Monday, April 25, 2016

How can I keep from springing?

A little round-up of the books, finds, and treats putting a spring in my step this month.

I finally had time to sit outside and read yesterday and finished Lisa Beazley's Keep Me Posted.  It's a breezy read about motherhood, marriage, and sisterhood.  I was frustrated with the main character early on, but I did enjoy watching her navigate those tough years as a mom of young children when you're trying to figure out how to be your self and a mom as well.  The phrase "keep me posted" is one that my mom and sisters and I use often (by phone and text, not letter), which predisposed me to like this novel.  The blogging success storyline was appealing to me as well, which my 5-10 readers will understand.

I am just a few pages into Julie Buxbaum's Tell Me Three Things, but I can tell I am going to love it.

Note the flowers in the photo above.  Much to the frustration of my husband, I save large glass jars from spaghetti sauce and the like.  I needed to come up with some centerpieces yesterday.  Cute paper from my stash wrapped around an old jar filled with grocery store flowers (bunches are 3/$12) yielded pretty cute results for minimal effort.  Sometimes hoarding pays off.

And speaking of flowers, I have been enjoying these beauties from Trader Joe's.  That's a lot of spring happiness for $3.99.
Dollar Tree has really upped their spring game this season.  How fun and vintage-y are these treat bags and napkins?  I have no immediate plans for them, but I couldn't resist.
I used the phrase "spring in my step" above.  These flats are a dream.  They are SO comfortable.  I found them at Kohl's (brand is A2 by Aerosoles) for $39.99 minus whatever multiple discounts you should be getting with coupons, etc.  I chose the silver because it was the only pair (other than pink) available in the store in my size (nine).  After two days of wearing the silver shoes, I got online and tried to order more colors.  Most are sold out in my size, but I was able to get some black ones and some gold ones.  I love the slightly-squared toe and fancy it gives the shoes a sort of European look.  But what do I know about fashion?  Not much.  Your feet will thank you for buying these though.

What's got you springing this spring?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Bar Method

I'm not talking about fitness.  Bar method may be a great workout, but group fitness is not for me.

My bar method is to eat a KIND bar for breakfast or to grab one for a boost if I have a tennis match at an odd time, say 10:30 a.m. -- too early for lunch, well past breakfast.

I reviewed some KIND bars a few months back, and I'm at it again.

From top to bottom:
Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt is my gold standard, go-to bar.  I'd be shocked but delighted if another KIND bar ever topped it.  I love the saltiness of the nuts and the thin layer of dark chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Almond Mint:  It's almost not fair for me to review this one because I don't really care for mint and chocolate together.  I enjoy the green (not blue) minty lifesavers and adore the muddled mint in a mojito, BUT thin mints, mint chocolate chip ice cream, grasshopper cookies (do those still exist?), peppermint patties, Andie's mints ... nope, nope, nope, nope, and nope.  I tasted this bar and found it palatable.  I suspect that those who love the marriage of mint and chocolate will really love this bar.  Minty without that icky artificial flavor.

Goodness Knows Peach & Cherry Almond Dark Chocolate:  The flavor of this bar is okay, not offensive and not tremendous.  I do like how the bars are portioned into four big bites.  I had one in my purse at tennis and was able to grab squares during a couple water breaks.  These bars weren't expensive, but I doubt I'll buy them again.

Dark Chocolate Almond & Coconut:  I know that some people's feelings about coconut mirror mine about the mint/chocolate combination.  I LOVE the flavor and texture of coconut.  This KIND bar is phenomenal, like an Almond Joy that you can pretend is sort of healthy.  I am excited to add this one into the rotation and am pleased to report that it is available at my local Jewel.  I would rank it number two after my gold standard.

Goodness Knows Cranberry Almond Dark Chocolate:  Better than the Peach & Cherry one but, still, just okay.  

What's your bar method?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

National Poetry Month -- Hooray!

