11 June 2019

Pokemon Detective Pikachu - My Review

I can't believe I forgot to tell ya'll about this one! A few weeks ago, Jack had a half day of school, and Maggie had a field trip for the afternoon, so the boy and I got another mommy/son date day. It happened to be the opening day of Pokemon Detective Pikachu! I bought the tickets the day before and surprised him by telling him after the mothers day tea at school.

I liked this movie way more than I expected! I ended up really enjoying the Pikachu character's snarky comments and personality. The voice of Ryan Reynolds really helped this. If I closed my eyes, I could picture Deadpool, right? LOL

Jack still keeps coming up and expecting me to remember details about Pokemon from the movie. Luckily, this information was not necessary to enjoy the movie. I didn't know much about Pokemon before, and the movie explained just as much as was necessary, I felt. 

I'd recommend this as a fun summer movie for the whole family to enjoy. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars, and would totally see a follow-up, as long as Ryan Reynolds was still there. 

10 June 2019

Happy Homemaker Monday - 6/10/19 edition

This is the last week of school for our district! Our house sort of revolves around the school year, since both kids are in the local schools, and I work at the closest elementary to us. While I love working with the kids, I'm really looking foward to sleeping in!

While we wind down for the summer, it's also an exceptionally crazy week since both hubby and I celebrate our birthdays (his is Wednesday, mine is Thursday) and then we take Maggie to baton camp on Sunday, which is Fathers' Day! Whew!

It's been a while, but I'm back for another round of Happy Homemaker Monday with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom. Since I figure I only am scheduled to work 10 hours/week outside my home, my first (and always most important) job is stay-at-home and work-from-home mom.

I'm thrilled to finally be seeing some summer-ness. Of course, I'm accompanying my daughter on a zoo field trip on Thursday...

TBR {to be read}::
I just last night started Losing Brave by Bailee Madison & Stefne Miller. I've also uploaded Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King to my Kindle.
Watch this space in a few days for a summary of what I read in May.

On my TV this week::
Hubs and I finished up the first three episodes of Season Three of The Handmaid's Tale. The next episode will be released by Hulu on Wednesday. Can't wait!
While scoring, I watched a bit of Baby Driver (a favorite) for background noise. I've also overheard some of Lego Movie 2, the new Annie, Epic, and Toy Story when the kids played inside for a few minutes..

This week's menu::
Birthdays are making this one easy-ish.
Tonight we've got chicken and dumplings going in the crock-pot.
Tomorrow - I'll have to come up with something! LOL
Wednesday is hubby's birthday - hubby's choice!
Thursday I've requested a platter of lamb, chicken, and all the fixings from our local Pita Way (or similar) - YUMMO!
And Thursday we also get three meals from Hello Fresh, so that will take care of Friday (and next Tuesday & Wednesday!).

To-do list::
Wrap hubby's presents for his birthday and Fathers Day
Mail Maggie's hair donation to Children with Hair Loss
Get graduation cards for the three graduates we'll be celebrating this weekend
Turn in my last timesheet for this year on Wednesday

Looking forward to::
Sleeping in. :D

Looking around the house::
I've got one more week of test scoring (which means I'm usually at my computer if I'm home), but then I can sit out and read, probably pull a few weeds...

One of my simple pleasures:: 
I just got my new planner for 2020 from Erin Condren, and also got the summer surprise box - I love it all!! I ordered earlier than usual because I'm going to start planning our trip to Disney for spring break next year!

