Tuesday, March 31, 2015

From France to Tibet {Giveaway}

Race to TibetRace to Tibet by Sophie Schiller
(historical fiction)
Self-Published: January 26, 2015 by Tradewins Publishing
336 pages
ISBN: 978-0-692-25409-7
This book was unlike anything I've ever read before. I've read book that take place in the late 1800s before. I've even read books that take place in Tibet before, but really, nothing could have prepared me for what I was getting into here. And I truly do mean that in the best way possible.

This book tells the adventure of a group of explorers, including a Prince and a woman looking for her lost husband, who travel from France to Tibet in the late 1800s in a quest to be the first Europeans to make it to Lhasa. It's a risky and pretty miserable journey traveling in freezing cold temperatures over mountains. Not only are the elements standing in the way of their trip, but there are the Tibetans who don't want anyone to have access to their holy city.

This book had so much potential, and in a lot of ways it was met. You really did feel yourself in the barren lands with the travelers. And like the freezing cold days must have dragged on for them, unfortunately much of the book did as well. There just seemed to be so many scenes that repeated themselves, that I think if the book was a little more concise it would have packed a more meaningful tale.

Still I don't think this is one I'm going to forget, and I'd love to hear more about Tibet during this time period. I would have expected that 150 years ago Tibet wasn't such a secret to Westerners, and I'd love to read more about how that slowly changed.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through France Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.


An intrepid band of explorers headed by Gabriel Bonvalot, France's greatest explorer, and his partner, Prince Henri d'Orleans, attempt to be the first living Europeans to reach Lhasa. Before they leave Paris, Bonvalot meets Camille Dancourt, the beautiful, strong-willed wife of a French surveyor who disappeared in Tibet, who desperately wishes to join the expedition. When the caravan sets out they face freezing temperatures, violent winds, mountain sickness, hostile Tibetans, duplicitous Chinese Mandarins, and a beguiling Tibetan Buddhist princess with a deadly secret. When the explorers reach Tibet, they discover a land of mystery and intrigue, a land of danger that promises them only one thing: death. On the verge of collapse, Bonvalot realizes they must resort to deadly force if they ever wish to escape Tibet alive. (provided by the author)



Race to Tibet - Sophie SchillerSophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies. Among other oddities her family tree contains a Nobel prize-winning physicist and a French pop singer. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently at work on a new historical thriller set in the Caribbean.
Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter
Buy the book: Amazon


You can enter the giveaway here or on the book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.
Visit each blogger on the tour:
Tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!

5 winners
Print/digital for US/Canada residents
Digital for other countries


Race to Tibet banner

Monday, March 30, 2015

Project 365: Days 67 Through 74

Another week of daily photos. AKA this is me trying to mix-up sharing daily photos of Elley by adding in a couple of pictures of food.
Grilled Chicken & Roasted Veggies
March 8, 2015 - 67/365: Grilled Chicken, Smashed Potatoes, and Roasted Carrots.
Grapefruit for Dessert
March 9, 2015 - 68/365: Half a Grapefruit for Dessert.
On My Playmat
March 10, 2015 - 69/365: Starring at Her Toys.
3 Month Outtakes
March 11, 2015 - 70/365: 3 Month Outtakes.
Morning smiles
March 12, 2015 - 71/365: Morning Smiles.
Salad from The Salad Shop
March 13, 2015 - 72/365: Salad From The Salad Shop.
Tummy Time
March 14, 2015 - 73/365: Tummy Time.
Still Fits in the RockNPlay
March 15, 2015 - 74/365: Still Fits in the RockNPlay.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Return to Normal

After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson
: January 6, 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Last year I fell head over heels for Somewhere in France, and as soon as I knew there was going to be a companion novel I couldn't wait to read it. I rarely make time to read books immediately after I purchase them, but started this the day I had it. Not only that, but it's the first book I purchased since my daughter was born. Clearly I was excited about it.

Yet, as it so often happens, I built this book up a little more than it could handle. Don't get me wrong, it was still good and I enjoyed it, but don't see myself listing it as my favorite of the year.

