Thursday, June 30, 2016

June Reading Receipt

Six books in June!  The number always goes up in the summer. 

First up was Veronica Mars - The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.

No one loves a good detective series more than I do, so I was hopeful when I heard this one mentioned in a reading podcast I listen to.  I have not watched the series (or maybe it's a movie) on Netflix.  Meh.  I was not impressed.  Veronica Mars is no Kinsey Millhone. (Yes, I realize that's a tall order. But then again, there is only one Sue Grafton.) Towards the end, I was looking forward not to finding out who did it, but to the book being over.

Next came Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams.

This was great.  This title also came up on the podcast I try to catch.  I love hearing about a book I don't know anything about and being so pleasantly surprised -so much so that I plan to check out other books by this author.  Likeable characters, excellent pacing, and a compelling love story, this one had it all.

I shifted into nonfiction next because I had Quiet Power - The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain from the library.  If you are an introvert, have an introverted child, or work with children, this is a must-read.  It was geared towards tweens/teens, but I appreciated the fact that Cain saw the need to write a book like this after Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.  I wrote a longer post about that book that you can read here if you haven't checked that one out yet.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica finally came in from my list at the library.  I had seen this book posted in a lot of places and knew it was very popular.  I kept seeing it recommended it if you liked Gone Girl.  Okay, I did like Gone Girl, and I guess I can kind of see why people would say that, but these are actually two very different books.  I also liked this quite a bit and didn't see the twist at the end coming.  I currently have Kubica's newest book Don't You Cry on short term loan from the library, so I plan to get cracking on that after I finish this post!

Speaking of short term loans and hype, The Girls was the next book I read.  This is also pretty new, but I had heard a lot about it.  Did it live up to the hype?  Yes.  Yes, it did.  Emma Cline is an immensely talented writer who makes you feel like you are transported to northern California in 1969 (which is pretty remarkable considering Cline is 27 years old- what???).  The best way to describe this book is that it is a fictional account of the Manson family murders told by a girl on the fringe of the group.  I just saw tonight it is a Book of the Month Selection.  Deservedly so.  If there's one book I recommend this month, it's this one.  Be warned, though.  It's very dark. 

Last because I like to juxtapose things as dramatically as I can, (just kidding, it was kind of a fluke) I finished up Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It which was over 40 writers explaining how Gilbert's phenom, Eat Pray Love changed their lives.  I read Eat Pray Love about 10 years ago and liked it, but I can't say it changed my life.  It did, however, change the people's lives in this book, which I think is noteworthy.  I enjoyed this, and I think anyone who read Eat Pray Love would also.  It did start to feel like a lot of the stories were too similar as I got further and further on.

That's it for June. Bring on the July books!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What's Up, Wednesday?

Welcome to What's Up, Wednesday? or as I like to call it, a stroll down my Photo Stream from last week.

First of all, Finding Dory in 3D was fun.  We've been waiting for this one to come out.  Our local theater, The Avon, does not charge extra for 3D.  We always try to see movies here anyway since it's locally owned, but the free 3D just seals the deal. 

Blueberry Time!  It's a real thing with us.

It was Blueberry Time this week.  We've been going to the same blueberry farm since our kids were one and three.  This year it was HOT!  We did not have to go on Saturday, but I find if you put this kind of thing of seasonal thing off, you are less and less likely to go every day.  So we toughed it out and picked for an hour.  And oh, the bounty!

It was so hot that day that it nessecitated me getting in the pool that evening.  Again folks, it has to HOT for me to get in the pool.  The whole family (even our pug, Jack) got in the pool in the evening. 

Not the best picture of Jack because he's hard to photograph.  Diva.  But that's him wrapped in a towel after his evening swim.  You might not guess it, but he is quite an excellent swimmer.

I've been finishing up Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It this week.  Enjoyable.

My dad's birthday was this week.

 We took him a birthday cake later in the evening and spent some time visiting with my parents in Pana.  We went later in the evening because...

We made an offer on a house that afternoon.  After the owner's counteroffer and another counteroffer from us, the owner accepted our counteroffer last night!!!!  On the heels of this came all the anxiety of, "Oh, crap!  Now we have to sell our house!"   Our offer was contingent on our home selling, so this is by no means a done deal.  I hesitated to even share this news, but since our house will be going on the market, it's not like we can keep it a secret. 

