Mason's Vacation Book Haul

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

This was meant to be posted last summer after we got back from vacation, but sharing it now only a few months late. For a long time books were Mason's favorite 'toy' or activity, he definitely goes through phases, and lately most of his reading is done before bed, but these are a few books we picked up while on vacation, and a few were gifts from my mom. Some of these links may be affiliate links. 

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too | This is a fun vintage-esque book my mom picked out for Mason at a used book store, and he loves it. There are a lot of little pictures throughout and he giggles and loves pointing out specific parts where Tigger is being silly.

The Crayons' Book of Colors | I'm not familiar with the original book, but this is SO CUTE and I'm definitely putting the others on his book wish list. The illustrations are silly and fun, and the last page where all of the colors are together is great for finding.

Bulldozer |  I loved the shape of this, plus animals mixed with trucks of any kind are a big hit right now. He likes to pretend he's driving it around, and loves naming the different animals throughout the pages. We're definitely more into the illustration than the story, but it has been a recent favorite.

Find My Friends | Sams is an amazing nature and wildlife photographer, and this book has photographs of animals camouflaged in nature, with fun prompts to find or count the animals.

Baby's Very First Slide and See Farm | This one is more geared towards babies but I'm always on the hunt for interactive books that he can't easily destroy. This has parts that slide on each page with sounds for the words-- so it's great for animal sounds.

Are You There Little Tiger? | My mom got him the fox version of this book and he has loved it. The different textures and small cutouts on the pages are really interesting, this one hasn't been as big of a hit as Are You There Little Fox? but it's another one that can be more for Theo.

More Mason books coming soon!

books are back | reading roundup 1

Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Maybe this should actually be titled, the blog is back-- at least for now. I've gone back and forth on what to do with this little space, but I've missed blogging so I'm working on some new content and updating older posts. Anyway, onto the books I've read so far this year! Affiliate links are used throughout this post.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone | This book came highly recommended by so many people-- including my mom. Lori Gottlieb is a therapist and she shares her relationship with her therapist after her longterm bf suddenly ends their relationship. She also shares stories about her own clients-- which were interesting, but distracted me from the book just a tad. Did it drive anyone else crazy wondering who John was, or what TV show he produced? Anyway, overall I found it interesting, insightful, and entertaining.

The Family Upstairs | This took me a few chapters to really get into because there are different characters, not defined by name or date/time period, but eventually you figure out how they're related & I was hooked. The ending threw me a little bit-- I think I was expecting something more shocking, or another big twist, or something? It definitely ended with a quietly creepy feel though, that made me wonder if she was setting it up for a sequel.

I'm currently reading Anna K, my BOTM pick-- usually I have a really hard time picking because I want to choose something I'm likely to really want in my own collection, but since I had a couple of credits expiring and had to pick something I went with the one that sounded the most fun. I'm enjoying it so far, but it's definitely more difficult to hold open a physical book when my reading time is usually while holding a sleeping baby.

I'm excited to see what everyone else is reading with Steph & Jana. What have you read & loved (or not) lately?

cooking lately

Thursday, February 6, 2020
I've been wanting to share some of the new recipes I've tried recently and finally took the time to put together a post. Having two kids under two doesn't leave me with a lot of spare time, and honestly the last thing I ever feel like doing with my time is cooking, but I'm hoping to come up with more meals that can be added to our usual weeknight dinners-- especially things that are quick and easy or can be prepared in advance.

bangkok coconut curry noodles (pinch of yum) | SO GOOD! This was a super easy recipe-- I made a few substitutions based on what ingredients we already had, so I used an extra tablespoon of soy instead of fish sauce and a tiny bit of siracha in place of chili paste. I also skipped over the broth because I wanted a more sticky consistency. The recipe calls for 4oz of noodles, but I probably used closer to 9 or 10oz and had plenty of sauce-- though it could have been because I didn't have as many veggies.

