Friday, April 24, 2015

What I’ve Been Reading #77 & What My Kids Are Reading #7

I recently shared the book Zooborns with you which was sent to me by Simon & Schuster. At the same time, they also sent me Rebecca Barry’s Recipes For A Beautiful Life: A Memoir In Stories. I was a little surprised when I saw they had sent me this book because I had only agreed to review Zooborns, not both books, and the reason for that is because I normally do not like memoirs. I find them self-indulgent and occasionally exaggerated. Even so, I found myself interested in reading this one, and I was not disappointed. “Writing with a delicate balance of humor and truth, critically acclaimed author Rebecca Barry reflects on motherhood, work, and marriage in her new memoir about trying to build a creative life. When Rebecca Barry and her husband moved to upstate New York to start their family, they wanted to be surrounded by natural beauty but close to a small urban center, doing work they loved, and plenty of time to spend with their kids. But living their dreams turned out not to be so simple: the lovely old house they bought had lots of character but also needed lots of repairs, they struggled to stay afloat financially, their children refused to sleep or play quietly, and the novel Rebecca had dreamed of writing simply wouldn’t come to her. Recipes for a Beautiful Life blends heartwarming, funny, authentically told stories about the messiness of family life, a fearless examination of the anxieties of creative work, and sharp-eyed observations of the pressures that all women face. This is a story of a woman confronting her deepest fears: What if I’m a terrible mother? What if I’m not good at the work I love? What if my children never eat anything but peanut butter and cake? What if I go to sleep angry? It’s also a story of the beauty, light, and humor that’s around us, all the time—even  when things look bleak, and using that to find your way back to your heart.” The over arching theme of this book is “the heart wants what it wants,” as well as how to be happy when you have two small children, your husband travels a lot, and you’re trying to write a novel. Each very short and easily read chapter is titled with a how-to, such as “How To Sleep Better at Night,” “How to Behave When No One Understands You,” and “How to Organize Your Home Office,” although the chapters rarely actually explain how to do the thing they claim to. But that’s what makes the book great. It is hilarious as well as completely relatable, as Barry writes about struggles and her mistakes, rather than propping herself up or bragging as other memoirs seem to do. The stories about her kids are my favorites, such as when Barry went off on a rant about how as a mother she doesn’t “lay eggs,” but she does have eggs inside of her, and her son responded with a round of applause saying “Fantastic!” Or when her son did not want to get dressed so she brought him to school late and when she filled out the reason they were tardy, she wrote “Child would not put on pants.” I really wanted to read Barry’s blog, which she mentions in the book, but it seems to be available for invited readers only. I guess too many people wanted to learn more about her! She does have a published novel which I imagine I should check out!


Also sent to me for my review, this time from Authoright, was a book for my kids called Teapot and the Dragon by Nick Jordan. “Welcome to the fantastical Tea Set Archipelago, where Teapot, the largest and most important island, is ruled over by good King Fennel and Queen Chamomile. Tradition states that their one and only daughter, the beautiful Princess Rosehip, must choose a husband. Unfortunately, the impetuous Princess has dreams of adventure and excitement and NOT a proposal. Oblivious to the Princess’ wishes, two suitors Prince Spoon of Cup and Saucer and Lord Lid of Lid, set sail towards Teapot to vie for her affections and hand in marriage. Hopeful husbands-to-be aside, a fearsome Dragon – whose delectation is ‘princess and chips’ - has been spotted by Murmur, the royal observer and magician to the King. This dreadful winged beastie has made a nest on the tip of Spout peninsula and, according to Murmur, it’s got to be fed...” I read this book to Simon while Zachary was out at Cub Scouts and he lay next to me on the floor and listened to every word. He loved that the island is shaped like a teapot and he liked the funny dragons a lot. He also enjoyed when the princess complains that being a princess is boring. I liked the names of the characters and the amazing illustrations that look like they are painted directly inside our copy of the book!

