Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday Salon: Vacation 2016

We've been gone the past week on vacation which was both busy and fun.  

Since a picture's worth a thousand words, I'm sharing vacation pictures of the highlights of our trip.

We started out in St. Louis, Missouri, taking a trip to the top of the Arch

Next up: City Museum in St. Louis, a hot 1.2 mile walk in 95 degree weather from our hotel.

And if we weren't hot enough already, we had seats facing the sun at a Cardinals game that evening.

Anheuser-Busch Tour on Tuesday morning:

After time on the road, we met up with our friends in the house we rented together in Nashville.  Their four kids and our three picked up right where they left off last summer in North Carolina, with board games.

Breakfast the next morning at Pancake Pantry was definitely worth waking up early for.

When in Nashville.... our visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame. There isn't a country music fan in the bunch of us, but we do know more country music than we thought....

with Taylor Swift's outfits

A stop at the Parthenon and a game of Ultimate Frisbee

Ann Patchett's book store, Parnassus, where we spent part of an afternoon.

Andrew Jackson's house The Hermitage. All the kids are listening to the audio tour and trying to keep cool

Ice cream at Jeni's....I wish we had one close to us.

Reese Witherspoon's store, Draper James.  Sarah and I made quick trip while the kids were swimming with the husbands

And there was even time to relax for a while

Our last night in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry.

We spent much of yesterday in the van driving home (I got in some quality reading time), and tomorrow it is back to reality.

We're already planning on meeting up next summer for a vacation.  We had a great week with lots of memories being made.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Five

We're in Nashville this week with friends on vacation and having a great time.  I found a few things online to share before we left.

1.  Bold Top - I ordered this shirt for my first day back to school.  After spending my life in education, I still want something new to wear on my first day back.

2.  Girls on the Go Wrap It Up Top - this top from Eddie Bauer is another one I'm wanting for fall. I'm waiting until it goes on sale.

3.  Gap Women Long Sleeve Eyelet Top - I have always loved eyelet, but don't have any in my wardrobe currently.

4.  1969 Denim Western Shirt - I ordered the short sleeve version of this in the spring, and love it. I'm almost certain that I need this.

5.  Chaco Sandals - I've been wearing the same pair of Tevas for years now and they are truly worn out. These would be a nice upgrade.

6.  A Happy Third Birthday to Prince George! Four birthday photos were released and he is just getting cuter, it seems.

What's caught your eye this week?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

TLC Blog Tour: Lift:

TLC Book Tours has been generous in providing me so many great books to read.  I am always excited to get a package in the mail, and Lift: Fitness Culture, from Naked Greeks and Acrobats to Jazzercise and Ninja Warriors is fantastic look at the history of exercise and fitness that brings us through history to the present day.

Lift brings back memories of the time in my life before I became a teacher. My bachelor's degree is in Fitness Management, a degree that combined science classes like kinesiology and cardiophysiology with business classes so that students would be able to run a corporate fitness program. As companies faced hard times financially, those corporate fitness programs dried up - right about the same time I was graduating and looking for a job.  

Obviously  I chose a different path to pursue, but my interest in exercise and fitness has endured (even when I find myself not very excited about my own work-out). 

Nowhere in my classes did I learn about the history of exercise, so Lift was especially interesting.  I don't have a great interest in Greek history, but the background that is given in this book isn't overwhelming and explains how athletes were perceived and how they trained.  

The portion of Lift that deals more with our recent history is of more interest to me than the first part of the book. However, I appreciate that first portion and the research done about the Greeks because it does give a better overall picture of this culture.

I can better appreciate the different rationales behind exercising. Weight loss? Performance?  Longevity of life?  Each plays a part in why people exercise.  

In just my lifetime alone we have seen a shift in exercise. Women can now lift heavy weights where it was once discouraged.  Exercise machines were popular, but are now less encouraged since a machine restricts movement, and cross fit has become the go-to workout.

These time periods are explained and recalled in Lift which really was a fantastic look at the reasons we exercise - and proved a very interesting book to read while running on the treadmill.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Three Blond Mice

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that highlights soon to be released titles we can't wait to read.

