Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Duhnam

 I am happy to say that I can easily name my favorite book of the year thus far!

I bring you:

Not That Kind of Girl, A Young Woman Tells of What She's "Learned" 
By Lena Duhnman

First of all, I think it's safe to say that we would all need to put "learned" in quote marks when telling others our life lessons. Because how do we really know if we have fully learned, comprehended and appreciated all of our life experiences? In the whole scheme of my 28 years, my life lessons are a spec of what is to come, I am sure. (Which is scary because just considering reliving for the sake of retelling them all for you gives me heart palpitations) 

If you don't already know, Lena Duhham is a  actress, screenwriter, producer, and director. She's the star actress and creator of the HBO show, Girls, which has a bazillon awards under its belt. Do yourself a favor and binge watch it, starting yesterday. This is Lena's memoir about her adolescence and I can only hope she'll write more, considering she's still in her 20s. 

Not That Kind of Girl paints a picture of the path that probably led Lena to most of the crazy ass scenarios that the characters on Girls find themselves in (cocaine addiction, low self-esteem, OCD, co-dependent relationships)  you know, the usual. 

So basically, Lena Duhnam and I are soul sisters, cut from the same cloth. I nodded along with her as she mused about her parents, her inability to mix in with the crowd and her need to act out in spite of self. I related to everything. Our insecurities mirror each other. Apart from her cocaine experimentations- we were pretty much on the same wave length, although my addiction to cheap wine is probably just as bad. 

Lena writes about her life via short snip bits of summer camp nightmares, cringe worthy sexual encounters, awkward parenting moments, identity crisis and anything that falls into the category of a young woman in the 2000s trying to figure what the hell is going on. Like I said, this book could have probably been my own recollections, with a few weird stepdads and a sheltered midwest upbringing thrown into the mix. 

One of the most powerful messages came at the end of the book where Lena muses about finally finding an adult relationship that is built on a strong foundation of unconditional love and mutual respect... 

She spoke to the young woman in all of us about relationships with other women.... 

And about our relationship with our inner self...

And about our present...and about getting to a future that fits us. 

I can't really put into words or "review" what this book is all about. It's about being a female, growing (up, old, inward, outward)  life, and the crap that happens to us when we are asking "why" all the time. Come to think of it, there's also a lot mixed in about what happens when we stop asking "why" and just LIVE.

What other reason do you need to read it? 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Blogtober14: Things I'm An Expert At

Helene in Between Blogtober

I couldn't resist today's prompt from Helene and Taylor:

Things I am an expert at....

Losing my cellphone, wallet, jewelry...basically anything. 

Buying birthday cards and never sending them (because stamps are hard to find and the post office has such inconvenient hours)

Leaving my car a mess (but there is just never enough time to clean it plus I always forget to bring a trash bag into the car to collect everything)

Finding an excuse for everything 

Finding time to watch whatever  show I am currently binge watching (shout out to HBO Girls!) 

Taylor Swift Lyrics 

Forgetting to tweeze my eyebrows until I see them in the rear view mirror in my car (with no tweezers in sight)

Drinking a Salted Caramel Mocha in record time while expertly navigating my red cart through the aisles at Target. 

Being bitchy at least once a month (I have impeccable timing)

Detecting even the smallest, minute piece of cucumber in my food (that stuff MUST go) 

Online browsing ( I must be an expert at something that takes up so much of my time)

Shutting out the world so I can read 

Thinking of witty comebacks (5 hours after the fact)

Messing up my nails 

Burning quesadillas 

Using the perfect amount of ketchup

Not following recipes 

Loving Blake Shelton 

Wishing I was Miranda Lambert

And there's a whole other list of completely useless things that I am an expert at... but I will save you the time. 

I think I am actually only really an expert and just a couple of key things: 

And that's good enough for me! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blogtober14: My Favorite Quotes

Helene in Between Blogtober

My lack of blogging is totally justified this week I promise. First off, we are experiencing the most beautiful Fall weather and so we've been outside playing soccer and football or going on a jog. You just can't beat this cooler weather!

