Friday, July 20, 2018

Saturday Snapshot - July 21

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

A bit of a warning, I took a fair number of pictures in a short period of time.  Because of this, I'm going to be using up a lot of my SS posts for these, meaning that I'll be showing a lot of pictures of things that happened "a few weeks ago."  And we're starting right now.

A few weeks ago, the kids and I attended the Lavender Festival.  I think this has been going on for several years, but I only found out about it thanks to Facebook!  It sounded like fun and the kids wanted to try something new, so we gave it a try.

It was great fun and absolutely lovely.  I'm not sure if we'll go again next year, but it was definitely worth our time this year.

The kids had to do a fair amount of posing for me...

I sent this to my husband and told him I needed it for the next time I tried to plant something.

The kids were troopers...and were rewarded with hot dogs!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Menu Plan Monday - July 16, 2018

I didn't post a menu plan last week, simply because I was completely off schedule!  Holidays in the middle of the week never fail to throw me for a loop!  The good news is that I did put together a meal plan, I just didn't post it! 

Saturday, July 14
Bratwurst (I had mine without the bun)
Potato Salad
The kids and the hubs also had corn, but I decided to have a hard cider instead

Sunday, July 15
Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Barbecue Sauce (new recipe--my daughter wasn't too fond of it, but the rest of us liked it)
Leftover potato salad
Salad (from a bag...because that's how I roll)

Monday, July 16
Spaghetti Carbonara

Tuesday, July 17
Veggie--probably salad, unless I find something that is more appealing at the store

Wednesday, July 18
Taco Pasta
Chipotle and Cheddar Salad (from a bag....)

Thursday, July 19
Chinese style Chicken (new recipe)
Some sort of veggie

Friday, July 20
Instant Pot Pasta

Yes, we eat a lot of salad from a bag.  I really should work on changing that, but it's just so easy and the kids will usually eat it.  Sigh....

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Window Into My Week - July 15, 2018

I have to apologize for missing last week, only a few weeks after I swore I wouldn't miss any weeks with this update without a good reason.  I do have a reason--I'm not sure it is a good one, though.  Am I the only person who loses all sense of time when we have a holiday in the middle of the week?  Even though we had gone to church that morning, I completely forgot that it was Sunday and I should be writing up this post.  As I said, it is a reason, albeit not a good one.

What I've been blogging...
Again, not much.  I have the Saturday Snapshot posts from July 7 and July 14.  I also have my weekly dinner meal plan for the week of July 2nd.  I did put together a meal plan for the following week, but it just didn't get posted.  I'm planning to write that post just as soon as I finish this one.

What I've been reading...
So, I barely read anything during the week I didn't update, but I made up for it the following week.  I finished three books: Kristan Higgins's Now That You Mention ItBecky Albertalli's Leah on the Offbeat, and Camille Perri's When Katie Met Cassidy.  That probably makes me sound more productive than I actually was, though.  I had been reading Now That You Mention It since my last update.  I had previously started Leah on the Offbeat several weeks ago, but it was an eBook from the library and it "went poof" when I was only at the 50% mark.  Fortunately, my turn rolled around again just as I was finishing the Kristan Higgins book and was able to finish it off.  

Of the three books, Now That You Mention It was my favorite.  As soon as I finished it, I began asking myself why I don't read more by Kristan Higgins?  I've read a few (maybe 2?) of her books and loved them both.  She is exactly the kind of author I want to read when I need an escape.  

Leah on the Offbeat was also a success for me, although I wish I had been able to read it without the several week hiatus.  I appreciate how some YA authors are approaching their genre, treating their readers as adults and Albertalli is definitely one of these.  I can now say that I've read all of her published books and would recommend them all.

When Katie Met Cassidy is a book I've seen on several blogs and was looking forward to finding out if it was up to the hype.  Honestly, I'm not sure.  I enjoyed reading it--in fact, I plowed through it all in one day.  However, I have to admit that I was expecting something a bit more nuanced.  This one seemed more in line with a mass market romance--not that there is anything wrong with that, it just wasn't what I thought I was going to be getting.  As I said in my (very brief) Goodreads review, "it's better suited for the beach than the book club."

I think I've found the perfect book to read right now.  When the world is falling apart at the seams, thanks to Spanky McBonespur in the White House, Obama-feels makes things seem a little better.  I came across From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein, a memoir of her time as President Obama's stenographer.  I've just started it, but I can already tell I'm going to enjoy it (despite its inevitable downer ending).  It reads like a novel of a young woman taking on the world, except it is true!  I can't want to read more tonight.

