Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Oh What Fun

It's always so exciting receiving a new VoxBox in the mail! Size-wise this was actually the smallest box I received, but I think the things inside were some of my favorites.
Jingle Vox Box
Starting in the back, there's a case of Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream. I already use Cetaphil every night to wash my face. I do always intend to put on moisturizer afterwards, and well... rarely remember. Which is awful, especially with such dry skin in the winter. I love that this is the perfect travel size and think this may be coming along on my next vacation.

These packs of Biscoff cookies were so delicious! I think I ate both packs within 24 hours of receiving my box. I had meant to take a photo of the cookies themselves, but I couldn't help myself.

I used to always use Sephora brand eyeliner but they recently changed their formula and I'm not a fan. I've actually been looking for a new everyday eyeliner and this NYC City Proof 24 Hour Waterproof Eyeliner has been amazing. I've used it practically everyday since it's arrived and haven't had a complaint yet.

Honestly, I can't remember the last time I painted my nails. I'm not actually sure I own any nail polish. Till this box arrived that is! I'm now the owner of Pure Ice Nail Polish in Shore Bet. I guess this means I can end my drought of polish-less nails?

While I have worn nail polish before I've never actually worn fake eyelashes. This kit of Kiss True Volume Lashes and Kiss Strip Lash Adhesive with Aloe does look a little intimidating, but maybe I'll brave them the next time I need to get dressed up.

For more food, there's a coupon for Ore-Ida Tater Tots because honestly who doesn't love tots? I don't believe Elley has had her first tot yet, but I'm pretty sure she'd love them.

Speaking of Elley the last item in the box was specifically for her. It's a Rapunzel from Hallmark itty bittys. She actually already had a Wonder Woman so it looks like the two of them can keep each other company.

Disclosure: I was provided these items through Influenster. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Once Upon a Time

We're taking a trip back through time so I can finally share with you all Elley's first birthday. I'm sure you won't be that surprised but I decided to go with a children's book theme. I actually spent way too long on Etsy looking for the perfect customized invitation, but instead wound up finding one on tinyprints that I think was a great preview of things to come
I tried to keep decorations low key and went with a pink and gold theme. I hung up with monthly photos on the wall framed by pink and gold scrapbook paper.
We had pink tableclothes, pink and gold steamers, and I even hung up a gold happy birthday sign. Not that this is the best photo of me or the banner, which has its th upside down, but it is the only photo I have of it.
We had bowls of various type of goldfish out representing One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
Also as appetizers we had The Hungry Caterpillar's cheese and sausage.
I also made Stregna Nona's pasta salad and Deviled green eggs using this recipe from Katie Lee for avocado deviled eggs.
The boy contributed a gumbo as the main course. We also had a hot chocolate bar, although with the temperature being around 80 it wasn't really used. There was still dessert though and I used Blueberries for Sal to inspire the cakes.
I used a Martha Stewart recipe for the actual cake and this awesome recipe for whipped buttercream frosting.
As for the birthday girl, she seemed to have a blast. After everyone ate their lunch we opened presents. Although Elley's wasn't all too happy with the fact she couldn't take each present out as she opened them.
Opening Presents
There were a ton of presents, and she got a little distracted by the end, especially with all the people around.
But eventually we made it through, and it was time for cake. I'm not sure I've ever seen a baby eat a smash cake like Elley since instead of eating fistfuls of cake she literally picked the entire thing up in both hands!
#throwbackthursday to Kaylee's first birthday last Saturday. Sometimes a cake just needs two hands!
She had a blast with that cake though!
She actually managed to get through a good portion of it, of course turning herself blue in the process.
Overall I thought it wound up being a really fun day. Although it's crazy to think my baby is a year old! I'm not quite sure how I let that happen. I'll do my best to make sure her second birthday doesn't get here as quick!

Monday, January 25, 2016

From England to France

Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson
: January 19, 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Two years ago I read Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson and fell in love. But then was let down by her follow-up After the War is Over last year, partly due to my high expectations. So when it came to her next book I was a little apprehensive but still really, really excited.

Thankfully this book brings the magic back! The story follows Lady Helena, who had cameos in Robson's other books, but this is the first time we really get to know her. And yes, for those wondering characters from Robson's first two books do have cameos here. Not necessarily large ones, but similar what you find in Emily Giffin's book.

