Thank you to Harvesting Kate and Ot & Et for great topics this week!

LOVING: All the exciting things happening in the blogosphere lately. For example: 
  • THIS - A place where Big and Little Blogs can team up and learn/ teach new things? Yes, please! Go check it out!

  • From California To Kansas
  • THIS:  Taylor from The Daily Tay has created TheBrowseBlog: A place to browse great post, categorized and ready for your reading pleasure! She also has great ways to get your blog out there and a place to post your give a ways for everyone to see!
    The Browse
  • And lastly, amazing give a ways galore. Samantha at Hooah & Hiccups and a ton of us are giving away a Keurig tomorrow, plus I am helping Erin at Newly Moments give a way a KitchenAid Mixer for Valentine's AND Mallory from From California to Kansas and I are celebrating our birthdays and Vday together by giving away a necklace! (I'll give you a couple of hints: Breakfast & Teal) :) 

WISHING: For more time. More time to sleep, more time to work out, more time to read, more time to play with my kids, more time to cook, more time to chill...oh, and a DVR. I really wish I had a DVR. 

CRAVING: Chocolate. Since working on my weight, I've given up all the sweets I used to enjoy, especially the little miniature candy bars a lady at work keeps in a bowl. She's just across the hall. I crave them and then remind myself about all of the reason I want to lose weight and am usually able to chill the craving...but it's not easy.

MISSING: Fall. Bring back my sunny days that are still cool enough for just a sweatshirt. Bring back the beautiful colors in the leaves. Bring back the caramel mocha at McD's. 

WORRYING: About weight. Same story, different day.  I did get to work out every day last week, which makes me feel a little better because I have had to miss two days this week. 

Isn't It Ironic?

Isn't it ironic? 

Try and tell me you're not thinking of the Alanis song, I dare ya. 

I just had this thought while I was cleaning today. 

Isn't it ironic that the room I keep the vacuum in is the one that needs vacuumed the most? 

Isn't it ironic that on my day off this week one kid is home with a fever and it snows 4 inches so the other one is home too? 

Isn't it ironic that I couldn't wait to grow up and get out and now I search for songs from 2002 and yearn to be back there again?

Isn't ironic that questions I thought were answered are still around, bigger than ever?

Isn't it ironic that I used to think those 30 before 30 lists were so ingenious  but now with only 3 years left, I don't want to read them because I'm afraid I won't have enough time?

Isn't it ironic that reading beautiful romantic novels just makes you sad? 

Isn't it ironic to have extra money to buy a fancy purse and then feel a little foolish carrying it around?

Isn't it ironic when you have a newborn and you yearn for them to grow just a little so you can have time to shower, and then the next day, it seems, you wake up and they're little adults running around and all you want to do is hold a baby again? 

Isn't it ironic to finally have the time to sit and write but then not be able to find anything to write about?

Isn't it ironic that I love being cold inside the house, but once it snows, I don't want to go outside? 

Isn't it ironic to feel so brave on the inside but really, you're kind of a coward?

Well said, Alanis, well said. 

Book Review: In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)

From GoodReads: 
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.
Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

More than two decades ago, three inseparable friends Peter, Jamie and Adam spent their summer vacation playing in the woods near their small suburban community. 

When they didn't come home one night for supper, a search party formed as darkness fell. Finally, 12 year old Adam was found standing in blood soaked shoes and clutching a tree. He was in a paranoid state of shock and recalls nothing about what happened in the woods. Despite best efforts and months of searching, there is no sign of Jamie or Peter. No evidence, no clues, no bodies...They have vanished. 
Fast forward to  present day Adam is a police detective. Operating under his middle name, Ryan, he is on Dublin's murder squad. He is uneasy about being called back to his hometown to investigate the murder of a 12 year old girl, but refuses to let his captain in on the secrets of his past. The victim, Katy Devlin, is found on an archaeological dig site very near the exact woods that detective Ryan's best friends went missing. As soon as the investigation begins, the similarities between this case and the case that detective Ryan experienced are eerily similar. Being back in the woods forces him to recall events that he hasn't been able to remember since that fateful day. As more and more memories come back to him, he starts to believe he might remember something useful...but he soon realizes that some memories are best left distant and foggy. 

