Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Reading Receipt

I'm going to admit that Netflix got the better of me this month.  I had put Orange is the New Black in my queue way back, and then one day early in July I was like, "I'll just watch the first episode of that." One week later and halfway through Season Two, I realized this was starting to feel a bit like the summer I got sucked into watching all the seasons of Weeds available on Netflix. It was definitely enjoyable but also definitely not productive.  (This makes perfect sense, by the way, because Jenji Kohan created both shows. Also, when I was watching both of these shows, I walked around with their theme songs - "Little Boxes" by Malvina Reynolds and "You've Got Time" by Regina Spektor- in my head all day.  I love both of these songs but seriously - all day.)  I stopped right there in the middle of Season Two, gave my head a quick shake, and got back on the reading train.

First up this month was Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica.  I only just read The Good Girl last month and enjoyed it.  Don't You Cry was even better, I felt.  She has one book I haven't read yet, Pretty Baby, that I'll get around to one of these days.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin was excellent!  I've noticed lately that I really enjoy fictionalized accounts based on real events - The Girls, from June, and now this.  The characters in this book were real people: Truman Capote, Barbara "Babe" Paley, William S. Paley to name a few.  There were also events in the story that actually took place: the publication and success of Breakfast at Tiffany's, Capote's Black and White Ball, and the zenith of Capote's career, the publication of In Cold Blood, as well as Capote's fictional "tell-all" about Paley and her high society friends in Esquire magazine.  Benjamin imagines how these relationships developed and deteriorated over time.  I can't get enough of this kind of writing.

Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam was my Book of the Month choice for July.  I ended up kind of liking this, but I really felt like the characters were pretty one dimensional.  I felt like Alam reduced them to the title  One was rich; one was pretty as one of the main characters overhears a boy in high school say to a friend about a double date, "You take Rich.  I'll take Pretty." I realize this was probably supposed to be the trick.  He meant to show there was more to them than that.  I'm not convinced he was successful in that.  Some male authors do an amazing job of writing women.  I can't say that I felt this one did.

I had the exact opposite reaction to my last book of July, Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty.  I identified with every character in this book.  And speaking of someone who can write for the opposite sex, Moriarty always does a great job of making her male characters multi-dimensional and real.  I won't say much about the plot because I don't want to ruin it for others ( and there are ALWAYS twists and surprises in Moriarty's books.) except that I LOVED it.  Of course.  But now, no more books from Moriarty for at least a year.  I could have easily read this in a day but purposefully did not because I wanted to savor having it waiting for me at the end of the day.

We also went on vacation this month, and although I always have grand dreams about reading all day while floating in a pool, this never happens.  At least not with kids.  Speaking of kids, I really couldn't get excited about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child even though I read and loved all the Harry Potter books. Get back to work on another Cormoran Strike mystery, Rowling!  Or Galbraith!  Whatever you want to be called!


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What's Up, Wednesday?

I'm not even going to play - it's been kind of a rough week.  Disappointment, stress, sadness, and being on the receiving end of a cheap shot, this week really had it all.  I'm going to try to focus on the fact that the Cubs just beat the White Sox and hope that it's a sign that things are on the verge of turning around.  There are also some other positives from this week:

1) A fairy garden I made at a workshop for my classroom.

2) Finishing Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam.  Also, beautiful flowers.

3) My new Erin Condren planner.  Yes, it was more expensive, but this:

is what my former Lesson Plan book looked like at the end of the year.  And it was super annoying when pages kept falling out. 

4) No cavities for my kids at the dentist today! 

and last, but not least:
4) The wireless delivery of Liane Moriarty's new book, Truly Madly Guilty, to my Kindle Tuesday night.  Time to escape into that for a bit.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What's Up, Wednesday?

A few things this week...

There are certain movies I wait to introduce my kids to at the right time.  With the remake of the Ghostbusters debut pending (Why????  If it ain't broke...), I knew it was time to bust out the original.  For $5 at Wal-Mart, I procured the DVD.  It had been years since I saw it.  Bill Murray is it.  And my kids loved it.

Pokémon Go. Yes, we've been playing it.  My son has been a Pokémon fan for a while as you can see from this post about his birthday party, so it was a must.  We went over some ground rules, the first of which was - you never go out Pokémon hunting without an adult.  As we were walking around our neighborhood one night last week, an older neighbor of ours we've never met was out in her yard.  She stopped us, brought out her phone, and quizzed us about how to play. The boy gave her a good 15 minute tutorial about Pokémon Go.  Halfway through it, he said, "Oh, and you never go out looking for Pokémon by yourself."  Guess he was listening.

I devoured Melanie Benjamin's The Swans of Fifth Avenue.  Such a great read!

