Read it! Surprise Me!

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella was provided to me at no charge through my partnership with NetGalley. The thoughts are my own. You can read other books I’ve reviewed here.

I picked up the first Sophie Kinsella book from a shelf at Mom’s house in FL. It was cute and I enjoyed it a lot. While I don’t seek her books out, I’ve tended to enjoy them quite a bit when I come across them. They’re filled with British humor which I find good for a laugh, likable people, and decently interesting plots. They’re almost always good for a laugh.

From Amazon:

After ten years together, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, and beautiful twin girls, and they communicate so seamlessly they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years . . . and panic sets in.

They decide to bring surprises into their marriage to keep it fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me—from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to sexy photo shoots—mishaps arise, with disastrous and comical results. Gradually, surprises turn to shocking truths. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all….

I’d be lying if I told you I actually liked this book. I didn’t flat out dislike it, but it was not Kinsella’s best work. The characters bored me, the plot felt forced, and it just wasn’t up to her usual good work.

The best thing I can take away from this book is not to assume you know everything about your partner because they might have a secret or two and surprises should come from an impulsive place, not be forced or contrived.

The surprise was how much I didn’t like this book. I usually really like her books.

Is this something you’d like to read? Do you like surprises?

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Read it! Keep Me Posted

A few months back through my partnership with NetGalley, I received Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley at no cost to me to read and review. The thoughts are my own

I’m a huge fan of sending (and getting!) snail mail so when I saw this book, it spoke to me as one I should read. It also didn’t hurt that someone else (knock on wood, not me) had an internet snafu.

From Amazon:

Sisters Cassie and Sid Sunday have not done a bang-up job of keeping in touch. In their defense, it hasn’t been easy: life veered in sharply different directions for the once-close sisters. Today, beautiful and big-hearted Sid lives an expat’s life of leisure in far-off Singapore, while harried, iPhone-clutching Cassie can’t seem to make it work as a wife and a mom to twin toddlers in Manhattan.

It doesn’t help that Sid spurns all social media while Cassie is addicted to Facebook. So when Sid issues a challenge to reconnect the old-fashioned way—through real, handwritten letters—Cassie figures, why not?…

I’m not going to lie, I sort of hated Cassie for the first half of this book. She basically has everything she’s wanted and it’s not enough.

When she posted the letters, I found myself screaming in my head, “HOW DID THAT SEEM LIKE A GOOD IDEA?!?” I suppose she learned her lesson though.

I did enjoy the story line of very different sisters finding a way to relate and engage with each other, of how they grew closer, and how it all ends up working out.

This wasn’t a super light read, but it was quick and decently well done.

Is this something you’d like to read? What’s your biggest internet snafu? How did it pan out?

What’s next?

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It’s cold, but it makes me smile.

I wrote this awhile back, but for whatever reason didn’t publish it. I’d like to say I’m firmly in the “enjoying moments” part now and looking at how I can make more time to make more of them.

I was talking to a coworker the other day about what’s next for her. Her younger daughter is approaching the end of high school, she’s getting close to having enough years into the system to leave our job – but she’s still young.

She has a lot of ideas about what she wants to do but doesn’t know.

Then she asked me, “So what’s next for you?”

She knows that in some ways I’m at a decent intersection in life and there are a lot of options I can peruse.

But I have no idea but I’m okay with that for right now. Once I get the house sale finished, other paperwork completed and filed, and settled into a new space, I sort of just want to be, enjoy the good moments, and find things that make me smile without thinking too much about what’s next. That feels weird to admit because so much of my life has been about figuring out, planning, and trying to make what’s next happen.

While I’ll have to figure a few things out and figure out how to make them happen, I think I really am okay with taking some time to just be and enjoy life.

Are you at a cross-roads of sorts? What’s next for you?

Coffee date

i believe in youHey there! Thanks so much for meeting me today. What’s in your cup? That smells yummy! I’m just having regular coffee today. It seems too nice out to have cinnamon sugar cookie since that feels very wintry to me.

Do you have any season associations with flavors?

So how are you? I’m feeling very light and free right now. I just sent in my letter of resignation to the pool. I won’t necessarily talk about the specifics because that’s not cool, but I just realized the Universe was showing me it was time to go and I’m bowing out gracefully rather than fight something that’s not my fight anymore. The literal blood, sweat, and tears put into the last decade there will likely be part of the lives I’ve touched forever, but it’s clear it’s time to move along.

I can only hope the children and adults I’ve taught remember that I believe in them and that they can do it, that they turn around and teach others to swim, save and believe in themselves.

Last night I was teaching one of my little darlings and while I will miss her (and the other kiddos) fiercely, I just knew that this is the right move. I felt really, truly, free and it’s amazing.

(Guess that’s the sign something is really over, huh?)

This was the easiest big decision I’ve made in a long time. After almost a whole decade there, I think people didn’t think I’d ever leave.

I might have one more shift to take care of but I find that having an end date makes things you don’t really want to do easier to make it through.

So what’s up with you? Anything exciting planned this weekend? I think we’re headed to a party this weekend with the kiddos and then another on Sunday. I hope the sunshine holds! It’s been really nice to see lately.

The Good Stuff: April

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Signs of life.

There’s a lot of crap out there. Crappy news, crappy people. Really crappy moments. I think it’s important to pay attention to the good things. Remember them and carry those with you or the bad things keep weighing you down.

Besides, when you look for the good things, you find more good things and maybe life isn’t quite so bad.

If it’s not your style (yet, because you can totally retrain your brain), I challenge you to find one good thing about today – even if it’s something tiny.

April was a pretty good month! We’re finding our groove as a family, I’m adjusting to the meds quite nicely I think and there was a lot to smile about and be thankful for. April  wasn’t without it’s challenges, but overall, I’d have to say it was a pretty good month.

Moments to make me smile:

  • Getting the outside shaped up
  • Warmer days even if they were mixed with more snow
  • Hugs from my swim kiddos
  • Getting the Google Mini hooked up
  • One on one talks with N and E
  • Wrapping up a few really big projects at work so you don’t have to bring stuff home anymore.
  • Sick days when you get a belly bug – UGH
  • Talking periodic table, molecules, compounds, amino acids and DNA with N
  • The house feeling like home. (It sort of just clicked one day that it feels like “Home” now)
  • Signs of life coming back
  • Family dinners
  • Birthday wishes from near and far and surprise gluten free bday treats at work
  • Good follow up with the doc
  • Coming through heated disagreements stronger even if it takes some time
  • Getting organized to get the washer and dryer!
  • Girlfriends to have weird boundary-less conversations with
  • E claiming me as hers.

Good reads:

  • This doesn’t surprise me , but I don’t know if it’s for the reasons they’re claiming. Women Who Watched “The X-Files” Pursued More Careers In STEM
  • I don’t know if this is always the right approach, but it’s definitely interesting to consider The unique way the Dutch treat mentally ill prisoners
  • It can be so pretty! But be careful
  • I’ve met a lot of people who fit this description through the years “athletic talent, fearlessness, and mental illness” and this was a tough read but I’m glad I got through it. It sheds some light on losing some of the people we’ve lost. The Boy Who Lived on Edge
  • During the time when Frank and I tried and tried to have a baby, I rarely felt like a failure because it didn’t happen for us, but there were definitely moments where I did. It was recently National Infertility Awareness Week and I read countless posts about it from blogs and sites I used to follow a lot more. This post spoke to me most though about flipping the language because we often shape our feelings around a topic based on the words we use. The End of Shame and Stigma #NIAW #flipthescript

Favorite pics:

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You can see more pictures on my Instagram.

Podcasts you might like:

I stick by Brain’s On and Last Podcast on the Left , but I’d be in the wrong if I didn’t tell you that I gave My Favorite Murder another chance and was pleasantly surprised by how much I like it now. I think what I like best is that while sometimes the sound of their voices grate on me, they have good messages to share. They own their mental health (and encourage others to do the same) and addiction struggles, encourage self acceptance, have a solid equality stance, give back to the community and several other positive things that escape me at the moment. I think what I appreciate the most is that they use their popular platform to do good things and embrace who they are.

Music to feed my soul:

Google played this. I forgot how much I love this song. There’s a really long set up and intro you can watch if you want, but I linked the song where it starts.

How about you? What good things do you have for April to share?

Would You Rather

A couple of weeks ago, N, E, and I were listening to one of the Brain’s On podcasts I’d downloaded for them in an effort not to have to listen to Frozen ALL THE TIME.

It’s worked a bit. (YAY!)

The podcast was about how dinosaurs weren’t supersized, everything is just smaller now. I asked the kiddos, “Would you rather be the biggest, toughest dinosaur, but have itty bitty arms so you can’t easily reach your food? or Would you rather be closer to your food but you’re running away from bigger dinosaurs a lot?”

Since then, we’ve asked each other a lot of Would You Rather questions. N gets it and we have sometimes interesting conversations about the why behind what she chooses.  E sometimes gets it or throws us a curveball answer, like PINK! in reply to a question about dinosaurs. Hey, she’s four, she can be PINK! if she wants. Why not?

While we were waiting for softball practice last week, N asked if I’d rather live in a field of hay or gluten for the rest of my life. She knows I can’t eat gluten and I’m allergic to hay.

(I said field of gluten if you’re wondering. I hope she’s not plotting my demise…)

I thought it would be fun to ask some Would You Rather questions!

  • Would you rather get stung by a bee or a hornet?
  • Would you rather be the biggest, toughest dinosaur, but have itty bitty arms so you can’t easily reach your food or be able to your food but have to run away from other dinosaurs?
  • Would you rather give up chocolate or coffee for the rest of your life?

I can’t wait to hear your answers. If you’re wondering, N decided she would rather be the fiercest dinosaur of them all and I said I’d rather be able to eat. When N told E she had to pick one of the dinosaurs, said she wanted to be a Bunny.

 

 

 

 

Read it! A Whole Latte Murder

A few months back through my partnership with NetGalley, I received A Whole Latte Murder by Caroline Fardig at no cost to me to read and review. The thoughts are my own. You can see other books I’ve reviewed here.

I was cleaning up my NetGalley dashboard and found more than a few it seems I didn’t post. To keep the free books coming, I better fix that!

Next up, another Java Jive Book Series! A Whole Latte Murder. Each can stand alone so it’s not a huge deal if you read them in order, but it’s easier to keep her love life straight if you do read them in order.

From Amazon:

Juliet’s personal and professional lives have recently received an extra jolt of energy. Her romance with the hunky detective Ryder Hamilton continues to simmer, and business at Java Jive has never been better. But her good mood quickly turns as stale as day-old espresso when she finds out that Ryder has been promoted to his precinct’s homicide division. With him risking his life to catch the worst kind of criminals, Juliet’s growing sense of unease ignites when a local college student goes missing.

Suddenly every Nashville resident is on high alert, especially Juliet’s neighbor Chelsea. Juliet does her best to calm the girl’s nerves, but her worst fears are confirmed when she finds Chelsea dead. Even though she tries her best to stay out of it, Juliet’s involvement puts a strain on Ryder’s first homicide case. The situation soon becomes even more personal for Juliet and her best friend Pete Bennett when one of their employees disappears during her shift. As a killer lurks in the shadows, Juliet, Pete, and Ryder seek out a double shot of justice.

 

I liked this book. While I don’t like how Ryder treats Juliet, I think it’s part of their story and how they have to find each other again (if they’re going to do that some day).

This storyline had a couple of twists that weren’t too shocking and some ups and downs you kind of saw coming. I liked the pace of this one better than some of the others, but Pete and Juliet are still a bad idea.

I will say that knowing what happens in the next one, there’s a point you want to scream, “NO JULIET DON’T!”

Do you love a cozy mystery? Is this something you’d like to ready?

Sunday Reflections

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Saturday morning coloring before getting into high gear.

I just finished hemming curtains and got them hung in the girls room and I’m really proud of myself for throwing the scraps away. Before I’d hang on to them for “What if I need them for a project?!?” sort of thing. I figure I’m never actually going to use curtain scraps, right?

Besides, all that scrap and stuff takes up a lot of physical and even some emotional space.

I posted it on fb to cheer myself on because Nik is upstairs, already crashed out after a day in the wet cold gross that was outside doing yard work. I don’t think he’d be excited for me to wake him up just to be told I threw something away.

I did help him for awhile in the wet cold gross but I got hungry and had stuff on the massive to do list inside.  (Mostly it was because I was hungry.) We’re still working on getting the house “settled” and  getting close to being “done” and it’s really starting to feel like a home instead of a place we’re living for now.