The author, Tana French, does a wonderful job of painting the picture of what it was like to grow up near the woods playing as best friends. She also writes about the case and potential suspects fluently and the case progresses smoothly, so it's easy to follow along. 

 I loved the way that the book all came together in the end. The middle part of the book seemed to drag on a little to much for me. There is a lot of time spent describing some of the police procedural scenes. There is also a lot time spent detailing the history and friendship between detective Ryan and his partner Cassie.But at the end of the day, you don't have all the answers you want.  There are a lot of details and story lines in the middle of the book that drag on and aren't resolved at the end, so it seemed a little pointless.

Overall, I give this book a glass half full. The slow part in the middle of the book had me leaning towards half empty, but the ending tipped me the other way.  It keeps you guessing. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries and police procedure books!

A Couple O Recipes

Last week, or what I like to call "Sick Week, 2013"
I whipped up a totally made up recipe that actually worked out so I wanted to share! 

About the only thing that sounds good to most sick people is soup

Jen's Made Up Hamburger Vegetable Soup: 

1 lb hamburger
1 pkg dry ranch mix
1 bag frozen mixed veggies
1 can stewed tomatoes
I also added another can of corn (drained)
plus left over corn and peas that were in the fridge
2 cans of beef broth
1 tspn. beef boullion
Worschestire sauce 
Minced garlic

I sauteed the onion, then browned the hamburger and added the dry ranch mix to the hamburger.

Then I added the hamburger and the rest of the ingredients in a crock pot and put it on high for 4 hours.

Easy Peas-y, right?!
I keep it pretty simple in these parts.
Served with Garlic bread, it was the perfect meal.

The other recipe was a HUGE hit on Saturday night
when I had some of my work gal pals over for a game night. 

I originally wanted to make a recipe called
"Better than Sex Chex Mix" 
but the grocery store didn't have a couple of the ingredients so I just had to wing it

Here's the result, and I kept the name for the most part, because it was pretty clever and I love things that rhyme. 

Jen's Better than Sex Chex: 

Part One:
6 cups of Chex cereal
3/4 cups of brown sugar
6 tbs butter
3 tbs corn syrup

Part Two:
1/2 caramel candies
1tbs heavy cream 
(I didn't have any so I used skim milk. It was really sticky but still tasted really good)

Part Three:
Some mini marshmallows
1/2 or so (more if you're like me) of chocolate chips
I used some milk chocolate and some dark chocolate, melted

Melt the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup together in the microwave
Pour over the chex and mix until its covered
Then microwave again for 1 minute, then stir. 
Do this 2 more times to make sure the mixture evenly covers the chex.

Spread the chex on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper.
While the chex cools, melt the chocolate chips
and melt the caramel with cream/milk in separate bowls
Pour the caramel over the chex mix
Use a spoon or fork to speckle the melted chocolate chips over that
Then top it all off with mini marshmallows.

I put the mix in the fridge for about a half an hour before serving. 

It was a hit! We were still talking about it on Monday morning! 

Birthday Season Is ON! Keurig Give-A-Way

It's birthday season in these parts friends!
I'll be celebrating mine and my BBFF's Mallory's here in a couple of weeks
with fun posts and an amazing give a way!

So I wanted to get the ball rolling with making February the best damn month on my blog by helping
 Samantha at Hoohah & Hiccups celebrate hers!

Plus, there's just not a lot of things I love more than birthdays and coffee...
(there's a few things I bet I could think of, but not much)

I'll let Samantha take over from here!

