Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Books in Review

My goal was to read 52 books this year... so far I have read 37. I don't think it's possible to reach my goal at this point, so I'll be happy with the amount I did read. I highlighted the ones in RED that i really loved, and I'll say a few words about why.

So in the order that i read them...

Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? By Mindy Kaling

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

If You Lived Here by Dana Sachs - Beautiful insight into relationships, the past, the things we carry, and adoption.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos - Another relationship book with all the ugly and the good of friendships

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker -  This book really made me think about my life, my choices and my stuff... and how it's okay to get rid of things and less is more!

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

Bossypants by Tina Fey

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann - Interesting story  with a murder mystery thrown in... and lots of messed up characters. 

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld - Twin sisters are able to predict the future, one embraces their gift the other runs from it. Will their big earthquake prediction come true??? It's a page turner! 

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother by Julia Sweeney

The Sinners and The Sea: The Untold Story of Noah's Wife by Rebecca Kanner - I have never really thought much about the story of Noah, let alone his wife, but this fictional account is really great! 

Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala - This is a memoir of a woman who lost her whole family in the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka. We are talking her parents, husband and two boys. How she picks herself up after this and fights to live is beyond me? It is a heartbreaking, beautiful story.

Rescue by Anita Shreve

Coming Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller

Still Points North: Surviving The World's Greatest Alaskan Childhood by Leigh Newman

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

Someone by Alice McDermott

At the Bottom of Everything by Ben Dolnick

Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan - The author intertwines 4 different stories set around love, engagements and the diamond industry. Well written and lots of great characters. 

Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple - I loved how quirky the character Bernadette was, she is crazy and weird and neurotic. My kind of gal. 

Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood by Kate Hopper - This book hit home for me because I also had a preemie. And not only that, but the author had her baby at the same hospital I did. Reading it was hard and very cathartic. It's good to read something that someone else has been through. But even if you don't have a preemie in your life, Kate Hopper is just a great writer!

No One Could Have Guessed the Weather by Anne-Marie Casey

What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love by Carole Radziwill 

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes - This book was definitely my favorite this year. A quadriplegic and his caregiver develop an unlikely friendship. But what they learn from each other is what makes it so beautiful. Heartbreaking and funny... it's a winner! 

Desperate: Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breath by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman's Prison by Piper Kerman- I actually first saw the Netflix original show Orange is the New Black before I read the book. So of course I was expecting the book to be just like the show. It's not. But it's just as good and definitely gives more real insight into life in a woman's prison. Full of triumphs, heartbreaks, and laughs. 

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult - I've never read a Jodi Picoult book because I assumed they were all Life Time Original movies in the making. This book was far from it. A young girl strikes up a friendship with an old man who asks her for a favor. But what happens when she discovers the man is not who she thinks she is? Set partially during the Holocaust  this book has some real sad and disturbing moments. But the story is phenomenal and worth reading! 

Little Bee by Chris Cleave 

Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton - I Loved this book and I love Glennon Melton! She writes so beautifully and delicately about life, addiction, motherhood, love, and forgiveness. I read it in one sitting! 

My book picks of the year would have to be: Me Before You, Orange is the New Black, and Carry On, Warrior. 

What are some of your favorite books you've read this year? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

12 Months!

Happy Birthday to our sweet little boy!
You have brought us nothing but happiness from the moment you decided to come into our lives.
We love you Deacon! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

I forgot about November

Since I was too busy to blog in November, here is a summary of the 11th month. 

Popcorn is life

Tunnel of Love


I'm sure they are plotting against me

First Snow!

Couldn't care less about snow, just like mommy

Who needs Christmas presents!

Power Tower

11 Months Old! 
French Pear Tart & Pumpkin Pie. From scratch. Thank you very much.

The Stripe Cousins on Thanksgiving
Turkey Butt

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Wreath

I made this wreath a few years ago, but I decided to bust it out again...

This wreath was so easy to make! I mean it's a seriously no fail project. And it's oodles of cute!

  • I bought a foam circle thingy, burlap, ribbon and I had the crow\raven... I forget the difference.
  • I wrapped the burlap around the foam circle, then wrapped the orange ribbon around that. 
  • I put the crow\raven on there, slapped on a bow and hung a Spooky sign on it. 
  • Simple and fun!!! 

Linked up at:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What I'm Reading

This past new year I challenged myself to read 52 books this year. Obviously, my goal is one book a week. Call my crazy with a newborn and toddler, I was set out to do it. And at first it was pretty easy to read daily. The baby would sleep in my one arm and I would read the book with my other. And it was even easier to read it using my Kindle and then even easier using my Kindle app on my phone.
But then the baby got bigger, and needed more attention so some weeks I didn't read at all.

I've currently read 26 books out of 52. So as Bon Jovi sings, "Whoa Oh I'm half way there"! That's awesome! But not so awesome when there are only 11 weeks until January First!!!!! Eleven weeks until the New Year??!?! Ooofta.
So I probably won't make my goal, but that is okay because I can pat myself on the back and say, "Hey I read 26 books this year"!

I constantly put books on hold at the library and sometimes I'm like number 400 out of 500 people waiting for a book. And then sometimes all the books come in at once and I have to bust my butt to get them all read.

So these are the current books I have checked out, and I am "planning" on reading them.

The Lake House by Marci Nault
 Fifty years before, a group of teenage friends promised each other never to leave their idyllic lakeside town. But the call of Hollywood and a bigger life was too strong for Victoria . . . and she alone broke that pledge. Now she has come home, intent on making peace with her demons, even if her former friends shut her out. Haunted by tragedy, she longs to find solace with her childhood sweetheart, but even this tender man may be unable to forgive and forget. 

Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
Cold Tangerines is a collection of stories that celebrate the extraordinary moments hidden in our everyday lives. It is about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything. It is about spiritual life, and about all the things that we have called nonspiritual life that might be spiritual after all. It is the snapshots of a young woman making peace with herself and her life, and trying to craft a life that captures the energy and exuberance we long for in the midst of the fear and regret and envy we all carry with us. It is both a voice of challenge and song of comfort, calling us upward to the best possible life, and giving us room to breathe, to rest, to break down and break through. Cold Tangerines offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, in and among the heartbreak And boredom and broken glass.

American Spirit by Dan Kennedy
When Matthew, a fortysomething media executive, finds his Manhattan job, health, and Connecticut marriage crumbling, he goes native: Drinks in his car. Gives drug dealing a shot. Looks for direction in easy-listening rock lyrics, takes a free crafting class at the community center, and gets in a fistfight with a meditation instructor. He also tries jogging.
Soon he’s on a stumbling, sideways vision quest that takes him from strip malls to national parks to a Bali medical clinic, from an unlikely romance with a Hollywood agent specializing in hot young vampire roles to extreme RVing with a disgraced Wall Street trader.
In this heroic, hilarious debut novel, Dan Kennedy, a mainstay of the storytelling phenomenon The Moth, gives us an Everyman who takes us to the dark valleys and neon-lit edges of contemporary American life.

Tapestry of Fortune by Elizabeth Berg
Cecilia Ross is a motivational speaker who encourages others to change their lives for the better. Why can’t she take her own advice? Still reeling from the death of her best friend, and freshly aware of the need to live more fully now, Cece realizes that she has to make a move—all the portentous signs seem to point in that direction.
 She downsizes her life, sells her suburban Minnesota home and lets go of many of her possessions. She moves into a beautiful old house in Saint Paul, complete with a garden, chef’s kitchen, and three housemates: Lise, the home’s owner and a divorced mother at odds with her twenty-year-old daughter; Joni, a top-notch sous chef at a first-rate restaurant with a grade A jerk of a boss; and Renie, the youngest and most mercurial of the group, who is trying to rectify a teenage mistake. These women embark on a journey together in an attempt to connect with parts of themselves long denied. For Cece, that means finding Dennis Halsinger. Despite being “the one who got away,” Dennis has never been far from Cece’s thoughts.

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
From the New York Times best-selling author of Commencement and Maine comes a gorgeous, sprawling novel about marriage—about those who marry in a white heat of passion, those who marry for partnership and comfort, and those who live together, love each other, and have absolutely no intention of ruining it all with a wedding.
Evelyn has been married to her husband for forty years—forty years since he slipped off her first wedding ring and put his own in its place. Delphine has seen both sides of love—the ecstatic, glorious highs of seduction, and the bitter, spiteful fury that descends when it’s over. James, a paramedic who works the night shift, knows his wife’s family thinks she could have done better; while Kate, partnered with Dan for a decade, has seen every kind of wedding—beach weddings, backyard weddings, castle weddings—and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own. 
As these lives and marriages unfold in surprising ways, we meet Frances Gerety, a young advertising copywriter in 1947. Frances is working on the De Beers campaign and she needs a signature line, so, one night before bed, she scribbles a phrase on a scrap of paper: “A Diamond Is Forever.” And that line changes everything.

