Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pin It and Do It: Activity Wallet

Here is another idea to keep the little ones entertained while out and about. The little girl has always enjoyed going through my wallet but I am always scared to let her when we are out in case she drops a credit card or gets into my change and swallows a coin.
This wallet is just for her. The coin purse is filled with scrapbook embellishments that are made from card stock. Flowers, animals, etc. Fun little pictures to sort. Instead of credit cards, I put some old UNO cards, some pretty scrapbook papers and stickers into the slots. I added a pen and we are now set for our next outing. 
Wish I'd had it yesterday when we were at the realtors!

Here is my Pin. It was originally posted by Grace of The Acts of Grace.

Thanks for the Challenge, Trish! Can't wait for the next Pin It and Do It Challenge! :) That make three Pins completed! Here are the links to my other two:
Crayon Storage
Mexican Martini
FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Stand-along

I just couldn't resist this read-along. It's a big one, too. Hope I can get through it. Anyone else joining in on the fun? If you want to, just click the button and sign up!

1. What makes you want to read The Stand?
I have  always wanted to read it. I am a big fan of Stephen Kin.
2. Describe your preconceived notions of The Stand.
It's a BIG book. It's classic King!
3. What was the last scary(ish) book you read or movie you saw?
Funny enough, we read The Shining for Book Group back in October.
4. Which version of the book will you be reading from?
The unabridged, extra long version.
5. What are you previous experiences with Stephen King?
I have actually read quite a bit of King's books and seen many movies based on his books. I am a fan and can't believe I haven't read this one before.
6. Anything else you'd like to add (bonus points for being extra random).
My brother-in-law lives in Maine. King is from Maine. Lots of his books are set there. That is my connection to King. :) Hehe.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Current Read and teaser: The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner

It took awhile to get into this book, but now that I am 90 pages in I am really liking it. It's different than what I usually read but good.

"The fear, and then the excitement, and then the calm he had felt since being locked up, were gone now, replaced by a small sickness of self-pity in his stomach. He pulled his knees up closer to relieve the pressure." The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page (I am usually not so random)
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

TSS: Google Reader Clean Up

There were hundreds and hundreds of blogs in my reader. Knit blogs, book blogs, cooking blogs, mom blogs and teaching blogs. Time to clean it all up. I was having a lot of trouble getting through them all and was getting so overwhelmed that I marked them all read.

So, yesterday I did some purging and cleaning after tweeting with Melissa of Melissa's Bookshelf about it.
I got rid of blogs that I don't read anymore, those that don't post regularly, and those that only allow part of their posts to show up in readers.  Once that was done, I was actually able to read some posts, leave some comments and found a KAL to participate in. Yay!

If you are a knitter and want to join in, here is the link:
Mystery KALs are so much fun. 

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May Photo A Day Challenge: Days 21-25

Photo A Day Challenge by Fat Mum Slim.

Day 21-25
21. where you stand 22. pink 23. technology 24. something new 25. unusual

I just saw Alyce's, of at home with books,  Saturday Snapshot Meme and have decided to participate in this as well. 

I took this photo today as we were driving north to find some hiking/climbing. Tomorrow is the 75th Anniversary Celebration of when the Golden Gate Bridge was completed. 

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight

A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight

This was my Book Group's pick for May.  

It is the story of Moinette, a slave of mixed race. She chronicles her life, from a young teen to her death as a free woman. It is a sad, heartbreaking story, difficult to read at times and yet there are instances of happiness and hope. 

It was a little hard to get into but got easier as I went along.  The beginning was difficult to read at times due to the use of the Creole dialect. Either, less was used or I got used to it, but the second half of the book was much easier to read and went much faster.  

I had to miss Book Group on Tuesday so I don't know how the rest of the group felt about the book. I hope to find that out next time I see them. As for me, I feel that Susan Straight, with her use of local dialect and realistic imagery, was able to put me right in the middle of Louisiana. It was hard not to feel what Moinette was feeling, mourn her losses and cheer for her when things went well for her. 


Source: purchased ebook

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May Photo A Day Challenge: Day 16-20

Photo A Day Challenge by Fat Mum Slim.

Day 16-20
16. what you're reading 17. snack 18. something you made 19. a favorite place
20. something you can't live without
FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Toddler Tales 2: Letter Recognition

One of the Pre K objectives in TX was being able to recognize 20 letters by the end of the school year. The majority of the kids that came through my classroom during my 9 years teaching started the year knowing 0-2 letters at the age of four. That is very low but thankfully I was able to get most up to or close to the objective.

Plush letters
I was not a drill and kill teacher, Prekindergarten should be fun and learning at this age and younger should happen through play. There are so many crafts, games, songs and rhymes that can be used with your kids starting pretty young that will help them learn letters.

Finding O's on the plaque
To a toddler, finding letters is fun!  The little girl knows three letters, o e and a. She delights in finding these letters everywhere we go- park benches are her favorite. 'O' is most definitely her favorite letter but I wanted to get her as excited for the first letter in her name.

