Ireland – Part 2: The Scenery

October 30, 2014 Life, Road Trip, Travel 15

Ireland

Oh Hi. So no, Scott and I didn’t randomly just take a trip to Ireland.

Ahem.

Two years ago we visited Ireland as a part of a package deal that I found via Travelzoo–I couldn’t pass up this particular deal as part of SceptreTours. We flew to Dublin on a Saturday from Dallas (via Orlando) and arrived Sunday morning. The package included hotels in four cities (Kilkenny, Cork/Blarney, Limmerick, and Dublin), a rental car, air, breakfast each morning, and four excursions–one of which we skipped. For us it was the perfect trip because we were able to see a lot and our agenda was pretty flexible other than the night reservations. We drove at least 1,200 km in seven days and were quite exhausted by the time we got home!

I’ve already shared a picture post on the towns that we spent time in, including the sites we saw, so this post will focus more on the Ireland scenery that we saw. We can pretend that we just visited, right? We had a cold front blow in to Dallas this morning and it’s making me feel all fall-ish. I figured it was finally time to sit down and revisit my pictures.

All pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Ireland Map

 

Kilkenny County (Southeastern Ireland)

I really wish that I could have gotten some pictures of the Kilkenny town, but by the time we drove through we were already on our way to Cashel Rock. It was quite a bustling town! Not as these pictures below would suggest. What I loved about driving through Ireland was how many people were out and about–many of the mums walking babies–even though it was quite chilly. Apparently I’m a Texas wimp!

We spent much of our time around Kilkenny driving around. Just picking a lane and turning down it. We loved all of the old buildings–some abandoned, some not–and got quite a kick out of the hedge fences. Until we met another car and had to squeeze as far to the shoulder as we could. Unfortunately we had more scrapes on the car than we’d like to admit. Around Kilkenny we also visited Cashel Rock and Kilkenny Castle.

It indeed was very gray when we visited but we were fairly lucky with the rain. Even though many of the trees had already lost their leaves, many still hung on to autumn color.

Kilkenny County

 

Cork Ireland

Top: Kitties near Rock of Cashel; Bottom Right: Blarney

Kinsale (County Cork)

Our big sight in Cork was Blarney (to kiss the Blarney Stone!), but since Cork is so close to the coast we also drove down to Kinsale and walked around and around the town. We had a nice fish and chips lunch and walked some more. Cork is very large and we did drive through it (and got lost a few times), but we stayed closer to Blarney and ate at the same little pub both nights we were in town. Pub food for the win (I was so craving salad by the time we left Ireland…and I’m not a salad eater).

Kinsale Ireland

 

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula isn’t quite as famous as the Ring of Kerry (scroll back up to the map and the Ring of Kerry is the large part underneath the D drop pin). I knew that we wouldn’t have time to do the Ring of Kerry justice since we were due to spend the night in Limmerick, but Rick Steves (our tour guide) assured us that Dingle was just as must-see and much easier to accomplish on a tight time schedule. It took us several hours to drive around the peninsula on a road that was very very close to the cliff-like drop off down to the ocean.

The peninsula is incredibly quiet and feels so isolated. Through the trip we could sense the desolation of the area from the potato blight and the British oppression over the years. In some areas the old potato beds are still visible even though nothing grows on these lands now.  The weather was fitting for the trip as much of the drive was very somber. In a way I’m glad we didn’t have time to do the Ring of Kerry as we didn’t have to contend with large tour buses or many other tourists.

On the way out of Dingle we took Conor Pass to Tralee. This is the second highest spot in Ireland and as you can see from the picture below (below below), there was zero visibility on a very winding and narrow road. I was terrified the entire time! Luckily we made it through and drove the rest of the way through lovely County Clare.

Dingle Dingle Peninsula
Dingle Peninsula

TL: Sybil Point, BL: Gallarus Oratory (1,300 years old); BR: Crossing Conor Pass

Dingle Peninsula

Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Insanity. Part of our package included tickets to Cliffs of Moher (really I think it was just the parking as to see the cliffs is free? Can’t remember). There was a visitor’s center but we basically snapped the shots and hightailed it out of there. Very cool to see, but it was another day of a lot of driving!

Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher

County Clare/The Burren

On our drive back to Limmerick from The Cliffs of Moher, we took a driving tour through The Burren which is a large plateau that is desolate. The entire ground is covered in limestone rocks and very little grows. The Bottom Left photo below is of a stone table. This is the only one that we saw but the area is rich in Iron Age forts and sights. While it doesn’t seem much to look at, I loved driving through all of the small seaside towns, including Doolin.

While we did come very close to Galway, unfortunately we didn’t have time to make it all the way up there. I would have loved to have visited but one of us is only willing to drive so much in one day (note: I did not drive).

County Clare

Adare

A side trip, really. Adare is just outside of Limmerick (which is a big city that we didn’t care to spend much time in other than for sleeping). Adare is absolutely charming and a total trap for tourists. There is an old manor that has since been converted into a hotel and the area is full of parks. So we walked and walked and then visited a pub. Yay pubs!

Adare Ireland

 

And then Dublin, which I shared in the first post. And Belfast to visit the Titanic museum (also on first post). I really wish I had snapped some pictures of Northern Ireland as it is the lush green hilly Ireland that I had imagined. Not that the south and central areas weren’t, but they seemed more suited to farming–we did see lots of sheep grazing in the green pastures. And of course lots and lots of shrub-lined lanes.

Dingle Peninsula

 

Going through these pictures has made me so nostalgic. It was the perfect getaway and I hope that one day we can visit again.

Have you been to Ireland? What were the highlights for you?

 

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Night Film – Marisha Pessl

October 28, 2014 Reading Nook, Review 19

night filmTitle: Night Film
Author: Marisha Pessl
Published: 2013 Pages: 587
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Rating: Good then boring then good again

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: When a horror film director’s daughter is found dead from apparent suicide, reporter Scott McGrath digs deep into the seedy underworld to try to put meaning to Ashley Cordova’s death.

Why I Read It: Because other book bloggers raved and raved about it. I bought my shiny new copy the day before I went into labor with Evie.

Thoughts in General: Mysteries and thrillers aren’t books that I naturally gravitate toward. Honestly I’m not sure why. I don’t mind watching them on TV or movie format (though I will zone out during any and all chase scenes), and Law and Order SVU is one of my favorite shows. This book is very much like Law and Order SVU (except we follow around the reporter rather than police detectives). While reading Night Film, I decided that maybe I’m too impatient or too easily bored with mystery and would rather watch it over an hour rather than spend several days following clues. Either way, I was reminded that mysteries and thrillers really aren’t my favorite kinds of books.

Let’s start with the good first. Of course all spoiler free.

  • Night Film is a gorgeously constructed book. I could not stop touching the pages as they feel so luxurious. Night Film is told from the point of view of McGrath but in addition to his narration, articles, pictures, websites, and other forms of media are included. I loved the smashing together of all the different media and it really helped pull me into the story–especially as try to understand Stanislav Cordova’s nightmarish background and films.
  • There is also a Night Film app that I chose not to download as I didn’t want to be pulled away from the text (and that twitter button on my phone is way too tempting).
  • I really enjoyed the writing and thought that Pessl did a great job of showing me into the world that she created. See some quotes below–her writing is so moody and atmospheric.
  • One lengthy scene (at The Peak, for those who have read) in the middle-end that was intense and thrilling and heart-stopping. I literally jumped several times when interrupted during my reading of this part.

Some things that flat out didn’t work for me.

  • The overuse of italics. For no apparent reason.
  • The length of the book. Seriously, a good 200 pages could have been cut.
  • The hodgepodge team of characters including some very stereotypical behaviors and actions
  • The chase. So many steps and clues and coincidences and leads and deadends. I grew bored and tired from it all.

But really. The writing was rather satisfying, at least.

Some Quotes:

“How elusive she was, how she shape-shifted, seemed composed of as many rival creatures as the tattoo. Head of a dragon, body of a deer. Inclinations of a witch. She was Orlando’s flashlight in the dark behind us, a pinprick of light in the violent downpour, dogging Hopper, dogging me. She was a beacon of mysterious origin and intention, impossible to determine if heading toward me or away. What, really, was the difference between something hounding you and something leading you somewhere” (353).

