Thursday, July 31, 2014

July in Review

Tomorrow marks the first day of August! But before we start a new month, here's a look back at this past July.

In July...
...We spent the week of 4th of July in Orange Beach.
Braised Lamb
...Once again we ate well with the boy making braised lamb with roasted potatoes and figs (from our backyard!),
Mustard Chicken
mustard chicken with roasted broccoli,
Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken
and spicy honey glazed chicken with arugula pesto couscous. The chicken was good, but the arugula pesto was really the star of the meal.
Lunch at Saigon Noodles
...I finally made it to Saigon Noodles, a restaurant I've been wanting to try for a while. But while overall I enjoyed my lunch, it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

...I posted reviews of 4 books and 2 movies.
Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman
A Triple Knot by Emma Campion
Unhinged by A. G. Howard
Spring Break by Katherine Appelgate
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Overall it was only kind of an ok month here, but my favorite of these has to be Love & Treasure.

...back in 2012 I wrote about our cake tasting,
Cake Samples
and for a bit of a two-parter, almost exactly one year later, in 2013, I posted about our cake cutting.
What were some of the highlights of July for you?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

21 Weeks Bumpdate

21 Weeks
How Far Along: 21 Weeks.

Size of the Baby: A carrot

Maternity Clothes: Still pretty much everything is maternity, although there are a few tops I wore pre-pregnancy I'm able to make work.

Nursery: After last week's big update, there's nothing new to report here.

Stretch Marks: Again, still none.

Sleep: In case you're sensing a theme, this is still pretty normal.

Movement: Still a few possible flutters, but nothing other than that.

Cravings: I know you're about to be surprised, but I haven't really had any. Although I do plan on making it to Panera for a french onion soup.

Symptoms: Again, nothing really to report here.

What I Miss: Once again, I don't really feel like I'm missing anything.

Looking Forward To: Well I did tour my first daycare, and got added to the waiting list. There's still a few others I want to check out, but that's one less thing to "look forward" to.
6 Weeks7 Weeks8 Weeks
6 Weeks ~ 7 Weeks ~ 8 Weeks
9 Weeks10 Weeks11 Weeks
9 Weeks ~ 10 Weeks ~ 11 Weeks
12 Weeks13 Weeks14 Weeks
12 Weeks ~ 13 Weeks ~ 14 Weeks
15 Weeks16 Weeks17 Weeks
15 Weeks ~ 16 Weeks ~ 17 Weeks
18 Weeks19 Weeks20 Weeks
18 Weeks ~ 19 Weeks ~ 20 Weeks

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Top 10 Books of 2014 So Far

I debated a while as to whether I wanted to write this. After all at the end of each year, I try to write a post listing out my favorites of the year. What if my post halfway through the year was the exact same as the end of the year?!?! Would it even be worth writing? Except, I know how silly that sounds since I have a whole year of reading ahead of me. Yes, books on this list will likely be on my end of the year list (and likely in different spots since my thoughts change with time), but it won't be a carbon copy.

But while I have every intention of writing a top 10 post at the end of the year, I'll have a newborn baby then too. Yes, I have every intention of keeping up the blog after baby, but who knows how crazy life may be. So just in case, I wanted to write this that way I can much sure my favorite, up till now, have their time in the spotlight.

1. Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson
While this review went up in 2014, I technically read it in 2013. Except I read it after my Top 10 of 2014 had already been written. It's too bad because it would have been number 1 of 2013, and is number 1 on this list as well. I can't wait to reread it, so much so that I've suggested it as our book club selection so hopefully they love it too.

2. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
As much as I love Clare's books I wasn't expecting this to be here. But I can't help but think this was the perfect way to end this series, and a great way to build excitement for her next two series. As much as I want to hate Clare at times I really can't, especially when she's so good at drawing you in.

3. Three Souls by Janie Chang
This was such a haunting book, but it's definitely one that left an impression. I think the cover is perfect for the story, and I loved getting to explore China in this. I know this is a debut which makes me even more excited for what's to come from Janie Chang.

4. Driving Lessons by Zoe Fishman
I feel like I was so vague in my review of this book because I wasn't quite ready to share what was going on with me. In this book the main character is in her early 30s and not quite sure if she wants to have kids, but then unexpectedly she gets pregnant. Not realizing this story line would be the main point in this, I read this only a week or two pregnant and found it to be such a pleasant surprise. The cliched moment on food tasting weird for so perfect for me since I had my own version only days before. It pained me a little while writing my review that I couldn't reveal just WHY it spoke so much to me, but now that my secret is out I'm so happy to be able to finally share!

5. Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
2013 seemed to be the year of Bernadette, but better late than never, right? Especially since there's still a movie on the way. I really loved the way the story was told, through e-mails, documents, and such. And Bernadette came off as so out there and crazy you couldn't help but love her. I do feel quite a bit late with this, but if you haven't read it yet, definitely do it before the movie

6. When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon
I still can't get over some of the food description in this. Yes, there was a love story too, but what I remember most about this one is how easily it transported me to Greece to be part of the culture there.

