around her chidren, both still toddlers, which at times seems overwhelming.

Nina has one daughter, Sophie, from her first marriage, and presents herself as fashionable, a bit above Emma's social class.

And yet, Nina continues to watch Emma from afar, insinuating herself into Emma's life.  

Her intentions appear good on the surface, but there is more to Nina than what we initially see.  It is obvious that Nina knows Emma from years ago, but while Nina recognizes Emma, Emma has no idea at all that she has once met Nina.

One of my friends suggested that Emma is perhaps a bit self-absorbed, which I at first attributed to her status as a young mother, but after a few days of thinking about these characters, feel that Emma's self absorption has always been a part of her character.

It seems that Nina is always there to help out - when Emma loses her wallet, she finds it and returns it. She stands in for her daughter and babysits for Emma's children so Emma and her husband can have a night out together.

And yet, there is always something a bit sinister and devious that lies just underneath everything Nina does.

I had been warned prior to reading Her that the last three pages were infuriating.  However, I didn't find them that way at all.  I was wishing for more resolution than what is given, yet there is a certain skill to creating a novel that ends with such a question mark that readers are eager to discuss what each of them envisions the ending to be.

And, as I thought a bit about this novel, I couldn't find any ending more appropriate than the one Lane chose to write.

This is a good book club selection and will provide plenty of talking points to start a discussion.

Read Alikes:  Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes