Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Review: The Boston Girl

What better way to spend a Saturday, other than cuddled up on the couch watching Parenthood and only gets better because I am writing about books.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant 

If you are in the mood for magnificent storytelling, this is the only thing you need. 
I wish, I yearn, to write like Diamant. How she crafted this story of past, present and future so flawlessly is beyond me. 

First, I have to start with why this book caught my eye, besides the fact that it was featured in People and all of my Goodreads recommendations. Anita Diamant is the author of The Red Tent, which is an unexpected favorite of mine that I read a couple years ago. So I knew there was a big chance I would love this book as well. 

The Boston Girl opens with Addie Baum, a woman in her eighties, who has just been asked by her granddaughter "what made you the woman you are today?" and Addie starts to tell her story.

Addie Baum grew up in the early 1900s in Boston. She experiences many  things, including poverty, oppressive, conservative parents and multicultural challenges Jewish families faced in America during that time. Addie's outlook on life is drastically different from her parents and I couldn't get enough of her endless curiosity. It leads her to the world of art, music, shorter skirts and climbing the job ladder that was virtually non-existent for women in that era among many other adventures. 

As I read along, Boston came alive in my imagination. I loved the friends that Addie meets as she discovers The Saturday Club, a place where women made life-long friendships and learn from each other about things the world around them was trying to keep them from. She grows through strange changes, she struggles with relationships, she loses loved ones...but her stories remains bright and entertaining throughout the entire book. 

Bottom line: I was never bored. I was mentally booking a trip to Boston. Wouldn't it be amazing to witness such growth and advancement in America? 

My favorite parts of the book were when Addie makes discoveries about life, love and success. She started working for her brother in law in a seamstress shop, she worked as a maid just so she could stay among friends in a summer boarding house, and later, took major risks to secure herself a job in a newspaper.

What I loved most about The Boston Girl is getting to know Addie as a young girl and then here and there, throughout the story, modern day Addie pipes up and and explains how those moments in her past shaped the woman she became.  

Here's my favorite passage: 

Read The Boston Girl. It's a satisfying tale that will leave you feeling inspired, and wanting to go back in time, to Boston, to adventure.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Book Round Up: High School English Edition

You don't like to admit it, but we all know how much everyone loved SparkNotes. 
Whether you just didn't want to, you couldn't find the time, or the subject matter was so over your head you couldn't cope, there were books in high school English class that you pretended to read, but actually didn't. 

For me, as a bookworm now, I can't believe there were books I left unturned. Especially if people were telling me to read. Nowadays, I have to beg for time to read. I can't believe I ever passed up the chance to read when people were requiring it of me. 

The books that I did read and will NEVER forget: 
To Kill A Mockingbird
Romeo & Juliet
The Scarlett Letter 
The Great Gatsby 
The Lord of the Flies
The Odyssey 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 
The Giver 
My Antonia 

Books that I Didn't Actually Read:
Great Expectations 
A Tale of Two Cities 
The Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm 
Uncle Tom's Cabin

And then I had the bright idea to add "A book I pretended to read in high school" to my Book Challenge list. And I had to look online to find required reading for high schoolers. I thought surely, I read most of them. Clearly, either my high school English teachers were clueless, or I was. Because I haven't read ALOT of those books. Probably because I was hanging out way too much by the water fountain, showing off my new Sketchers. 

But now I want to. 

The ones I remember skimming SparkNotes for instead of reading I listed above. I'm finding as I get older, I crave these types of books even more. I've now reread The Great Gatsby and The Giver and I want to keep going.

I remember sitting in many English classes, sometimes feeling bored out of my mind. This feeling also coincides with memories of flirting with a boy named John, but I digress. However, there are also times I remember being completely overcome with emotion while reading about Hester's anguish, Huck's tenacity and Jonas' curiosity. These books are required for a reason. And there are so many more that will surely be added as the generations go by. As a self proclaimed bookworm, I feel like it's my duty to actually read these other masterpieces. 

I'm going to start with The Catcher in the Rye. I've always wanted to read Atonement and Wuthering Heights as well. After that, Great Expectations, 1984 and Tale of Two Cities.

Have you read The Catcher in the Rye as an adult? 

What was your favorite book you read in high school English class? 

What are your recommendations?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Current Netflix Obsessions

The things  I learned from binge watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix are priceless. And yes, I watched it all day long, from my couch. Don't look at me like that, I was sick. 

I fell in love because I knew I could watch it non stop and most of all, because it's Tina Fey's creation and you just won't be disappointed with her involved. 

It's just a funny show about a girl who was held captive in a underground bunker by a religious freak. But now she's out and naturally,she's Mary Tyler Moore-ing around Manhattan and it's pure magic. 

Because Kimmy has literally been in a hole the past 15 years, watching her discover the ridiculousness of our culture is quite comical and a little embarrassing.

And just when I was falling in love because of the Babysitter's Club references and Jane Krakowski, this beautiful man made his cameo

Ain't no way better to recuperate from sickness than watching that fine Jon Hamm. 

