Saturday, May 30, 2020

What I'm Loving Lately

I'm back with another edition of What I'm Loving Lately! 

Friends, I know these days are hard. I know we want to browse Target aimlessly looking for clearance things (just me?), we want our summer trips, our play dates, our dinners out, and our carefree outings. Ohhhh boy, do I get it. Most of all, though, I want to reconnect with my people. I want to not social distance, smile without a mask, and I wish "covid" was never a word I knew. Plus, in addition to all of that, we are hearing about (and witnessing)  darkness, hatred, and ignorance in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd. Goodness, the world feels broken sometimes, doesn't it? It's hard to find hope but I promise it's there... even in the midst of trauma and grief. So I know the things on this list won't change the evening news and they won't bring back graduations, weddings, and just hugging a friend, but little things can make these days brighter. And a little brightness? Is always worth savoring. little list of what I'm loving lately, in no particular order. 

1. Sweet Magnolias: Were the TV gods listening when I said I wanted a show like Hart of Dixie, that was cute? Light? Romantic? Southern? Highlighting girl Boss Friendships? Well, look no further! This show won't be winning any Emmys but it's been a fun watch. This is about a group of 3 friends who start a spa together in their small hometown. There's divorce, drama, parenting, small town rumor mills, and....Jamie Lynn Spears is in it. Yep (Remember what I said about no Emmys? Her acting is touuuuuugh, guys). This is a cute fast watch. 

2. Reading! I have officially begun Harry Potter Book 6. Look for it on my next monthly reads post. In the meantime, check out my May reads HERE. There were lots of great reads in May! 

3. Hank and his Yard: This boy makes me smile. Hank adores doing whatever daddy does and a few weeks ago we made the very adult purchases of a hose reel, a lawn mower, and a weed whacker. I'm 33, married, a homeowner, have a masters degree, and am a mom, but dang if those purchases didn't make me feel like a real live grown up! Hank adores helping AJ water the flowers, check the sprinklers, and of course, mow. AJ does a section (while Hank cheers him on), and then it's Hank's turn. He tells everyone he meets about "his yard." 

4. Taylor Swift City of Lovers: Yeah, I've watched it twice. I'm a Swiftie and this concert with some paired down acoustic songs was quarantine perfection. 

5. Homemade manicures: I LOVE a gel mani. And yes, I know the salons are open, but I'm staying away a bit longer, so I have been having fun with some DIY manis. I have used Color Street, Impress stick ons, and recently found an Etsy shop, Sawyer and Scout that makes the cutest nail wraps at only $4 a pop! I ordered a few last week. And, Utah friends, it's local,  so the 2 times I ordered, they arrived the next day! I can't wait to try out the new fun designs. 

6. Cocktails: I've always loved a good fruity boozy beverage, but that only grew when we went to Hawaii in the fall! I've been experimenting and making my own. Some key ingredients I've used in my creations: La Croix, Rose, sliced fruit, lemonade, berries, reisling, vodka, lemon and lime juice etc. I mainly enjoy a wine spritzer but some tequila in a sparkling fruit water can delight as well. I'm basically Wells from Bachelor in Paradise is what I'm saying. 

7. Outside Time: We have been spending so much time outside and I love it! I'm all loaded up on allergy meds so I can enjoy it without sneezing too much. There's been plenty of water table time, reading outside, grilling, sidewalk chalk, frisbee, and walks. I just love the sunshine. 

8. Nut Butter Smoothies: I picked these up recently at Costco and I love them! Easy peasy and delicious. I've been refrigerating it for a late night sweet treat. (Oh and I'm wearing a striped version of those nails I write about above!). 

9. The Memes: Guys, there will be a chapter in history books on Covid about memes. They are golden. Here are some recent faves. 

What are YOU loving lately?
Savor Your Sparkle,

Monday, May 25, 2020

May Reads

I am so excited to share my May Reads with you!! I really enjoyed the books I read this month!! Quarantine stinks for a lot of reasons, but having a bit of extra time to read is so so nice!!!