7. The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
This likely would have been higher without Somewhere in France to compare it to, but it's still a pretty amazing look at WWI. It is a bit heartbreaking, and I'm not sure I'm quite up for rereading it yet. But it's definitely one I'd love to come back to.

8. Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn Dingman
I only finished this one yesterday, and have yet to even write my review of it, so it only barely made the list. But it definitely deserves to be here. From the title you'd guess this is a basic chick-lit, and while it does have a romantic story line, that's not the part that spoke to me. Instead it was the parts where the main character researched her mother's life after her death. I think there's definitely someone about one's death that makes you realize all the questions you never asked, and considering my mom's passing it really resonated with me.

9. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters
Another book I feel like I was a bit late too. It's hard to describe succinctly, but it really is a beautiful book. There is a lot going on at times, but overall it really managed to work.

10. The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose
Going into this book I wasn't sure I would enjoy it as much as I did. Especially knowing that it's 6th in a series I've yet to read, but it didn't really matter. I think one reason I enjoyed this so much so because it was the type of book my mom always loved, and reading it as I imagined she may have, made me enjoy it that much more.

Have you had the chance to read any of these books? And which books would you include on your top 10 list of the year, so far?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Zero to Hero

I thought this was a really interesting take on a familiar tale. It was played to keep Hercules "real" without magic or the gods, but told in a way that showed you where the legend came from. It wasn't an origin tale, but even so mentioned the trials of Hercules in passing or flashbacks.

The movie did start out slow and took a while to get into things. Yes, it did feel a little long, but overall I did enjoy myself. But even with a fresh take on the story, it still managed to feel a bit predictable.

Did we need this Hercules movie? Probably not. But I would recommend it for a interesting take on a story we all know. I don't think you need to run out to the theaters for it, but it is worth sitting down for eventually.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mailbox Monday (85)

Yes, it's that time again. I'm linking up the new additions to my bookshelves with Mailbox Monday.
Mailbox Monday
From Goodreads
Midnight Play by Lisa Marie Perry
This is actually the second book in a series, although I've learned romance series don't really need to be read in order. But funny enough, back in February, I won the first in this series also from Goodreads. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, but when I do, I'll have the second waiting in the winds.

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Beachin' It

Spring Break by Katherine Appelgate
: January 26, 2010 by Simon Pulse
Originally Published: April 1, 1996
Series: Summer # 4
Last year I started Beach Blondes while at the beach so it only made sense (at least in my mind) to continue that tradition and read the next in the series on this year's beach trip. Yes, these are a bit ridiculous and probably not appropriate anywhere but the beach, but they're still kind of fun.

Not too surprisingly my complaints of this book are the same as the first. The books were first published in the 90s, but when they redid them for republication they updated a lot of the references. Which means the girls listen to ipods instead of cd players or answer their cells phones instead of car phones. Except while this could have worked, there's things that would have been to difficult to update and were left in, so Summer spends her time looking for a pay phone or visits Disney World and sees the Skyway and Captain Nemo Submarines, rides that haven't existed since the 90s. The book is definitely caught in a bit of a time warp between 3 decades that doesn't quite fit.

But I didn't find the plot nearly as cheesy this time. I think it helps that this was a single book, while the first had the first 3 in the series repackaged. But even so, I found this one a lot less predictable than the first.

I do have the next in the series, and while I don't plan on reading it till next summer (which hopefully I'm able to make happen with a baby!), part of me is looking forward to reading it.


Today I'm linking up with Blonde Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

20 Weeks Bumpdate

20 Weeks
How Far Along: 20 Weeks. Which means I'm somehow halfway through!

Size of the Baby: A banana

Maternity Clothes: Pretty everything I'm wearing at this point is maternity.

Nursery: We actually made progress here this week. We hung up the curtains, and built both the crib and bookshelf. Unfortunately, I had planned on buying all white furniture, but once we opened the boxes realized I brought home a black crib. I know there's several options, we could paint it or return it, except the closest Ikea is in Houston. Still, we'll probably just keep it as is and have black and white furniture. It really isn't that bad, and really more annoying than anything else.

Stretch Marks: Still none, which considering I keep forgetting to us my belly cream, is pretty miraculous.

Sleep: Still pretty normal. I've been woken up by leg cramps once or twice in the early morning, but nothing to crazy.

Movement: I think I may have actually felt a few flutters.

Cravings: Well I did buy a carton of Ben & Jerry's Red Velvet Cake that's pretty delicious.

Symptoms: Besides the leg cramps nothing out of the ordinary.

What I Miss: Starbucks lattes. More specifically pumpkin spice latte, which aren't even in season yet, but I would love to have one now.

Looking Forward To: Registering! I'm not sure when exactly it will happen, but probably in the next few weeks.
6 Weeks7 Weeks8 Weeks
6 Weeks ~ 7 Weeks ~ 8 Weeks
9 Weeks10 Weeks11 Weeks
9 Weeks ~ 10 Weeks ~ 11 Weeks
12 Weeks13 Weeks14 Weeks
12 Weeks ~ 13 Weeks ~ 14 Weeks
15 Weeks16 Weeks17 Weeks
15 Weeks ~ 16 Weeks ~ 17 Weeks
18 Weeks19 Weeks
18 Weeks ~ 19 Weeks