I've also been binging on crime documentaries, including Cropsey, Dear Zachery, The Killer Speaks and Frontline. So naturally you can understand why watching Unbeatable Kimmy Schmidt was quite the change. I no longer feel like someone is about to bust out of the woods and stab me 67 times with a kitchen knife, which is one of the many side effects of binge watching murder stories. It's only healthy to mix it up once in a while. 

Now, today I feel much better but that's not going to stop me from more binge watching. Next up, Parenthood.  But don't worry, I plan to be much more productive this time. I'm going to mix it up by also doing laundry and reading magazines. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Show Us Your Books: February Edition

UShow Us Your Books 

Life According to Steph

There isn't a blogger I love more than Steph at Life According to Steph. This woman never runs out of interesting things to talk about, funny lists, great books and amazing recipes. She's just a great person so when she tells me to blog about the books I read last month, that's what I'm going to do, even if I am almost too late for the link up. 

Check out Steph and her co-host Jana's list of February reads too! 

Here's what I read in February: 

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby- A romp of a good read that explores the world of television when things had just started getting funny in Britain. It's the 1960s and Barbara wants to get out of her boring town. She has big dreams to become the next Lucy Ball. The story has great potential but I was pretty bored throughout the last quarter of the book. I wanted more details. 

I chose this book for the "pick a book written by a male author" portion of my Book Challenge. I don't know why but I just can't connect with male authors and this book was the perfect example. I loved to set up, the setting, the characters and the premise. But everything just wasn't enough for me. the emotions, the descriptions, the conversation. It was just a scratch-the-surface kind of narrative.

The Scarlet Sisters - This was a great historical read. The author did an amazing job researching the historical facts about  the life and times of Victoria Woodhull and Tennie Claflin, two sisters whose radical views on sex, love, politics, and business were unheard of  the white male power structure of the nineteenth century. To sum it up, these women were bad asses. It was a great account but very staccato, with more of a list of facts and dates rather than a lyrical story. 

Nightingale by Kristin Hannah- Read it. It's beautifully written. Reminded me of Kate Morton, whom I also love. It's as if Hannah is an artist and her words are a paintbrush that swirl a picture in your mind that awakens your imagination. France, war, love, family. Need I say more? 

For March, here are some I plan on: I'm currently reading: 

Up Next: 

Also, I need some help finding my next Book Challenge book. What books did you pretend to read in high school but actually just skimmed or read SparkNotes? I'll always be looking for a book to read from 1986. 

What did you read in February? 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Nothing to Snarl About

Recently, someone told me to "wipe the snarl from my face."

At first, I thought they must be talking to someone else, surely. (And yes, I realized the use of "they" is wrong in this situation, but to keep real life anonymity, we will just call this person "they" instead of a he or she).

Surely, they meant someone else, for if they really knew me, which they don't, they would be well aware that I have noting to "snarl" about.

But if this person caught me in a moment of annoyance, there is a good chance that my smile lapsed momentarily, which it tends to do when I am in the presence of something unpleasant.

If this person really knew me, they'd be aware of all the things in my life that make having a reason to snarl incredibly impossible.

Let's make a list shall we?

First, there's theses kids:

Not to mention CJ's 3 too. Together, our crew of 7 bring us the kind of joy and laughter they make cheesy commercials out of. One weekend at our house with all of us here is like a constant stream of giggles and dance parties. Of course you have the typical little kid scuffles but all in all, everyone just has so much fun together. The kids are at that age where everything excites them and they want to learn about anything and everything. It means CJ and I have to look up weird words or ask Siri random questions (what's the world record for the biggest booger?) and it means that we couldn't imagine anything more fun than having these crazy, creative, loving kids to call our family.  

Also, I have a best friend who pretty much knows me more than I know myself. Like sneaking in Thin Mints and hiding them so only the two of us know where they are. Leaving love notes all over the house, vacuuming on his day off, finding free tickets to the circus so we can all go together and knowing the perfect time to take a ride and get a fountain pop. It's the little things that make me a snarl-free gal. 

My job pretty much guarantees that I have a smile on my face constantly. Now granted, sometimes that smile is a little stressed, but still, it's there. I get to travel around my community, meeting people, helping businesses grow, all while being creatively challenged every day. I meet new people, I teach others about what I do, and I get to watch people achieve their dreams. Oh, and I also get to do some of that from the comfort of my own home, on my own schedule, too. Pinch me, I'm dreaming.

Other reasons I don't actually have a snarl:

Sunday morning breakfasts.
Nieces and nephews
Shopping for spring decorations
New shoes
Healthy kids

Notes from my kiddos
Spring weather
Summer family vacations to look forward to

See? There's no snarl on this face. And if there was, it was brief and the next second, I was smiling again, basking in all that I have in my life to be happy about. Now it's time to get back to cuddling on the couch, reading a good book, laughing with my best friend and making my kiddos giggle. 

And lastly, I'm not snarling because I always remember this quote: 

So always remember even if something (or someone) does make you snarl, you have many, many more important things to make you smile. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What's Up In Our Neck O' the Woods

Things that have been going on lately? Pure craziness. Last Wednesday, after rewarding myself with a winey Wednesday glass of cheap moscato, I couldn't believe the week was already half over and now it's NEXT Wednesday and where in the heck is time going? 