07 June 2019

10 Random Things for Friday

  1. Whew - have I said my spring is busy or what?!? As of yesterday, I passed 40 hours of paid work for this week - and I only have a 10 hour/week job! I've subbed an additional three days in kitchens this week, plus one day supervising recess. Add in my test scoring, and the hours are piling up! Finished my two hours for my kitchen shift this morning, and now I need to score for at least four hours. But summer will mean ALL of July and most of August having adventures with the kids (while earning NO money - LOL).
  2. I think several school districts near us end classes today. We've still got all of next week (but Friday is a half-day for all levels). I get to go on a field trip with my daughter's class next Thursday to the Detroit Zoo! Yay! We haven't been since last summer! Still considering whether another annual family pass is something we want for this summer....
  3. Once scoring gets caught up (the whole project is supposed to finish by June 17), I will finish the last book review on my desk, plus read and review the last two books on my pile. Then we need to schedule another visit to my friendly book supplier so I can dive in again :)
  4. Other summer plans (can you tell where my head is?): baton camp for Maggie is the first half week after school is out; we'll pick a day each week to visit the library; another day each week will be written in stone for a beach/playground/indoor play area if necessary; time each day for reading (we all signed up for the library reading program today); Jack has On Your Mark camp in July; Maggie has Young Americans in August; both kids get to go camping with Mimi and Papa later in the summer. Whew! I thought we were laying low this summer, but it sounds busy again to me!
  5. The weather is finally looking nicer. Yay!
  6. Before we even jump into summer, next week has hubby's birthday, MY birthday, and Father's Day. The kids are in charge of opening all incoming Amazon packages so no surprises are ruined. Hahaha...
  7. I'm also excited for a Hello Fresh box this week! We haven't done our fun meal prep boxes for most of the school year! Want a box for just $40? Use my link!
  8. Check back next week - I've GOT to show you my new purse from Holly Aiken. It's adorable, and based on my other one, will last FOREVER!
  9. Which reminds me - I'm also expecting a fun package from Erin Condren (my 2020 planner so I can start on my Disney trip, plus the summer surprise box!), and the Kitty Poo Club (just what it sounds like... I have two kitties, and they poo....).
  10. What are your most exciting summer plans? I know working for the schools leaves me a little biased - this time of year feels more like the 'end' of the year than December does!

24 May 2019

10 Random Things for Friday

  1. After serving at another school as a substitute lunch lady for two days this week, I've determined I'm out of practice. LOL I'm so tired. But I always need more summer money, right?
  2. It's Annster's birthday this weekend . Go check out her blog and wish her a happy one, eh? Hope it's great, Ann!
  3. The weather finally seems to be warming up! I've left the house without a jacket a couple times this week. Hard to believe it's almost June already though - c'mon summer!
  4. My new purse from Holly Aiken should come next week!! I can't wait! I've carried my first bag from her since January 2018. And it still looks awesome! I'm excited to have a little bit smaller bag to carry on my summer adventures. 
  5. Have you tried the new Orange Coke? I did, more than once even! It's good, but my favorite is still Cherry Coke.
  6. I'm momentarily between test-scoring projects right now, sort of. I've already trained for my next project, but we don't have papers to score til Tuesday. So I suppose thanks for giving me the holiday weekend off? I just try to work as many hours as I can around now, since all my jobs are completely done for summer break. I'm like a squirrel, except I work all winter to relax all summer. Hahaha...
  7. I would LOVE to spend this bonus weekend just chilling out at home, and sleeping in, and watching Dead to Me (all I've seen is the pilot so far). But hubby also wants to work on a friend's race car. So we're going three hours away tomorrow to stay in the friend's guest room and hopefully be able to have dinner with hubs if they take a break? And then we need to come home again Sunday night so Maggie can be in the Memorial Day parade on Monday (I think this is like her 7th Memorial Day parade?!?). After that we'll have everyone who comes out to watch her in the parade over to our house to grill some late lunch.
  8. Maggie and I are planning haircuts for next weekend! :O Maggie has never had her hair 'cut' besides getting it trimmed. She's looking to take it up to shoulder length so it isn't in her way so much, and the ends will be healthy again. I'm planning to go with some layers and bangs for myself. During the school year I have to have it up and covered with a hat or hairnet most of the time, so I've decided a cute style for summer will be fun. Wish us luck!
  9. We are in the process of hiring house cleaners, but apparently so is everyone else! It took almost a month to get an quote, and now we're waiting another couple weeks for the initial deep clean. Then we can get it all spruced up every other week. In the meantime, I have less motivation than ever to make it sparkle - I'm still just keeping it liveable. In my defense, our dishes and laundry are always tip-top! I just don't care enough about vacuuming and dusting, I guess.
  10. Hope you have fabulously fun weekend plans! It always feels a little off to 'celebrate' Memorial Day. My most sincere condolences to those who have lost a loved one in service to our great country.

14 May 2019

Books - April 2019

In the month of April, I finished reading six books. This month I really shook it up - I actually only 'read' four, but listened to two while my daughter and I were on a road trip to New Jersey. Ten hours each way - we finished a book on the way there, and another on the way back. I've heard the librarian tell people that audio books count for book challenges, so I listed them as well.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I loved this book so much! This was a recommendation from a teacher friend at school who then loaned me the book. If you've read this one already, you'll get why I re-read the last few pages an extra couple of times. I loved it and I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars. If you haven't read this one, I think you should. Here's the official summary:

"For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life--until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps."