This weekend we focused on things like curtains, reorganizing the pantry so we can put more snacks in it, cleaning up the storage room/office etc. I cleared the platform for the washer and dryer so we can get those delivered too!

You know, all the stuff that should be done, but isn’t an immediate priority when there’s homework to be done, fun to be had, art projects to do, showers to take, cuddles to have and movies to watch. You might guess that when we have the girls, we focus on them so we don’t get stuff like hemming curtains and reorganizing shelves done.

Speaking of the girls, it’s become a semi-regular thing when they make me so happy my heart risks actually bursting. Most recently it was N’s eyes lighting up when I picked her up from after school (she wanted to show me her Minecraft project she just finished.) and E asking to speak to me on the phone to tell me she loves me and good night. (“I love you Courtahney, good night.”)

I don’t do everything right, that’s for darn sure…but maybe I’m doing something right some of the time so that these two little girls love me even a fraction as much as I love them.

Now I think I’ll go to bed with that feeling in my heart. Good night, sweet dreams.

‘ku party

dri poison ivy kuFor something a little different today, I thought we could have a little ‘ku party. Well, actually, Dri wrote one for me and it was so lovely I made it into a beautiful graphic.

If you can’t read it, it says:

poison ivy sucks.
so do steroids and the like
itching. scratching. help!

12 days no coffee.
thank goodness it’s over now.
bring on the java.

I thought I’d add to the party with one about spring:

spring, you are darn late!
wherever are you, dear spring?
we’d like to see you!

rain boots are ready
for warmer play days outside
in puddles and mud

ready for flowers
and fires under the stars
even mowing lawns!

run around and play
treasure walks and taking pics
can’t wait for more green

starting to see buds,
and life coming back to us
even though AAAAHCHOOO

so please, won’t you come
we have much adventuring
to do when you’re here

It’s not a masterpiece but it worked out alright and it’s a start. Would you like to join our ‘ku party? It’s not a party without you!

If you’re new around here or to my blogging and haven’t figured it out yet, a “‘ku” is a more laid back version of a haiku. While traditionally this Japanese poetry has a 5 syllable/ 7 syllable/ 5 syllable structure and is about nature, around here we take a more free form approach and you can write about whatever the heck you want. Feel free to use one of my friend’s approach and put the work f*ck in when you need an extra syllable.

What would you write a ‘ku about today? I can’t wait to read yours!

Thirsty Thursday: Absolut Pears

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You might have seen this pic on my Instagram?

Back in the day, I wasn’t really a fan of vodka unless it was in Jello Shots or one of Heather’s ‘Tinis because I found it overpowering. It probably didn’t help we were drinking cheap stuff that was more like paint thinner than anything else.

Or that people tended to pour with very heavy hands.

When I stopped drinking beer and whisky because of gluten  I decided to try vodka again. It wasn’t as bad as I recalled.

I was on vacation with Mom and Bill and we were having a drink before dinner. They were out of the Parrot Bay I’d been drinking (don’t judge) and I was looking at the options. I don’t really like fake flavors and they only had weird Stolis and some interesting looking Absoluts. Hm. Pear. I like pear!

I tried it with some Sprite. It was too sweet so I asked for some lime and squeezed it in. Hm, that was tasty.

The next round I ordered with seltzer and a lime and it was perfect. When I went to the store to find it, they didn’t have Absolut but I think they had another brand that was okay.

Later that week we had some people over for a picnic and I started pouring the pear and lime drinks. They were a hit! I was flying home so I left that bottle in Florida. It didn’t make it back to NY because SOMEONE finished it, but that’s okay.  I can share.

I’ve had a bottle of Pears in my cabinet since and on hot days when I’d like a bit of a cocktail, I make the following in a tall glass:

  • 1 shot of Absolut Pears
  • Plain or lime seltzer (lemonade is also very tasty)
  • 2 slices of lime

Put lots of ice in your glass, pour in the Pears, top with seltzer, squeeze in lime. Give it a swirl and enjoy, preferably in the sunshine. Or on the couch. I won’t judge.

Try it. Enjoy it. Channel your inner 30something Court and have fun. Just be responsible. Make sure if you’re out you have someone sober to drive you home or a couch to sleep on.