I absolutely love celebrating birthdays; I love getting all dolled up and celebrating the day loved ones, family, and friends made their way into the world. 

Well ladies, at the end of the week, yours truly will be 26! I know what you're thinking,   I'm one year closer to 30. But to me, it's only going up hill from here! I've been so blessed and these past few years have truly reminded me of that. 

So to celebrate my birthday, I've teamed up with 28 other amazing girls to bring you one of my favorite things.
 photo birthdaycollage_zps3570f226.jpg

If there's one thing I CAN'T live without, it's my Keurig. Ask my husband, if I don't have my coffee in the morning, it's not pretty. So now one of YOU will be winning one! 

I haven't tried the new Starbucks Verismo but if you would like to choose that instead, your wish is my command.

Not only can you drink coffee with these babies, but you can drink tea, hot chocolate, etc. So even if you're not a coffee junkie, there's something for everyone!

Still not interested? How about winning the CASH instead? Excited now?!

Just enter the rafflecopter below and cross your fingers! Contest will remain open until Friday, February 1st at 12:00 a.m. EST and the winner will be announced once all entries are verified. 

Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Weekly Book Round Up

I have been looking forward to Sunday all week just for this one moment: 
After the morning calms down and the littles cuddle on the couch with a movie and I can sit with them and write about the books that have caught my attention in my magazines.

And the bonus? It's raining out. What's greater than books, coffee and a dreary, cool morning outside?

First though, I wanted to tell you about the book I got in the mail from Liz at Freckles in the Fog thanks to Kimberly's Book Swap at The Simplicity of Being Curious 

Liz sent me Bel Canto, by Ann Panchett. 

She also sent me the nicest note and a Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake bookmark. Pretty perfect, if you ask me! 

I have heard of this book before, so I was happy she thought I would like it. It's been awarded several times and was included on Amazon's Best Books of the Year in 2001. 

From Goodreads: In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Thanks so much to Liz! I can't wait to get started on it! 

Okay, so on to the books that made news this week.

The one that MOST intrigued me was in People: 

Chanel Bonfire by Wendy Lawless. 

I LOVE memiors. I even love reading memoirs about people I have never even heard of. And then I obsessively Google them and trying to find pictures of them. 
Wendy Lawless is an actress. I've never heard of her, but according to, she was on Caroline in the City and Grace Under Fire in the 90s, so I have probably seen her. Her story seems riveting: 
"If the question 'What will happen next' is the one  you are asking every day when your 9, you're pretty much guaranteed a fraught childhood," wrote the reviewer in People.  Wendy's mother is a "gimlet downing, social climbing mother" who takes them to a candy store one day and locks them in a closet the next. She tells the story of how her mother ruined her and her sister's life. Apparently, Lawless' mother say her daughters as both her competition and what she couldn't live without.
This memoir interests me so much because I love reading about mother/daughter relationships and the reviewer says she tells this said story without self-pity, which I think is really brave. 

This is another book I have been seeing popping up everywhere:
Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde: A True Story

It was both in EW and Oprah this week. 

From Goodreads: The ultimate fish-out-of-water tale . . . 
A child who never quite fit in, Rebecca Dana worshipped at the altar of Truman Capote and Nora Ephron, dreaming of one day ditching Pittsburgh and moving to New York, her Jerusalem. After graduating from college, she made her way to the city to begin her destiny. For a time, life turned out exactly as she’d planned: glamorous parties; beautiful people; the perfect job, apartment, and man. But when it all came crashing down, she found herself catapulted into another world. She moves into Brooklyn’s enormous Lubavitch community, and lives with Cosmo, a thirty-year-old Russian rabbi who practices jujitsu on the side.

One article about the book compared the main character to Carrie Bradshaw, and there's nothing that mystifies me more than New York City, so this story is right up my alley.

O Magazine also had a collection of titles they recommended:

Among them, 

Saturday Night Widows: "The true story of a New York journalist who forms a support group with five other widows, and how together they venture back into life.