All That Is by James Salter
An extraordinary literary event, a major new novel by the PEN/Faulkner winner and acclaimed master: a sweeping, seductive, deeply moving story set in the years after World War II.
From his experiences as a young naval officer in battles off Okinawa, Philip Bowman returns to America and finds a position as a book editor. It is a time when publishing is still largely a private affair—a scattered family of small houses here and in Europe—a time of gatherings in fabled apartments and conversations that continue long into the night. In this world of dinners, deals, and literary careers, Bowman finds that he fits in perfectly. But despite his success, what eludes him is love. His first marriage goes bad, another fails to happen, and finally he meets a woman who enthralls him—before setting him on a course he could never have imagined for himself. 
Romantic and haunting, All That Is explores a life unfolding in a world on the brink of change. It is a dazzling, sometimes devastating labyrinth of love and ambition, a fiercely intimate account of the great shocks and grand pleasures of being alive.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Beautiful Ruins is a glorious read for book lovers. From the moment you pick up the novel, it conjures a world that you long to enter. The teal-blue Ligurian Sea laps against a jagged coastline filled with candy-colored houses and open windows. At first glance, you’re dying to get inside those houses and find out what’s going on.

Have you read any of the books listed? Thoughts? What books are you currently reading? I'm always looking for new book ideas. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Frolics

The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing color and pumpkin flavored everything abounds. We have yet to get to the apple orchard, but we still have the rest of October .. unless it snows, which is totally possible. blech.

Here is what we've been up to...

ECFE Class "That's Pie Style, Jack"

October Reading

We like it Hot Hot Hot! 

Someone's happy to have his own Adirondack Chair

Mini Donuts with Dad

Chili Cook-Off Party

Way cuter than Tom Brady

Halloween Decor

Chillin' on Great Grandparent's Lawn Chaise

Brothers in a Basket

Target is awesome!

Fire Department Open House

Great Grandma Angie with her Great Grandbabies

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sponsored Post - Frigidaire Water Filters

Having a Frigidaire refrigerator  we love our Frigidaire water filter. It makes our mineral dense city water taste fresh and clean. 

Well water often tastes far different than city water, which can be rather annoying if you are used to city water and this is the first house that you have owned that has its own well. Now, some well water is very pure and clean naturally, fueled by underground springs, so you might be fine, but some of it tastes like iron. This is due to the mineral deposits that are in the soil, which are getting into your water. They are not bad for you at all, but they can make your water taste different, which is not ideal. 

There are a number of things that you can do to improve the taste. First, just make sure that the water is cold. Put a bottle of it in the fridge after you fill it up at the tap and let it cool down. If you are pouring it straight from the tap, think about adding ice to it before you drink it. Lukewarm water tends to carry more flavor than cold water - in the same way that warm air carries more scents than the cold, crisp air of the winter - and so the cold water is going to taste better even though it is actually the same. 

Another tactic is to boil the water before you drink it. This is the same thing that people sometimes do when they want to purify water. Yours is clean, so you are not trying to make it safe to drink, but you can still purify it from the metallic elements that give it that taste. Boil a large pot of it on the stove, pour it into a pitcher or a container, and then put it in the fridge so that it can cool down before you drink it. 

Finally, you could get Frigidaire water filters at Frigidaire-store.com and install them in your fridge if it has a nozzle that dispenses water. Since your water has minerals in it, you need to change these filters more often than someone who lives in the city. They are going to remove the minerals and the taste from the water. Ideally, you want to switch out the filter once a month. Most people do not take theirs out more than once a year, which may be why your water tastes so bad - it is being sent through a filter that is very dirty.

Monday, September 30, 2013

9 Months!

9 Months!

Deacon has two adorable baby teeth and is now army crawling.  He had the croup again last week and ended up in the ER in the middle of the night. Thankfully, he does well with some steroids and a nebulizer treatment. He's also started  baby classes and seems to enjoy the other babies. 3 short months away until his First Birthday!!!  Whoo hooo! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Summer Flowers

Some of my favorite flowers from this summer. Not one of them came from my garden, because we did zero gardening this summer. Maybe next year... 

We have a little under two weeks of summer left! And we are taking advantage of every day of summer that we have. 
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