“’A Tornado knocks a house down, killing the owner, and it’s a tragedy. Then you learn a serial killer lived there and the same act becomes a miracle. The truth about what happens to us in this world keeps changing. Always. It never stops. Sometimes not even after death’” (420).

“Horror gripped me once again. It actually had a face and legs, a massive beast with skin of black rubber, a bony spine, and it was perched right beside me, waiting for me to give up hope so it could feast upon me” (474).

Bottom Line: If I had not bought myself a shiny new hardcover copy last year, I likely would have abandoned Night Film. In the end I’m glad I finished it, but I recommend it with reservations. If you pick it up, get ready for one heck of a ride—though it is a long ride.

Linking this up with Carl’s Readers Imbibing Peril IX (book links here)

Do you like mysteries and thrillers? What are some of your favorites?

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Seven Deadly Sins of Reading – Sunday Post 98

October 26, 2014 Reading Nook, Sunday Salon 36

Sunday Salon

Hi friends!! So it’s Sunday and the last one in October. How or Why, I don’t know. It’s also still rather warm here in Dallas. Not sure what our plans are today, but I might see if I can force everyone out of the house to do something that at least feels like fall. I’m certainly not ready for winter weather but it would be nice to break out the long sleeves for a change!

A week ago was Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and while I didn’t get to read a gazillion books (or pages) like everyone else, I did have a lot of fun. Especially after the girls went to bed and I broke out the wine for a little bit of cheering. I cheered for about three hours before finally crashing into bed. The April event falls on Elle’s birthday and who knows what we’ll be doing next October, but I’m hoping to make another run at the event sooner rather than later. If you’ve never participated in Dewey’s Readathon, you must. It is ALL the fun (as evidenced in my most recent cheer vlog).

For today’s post, I’m borrowing a meme that I saw over at JoAnn’s (from Lakeside Musing). Next Sunday I’ll be talking Non-Fiction, so I figured I’d have a little fun today (not that non-fiction isn’t fun…)

 
seven sins

 

1. Greed:  What is your most expensive book?

I don’t know that I have an expensive books, but I do have a number of books that are priceless to me. My 1940s editions of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have sentimental value and I have collections of Balzac, Mark Twain, and Dickens that are fairly old–the Balzacs are over a century old.

old books

 

2. Wrath: What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

James Joyce immediately comes to mind, but I can’t say that I love him. Just hate. And he’s really the only author whose works I despise. It’s that Stephen Dedalus. What an ass! And then I totally fell down a rabbit hole of searching for Stephen Dedalus images. These graphic images of Ulysses are fascinating! See Sloth below.

Telemachus.indd

 

3. Gluttony:  What book have you devoured over and over again with no shame?

Outlander, lately. While I haven’t read the book more than once, I have read through parts of the book numerous times (as well as the audio). I blame the Starz Outlander series. I mean…Jamie…

starz

 

4. Sloth:  Which book have you neglected reading due to laziness?

Ulysses by James Joyce. Am I lazy? Or just not dedicated enough? I’m not sure. One day! See also “Wrath” above. It’s possible that James Joyce is my white whale.

 

5. Pride:  What book do you most talk about in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

Ha! To an average person, probably any book would count. Otherwise, classic chunksters: Les Miserables, Brothers Karamazov, Bleak House all come to mind.

a draft of Brothers Karamazov

a draft of Brothers Karamazov

 

6. Lust:  What attributes do you find attractive in a male or female character?

Strong, square jawbone (in him, also see  the brooding redheaded Scot above)–as well a a love for cooking and feet rubbing. In her, a round bottom and the lack of having it all together (see Bridget Jones).

bridget-jones--644x362

 

7. Envy:  What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

I’m going to cheat and say a gift card so that I can buy any book on whimsy. But if someone wanted to buy me the Barnes and Noble Collectible Editions (Children’s), I would be super thrilled. I’m kicking myself for not splurging on these when I saw them in the store.

alice

 

Feel free to jump in and play along! I’d love to hear what some of your seven deadly sins of reading are!

