Monday, June 2, 2014

SHS Book Club--And the Mountains Echoed

I read And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini in three days. I didn't want to put it down but I didn't want it to end. I love books that take you to other places--books that have characters with real depth and heart. This is that kind of book. This is my first Hosseini book. I have The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns on my "Want to Read" list. I've read that And the Mountains Echoed isn't as good as his other two. If that is the case, I can read those two because I thought this was so good! I am saving those two for later because I know once I start them I will probably not put those down.

The book takes place in Afghanistan, Paris, San Francisco, and a Greek island. Don't worry, it is easy to follow. The theme of the novel is about separation. Despite the sad theme, the book is beautifully hopeful. If you see this book at your library, snap it up. My library never seems to have it available. I was on a waiting list for it.

Are you on Goodreads? Follow me here on Goodreads!


Pin It!

Friday, May 30, 2014

SHS Book Club--The Husband's Secret

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty is a book about a husband who writes a letter to his wife in the event of his death only his wife finds the letter while her husband is still alive. Intriguing, right? The plot had serious potential but it kind of all fell apart for me. I would have loved to see this book go more of the mystery route, instead it felt more like chick lit. The women in the book didn't have much depth and seemed gossipy and blah.

Having said that, I definitely got through the book quickly and wasn't bored. It is a good summer read. I can imagine this story being a "movie of the week" type of movie. Just like those movies, you are pulled in in the moment but asked months later what the book is about, you can't remember and have to read the jacket to recall.

Are you on Goodreads? Follow me on Goodreads here!


Pin It!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Creating a Fairy Garden/Linking up with Lily Jade for Giveaway!

It's warming up outside and that means Fairy Garden time! It seems that any nursery you go into has a whole section devoted to creating a fairy garden. They even host Fairy Garden parties, which MiniMe wants to do for her next birthday.

You can create a Fairy Garden for very little or you can go all out. It's really up to you and your budget. We spent about $75 on items for our two gardens--my daughter and I each made one. We had the pots and soil already so that was just for the little trinkets. Looking back, I actually think we could have spent way less but once you're in the nursery looking at all the little cuteness, you go crazy. After looking at some Pinterest boards, I realize there are many items you have around your home you could use--corks from wine bottles, rocks or pebbles from old fish tanks, old dollhouse furniture, tiny tea party dishes, bark from your garden, sea glass, sea shells, sand, beads and so much more--just look around!

Here is a pic of my supplies and plants before we start planting. MiniMe is planting a Fairy Garden and I am planting a Gnome Garden.

The first thing to do is to prep your pot with soil. We each have large pots that we can pull inside in the winter. Make sure if you are planting live plants that you have a hole at the bottom of your pot as well as a protective plate to prevent leaks on your carpet/wood when you pull your pot inside. We live in Colorado so we will be pulling our pots in.

Once you have your pot filled, just start creating and arranging. We kept our succulents in the center and plants that will grow more on the side so they won't take over the garden.

Here is the overview of my finished Gnome Garden and then a close up of some of the details:

And MiniMe's Fairy Garden:

Making a Fairy Garden with your daughter(s) is a fun way to spend time together. You don't even have to be a green thumb to make it work (I'm definitely not one!). Most of the plants are super hearty and it is easy enough to dig a hole and water on occasion. It will definitely get you in the mood for spring/summer!

I'm so excited and honored to link up with Lily Jade today to host a giveaway of a statement necklace and brooch from my shop! If you aren't familiar with Lily Jade, check out the site. Lily Jade sells beautiful designer diaper bags. How fabulous is the Madeline bag? I mean seriously, how many times do you have to drop what you're doing to help your little one? Every diaper bag should have a backpack option. Tori Spelling featured her Lily Jade bag on her Instagram account. Lily Jade followers can enter the code LILYJADE30 from now until Friday to save 30% off their purchase.


Pin It!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hickory Cap Finished!

I love Brooklyn Tweed. BT if you're listening, can I please become a test knitter and receive all of your patterns for free? I can't say enough great things about this company and their BEAUTIFUL patterns.