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Read more about this book at teapotandthedragon.com!

Thank you to the publishers for providing us with both of these books!

Have you or your children read anything great lately?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April Ipsy Glam Bag

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This month I received my 18th Ipsy Glam Bag. This month’s theme was “Beautifully Bohemian.” Here is what I received:

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Hikari Cosmetics Blush in Tango – $15:
Designed to highlight your complexion, this weightless blush can be used lightly for a fresh look or layered for a dramatic look. An effortless application to the cheekbones that lasts all day!
30% off + Free Eyeshadow with purchase with code hikari30 until 5/31/15.
My thoughts: Worked well, seems similar to another blush I tried recently, and I don’t wear blush very often!

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Lather Ultra Light Face Lotion – $21 for 2 oz, I received 1 oz, a value of $10.50:
LATHER’s most popular facial moisturizer, this gentle nutrient-rich botanical lotion is perfect for normal-to-oily, combination or sensitive skin. This lotion has a lightweight texture, absorbs rapidly and does not leave an oily film on the skin.
15% off with code ipsy15 until 5/31/15.
My thoughts: I like how this feels, but I’m not a fan of the scent.

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theBalm Cosmetics NUDE Dude Eyeshadow Single in Flirty – $36 for 12 shades, I received 1 shade, a value of $3:
Get a quick look using any combination of these triple-milled shadows or dress up your look by adding water to transform your favorite shades into loyal liners.
20% off with code IPSY20 until 5/31/15.
My thoughts: Cute little container! I like the shade and it seems to work well too.

 

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MicaBeauty Eye Primer – $44.95 for 8g, I received 4g, a value of $22.48:
This eye primer helps even out skin tone as well as extending and intensifying your mineral eye shadows, without creasing, smearing, or fading.
40% off with code IPSY2015 until 5/31/15.
My thoughts: I’m pretty loyal to my eye primer, but I tried this one and it was okay too! I do prefer a more liquid formula.

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Mullein & Sparrow Mini Lip & Cheek Tint – $10:
The Mullein & Sparrow Mini Lip & Cheek Tint is an all-natural, sheer, tinted balm that gives your lips and cheeks a slight flush and dewy finish.
20% off with code IPSY2015 until 5/31/15.
My thoughts: I like this as a lip tint. It goes on smoothly and looks nice too.

Once again, I pay $10 a month for these bags. I love seeing what comes my way each month! The value received this month was $60.98, a nice value! My favorite item this month is probably the eyeshadow or the lip tint, but I also love the bag!

If you’d like to sign up to receive your own Glam Bag each month, click here! If you got this month’s bag, what did you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Rest Of Spring Break

I’ve already shared a few of our Spring Break Adventures including Cosmic Jump, The Cat In The Hat, the Art Museum, and Power Play. It probably isn’t a surprise being that my kids love to be on the go, but that was not all we did over Spring Break!

As is our regular tradition, we visited the farm, aka the Deanna Rose Farmstead, one of every kids’ favorite places in town! It was a cold day and I forgot my jacket, so we might have stayed even longer than we did, but it was a fun time as usual! We will definitely be back soon.

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After we watched The Cat In The Hat, we also checked out the Fairy Tale Village display which was at Crown Center at the time (it is still there through May 3).

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The fairy tales you see are:
(top) The Three Little Pigs, The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor’s New Clothes
(middle) Frozen, The Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood
(bottom) Frozen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Three Bears.

Another day, we decided it would be fun to play miniature golf. We tried to go to Mission Bowl ‘N One, but when we arrived we were told they had a fire and were closed. There is now a note of this on the site, but at the time I don’t believe there was one! So, we drove to another bowling alley that also has a mini golf course, this one being indoors rather than outdoors, but that was for the best because it was not that warm outside anyway!