This week's pick:  Three Blond Mice by Jane Green
Due out: August 2, 2016

In bestselling author Jane Heller’s wild and hilarious novel of romantic comedy and suspense, three friends go on a cooking excursion with a famous chef, only to discover one of their classmates is very keen on practicing knife technique. The long-awaited sequel to Heller’s much-loved novel Princess Charming

Elaine Zimmerman and her best friends Jackie Gault and Pat Kovecky venture to a farm in Litchfield, Connecticut. It’s been over a year since their last trip together, a Caribbean cruise aboard the Princess Charming, and after dealing with a murderous ex and his hit man, they’re yearning for a no-drama vacation this time. During their Cultivate Our Bounty Week, they and eight other guests will learn how to cook farm-to-table meals with Whitley’s artisan-in-residence, a renowned TV/restaurant chef named Jason Hill. Elaine, the jaded, neurotic narrator, is less than thrilled—especially because the program wasn’t supposed to include a surprise appearance by her former boyfriend Simon, who’s still the love of her life but can’t commit to her. What’s more, after milking a cow and making cheese, she stumbles on evidence that one of her fellow agritourists is out to murder Chef Hill at the resort’s Bounty Fest finale. 

Is the killer among the freakishly fit Manhattan couple who takes their devotion to organic, hormone-free, non-GMO food to the point of obsession? The grandmother from Wisconsin who’s a groupie of the celebrity chef and follows him to every event? The mother and son from Palm Beach who bicker over whether he should give up his law practice to open his own restaurant? Three Blonde Mice serves up a crackling romance between Elaine and Simon, a twisty whodunit involving a screwball cast of suspects and a satire of current food fads and the farm-to-table chefs who perpetuate them. 

TLC: The Runaway Wife

The Runaway Wife is a fun read - fast and although it could be deemed realistic fiction, there is enough unbelievability in this novel to make it seem not quite realistic.

Jim and a friend go hiking in the Swiss Alps. At dinner one night the men meet three sisters who ask for their help in rescuing their mother, who has run away from her "real life" as her husband seeks the presidency in France and it is revealed that he has had an affair.

Jim agrees to help out, although their mother may not want to be rescued.

This is a slim novel that is easily read in one sitting.  Although I'm not a fan of the cover, I loved the Swiss Alps setting and the description that is given for this place.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It's Time For A Jane Green Novel

There are some authors that publish very regularly.  As a person who doesn't like surprises, I can appreciate that.  Jane Green is an author I can count on to release a book every spring/summer that satisfies the women's fiction reader in me.

Some books are more enjoyable than others, but Green is an author I can count on and enjoy.

In Falling, Emma has relocated once from England to New York to pursue a career. Now Emma realizes that a life filled with work isn't exactly what she wants, either.  She moves once again to a small town in Connecticut with no firm plans but a few ideas.

She rents a house from Dominic, a single dad who happens to live right next door.  

At this point you can probably see where this is going. and you wouldn't be wrong.  If you are hoping for a novel with lots of twists and turns and surprises, Falling is not for you.  

However, the path to happiness does not go in a straight line, and Green throws many challenges at Dominic and Emma, some of which they can overcome. 

I enjoyed Falling, and I enjoy the familiarity of an author I read often and whose work I am familiar with.

I'll keep reading Jane Green as long as she keeps writing.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Family Of Readers: A Book Club Is Born

A few weeks ago I shared here what my family was reading.  We've had a pretty good summer of reading so far -and I'm hoping it continues.

Everyone has finished up what they were reading before and moved on to other things.

But the most exciting thing on the reading front is the start of Little Sister's book club with some friends.

A few weeks ago another mother contacted me wanting some help on starting a book club.  Her oldest daughter and my youngest daughter will both be starting fourth grade in the fall, and before the summer slips away from us we met to get a few things organized.

The book club met twice so far, and we are off to a good start.  Before we actually saw the girls and discussed anything, there were a few things we lined up.

First, we (and by this I mean the other mother, Mandy), had to get a few things organized.  

I gathered a stack of books together that might be possible selections for the girls to read.

We looked over our options, made our selections, and tried to pick from a variety of genres.

Mandy created fliers to send to a group of girls. Both our daughters picked four friends we thought might enjoy participating and we spent time delivering the invitations.

Since the books were listed on the fliers, each girl was responsible for finding their own book and having it read before we met to discuss.

Mandy is hosting the book club each week and preparing an art/craft activity for the girls to do related to the book.

Our first week we read The Candy Touch and the girls used candy molds and melted chocolates to create their own candy.

Last week we discussed I Survived the Hindenburg Disaster, 1937. The activity was painting using a watercolors and salt which created a chemical reaction.