It's a old farmhouse on three acres.  You might remember me talking about this being our dream in my post "Chalkboards and The Universe".  This post seems pretty prophetic right now, but again, this is far from done.  What I keep trying to remind myself of now is, "Your will, God, not mine."  I'm not the best at this way of thinking, but I believe you get practice for what you need to develop.  If it's meant to be, it will be.  All we can do is rent a storage unit and start decluttering.  I'm just trying to keep this picture in my mind.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Best Words This Week : From Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It

Welcome to Best Words This Week.  It's a recurring post around here. 

This week I'm reading Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It.  It's a collection of writing from people who were inspired to change their lives after they read Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love.  I read Eat Pray Love a long time ago (maybe eight or nine years).  I enjoyed it a lot and said Amen to a number of things Gilbert talked about in it.  It obviously inspired a lot of people to change their lives afterwards, as there are enough stories to literally fill a book.  I think that's because at its core, Eat Pray Love is about change. That's something everyone can relate to.  As Gilbert says in the introduction:

"It wasn't about travel, or spirituality, or divorce.  No, Eat Pray Love was about what happens when one human being realizes that her life doesn't have to look like this anymore - that everything (including herself) can be changed.  After that realization occurs, nothing will ever be the same again."

She goes on to write,

"My friend, Pastor Rob Bell, has a wonderful definition for the word despair.  He says despair is a spiritual condition in which you convince yourself that tomorrow is going to be exactly the same as today."

I love this.  Despair comes from when you're in a bad situation that you think you have no way out of.  But change is the antidote. 

Another bit I loved was Lisa Becker's contribution "Happy Wife, Happy Life".  Becker explains that although she was able to stay home with her children because her husband had a very good job, it completely unmoored her.  Even though she was delighted to be a mother, she had to find a way to go back to work, even if it wasn't the same way she worked before the children.  Her husband encouraged her to go back to work part time.  After some adjustments, she found a way to balance her work-self and mother-self.   She shares a conversation she had with her daughter about going back to work:

"She looked perplexed. 'You don't like being a mom?'

I cupped her face in my hands, kissed her heart-shaped lips, and said, 'No, I LOVE being a mom...and the fact that I work and I'm a writer makes me a better mother.'

She pondered this, 'Are you saying you're trying to be a good example for me?'

I laughed. 'YES!' I said. 'I did not join your life, you joined mine, and it's my responsibility as your mother to show you what's lead by support all your teach you how to be to follow your dreams...and how to love yourself first.'

This reminded me of my own mother who told me that when she was a stay at home mom, she started having terrible anxiety.  She went back to work, and it made her better mother.  And it set a great example for me as her daughter.

Love yourself first.  Then you can love others.  Which brings me to one more piece from what I've read so far.  One of the contributors. Shannon Sykes Westgate, wrote about a change of career. She bought a resort in Northern Michigan even though her background was in integrative medicine practice management.  She is much happier since she made the complete change in career.

She writes that she once heard the quote, "Your job is the excuse through which you get to love people."  I can't credit anyone with those words since the author admits they are not her own but also doesn't know who said them, but this resonates with me.  There's the job you get paid for.  I know these words are true for me in my "job" of being a teacher.  But we all have lots of "jobs" besides the one we get paid for.  Mother, father, wife, husband, daughter, son, sister, brother, friend, neighbor to name a few.  I could go on and on about this, but as I said in this post (and it was number one on the list for a reason) I believe love is doing.  If it's just a feeling backed up by no actions, it's not really love.  So I think that's why these words jumped out at me like they did.  When I hear the word "job", I think of work.  Action.  Love is action.

None of the people who contributed to this said change was easy.  Most of them did not get it right on the first try (or second or third and so on in some cases). But the only way they were able to grow was to take the first step.

If you haven't read Eat Pray Love, you should.  If you have, you would probably enjoy Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What's Up, Wednesday?

Lots o' recital pictures this week!  The girl danced in three of the four shows this weekend and did a beautiful job.  She had lyrical, jazz/hip-hop, and ballet dances this year.

We had a family dinner after the final show on Sunday afternoon.  I did a pasta bar which turned out great.  I love decorating and cooking for a party like this.  (Longer post about this later.)

Call off the dogs.  The hunt is over.  I have tried ThredUp and it is ahhhh-mazing.  (Longer post about this later too.  I know, I keep saying this, but it's true.) 

