Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Back to School Washi Works

I needed some small centerpieces for a back-to-school event and am very pleased with how they turned out.

The vase is from Dollar Tree.  The tape is the Scotch decorative masking tape (not actually washi, but same idea).  The royal blue and white one (our school colors) was already in my stash, but I purchased the school-themed tapes at Office Depot/Max.  As I always do, I purchased the market bunches of flowers at Jewel.  They didn't have the best offerings that day, but I still think the centerpieces turned out great.

Best news?  It took only minutes to wrap the tape around the vases and to cut and arrange the flowers.  For ten centerpieces, I spent $10 on vases, $25 or so on flowers, and maybe $10 on tape (with plenty leftover).

I used to wash out and save sauce jars for floral projects, but I may hold back on the hoarding in favor of these $1 vases.  I have a large collection of washi tape and can think of all kinds of cool combos for wrapping a vase.

It's very satisfying to be able to see a project to cute completion without a lot of turmoil or expense.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Late Summer Snackshots

So there's a lot going on here and the color scheme and pattern of the packaging sort of suggest pet food, but this popcorn is delicious, addictive even.  It's not a low calorie treat.  You'll need a water or DC on hand because it's rich.  I polished off two bags and am now on a self-imposed break.  Available at Sam's Club.
PSA:  No!  Took one bite, took one photo, and then threw the bag away.  Shame on me for thinking mango, coconut, and caramel could create something harmonious.  Last time I saw it at Sam's, it was marked down to $1.98 for a giant bag. 

Click the Snackshots label below this post if you're interested in previous snackshots.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Audible Monthly Credit(s) Report -- July and August 2017

I ignored this writing space most of the summer so I have a lot of catching up to do.

Quick recape for my tens of readers:  I treasure the monthly ritual of choosing two audiobooks worthy of my credits.
I was very pleased with July's credit redemptions.  Both books had been on my radar, and I enjoyed both even more than I thought I would.  Michael Frank's The Mighty Franks invited me into a family very different from my own.  Families are complicated.  Love is complicated.  I admired Frank's ability to capture the complication and the love.  To paraphrase and revise:  they'll mess you up, your aunt and uncle.

Katherine Heiny's Standard Deviation was a gem.  Marriage is complicated.  Love is complicated.  Parenting is complicated.  They're all worth it though.  Heiny gets all the little details right -- a lot of yes, yes, yes-ing as I read.  I also liked how she managed to be smartly funny without being snarky.

The Misfortune of Marion Palm by Emily Culliton was a book I had been looking forward to all summer.  Despite a promising premise, this book was just not what I wanted it to be.  The writing is good, the characters interesting, but it wasn't for me.  The missing ingredient may have been hope.

Tom Perrotta's smart and witty books have offered me many hours of listening pleasure and Mrs. Fletcher was no exception.  I was a tad overwhelmed by the sex, porn, and MILF aspects of the book early on (as was my best friend who was also listening and texted "I am listening to Mrs. Fletcher.  Wow") but then I figured out what he was trying to do and thought he did it well.  I'd love to discuss Mrs. Fletcher and/or to eavesdrop on book club conversations about it!  

Want to know how I spent my September Audible credits?  Want to know why I am longer biting on the Audible Deal of the Days?  Want to know how audiobook listening is going without my lil green ipod?  Visit again as future posts will provide answers.

Monday, September 18, 2017

LFL Sighting -- Wilmette

On Labor Day, we enjoyed lunch and some beach time in Wilmette with family.  As we walked toward the beach, I spied a Little Free Library across the street.  We routed past the LFL on our return and I grabbed some pics.
I love the tiered roof and the Alice in Wonderland theme of this LFL.  I really appreciate the clarity of the instructions on top:  Take A Book  ~  Keep It  ~  Share It.  Often the LFLs instruct to "Take a Book.  Leave a Book."  I imagine that the take one/leave one phrase is intended to let you know that donations are welcome more than it is an admonishment, but I always think, "But wait, would it be okay if I took a book if I didn't have one to leave?"  So, I prefer the invitation on this Wilmette LFL, which seems to me like, "You can take a book.  Read and enjoy it.  Keep it if you want or share it with someone else."  If I ever realize my goal of installing an LFL, I'd like to send out that vibe.

And, let's say I was in need of reading material while in Wilmette on Labor Day ... what would I choose from this LFL?  I was heavily involved in the editing of a sibling's essay on Judith Guest's Ordinary People but never have read it beyond scanning for textual evidence for that essay.  There's a copy of P&P, but I own several already.  I smiled when I noticed that in addition to P&P, this library also had Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible on offer.  I should have moved the two next to each other.  I'm thinking I'd go with S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders.  I loved that book hard in seventh grade and maybe I could "keep it" and "share it" with my sixth grader.  

Despite the kind invitation, I didn't take a book, at least not one from this LFL.  My uncle did send me home with a copy of Peter Davis's Hometown -- a book about the year the journalist spent in Hamilton, Ohio, which happens to be the hometown of my mom and uncle.  I grew up in the town right next to Hamilton but my high school and many childhood activities took place in Hamilton so it has plenty of claims on me.  Hometown is an older book and one I think I might appreciate at this stage in my life and at this distance (five hours away in Chicagoland).  With Hillbilly Elegy and Middleton, Ohio (not too far or too dissimilar from Hamilton) getting so much (well-deserved) attention this past year,  I'm eager to read Hometown.