With Robson's first book it felt like a love story told with WWI in the background. Except this time it reads as a story about the suffering following WWI, with a love story in the background. I guess I just wish the love story was more of the focus.

There is an attempt at a love triangle, or at least that's what you're led to believe based on the summary. Except this potential relationship is so platonic it's hard to see it for anything else. I do believe it was intentional, but I wish this relationship could have been better developed as well.

If this review comes off as disappointed it's really only because I had such high, high hopes for it. I still really enjoyed it, and definitely plain on reading Robson's next book (which is supposed to follow another character from these books). Hopefully that one contains the magic I'm looking for!


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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Essentials for Months 0-3 For Moms and Babies

Back before Elley arrived, or if I'm being honest before I was even pregnant, I read a ton of must-have lists. Which meant when it came to registering I had a pretty good idea what I needed (i.e. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets which have been my go-to baby shower gift for a few years). Except as I'm learning what someone says is a necessity, others may find obsolete (sleep gowns were that for us). Which means that even if you've read posts on newborn essentials before, this one is still unique because it's what worked for us. So with that, here are the items we couldn't have done without for the first three months.
Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets
As I started out by mentioning these were the item I was most excited about. We wound up with 2 sets of these (thankfully different designs), plus another set from the Swaddle Designs brand. While I do think the Swaddle Designs are softer, I still like the A&A blankets better since they hold a swaddle better and they don't have a gigantic tag. After 3 months we're still going strong using two of these blankets to double swaddle at night. Plus they wind up draped over her car seat in the morning or over her while she's napping in the RockNPlay during the day.

Speaking of the RockNPlay, this is where she's taken all of her naps. It's easy to move around, which means I've been able to drag it to the bathroom to keep an eye on her during a bath or back and forth between when mine and my in-laws house when they watched her for 3 weeks. One aspect I love about it is that when she starts to wake up from a nap and begins moving, her movement will get the RockNPlay going and sometimes she'll rock herself back to sleep. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how much longer she'll fit in it, but once she does outgrow it, it folds up pretty nicely for storage.

Side-Snap Shirts
While we're on the sleeping topic, I was sure Elley was going to sleep in sleep gowns after hearing how convenient they were. But since we kept her swaddled in two blankets a long gown on top of them felt a little too warm to me. So instead she started sleeping in these side-snap shirts, which had the convenience of keeping her diaper accessible without the excess fabric. We originally had a set of newborn shirts and then bought some in 0-3 months size. Plus I'm guessing pretty soon I'm going to want to add some 3-6 months to her wardrobe as well.

Gumdrop Pacifiers
For the last of the baby essentials, we have these Gumdrop Pacifiers, which we discovered on after trying several different options and buying these at Target on a whim. Turns out, these were her favorite. If you go back to my 1 Month Update, you'll see that Elley was pretty upset in the late afternoon before bed. It got to the point that whenever she got too upset we put her to sleep, which left us without knowing what time she'd actually go to bed. But with a pacifier we could actually keep her somewhat happy this time of day, which led to our current consistent bedtime of 7:30.

Washable Breast Pads
The first of the mom essentials, like the rest, these have to do with breast feeding. I got a ton of sample disposable breast pads from registering, and probably would have stuck with them without knowing there were other options. Except after shopping at Destination Maternity and getting on their mailing list, I got an e-mail for 10 free breast pads from BreastPads.com. If you talk to the boy these weren't actually free since I had to pay shipping, but still it came out to $1.50 a pair, practically a steal in my book. I loved these so much that when I received a new coupon when Elley was about 1 month I ordered 10 more.

Hands-Free Pumping Bra
The first few times I pumped I did so without a pumping bra, and while it's possible to do, it isn't worth it in my opinion. Not only do you get so much more production when wearing it, but as the name suggests it leaves your hands are free, which for me meant I was able to read while pumping.

Pumping Bag
Something else the boy would say is a waste of money, but I think is completely worth it. After all, I need to transport a pump, cooler with ice pack, pump parts, storage bags, burp clothes, and a pumping bra to and from work each day. Of course I may not have needed to spent the extra money on the Medela version, but this way I was guaranteed it would fit my pump. Plus it already came with a small cooler and ice pack to keep my milk cool.