What I've been watching...
People, we did it.  Last night, the hubs and I finished the last episode of The Good Wife.  I am holding onto my opinion that it was good for broadcast television, but The Good Fight is much, much better.  My friend had warned me that The Good Wife kind of fizzles out in the last season, and she was right.  Of course, this led to a discussion with my husband about whether it "fizzled out" or "went off the rails."  I, of course, am right.  It didn't go off the rails--it stayed true to what it was to the very episode.   If it had gone off the rails, it would have ended as a very different show from what it was in the first episode.  Instead, it just seemed like the story had outlasted the character development and they spent the last season trying to make the main character twist and turn within herself beyond what was realistic.  Still, I'm glad I watched it as it adds more context to The Good Fight.

Now that we are done with that, I can finally get into watching the new seasons of Anne with an E and Harlots.  I have started the latter, but I think it needs my full attention.  The latter, however, should not be viewed when the kids are awake!  Now that we're done with The Good Wife, I can finally watch something else after they go to bed.

What I've been listening to...
I did finally start my audio re-read of Eleanor and Park.  The problem is that I either have to use my earbuds or wait until the kids are out of earshot as it really is too old for them.  Also, I need to get on the ball with it, as my book club discussion is coming up!

What I've been eating...
I'll write more about this tomorrow, but I've been doing fairly well with sticking to my menu plan.  I'm also trying to incorporate some new recipes, as I notice we eat the same meals every week.  The problem is that I just can't get too excited about cooking when it is hotter than the surface of hell outside (as it is now.)

What I've been doing...
This past week was sort of a catch-up one.  We did a number of little things that needed to be done in order to get ready for the upcoming weeks.  Starting this week, my daughter has 2 weeks of day camp and then a week off and then 4 days at sleep away camp.  I'm not sure if all these camps are going to make my life easier or harder.  On one hand, I'll only have 1 child with me during the day.  On the other, I'll have to entertain one child, instead of having him play (and fight) with his sister all day.  If I come back here next week with no progress on anything, you'll know what the answer is!

I'm linking up with It's Monday...What Are You Reading?, hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Amazon Purchase Links:

Friday, July 13, 2018

Saturday Snapshot - July 14

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

As promised, I have some 4th of July pictures to share!  We had a rather quiet holiday (well, maybe not in terms of least once the fireworks started!), but that was just fine with me!

Obligatory family picture

I was prepared for the fireworks!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Saturday Snapshot - July 7

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online

Welcome back to our Seaside trip.  While I'm writing this in June, I'm anticipating at least some 4th of July pictures, and those will show up next week (hopefully!)

Anyway, back to Seaside.  After lunch and the carousel ride--and a quick trip back to Gramps' RV so that the kids could change their clothes--we headed out to the beach.  I have to confess, the Seaside beach is probably my least favorite beach in Oregon.  Frankly, it's just boring and, even when it isn't crowded, it's crowded.  However, it is long and flat and ideal for kids and wading in the Pacific Ocean.  Also, it was convenient, so we went.  The kids, as usual, had a great time.  My dad's ankle was bothering him, so he stayed up on the Boardwalk.  I'll admit that I really missed my husband in that moment, as one kid wanted to make sandcastles and the other wanted to wade and there was only one of me to watch both (I finally convinced the builder to head for the water).  We stayed for about an hour, but the kids made the most of it.

The first thing my son wanted to do was make sand angels!

The one or two minutes that I had both kids making a sand castle....

And....both kids made it to the water!

One thing I do like about the beach here is that they have showers to rinse the sand off before you head back up to the Boardwalk.  Since both kids were covered with sand, it was necessity....

A cute kid pic....see all those people behind them?  This was a very low-crowd day at this beach!

And a picture with Gramps!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Menu Plan Monday - July 2, 2018

Well, goes nothing!

I'm one of those people who has always struggled with meal planning.  As soon as I sit down to figure out what we're going to eat for the week, I forget every single food I'm willing to put in my mouth.  I know that life just flows better when I have a plan, so I've been trying to get the whole meal planning process down. 

One thing I do know about myself is that I am more likely to do something if I feel like I am obligated to someone for it.  That is where you all come in.  Don't worry, your part is easy.  All you have to do is read my post.

For my part, though, I have to actually do the thing.  I have to plan meals (just dinners) for my family in advance and then post them.  I will be linking up with Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie when she comes back from hiatus later this month (in the meantime, I'll just use her banner!), so I'm looking forward to seeing other people's plans as well.

I (try to) plan my meal Saturday-Friday.  That way I can do the bulk of my grocery shopping on Saturday, although I frequently do a second shopping trip a few days later for the produce items to consume later in the week.  Because of that, I'll already be 2 days into my menu plan by the time you all see it--which I guess isn't a big deal, but I feel like I should share that.