I am in charge of the discussion.  As the girls work on their activity, I ask questions that I hope are open enough and lend themselves to discussion.  Some girls are taking turns making quiz questions for the books, with each girl to answer correctly getting a sucker as a treat.  

I'm loving this little group. My older daughters have each come once and beg to get to come along.  This makes me feel incredibly guilty that I didn't start something like this when they were this age, and I probably missed the boat on a book club for them. 

Although we only have two more book club selections planned (The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and So B. It by Sarah Weeks), I am hoping that the girls enjoy it enough that this is something we continue once school resumes.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Time for Vacation

We're heading off on our vacation today.  We'll spend a couple of days in St. Louis and then head to Nashville, Tennessee, where we are meeting some friends.

My biggest concern is which books I should take along. I've brought several because I never know what type of mood I'll be in.  

I've got posts lined up for most of the week and my computer will be packed to take with us as well.

We've been looking forward to this trip all summer and hope to make many memories.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Five

Just in case you noticed, there was no Friday Five post last week. I spent the morning getting my oil changed in our van, and after sitting around for two hours watching the coverage of the police shooting in Dallas, I just didn't have the heart to come home and look at things online.

I've tried to redeem myself by sharing ten items this week.

1.  Slip on Sneakers  - The teacher in me would love these because I know my students would thoroughly enjoy seeing these every day.  Who wouldn't want some glitter shoes?  There are some other designs as well that aren't quite to sparkly.

2.  Eyelet Dunes Tank - I just think you can never go wrong with Athleta.  This tank is super cute.

3.  Ruffle Front Shirt - my oldest daughter is unimpressed with this shirt, but I feel like  could wear it under a jacket or by itself to work.  Or with jeans.  

Ruffled-Front Shirt

4.  When In Doubt T - Out of Print Tees has some cute Ts. This one is new. As a librarian and someone who checks out hundreds of book, I NEED this shirt.

5.  Crop Kick Pants- Gap has these new crop pants out for fall. I think they are super cute, but don't have any boots with heels to wear them with.  I'll be watching these online for a while.

6. Released Hem Distressed Skinny Jeans - what I really want is a pair of gray jeans.  These are from Nordstrom, and even though I'm not sure skinny jeans are for me, I think they're cute.

7.  Cicely Heel - if I had a job that didn't involve young children, these would be great shoes.  However, I'm more to the wanting to be comfortable stage of the game at this point. These are on sale at Boden if you're interested.

8.  Minimalist Bucket Bag - I love the look of this bag.  It's $230 right now, but it seems that any good purse is going to cost some money. I guess you can look at it as an investment.

9.  Outdoor Pillow - I don't really have a need for outdoor pillows, but if I did, this one caught my eye at Target last week. I love bike themed things.

Outdoor Pillow - Bicycle - Threshold™. Image 1 of 2.

10.  Pokemon Go - Is this all the rage anywhere besides Iowa? Seriously.  My daughters are refusing to download it, but most of their friends keep talking about playing it.  Some of them until 2 AM.

That's it for this week. What did you find that's caught your eye?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

TLC: Triumphs and Trials of Golf's Greatest Champions

I grew up around the game of golf. We lived on a farm in a small rural community, but my dad had a membership to the nearest golf course that he used often.  And although we weren't regular golfers ourselves as children, we accompanied him from time to time and our television was often tuned to any type of tournament that was carried by the station.

Trials and Triumphs of Golf's Greatest Champions was like a visit with some long lost friends. Names I haven't heard in years popped up with great regularity, and I recall my dad telling me tidbits about various golfers in my childhood.

"Golf is the closest game to the game of life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots - but you have to play the game where it lies," OB Keeler a famed golf writer states.  This is the first sentence of Trials and Triumphs and captures the tone of the book perfectly.  

Seven different golfers are featured in this book: Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Charlie Sifford, Ken Venturi, and Bruce Edwards.  Each one of them achieved greatness in their sport.  But each one of them struggled as well.  From Babe Didrikson's cancer diagnosis and treatment to Ken Venturi's stutter and Ben Hogan's near fatal car crash, Trials and Triumphs explores the highs and lows of each athlete.

I was fascinated to learn more about each golfer and inspired as well by the way they carried on and persevered.  While this book initially interested me because of it's focus on the sport of golf, these are great stories on amazing athletes that can be enjoyed by anyone.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing me a copy of this book to review.  All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.