Finally, we took a short vacation this week.  There was not a lot on the agenda for this vacation.  As the kids get older, I find it harder to plan things they'll both enjoy. So we kept things very simple -  swimming, kayaking, hiking, and relaxing.  That was really all.  When in doubt, keep it as simple as possible.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Best Words This Week: From Truman Capote. Kind Of. But Not Really.

I had a whole big idea for a post for Best Words This Week involving just one word I had been thinking about all week, but then I finished The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin and when I came across this passage, I knew this was what I would write about instead.

If you're not familiar with the book, it's a fictionalization of the friendship of Truman Capote and New York socialite Barbara Cushing Mortimer Paley.  At one time the two were the closest of close friends, then Capote wrote a story for Esquire which exposed secrets he was privy to because of their friendship.  It was billed as "fiction", but many knew who he based it on. Considering it the ultimate betrayal, Paley and her other socialite friends cut Capote out of their lives forever.  It was the last thing Capote ever published.  This quote comes from a point where the two start to drift apart because of Paley's battle with lung cancer and Truman's addictions and hunger for fame but before his story "La Côte Basque 1965" was published in Esquire.

I loved this book, BTW.

"But were she and Truman as close as before?

Babe would have answered yes, unhesitatingly.  Truman would have declared, "Of course we are, I love Babe more than anyone in the world, she's my dearest, dearest friend!" But it was a affirmation based on the past, not the present. The present wasn't recognizable or palatable to either of them; she was too ill, he was too self-destructive. Like so many they chose not to recognize themselves in the mirror, but as old photographs, scrapbooks, shared memories."


I loved this because so often this is the case with relationships.  "But it was an affirmation based on the past, not the present."  I don't necessarily think that's a bad way to go, if you drift apart from someone you were once close to.  Time and circumstances have a way with changing things in a relationship that are sometimes the fault of no one.  These words stopped me short - The mirror or the scrapbook?  Neither is necessarily negative, but are we always honest with ourselves about which one we choose to recognize ourselves in?


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What's Up, Wednesday?

I finally gave in and bought a subscription to the flowers I buy every week at the Farmer's Market.  This way, I don't have to rush out of bed first thing in the morning.  It reserves a bouquet for me that I can pick up there before noon and is actually cheaper than buying an arrangement each week.  Flowers are good for my soul, so this is a smart investment for me.  These are some of the arrangements I've gotten so far this summer.  If you're local and interested in gorgeous, affordable flowers, check out the website of this local couple who grow these beauties at Bushel and Peck Wildfowers

P.S., I love subscriptions.  I've had a monthly jewelry subscription from Rocksbox for $19 for over a year now.  They send you 3 pieces of jewelry with each box.  You set up a "Wish List" from pieces they have, so they know what kind of pieces to send you. There is NO shipping and handling either way on the box. It is included in your monthly $19 fee. Your pieces come in a pretty box with the description and price for each piece. It's like Christmas when this shows up in my mailbox every four weeks or so.  Here's what I love about this service: You can either choose to purchase a piece (minus $10 of your monthly $19), or wear it for a few weeks and send it back.  I feel like $19 is reasonable if you're a jewelry person because you could easily spend MUCH MORE than that if you buy jewelry every month that you'll probably eventually get bored with anyway.  I love new jewelry, but I get bored with a lot of pieces I buy so this is perfect for me.  I received a new box this week and am loving the new pieces I've received. When I'm ready for different ones, I'll send these back FREE OF CHARGE using the prepaid label they send with the box.   If you'd like to give it a try, use the code KIMBFF226 to try it FREE FOR A MONTH!!!!  You can cancel after the free month easily or you can choose to keep getting boxes. I'll get a credit if you sign up using my code, you'll get a free month to try Rocksbox.  Everyone wins.

                                    All tied up with a bow, like a little present for me each month!

                                This necklace came in my most recent box.  I can't wait to wear it!

In the picture above, I'm wearing a necklace that is one of the two pieces I've actually purchased from my Rocksbox.  It was so different from anything I own (and I own a LOT!).  I had a credit from a friend who joined plus my monthly $10 credit from the $19 monthly fee.
I'm also wearing a Rocksbox necklace in this picture.  I LOVED this piece, but it costs almost $200, so I just wore it several times for about 4 weeks for $19 and sent it back.  Oh, and you can request pieces to be sent again if you liked them!