Milk Storage Bags
Going into pumping I wasn't quite sure how I was going to store all the milk I was freezing, but I happily discovered these which you can pump directly in. I did have some issues figuring out how to freeze them at first, and quickly learned you can't lay them flat till their frozen, but so far I've been really happy with them.

Are there any essentials I've left out? Or are some of our essentials things that didn't work for you?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Project 365: Days 59 Through 66

Two weeks in a row with a Project 365 post! At this rate, we'll be caught up in no time.
Gnocchi with  Sage Brown Butter Sauce
February 28, 2015 - 59/365: Homemade Gnocchi with a Sage Brown Butter Sauce.
Pesto Gnochi
March 1, 2015 - 60/365: Leftover gnocchi, this time with homemade pesto.
Tummy Time
March 2, 2015 - 61/365: Tummy Time.
Mango Sorbet
March 3, 2015 - 62/365: Mango Sorbet for Dessert.
Red Velvet Donut
March 4, 2015 - 63/365: Red Velvet Donut. Unfortunately, while this was good, it wasn't nearly as amazing as I wanted it to be.
photo 3
March 5, 2015 - 64/365: What's Up?
Baby Shoes
March 6, 2015 - 65/365: I posted before how a friend gave us some items that her daughter had outgrown. Well, these are some of the shoes Elley has now inherited.
March 7, 2015 - 66/365: She's wearing black and blue, right? Sadly, I can't take credit for making this connection since the boy was the one to come up with it. But I was pretty impressed. And just so you know, I did actually see black and blue.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Off to Indian Country

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
: 1971 by Harper Trophy
First Published: 1935
It's the most famous one of the series, the one the tv show is named after. Yet, I always found it so interesting that this book isn't the one that the tv show comes from (Instead it's really based on On the Banks of Plum Creek, at least at first).

One aspect I loved about this book specifically growing up was how detailed everything was. When Pa builds a house or a door, it was so clear you could almost see yourself following the directions to build it yourself.

Except what I didn't quite get then was how hard life really was for the Ingalls. As a kid I could have told you it was hard, but really all I could see was how fun it was for Laura. This time I can clearly see how perilous things really were for them. When Ma sprains her ankle while building their house it seems miserable, but now I see all the what ifs. If Ma had broken her leg, then what? There were two small girls and a baby she needed to take care of. Or if something happened to Pa the girls would really be alone in the wilderness. It definitely puts a different perspective to these books.


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

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Project 365: Days 51 Through 58

Another much belated Project 365 post. Although I figure if I keep posting 8 pictures at a time maybe I'll eventually catch up!
Tummy Time
February 20, 2015 - 51/365: Enjoying Tummy Time
Blogging This
February 21, 2015 - 52/365: My mom is blogging this, because well, she is. Onesie from Lisa and Amber.
Spaghetti & Meatballs
February 22, 2015 - 53/365: Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs.
First Day Back to Work
February 23, 2015 - 54/365: First Day Back at Work.
French Martini
February 24, 2015 - 55/365: As time would have it, my first week back at work was also our company's annual sales conference. Which meant on my second day back at work I also went out to spend time with the sales team. This was that night, with the last bit of my French martini.
Early Morning
February 25, 2015 - 56/365: Early Morning Cuddling Session.
Girl Scout Cookies!
February 26, 2015 - 57/365: Why yes, I did buy a box of girl scout cookies.
50 Shades
February 27 - 2015 - 58/365: Ticket to See Fifty Shades of Grey

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Laters Baby

Fifty Shades of Grey
Yes, this is the first movie I saw post-baby. It's wasn't even one I saw with the boy since it was with a group of friends, which does mean we've yet to see a movie together since Elley arrived. But since this post is meant to be about the actual movie, let's get to it.

I actually wound up really enjoying this, and thought it was well done. Considering how bad this could have turned out that was quite impressive. It actually wasn't nearly as over the top as it could have been since they took out several of the more risque things out.

I had completely forgotten where the first book ended and was a bit surprised when the movie ended. So much of what I remember is actually from books 2 and 3, which does means as much I as enjoyed this I'm looking forward to the next ones even more.