Hope you’re all having a very happy Sunday.

 

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Weelicious Cookbook Review

October 24, 2014 In the Kitchen, Mommyhood 21

weelicious

 

October. You think of colorful fallen leaves. Breaking out the sweaters. Piping hot pumpkin spice lattes. Pretty sure it’s been warm enough here this month as some of y’all’s summer months. While I love the 80s (when it cools down to the 50s and 60s at night), it doesn’t quite feel like fall. I had planned to break out my soups/stews/slow cooker cookbooks out this month, but…  Plus we had my sister’s wedding at the beginning of the month and Scott had a big business trip for a chunk of the time. Peppered throughout the month were dinners with my mom or my dad (while I love visiting with them, I also love that this means I don’t have to cook).

I figured now was as good a time as any to check out Weelicious from the library. I know, I know, I’m doing the Cook it Up Challenge to go through my cookbooks, but I needed a bit of inspiration. (PS–next link-up for Cook it Up will go live on Saturday November 1! Be sure to come share all of your October posts)

Weelicious. One Family. One Meal.

A confession. I haven’t spent too much time on the Weelicious website. If you’re not familiar, Weelicious shares recipes and tips for feeding babies and toddlers and preschoolers (and up!)–hopefully with the idea that the entire family can sit down and eat the same meal without mom or dad becoming a short order cook. I love this idea. On the other hand, the recipes featured on Weelicious are sometimes a bit weird. I’m all for my kids eating a range of foods (and they do), but I wouldn’t even make Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas for myself. Just give me regular chicken and/or cheese with either a red sauce or a salsa verde or a sour cream sauce. Perhaps we should be more adventerous, but eh…

All this to say that I went into Weelicious with a bit of trepidation. And sure, there are some weird recipes in this book (sweet beet cookies??), but I was able to flag quite a bit and even buckled down and made three things. I renewed my checkout and plan to make a few more things from Weelicious before returning it back to the library. I might even put it on my Christmas wishlist.

Kitchen Helper

of course you will ignore everything on my counters, right? #keepingitreal

The Layout: The book is separated into two sections – Getting Started and The Recipes. I didn’t read the Getting Started part (I know, I know) but from flipping through it’s about 40 pages of “You can Do this Mom! You can cook healthy meals that your kids will love! They will eat those beet cookies!” Or something. Maybe I’ll skim through it a little more thoroughly before returning it to the library. The recipes–about 200 pages worth–include baby purees, breakfast, soup, dips/sauces/salsas, snacks, dinner, sides, desserts, and drinks. A little bit of everything. I flagged something in most of the sections.

Many of the recipes include beautiful color photographs as well as praise for the recipes (presumably from readers of her website?). Sometimes tips are included and there are several recipes that are easy to freeze. The directions are straight forward and easy to read. My only wish is that there was a quick snapshot of how long the recipe will take to prep and bake/cook. As a busy mom, this is so important to me! There is WAY too much range to give you an idea of what this book contains. Stuffed French Toast, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Four Bean Chili, BBQ Chicken (sandwiches and quesadillas), Baked Ziti, Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pudding, Honey-Cinnamon Cookies. So many things!

What I made: I wanted to try for a range of things so I cooked spaghetti pie, apple-vanilla pancakes, and apple-cinnamon snacks. The pancakes and spaghetti pie were both delicious. I’m not a fan of the apple-cinnamon sticks but both of the girls like them (I think they’re bland and could use a little more sugar but then that defeats the purpose?). Everything was fairly easy–there were a few bowls involved with the pancakes (see Elle helping me mix the apples with cinnamon/brown sugar above), but even the spaghetti pie wasn’t too difficult.

weelicious collage

I’m not going to share a recipe today as this post is already getting really long, but definitely check out the Spaghetti Pie on Weelicious (next time I’ll use short noodles–but this was basically lasagna with spaghetti).

And while I couldn’t find the recipe for the apple-vanilla pancakes on Weelicious, next time you’re making regular ole pancakes, add a cup of finely diced apples (tossed in a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar) to liven up your pancakes. Evie LOVED picking out the apples so much that I made her a snack of sauteed apples with cinnamon. Tis the apple season!