Without realizing it, I chose all memoirs/non fiction this week! 

Happy reading friends! If there are books you've read about or just recently put on your "to read" list, I want to hear about them! 

Coming soon, I will review the book "In The Woods" by Tana French, which I just finished yesterday. Next, I'll be reading Divergent and the American Heiress. I am still listening to The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriani Tragiani, and I know, without even finishing it yet, that I will be one of my all time favorites for years to come. 

Thanks Again, Kimberly, for a great swap! Check out her blog here! 


Why the MAN FLU really "is worse"

Lately, I have been loving this link up:


Last night I sat down and wrote the post I am about to share and then remembered that I usually link up for the Pit and the Peak. And then I thought, well this whole post is basically a "PIT" so we are  just going to go with it! 

My Peak? That the FLU in this house is officially OVER, thank the Lord.
Knock on wood, I never got it, but the kids and hubs have paid their dues to the flu gods and we can get on with our lives. 


After a full week of being completely incapacitated,  my husband is finally loose from the grips of the MAN FLU. 

My patience got up and walked out on day 3. Like literally, I've been sleeping in the living room. I can't deal. Poor guy, I really did feel bad for him. We all know the flu sucks. You ache, you shiver, you spike high fevers. But this MAN FLU took things to a whole new level. And that's why I've decided to vent about it in a blog post because it's cheaper than therapy which is what I really need after this week. 

So here's my take: 5 Reasons why the MAN FLU is worse that regular flu (or so we've heard)

1.) Every one gets the flu at some point in time. But only men get the MAN FLU so only they actually know how bad it is. (Or in this case, how bad it's actually NOT.) And they keep that non-severity a secret and convince everyone else that they are going to die.

2. There is medicine for the flu (Hey, Tamiflu, you da bomb) but there is no medicine that can mute the whining, crying and over exaggerating that comes out of men' mouths.

3. When a woman gets the flu, she says things like:
"It's okay, I could use a day off work to catch up on my soaps."
"I think I'll sort through the miss matched socks while I lounge on the couch"
"Well that wasn't a very lady like sneeze!"
"These lotion packed Kleenex are amazing!"
" I'm a little flushed but it looks like blush, how cute!"

And when a man gets the Man Flu, he says things like this: 

"Can you please feed me like a baby bird? I can't get off the couch."
"I can't find the remote. I really don't need this on my plate right now."
"I think I see a white light in the distance."
"I can't believe this is really it for me. I had so many things I wanted to accomplish."
"Women are just lucky they just don't get this sick"
"I am sicker than you. We have different flus." (From California to Kansas' Hubs)
"I just can't take this life." (Simply Ashley's Hubs)

4. With the regular flu, you are perfectly capable of walking across the room. The man flu, apparently, weakens the muscles to the point where its victim can't get off the sick couch.

Man Flu.....truth!

5.  The flu for women usually means daytime t.v., Kleenex and a sloppy pony tail. With the man flu, you have to look at the sick suit all week. What's a suit sick you may ask? Apparently, it's the outfit of choice for men who just can't deal: black sweatpants, black hoodie, black stocking cap, and a look on their face like someone has kicked their balls, killed their dog and blew a concoction of bird flu, swine flu and ebola up their nose.

I am writing this now that the man flu is over and I can look back on it and laugh. The week it was happening? Not so funny. 

In short? Men are BABIES.

A Lil Song and a Give A Way Winner!

Happy Thursday Friends! 

This post is a little random but I was so excited to announce a winner for the Erin Condren Give-A-Way that I couldn't wait! So instead of thinking of something witty enough to call a post, I just thought I would share this cute video of my little R2 singing the Barney Song for my mom over Christmas. Sometimes I'll just watch this while at work if I need a smile or I'm missing my littles during the day! 

Pretty Cute, no? :) She gets it from her mama! 