Also, I'm hoping to try at least 1 new recipe a week and I'll indicate that in my plan when appropriate.  I'll also link to any recipes that can be found online (which doesn't happen this week...sorry!). 

Got it?  Okay, here we go!

Saturday, June 30
Pecan-crusted buttermilk chicken
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Corn on the Cob

Sunday, July 1
Spaghetti Carbonara

Monday, July 2
Shake 'n Bake pork chops

Tuesday, July 3
Taco Pasta

Wednesday, July 4
(This will be a cookout and will probably count as lunch and dinner)
Potato Salad
Veggies with Red Pepper Hummus (New recipe)
Rhubarb Cherry Crumble (New Recipe)

Thursday, July 5
Rotisserie Chicken from the store
(We may also have leftovers from the 4th)

Friday, July 6
Instant Pot Pasta
[There is no real recipe for this, but here is how I make it:
I take 1 can of pasta sauce (we use Newman's Own Italian Sausage and Peppers) and 1 box of pasta (we use Barilla Tri-Color Rotini) and put both in the Instant Pot.  I then fill the pasta jar about 1/2 full with water and add that.  I cook it all on high for 1/2 the time it would take to cook the pasta on the stove.  For us, that would be 3 minutes.  So easy, I always have the ingredients in my pantry, and the kids love it!]

Not bad for a first try at this!  I'm not going to lie, you'll probably see the same foods over and over again, but I am looking to expand my rotation a bit.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Window into My Week - July 1, 2018

I feel like I should get a medal for doing this update two weeks in a row!  It will probably take me the summer for it to become a habit again, so just bear with me.  My goal is to post every week, unless we’re out of town (and we currently have no firm plans to go out of town, but that might change).  It will be a challenge, but it is things like this—activities that reconnect me with things that I enjoy—that help me stay sane in the middle of this colossal mess in the world.

What I’ve been blogging…
Again, the only post I put up this week, was my Saturday Snapshot.  However, I thought about things to post, so that’s good…right?

On the other side of blogging, I got back into reading blogs.  Here’s the story:  I loved Google Reader with a passion that could fuel a thousand suns.  Then it went away, and I’ve been spending years trying to find a new way that works for me to follow my favorite bloggers.  I tried everything and was never able to find anything that worked nearly as well as Google Reader.  So, I gave up.  I went back to Bloglovin’, the one reader that I hated the least.  Don’t get me wrong, I still hate it…but I can use it.  I’ve been reloading it with my favorite blogs and, I think, things are finally going as smoothly as they can.

What I’ve been reading….
I’m still working on The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan.  I’m enjoying it, but I’m savoring it.  Since I own it, instead of having it out from the library, I don’t have a deadline on it. I try to read a couple of chapters a day on it and hope to have it finished this week, with a review out next.

I'm still working on Grand Forks by Marilyn Hagerty, and I expect to for quite some time, as it is a book that I read for a moment when I have a free minute.  I forgot how much I enjoyed food writing, so I may follow this one (once I finally finish) with something by Ruth Reichl.

I finished The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren and quite enjoyed it.  It is the second in the serious and really not a standalone.  It isn’t overly entwined with the previous book in terms of plot, but I strongly feel that you have to read the first one (The Ones Who Got Away) to get the background, which is necessary for fully appreciating this story.  Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until January for the 3rd book.

I started Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins.  I’m not yet that far into it, so I don’t have an opinion on yet, other than Higgins is just a fun author to read!  I am hoping to have this finished this week as I have far too many library books on my kindle that are about to go poof (this was one that disappeared after I had read one chapter and I had to wait weeks to get it back!)

What I’ve been watching…
We’re still working our way through The Good Wife.  I believe we are almost done with season 5 and the “shocking thing” has happened.  I am planning to do a re-watch of The Good Fight once I finish with this series and know the entire backstory.

My husband has also been watching the World Cup.  He was a serious soccer player when he was young and still watches the English Premier league.  Unfortunately, the US coverage of the tournament has not been great, so I frequently find him watching Spanish language broadcasts.  No, he doesn’t speak Spanish.  However, I think the two words that transcend all languages are Hallelujah and GOALLLLLL!!!!!, so he’s doing fine with it!

What I’ve been listening to…
I still need to start my re-listen of Eleanor and Park so that I can finish before my next book club.  I have been trying to get somewhat caught up with my podcast backlog, but the bulk of my listening remains Hamilton.  It seems to be the only thing that offers a true respite from the news.