Bottom Line: I’ll never make Sweet Beet Cookies. I’m sorry, I won’t. Or Veggie Nuggets. Or Spinach Pancakes. But there are a lot of really really great ideas in Weelicious and I’m always looking for ways to cook a meal that will satisfy everyone. I’ll definitely be testing out a few more recipes from Weelicious (Pumpkin Waffles, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Chicken Teriyaki, Mexican Lasagna), and as I mentioned earlier will likely add this one to my permanent collection.

Have you ever cooked from a recipe book that is designed with younger kids in mind? What is your go-to meal that makes the entire family happy? (ours is Spaghetti).

 

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Linking up with:

ook it up Challenge - small

I cooked these dishes from Weelicious as part of Cook it Up: A Cookbook Challenge. The idea of the challenge is to dust off your cookbooks and put them to use. Link up the first Saturday monthly on Love, Laughter, Insanity.

 

 

weekend cookingEvery weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.”  Hope you’ll join the fun!

 

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DroodAlong – Midway Post

October 22, 2014 Reading Nook 17

droodalong

 

All by myself. Don’t want to be all by myself! True story–I was singing this for some reason while making dinner tonight and Elle said she really loved my singing. I’ll spare you with further singing…

So, we are reading Drood by Dan Simmons. Except I’m not really sure who is reading…  Christina has finished the book. Jill is partway through. Melissa, Hannah, and Sharlene are at various stages with thoughts of abandoning. Sarahbeth and Beth have basically jumped ship. Who am I missing? Oh Becca. And Maree–how are y’all doing? Anyone else out there? And who the heck voted for this book anyway? I’ve decided you guys cannot be trusted with a vote in the future. (kidding, not kidding).

It’s 8:30 the night before this post will publish and I’m currently at page 235. Which means that I’m about 60% to my goal for the halfway point. Readathon Hostess Fail. I do plan on pouring myself a drink and settling into bed for another chapter or two, but only until the pull to watch another episode of Gilmore Girls gets the better of me. Gah. I’ve even added audio to my reading in order to speed things up (I am really enjoying the audio narration, by the way).

Drood.

Drooooooooooooooooood.

I had planned on coming up with questions for y’all to answer today. Of course I had also planned on making it to page 395. At this point I’m not even really sure what this book is about–Dickens has just mentioned using mesmerisation as a new art form in relation to his next book.

What do y’all think of Collins as a narrator and the way that the book is framed? Does anyone else feel as though Simmons is using a research dissertation as the basis of his novel? #slogfest Anything else you’re dying to talk about?

Happy Drooding! If you have a halfway post, please link it in the comments below!

 

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Readathon! Fall 2014 Update Post

October 18, 2014 Book Musings 40

dewey-300x300

 

Note: This will be my only Readathon post for the day. I’ll add new updates above the previous update.

the Third Update (Hours 6-14? Oops!)

Ok. I managed to hit up all my cheerleading peeps on twitter during lunch/naptime. I finished The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (meh). We went for another walk (this time with both girls) and I listened to a bit of Phantom while Elle listened to the Frozen soundtrack. And now it’s just me and those girlies. It’s 8:45 and I’m so tempted to just hop into bed with my glass of wine and Outlander episodes. For shame, I know. But I’ll take a book with me…I guess. I had to back out of tomorrow’s playdate because of Evie’s fever, so I guess with Scott gone we’ll probably just hang low all day and maybe I can get a graphic novel or something read.

This will likely be my last update of the night. It was a fun readathon but it was also tough to really get into it. I haven’t visited any blogs which is so uncharacteristic of me for a readathon! I love that the readathon has gotten so big, but I also miss how small it used to be. When I could visit my friends several times throughout the day and not feel like I was missing anyone. It’s amazing the legacy that Dewey has left behind, but I’ll never ever ever forget those first few readathons with her.

readathon 3

TOTALS: 

143 pages read
120 minutes listening (approximately 80 pages worth of Phantom)
1 Book Finished – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Yay naptime reading!)
2 Walks
Lots of Cheering (on twitter)

Wow. That looks so pitiful, doesn’t it?