And now for the really fun part! 
I am so happy to announce the winner of the $25 Erin Condren Gift Card! 

Drum Roll.... 

If you haven't read her blog yet, you should probably do it now, she is one of my favs! 

I'll be in touch, Christina! 

Hope everyone has a great Thursday.

Oh and P.S.: If you are looking for a good read right now, drop everything and pick up The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
I am so in love with this love story, I can't even tell you. 

Facts About Me

Facts About Me! Thanks to Whitney and her Yoga Pants for this idea! 

I snore

I scare amazing easy 

Most of the time, I chose an entree based on the fact that it will taste good with ketchup

I play with my hair when I am nervous 

I wiggle my fingers together when I am excited

I should own stock in Barefoot Mascato 

I want to write a novel someday

I wrote a poem at age 13 that was published in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul VI.

I doodle obsessively, especially on while talking on the phone 

I get anxiety while driving in large cities or at night

I watch trashy TV like nobody's business (Teen Mom, Honey Boo Boo, etc)

I think opossums are cute

In 6th grade, I got made fun because I looked just like one of the Hansen brothers. I couldn't blame them, I really did look like them.


I'm the one on the right. In both picutres. 

I just bought myself a Coach purse. It's big, it's black and it's fancy. That's what she said. 

I said That's What She Said ALOT. You'd be amazed at all the things it actually goes with.

I sign up for at least 4 or 5 daily inspirational poems or quotes to go in my inbox. It's like my morning peptalk. I have no idea if they actually help. 

I live with anxiety on a daily basis but thanks to the pharmaceutical world, Xanax keeps me calm and comfy.

I've had a full size Zero candy bar in my desk draw at work since Christmas. How I haven't eaten yet  is both amazing and sad. I can hear it taunting me, eat me, eat me. One of these days, Zero bar, one of these days. 

And there you have me! 

Book Round Up

It's time for my first official 
Book Round Up! 

I had this idea to give a weekly run down of the books that everyone's talking about.
And by everyone, I mean the powers that be inside the magazines that I subscribe to: 
Entertainment Weekly
Vogue (because I get it for free for some reason)
And whatever magazine cover catches my eye on the newstand. 

 I scour their Book section first thing and always make a mental note to check out the books that catch my eye but not surprisingly, usually forget the names or throw the magazine away on accident before I can write it down. 

So really, this weekly post is more for me, but  being the sharing, caring person I am, it's for you too! 

I just read a meme on Pinterest that said "If people really winked at eachother as much as they do in text and twitter, we would all be really creepy."

Totally true statement.

So let's get started, shall we? 

In' Vogue, Megan O'Grady suggests several books about love in her article "Dynamic Duos."

The ones that struck my interest were: 

"A wheelchair bound former Master of the Universe meets his match in his new magnetic care taker."
I've already read the sample for this on my KindleFire and I know it's going to be a keeper. 
Louisa is a down on her luck gal with a quick wit who needs a job. She's got a whole family of interesting characters which I am sure will add to the story, but it's the relationship with the paralyzed worldly man she's hired to take care of that intrigues me the most. 

"A young Brooklyn couple seeks marital advice from a self help's an inquiry into twenty first century togetherness."
 The married couple gets sent to an upstate secluded retreat and finds out that self help books never quite do the love they preach any justice. 
People listed it in their "Great Reads" section and EW gave it a B rating and called it a Rom-Com and we all know how much I love a good rom-com! 

This was covered in Vogue and People, who gave it the "People Pick" of the week and 4.5 out of 5 stars. 
It's about the young working class girls struggling for a life in the ballet in 19th century Paris. Two sisters hunger for a place in the corps of the ballet, while facing sexual predation and punishing choices. People says that Paris comes alive in this historic novel, including its sights, sounds and smells.
I'm sold. 

