Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Odyssey Soundtrack -- June 2017

I've told you before about how I choose one CD, and we listen to it in our minivan for months and months until we can't take it anymore

We all love Hamilton, of course, but my middle guy has requested a break, and after almost a full of year of driving the Hamilvan, I'm ready to grant him one.

We visited Target a few days ago (side note: self-imposed Target ban was for 2015 only) and I found some musical inspiration.
Look at the tracks below.  There's no Vanilla Ice or MC Hammer, but otherwise, this does seem an ultimate 90s Pop Hits Collection.

My daughter likes "Genie in a Bottle," a song she knows from an inferior version sung by a Disney star.  My middle guy keeps asking for "Rumpshaker" and my oldest, who has started sitting shotgun and thus has most DJ power, keeps going to "Motownphilly."  I kind of like "Poison" myself.  Now you know.

But wait, there's more.  This collection of Power Ballads is bringing me back to dances in my high school cafeteria, teenage summer drives with the windows down, and the smell of Drakkar Noir.

It's one gem after another but my hands down favorite is "Heaven" by Warrant.  I just love that song.  Always have.

You'll note that I am categorizing these two CDs as the June 2017 soundtrack.  As much as I am enjoying these blasts from the past, I think one month is going to do it for me.  I can see myself pulling those out again during longer road trips or playing at home during a party (if I were ever to host a party again).   

I will plan a follow-up post once my husband drives the Odyssey somewhere and realizes what I've done.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Grocery Flower Glory

I'm still buying grocery store flowers and arranging them at home.  Life's little pleasures and etc.  I've been particularly pleased with my latest arrangements.  I don't know the names of any of these flowers, but I like how they look with my Fiesta tablecloth and my Nora Fleming pineapple mini.

I liked this floral combo so much that I posed my latest BOTM Club read next to it and posted it on Instagram -- I'm @booksandcarbs.  The BOTM insta people (@bookofthemonthclub) commented "Gorgeous shot!" with two emojis so clearly I've had a real breakthrough moment in my bookish social media career.  As for the book?  I'm enjoying Taylor Jenkins Reid's The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo very much so far, but I haven't had as many opportunities to read as I'd like.  Most of my reading has been listening and stealing moments on my iphone ebook.  Still getting adjusted to the new summer schedule of shuttling three kids to their activities.  Note my Nora Fleming margarita mini.  I promise that none of my driving around town involves drinking anything but Diet Coke. 

If you have more reading time than I, I'd recommend Taylor Jenkins Reid as a great author of summer reads -- her books are highly readable without lacking substance.  I'd start with Maybe in Another Life or One True Loves.
Back to the flowers though.  I attended a luncheon on Friday and because my birthday was closer to the honoree's than anyone else's at my table, I won the frame with table number.  I'm enjoying how perfect the framed 8 looks next to my grocery store flowers. 

Almost a week in, these flowers are still looking fabulous.  However, they smell fairly horrible now.  Something is rotten around the stems.  I can smell it as soon as I enter the kitchen (though I have been accused of being overly sensitive about scents).  And yet, I can't bring myself to toss them when they still look so good.  Would it help if I used those powder packets that come with flowers?  I usually skip that step.  Maybe someone who knows the names of these flowers could answer that question.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Audible Monthly Credit(s) Report -- April 2017

I was waiting for these two new releases on 4/25 and then snapped them up with my Audible monthly credits.

Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteredge ranks among my top ten audiobook experiences.  I liked the slim but powerful My Name is Lucy Barton (which I read in print) and am looking forward to its companion, Anything Is Possible.  On a whim, I recently pressed play on Strout's The Burgess Boys.  The reviews on it were just so-so and while it's not an uplifting book (at all), I enjoy hearing the Maine accent in narration and like getting a sense of Maine, a place with which I have no familiarity (with the exceptions of my son's Acadia National Park project, L.L. Bean, and the fact that Nancy Atwell--a writing guru for middle school teachers--and one of my brother's college basketball teammates are both from Boothbay Harbor, Maine). 