This month featured quite the variety: historical fiction, Hogwarts, horror, humor,and heart. Ready??? Let's get to it!

1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
I'm continuing my 2020 resolution to finish every Harry Potter book and watch all the movies. Before this year, I had never seen or read even 1! This was the first Harry Potter book (this was book 5 out of 7) that I actually read....I listened to the others on audiobook, but since I'm not driving to and from work each day, I knew it would take me ages to listen to it. I don't know if it's because I actually read this one (as opposed to listened) or what, but this one was my favorite of the series so far. I LOVE the fantastic little community supporting Harry and how they all band together to defeat He Who Shall Not Be Named. I really liked how Harry was sort of moody and emotional in this one. His character is more fleshed out in this book than in the other 4. I finished this book wanting MORE. I decided to read 1 Harry Potter per month so I stopped here but this was great. I watched the movie last week too, and really enjoyed it as well. 

2. The Paris Hours by Alex George
This book. Guys. I loved it. This was my April Book of the Month pick. I typically don't go for the historical fiction option with Book of the Month, but this one just called to me. Going to Paris is a dream of mine and I love reading about Paris of the 1920's. (I loved The Paris Wife by Paula McLain). This book is one like Love Actually where there are these various story lines going on and at the end they all converge and you see how they are all connected. This one has elements of war time violence (pretty vivid descriptions of the Armenian Genocide), love, parenthood, trauma and more. It's not light by any means, but it's a fairly short book that really packs a punch. I thought it was beautiful. The description from Amazon perfectly sums it up, "Told over the course of a single day in 1927, Alex George's The Paris Hours takes four ordinary people whose stories, told together, are as extraordinary as the glorious city they inhabit." 

3. The St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets by Annie England Noblin 

I read Annie England Noblin's previous two novels and really enjoyed them both. Her books are classic chick lit that typically involve a single woman who finds both a man and a pet that help her find her way. This book followed that same format and honestly? It was just what I was looking for. This is a sweet story about a woman who inherits her birth mother's home in rural Washington. She befriends the local characters, learns to knit, and, of course, falls in love. This is a cute book if you're looking for something light and easy. 

4. The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup 

If you want to know the book I'll be suggesting all year when someone asks what to read next, here it is! I loved this book so much that I devoured it in 3 days. This is a super twisted (and violent!) book about a serial killer who leaves little chestnut dolls at the crime scenes. Except the little dolls all share a fingerprint on them from a young girl who was kidnapped and presumed murdered years ago. What??? This takes place in the Netherlands and is super duper creepy but so thrilling and suspenseful. I stayed up waaaaay past my bedtime reading this one. And the twist near the end got me good. If you're looking for a crazy psychological murder mystery, pick this one up.....and then message me when you finish we we can discuss!

5. Girl Logic by Iliza Schlesinger: 
I think Iliza is one of the most talented comedians out there. For my birthday weekend in March, AJ and I had plans to stay downtown and had tickets to her show. It was cancelled, obviously, and it's rescheduled for this summer, but I'm not quite sure that'll still happen either. Boooo. Needless to say, I've been wanting to read this book for a while. I was expecting a bit more memoir and less advice with this one, but it still had me laughing out loud at parts (her bit about Disney's Belle being willing to sleep with a feline in a dinner jacket just to get away from Gaston and get in some good solo reading time had me howling). Iliza is just a wise, bad ass lady, and she covers it all in this book: dating, love, friendship, politics, sex, feminism and more. If you like Iliza's brand of comedy and witty perception on modern womanhood, you'll enjoy this book for sure. 

That's a wrap, folks! The library is beginning curbside pick up of book holds and AJ and Hank renewed my Book of the Month subscription for Mother's Day, so I am set to go with new reading material! Happy reading, friends!

Savor Your Sparkle,

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Let's Talk TV! (and movies)

I definitely don't have as much time as I anticipated to watch TV (hello online teaching and toddler life) BUT, ya'll know I love to get down with some TV time and what better time to stream and binge than a pandemic? 