This cap was so very simple to knit and hardly requires much yarn at all. It only requires 160 yards of worsted weight wool! I have enough yard from my skein to knit one more. Below is the image that drew me to the pattern in the first place. I was looking for a hat that didn't smoosh my hair and make it static-y. This cap accomplishes just that.

Visit the Brooklyn Tweed site if you knit--you won't be disappointed. I have a long list of future projects. Their design team deserves some major kudos for making knitwear more fashion forward.


Pin It!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

SHS Book Club--My two favorite books of 2013

I'm still catching up with books I read last year. I'm lumping two books together in this post because they were my absolute favorite. The first is The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. There are no words. This is a beautifully, touching book. The setting is Alaska, 1920. The main characters, Jack and Mabel are a childless couple who make their home in the brutal Alaska wilderness. The Snow Child story is inspired by a Russian folktale in which an elderly childless couple make a snow child that comes to life.

A lot of reviewers have commented that the beginning of this book is slow moving. I didn't notice that at all but mostly because it kept my attention and was so beautifully written that I was captivated. Having been to Alaska, I loved the imagery this author created. It's amazing to me that this is Ivey's debut novel. What an incredible first book! I felt emotionally tied to the characters and was invested in their outcome. Without giving too much away, there are some really touching parts that might even make you cry.

I'm not sure what this book is classified as--adult or young adult or fantasy. I wouldn't normally pick up a book based on a folktale but I'm so glad I did! After turning the last page, I put the book down and thought that it was one of the best books I've ever read. It was super satisfying.

My second favorite book of 2013 was also somewhat in the "fantasy" realm. It is called The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay but who was brought to life by a rabbi using magic. Chava looks and operates as a human being. She has the special ability to read people's thoughts. She arrives in New York in 1899. Ahmad is a jinni (genie) who is trapped in a copper flask and released by a tinsman in New York City in the same timeframe. The story takes you through their individual stories until they eventually intertwine. It is really hard for me to describe this "fairytale" and do it justice without giving the plot away. But I want so badly to express the reason you should read this book. Though it sounds fantastical and strange, the tale that Wecker weaves through these two characters is not only beautiful but leads you to examine the deeper meaning of the book, of life.

I read that it took seven years for Wecker to write this book. This was her debut novel as well. I can't believe my two favorite books of 2013 were written by new authors! She did a tremendous amount of research before she tackled the writing. It's obvious that she did the work. I was able to envision New York in the early 1900s as if I was walking the streets myself.

Chava and Ahmad became very real and tangible to me while reading this book. I found myself Googling terms like "golem" and "jinni" just to learn even more about the historical background of these fantasy creatures. I knew that genies were of middle eastern folklore. I didn't know much about golems but they are of Jewish folklore. A golem reference even appears in the Bible--Psalm 139 when God uses the word golem and in translation refers to our "unshapen forms."

Anyway, give this book a chance. Don't let the unusual plotline deter you. It's rated 4+ stars on for a good reason. I was so hesitant to pick it up but then kept reading the reviews and I'm so glad I did. Not once did I ever consider giving up on the book as I had fears I would. I found myself excited to press on and find out how things end for Chava and Ahmad.

If you are on Goodreads, follow me here.


Pin It!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Stitch Fix Experience

Have you heard about Stitch Fix? It's a personal styling service--your very own Rachel Zoe! You simply fill out some information (your Style Profile) about your body type, your type of style, your budget, favorite colors (the questions get pretty specific as they nail down your style). Then you get a FedEx package with an entire surprise outfit! What's the catch you ask? You do pay a $20 "styling fee" BUT that amount goes toward the purchase of anything you want to buy. Stitch Fix provides you a return FedEx envelope that you use to pop in whatever items you didn't like--postage paid for by them!

I was certain that my stylist wouldn't get it right but I gave it a try anyway. I actually loved every item I was sent! I was sent a pair of pants, a scarf, a short sleeved navy and white striped top, a V-neck sweater, and a coat. Though I loved the color and style of the pants, I think they were more appropriate for someone who has straight hips (aka No hips whatsoever) and zero butt. I returned the short sleeved, striped top as well because my stylist nailed it so well that I have about six of those in various sized stripes.