While the first two books took place during WWI and its aftermath, this one moves us forward in time to the roaring 20s. I do think the book really captured the period and brought it alive. There's even cameos by those celebrities you'd expect to see in Paris in the 1920s, like Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

Once again this was a book that I couldn't put down! I absolutely adored the love story. Yes, it had it's moments of frustration, but it made sense and felt real.

I loved how Paris was featured in the story, one aspect I felt was missing from Somewhere in France considering the title. I loved the art school aspect, something that reminded me of another favorite book, A Mad, Wicked Folly.

To me this book proves that Somewhere in France was no fluke and has cemented Robson in my auto-buy list. While I may not know what her next book will be, there's definitely a character in her that would be perfect for her own story and if that is what happens, I can't wait to read it!


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

Friday, January 22, 2016

Designated Ugly Fat Friend

The Duff by Kody Keplinger
: January 13, 2015 by Poppy
First Published: September 7, 2010
This book was huge when I first got into book blogging five (seriously, five?!?!) years ago. It piqued my interest then, but I never got around to it, nor anything else by Kody Keplinger. Then with the movie coming out, one of the members of my book club was curious enough to suggest we read it, which meant it was finally time.

I did wind up enjoying the book, yet I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it 5 years ago. In some ways I feel a little too old for parts of this book, though there are definitely themes that are more universal.

I think my biggest issue was the amount of sex in this book. Reading it now, as a 30-year-old, with a daughter, I can't imagine wanting my own future high school-er to read it. It just felt way too mature. Then I read the author's bio which tells you she started writing it in high school, which all of a sudden makes the book make so much more sense.

High school girls are a little obsessed with sex and relationships, so I can easily see how this book could have been imagined by someone in it. Also, you can't really say the book is too mature for a teenager if in was in fact written by a teenager.

Now for the stuff I liked. I loved the friendship between Bianca and her friends. I do think the book captures so well the essence of been a teenage girl. There were moments of Bianca's inner monologue where I'd comment to myself, I remember feeling the exact same way.

Part of me is curious to read more from this author. In fact I added another one of her books, Shut Out, to my goodreads wish list years ago, December 2011 to be more precise. But knowing my complaints with The Duff, I'd imagine I'll feel quite similar with that one as well, especially knowing it's a modern retelling of Lysistrata, which basically means sex is the main plot line. Even so, I have a feeling my curiosity will get the better of me eventually.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Mailbox Monday (126)

My last two Mailbox Monday posts have just been the books Elley received for her birthday and the holidays. While I love sharing children's books, it does mean that I haven't had a chance to share my books lately, and they've been piling up. Finally then, here are the books I've brought into our house lately, this time for me.
Mailbox Monday
From a Friend
Paper Towns by John Green
A friend of mine was going through her books recently realizing she really didn't need to keep them all. Since I clearly have a reputation, they made their way to me.

The Smart One by Jennifer Close

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon
This one I've already even read and reviewed.

Borrowed from Another Friend
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
This one isn't for keeps, understandably so considering all the great things I've heard about it. It's slowly been making its way through my group of friends and I guess it's now my turn.

For Review from TLC Book Tours
Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson
I've already read this one and loved it! Although you'll have to wait till next week to read my review.

From Paperback Swap
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
This one was most definitely out of order, but I promise paperback swap IS where it came from.

The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Why yes, I've already read this one as well. I haven't actually written my review yet, but I'm sure I will be soon.

Sever by Lauren DeStefano
Once again to show how long its been since I've shared books of my own, my review of this went up last year!

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Friday, January 15, 2016

This Week on Highclere Castle

Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon
: October 29, 2013 by Broadway Books
Series: The Women of the Real Downton Abbey #2
With the new, and sadly, final season of Downton Abbey starting up, it seemed like the perfect time to read one of The Countess of Carnavon's books. This book is a biography of sorts, about the real family that lived in Highclere Castle, which is where Downton Abbey is filmed, from the 1920s till after WWII.

Going into the book I was expecting to read more of a biography of Lady Catherine, but that's not quite what we have here. Although if I had read title better I wouldn't have been as surprised, since while the book is about Lady Catherine its also about her husband the Earl of Carnavon. But even more than that its about random happenings at Highclere itself.