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Finally, on one of the days of break there was a Passover Fun Fair at our synagogue! The day of the fair was one of the nicest days of break, but it was also hot! That didn’t stop Zachary from playing all of the games and Simon from going down the big slide one million times! They each had a pony ride as well. I did not have my camera with me, but here are two pictures from my phone!

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Overall, Spring Break was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It’s Okay #67 and LifebackUSA Peace of Mind Contest

It’s okay…

…that I bought yet another new hair gel to try out. I have curly hair and I’d like it to stop being flat and / or frizzy all the time!

…that I have a lot of fun product reviews to be shared here soon.

…that I didn’t make it to the gym last week and I won’t be there in the beginning of this week either.

…that today I’m sharing the following LifebankUSA Peace of Mind Contest:

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As parents, keeping our kids safe is of utmost importance. Only LifebankUSA offers expectant parents the unique opportunity to bank stem cells from cord blood and placenta blood. Banking placenta blood stem cells makes your cord blood collection even more powerful for the near-term and for the future. It gives you the ability to bank more stem cells which has been shown to increase transplant success and survival rates. And placenta blood contains other types of progenitor stem cells which are expected to play a key role in regenerative medicine.

Along with peace of mind, LifebankUSA wants to give parents the chance to win one of THREE Graco 4everTM 4-in-1 Car Seats (valued at $330 each) in a random drawing from entrants in this Facebook contest.

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The contest will run until 5/29/15 and they will randomly select the winners by 10/10/14. Please click on the link to enter!

Thank you to LifebankUSA for sponsoring this post.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Campus Book Rentals Saves You Money on Text Books

I just saw an email about my 15 year college reunion. I graduated 15 years ago this May and it really seems like yesterday. College is such a great time! However, it costs a lot and I know college students are always looking for ways to save. That is why I’m happy to once again share information here about Campus Book Rentals.

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Here are some of the perks of renting textbooks:

  • You can save 40-90% off of bookstore prices.
  • Free shipping both ways.
  • You can still highlight in the textbooks.
  • Offers flexible renting periods.
  • Donations to Operation Smile are made with each textbook rented:

One of the best things about Campus Book Rentals is that for every rented textbook, they make a donation to Operation Smile. Operation Smile provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe. The long term improvement in quality of life for the children that receive these surgeries is almost incomprehensible. With every rented textbook, Campus Book Rentals donates to Operation Smile. That right there seems as good a reason as any to rent books through them!

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How does it work?:

 

I know if I was in college still I’d be trying out this program. How about you?

This post has been sponsored by Campus Book Rentals. All opinions are my own.

For more from me today, check out my guest post at Faith In Every Day!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Scandal Sunday 4.19–I’m Just A Bill

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Another week, another Scandal episode to complain about. I think I’ve at least gotten past the angry stage and I mostly just laugh about it. They have three more episodes to fix it before I join the millions of viewers they’ve already succeeded in losing!

This episode could have been a call back to the classic Scandal episode formula with lots happening, interrelated story lines, and a big twist at the end, but the production side of things made a big mess which ended up being even more interesting than the show. More about that soon. First, the plot.

Susan Ross Is Smart. The administration is trying to pass a bill requiring body cameras on police officers in order to prevent police shootings in the future. They have secured a win for the passage of the bill when one of the senators goes into labor. Therefore, Susan, who was formerly the Senator from Virginia and is now the Vice President, is asked to vote on the bill. However, she won’t vote on it without reading it – all 1200 pages of it. Because she holds up the vote, Mellie’s impending announcement of her run for Susan’s Senate seat is delayed. Susan talks to Mellie about the bill and suggests that Mellie is so smart, she should be able to discuss the bill with her, and yet Mellie hasn’t bothered to read it. Susan has questions about the bill and it’s implementation and she eventually convinces Fitz to go over it with her and change it so that it works. In order to give the press another story to discuss, Mellie is able to go ahead with her Senate run announcement. Hopefully, Mellie will decide to actually read things before voting on them if she becomes an elected official.