April can indeed be the cruelest month.  When it snows.  When you dress your son in six layers for a bitter cold baseball practice.  When you realize your moving of the winter coats into storage was premature or possibly delusional.  When glimpses of true spring and even hints of summer appear only to disappear in a puff of sinus headache haze.

And yet on those April days when the sun shines and you notice the trees blooming and realize the grass needs cut, the relief and hope are overwhelming.  Anything seems possible.  You have, after all, survived winter which, even if it not particularly cruel, was long as ever.

The highs and lows of April make it the ideal choice for National Poetry Month

Here a few ways we've celebrated National Poetry Month around here:
Starting the last week of March, our library offered these poetry coloring sheets.  I read the poem to my kindergartner and she illustrated it!

I plucked this poetry collection from a National Poetry Month display at the library, and my middle guy and I have been enjoying it every evening.  He is a very capable reader, but he does not love reading.  He still loves being read to though, and my goal with him is to just keep exposing him to stories (and now poems) that he enjoys.  He's read some of the poems to me as well, and that kind of reading aloud is good to practice.  He asked me to order our own copy of Judith Viorst's What Are You Glad About?  What Are You Mad About?  I'll say more about this collection in a later post, but I'll be very happy to have a copy for our home library!  It arrives tomorrow.

Finally, some of my favorite teacher friends from back in the day initiated an email poetry share.  The poem I chose to share, which seemed perfect for spring, was Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Afternoon on a Hill."  When I was linking to it, I came across a poem we always shared with our high school students when we read The Odyssey:  Millay's "An Ancient Gesture."  I had forgotten how perfect that poem is.  My friend, a wonderful poet herself, shared a poem even more suited to the hope of spring:  "From Blossoms" by Li-Young Lee.

Find some ways to celebrate poetry this month, okay? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Stack Attack!

When it rains, it pours.  That cliche certainly applies to library holds, but in a way that has nothing to do with getting soaking wet or bombarded with ill fortune.  My local public library is amazing, and I regularly put tempting new releases on hold and receive them within weeks or even days.  In the past ten days, the holds have all rolled in.  Plus, I found some great finds on the new release shelf.

I am trying to attack the stack!

Here's a stack status update ... from top to bottom.

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad is fairly short.  I am reading it as a potential book club choice.  Status:  on deck.

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle.  Read and really enjoyed it.  As a former high school teacher, I always consider suitability for the classroom when I read YA.  Unfortunately, books in which teenagers drink and/or have sex usually fall outside of that category, even when they are well written and would prompt good writing and rich discussion.  Teens struggling with grief or sexuality will hopefully find their way to this novel and Federle's skillful weaving of truth, pain, and humor.  Status: read and recommend.

Three Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell.  It's a fat one and according to my research on is a sixteen-hour audiobook.  I like to maximize listening hours when I spend my monthly Audible credits so I may return this one to the library and listen instead.  Just waiting for some audiobook reviews to pop up.  Rebecca Lowman is one of the narrators though so it will likely be a great listen.  Status:  likely to listen instead.

Multiple Listings by Tracy McMillan.  I started this one last night.  So far, so good.  I placed the hold after a friend/reader I trust awarded it four stars on Goodreads.  But, should it give me pause that there are only two blurbs on the back of the book and one is from Eva Longoria?  Status: cautiously optimistic

Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey.  I read about Ways to Disappear in BookPage, a publication you know I adore.  I found it on the new release shelf and will renew it once and see if I'm in the mood.  Status: eventually, probably

I'm Glad About You by Teresa Rebeck.  I heard about this book months ago on Twitter and was so excited because a novel partially set in Cincinnati and involving at least one character who went to Notre Dame sounds so like my jam.  Bad news is that my friend, also a voracious reader, predicts I am going to be disappointed and maybe angry.  I'll still read it (can't resist a Cincy setting) but her review is the reason I went the library route instead of potentially buying it.  Status: bubble burst and not buying, but will read.  I owe it to the Nati.

What's in your stack these days?