17 January 2017

Reading Challenge - Book Two

I wanted to like this book much more than I did. It was another Amazon Prime special, not really available til February 1, and I loved the premise - a poor girl making good. She gets the guy and lives rich, and happily-ever-after, right? Well, that was her plan, anyway.

In the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell fit the 14th category on the reading challenge list - a book involving travel.

Kate is able to impress a very rich man aboard an ocean liner while acting as a governess for two girls. The girls' aunt warns her about the family and an old mystery, but rich is rich, and Kate figures the aunt is just a grumpy old biddy who must be jealous. If only she knew then, isn't that what they always say?

Most of the book was quite an intriguing flashback, and I kept reading to find out how everything would unfurl. But then suddenly I found myself in the Epilogue, finding out how it all ends, with a child I knew nothing about, and no satisfying conclusion to the foreshadowing at the very beginning.

I was happy with the ending, but I felt like I'd just found out about a high-school friend on Facebook. I knew where it all stood 20 years ago, and I got to the happy ending, but the middle was sort of missing. It may have made a good part one, maybe bring the other child in on a part two, and then work toward an ending? Just my two cents.

That being said, this was not Blackwell's first novel, and I would be interested in reading what she's written previously. I enjoyed her style, I just think I'd enjoy the missing part of the story too ;)

10 January 2017

What You Need NOW

This is just my little service post from snowy, cold Michigan to help you get through this day/week/season. Here are some products that will help.

Heated Mattress Pad - You need this. You really do. I had electric blankets for years, but that is not this. I told hubby last night that I have a secret fantasy. He was happy to listen. I said, "What would happen...if I had the heated mattress pad, AND an electric blanket??" I'm sure I was glowing as I thought about it. I may finally not be cold.
A couple of the best features of our particular heated mattress pad are that it has dual controls (so we can each control our own side of the bed), and that it has a pre-heat feature. I can set it to pre-heat to lava temperature, and then after the specified time, it will go back to low, or wherever I set it, to just keep me at a cozy simmer.

Perfectly Posh - Oh, how dry winter skin craves Posh! Let me count the ways. But seriously, two of my very favorite Posh products for winter are our Honey Honey Hand Creme (which is on the retired/clearance list for just $12!!) and our classic Healer Skin Stick.
Did you know honey actually has healing effects? True story, and research backs it up. I just know it feels wonderful, without leaving my hands greasy. There's also a bigger tube of body creme available.
And speaking of healing, the Healer is a wonderful, portable stick of shea butter you'll want to carry everywhere with you. It can soothe chapped lips, help super dry hands or fingertips, or our latest, help pamper an overblown nose during the inevitable winter cold.

Fuzzy Slippers - I got mine last Christmas, but luckily I was still able to find them for you! There isn't much to make you feel cozy and warm while hiding from the winter like a pair of fuzzy slippers. Personally, I've ALWAYS got slippers on in my house. I don't know how many people have summer slippers and winter slippers, but I'm one. And these are my toasty winter slippers of choice. (See, my summer slippers have to be ready to run outside, so they've got a heftier sole, but not necessarily as much stuffing. Now you know my secrets.)

Favorite Nameless Drink - Yeah. I got all ready to write about this one, but it has no name. LOL Here's the best drink ever for warming your insides on a cold winter evening. I love to have it in a rocks glass while sitting by the fireplace and enjoying a movie with my husband. Preferably while also bundled in a soft blanket.

  • 1 oz Fireball Whiskey
  • 1 oz vanilla (or in this case, whipped cream) vodka
  • 2 oz Rum Chata
I mix those over ice in a rocks glass. If the glass isn't quite full, I may add a splash of milk too. I breathe a little more relaxed just imagining having one later on :)

What's your best way to feel warm, cozy, and comfortable inside while listening to cold winds blow?

09 January 2017

Reading Challenge - Book One

Funny-ish story: I forget why I stared reading this one. LOL

While I started it over the holidays, I finished it yesterday, which was definitely in 2017. So, as the 13th category (a book by or about a person who has a disability) on the 2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge, I completed Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson.

I forget why I read it, but I'm glad I did. Also amusing, I kept waiting for more of a 'story-telling' style to start, since I was surprised to be reading about Rosemary later in her life, but my Kindle showed I was only 35% finished. It turns out, there's a LOT of notes at the end. This book was very well-researched by the author.

Rosemary is probably to be credited with being the driving force behind a lot of the legislation protecting those with disabilities, but not intentionally.
Growing up, she was largely hidden, especially by her mother and father, who didn't want the stigma of a 'less-than-perfect- child. While the other Kennedy children seemingly loved and accepted Rosemary for who she was, her parents spent a lot of time finding placements at boarding schools and such throughout Rosemary's life.