Here's some of what I've been watching:

Bachelor Listen to Your Heart: I vowed I wouldn't watch this show. A Bachelor spin off, no thanks. But then covid happened and well...I'm a sucker for anything Chris Harrison is peddling, so here we are. I really love the covers they do on this show (Backstreet Boys? Gaga? So good). So is this as good as the actual Bachelor(ette)? After the past few seasons I'd say definitely. 

Little People Big World: I've been watching this show forever and while this season is different without Jeremy and Audrey, I like the storyline. It's not as cute as when the kids were younger, but it's still a show I tune into every week. 

Dead To Me: I binged season 1 of this show a while back and was so excited to see a new season pop up on Netflix. I'm about half way through season 2 now. This one is about 2 very unlikely friends and the secrets (and crimes) between them. It's a dark comedy and Christina Applegate is brilliant in it. 

Songland: This show fascinates me. If you haven't seen it, it's like The Voice (sort of), but it is song writers presenting their original songs to a famous artist and producers. There are 4 songs each episode and then 3 go "to the studio" to get professional advice and tweaking, then after the 3 songs are performed the artist chooses one to actually record. The way the producers can just make tiny changes and they way everyone collaborates---it's mindblowing. As someone with zero musical talent, this show impresses me every time I watch. 

Secrets of Skinwalker Ranch: Ok, I'm a bit embarrased to share this one because it is so weird and definitely not something I'd normally watch. We stumbled upon this History Channel show last week. This is a documentary series (but don't have high expectations with that, it is so so so cheesy) about a ranch in Utah (!) where paranormal activity occurs. The series follows doctors and scientists as they attempt to uncover what's going on there. Not a spoiler, but it's basically either a) an ancient Navajo curse or b) aliens. See? I told you it's bizaare. I'm blaming quarantine for this awful yet strangely addicting show. 

Workin' Moms: I LOVED seasons 1 and 2 of this show and I'm so sad to say I haven't even watched season 3 yet. I'm hoping to get to it during some of Hank's naps this weekend. This show is raw and hilarious. It's inappropriate and relatable. I hope season 3 is as good as the other two. 

Waco: AJ and I binged this one in a weekend. This is, obviously, NOT about Chip and Jo's silos, but is instead about David Karesh and the stand off between his group the Branch Davidians and the FBI. This was a fascinating watch. I really loved the storyline with the negotiator and what I was not expecting was to feel some sympathy for Karesh. The ending of this one is really tough to watch and as you work through the episodes the impending sense of doom is clear. This was not light by any means, but it was really riveting. 

Disney Singalongs: We sure did love both of these that were on. It's so fun and Hank loves them as much as I do. It's a fun thing during this time to relive some classics (and peep at singers houses....and see who can really sing live). 

Shark Tank: I've watched nearly every season of this show. I love it. I love supporting businesses that were on the show. I love all the clever ideas. This is just a fun entertaining watch. 

King of Queens: AJ and I both LOVE this show. And after our fave Arthur (Jerry Stiller) died this week, we decided to start way back at season 1. It's the perfect go to evening show and always makes us laugh. I just look at AJ and start singing the theme song and he knows what I want to watch, haha. "My eyes are getting weary, my back is getting tight, I'm sitting here in traffic on the Queensborough Bridge tonight...." 

Movies We've Watched----We've watched more than these, but these are the newer releases we've watched. 

Bombshell: I LOVED this movie. This one follows the true story of the sexual harrassment and toxic culture of Fox News. The 3 leads were excellent in this and I loved how this story was told. And can Charlize look any more like Megyn Kelly?! 

Just Mercy: I cannot say enough about this incredible movie. Warning: this one was difficult to watch at times, but it was truly excellent. If you're against the death penalty as I am, this will just reaffitm your beliefs. If not, watch it anyway, it will make you think. I love that this is a true story. It might be one of the best movies I've seen all year. 

The Invisible Man: Another movie I LOVED! This one has a totally cheesy premise of a woman being stalked by her mad scientist boyfriend. While it may appear like a Lifetime movie, this movie is so much more slick, well done, and suspenseful than anything like that. It's not exactly a horror movie, but it is creepy and twisty. 