I just had to include this photo of the beach.  Three of the five kids on the outing braved the frigid waters of Lake Michigan.  I'm at the point where my children are good swimmers and I don't need to hover at the beach but not at the point where I take that freedom for granted.  It wasn't a gorgeous day, drizzled for a bit and almost no sun, but I enjoyed sitting in a chair on the (shrinking) beach and chatting with my uncle and cousin.  Nice farewell to summer.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Audible Monthly Credit(s) Report -- May & June 2017

Two months and four credits.  I've listened to them all by now.  Very brief reviews to come.
Graeme Simpsion's The Best of Adam Sharpe Graeme Simpsion wrote The Rosie Project, which I quite enjoyed, and its sequel, The Rosie Effect, which felt like a novel-length episode of Three's Company-esque mix-ups but with more interesting, likable characters.  As for The Best of Adam Sharpe?  I didn't hate it and in fact enjoyed a lot of the musical references and laughed a few times.  However, I felt like I was reading the fantasies of a middle-aged man, especially when the story moves to France.  Unless that's your demographic, don't rush.

Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine:  This novel is VERY FINE.  More layers than I anticipated.  Humorous but also hefty, it's an excavation and transformation story.  I want a sequel and highly recommend the audio version unless you hate Scottish accents.  Which, who could?  The Sunday of my college reunion weekend, one of my friends was facing a long drive home.  I told her to download this audiobook for company.  She texted me a few days later:  "Just finished Eleanor Oliphant.  Crying while I clean my bathroom.  I already miss that Scottish weirdo!"  Don't skip this one!

Kevin Kwan's Rich People Problems I've listened to all three books in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy.  They are fun even though the wealth/spending of many characters is staggering/disgusting.  Talk about a glimpse into a whole other world.  There are a lot of characters to keep track of and my cousin mentioned in her Goodreads review that it would have been nice to have a family tree to use a a refresher before jumping into the third book.  I agree.  Good news for new Kevin Kwan readers?  You can start now and keep going.  You won't have to wait between each book as I did.

Elin Hilderbrand's The Identicals Listening to Elin Hilderbrand's newest books is a summer tradition for me.  This year's did not disappoint -- probably my favorite of the past few years' offerings.  The Identicals tells the story of twin sisters and their sister islands.  It was fun to visit Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard in one book and I'm a sucker for a sister story.  Some good mother-daughter stuff in this novel too.

Come July 12th, I'll have two new credits to spend.  I'll keep you informed. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017


Often when I am tired, I remain on the couch and mindlessly scroll through Facebook.  Or, I get in bed and scroll through my three (count 'em) instagram feeds.  Maybe I'll check Goodreads one more time.  I used to try to catch up on my Twitter feed as well, but I got logged out and haven't felt like playing the login/password guessing game to log back in. 

What I should be doing at that point in an evening is going to bed.  I know it.  I know I'm tired, but I think I'm looking at my screens for one last something to finish or fill out my day.  Something to make me laugh?  Something to get annoyed about?  Something to make me feel less than?  Something to make me feel superior?  I don't even know.  What I do know is something I need to write on a post-it and leave on my screen/s:  What you're looking for is not here. 

It's not there.  So why peek at my phone when I'm out to lunch with my kids?  Why waste twenty minutes of reading or resting time checking Facebook?  Why not figure out how I really want to fill my days?

There's obviously much more to say about the way technology removes us from tangibility and connection, but I don't have the juice to say much more this evening.  Crafting a blog post is more satisfying than checking Facebook though. 

All of this is just to give you some context for my love for Courtney Maum's new novel Touch.  A trend forecaster is hired by a tech company and realizes that the trends she sees and her own desires prioritize touch over tech.  I loved how hopeful Touch was and really love Maum's writing.

Here's a gem of an insight.  Sloane Jacobsen, the novel's trend forecaster and protagonist, is checking in with her team of "snouts" all around the world to see what trends they are sniffing.  Here's her conversation with Rufus in New Delhi:

       "Okay, so it's a Pointless button.  It started as an app, and the app failed, but a guy here resurrected it.  You just poke and poke and poke at your phone, and eventually, after an unpredictable number of attempts, something completely random will emerge.  An image.  A sound.  A photo of a camel."
       "Discovery," Sloane said.  "Hope."
       "Well, yeah, exactly," said Rufus, who sounded like he was drinking something.  It was the middle of the night in New Delhi, the doughy part of the evening where your actual thoughts were weirder than your dreams.  Rufus was a programmer who slept during the day.
       "I mean, it replicates what we're all hoping, which is that something great and beautiful is going to come out of our phones" (231-32).

Something great and beautiful is ultimately going to come out of something other than our phones and screens.  Post-it:  What you're looking for is not here.

Read Touch with your book club.  Then, on your own, treat yourself to Maum's earlier (and also excellent) novel, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Snackshots -- June 2017

I first enjoyed these Coconut Bites at my parents' house.  Yum, I thought, but I wasn't obsessively thinking, "I must have my own bag in my own snack bin in my own house."

Then I spied them at Sam's Club last week and went ahead and secured my own bag for my own snack bin in my own house.

And just in case you think the my own thing is kind of repetitive, you should know that a) there is a bin in the pantry that exclusively houses my snacks & b) no one in my house ate a single Coconut Bite except for me. 

I ate every single bite, crumble, scrap, and loose seed on my own.  Here's what the Coconut Bites have going for them:  deliciousness, texture, the perfect amount of sweetness, the illusion of healthiness, and lots of coconut (I adore it, but I understand some cannot abide it).  Alas, the bites are also 150 calories for a half cup serving.  Eeks!  I didn't eat these as mindfully as I could have and definitely exceeded portion size.  They never made me feel gross or bloated, but I don't think I'll invite them back into my snack bin, tasty though they were.  If I were the sort of person who could just sprinkle a bit atop some 0% Greek yogurt, we might have a story here.  I'm not that sort though so I'll have to look back fondly on that one week that one June when I really enjoyed those Coconut Bites.

And that's my Snackshot for June 2017.