easy lo mein (damn delicious) | Also, SO GOOD! I think I preferred this one because it was less spicy, but I think it probably would have been lacking for my husband who prefers a little more kick. I was surprised to see that this recipe uses ground gingerso you might already have all of the ingredients for the sauce in your pantry, which is a huge plus.

instant pot beef stew (well plated) | My only gripe about this is that you really should brown the meat which takes some time since you have to constantly flip every piece. The nice thing about the instant pot is that you can just do it right in the pan though. My other gripe is that we don't have a bigger instant pot because I would have loooved to double this recipe. I just let it natural release, and forgot about it for a while, so my potatoes broke up into really tiny pieces, otherwise it turned out really good & I'll definitely make it again.

sweet & sour chicken (mel's kitchen) | This is one of those recipes that you think can't possibly turn out, but it actually ended up looking just like the pictures. This has a lot of sugar, so it's not something we'll make regularly, but we have made it twice and it's a nice alternative to takeout.

For the noodle dishes I'll definitely use more veggies next time, but I love that you can really use whatever veggies you have on hand. I'm hoping to keep sharing recipes as we try them out. If you have any tips let me know, or any breakfast suggestions that can be prepped in advance. Also, you can catch a peak of Theo in these photos, if you haven't already been overloaded on instagram. I know I said the same thing about Mason, but he is the sweetest baby!

linking up with kristen

Recently Read 2019 III

Wednesday, December 11, 2019
the night diary

*This has been in my drafts forever, as you can probably tell from the last time I posted, but I didn't want to leave this post hanging going into the new year.

Two Can Keep a Secret | This is the first book I've read in less than 24 hours in a long time, so it was definitely a page turner. It was an enjoyable mystery, but I think I expected a little bit more from the characters, especially with the alternating POVs. Pretty big things happened that I imagine would be totally scary, and Ellery never seems to share any feelings about them-- it just gets brushed over in a sentence or two and the plot moves forward.

Nine Perfect Strangers | The synopsis sounded SO good, and so many people I know loved it, but I just didn't ever click with this one. Morriarty's writing is so clever and she writes such good characters, but I think the issue was that I wasn't that interested in any of the characters so I was a tad bored. The other thing that threw me a little bit was that I wasn't expecting the retreat to be so unusual, and I think because it seemed (likely) unrealistic that lost some of my interest too.

The Night Diary | I have no idea how this book ended up on my TBR, or when I added it to my library hold list, but I'm so glad it made its way onto my iPad. It's a middle-grade historical fiction about a twelve year old girl in India in 1947 when India and Pakistan become two separate countries. Nisha is an incredible character and the book is written in letter format as she's writing letters to her mother who died when Nisha was born. Nisha and her family are forced to flee their home because they are not muslim, and the second half of the book focuses on their journey to the border and trying to get to their new home in what is now Pakistan.

The Unhoneymooners | I enjoyed this and finished it-- which is a huge feat for me lately, even if it did take a couple of months. I think I'm realizing that I don't think the whole fake dating trope is really my thing-- especially with this one because I found their reason for hating each other on THAT level to be kind of ridiculous (later in the book Olive even mentions that it sounds ridiculous). I still enjoyed Olive and Ethan's banter and the Hawaii setting was definitely fun.

What have you read and loved this year?

linking up with steph & jana

One Year of Baby Favorites (0-12 months)

Monday, March 18, 2019
baby must haves; baby favorites; 0-12 months;
Mason had his first birthday last month so I thought it was high time to share some of our favorites. I focused on the bigger items that we used over and over again, but I did mention a few toys and other things at the end.  I've used affiliate links in this post, so any clicks or purchases will earn me a small commission. When we were researching what we wanted to register for it was fun, but overwhelming because there's really no way of knowing what your baby is going to like.

Recently Read 2019 II

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I can't believe it's already time for another book linkup with Steph & Jana. After a big reading month in January, just a short post this month with two Netgalley books from authors I really enjoy.  