What I’ve been eating…
On the fish front, I have to say that this week’s salmon was excellent.  The previous week, my husband brought some home from Costco—and who knows how fresh that is.  This week, I purchased some wild caught salmon from New Seasons and it was infinitely better.  I mean, I was almost tempted to have seconds!

I did manage to put an actual meal plan together for this week—the first time in ages!  I’m hoping to post it tomorrow (Monday), so check back to see what it is.  I was hoping to link it up to a blog hop, but that is on hiatus until later this month.  Just my luck!

What I’ve been doing…
This past week was Vacation Bible School week, which was much less tiring this year as I opted not to volunteer.  I felt a bit guilty (just a bit, just at first) about not being there, but my mental health just needed a break.  And I’m glad I did it…I was able to work out AND take a shower every day.  Woo-hoo!

This week will be a bit of a strange one, as Independence Day falls right in the middle.  We don’t have much else planned, so I foresee a fair amount of pool time for the kids.  On the 4th, my dad is coming over and we will have far too much food.  Again, tune in Monday for that plan.

I do have vague plans to get something done in my house.  Many of you gave me some tips, and I will be trying to put those to use.  I’m resisting setting any big goals, but if I can do enough so that there is a visible improvement, I’ll be happy.

There is my week in a nutshell.  For those of you in the good old US of A, I hope that you have a wonderful 4th of July and that, hopefully, things won’t be such crap in our country at least on that day.  And for my Canadian friends, Happy Canada Day!

I'm linking up with It's Monday...What Are You Reading?, hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Amazon Purchase Links:

Friday, June 29, 2018

Saturday Snapshot - June 30

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Last week, the kids and I took an impromptu trip to Seaside to see my Dad, who was hanging out there for a while. Since it was a spur of the moment thing, my husband wasn't able to make it due to work.  I took quite a few pictures, so I'm going to split it over two weeks.  This week, I'll share pictures from our time in town and, next week, I'll have some beach pictures.

So...Seaside.  Seaside is a unique town to the Oregon Coast as it is much more reminiscent of tourist towns you'd find on the East Coast than what we have here.  Tourism is big here, probably bigger than any other city on the coast.  They have a large convention center and several impressive hotels.  As far as shopping and eating, it is what every tourist would expect and yet it still has a sort of old-time feel.  

We took my father to lunch at Pig 'n Pancake, which is a local chain of breakfast restaurants.  It's good, although not especially unique.  Afterwards, we took the kids to ride the historic carousel across the street.

I spotted this on a corner, reminding people what they leave on the ground ends up in the ocean.

My son's favorite animal is a giraffe and he really want to ride on this one, but it didn't go up and down, so he had to settle with a photo-op and then move to a horse.

You can't really see it, but my daughter is riding a cat.

I got this picture mid-ride and it looks like my son is not so sure about this merry-go-round thing!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Window Into My Week -- June 24, 2018

People, I haven’t done an update post since January—nearly 6 months!  All I can say is that life and, probably more accurately, reality got in the way.  The world is just a rotten mess at the moment and it has been taking a toll on me in so many ways.  My reading has tapered off.  My blogging has tapered off.  My anxiety has skyrocketed.  My house is a mess (although might not be a result of the current state of the world….).

I’m trying to at least get my little corner of the world in better shape.  I’ve been looking for ways to serve the community and I’m trying to get back into the things I enjoy—especially reading and writing.  I’m currently 17 books behind in my Goodreads Challenge, so this might be the first year that I won’t be able to complete it…but I’m going to keep trying.  I am trying to carve out some time each day to read, even if its just 15 minutes.  And I’m trying to get back into blogging.

I am, however, changing the focus on my blog.  I’ll still do book reviews, but not as often.  Instead, I’ll be writing more about my life and thoughts and all that jazz.  I originally started this blog as a lifestyle/mommy blog and maybe it is time to head back in that direction.

One change I’m making starts right now…I have a new format for this, as you’ll see below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it as I’m hoping to tweak it as we go along.

What I’ve been blogging….
Other than my Saturday Snapshot posts, not much. Hopefully, this section will be a little more substantial next week!

What I’ve been reading….
If you look at my Goodreads page, it looks like I have far too many books going.  (Un)fortunately, that’s not the case.  I’ve been downloading eBooks from the library and I don’t always finish them before they magically turn themselves in.  As a result, half of those books are ones I had to stop midway through and I am just waiting for my name to come up again on the holds list.

In reality, I’m currently working on 3 books.  The first is The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren.  This is the second book in her The Ones Who Got Away series, based on a group of adults who survived a school shooting while in high school.  I know, that sounds like an upper—but these are actually quite good and not as morose as you would expect.