And then there's a little thing called THE ROYALS ARE DOMINATING.
Today they could seal their ticket to the WORLD SERIES.
So yeah, we've been busy watching, tweeting, cheering and doing the wave in our living room as we watch in awe as our team sweeps the Orioles again and again.

#beroyal #erichosmerforlife

But if you get me on the subject of Eric Hosmer, the point of this post will be lost on me so let's stay focused, shall we? I'm back on the Blogtober link up track with Helene and Taylor. Today, we're sharing our favorite quotes and why we love them. 

As if I could possibly choose. But I'll give it a try. 

For now, it has to be this quote I found on Pinterest earlier this year because it really is what I've been trying to do for a while now. And so far, I think it's working. 

And I could not seriously talk about my favorite quotes without sharing something from Brian Andreas. He is the author of the Story People and I've loved him since discovering the tiny bright books in the student union book store my freshmen year. I opened the first page and instantly sat down in the middle of the aisle to read it. (Eventually I realized people were starring so I bought the book and finished devouring it in my dorm.)

This is my favorite quote from Brian simply because it is a great reminder to SLOW DOWN in life and stop trying so hard. I find it most helpful in motherhood because sometimes I try to put everything square into square holes...and most of the time that's just not how life works. Remembering this helps me roll with the punches a bit more.

What is your favorite quote? 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: Holding Onto Georiga

I love reviewing popular and trending books because it means I will probably hear from alot of others who've also read the book. It's always so fun to hear if others are enjoying the same books for similar reasons. 

I also love telling you about books you might not have heard of because I love helping people discover books they'll love. In the spirit of spreading the love, I bring you a review of: 

Holding Onto Georgia by Courtney Giardina 

Holding On To Georgia brings you a girl named Rylan who just feels a little lost. As lost as the old photo of her ex boyfriend should be. Instead, she carries the photo with her everywhere, a constant reminder that love hurts. That photo and her broken heart are what keeps Rylan on the outskirts of any potential new relationship, except when a certain man moves into her apartment building. 

Holding On To Georgia is the kind of book you'd wish you read before you started dating in high school because the characters and their emotions are all great examples of what can go wrong (and sometimes, right) when you put your heart on the line. Secondly, and most importantly, the author includes tidbits of advice that all young women should hear, like this: 

"Not all guys are the devil, you know. The path to the right guy is paved with a shitload of wrong ones. We've got to get them all out of the way first so we can appreciate the right one when he arrives." 

What girl wouldn't have loved to have had that nugget of advice in her back pocket to remind her that broken hearts are simply not the end of the world? 

When Rylan meets Wesley Kade, the newest tenant in her apartment building, she tries to ignore the spark that he ignites. I could relate to Rylan's need to resist falling for Kade. What woman can't? That's one of the reasons why Holding Onto Georgia is a great book. Every woman who has ever been stung by love can relate to it. 

There are realistic characters in the book, who have realistic conversations with each other that we've all had in our actual day to day lives. Courtney Giardina created conversational dialogue that is easy to follow along with. The pages kept flipping without skipping a beat. 

There was an air of mystery around Kade's character, which I really enjoyed. I knew there was something holding him back from pursuing Rylan. He definitely had a sadness about him, but I couldn't put my finger on it. It didn't take long to realize why he was hesitating and I can't say I blamed him much. Rylan and Kade both tell their own sides of the story and watching them skirt around the issue of each other is a fun game of cat and mouse and you will find yourself rooting for them to figure it all out together. 

Every woman who loves to read wants a book that she can identify with and even better, she loves a book that makes her believe in love. For all of us who have had broken hearts, reading a love story like Holding On To Georgia will make your heart beat a little faster and your step a little lighter. 

Kudos to Courtney Giardina for reminding us that love is always ready for you, as long you are ready for it. If you need a little reminder of that, just pick up your own e-copy of Holding On To Georgia on Amazon tomorrow. You'll be glad you did. 

Holding On To Georgia will be available for pre-order on Amazon starting TOMORROW so be on the look out! It will be on sale on October 21. Check out Courtney Giardina's Author page on Amazon for more information and to read about her first novel, Tear Stained Beaches.