Monday, March 16, 2015

3 Months Update

Elley, you are three months old!
March 11
Which also means you're a quarter of a year old. You don't have a doctor's appointment this month, so no official stats. But by the scientific method of weighing myself with and without you, you're around 11 lbs, which supposedly would put you between the 10th and 25th percentile.
February 23
You're still technically in 3 month clothing, although several onesies have gotten two small and you can't quite stretch out your legs all the way in your sleeper. But all your 6 month clothing is washed and ready to go, so I'm sure we'll slowly start rotating it into your wardrobe. You're still wearing size 1 diapers, and while you really only wear them on the weekends, your bumgeniuses now have one snap open around the waist.
Daddy and the Fire
February 16, At your great-aunt's house
Your world was rocked this month, first by taking a 10 hour road trip to Atlanta where we spend a night at your godfather's, then 2 more nights at your great-aunt's house. You also got to meet 5 of your second cousins, although we weren't quite sure what to make of all the craziness they caused.
Hanging out a WhichWich
March 7, Hanging out at WhichWich
Thankfully you did pretty well on the road trip, pretty impressive since your not a huge fan of your car seat. Although we did learn that after your 7:30 bedtime you want to be all wrapped up in your crib, and still being in a car seat at that time is practically torture.
March 4, Unsure about Daddy's sneeze
In other earth-rocking news, I went back to work this month which completely changed your day. You spent 3 weeks with Pappi and Nanna, your grandparents, although starting next week you'll officially be at daycare. (By the time this posts go live though that's where you'll be.) I'm sure you'll do just find there, although if I have any concern it's that they won't pay enough attention to you since you're so easy-going. Although honestly, with you being as cute as you are, how could they stay away?
Sleeping Together
February 26, Morning cuddles
You're still sleeping really, really well. Plus now once you're asleep, you're down for the night and that's it till morning. I can't remember the last time you decided you weren't quite asleep yet and we had to go back in 10 to 15 minutes after thinking you were asleep to try again. In the 3 weeks I've been back at work there was only 1 time where you woke up early enough where I needed to put you back in your crib. There are times when you'll wake up 20 or 30 minutes before my alarm goes off, but all that means is after you've eaten you get to cuddle in bed with us. And those early morning cuddles are some of the best.
Mommy & Baby Selfie
March 5, More morning cuddles
You're still eating like a champ. During the day you're eating 4 4-oz bottles of pumped milk. Then we have nursing sessions first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. I'm definitely grateful I've been able to pretty much keep up with you by pumping twice during the day, except I'm already over it. But while I'm looking forward to the end of pumping, I'm not quite ready to even think about the end of nursing.
March 9
You are smiling a ton now. One of my favorite things is picking you up at the end of the day and when you see me and start smiling. Although it's pretty impossible to get a picture of these smiles since as soon as you see a camera you get serious and distracted.
Eating My Number
March 11, Eating your 3 month number
You're starting to figure out your hands a little bit more, and the past few days have started gnawing on your fists. You haven't quite figured out how to shake your toys or even really bat at them yet, but I have a feeling by the time we're at next month's update you'll be a pro! Who knows what else you'll have mastered by then, but I definitely can wait to see!
1 Month Old2 Months Old
1 Month ~ 2 Months

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mailbox Monday (110)

Somehow I've actually managed to post my Mailbox Monday post two weeks in a row! It's a little later than I normally get my post up, but still technically on time.
Mailbox Monday
For Review from France Book Tours
Race to Tibet by Sophie Schiller
This is a historical fiction about a French explorer who travels to Tibet. I've actually started it already, and while it's different than expected, so far I've been pleasantly surprised.

For Review from TLC Book Tours
Diamond Head by Cecily Wong
Another historical fiction book, this one taking place in Hawaii. I can't remember a book I've read that took place in Hawaii, let alone a historical one which makes me really excited for this.

From Goodreads
The Trap by Steven Arnton
Yet, another historical fiction. This time we're in Iowa in the 1960s. It's a middle grade book which is different than the other two. It's supposed to be a little science fiction too, which sounds like an interesting mix.