During a decline in her 20s, the decision was made (although there's no concrete evidence of exactly who may have been involved) for Rosemary to have a frontal lobotomy. This, unfortunately, sealed her fate. She went from an intellectually and emotionally challenged young woman (a clear diagnosis is never really given, other than the term 'retarded' which fit for the day), to a woman with physical disabilities and extremely limited communication skills and speech.

The original cause of Rosemary's challenges is presented as a probable birth injury from limited oxygen at her delivery, when the nurse didn't feel prepared for the actual birth, and the doctor was delayed due to a local epidemic at the time. This made me so mad for a large part of the book. Often called one of the most attractive Kennedys, who knows what Rosemary's true potential was.

The bright side indeed was the efforts of several of her siblings, including President John F Kennedy and Eunice Kennedy Shriver , to create more acceptance and opportunities for those with disabilities. While Rosemary likely never realized the extent of her impact on her family, its positive effects continue into the present time.

03 January 2017

What a Break!!

The holidays can make everything in 'real life' so confusing!! Happy New Year to you and yours, and hope all of your celebrations were safe and enjoyable!

I'm back-ish, but it sure does feel like a Monday! Hubby is back in the office today, but the kids are still at home for one more day. Does that mean tomorrow will feel like Monday too?

While hubby and our daughter started off their break with a ski trip to Mont Tremblant, our son and I just enjoyed an extra-long staycation. We had a couple days of school and a playdate after they'd already left, but then we had a day of absolutely nothing (he wore his PJs until bedtime, when he changed into clean PJs), and a day when he said he 'wasn't in the mood to eat food cooked at home,' so we got a pizza and Finding Dory from the Redbox.

Once we had the whole family back again, the first thing we did was literally just push through Christmas finally. LOL It was another blessed and fun Christmas, and we headed over to visit family after we'd opened all the wrapped presents we could find at home. I keep thinking we have Chinese food for dinner on Christmas, but we somehow had a bit of a hard time finding it on our way home. But we did - where there's a will, there's a way!

Monday, hubby and I were excited to pick out our new French door for the basement walk-out. It's had a regular doorwall forever, but the wall needs to be replaced after some water damage, so we may as well get a cool door to put there while they're doing the work anyway. So after visiting our local Home Depot and getting some great help from a door-guy there, we piddled the afternoon away and started putting away the toy store that exploded for Christmas (this may be an ongoing theme through the week. Hahaha....).

Tuesday we did Christmas yet again, as some family visited us with lots more goodies for the kids. Hubby was excited to be back skiing after everyone left that evening.

Wednesday was the day our son had looked forward to since Christmas. We were meeting some friends at Chuck E Cheese for a playdate. Funny story - one of the families we were meeting had always told their child that Chuck E Cheese was only for birthday parties. Hahaha... They were kind enough to say there was an exception this time so the kids could meet up and play, even though no one was celebrating a birthday in our group.
Wednesday ended with a nice visit from another out-of-town friend who happened to be in the area. Much beer was consumed, and fun stories swapped.

Remarkably, we had enough coins left over after Chuck E Cheese to head to the movies on Thursday. I absolutely love visiting the movies, and it's gotten even more fun for me with my AMC Stubs card - I feel like I've got a discount every time! We admittedly did go for the matinee, but we're up by 11am usually anyway, right? This time we went and saw Sing, which I think had just opened the week before. It was a pretty full theater, but I was impressed at how well behaved so many kids were.

Friday we sort of split ways. Our daughter had a great day at a mini-camp of sorts at the local ice rink, and our son's only goal was collecting the Sing Happy Meal toys from McDonald's. Oh, and it was finally time for some vital grocery shopping. LOL

New Year's Eve, we made last minute plans and spent the evening with some friends we've know for years, who only recently moved closer to us. It was a great evening of making new memories, and reminiscing about fun times passed. The kids got to play Pie Face, add Pop Rocks to Sprite, enjoy cupcakes, and top off the year with a balloon drop.

What's your favorite way to spend the holidays? Traveling? Visiting? Staying home in PJs? Checking out local stuff to do? I felt lucky this time that we didn't have a lot of snow or yucky weather to deal with, so I was able to head out whenever for a little fun outside the house.

27 December 2016

Time to Remodel Your Kitchen?

This is a guest/sponsored post.

Looking for a tradesman to remodel your kitchen? Before you go any further, read these four tips on how to find the right person for the job. Remember, choosing the right tradesman to undertake a kitchen renovation could save you money, time, and a lot of hassle!