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blogtober: My Favorite Vacation- A Honeymoon

Helene in Between Blogtober

Helene and Taylor couldn't have picked a better topic for today: Vacations!
It comes at the perfect time because I just so happen to have just returned from the best type of vacation you can have: a honeymoon!

After eloping, CJ and I knew we would want to get away so we picked a spot on the map and started planning. This may seem weird but I didn't want to go to a typical beach destination where there would be party hardies in tiny weeny bikinis. I wanted something more chill and relaxed. We came up with the idea of Fort Lauderdale. No clubbing in Miami, but still beachy Florida.

I have to say, I think we made the perfect choice for what we were looking for. I just wanted a week to relax, unplug and chill on the beach with a good book and a great husband. And that's exactly what we did.

Our first afternoon was spent scoping out the local eateries, the beach and enjoying the beautiful weather. Our hotel was literally a hop, skip and a jump away from a private beach. 
On our second day in Fort Lauderdale, we took the Water Taxi up and down the inner coastal waterway. This included the "Millionaire's Row" where we saw amazing water front homes of business tycoons like the founders of Sunglass Hut, Wendy's (Hey, Dave, Heeyyyy) and Blockbuster. We also spotted former homes of Sonny and Cher, Ricky and Lucille Ball and Burt Reynolds. Being the Hollywood junkie that I am, I loved this part! 

Another perk is that they let you bring your own cooler so we just chilled on the ride with a six pack and took lots of pictures, enjoying the beautiful views and the amazing sea breeze. 

One day, we literally just lay on the beach all day. We read. We fed the crazy seagulls. We found coral and shells to bring back for the kids. It was so peaceful, I can't even tell you. 

At the end of our beach day, our KC Royals were playing in the AL Wild Card game and there was no way we were going to miss it so we started asking locals where we could watch the game and everyone told us about a sports bar called Bokempers. With over 150 flatscreen tvs, there was no way CJ was going to pass on a chance to see his Royals play in HD from a hundred different angles. We had a blast and the Royals won so it was a home  run date night! (See what I did there? I'm so punny).

The day before we left, we decided to take a tour of the Everglades. The Everglades are a natural region of tropical wetlands...which basically means it's the place where all the alligators hang out. We rode an air boat through the wetlands, hoping to spot a gator. We saw a couple babies and then saw HUGE ones in the Everglades Holiday Park rescue park, which is also the home of the Gator Boys, a tv show on Discovery. The gator guy was crazy brave! 

We grabbed an alligator claw on a necklace for R1's souvener, which he hasn't taken off since we gave it to him! 

We also did a lot of this: 

Which is just what you do when you're in sunny Florida on your honeymoon.

If you are in Fort Lauderdale, I have to say the Water Taxi and 15th Street Fisheries restaurant are absolute musts. 15th Street has the most amazing views and you're literally right on the water. We took the water taxi and I loved going by boat to get there. I tried lobster tail for the first time and we both loved the conch salad.  I also really liked Rocco's Tacos & Tequila Bar (they make the most amazing guacamole right at your table) and the Oasis Cafe. 

So that's my recap of my favorite vacation ever. I'll never forget it.
I can still feel the sand between my toes and the warm sun on my nose.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Blogtober: 10 Lessons and a Fall Bucket List

The Daily Tay

Today's Prompt: 

10 Things I'd Tell Myself When I First Started Blogging 

1. Be confident in what you write. 

2. Take more pictures, no one likes a too-texty post.

3. Never be afraid to make up new words. Like too-texty. 

4. Share. Don't be afraid. The blogs that you bare your heart and share what's really going on behind the scenes are the posts that connect you most with others. 

5. Don't be so paranoid that people "IRL" are reading your blog. It's still a part of you. Anyone who really likes you in person will also love your blog. And if they don't, who really cares? 

6. Connect. Respond to comments as much as you can. Follow up with other bloggers and make sure they know that you are inspired by and look up to them. Bloggers are the most creative people you will ever meet, so meet as many as possible. 