In other big news, Dan got a "new" truck this week.  He does have a brand new truck for work, but he can't use that for personal things.  The truck he currently has is circa 1989, so no power anything/the a/c hasn't worked in years/no cruise control/etc.  He bought it right before we got married, so it also is not large enough for all four of use to ride in it.  We have been in talks about buying a pull behind camper, so we decided that rather than putting the cart in front of the horse (as we normally do), he should buy a different truck to pull a camper and that all four of us can fit in, should we decide to purchase a camper later.  I've been working on saving money the past three years, in addition to our normal savings.  In this post I talked about how I made effort to save money from a Pinterest plan I had seen.  After I did this, I stepped it up in 2015 and saved more than twice that amount.  In 2016, I'm working on doubling the amount from 2015.  All this said means that we were able to pay cash for a "new" 2004 Chevy Avalanche that can tow just about anything we put behind it.  No car payment!  Now we just have to sell the old truck.

                       He looks happy to have a truck with functioning air conditioning, doesn't he?

What else?  We went to see The Secret Life of Pets this week.  We've been seeing previews of this for a looooong time.  It was cute, especially if you are a "pets" person. (We have five.  Don't judge.)

I feel like I haven't been super productive the last two weeks, but that's kind of the point of summer, right?  In the meantime, we've had a lot of this.  Productivity can wait.  Right now is time for ice cream in the middle of the afternoon.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What's Up, Wednesday?

Welp, after reporting on our offer for a farmhouse last week, said farmhouse was snatched out from under us a mere 12 hours later.  Disappointing, to be sure, but also not meant to be.  <whomp, whomp>  The good news is we were going to rent a storage unit the next day and spend the 4th of July weekend cleaning like maniacs, so we got to enjoy the weekend after all.

Instead of purging and scrubbing our entire household, we went out on a date on Friday to start the long weekend out right, which is always a good way to console yourself.  We haven't done this much this summer.  It had been a year since we had been back to this microbrewery and restaurant that we love, and the peach hard cider was calling our names.  We went to see The Legend of Tarzan afterwards, which was okay, but Alexander Skarsgard, so - great.

The next morning we made it to the Farmer's Market.  Delicious cherries and cantelope and beautiful flowers were the result of that trip.

Another thrift share this week!  Check out my "new" Kate Spade score!  Aaaand it was 30% off its thrifted price!!  As the old saying goes, "Unlucky in house purchases, lucky in purse thrifting."  Or something like that.

I had to watch Jaws on the 4th of July because - tradition.  Then the boy ended up watching it later in the day, (AMC screened it several times during that 24 hours) and I caught it in the middle of the movie and watched it again.  We cooked out and watched the fireworks in our backyard and made s'mores. 

I finished up Mary Kubica's new book, Don't You Cry last night.  I had not read any of Kubica's books until last month when The Good Girl came in for me at the library.  I had put Don't You Cry and The Good Girl on my request list at the same time (before Don't You Cry even came out), so it was a happy surprise that they came in so close together.  I liked Don't You Cry even better than The Good Girl. 


Saturday, July 2, 2016

After Dance Recital Dinner/Let's Not Forget About Father's Day

The weekend of the girl's dance recital is always a busy one.  It starts on Thursday and runs through Sunday.  There have been years she's performed only two days and years when it's been all four.  This year the difference was split, and she did three days.  Due to a late change in venue, it also ended up being later in the month of June than normal.  The Sunday it ended on was Father's Day.  In order for it to be a little bit about the dads (my husband, my dad, and my brothers) that day and not just the dance recital, we had a dinner for our family at our house afterwards.

    Father's Day Morning

I went with a shabby chic look and busted out all my farmhouse dishes. (Thank you, Ree Drummond.)  It was actually nice not to have to spring for all the disposable stuff.  Everything fit in the dishwasher too, so I think I'll go with the "real" dinnerware more often.  I did a pasta bar.  It turned out great and was easy to serve because almost everything was done beforehand.  I made a meat marinara sauce, an Alfredo sauce with grilled chicken, and meatballs in marinara the night before.  I did them all in crockpots, so all I had to do the day of the dinner was turn the crockpots on to keep everything warm.  I'd really like to have one of those three tier crockpot thingies.  #hostessgoals

I boiled three different pasta shapes the morning of the dinner (rotini, penne, and of course, spaghetti) and kept them warm in my three tier buffet warmer.  The trick was to spray the pans really well and toss the pasta in olive oil so it didn't get all sticky.  I made some quick garlic bread in the oven when we returned from the recital.  It only took about 10 minutes, and we were ready to eat.  The dads all got to get in line first, of course.

Oh, and dessert.  Because as Julia Child famously said, "A party without cake is just a meeting."  I made this chocolate cake and the girl made these strawberry cupcakes.  Interestingly enough, these were made with fresh strawberries and a box mix from Aldi and were fantastic.  We bought them again for the 4th of July along with the blueberry ones.

I bought this frame on our anniversary trip in a little flea market store and used it to decorate the dessert table.  It held pictures of previous recitals.  I know I'll use this frame for lots of other things (birthdays, holidays, graduations).  I love parties!