Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Funday

I hope you have a fabulous weekend in store for you! 

Enjoy my favorite pins from this week!

One of my favorite moves OF.ALL.TIME.

Summer clothes that I need in my wardrobe...

And, finally, a couple of funny dog quotes that I totally agree with...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Garden Bennys

Today I thought I'd share with you guys a quick little stroll around our garden...fruits and veggies only.  I could share flowers, but then this post would be about twice as long. 

There are many reasons why I love my husband, but one particular thing that endears me to him especially is his love of gardening (comes from being raised as a farm boy).  So, during this time of year there are all sorts of awesome things happening back behind our house. 

Our most recent and tasty treat that the backyard is currently producing is strawberries!

This container contains only last night's picking!  And there's about a dozen missing that David took in to work to share with his boss today.

I will admit that last night was the biggest harvest yet, but still!  I'm so pumped that we're getting so many, strawberries are my favorite fruit...well, if you watch the Big Bang Theory you might know they're not a real fruit.  But, I digress...

Here's a portion of what our strawberry patch looks like.

The main section of our garden that's been getting our attention (before and during strawberry picking) is this one.  The two center rows are salad mix and spinach.  Yum!  As you can see, I can have a big, fat salad pretty much whenever I want.  And spinach has been going in and on a lot of meals.  Sandwiches, salads...I even put some in the flautas I made the other night.  Spinach is probably my favorite veggie, I love it in just about any form; I love it raw and cooked.

The far left row is carrots that will be picked pretty soon...they're an experiment this year, so the verdict's still out on them.

And then the far right row is David's favorite veggie...beets.  Pardon me while I gag for a moment. ::Ack::  But, he and Molly both love them.  The traitorous little girl revealed that she liked them too last year.  Oh well...more for them!

Next up, our teeny tomato plants.  These two bad boys won't be this small for much longer.

And the two rows to the left (can you even tell there's two rows?) are green beans.  We had green beans coming out of our ears last year.  Hopefully that happens again as I'd like to experiment in canning them this year.

You might be wondering what the green stuff with flowers at the bottom is: chives!  Love 'em! 

**Please disregard the corn husks, we had some the other night and that's how David disposes of the garden.  One of the many reasons why gardens aren't pretty a lot of the time.

These guys are on their way out...asparagus.  We got quite a bit more than last year, but really only two full meals worth.  I'm looking forward to a better crop next year.  In the meantime, these will continue to grow and get more branches throughout the summer...hopefully leading to an even better crop next year!

Lastly, the pots on my patio.  There are a couple flower pots in there, but those pictured mostly consist of herbs and three pepper plants. 

Our pepper plants didn't do too well in the garden last year, but a friend of mine had HUGE peppers with her potted plants.  So, that's what we're trying this year... 

The herbs I'm growing this year include: parsley, cilantro, basil, rosemary and dill.  I LOVE cooking with fresh herbs!  And it's so easy to just run out to the back really quick with some snips.  You can't get much fresher than that!

Well, that's about it.  I hope you enjoyed this mini photo tour of our garden/backyard. 

Do you garden or grow your own herbs?  Want to?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fly Away

Awww, do you ever pick up a book and it just feels right?  That's how I felt when I picked up Fly Away, Kristin Hannah's sequel to Firefly Lane.  I'll premise this review by saying that Kristin Hannah has quickly become, if not one of my favorites, at least one of my most read authors.  I LOVE Winter Garden and Firefly Lane came in a verrrry close second.  If you'd like a recap of my review of Firefly Lane, simply click here.  Seriously, one of the best books I read last year.  So, when this book came out recently I did something I rarely do, I let it skip to the top of my over-year-long book queue.  If you haven't read Firefly Lane yet, then don't worry because this post will not have a spoiler! 

This book does start off where Firefly Lane ended and follows three of the main characters from the original work: Tully (of the infamous TullyandKate), Marah (Kate's daughter) and Cloud/Dorothy (Tully's mom).  Without going into detail, there was a traumatic incident at the end of the previous, imagine what the worst possible reaction could be for each and every main character?  That's pretty much where Kristin Hannah takes this.  This book gets pretty dark in places, but at the same time you can't really fault the characters for reacting the way they do. 

My absolute favorite part of this book starts a little over halfway through the book.  Cloud becomes a major player in the storyline and you finally get to learn how and why she is the way she is.  In Firefly Lane she's a pretty two-dimensional character; you can pretty much guess what she is going to do and how she's going to do it.  In Fly Away you learn her past and why she has done the things she's done.  It was very eye-opening for me and I really appreciated reading the full story that you didn't get the first time around...and you didn't even realize you were missing much before. 