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 the Second Update (Hours 3-5)

Um, ya. Readathoning with kids is basically really really hard. Scott was to take the girls to a birthday party this morning which would have given me over TWO hours alone (which is a miracle in itself), but since Evie is running a fever she’s home with me. She’s happy and content so she played a bit while I read a whopping 23 pages of Hitchhiker’s Guide before deciding that we should get out and go for a run. 3 miles and 45 minutes of Phantom of the Opera later and now it’s lunchtime! Which also soon mean naptime for the babes. ;)

readathon 2

SINCE LAST UPDATE

Pages:  23 pages (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy); 65 min audio (Phantom of the Opera)
Time: 45? minutes reading + 65 minutes listening. I’m about to cry uncle on counting minutes of reading.

TOTALS:
63 pages read
105 minutes reading
90 minutes listening
Books Finished
15 minutes blogging
Oddles minutes childwrangling/housechoring/laundry folding
minutes cheerleading – SAD!!!
0 mini-challenges: Opening Meme, #TeamTrollope for Coffee!, I missed the #shelfie. Boo!
Snacks: breakfast cake, coffee.
0 Prizes

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the First Real Update (Hours 1-2)

Ok, a slow reading start with Hitchhiker’s Guide and then at 8 I could tell Elle was up roaming around so I stopped reading and started listening to Phantom of the Opera (the book) while making breakfast cake (from a box, y’all). She dressed herself and requested all of the bows. Love her! I just heard Evie stirring (at 9!) so I’m off to get her.

readathon 1

SINCE LAST UPDATE

Pages:  45 pages (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy); 45 min audio (Phantom of the Opera)
Time: 60 minutes reading + 45 minutes listening

TOTALS:
45 pages read
60 minutes reading
45 minutes listening
Books Finished
15 minutes blogging
minutes cheerleading
0 mini-challenges
Snacks: breakfast cake, coffee.
0 Prizes

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the Start: 7 am (Hour 1)

Good morning!!!! It’s 6:48. I had set my alarm to get up and read at 5 because my husband is leaving this afternoon for a business trip and I’ll then be solo-parenting my two little girls. Well. The baby was up from 12:30-2:30. Everytime I would doze to sleep she would wake up crying. I finally changed my alarm to 6:15. Then at 4:55 my oldest came down to let me know she needed to go to the bathroom. So I got up with her. Then read 15 pages. Then fell asleep on the couch. And here we are.

Opening Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Dallas, Texas! (or the suburbs, anyway)

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! It’ll be my first and likely my last.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Ha! I have some sushi for lunch. Mmmm!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Um. 30 something. Mom to two little girls. Blogging for years and years about mostly books but lots of other things, too. I have too much energy. For real.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? Hmmm. I have a routine down pretty pat, but my expectations are pretty low for the day. With the baby being sick and hub leaving in the afternoon, I’ll be glad to read for just a few hours today. Plus lots of cheering!

And finally–my little warm-up vlog for this morning! I cheated and recorded it yesterday afternoon because I didn’t want to wake anyone up. Wishing I had some of this enthusiasm now!

YAY READATHON!!!

 

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Readathon Mini-Challenge: 140 Character Cheering

October 18, 2014 Uncategorized 59

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Helllllllllo Readathoners!!  I’m feeling rather chipper for the 8th hour of the readathon, and I think it’s high time that everyone helps spread a little cheer to all of the readers.

Welcome to the 140 Character Pep Rally!!!!

What is a 140 Character Pep Rally?

For a few minutes I want you to put down your books, give your eyes a stretch, and bust out a 140 character cheer to share. Why 140 characters (ie letters, spaces, symbols)? Well, because that’s what twitter allows and I’m hoping you’ll go and share your cheer on twitter (using the #readathon tag).

What if my cheer isn’t exactly 140 characters? No problem! I can assure you that I’m not really going to count. Bonus brownie points for using at least one exclamation point, though. And triple brownie points if your cheer is rhyming.