Autobiography of Us

Coming of age in the patrician neighborhood of Pasadena, California during the 1960s, Rebecca Madden and her beautiful, reckless friend Alex dream of lives beyond their mothers' narrow expectations. Their struggle to define themselves against the backdrop of an American cultural revolution unites them early on, until one sweltering evening the summer before their last year of college, when a single act of betrayal changes everything.

Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath

People picked this as a "Great Read: New in Paperback." I've never read about any of the Kennedy's but I think this would be a good place to start.

A former intern describes her affair with John F. Kennedy. 

From Goodreads: In an era when women in the workplace were still considered “girls,” Mimi was literally a girl herself—naïve, innocent, emotionally unprepared for the thrill that came when the President’s charisma and power were turned on her full-force. She was also unprepared for the feelings of isolation that would follow as she fell into the double life of a college student who was also the secret lover of the most powerful man in the world. 

The Good House

This book was the main event in this week's People, who gave it 5 out of 5 stars. 
It's about Hildy Good, a 60 divorced successful real estate agent. When the recovering alcoholic begins drinking again, her two daughters send her to rehab.  Hildy seems like a really funny, interesting character. Because, let's be honest. Sixty year old women are always funniest when they are drunk. Plus Hildy thinks she has the power to read people and knows all of the small Boston suburban's secrets where she lives. 

And for the kids in your life, check out a book Parents Magazine featured in their "goody bag" section. 
Q & A a Day for Kids: A Three-Year Journal

I just ordered and recieved this book last week and I am so excited. It has a question a day to ask your kids. I was a little behind, so I asked R1 a bunch of questions at once. Things like Who is your hero" and What is your favorite toy right now? It also explores other questions that I think could open lots of doors for me to explore great topics with R1, including asking him about a time someone hurt his feelings or a time where he felt scared.  It gives lines to write down answers to the same question once a year for 3 years, so if I keep it up, it will so fun to see how their answers evolve over the years!  When Reese gets a little older, I will definitely ask her some questions too, but right now, I am pretty sure every answer to any question would be "princess!" 

So there you have it! Love, alcoholism, paraplegia, ballet, historic Paris and the 60s. Lots to choose from! 

I'd love to hear about it if you have read these books or plan to read them!

Happy Sunday! 

Shed new light on an old lampshade

So there was this once upon a time,
A time where my house was boring

There was nothing personal about the decor, nothing original what hung on the walls, no pops of color, and nothing that would distinguish my house from anyone else's.

And then I discovered Pinterest.  Pinterest has finally inspired the ideas and wishes that were already in my head, but I was just not motivated or creative enough to execute them all on my own. Can I get credit for recognizing cute things, even though I had nothing to do with creating them ? 

I am so excited to share this Pinterest project because I feel more comfortable knowing my bedroom has a little bit more of a personal touch. It means something now. 

Last February we redid our bedroom. I had some mixed inspirations for it and and ended up buying a random, see through green lamp for my bedside table. I have no idea what I was thinking. The rest of the room is grey and yellow so don't ask me where the green came in. So what did I do? I lived with the ugly green lamp for a year. Because that's how I roll.  Until today. BOOM. 

Without further ado, here's how looking at other people's cool shit inspired me to make a crappy lamp just a bit cooler and way more "me." 


WARNING: Do not use regular Krylon Inside/Outside spray paint. Or it will look like this. 
Stay away from this little guy:

And get these two cans: 

The Rust-Oleum primer was a life safer and went on so smooth! 

Wait a couple hours, then spray over the primer with whatever Rust-Oleum Top Coat color you desire.  I chose the yellow because it went with the rest of the accents in the room, but I was tempted by a couple of the textured browns and tans too. I made a mental note to think of a project I could use those on! 

Next Step: 

Find your favorite quotes on Pinterest. Get a Sharpie. I used a fine point. Then I just wrote until I filled up the shade! 

Then pop that shade on top! 

I just love the whole new look of the lamp. It's personal, it matches and I made it! (well, I made it better, anyway!)