Good Riddance | After my last three books I was in the mood for something light and fun and this was exactly that. Daphne's mother leaves her yearbook for her after she dies. Not seeing any significance in it she throws it away. One of her neighbors finds it in the trash & wants to make a documentary about her mom's life based on her notes in the yearbook. The characters were interesting and a bit quirky, and I loved Daphne's relationship with her dad, but there were so many dropped plot points. It was enjoyable enough, but definitely my least favorite Lipman, though I will definitely continue to read my way through her backlist.  c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Invited | Whenever I read a Jennifer McMahon book I feel like I need to preface it by saying it's normally something I would never gravitate towards. I read The Winter People a few years ago, not realizing it had paranormal elements to it, so I was a bit caught off guard but I ended up really liking it. This one is about a couple who buys land to build their dream house knowing there are rumors that the land is haunted. This was spooky, but not in a graphic or gory way. I was really interested in all of the different storylines and how they weaved together. I guessed the ending early on, but it was more that I wasn't sure, so it kept me guessing, not that it was super obvious. c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I'm still very slowly listening to Becoming and I just started Nine Perfect Strangers and have two other books I'm really excited about from the library right now (Daisy Jones and the Six and Two Can Keep a Secret. What are you reading?

Recently Read 2019 I

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
where the crawdad sings; book reviews; best books 2019; recently read
It's crazy to think that this time last year I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my baby, and now we're already just two weeks away from his first birthday! It has been the best year full of so much joy and laughter (& little sleep).

I've read some really great books so far this year & am excited to talk about them a little bit. I'm linking up with Steph & Jana and am trying to share my reviews over on Goodreads as well, so add me there!

Love & Other Words | Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who recommended this because I definitely would not have picked it up otherwise. I think it was Heather and Oyla who mentioned it being slightly similar to Swear on This Life, which is really what swayed me to read it. I loved young Elliot and Macy-- I wish the entire book had just been about them growing up and falling in love with each other. I wasn't as crazy about the 'then' portions and I thought their whole reason for losing touch was so, so unrealistic but it still wrecked me when it happened & I couldn't put this down.

Believe Me | I went into this book not knowing very much about it, other than that I liked The Girl Before, but this one didn't work for me at all. There were plenty of twists, but it felt like nothing else was well developed in an attempt to squeeze in as many as possible. Pretty big things would happen-- like people being murdered, and it would just get brushed over in a paragraph or two. Or people suddenly falling in love without knowing each other at all & there wasn't even a good meet-cute. I just could't suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy this one. I saw he has another book coming out this summer The Perfect Wife that I'll still likely request & hope it's more similar to his last book.  c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Sadie | I was not expecting the podcast element of this, but it worked so well & really added to the story. The story is about a girl who goes missing after her sister is killed. Part of it is an investigation told as a podcast and the other part of it explains where Sadie has gone. I liked that through the two different perspectives you were really able to learn a lot about Sadie's past-- I enjoyed that it felt plot driven while also being character driven.

Educated | I definitely thought I was going to finish this in December, but I kind of ran out of steam midway and took a really long break. Once I picked it up again, I was quickly transported right back into Tara's world and I realized why I took a break-- it was exhausting. The entire time I was reading this I kept thinking, this is insane. There was one chapter early on where she talked about getting to take piano & dance lessons and I literally got teary because I was so happy for her. Tara's strength and resilience is truly remarkable.  c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Where the Crawdads Sing | When I started this I wasn't sure I was going to be in the mood for it because I had just finished Educated and previously read Sadie, but this was quietly addictive. And sad. It was devastatingly sad, but still hopeful which made it hard to put down because I was so anxious to know how it would end. Kya was a remarkable character and I loved the pacing of the story and the way the investigation of Chase was weaved in. 5 stars from me!

I've also been listening to Becoming and am loving it, but it might be the end of the year before I finish it if I don't pick up the actual book. I usually only listen to 5-10 minutes at a time.

Sadie, Educated, and Where the Crawdads Sing all had amazingly strong and resilient female characters, and dealt with really difficult topics... specifically abusive fathers or father-figures. Love and Other Words is great if you're in the mood for contemporary romance.
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