There is a lot going on in this and I think the book hard a good job of balancing how much information to share. There's a lot about various aspects of WWII that may not have been necessarily, but helped me get a barring on what was going on. But on the other hand there's a lot of name dropping where I was sure why the person was so important. (Although I definitely did notice references to the family of Julie Montagu from Ladies of London!)

It's interesting reading reviews of this book, but I'm not sure people realized what they were getting into. This most definitely isn't historical fiction. Not is it really even a traditional biography. There really are a lot of facts and information that's thrown out you, but even so, I found it fascinating.

Technically this is a sequel to Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, although not having read the first I didn't feel lost. Again based on the way this one is written, I'd imagine the first is similar, but tells the story of Highclere before and during WWI. Knowing how much I enjoyed reading this one I can't wait to pick up the first as well.


Monday, January 11, 2016

The Festival of Lights

As luck would have it Elley actually got to celebrate Hanukkah twice in her first year of life. Due to the Jewish calendar Hanukkah started on December 16th in 2014 and on December 6th in 2015, which meant her December 11th birthday really worked out. Although this year's celebrations were quite a bit different from the last.
1st Night
She was actually quite good at ripping off pieces of wrapping paper and handing each one to us.
New Books
2nd Night
I also think one present a night was much more her speed. She was able to open something each and immediately play with it, instead of having the burden of more presents to open.
Here You Go!
3rd Night
We brought the Mensch out this year, and while it may have been a little short on miracles this time, I'm guessing next year it will find its way all through the house each morning that we're celebrating.
Mensch & Menorah
Our Mensch on the 3rd Night
Elley got to try latkahs, the traditional Hanukkah potato pancake. First at her daycare's Hanukkah party, which was actually pretty cute. They had an obstacle course set up, games of dreidel, art projects, and cookie decorating. Although Elley and I mainly stuck to the snack table and the fishing game. The point of the game may have been to use a fishing pole to catch felt fish in a box, but she may have had a blast catching fish with her hands. (Which if you think about it, is quite a bit harder.)
Opening Books
4th Night
In addition, we also had latkahs at home with my dad who was visiting for Elley's birthday.
Opening a Puzzle
5th Night
Of course her birthday fell right in the middle of the holiday this year, which I imagine as she gets older will be more difficult to handle, but with her being as little as she it wasn't an issue yet.
My New Lunch Box
8th Night
To wrap things up, here's a photo of me and Elley celebrating on the 6th night, which happened to be her actual birthday.
Happy Hanukkah
Hanukkah 2015
For a fun comparison, here we are just a year before which is kind of crazy to believe.
Hanukkah 2014
It was definitely a fun holiday, although considering how different this year's holiday was than last I can only imagine how different next year's will be.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Case of the Missing Cell Phone

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
: April 23, 2013 by Dial Press Trade Paperback
First Published: October 31, 2011
Reading this book I remembered why I stopped picking up Kinsella's books as soon as they came out. And yet, it also reminded me just what I love about her. Talk about a love/hate relationship.

First for the negative, it's that the girls in all of Kinsella's books feel like the same character. They always make these slightly ditsy decisions, and then spend the rest of the book attempting to fix it. While there are some differences between the characters, this book could have easily featured the girls from any of her other books.

Now for the good, these books are a lot of fun! I found myself actually having to stop reading because I was laughing too hard to continue, and I don't remember the last time that happened. Yes, it's easy to predict what is going to happen, but that's kind of what's fun about this.

After reading this, I can't say I'll be running out to read every Kinsella book the week they come out again. But I do still have found feelings for her and know I'll eventually get to everything else she writes.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Show & Tell Tuesday: Intro and Resolutions

