Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chick Lit Bargains!

Happy December!  There are so many great deals on Chick Lit Books right now.  What are you planning to read over the holidays?  Here are some of my picks for what to download on your Kindle today!

Big Little Lies

 


Big Little Lies by Liana Moriarty is only $3.99 right now for Kindle.  I've got this downloaded and ready to read over Christmas.  What an amazing deal from one of my favorite authors!

Gone Girl

 















Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn is one sale for $4.99.  This was a great mystery that kept me in suspense the entire time.

Shopaholic on Honeymoon

















There's not much better than free!  Sophie Kinsella has released a FREE short story, Shopaholic on Honeymoon (Short Story)!  I'm looking forward to reading this, as well as her latest, Shopaholic to the Stars: A Novel over the holidays.

First Sight

 

If you haven't read my novel First Sight yet, now is the perfect time!  It's on sale for $2.99 for Kindle!

Have you noticed any other deals on Chick Lit books recently?

Happy Reading!



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What I'm Reading: The Fault in Our Stars



I'd been looking forward to reading The Fault in Our Stars for a while.  It's wildly popular, is on the bestseller lists, and was made into a hit movie.  It also has over 33,000 reviews on Amazon, which is a feat in itself.  Twilight was also an unbelievably successful book aimed at teens, but it has "only" 6,691 reviews.

Unfortunately, The Fault in Our Stars was a rare instance in which I liked the movie better than the book.  I've never read any of John Green's work before and can't say that I will again after finishing The Fault in Our Stars.  This story of two young cancer patients sounded like it would be sad but poignant.  It was intended for a younger audience but has been read by many of all ages.  There were too many problems with the book as a whole, however, for me to enjoy the writing or get lost in the story.

The dialogue between the teenage characters was unbelievable at best. This alone made it hard to get through the novel.  Even if they were to have a few intelligent conversations, the contrived manner in which they spoke throughout the entire book made them unbelievable.  No teenagers talk like that, even those who are forced to grow up way too quickly.  The other problem I had with the novel was that the middle of it sounded like a tourist ad for Amsterdam.  This isn't much of a surprise since the author received a grant to write in Amsterdam.  It didn't fit in with the story much at all though.  The beginning was a novel, the middle a tourist ad, and in the end we were back to the novel.  Much of the descriptions about Amsterdam were cut in the movie, making the entire story flow better.

This is a rare instance where I'd say see the movie but skip the book. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Kid's Corner: Fall Sensory Bin

The Sea Life and Christmas sensory bins that we created were a big hit with my preschooler.  She will scoop and sort through them for an hour, which is a long time in kiddo land!  Now that she is preschool age we also enjoy counting the objects she discovers and talking about things that are alike and different.

Fall is the perfect time of year for changing what's in your sensory bin and exploring new things.  Leaves, pinecones, and small pumpkins are the perfect additions for this season.  I headed to my local craft store and found some small pumpkins and fake leaves to add to our bin.  Now that the colors are changing outside, real leaves will work perfectly, too!  (Of course, they won't last as long.)



I reused the same plastic tub that I purchased at Target for our other sensory bins.  A clear plastic storage container would work great as well!  I also reused some of the dyed pasta and glass gems I had for other sensory bins.

What did I add?

 
Red Pasta



Silk Leaves from the craft store


 
 
Miniature pumpkins from the craft store





Other great fillers for this activity in addition to or in place of the dried pasta and glass gems would be dried corn or dried black beans.  What fall items would you include?
 
 
Happy Fall!
 

 


 



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

I love baking in the fall.  I have an entire Fall is in the Air Pinterest Board full of recipes, crafts, seasonal decorating, and activities.  One of my favorite things to bake with this time of year is pumpkin!  My preschooler was shocked to learn that people actually eat pumpkins.  She loved this chocolate chip pumpkin bread when she tried it, even though she insists it is really cake and not bread.  Who are we kidding?  It does in fact taste a lot like dessert!



Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

1 can pumpkin
3 cups flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottoms of two 8 1/2 inch loaf pans.
2. In large bowl, stir together pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs.  Add in remaining ingredients.  Pour into pans.
3. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.
4. Enjoy!

Notes: If you don't want to add chocolate chips, you could substitute chopped nuts or raisins.  This pumpkin bread is also delicious on its own if you don't have anything to add in on hand.




 

 
What is your favorite recipe to make in the fall?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Splurge vs Steal: Brown Satchels


It's time for another Splurge vs. Steal post!  This time I'm looking at brown leather satchels.