I really enjoyed this sequel.  It didn't tie everything up in pretty bows, but it was realistic and ended in a way I thought was "right."  I would definitely recommend picking this one up, especially if you've already read the first.  Four out of five stars and a big thumbs up for Kristin Hannah yet again.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Start Back to Reality with a Smile

Between last week's tornado(es) and this past extended holiday weekend there are a lot of people that are really and truly heading back into reality (AKA work) today.  So, to start off this short week on my blog, I thought I would share with you a couple of fluffy, fun and (alright, I'll say it) smutty reads.  As I've mentioned before, I need some "fluff" in between some of the serious books I like to read.  And there is a handful of us in my book club that aren't ashamed to pick up a little something others might consider "low-brow" from time to time. 

This first one is actually the prequel to a series I already covered a few weeks ago, The Wallflowers Series.  If you'd like to read my review of this addictive series, simply click here.  Seriously, this set of books is like a breath of fresh air if you need something fun and flirty.  And this prequel, Again the Magic, did not disappoint.

If you're looking for a fun book to read that won't make you think too hard...Lisa Kleypas never seems to disappoint.

Up next is a fun, hilarious, romantic series that has been just as enjoyable (and in which the same round of girls in my book club tend to enjoy).  I've read each of the previous books, The Accidental Genie is actually book seven.  And you really should read the series in order.  However, it's not like they're totally unpredictable...if you know what I mean.  While this wasn't my favorite of the lot, I still enjoyed it and will definitely read Dakota Cassidy's next Accidental book.

I hope that these books bring a smile to your face if you decide to pick them up.  Are you like me and tend to read mindless and fun books from time to time as a palate cleanser?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Funday

I'm kind of at a loss this week.  After the Moore tornado I feel like anything I can put on here would seem frivolous and unnecessary.  But, on this Friday I think it's best to simply keep going on with your regular routine as well as you can.  Which is simple for someone like me, but harder for those in Moore and Oklahoma City.  My thoughts are with them numerous times a day and I know that will not change soon, but gradually everyone will begin to adjust.  It's funny how time takes care of things like that. 

So, without further ado, my favorite pins this week...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

There Are No Words

There, literally, are no words for the tragic circumstances that have taken place in Oklahoma over the past couple days.  And my heart aches especially so for those in the Moore area. 

We are fine, nothing too serious made it's way to Tulsa.  And, luckily, I only know a couple people who even have property damage.  I cannot tell you how blessed that makes me feel at this time. 

If you would like to help in the relief effort in some capacity, then I suggest donating to two of the best relief organizations I know:

American Red Cross
Dial 1-800-REDCROSS 
Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Salvation Army
Dial 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
Text STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.”

In the meantime,

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up and Girl, Interrupted

Happy Monday all!  I had a super fun weekend.  This past Friday was supposed to be book club, but my girls are so awesome that a few months back we decided to do book club up here in Tulsa at my house.  Four of my favorite ladies drove up on Friday and we had a totally fun sleepover.  Lots of gabbing, good food and a little wine.  Then, Saturday morning two more book clubbers came (with their newbie babies, so cute!) and we officially held book club. 

I really enjoyed it because I love to host people and you know I made some tasty treats for my girls!  Friday night I made my favorite rib recipe, for that recipe simply click here.  Then, Saturday morning I made a couple Pioneer Woman recipes.  The first was an old standby that I love, her cinnamon rolls.  For her recipe, including step-by-step pictures, you can simply click here.  The second brunch-type item I prepared was a new-to-me PW that I'd been holding on to for such an occasion: Make-Ahead Muffin Melts.  These were delicious and a big hit, I'd highly recommend them!  For that recipe on the Pioneer Woman website, simply click here.

OK, so would you like to hear about one of the books I reviewed on Saturday morning?  Here ya go!

Did you know that this movie...

was originally a book?

Yea, me neither!  So, when one of my book club gals brought it one month, I totally snatched it up! 

This book is the true life story of Susanna Kaysen from when she spent two years in a ward for teenage girls at McLean Hospital.  The book includes copies of a lot of Kaysen's medical charts as well as her commentary of what happened while she was committed. 

If you've seen the movie, it pretty well encompasses this entire book.  I have to say though, that if I hadn't seen the movie first, I might have been a little lost.  A lot of times Kaysen's writing is disjointed and doesn't always follow chronologically.  What's funny is that the last two chapters included Kaysen's commentary of life after being released and how she feels about the whole process now.  She's much more clear and concise in these two chapters.  It's almost as if another person wrote these chapters.