I'm continuing my current trend of getting my posts up a day late and posting my Show & Tell Tuesday post today, on a Wednesday. This link-up is hosted by Momfessionals and today we're introducing ourselves and sharing our resolutions.
I'm Shoshanah. I'm originally a California girl from Long Beach, part of L.A. county. After graduating from a tiny liberal arts college in Maryland, I wasn't quite ready to move back home and instead went to grad school at Louisiana State University. (Hence my very clever blog name!) Little did I know I'd meet my husband in a math class and still be in Louisiana almost 10 years later.
The boy and I have been married 4 years. Just over a year ago we welcomed our baby girl, who goes by Elley on the blog, into the world. She is pretty much the most awesome, most adorable baby in the world, although my opinion might be just a tiny bit biased.
Riding her New Giraffe
As for me, I love desserts and baking, although lately can't seem to find the time to make that happen. My husband has converted me into a LSU fan, but I think it's hard to live in Baton Rouge and not be brainwashed that way. I love to read pretty much anything, although tend to prefer historical fiction. I do still manage to get my reviews posted on the blog, just maybe not as timely as they used to be. My movie reviews have pretty much disappeared, although I do still love going to the movies when possible. (I've actually never written an about me section for the blog, but with a little work this post could easily turn into one.)
So excited for the new @Starbucks s'mores frapp! #plusafreecookiestraw
As for resolutions, besides writing an about me section, well I don't normally make them. I can't actually think of the last time I have. But this past year has been crazy and I still feel like I'm catching up. Which is why I'd really like to simplify this year as well as get a little more organized. For example, while I may have enjoyed watching Galavant last week when I was on maternity leave, doesn't mean I have to watch the new season. That's simplifying right? Especially since it comes on the same time as Downton Abbey which is definitely the priority.

Part of the reason that I want to simplify and organize myself is because I really want to get back to blogging more regularly. It's definitely taken a hit this past year and while I'm happy with so many of the changes in my life, I kind of miss it. So here's to kicking things off on the right foot!

What are some of your resolutions for this year? Also, it's you're stopping by from Show & Tell Tuesday, be sure to say hello!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mailbox Monday (125)

I don't normally get my Mailbox Monday posts up actually on Monday. So maybe I'm normally early, but posting today I'm still only one day away from Monday, so I think it works. As promised last week, these are the books Elley received for Christmas. Next week we'll go back to normal and I'll share the books I, myself, received, which have definitely been piling up!
Mailbox Monday
The Shape of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Seuss

Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss

Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss

Oh, The Thinks You Can Think! by Dr. Seuss
These four books all came in their own carrying case. Elley seems to be a big fan of board books lately and loves turning the pages, so I'm sure these, as well as the rest, will be lots of fun for her.

Sing-Along Songs by Roger Priddy
We haven't yet taken the cd out for this, although I'm thinking I may wait a little longer until she asks for it herself. Ha!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
I actually never had this one growing up. I know it's an alphabet book, so I'm at least a little familiar with it, but it will be fun discovering this one.

I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

The 12 Days of Christmas Learning to Count by Johnny Yanok

The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Another classic I'm not really familiar with.

Learn Numbers with Little Red Penguin by Angela Muss

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 in Review

Happy New Year! We're already a few days into the new year, and yet there's a few things I'm still meaning to recap from 2015 (Hanukkah, Christmas, and someone's first birthday specifically). I do still plan on getting to those eventually, but first here's a look back at the whole year that just ended, 2015.
We started off the year with a baby who was only 3 weeks old.
1st Starbucks Run
While I was still on maternity leave my bff, who is Elley's godmother, paid us a visit, on which Elley had her first Starbucks trip.
Staring at the Fire
Before my maternity leave ended and I headed back to work, we spent the long Mardi Gras weekend in Atlanta visiting friends and family.
photo 3 (4)
Spring came, and we spent most weekends out watching the boy play baseball.
photo 1 (3)
Keeping with the baseball theme, we took Elley to her fist LSU baseball game at Alex Box Stadium,
photo 14
and then went back and celebrated Mother's Day there as well.
photo 18
While it never actually made it into a blog post, we saw Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood in concert, which also wound up being the first, and still only, night we spent away from Elley.
First Time Swimming
We spent about a week visiting California where Elley first went swimming,
photo 33
saw the ocean,
and met Anna and Elsa at Disney's California Adventures.
Celebrating my 31st
We celebrated my birthday by taking Elley to see her first Tiger football game where they beat South Carolina.
We made it to a pumpkin patch!
Also in October, we visited a pumpkin patch
The Force is Strong With This One
and celebrated Halloween.
While it never made the blog, at least till now, we took our first family photo session with Melissa V Photography.
Thanksgiving Plate
We invited friends over to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.
Happy Hanukkah
And again, while it didn't make the blog, at least not yet, we celebrated Hanukkah,
#throwbackthursday to Kaylee's first birthday last Saturday. Sometimes a cake just needs two hands!
Elley's first birthday,
and Christmas.

What were some of your highlights from 2015?

And if you want to see how this year compares to years past for me, here are my recaps from 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014.