What do I do with my cheer once I’ve written it? Put it in the comments below (this is how you’ll be entered for a prize). Also, tweet it! Share it on Facebook! Leave it as a comment on a random reader’s blog! Shout it out! But definitely leave it in the comments below.

How long does the challenge run? You have three hours, should you accept your cheermission (so until the end of Hour 10).

Is there a Prize?! Yes! The winner (randomly drawn from Random.org) will receive a $15 egift card to your choice of online bookseller. Yay books!!

 

octobercheer

 

Go! Get your cheer on!!!! And then get back to your reading.

 

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The Martian – Andy Weir

October 16, 2014 Reading Nook, Review 23

the martianTitle: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Narrator: R. C. Bray
Published: 2014;  Pages: 384
Audio Duration: 10 hr, 53 min
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: Fun! Mostly.

In Short: During a mission on Mars, astronaut Mark is separated from his team and presumed dead. In fact he is left all alone on the planet and does everything in his power to survive.

Why I Listened: I’ve heard so much praise recently for The Martian and I thought it would be something that Scott would enjoy listening to while on our roadtrip.

Thoughts in General: So I just discovered that this post (minus this “thoughts in general” section) has been sitting in my drafts since June. What do I remember about this book since we listened to it in June?

  • Wow Weir must either know a lot about science or he must have done a crapload of research! Scott and I were both thoroughly impressed.
  • Thankfully the entire book was not about Mark alone on Mars for 300 pages…as it seemed at the beginning. I loved Mark’s sarcastic and biting humor but learning about growing plants on Mars quickly became boring. Note: he is alone on Mars…but there are other people on earth who are also involved in the storyline.
  • I fell asleep for a good chunk of the book. It wasn’t the book’s fault–we had been driving all day, it was almost midnight, and I was tired. Sadly when I started listening again after an hour or so lapse I didn’t feel I was missing much.
  • There were several laugh out loud moments.
  • We followed up our listen to The Martian with a listen of Redshirts by John Scalzi. That was a fun listen, too, minus the over use of “said” in the book. He said, she said, they said, I said, everyone said. 10 million times in conversation.

Bottom Line: I can’t say that I loved this book as much as everyone else did but it was a lot of fun and Scott and I both enjoyed it. It was a quick listen and I suspect that it would be an ever quicker read. Timid of science fiction books? This is a great one for getting your toes wet.

A Note on the Audio: The narration by R. C. Bray was absolutely fantastic. My only regret in listening rather than reading this book is missing all of the printed exclamation points–which I didn’t realize existed until I saw an Instagrammed photo of the book. Fans of Wil Wheaton’s narrations will surely enjoy Bray’s narration. Some of the details did get a little boggy but I quickly learned what I needed to really know and what I could let wash over me. I definitely recommend going the audio route with The Martian.

 Have you read The Martian? Or listened to it? 

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Mean Girls

October 15, 2014 Life, Mommyhood 19

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(couldn’t help it, this picture of sisterly love cracks me up…)

 

Oh boy. Or maybe more appropriately to this post…Oh girl.

One of the things I am looking forward to least as a mommy to two little girls is girl friend drama. I lived through enough of it to last me many many lifetimes and just thinking about girl friends and girl drama gives me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I thought I had years before I had to worry about such things, though. At least five more years? I can remember one of the mean girls from third grade–the one who only let people in her club who could spell Mississippi frontwards and backwards (yes, wee Canadians learning to spell Mississippi). But there were lots of other friends and life moved on when I knew I didn’t really want to be her friend. Fifth grade was the real kicker for me. And then eighth grade. and again in ninth through twelfth grade. If I’m being honest, all the way until about 5 years ago when I finally said goodbye to my last toxic female relationship.

Scarred. And scared to go through this all over again with my girls one day.

Though I would have never guessed that today would be the day that we start.

Elle has mentioned a little girl in her class a few times. “She said no to me” is what she normally tells me and I’ve always responded that she just needs to find someone else to play with. Elle is just at the brink of really understanding emotions and being able to recognize and put a name to emotions of others. But getting information out of her is still difficult, even with her incredibly expanding vocabulary. I can tell that she wants to emulate this other little girl and that the other little girl doesn’t seem to reciprocate Elle’s interest.