The Kids
This week R2 started "gyn-nastics" and tonight made it about 3 feet up the rope before realizing everyone was watching her. As she gets older, I keep noticing how much she is like me. She suffers from a lot of the self consciousness that I did as a kid, and STILL do, unfortunately. I make an effort to build her self-esteem because I know how that feels and I want her to be confident and not feel like she has to hold back. Climb that rope, little girl! 

She's also READING sight words, which is music to my ears. 

This weekend there were a couple hours where the sun was shining so we hustled outside and went for a hike. Weirdly enough, we ended up finding tons of tiny sea shells in the dirt on the hill behind our house. Legends of mermaids and ocean monsters from many years ago ensued. Their imaginations make me so happy. It was the perfect of days. 

The Oscars 
I have loved reading everyone's reactions about the Oscars. I know this is old hat by now but I am still thinking about Lady Gaga and and man I hope I age like Julie Andrews. Jared Letto looks like Jesus, I want to be best friends with Emma Stone, Jennifer Aniston is perfection and Rhiannah is WAY too saucy to be wearing such a cupcake dress. 

The Podcasts
Podcasts I've been listening to and you should too: This American Life, Death, Sex & Money and Criminal

The Books
I'm reading Funny Girl by Nick Hornby still and I've been a little bored. Next is The Scarlet Sisters. CJ is reading Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner and says it's a must read for the psychological thriller lovers out there.

In other news, I wanted to share a little project I decided to take on. I created a That's What She Read Pinterest board for all things books. Follow along for book recommendations, gift ideas for bookworms, literary quotes and everything else I can find! 

This week I came across a couple of things in life that really stopped me in my tracks. Do you ever get a little crazy mad over something and then a day later feel so incredibly silly for getting so upset? Yeah, I was there. Life is so funny because one minute you're on the crazy train and the next, you calmly step off the platform and get back into the flow of things, with your wits about you again as if nothing was amiss. Nothing a little Sleepytime Tea can't fix...

And then your blog friends/soulmates send you this and magically everything is okay again:

And yes, that's a macaroni and cheese ring with a spoon in it. Life is good, yo. 

We also have TiVo in this house. I know it's old news for most people but knowing I will never again miss an episode of Jimmy Fallon, Catfish and Investigation Discovery makes this introvert the happiest of happiest. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dear Lucy: A Naptime Note

Today, my sister is taking over TWSR to share a note she wrote to her toddler, Lucy Wynn. I couldn't wait to share this sweet, loving letter because it touches on so many emotions us moms face every day. It's a beautiful thing when we try to do the impossible by writing our feelings down and try to find words that describe how we feel about our children. 

Here's my sister: 

Dear Lucy,

Right now you are sound asleep in my bed and I should be working. I found myself starring at you thinking a million thoughts and I thought I would just type them out so you can read them someday.

I knew I would love you instantly, but I never knew how powerful that love would be. When you were a newborn I used to wake up and look at you and think ‘I can’t believe I have this life with her. You will always be that piece of my soul that was missing when I was out searching.

I want you to know what love is. I try every single day to show it to you. Not just my love, but other’s as well. There is love everywhere! You just have to search for it! It’s in places that you wouldn’t think it would be either! Soup kitchens, hospitals, homeless shelters…it’s really everywhere. If there is something I’ve learned in this life it is that you don’t need a lot to make you happy. You just need love.

I hope you have the first love. The love that consumes your every emotion and makes you think you have it all figured out.

I hope you have the bad love. The love that you fall into and regret but the love that takes you to new places.
I hope you have the unconditional love. The love I have for your Dad. The earth moving, passionate, amazing and best friend love that you can only feel and not explain.
I hope you have our love. I hope God gives your babies to love like I’ve loved you. I hope you can look at your baby the way I look at you.

I want you know that your family will never leave you. You have grandparents that shine when you are around. You bring out the joy in so many people. We are a team in raising you and we will do our best to keep you safe.

I want you to know that bad days SUCK. It’s that simple. You will have them. You will feel defeated and like the whole world is against you. When that happens come to me. This morning was a tough so we are having lunch with your Grammy. Sometimes you just need your mama and I’m so lucky to be yours.

Your feet are starting to twitch which means you are about to wake up, so I should wrap this rambling up. (I hope you wake up in a better mood by the way) I love you duckling. This life with you…It’s TRULY something I can’t put into words. You have changed my heart and centered my mind. I’ve never loved another human the way I love you…I’m not sure I ever will. When your world goes crazy and you question everything, please know that you’re Dad and I right here with open arms. Thank you Lucy for changing me and giving me this life. You are everything.


A quick note: 

My sister didn't ask me to do this but I had to share another thing about her (besides her ability to be an amazing mama and the best sister a gal could ask for). She's also partner to an amazing organization called Go Shout Love. Jessica and another mama get amazing Esty shops together for online auctions and make custom t-shirts in order to donate money to families with little ones facing critical health issues. It has been my pleasure to watch Go Shout Love grow into the impactul organization that it is today. To learn more and follow along on their journey in changing lives and touching hearts, find them here: 

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