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Marcus For Mayor. In other election news, Marcus Walker, the community organizer who accused Olivia of not being “black enough” in a previous episode, was leading the race for Mayor against the current incumbent. Also, he was sleeping with his opponent’s wife. Marcus was present when a staged robbery took place and the Mayor’s wife was murdered. Because he hoped to continue his career, Marcus agreed to having Olivia’s people cover up the murder. However, Marcus was still in trouble because his email was hacked and emails were sent threatening the Mayor’s wife from his account. It was uncovered that the Mayor had set up the whole thing – in that way he could get rid of his cheating wife and insure a mayoral win against Marcus. Olivia convinces the Mayor to drop out and endorse Marcus, but Marcus decides he wants to pursue justice and he comes clean about the whole situation. His career is over, and somehow Olivia’s team gets away with trying to cover up the murder in the first place.

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Papa Pope Is Back. Olivia has messed up parents, especially her father, who last season put out the order to kill the President’s son because by loving Olivia, the President had apparently stolen Olivia from her father. He also (way back in Season 2) hired Jake to sleep with Olivia in order to get her to move on from Fitz. Now, he returned to Olivia’s apartment along side of Russell, her newest boy toy (who she uses to escape the reality of her complicated life). He drugged Russell, who was tied up on the floor, while he told Olivia that she should stop the investigation into B613, the organization he was in charge of whose sole purpose seemed to be hiding government scandals in any way possible. Olivia ultimately decides to go ahead with the plan for pursuing justice (not for Fitz’s son who was killed, but for Jake and Huck who had been previously tortured by the agency). In order to bring down the agency, Jake has to testify, and he has to expose Operation Remington, which viewers already knew involved Fitz having been ordered to shoot down a passenger plane. Apparently, even though he did this under order by none other than Papa Pope, it is a huge betrayal on Olivia’s part to allow Jake to reveal that Fitz was involved. Now, because Papa Pope can’t allow Jake to go ahead with this testimony, he has Jake attacked – by none other than Russell, who has apparently been working for Papa all along. The episode ends with it looking a lot like Jake is dead.

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But the production team made a mess – SPOILERS ahead! Not only were promotional photos released for this episode which never happened in the show itself, prior to the show airing, photos of the episode that will air in two weeks were released showing Jake as very much alive and recovering in Olivia’s bed. Before we even knew that Jake would be stabbed or suspected to be dead, we knew he would survive! At the end of the episode though, Scott Foley tweeted as if he was off the show and the Scandal twitter account did as well. Various articles have surfaced mourning his loss. The photos confirming his survival were then removed from the ABC media site. I have two theories on this mess – first, they could have released the photos in order to preserve Scott Foley’s ego and lessen the need for him to see as many “thank God he’s dead” tweets and articles. Or they could have been released by someone on the inside hoping to sabotage things for the show. I suppose it could also be a ploy to bring everyone back to watching – those who think he’s dead and are happy about it so they choose to ignore the photos and those who don’t want him to die and therefore believe the photos showing him as alive. I’m having more fun laughing at the production team than I am thinking about the plot of the show! I wonder how long they will keep pretending that Jake is dead. (See Also: BuzzFeed, Hypable).

Three more episodes to go.

Friday, April 17, 2015

What I’ve Been Reading #76

The book Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter was a wonderful read that I had saved on my to-be-read list after reading someone else’s review of it. “The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier. What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.” I really enjoyed the multiple story lines that were woven together through the characters and their relationships in this book. There are a few stories taking place at once, including an author’s first chapter of a book about the war, a screen play pitch about the Donner party on the Oregon Trail, and part of a play. The look at Hollywood both in the 60s and now was interesting to me. I am glad I read this book and recommend it!

The other day I went to the library and brought back a bunch of books that are also on my to-be-read list. I hope I’ll have time to read them!

Have you read anything good lately?