One recent morning I witnessed Elle going up to the other girl to show her how she had a bracelet like hers and the girl coldly pushed her away and yelled “No!” Elle immediately broke into tears and my heart seized.

I tried to reassure Elle as best that I could and steer her towards other kids to play with. I know deep down that this girl isn’t a mean girl and doesn’t mean any true malicious harm, but I so wish that Elle could direct her attention away from friends who aren’t being nice and play with friends who are. It was the first time, though, that I realized that while all of the girls have an air of innocence, those seeds of hurt feelings (and hurting feelings) are being sown.

My heart is breaking over Elle’s sadness and the mama bear in me wanted to snap at this other girl and tell her that her shit still stinks. Ok, totally inappropriate, but you know. But since that one morning there have been other fights with other friends–“girls just being girls” her teacher tells me. Three year olds are navigating such a tough world–so many new emotions and realizations. In some ways it is so exciting for them but in other ways it’s completely overwhelming.

I want my girls to be strong and confident. I want them to be secure and happy. There have been too many times when I have not been any of these things (and still days now when I struggle). I want to teach them and love them and help them grow. But in the end, is it enough? And omgheavenforbid that my daughters become hardened and turn into the mean girl? I can’t even go there.

I recently listened to Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (it’s fabulous, by the way) and in one essay she outlines the 13 Rules for Female Friendships. I’ll wait while you open another window to read it. So much of what she says should be intuitive–why do we have such a hard time with female friendships? “A lot of ink is given over to mythologizing female friendships as curious, fragile relationships that are always intensely fraught. Stop reading writing that encourages this mythology.” Yes, I get it. But how do we fix this? These are three year olds. Being mean. Innocent enough at three, but meanwhile the boys are fighting in the corner over a toy, hit one another, pout, and then make up.

If only.

I don’t have a point. I just needed to get this off my chest. But my ears are open, as always.

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What Is The Sunday Salon? (97)

October 12, 2014 Reading Nook, Sunday Salon 39

Sunday Salon

What the heck is this thing called The Sunday Salon?

People ask me all the time about The Sunday Salon and what it’s all about.  The Sunday Salon began several years ago and was conceived as a type of reading room where book lovers could gather together and chat about books. From the website: “Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week’s Salon get together–at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones–and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another’s blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one’s earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.”

I’ve always taken The Sunday Salon a step further and tried to open a dialogue about a specific bookish topic. But the wonderful thing about The Sunday Salon is that anything bookish goes. Write about a bookish topic or theme, write about what you’ve been reading or what you’d like to read, write about what books you have on your shelf or what you’ve picked up from the library. Really anything as long as the topic is bookish (though I have seen many posts that are not entirely bookish in nature and that’s OK, too).

Can anyone join The Sunday Salon? Absolutely! While I do wish that there was a place where everyone could link up posts, right now most people convene on the Facebook Page dedicated to The Sunday Salon. Because I don’t get on Facebook often, I’m not sure how active the group truly is. It seems like a really great way to find other likeminded bloggers, though. Because what do we love more than chatting about books with other people who are passionate about books? Right?

So what do you say? Want to give The Sunday Salon a go? The more the merrier.

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Books Recently Finished: Let’s see–since we last chatted I finished Bad Feminist (audiobook) and I’ve already told you about that one. In terms of paper books, I haven’t finished anything since The Sparrow. Boo!

New Books in the House: None. I’m actually trying to get rid of books. Yay me!

New Books on my e-reader: I picked up How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character recently from Amazon. I keep meaning to read some parenting books…but I never make time for them. Meh. We’re all surviving, right?

Books on the Nightstand: Night Film! Still! I should finish very very very soon, though. I’m stalled halfway through Heart-Shaped Box and won’t pick it up again until I’ve made it halfway through Drood. I’ve started gathering my books for next weekend’s readathon. I’ll be single parenting for most of the day so I’m not sure how much I’ll actually be able to participate, but I’m bound and determined to at least play part of the time! Some hopefuls (super sorry for the crap picture):

readathon books
So, what do you have going on this Sunday? Will you be readathoning next Saturday??

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