Seeking Serenity by Amanda Enayati
Definitely not historical fiction! I wouldn't call myself a very stressed or anxious person, but even so I hoping to learn something by read this one.

Start Me Up by Nicole Michaels
Sometimes there's nothing like a cheesy romance novels. In case you couldn't guess from the title the romantic interest here is a mechanic.

From a Friend
You Are My Sunshine by Caroline Jayne Church
Hello, Bugs! by Smriti Prasadam
Where is Baby's Belly Button? by Karen Katz
Peek-a-Who by Nina Laden
! friend of mine was cleaning out her own baby items and gave these to me, as well as a bunch of clothes and toys. I've already read each one to Elley and have a feeling we'll be reading each one many more times in the years to come.

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Differences in Development

Infants and Mothers by T. Berry Brezelton, M.D.
: July 1, 1983 by Delta
First Published: November 28, 1969
This is another one of my mom's parenting books. Given that it was published a little over a year before I was born, I have to imagine this is one she read before or just after I was born. It is a little comforting knowing that I'm doing the same thing she was 30 years ago, especially since she's not actually able to be here for my parenting journey.

I do love the idea behind this book. It takes three babies, an average baby, a quiet baby, and an active baby, and let's you see their growth and development broken out each month over their first year. I love that it shows you the milestones to expect, but the way it's written it shouldn't make you feel like you're baby is behind, since the point is to show how different babies can be. It's actually readable, and more like a story, compared to something that just fact after fact.

Not only does it show different types of babies, but different lifestyles as well. One baby is the first child, one is the second, and one is the third. Also one mother goes back to work, while the other two stay home. Again, this helps show the wide range of experiences your child might potentially go through, that wouldn't be as easy to see if it was just one child.

More than following the babies, there's also a good amount given to the mothers. You get inside the mind of each mother so you can see what they're thinking. No mother is perfect either, and there are definitely times where the mother does something less than ideal where the narration comes in to say how it could have been handled better.

The book definitely has a lot going for it, and yet so much of it is outdated it's really hard to enjoy. For example, as each baby leaves the hospital they are handed to the mother in the front seat to hold on the drive home. I realize this must have been normal then, but reading it now, it just screams danger to me. There's others too that I noticed, like putting babies to sleep on their stomachs or starting solid foods around 2 or 3 months. But if these are the ones I noticed, I have to imagine there's others I didn't pick up on. It makes it hard to be able to follow any advice given because it's likely no longer considered safe.

I do wish that this book had been updated more recently, because I think it's a really interesting idea. And while it's hard for me to recommend it as a parenting book, I do think it's interesting to read and see just how much practices have changed in the past 30 years.


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

Monday, March 9, 2015

February in Review

I'm a few days late getting this post up, but better late then never, right? Life has definitely been crazy since I've gone back to work. There's even been several nights where I've passed out on the couch before 9, but at least I'm able to function during the day, so I guess that's saying something!

In February...
Gnocchi with  Sage Brown Butter Sauce
...We had a ton of delicious food! The boy cooked a ton making Mushroom Asiago Chicken, Beef Stew, Spaghetti, and few other things, but out of them all, my favorite was his homemade Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter Sauce.
Fig & Brie Flatbread
...Of the non-homemade variety, we went out to Kona Grill for book club where I had this Fig & Brie Flatbread. (It really is awesome being able to eat brie again after avoiding it for nine months while pregnant.)
First day back at work, and I'm treating myself by trying the new @panerabread broth bowl.
...I also went back to work and took advantage of the fact I could have a leisurely lunch by myself at Panera.

...I posted reviews of 4 books and 1 movie.
Matched by Ally Condie
The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
The First Six Months by Penelope Leach
Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of
Likely not too much of a surprise, but I'd have to list my favorite of them all as the Backstreet Boys movie. Although out of just the books it would be The Temptation of the Night Jasmine.

...5 years ago, in 2010, I posted about buying my first smart phone. Crazy to think we were able to survive so long without them, and how much we rely on them now.
My New Motorola Droid
What were some of your highlights from this past February?