This book was fascinating to me, partly because I never knew this was a true story.  It's a quick and easy read and I'd recommend it if you're into this sort of thing.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Funday

It's been pretty uneventful around this house for the past week.  And I could have updated you on yet another book (or 5) I've read recently yesterday, but since I don't want this blog to be ALL about books, I decided to let yesterday pass with no post.  I did pin some pretty awesome stuff on Pinterest this week though.  Enjoy!  And hopefully I'll have some tasty recipes or cute crafty stuff to share next week!

I do this ALL.THE.TIME.

Love this moment.
Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

And, of course...a couple of book pins.

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Frederick Douglass

I've recently read Frederick Douglass' autobiographies Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and My Escape From Slavery.  These books are amazing when you step back and think to yourself that this really happened.  But, at the same time they're pretty dry.  I felt the same way about them as I did The Narrative of Sojourner Truth and even The Jungle.  These books needed to be written and published to share the atrocities that our society was harboring. 

I would definitely recommend these two.  They're quite short even though they are a bit dry.  I listened to them in audio, which I think helped a lot.  If you have that option, I'd definitely take it up if I were you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mediocre Reading

I'm waaaay behind on my book reviews on here.  In a manner of catching up a bit, I'll share some of my reads that were a bit underwhelming.  Each of the three following books I'd probably have a hard time writing a whole post about, which is why I'm combining them all here.

The Postmistress is a book that rotated around my book club a little and I was intrigued with it from the beginning.  The story follows three very different women during World War II.  One woman is a newly appointed postmistress to the small town of Franklin, Massachusetts.  The second is the wife of a young doctor in Franklin who has decided to volunteer his medical expertise over in England during the war.  And last, but not least, is a young female reporter in England.

This book addresses some very real problems and moral questions during wartime.  That age old question of whether or not a hurtful truth is better than simply not knowing is explored and expressed. 

I'm not really sure how I would articulate my feelings about this book.  I didn't hate it, but at the same time I didn't particularly like it either.  I would give it 2.5 stars if pressed, somewhere between the ranking of "I didn't like it" and "It was OK."

I absolutely love Jennifer Weiner.  One of my favorites is Good in Bed (click here for my review of it).  She's normally laugh out loud funny and always seems to have a fantastic moral.  She always seems to bring around the important point that you just need to be yourself and everything will work out the way it's intended.

Then Came You is not her most recent (click here to read my review of The Next Best Thing), but her second most recent release.  This story surrounds a donor and surrogacy relationship from top to bottom.  The story is told through four women: the egg donor, the surrogate, the would-be mother and the would-be mother's step-daughter.  The dynamic of the four women is very complex and interesting.  Somehow, this book just didn't do it for me though.  Weiner's normal humor is lacking and I had a hard time relating to most of these women.  I'd classify this one as another "OK" book and give it 2.5 stars. 

Lastly for today, The Tiger's Wife.  This is one of those books that I was seeing everywhere for book clubs and those "If you've read this, then you'll love that" lists.  About a year ago I snatched up a copy at my local used book store.  As you regular readers know, I have about a one year queue leading up to most of my books.  So, I finally got around to reading this one.

The premise of this book is that Natalia, a young doctor in a Balkan country, is notified by her grandmother that her grandfather has died from cancer.  Her grandfather was also a doctor and was away from home when he passed.  Natalia sets out on a journey to discover why her grandfather set out on a such a journey when he was so near to death. 

The first two-thirds of this book consists of character development and flashbacks of stories that Natalia remembers her grandfather sharing with her.  It isn't until after this that you even learn who the tiger's wife is.  Though, you learn pretty early on that Natalia's grandfather was in search of a "deathless man" whom he had met a few times throughout his lifetime.  Both the "deathless man" and the "tiger's wife" are considered myths/legends within the country, so Natalia has never really taken them seriously. 

My feelings about this book are pretty disappointing.  I felt like the first two-thirds of this book could have been cut dramatically.  I wasn't really "into" the story until that point and the ending left me thinking...that's it?  I did notice in the back of my copy that there was an interview with the author in which it's stated how beautifully the author didn't overstate or embellish.  Uhhh...I could have gone for more.  This one's a 2 star-er for me and I don't think I'd recommend it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Funday

Happy Friday, enjoy this week's pins!

Does this look delish to anyone else?

This too!

I love summer clothing...for realz.

Seriously.  I cannot say how many times I have, literally, felt this way.

It might be summer, but I won't be rockin' the tanning bed.  Therefore...