1. You need the right tradesman for the job

A kitchen redesign can present a number of challenges if the wrong person is working on the project. Find out what type of tradesman you will need to carry out the job. For example, if you are just having your kitchen cupboard doors replaced, a general tradesman will usually suffice. However, for more specific projects, you might need to call in an electrician or plumber. Look for workers in your area who have the right skills for your project.

2. You need a tradesman with good online reviews

Before you choose a tradesman for your kitchen remodel, do some research online. Using a third-party review website will provide you with a host of information about electricians, plumbers and other tradesmen, with reviews that have been left by people who have previously used their services. This is a great way to check whether a tradesman is right for your project and provides good value for money. Popular sites like Mybuilder.com and CheckaTrade.com use a feedback system, where customers can rank and rate a tradesman after a project has been completed. Once you have found a few tradesmen you are interested in, you can contact them directly and ask for a quote. A good online review website will provide you with the peace of mind you need when searching for a local tradesman online.

3. You need a tradesman with a wealth of experience

Online review websites will often provide you with more information about a tradesman, but sometimes you might want to carry out some additional research, especially if you need a worker for a large home project like a kitchen remodel. You can do this by checking out the website of the tradesman you are interested in and finding out how much experience they have. Most tradesmen will include information on their websites such as the length of time they have worked in the industry, their credentials and any other qualifications which make them right for the job. If you can't find any of this information online, contact them directly to find out more. You can ask how many clients they have worked with in the past, how long the project will take and how much it will cost you.

4. Getting the best price

When planning on getting some work done on your house you never really know how much things will cost unless you are in the trade. People can often under budget or even over budget and pay far too much for jobs in their home. It is always best to try and find the best price available. When planning a job it's always best to get a few quotes of some tradesman and also do some research yourself to see if you can do anything to reduce the cost of the job. For example, if you wanted to get your living room wall papered, you could take the paper off for the decorator and save yourself some money.

26 December 2016

Reading Challenge - Book 17


I was telling my husband, I think I've learned more about history from historical fiction than from real history classes. Facts and figures don't have nearly as much staying power as 'real' characters do for me. Which leads me to the next great book I ready this year.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah tells the story of Vianne during World War II. Vianne was a French woman in a small rural town with (originally) a very useful airstrip. When France surrenders to Germany, Vianne is left to negotiate German occupation as a single mom, a sister, a friend, and a daughter - with several roles meaning something different than she ever dreamed.

We also hear the viewpoint of Vianne's sister, Isabelle. A rebel all her life, the war gives Isabelle a true purpose, and a focus for all her fighting.

I would definitely recommend this book, but be ready to cry as you hear how the experience of war and living through the war influenced and changed Vianne, her neighbors and children, Isobelle and those she worked with, the girls' father, and so many others. It's a book about the war, but even more about how the characters lived through it, or died trying.

23 December 2016

10 Random Things for Friday

  1. Friday definitely feels less-Friday this close to Christmas. I woke up definitely feeling rather Monday-ish. Huh.
  2. I think it's less cold than last week, but I didn't leave my house - at all - yesterday. Win!
  3. I'm excited my hubby and baby girl are coming home from their big ski trip today. They should be on their way already!
  4. I'm also happy to be taking a new sugar body scrub, called 'Blissed Out' into the shower this morning. Sometimes it's the little things.
  5. Should I go anywhere today? No real need...may have another at-home day. But I will shower this time. LOL
  6. For the first time in memory, the gifts are wrapped already!! And it isn't even Christmas Eve! I started while Jack was at school and I was home alone the other day, and finished last night after he went to bed. Yay, me!
  7. I'm still faking it for the kids, but desperately searching for my holiday spirit. I don't know if it's because 2016 has seemed like such a shitstorm, or being so far from any of my family that reminds me of being a kid, but I'm really not into it this year. I've tried sharing gifts with families in need, helping out friends in a tight spot, getting out much-loved holiday crafts... and I still walk away feeling pretty hollow. As Peggy Lee would say, "Is that all there is?" But we still press on. And honestly do love the excitement for the kids.
  8. Jack quote of the week: "Hey mom, it's almost Christmas, and then we can touch everything again." He's referring to the elf on the shelf, who moves around and can't be touched. So there's a little corner of the house each day that we're careful around, so Pokey the elf doesn't lose his magic. Hahahaha...
  9. I'm getting hungry... I think my Amazon Pantry box came with a can of clam chowder yesterday. And I still have a salmon filet and some rice left. Choices, choices...
  10. Wish me luck - I think I still want a batch of butter cookies made with the cookie press. Every single time there's a learning curve, but apparently I'm feeling brave! And it will be so nice for the house to smell like fresh cookies when hubby and Maggie get back. :)