Fredrik Backman's Beartown.  Quick Backman recap:  Adored A Man Called Ove.  Not super into My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry.  Really liked Britt-Marie Was Here.  Very, very excited to listen to Beartown.  I love community stories, underdog stories, and, most of the time, sports stories.  Plus, it's about a hockey team.  We live in a hockey crazy town, and for years my attitude was, "Good for you, not for us."  Then, my son begged and begged, and we let him play hockey.  And then the next year his big brother wanted to play too.  They just play for teams at our local YMCA (which has a super cool, old school outdoor rink) so it's not too time-consuming or crazy intense, but it is SO FUN to watch them and I'm so glad they're experiencing the camaraderie and challenge of hockey.

There have been quite a few tempting Deals of the Day on Audible of late as well so I am sitting pretty with listening fodder.  I started listening with my ipod set at 2x about six months ago, and the increased speed has allowed me to listen to even more audiobooks!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Snackshots -- April 2017 & Important PSA

For my April snackshot, I'm sharing the Buffalo Chicken Dip I purchased at Sam's Club.  I know what you're thinking, "Oh, I have a great recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip."  The thing is that if I made your recipe, I'd have to really acknowledge all the fatty ingredients that contribute to the dip's deliciousness.  And then, because it was "fresh," I'd have to really make a commitment to eating dip every day before it spoils.  There's a generous expiration date on this tub of dip (preservatives mixed with the fatty ingredients, I presume) so I don't have to binge.  Two or three times a week, I can zap a couple spoonfuls on dip in the microwave and enjoy with a few gluten-free crackers or tortilla chips. 

And, now, the first-ever Snackshots Public Service Announcement.  Do not bring this giant container of Jelly Belly jelly beans into your home.  Of the 49 flavors, I would estimate that I genuinely enjoy the taste of, maybe, 17 of them.  However, I made myself eat whatever assortment I scooped, including Buttered Popcorn (barf) and Coffee (not for me).  I couldn't stop eating the beans even though I only enjoyed one out of every three beans I tried.  They made me feel gross and yet I kept going back for more.  My children did not impose similar restrictions on themselves with two results.  My daughter would simple spit out jelly beans she did not enjoy, and it was fun finding them on the tablecloth and kitchen rug.  My oldest was picking and choosing without shame and thus, there was nary a red jelly bean (red is your best bet for a decent flavor) to be found once we were about halfway through.  The good news is that we're at the end.  This period of self-loathing, sickness, and disappointment is over. 

Since we're talking food, I thought I'd also share the progress I've made with the Instant Pot I ordered.

Finally, I've already told you about my love for Nora Fleming serving pieces.  Nora Fleming has a new utensil crock out on the market that I've been using as a vase for my grocery story flowers.  I love it because it makes it easy to enjoy my minis day-to-day instead of just when entertaining.  How cool is that?

What's your snack of choice these days?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Local LFL Sighting!

My neighbor invited me to walk with her after school drop-off this morning.  The result was 8,000 steps logged by 9 am, great conversation, and a Little Free Library sighting.

I've already told you about the LFL I saw in Hilton Head, the first one I spotted in LaGrange, and then the other one I found in LaGrange.  And now, I've found a second in my town of Pleasantville (aka Elmhurst, IL).  I've only driven by the first Elmhurst one I spied, but I'll take a walk there soon.  The second one has an adorable shake-ish roof and is fully stocked!  The door is slightly damaged, but there's a rubberband to help with securing it.
As ever, I played my little game:  If I really needed a book to read, which of this LFL's offerings would I choose?  Drumroll please.  I think I'd choose The Shack by William P. Young.  I haven't seen the movie, but the book sounds intriguing.  Fans of A Man Called Ove would probably be tempted by the hardcover of My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman.  I didn't love that one, but I seem to be in the minority there.  Lots of good choices for kids in this LFL.  Owl Diaries, The Princess in Black, Frindle, and the beautiful Sarah, Plain and Tall.  Still thinking about whether I'd like to have my own LFL. 

