Wednesday, July 31, 2019

July Reads

Are you ready for a jam packed post? I love having more time to read in the summer and this month I read 7 books and listened to 1. It was a record month of reading for me. I read a lot on our trip and quite a bit before and after we left as well. I even kept some notes on my phone so I didn't forget deets for ya'll for this post! At the end of this post I am including all of my 2019 reads so far. And yes, I'm still chugging through Hamilton! A little over half way through now, ha! 

 1. Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand: This book was so good! I've only read a few of Hilderbrand's books but I have liked them all. When this was an option for my June Book of the Month, I jumped on it. This book follows a family at their beach house in, you guessed it, 1969. The older brother is in Vietnam and I LOVE how that storyline wrapped up. There's marriage drama, babies, racial tensions, romance, and more. I got lost in this story and loved all the characters. The backdrop of the '60's and the beach combined to make this one really fantastic.

2. Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty: This was a book I found while browsing to see if one of my fave authors Liane Moriarty had anything new out. I came across this one and the summary on the back won me over instantly. Amazon says this book, "takes a laser look at the uneasy relationships between women and the real-world ramifications of online conflicts and social media hostilities in this stunning domestic drama." Um, yes please. Here's the thing: this book was fun and perfect for a summer day by the pool, but the "drama" I was promised was sort of ridiculous---like middle school level internet shenanigans. This book was meh for me. It could have been so much darker and more twisted. Which is maybe why I loved the next book....

3. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides: This was an audio book that kept me company in the car for a week or so this month. I really enjoyed this one! This is told from the perspective of a counselor at a mental facility where a famous artist is living after the brutal murder of her husband. The counselor takes on the role of a detective to try and piece together the real story since the woman has gone mute. I LOVE a good twist and this one got me good! I even said out loud in the car, "WHAT?!" AJ read this one too and I got home and was like, "THE TWIST THOUGH!" We both thoroughly enjoyed this whodunnit. 

4. Roar by Cecelia Ahern: This book came as a recommendation from my sister. Roar is a collection of short stories all focused around the modern day woman. Each story is titled, "The Woman Who____" This one is....interesting. There's a bit of a sci-fi element and the meanings are far from hidden: One woman who gives her all to others literally begins to disappear. In another story a man petitions an all-female board to get a vasectomy. They deny him. This one simply begs to be discussed and would be an interesting book club pick. It wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but the stories will make you chuckle and most definitely think about the "Roar" inside every woman. The last story, "The Woman Who Roared" was phenomenal. 

5. A Love Letter Life by Jeremy and Audrey Roloff: I've been on the library wait list for a while for this one. I love the show "Little People Big World" and was interested in how Jeremy and Audrey met and a bit more about their story. This one is cute,  but super predictable and while I enjoyed some of their advice, it does get a bit preachy at times. Obviously the Roloffs are no strangers to monetizing their lives and this book does feel like a way to make a quick buck. That said, it tells their love story in a fun, journal style and was entertaining. 

6. The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis: This one was a flop for me. If you want a beachy read with family drama, pick up an Ellen Hilderbrand. This book featured (ahem, getting my voice ready): Alzheimers, bickering siblings, divorce, suicide, affairs, a house fire, MS, hoarding, and MORE. Packed with stuff and not much heart. Pass. 

7. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager: This was my July Book of the Month pick and I LOVED it. I enjoy a good twisty thriller and this one certainly fits that bill but it also has a dash of horror which I never really read. The main character falls on some hard times and decides to accept a "too good to be true" offer to house sit at a ritzy apartment in Manhattan. Weird creepy things start happening. I'll leave it at that.  This one kept me guessing until the very end and provides the perfect amount of non-gruesome frights. You find yourself really rooting for this protagonist and I couldn't fly through this one fast enough to find out how it was all going to end. 