Witches by Roald Dahl

I listened to this book, and it was not at all what I expected. Talk about dark! I don't know if this is a 'children's book' for anyone much younger than my (11-year-old) daughter. The author has a very interesting style. While I've seen several of the movies from his books, I don't really enjoy his writing style much. I did read one more book (that a friend said was her favorite) by him in May, but I'm still not really impressed. I'd give this one 2.75 out of 5 stars.

"This is not a fairy tale. This is about real witches.

Grandmamma loves to tell about witches. Real witches are the most dangerous of all living creatures on earth. There's nothing they hate so much as children, and they work all kinds of terrifying spells to get rid of them. Her grandson listens closely to Grandmamma's stories—but nothing can prepare him for the day he comes face-to-face with The Grand High Witch herself!"

Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This is the third book in the Missing series, about some children who were abducted and transported through time. We have listened to the first three books in the series so far. I really enjoy this series, because even though the original premise sounds a little crazy, I like finding out about the time periods the children are returning to. They're sort of a historical fiction, with modern-day children trying to remember their history classes while navigating times long ago. I'd give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars. It got a bit confusing toward the end. Most of the story lines were wrapped up, and the details were hard to keep paying attention to in the last chapter or so.

"After helping Chip and Alex survive 15th-century London, Jonah and Katherine are summoned to help another missing child, Andrea, face her fate. Andrea is really Virginia Dare, from the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Jonah and Katherine are confident in their ability to help Andrea fix history, but when their journey goes dangerously awry, they realize that they may be in over their heads: They’ve landed in the wrong time period. Andrea doesn’t seem that interested in leaving the past. And even worse, it appears that someone has deliberately sabotaged their mission...."

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I really wanted to read this one because of all the hub-bub around it. I have not seen the movie (but I'd like to now). I enjoyed this a lot. I don't know if 'enjoyed' is the right word, as it really portrays a lot of unfairness in the world. It may be a work of fiction, but it's about the real world, and that really breaks my heart for so many children (okay, and adults). I'd give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life."

Courting Mr Lincoln by Louis Bayard

I read this book and reviewed it for Books I Think You Should Read. It was about Abraham Lincoln and his friend Joshua Speed. They were close during the time when Lincoln began courting Mary Todd. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. Here's the summary:

"When Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in the winter of 1840, he is on no one’s short list to be president. A country lawyer living above a dry goods shop, he is lacking both money and manners, and his gift for oratory surprises those who meet him. Mary, a quick, self-possessed debutante with an interest in debates and elections, at first finds him an enigma. “I can only hope,” she tells his roommate, the handsome, charming Joshua Speed, “that his waters being so very still, they also run deep.”

It’s not long, though, before she sees the Lincoln that Speed knows: an amiable, profound man who, despite his awkwardness, has a gentle wit to match his genius, and who respects her keen political mind. But as her relationship with Lincoln deepens, she must confront his inseparable friendship with Speed, who has taught his roommate how to dance, dress, and navigate the polite society of Springfield.

Told in the alternating voices of Mary Todd and Joshua Speed, and inspired by historical events, Courting Mr. Lincoln creates a sympathetic and complex portrait of Mary unlike any that has come before; a moving portrayal of the deep and very real connection between the two men; and most of all, an evocation of the unformed man who would grow into one of the nation’s most beloved presidents. Louis Bayard, a master storyteller, delivers here a page-turning tale of love, longing, and forbidden possibilities."

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

This was another recommendation from a friend. I enjoyed the characters in this one a lot and would love to hang out in their fiction city. Since hubby went to school in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan (where the story was based), he recognized the town that inspired the author. While it was based in the Upper Penninsula, it was a story that could apply to so many small towns. I liked the book a lot and would give it 4 out of 5 stars.

"When Madeline Stone walks away from Chicago and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she isn't prepared for how much her life will change. 

Charged with caring for an aging family friend, Madeline finds herself in the middle of beautiful nowhere with Gladys and Arbutus, two octogenarian sisters-one sharp and stubborn, the other sweeter than sunshine. As Madeline begins to experience the ways of the small, tight-knit town, she is drawn into the lives and dramas of its residents. It's a place where times are tough and debts run deep, but friendship, community, and compassion run deeper. As the story hurtles along-featuring a lost child, a dashed love, a car accident, a wedding, a fire, and a romantic reunion-Gladys, Arbutus, and the rest of the town teach Madeline more about life, love, and goodwill than she's learned in a lifetime. 