Onward: So I had high hopes for this one and I liked it, but I didn't love it. We've seen it about a dozen times in the past few months and Hank loves his collection of Onward Happy Meal toys, but this one doesn't compare to other Pixar classics like Toy Story or Coco. It's cute and sweet, just not awesome. 

And of course you know we watched......



It was so ridiculously entertaining. And just what we all needed in these tough times. Nothing brings us together like a gay redneck meth head polygamist zookeeper, ya know? 

What are you watching??

Savor Your Sparkle,

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

May Musings

How is it already nearly mid-May? Also, how is it only mid-May? This quarantine stuff, guys, it really messes with your sense of time. I have lots of pictures for you on the blog today! I organized it in a list because #lazy and why not?

1. Butterflies! I love my spring butterfly unit with my 1st graders and even though I was sad to not be able to do it in person, I ordered the kit and did it here at home. I updated my students via Google classroom. Hank absolutely loved it and we released our beautiful butterflies at a nearby park a few weeks ago. I never ever get over the miracle of how these gorgeous creatures come from those nasty little caterpillars. Amazing!

2. Spiral Jetty: This is a place in Utah I had never visited and was always curious, so Friday we loaded up the car with gas and plenty of snacks and made the journey. It was gorgeous out there (and we were able to stay socially distant) and Hank loved it. He thought we went to the beach and we just let him think that. It was an all day adventure as it took about 2 and a half hours to get there and we spent an hour or so there. We got home that evening happy, sun burnt, and with Cafe Rio take out. It was a wonderful day 

The spiral jetty is about 40 minutes of dirt road beyond the Golden Spike monument. Here's Hank standing on the place where the 2 railroads met. The visitor's center was closed but we were able to use the bathroom (amen!) there and walk around the deserted grounds. 

This is considered a famous piece of "earthwork" and was created by an artist in the 70's. 

Mother's Day: We wished we could have spent the day with our moms, but we made the best of the day anyway. We got coffees and visited Hadley and then went on a lovely 90 minute walk followed by naps for all. It was a great relaxing day. I can't believe I became a mom almost 4 years ago. I'll have to do a post here soon about discussing Hadley with Hank. He's been very curious lately and we talk about her a lot. He knows he has a big sister in heaven who looks out for him. 

Random Life Lately
Thank you, Pinterest for toddler art ideas. This one was a hit---we dipped toilet paper rolls into paint and stamped with them, 

We walked over to the Real Academy to take advantage of the beautiful views there to watch the air force flyover. It was neat! 

We made another trip to Cross E Ranch Farm Drive Thru. I am so impressed by places being innovative during this time of Covid. 
Hank LOVES animals! 

One of our friends organized a Zoom dinner party. We each made an element of the meal, exchanged on our door steps, and then ate together via Zoom. It was a fun way to connect. 

We made sprinkle pancakes for brunch last week. YUM! I've had to kick up my basement workouts to make up for all the delicious splurging going on here!
Take out tastes better at the park! 

The water table made its debut at our new house! We are getting our backyard finished in July. I cannot wait! Although Hank loves digging back there. He can dig and play back there for hours. Life of a toddler! 

Ever since we moved in 5 months ago, I've wanted to get something for that blank wall above our TV. This was my Mother's Day gift--it's a framed piece of distressed shiplap. I love that I can switch out the wreath seasonally. I've become addicted with looking at felt ball garlands on Etsy to drape over it too. I love decorating. 

For the past 3 weeks I've put together a veggie tray on Sunday to snack on during the week. It looks so pretty and it's more convenient to eat veggies when they are all prepped.

It seems strange that this at home lifestyle is "normal" now. Never in a million years did I think our May would look like this!! We are so thankful for the doctors, nurses, scientists, hospital workers, and community helpers of all kinds helping us all get through these unique, unsettling times. Lots of Love from me to you.

Savor Your Sparkle,