As ever, I welcome your LFL sightings and stories.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Ritual Updates

I love my bookish rituals each month.

You already know that I look forward to spending my audiobook credits each month.

Let me catch you up on the other bookish rituals.

I love choosing a Book of the Month Club title each month For a while there, I was choosing more than one.  However, it's fair to say there is a BOTM Club pile-up on my shelves so those days are over.  I've also found that these are buzzed-about books that are often part of one-day ebook sales and/or easy to reserve at the library.  I'm currently enjoying Startup -- I'm not a millennial, a tech gal, or a New Yorker/Brooklynite, but it's fun to read about the scene and to have sympathy for the book's old lady (36, ahem) who's juggling career, kids, debt, and marriage woes. 

I also peruse the Literary Guild selections each monthThough there are often books on offer that I would enjoy reading, my choices are rarely among the three curated monthly selections.  Those tend to be books that don't appeal to me (AT ALL) and the discounts for additional books don't kick in unless you start with one of those three selections in your box.  Makes it easy to click "skip my monthly credits" at the beginning of each month.  The selections refresh on the 15th of the month so I always check back.  However, a few months ago, a book I was super excited about was a monthly selection.  I boxed up Jennifer Ryan's The Chilbury Ladies' Choir and Jane Harper's The Dry.  Although I am very close to my saturation point with WWII novels (not forever, just for a bit), I did like Ryan's story of community, family, romance, and friendship set in the wartime English countryside.  It's told through letters and journal entries -- all of which are way too long to be believable, but which tell a good story.  Haven't cracked the spine of The Dry yet.

I get my fix for free when I choose my Kindle First selection each month.  I've mentioned this perk before:  if you have Amazon Prime, you can choose one free Kindle First selection each month (a month before the book is published).  To be honest, I don't always read these books in a hurry (or ever), but there's nothing to be lost (except five minutes of my time) by choosing one.  Last month, I chose Laura McNeal's The Practice House (which sounds kind of creepy but also kind of good).  I surprised myself this month by selecting A Small Revolution by Jimin Han.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Audible Monthly Credit(s) Report -- March

You know what is a lot easier and far less intimidating than writing a blog post every once in a blue moon?  Writing a blog post every day.  I'm going to try to get back into that habit as it's much more liberating.  When I wait so long between posts, there's too much pressure and everything I don't/won't blog about (for example, politics and world affairs) weighs me down and the whole endeavor feels pointless and petty.  When I blog every day, it's easier to remember that the point is to practice writing for writing's sake (and my own sake) and put a little something out there in the world. 

I'm stepping back up to the plate with a softball ... a backdated Audible Monthly Credit(s) report.  Here's how I spent my March audiobook credits...

Blue Sapphire by D.E. Stevenson -- I've been working my way through D.E. Stevenson's books (this Scottish scribe wrote many novels) for six years now.  I find them very soothing, particularly as listens.  They are old-fashioned and narrated with melodious Scottish and British accents.  Blue Sapphire is not the one to start with though.  It's all over the place (abandoned storyline about the mystical powers of a blue sapphire, hints at insider trading, glossing over of disturbing implications of mining) and hasn't aged as well as some of Stevenson's others.  Not my favorite.  If you're intrigued though?  Start with some of my favorites, like Miss Buncle's Book (and then its many sequels) or Listening Valley.  

The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso -- I was glad I listened to The Woman Next Door because I would not have been able to properly pronounce some of the names on my own.  At the same time, I wish I had read it in print as there's a lot to ponder with this one.  This novel is about female friendship, race, marriage, and the shadow of Apartheid.  No easy, happy endings here, but definitely hope.  Funnier than I expected, but parts are very serious and difficult to read.  I now have a soft spot for these two difficult neighbor women.

I haven't spent my April credits yet.  There have been some great sales and Deals of the Day so I'm well stocked with listening material.  Plus, I have my eye on a couple of books that release on 4/25.