The blog's 3 year anniversary was this week.  I was looking back at my first few posts and this one (Thrify Cinderella) reminded me of this purse I scored last week.  If you know me, you understand why this purse was such a thrifting coup.  It's leopard.  It's purple.  I has silver hardware.  It's Coach.  AND IT WAS ONLY $35!!!  It was $70 at my favorite resale store but was 50% off.  It's in perfect condition and is my new favorite thing.

What else?  I finished Mary Kubica's The Good Girl.   Yes, very good, it was.

And I'm just finishing up Emma Cline's The Girls which is dark but written oh-so-well.  

 There was another book in between these two that I got about 80 pages into and quit because, Holy Adverbs, Batman, the writing was driving me nuts. 

- Stephen King .:



Saturday, June 18, 2016

AAB's Third Blogiversary

Today is the blog's third anniversary (or blogiversary), and I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to everyone who checks in with the blog.  It's funny, but I have changed how I approach the posts over the years.  Some may wonder why I still bother with it, but it still makes me very happy to have this little piece of creative cyberspace.  So thank you if you visit it!  It means a lot to me.

On another note, my husband and I just celebrated another anniversary - 14 years of marriage.  We took a couple of days and had a wonderful time in Southern Illinois.  We stayed at a little cabin known as the Hobbit Cove in Makanda.  We also hit several wineries while we were there, made some amazing breakfasts, and went out to a couple of really delicious places to eat.  Here are a few pics of the highlights of our trip.  I had reserved this cabin back in December if you can believe that.  I'm not usually one to plan so far ahead.  Glad I did this time!

    Tall grass on the roof of Hobbit Cove

The view from our bedroom window

  Obligatory reading material

   There is a business in Alto Pass that delivers lots of local good stuff to cabins for breakfast, so that you can make your own.  Eggs, bacon, veggies, fruit, coffee, and pastries were among some of the good things we received.

    Anniversary Selfie


Sunday, June 12, 2016


I've been a huge Cubs fan my whole life which makes this season all the more exciting for me.  Back in April, I told my husband (also a Cubs fan his whole life, natch) that we needed to go to Wrigley to see them play since this was going to the The Year.  He had never been to Wrigley before and agreed.  I had been to Wrigley several times, but it's been 20+ years since then.  We also decided it was time to start schooling our kids on the right team to root for.

Back in October...#LetsGo

The thing about going to a MLB game is that it's not an inexpensive proposition.  I was totally behind spending the money to give them the experience.  It's just hard to count on it being a positive experience (i.e.  - good weather, a win) when you have to purchase tickets so far in advance.  Nevertheless, I took a gamble and bought our tickets back in May for a June game, not knowing what the weather would be like or who would be pitching.

Turns out, I won the bet big time.  We had a GORGEOUS day - sunny, but not too hot, blue sky, and a wonderful breeze.  The weather couldn't have been better. As we walked a few blocks from the parking lot, we admired the architecture and well-tended landscaping in Wrigleyville.  My daughter was so impressed she asked, "Are there colleges here?"  Our seats were under the upper deck, keeping us from messing with sunscreen or squinty eyes.  And OMG, Wrigley has been updated in the last 20 years.  There are now huge video screens to watch replays and little vignettes about the players in between the top and bottom of each inning.

On our way to the Windy City

   Waiting to get in - It was tote bag day!

   Ball park food is the BEST!

The best part was, THE CUBS WON that day.  They've been winning like crazy this season, but I was really hoping I didn't pick the off day when they would lose.  My kids aren't really into baseball or the Cubs, but by the end of this game they were jumping out of their seats, cheering along with the rest of the crowd.  I know it's a day they'll remember fondly.  That was worth the price of admission right there.



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What's Up, Wednesday?

Hey, it's been a while.  Here's what's up:

First of all, I accepted a new job teaching second grade in the same district I currently work in.  To say I was excited is understating it.  On the heels of my elation came sheer terror, reminding me how long it's been since I've faced a big change.  I've taught second grade for 21 years but not at this school.

Change is good, though, and thanks to my husband and some kindness from a teacher at my new school, I've worked through my fear and am back to being happy.  Happy about the prospect of change -  It's a pretty good place to be.

Lots of summer things going on now that school is out, like picking strawberries...

More frequent trips to the library...

Chasing down our local ice cream truck...

Opening up our pool...

My peony bushes going crazy...

Dress rehearsals for the girl's dance recital...

...and Cubs baseball (more on that later!)

You'll hear no complaints from me.  We're in the zone right now.