Autumn is a great time of year for a brown leather satchel.  I love wearing darker colors in the fall, and a brown handbag is the perfect accessory.  They go so well with dark jeans, cords, flannel, and warm sweaters. I spotted this Madewell Satchel a few years ago and fell in love.  I didn't want to spend $198 on it though, so my search continued for a similar style at a better price point.



Madewell



Imagine my surprise when I stumbled on this beauty at Target!  I actually prefer the darker brown color.  The style is nearly identical, but because it isn't real leather, it's only $44!  Target has accessory sales fairly often, so I'm sure you can find this at an even lower price sometime this fall.




Merona


The Merona satchel by Target will be coming home with me.  Which satchel would you choose?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What I'm Reading: Twenties Girl


 
I'm a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella.  I've blogged about her books before (here and here), and I usually get her latest novels as soon as they're released. I was given Twenties Girl a year ago and finally read it.  Why the hesitation?  It's a story about a ghost.  I'm not really into ghost stories and that seemed like a unusual topic for chick lit.  I finally sat down to read it and once again found myself laughing out loud, as I do for all of Kinsella's books.
 
The heroine of this story, Lara Lington, teams up with the twenty-something ghost of her great-aunt Sadie in this story as the two search for a lost necklace.  The story reads like two friends on an adventure together with the complication and hilarity that ensues given the fact that only Lara can see the ghost of Sadie.  Lara finds romance along the way and both women learn about themselves and each other.
 
This was a great story about friendship, romance, and finding your way with lots of laughs along the journey.  I'd recommend this to all of Sophie Kinsella's fans!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites: Fall Fashion!

The weather is finally cooling off, Starbucks has released their pumpkin spice lattes, and it's almost fall!  These are some of my favorites this season.  I'm loving prints and deep reds and burgundys. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What's on your list of things to buy this fall?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What I'm Reading: The Language of Flowers


The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, was a beautifully written story about a young girl, Victoria, who grew up in foster care.  The chapters alternate between Victoria's childhood and present day, and the story unfolds as the secrets of her past catch up with her adult life.  I read this in two days over Labor Day weekend and was captivated by the story.  A wonderful read.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Splurge vs. Steal: Leopard Sneakers

It's time for another Splurge Vs. Steal post!  Even though I blog about a variety of topics, these posts always get the most traffic.  I guess everyone loves a bargain!
 

 

Steve Madden | Mossimo


How cute are these leopard print sneakers for fall? The pair on the left is $79.95 from Steve Madden, and the pair on the right is $24.99 at Target.
 
Which one would you choose? I vote for the steal!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Recipe: Quinoa Salad

I love easy meals for summer.  This delicious quinoa salad is one of my favorites.  It is easy to prep and can be made ahead of time.  We love it for dinner, and it also works great as a side dish for BBQs, parties, etc.

 
 
 
Quinoa Salad
 
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 tomato, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
 
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions and allow to cool.  (We use this brand.)
2. Mix in tomato, onion, corn, and black beans.
3. Drizzle olive oil and red wine vinegar over salad and stir.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
6. Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Kid's Corner: Sea Life Sensory Bin


Looking for a fun and easy way to entertain your toddler or preschooler this summer?  This Sea Life Sensory Bin will provide hours of hands-on play for your little one.  You probably already have most of the supplies at your home already.
 
First you will need a large plastic container or bin.  Then get some cups and scoops.  These cups are actually leftover from coloring Easter Eggs.  The scoop is an ice scoop from the $1 bin at Target.  Any type of plastic bowl, cup, scoop, or shovel will easily work.



Next you need a filler for your sensory bin.  I used pasta and glass gems.  I dyed pasta to make it look similar to the ocean, but use whatever you have on hand. 


No sea life display would be complete without seashells!  We found these at the beach, but you can also find them at your local craft store if you don't already have some on hand.


Ocean animals are a must-have as well. I grabbed these from our collection of bath toys (here on Amazon).
 
 
My toddler spent hours scooping the pasta into cups and playing with the shells and animals.  It was a great way to spend a summer afternoon.

 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kid's Corner: Shaving Cream Sensory Play

Happy July!

We've been having a busy summer with lots of fun kiddo activites and crafts now that school is out.  This simple activity will keep your little ones occupied for a while.  It involves only a few ingredients for some playtime fun!

Supplies Needed:

Shaving Cream
Kool-Aid Packets
Cookie sheet or shallow dish


1. Spread shaving cream all over cookie sheet.


 
 

2. Sprinkle Kool-Aid packets on top.  We used red and blue for a fun 4th of July activity.



3. Let your little one have fun spreading the shaving cream around!  If they don't like getting their hands messy, paintbrushes are great to use, too.