A heartwarming novel, South of Superior explores the deep reward in caring for others, and shows how one who is poor in pocket can be rich in so many other ways, and how little it often takes to make someone happy."

13 May 2019

Prepare for My Birthday!

That's right, folks. You have exactly one month til my birthday! Don't worry, it isn't a big one with an '0' or a '5' or anything. And I'm too old for a 'magical' birthday (sorry, people on the Disney chat page say your magical birthday is when your age matches the date, so mine was when I turned 13, which was a long time ago).

Anyway, it's just a regular-ish birthday. But when the kids asked what I wanted for Mother's Day, I had no ideas. And I've started asking what my husband wants for his June birthday, and he's giving me no suggestions. So I've started this post so everyone can know some ideas of what I want for my birthday.

Here goes!

I got my first pair of Tieks about a year ago. I was worried, as I'd never spent so much money on a pair of shoes before, but I love them! I've got a pair of size 9 in Taupe. I think for my second pair, I could go for some Lavender Patents, or maybe the Tangerine Classics, or even Greystone Vegans. I want there to still be some element of surprise, right?

So I tried to find a picture for this next bit of fabulousness, but I found TOO MANY that are TOO CUTE! I would love a tiered plant stand for outside on our deck. And some beautiful flowering plants to fill it. I do several hanging baskets around our front porch, along with a few hummingbird feeders. I would like some pretty plants I can see on my back deck, since I'm more often toward the back of the house (kitchen or dining room table) when I'm working on stuff inside. So go ahead and google 'tiered plant stand' and get me something cool. :D

Along that same line, the kids and I saw some really cool suncatchers the other day. There's a hook wayyyy above my kitchen window, but with a bit of decorative chain, one of those cool dangling solar fairies could sparkle in the sun, and then glow with its solar energy into the night. I can't find a good picture of it right now either, but I think it was at Meijer.

And I keep looking for a picture but can't find a single one that looks like flip-flops I would like. The ones I've been wearing (and they're still quite comfy) are from Fan Flops, and were sold as part of a fundraiser. They have a thick, squishy bottom, and a wide fabric strap on the top. But I'd like something new instead of the fundraiser message across my foot.

Oh! I would also enjoy some more PartyLite candles. I'm running low. Tealights fit in anything, but I also love a good jar candle from PartyLite. It's easy to find a consultant near you, or someone you know who may not live near you, but can still ship anywhere. I like not especially floral scents. So food ones, or just light scents. And I know they may be a bit more expensive than the deal you can get at the dollar store, but that's because they're worth it.

Last but not least, I can always go for some new, fun graphic tees. I always love zombies, sloths, or cool book quotes. Kid-friendly is somewhat preferred (unless you see something I HAVE to have!). Usually a women's size L, or a unisex M.

If all that fails, of course I have an Amazon wish list ;) Or Disney gift cards in preparation for our trip next spring! Honestly, I appreciate the good wishes, gifts are just a bonus. Thanks!

30 April 2019

Easy Coffee Cake

I've been meaning to share this wonderful recipe I found for coffee cake. See, I was charged with bringing some sort of baked good to Easter brunch a coup;le weeks ago. My mom (the hostess) doesn't usually eat flour, so it wasn't up her alley,  but she knew it was something we would enjoy. So I went searching for a good recipe, instead of just picking something up at the grocery store.

I found this wonderful recipe at Lil Luna. It was a wonderful coffee cake and everyone agreed that it was delicious. And the other bonus - all the ingredients were things I had on hand! Big win :)

Feel free to click through to Lil Luna for a video and lots of other tips, but here's the basic recipe for your convenience (and mine, when I want to make it again...).

1 C oil (I used the canola I had left, plus some grapeseed oil)
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 C milk
1 C sugar
3 C flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C butter, melted

1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.   In large mixing bowl, combine oil, eggs, vanilla, and milk together.
3.   In a medium bowl, blend together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
4.   Combine egg mixture with flour mixture. Pour half the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan.
5.   In a medium bowl, prepare streusel by combining brown sugar and cinnamon.
6.   Sprinkle half of the streusel by on top of the batter. Top with remaining batter and then sprinkle the remaining streusel on top.
7.   Drizzle with melted butter.
8.   Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 25 - 30 minutes.