8. Can I Get An Amen? by Sarah Healy: So this book is a totally random one to find its way on my list. I finished all the books I brought on vacation and still had about 3 days left and you know I can't be without a current read, so we went to this cute local book shop in Oregon and after browsing the aisles, I settled on this one. This is a great chick lit piece about a recently divorced young woman who moves back to her small conservative town and tries to date again. It's a classic fish out of water story with a really sweet ending about what it means to be truly blessed. 

I know my long stretches of reading this summer are winding down, but goodness, this was a great summer of reading for the books! (Had to).

Savor Your Sparkle,

And now here are all the books I've read in 2019....with stars by my faves!
1. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
2. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
3. The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
4. *Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
5. Happy Teachers Change The World by Thich Nhat Hanh and Katherine Weare
6. The Day I Went Missing by Jennifer Miller
7. *Glow Kids by Kardaras Nicholas
8. Final Girls by Riley Sager
9. *Becoming by Michelle Obama
10. As Long As We Both Shall Live by Joann Chaney
11. *The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
12. If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey
13. *The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
14. Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanne Elden
15. *Regrets Only by Erin Duffy
16. *Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
17. I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella
18. *The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
19. *Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
20. When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson
21. *Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman
22. Maid by Stephanie Land
23. Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson
24. Sh*tty Mom by Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo, MaryAnn Zoellner
25. Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
26. Dietland by Sarai Walker
27. The Mother in Law by Sally Hepworth
28. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
29. *Life Will Be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler
30. *Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand
31. Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty
32. *The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
33.  Roar by Cecelia Ahern
34. A Love Letter Life by Jeremy and Audrey Roloff
35. The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Frances
36. *Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
37. *Can I Get An Amen? by Sarah Healy 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Road Trip Recap: Part 3/3!

Hey there! Thanks for bearing with all these photos of our road trip adventure. I love documenting in this space for memory's sake! Part one of our road trip is HERE and Part 2 is HERE. After a fun few days in Montana, Washington, and Southern Oregon, we had a few days to just chill in AJ's hometown of Redmond (near Bend) for the final part of our trip. Ready, set, go!

AJ wanted to get in some golfing time while in Oregon so he played for a bit while I sat at the cafe and read and chilled. But I did spot some deer on the course so I had to snap a pic of them.

I sat here and read for a while (book post coming soon!) while AJ golfed
deer on the course
This guy went in about a hundred shops with me this trip (I could browse cute shops all damn day) so I was happy to oblige at the golf course 

 AJ's dad recently got a boat and we decided that afternoon to take it out on the lake. Hank had the cutest little life jacket and it was a beautiful day at a gorgeous lake near Sisters, Oregon. The water was pretty choppy and approximately 2 minutes into the ride, I was like, umm, nope, can you let Hank and I off? Haha. I realized then that I had never been on a small boat before that wasn't a ride (Small World, anyone?), and the tossing was making me feel sick. Add to that fact that I was gripping onto Hank with a mama bear like hold and when he started fussing, I was out, folks. AJ's dad gladly chartered the boat back to the shore where Hank and I got off and proceeded to throw rocks into the lake until AJ's dad and Matt came into shore a bit later. I felt like a wimp, but I think I'll give the boat a try again without Hank and when the waters are calmer. Or maybe I'm just more of a yacht person? Haha. Nevertheless, it was a gorgeous afternoon and AJ's dad was so excited to take the boat on its maiden voyage. He's named it the "Double H" (for Hadley and Hank of course!).

Uncle Matty's got the moves

That evening we relaxed and spent time together in the backyard and Hank had his first ever S'more! AND he rode on Grandpa's tractor mower! Our backyard is literally just a few feet so we were joking that he must think he's at a farm or something when he gets to Oregon!

Hunting for bugs

Marshmallow love

The next day we went back to the super fun park and then to a local splash pad. We spent the afternoon resting and napping. That evening we got together with AJ's high school buddies and their families. I enjoy visiting with them every time we are in Oregon and this time we got to meet his buddy's new baby. So sweet! The next day, we were on the highway, heading back toward Salt Lake. It's a long (about 11 hour) drive so we decided to spend the night in Boise. We checked into our hotel, walked to dinner and ice cream, and we crashed early. We were home the next day by noon.