 
 
Watch the white shaving cream change color as you mix it with the Kool-Aid and then see what new color is created when you combine red and blue.  
 
 
 
We can't wait to try this activity again with some new color combinations.

 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What I'm Reading: Mini Shopaholic

I'm a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella.  Remember when she replied to my tweet?  Yes, I'm still excited about that!  Mini Shopaholic is part of her wildly popular Shopaholic series.  You don't have to start all the way at the beginning if  you haven't read her books before, but I would suggest reading the one before this, Shopaholic and Baby.  
 
 
 
In Mini Shopaholic, Becky Bloomwood is now the mother to two-year-old Minnie.  She is juggling raising a feisty toddler, planning the surprise party of the year for her husband Luke, and, of course, her love of shopping.  Why shop only for herself when her toddler can wear designer fashion, too?  Yes, the story is a little over-the-top at times, but reading about Becky's antics always has me laughing out loud.  Hilarity always ensues when Becky has her mind set on something (bartering her designer purses for party tents?!).
 
This is a fun choice for a light summer beach read--just in time for Memorial Day!
 
Fans of Kinsella won't have to wait long for her next release either.  Shopaholic to the Stars is releasing on October 21, 2014!
 
 
 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Splurge vs. Steal: Printed Pants

I had fun doing my first Splurge vs. Steal post on striped totes and have been on the hunt for my next item.  This week I'm looking at printed pants, a very popular trend this spring.
 
 


The jacquard print pants on the left are from Banana Republic and retail for $89.50.  The polka dot pair on the right is from Old Navy and is half the price at $34.94.




This jacquard crop from Banana Republic is a poly/cotton/spandex blend.  They are cute and comfortable but a little pricey for such a trendy piece.


 
 
This polka dot pair from Old Navy is a cotton/spandex blend and extremely flattering.  Some less expensive pants can be cheaply made with thinner fabrics, but this pair is a nice material that looks much more expensive than they are.  They come in other colors and prints if polka dots aren't your style.
 
 
My pick is the steal from Old Navy.  Which would you choose?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Favorites

Happy May! 

I can't believe that summer is just around the corner.  We've only got a couple weeks of preschool left here.  I've got lots of fun kid's projects lined up for summer and plenty of beach reads lined up for myself.  (Hopefully I'll have time for the latter!)  

Here are some of my favorite things this week:



Merona Eyelet Tank



I just picked up this tank at Target.  It's similar colors to a top in my last Stitch Fix, but I actually preferred this style and it was much less expensive. 


Merona Sandals

I'm also loving these cute sandals from Target.  I decided on the brown pair with gold piping, but they come in six different colors.


 
 
I just started reading Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.  It is hilarious!  I was laughing out loud so much that my toddler asked what was so funny.  This is the only book in the shopaholic series that I haven't read yet.  Check back next week for my review, but let me just say, I love it so far!
 
Have a fabulous weekend!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Easter Basket Cupcakes

I hope everyone had a great spring break and Easter!  We had a fun Easter complete with egg hunts, dyeing eggs, and visiting with family. 




These Easter Basket cupcakes are fun and easy to make.  They were a big hit, and even though I left some cupcakes plain (just icing) in case people didn't like coconut, the Easter Basket cupcakes were the first to go!

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix
1 can white frosting
1 cup shredded coconut
green food coloring
jellybeans
  1. Bake cupcakes and frost according to directions.
  2. Put coconut into large Ziploc bag and add 4 drops of food coloring.
  3. Seal bag and shake until coconut turns green.
  4. Sprinkle coconut on top of frosted cupcakes.
  5. Decorate with jellybeans or other egg-shaped candies.

Here is the rest of our Easter fun this year:


This is the only way to dye Easter eggs with a toddler--using a rubber whisk. Those metal egg holders that come with the egg-dyeing kits are pretty worthless.   This is mess-free and fun for little ones.




The finished product!  DD had no interest in adding stickers or designs.  Just colorful eggs for her, thank you very much!




A bunnies and chicks craft kit from Michaels.  I was planning to make some bunnies from paper plates, but these turned out pretty cute, too.





My mom and daughter made this cute centerpiece.  I have to admit I don't like peeps, so this is the best use I've seen for them.  (Actually the peeps dioramas on the Washington Post's website are pretty cool, too!) 

Happy Easter, Peeps!  (I couldn't resist.)