7. Don't forget about Twitter. Use it, love it and favorite whatever your heart desires. 

8. Edit. For the love of pete, you are a grammar whore, why do you let so many typos slip past you? Before you post, edit! 

9. Be prepared to spend more money than you ever would have without blogworld. They will suck you in with their diy scarf projects, their jewelry, their sneakers. You will see them and you will instantly need them. Start saving now. 

10. Use GIFS as much as possible. Preferably ones with Jennifer Lawrence or Tina Fey, obviously. 

Speaking of being a great blogger, I should also remind myself that if I say I am going to do a month's worth of prompts for Blogtober, then I better get off my butt and actually write posts! I missed yesterday's theme so here it goes today...My Fall Bucket List:

1. Burn Pumpkin Buttercream candles everyday
2. Leave the windows open at night. 
3. Make beer bread and give out as gifts. (stay out of the beer long enough to actually cook with it). 
4. Play in the leaves with the kiddos. 
5. Find the perfect pair of boots. 
6. Make Halloween costumes. (If you know how to make a Lego guy head, holler at me!) 
7. Actually make one of these instead of just Pinning pictures of them: 

8. Buy mother daughter leggings for R2 and me. 
9. Play football with R1. 
10. Make chili at least once. (Because, Amercuh).

What is on your Fall Bucket List? 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Blogtober: A Game of Catch Up

I made a promise to myself that October would be the month that I would get back into the swing of blogging. Maybe it's the great Fall weather, maybe it's my preference for couch potatoing, or maybe it's the fact that I've been busy getting married and honeymooning...you know, nbd. Whatever my reasons are for not writing, they are over. 

This is a great time to get back because my buddies Helene and Taylor are hosting Blogtober. But thanks to a couple of bliss filled, lazy days on the beach with our laptopless honeymoon, I missed the first couple of days so I am going to play catch up today. 

Helene in Between Blogtober

Day 1: If I won the lottery, I'd.... Pay off all student loans, cars, set up college funds, create a not for profit, etc., first and foremost (So responsible of me, no?). Then, I'd buy one of those handy little yachts we saw all over Florida this week and park it right next to Ralph Lauren's 167 foot "getaway". I'd probably book trips to Europe, build a house and jump start the economy in my home town buy building some new businesses. What small town doesn't need an alpaca farm, a book store, a winery or a sports complex? #thingsthatwillneverhappen 

Day 2. Dream job when you were little/ what is it now? In all scrapbooks from my childhood, I always told my  mom to write "author" whenever she asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Excluding the poem that's published in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV, I haven't made it all the way there yet. Yet. My dream job today hasn't changed. I still itch to write every day. I keep saying that someday I will start the book, but for some reason, I just haven't yet. I keep thinking that one day, I will sit down and it will just pour out of my fingertips. A gal can dream, can't she? 

Day 3. One Thing You Can't Live Without ... the first that comes to mind is my kids. 

Where would I be without their questions, their brilliant minds, their hugs, their blankets strewn all over the floor? Lost, that's where. When they are gone, I feel like a limb is missing and often find myself bored to tears even though there's a million things I could be doing, because without them around, everything has lost its whistle. Lost, I tell you. 

Other than that, I'd be lost without the simple things that make my days more pleasant, like coffee in a cute mug, fountain Diet Dr. Pepper, People magazine, the color yellow, comfy leggings, a good paperback and colder weather.

Oh yeah, and this guy: 

Today, the prompt is "My favorite Instagram"
I can't pick a favorite but there's a couple that stand out: 

And some of my favorite Instagrams haven't happened yet because it's just now starting to feel like Fall around here, so expect to see some Autumn leaves, boots, Salted Caramel Lattes, and selfies featuring lots of scarves and hats. Because that's how I do Autumn. 

This week, I am going to post a Book Round Up, a book review for Holding on to Georgia and a honeymoon recap, so come back soon! 

And if you want to join in the Blogtober game, head over to Helene In Between and The Daily Tay to link up! 

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