I love this pic. This is Hank with 2 of our friends' kids. They took such great care of Hank. Precious! 

Final dinner out of the trip in Boise 
When all is said and done---the amount of french fries found in the backseat was alarming. Our house was 85 degrees when we walked in. The pile of mail to go through was massive. The unpacking took forever. We had sore backs and achy muscles. But honestly? This road trip was such a blast. We did so many fun things, logged a lot of miles, spent so much quality time together, and most of all, we filled our hearts with memories and love from loved ones across the miles. A pretty awesome experience that we will always cherish. I love creating memories for Hank and I hope he always thinks fondly of our summer trips as he grows up. Thank you for following along on our trip!
There's no place like HOME. Hank was on the couch and requesting to watch Coco in about 10 minutes flat. 

Savor Your Sparkle,

Monday, July 29, 2019

Road Trip Recap Part 2

Ok, here we go for our next installment. Here's Part 1 if you want to check that out!
Hank was a super star with sleeping in various Pack and Plays in hotels but I think the time change (just 1 hour) might have thrown him for a loop because he was up at 5 AM after our first night in Spokane. Yikes! We threw on some clothes and got to the hotel breakfast before it even opened at 6:30! Haha, and I was worried we might sleep through it! Being in a hotel room with a toddler is no joke (running feet, slamming doors, lack of baby proofing) so we decided to take shifts to get ready for the day. Once I was ready, I strapped Hank in the stroller and we walked to campus while AJ got ready for the day. It was cool and peaceful on campus that early in the morning. AJ met us on campus and we drove to another Spokane fave: Manito Park and Rockwood Bakery!
We're ready #6:20AM 

The new athletic center is amazing. This is the John Stockton area 

Rockwood muffins for all! 

By this time, we felt like we'd put in a whole day but it was only 9:30. Lol, thank you morning greeter, Hank. We met up with my friend Marie downtown and the 4 of us went to Riverfront Park. Hank was living his best life running around, riding the carousel, and then we all rode on the Spokane Falls Gondola! 

The gondola ride over the falls

After all that fun, all of us were pretty tuckered out and we knew Hank was more than ready for a nap. AJ and Hank headed back to the hotel to chill and Marie and I went to lunch and walked around exploring how much the downtown area of Spokane had changed. It was so delightful chatting and catching up! And the mini donut shop we stumbled on didn't hurt either! 

Marie and I headed to her house and we continued chatting and visiting. I finally got to meet her two precious pups! AJ, Hank, and Marie's hubby met us at the house and we all headed to a pub for dinner. So fun! The next morning we left early and headed to OREGON!!! We visit Oregon about twice a year and it was fun this time taking a different route there than usual. We were in central Oregon by early afternoon. AJ and I proceeded to nap for the next few days while his parents took care of Hank. Not really...but almost. Lol. 

Some backyard relaxation at Grandma and Grandpa's 

Hank has such a special relationship with both sets of grandparents and I love watching our families interact with him. On Saturday we took Hank to this amazing park in town and that evening, AJ and I went on a date and saw "Yesterday." We loved the movie and loved having a night out. I'm pretty sure Gramps and Grams had just as much fun doing water fun with Hankers at home! 

 The next day (Sunday), we packed up and headed to Medford to visit AJ's extended family and AJ's brother Matt met us there too. It was fun to visit with family and meet some family I had never met before. AJ's Grandma got to celebrate having all of her grandkids and great grandkids in one place.
Veggie Straws---a road trip fave!

Stretching our legs at a beautiful rest area on the way to Medford

AJ and his Oregon cousins and Grandma

All the Steeles

Just some cheddar lovin'

The next day, we explored Ashland a bit and walked around some cute shops. We drove back to Redmond (about 4 hours) and ended the day at our very favorite Mexican restaurant. Whew! A few more days left of our trip in the next recap. 

lots of cute shops like this one in downtown Ashland 

Uncle Matty

Thanks for following along!

Savor Your Sparkle,