And, of course, it wouldn't be me without at least one book quote/picture for the week.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Peony in Love

I'm a big Lisa See fan, in that I loved Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy.  I even really liked Snowflower and the Secret Fan.  So, when I found Peony in Love at my local used bookstore a while back, I picked it right up.  Like most all of my books, this one hung around in my queue for about a year or so.  I finally picked it up a couple weeks ago and gave it a go. 

Even before I picked this book up, I thought that perhaps it wouldn't be up to See's normal standard.  Virtually everyone in my book club had read it already and they all said that it was good...but, not as good as our favorite See books.  So, I had some slight trepidations when I picked up the book.

What's odd about this book is that it's a ghost story.  The main character, Peony, is alive in the first section of the story, but the rest entails her life as a ghost and how she interferes in her true love's life.  I have to say that I was kind of confused in parts, but it was all tied together in the end. 

Would I recommend this book?  Probably.  I gave it a full three out of five stars.  However, if I were to recommend you read a Lisa See book this would not be my first choice. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I Did Something Scary

OK, maybe not scary in the truest sense of the word.  But, last night I created an Etsy store.  It kinda freaks me out a little bit, but I'm kinda excited at the same time. 

I love crocheting new and fun things as well as sewing fantastic patterns with the fabric available in our online quilt shop.  Seriously, the possibilities are endless. 

And it was either this or end up with a load of crafty stuff that I've made and have no place for.  Not to mention that David will get cranky if our house started to burst at the seams. 

So, this is a new way for me to express myself creatively and hopefully other people will reap the benefits of my handiwork.

If you're interested in my shop, I've added a new tab underneath my blog heading that will take you straight to it.  I'll still share a lot of the items I make on here, but perhaps not all of them anymore if they're going to be listed on the shop. 

In the interim though, here's the first apron I made to sell via Etsy.  Cute, huh?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Worst Hard Time

Trying to keep on track with my reading rotation, this next book is a non-fictional documentary of the Dust Bowl.  The Worst Hard Time is a book that is currently rotating through my book club and when I checked to see if was available digitally through my local library...score! 

I listened to this one as an audio, which I think was very helpful because this book can be pun intended.  But seriously, this book is fantastic and I would definitely recommend it...though I would most assuredly recommend listening to it rather than reading it normally.

You learn about the Dust Bowl in history classes growing up, but you never learn some of the crazy things that this book details.  For instance, I had no idea that there was a dust cloud that traveled all the way from the Midwest to New York City.  I also never knew that the dust was so thick that even within a tightly secured and bundled up house sometimes you couldn't see your own hand held in front of your face, the dust was so dense.  And the last fascinating tidbit I learned that I'll share here on my blog is that people got dust pneumonia from these storms.  When people died, doctors would open them up and the deceased's lungs would be black with dust.  In fact, the Dust Bowl pretty much decimated an entire generation of small children living in the Midwest during this time.  Crazy.

I truly feel that everyone should read this book, but most especially if you grew up or currently live somewhere within the Midwest.  This is some startling information regarding this part of the country's history and it's amazing that so little of it is taught to school children today.  I give this book a big, fat thumbs up...go read (or listen to) it!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Wildflower Hill

Sometimes you pick up a book because it's on one of those lists that says, "If you liked (fill in the blank) book, then you'll love this one!"  This book, Wildflower Hill, falls into the category of Kate Morton comparison.  In fact, if you look closely at the review at the top of the cover pictured above, you can read that it's a positive commentary about Wildflower Hill from Kate Morton herself.

This book definitely follows Morton's style, in that it tells the story of a grandmother (Beattie) and granddaughter's (Emma) relationship.  Emma comes home to Australia at the beginning of the novel because she's taken a nasty fall, ending her career as a prima ballerina...when she was already truly at the end of her career, being in her early 30s.  She discovers upon her arrival that her grandmother, who died a few years back, left her an inheritance of Wildflower Hill (an old estate).  But, she was not able to learn about this inheritance or collect until she was well and truly "retired" from being a ballerina.

Emma sets to work cleaning up the homestead, in an attempt to sell it quickly and pocket the cash.  What she discovers instead is a mystery surrounding Beattie's past that Emma is intrigued to learn.  How did her grandmother truly come to own Wildflower Hill?  And did Beattie have a secret past that no one in the family ever knew about?

I really enjoyed this Kate Morton-esque novel, though Kimberly Freeman definitely has her own distinctive writing style.  And as always, I love reading a book that takes place in an Australian setting.  There's something fascinating about Australia to me, I'm not sure what it is.  I would definitely recommend this one.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Funday

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Enjoy my favorite pins for this week!

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

And because I always want to lengthen my to-read list. 
Though I've read quite a few of these.  Well, at least on the first pin....


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