I just began The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan, so I don’t have much to say about it right now.  However, I’ve heard fantastic things about it and it currently has a 4.45 rating on Goodreads, so I have high expectations.  Doan is an Oregon author and I’m all for supporting local writers!  I have opted not to review every book I read, but I am expecting to write up a review of this one.

When the great Anthony Bourdain died, I found out about a book he published called Grand Forks.  It is a collection of restaurant reviews written by Grand Forks, North Dakota resident Marilyn Hagerty.  Bourdain felt that her reviews were an essential record of the American food landscape and it is absolutely delightful.  I keep it by my computer and pick it up and read a review or two whenever my mind needs to check out of reality.

What I’m Watching…
The hubs and I have been binge-watching The Good Wife on Amazon Prime.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, we thoroughly enjoyed The Good Fight, but had never seen the previous series.  Now we’re fixing that situation.  As we’re somewhere in season 4, I’m pretty sure we’ll be watching this for a while to come.

I can’t help but compare The Good Wife to The Good Fight.  Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying The Good Wife.  As far as broadcast shows go, it is one of the best I’ve seen.  Yet, I still find The Good Fight to be a better show.  The shows are, not surprisingly, intrinsically linked but there is a few fundamental difference, which I’m paraphrasing from a comment from a viewer of both shows that I saw on a discussion board.  The Good Wife is a political/legal show that is sometimes darkly comic.  The Good Fight is a darkly comic show that is sometimes political/legal.  I also feel that The Good Fight is a better balanced, and better written, show.  Does anyone else have thoughts on these two shows?

What I’m Listening to…
Once the kids are out of school, I fall way behind on all my podcasts.  So, I try to listen to those—and stay on top of at least my news and current events shows—when I can.  I need to start listening to Eleanor and Park (again) as I’m leading my book club discussion on it next month.  Now that I’ve laid all that out, I have to admit that I’ve pretty much just been listening to the Hamilton cast album.

What I’m Eating…
I’ve been trying to incorporate one fish dinner into my family’s meal each week.  You might think my kids are proving to be the obstacle with this, but no.  I’m the problem.  You see, I don’t like fish!

When I was very young, probably preschool aged, I became sick after eating fish and chips and refused to eat fish, seafood, or French fries until I was an adult.  I easily re-introduced French fries into my diet easily (admittedly, I may have been better off not doing that), but I’m still working on the fish.

There are two types of fish that I can stomach: halibut and salmon.  Since halibut is crazy expensive, it’s pretty much just salmon around here.  My kids, especially my daughter, love it and my husband would be happy to eat fish for every meal.  As for me, I eat until I reach my “ick” point.  But, I keep serving it….because I know I should…even if I don’t want to.

The other thing I’m working on is trying to get into the swing of meal planning.  I used to be quite good at it, but then I fell out of the habit and apparently completely forgot how to do it.  On the rare occasion that I am able to actually pull one together, I may share it here on the blog.

What I’m Doing…
Our first few weeks of summer have been a blast!  Last week, the kids had swimming lessons Monday through Thursday, and we hung out at the outdoor pool afterward.  On Friday, the kids and I headed out to Seaside to see my dad, who is camped out there for a week or two.  I’ll be sharing pictures of that trip in the next 2 Saturday Snapshots.

This week, the kids have Vacation Bible School and, for the first time in 5 years, I’ve opted not to volunteer.  I overextended myself last year with commitments and, for my own mental health—as well as my family’s—I realized I needed to step aside.  I’d like to say I’m doing exciting things with my free three hours a day, but I’m pretty sure I’ll just be going to the gym.

So, there is a window into my week.  I’ll be doing my best about getting this post up every week, so check back in next week!

I’m linking up with It’s Monday…What Are You Reading?, which is hosted by Kathryn over at Book Date.

Amazon Purchase Links:

Friday, June 22, 2018

Saturday Snapshot - June 23

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

I have just a few random pictures from this past week today....enjoy!

The outdoor pool at our gym is now open and we've been making full use of it.  This past week, the kids had swim lessons, and then we hung around for a while afterwards.  Let me tell you, our tans (despite all the sunscreen!) are awesome.

This past month, my daughter got Grump by Liesl Shurtliff in her OwlCrate Jr box and she has been reading it...over and over again...since.  I finally convinced her to try the other books in the series, which we will hopefully pick up from the library this weekend,

The last spring sky of the year was also made way for some very un-Oregon thunderstorms (which were also amazing!)

And finally, a selfie in honor of National Selfie day!