I did keep this cute scarf:

I love the cute scarf instruction card they included--for scarf-challenged individuals.

Here's a pic of my V-neck sweater. Looks cute with the scarf and coat (not in picture).

And the cute coat:

Here's me with the coat on:

Yup, Stitch Fix is kind of genius. It's one of those ideas that I wish I had thought of. After I returned my items, I filled out a quick survey stating that the skinny jeans were cute and technically fit on my body but certainly weren't flattering to my body type. I also adjusted my budget. The coat was $68, which I think is reasonable. The striped shirt I returned was $88, which isn't reasonable to me considering I could get one like it at Ann Taylor for $25. The scarf was $32, which might seem pricey but when I took into account that the color would go with most everything I own and the fact that it's been below 20 degrees here for weeks, I didn't mind. I wear it all the time. But they'll accommodate all budgets. If you are interested in trying to get your Stitch Fix on, would you click on this link? For every friend that tries my link I get $25 toward my next fix. I'd appreciate it! If you've tried Stitch Fix, what has been your experience?

My favorite part about it was being excited for the package to come and seeing if they'd get it right (it also helps to have a Pinterest page that they scan to get a better sense of you) and receiving items that I probably wouldn't have chosen for myself but discovering they were cute anyhow.


Pin It!

Friday, February 7, 2014

SHS Book Club--The Secret Keeper, 45 Pounds (More or Less), and Waiting to Be Heard

I am so behind in my book reviews for Goodreads. I decided that I better get on it! In 2013, I set a goal to read at least 24 books. I read 36! When do I find the time? That is a common question I get. I cut down on TV and that has bought me a lot of time. Blow drying my hair takes 10 minutes. I read while I brush and brush and brush. I chauffer my kids around a lot. While I wait for them to finish their various activities, I read. Just last night my daughter had piano for an hour and rather than drop her off, drive all the way home only to get back in the car to get her again, I just read. You'd be surprised how when you have a good book, you make the time.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton was an intriguing book. The book jumps back and forth between the past and present, which could be confusing but isn't in this book. The main character, Laurel, witnesses a horrific event when she was 16 years old from her treehouse. The event was life changing for Laurel and impacts her relationship with her mother. Sixteen year-old Laurel and present day Laurel tell the story. Without giving too much away, let me just say that you won't get the big plot twist. Even if you think you have it figured out, you don't. I love that about this book. I've got Kate Morton on my radar to read more books by her!

Next book that I read was 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson. This book seems more slated for the YA genre but that's ok. I love reading that genre on occasion. It was a super fast read for that reason. The main character, Ann, is overweight and 16. She has a very skinny mother and the book opens with them swimsuit shopping. I would encourage anyone who has issues with weight (who doesn't?) to pick up this book. Or if you know a teen struggling with weight, this book would really encourage them. It gives a greater understanding of what it is like to be an overweight adolescent. Tough. Hard. There are no words to what being overweight in this day and age as a teen must feel like. The character is genuinely likeable. You just want to take her in your arms, hug her and tell her she is good enough. No. Matter. What.

The final book I'm reviewing today is Waiting to Be Heard by Amanda Knox. I read this book before the most recent decision by the court to revoke her Not Guilty ruling. I must say, she gives a super compelling testimony of her side of the story. I can totally see how her actions were misinterpreted. Whether you like her or not or think she's innocent or not, you have to give this book a read before you come to a final conclusion. I recall listening to some talk show where the lawyer was saying that she must be guilty because of the DNA. She had me convinced because DNA is so definitive. Not so fast. DNA is only definitive when competent people collect it and when the justice system is impartial. Meredith's case will never be fully determined because the Italian officials botched the case so badly. This book is very cleanly laid out. You get a really good understanding of who Amanda really is, what her family is like, what her thoughts were behind some of her decisions, and how the justice system really did a number on her. If you like newsworthy non-fiction, this is a good one--especially now with the new ruling.

If you are on Goodreads, follow me here. Photobucket

Pin It!