Today, I decided to pull an activity that I used to do the first week of school,  with some modifications, of course. I gave the little girl a cardboard E that I cut out from one of the many boxes that we have. She decorated it with markers and stickers (all things that begin with E). During the whole process I just continuously talked about the letter and all the different stickers. She loved it.

Markers! Stickers! A big letter to put in her room and play with!


Please note, that there is nothing here about associating letters to their sounds. We are just playing with letters here. :)

Magnetic Letters

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Taco's!

My mom and sister make the yummiest taco meat and I have never been able to replicate it. Same with rice. Their taco meat is always so flavorful and juicy, whereas mine always comes out dry and kind of bland. Well, I decided to give it another go. 

Taco meat
I called up the sis to ask exactly what she she does with her meat- beef boillion and tomato sauce were the only ingredients besides the meat. I had just got back from the store, so wasn't going to to back to get the tomato sauce that I thought I had but didn't.  One ingredient already out for copying. So, I improvised and came up with my own taco meat.

I browned the lean ground sirloin with a little bit of olive oil. Then added a cup of water with one dissolved beef boullion cube. I then added (without measuring) some cumin, dried oregano, chili powder, black pepper and garlic salt. In order from most to least put in. I love cumin, and didn't want to put in too much garlic salt considering the saltiness of the beef boullion. I then simmered until most of the liquid had boiled off.

I have to say, despite not being the same as my sisters, it came out pretty good. The meat had lots of flavor and it wasn't dry. Add a corn tortilla, cheese, avocado and some hot sauce and I had a really yummy taco for lunch. 

The little girl liked it, too!
Enjoying her lunch yesterday! Haha

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Friday, May 18, 2012


To help promote the release of The Understory, a new book from author Elizabeth Leikness, Bancroft Press is having a really great giveaway. 

Go to their Facebook page and enter. With every 100 entries they will give away:

1. The Understory
2. The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns

 and two more eBooks of the winner's choosing!

Good luck!

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book review: Guest of Honor by Deborah Davis

Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt And the White House Dinner That Shocked A Nation by Deborah Davis

Guest of Honor gives a great look into the lives of Booker T. Washington and Theodore Roosevelt way before they become the two extraordinary men sitting together at dinner. The reader gets a glimpse of both Booker's and TR's childhoods and the affect of Emancipation and the assassination of Lincoln on their lives. Then we get to read about the events leading up to their dinner and the backlash that happens after.

Davis' research is very thorough and it is very evident that she enjoyed learning and writing about these two very interesting men. She has taken great care to make this book accessible to all readers interested in learning more about this small but significant even on our history. It's written in a very readable narrative that pulls you in to their story.

If you like history you will enjoy this book and even if you don't regularly read histories this one will most certainly keep you reading despite that.


Source: publisher/author for review

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May Photo A Day Challenge: Days 11-15

Photo A Day Challenge by Fat Mum Slim.

Day 11-15
11.Kitchen 12. Mom 13. Makes you happy 14. Grass 15. Love
FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

WIP on Wednesday: Hexipuffs!!

I have joined the Hexipuff bandwagon. These little guys are so addictive and just so darn cute and squishy. Any of you making some as well? I believe it will take me years to make enough for even a small blanket for the little girl but they are fun, easy to make and a great little project during tv watching. 
#knitting some #hexipuffs
Check out Tiny Owl Knits' blog for more info on the pattern.


FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Toddler Tales 1: Meltdowns

Starting a new little segment for the blog today. It's not book related, so bare with me.

I thought about starting a whole new blog to share stories about life with a toddler, but i knew I wouldn't post enough to make it worth it. So, I give you my own Toddler Tales posts. I have no schedule set yet, we will see just how much i have to share Hoping some of you will appreciate these...

Toddler Tales:

The little girl has had two meltdowns this week. I mean-uncontrollable and unconsolable full on ugly cry. They are seemingly over nothing, but as I told the hubby, in her little head I am sure she had a very good reason for being so upset.

The first time was when we didn't go in to a gallery we drove to because it was closed. By the time we walked back to the car she was beside herself. She didn't calm down until we got downtown, in her stroller and walking along the busy SF streets.

Yesterday she broke down when we got to a restaurant for dinner. She had been asleep in the car and thought we were headed home. We had left Nana's with that intention but decided to go to Half Moon Bay for dinner. We had to take our food to go. Even the oyster crackers didn't make her happy. Took a yogurt in her chair at home to make her a little happier.

Looking back, I know she didn't have a good nap either day. Also, both times it had to do with not going where we had told her we were going. Lesson for mama- naps are very important!!! And, the little girl is very aware of everything now. She notices when we don't go where we say we are going. She doesn't like unexpected changes.

So, from now on - schedule naps and go over our daily schedule. She needs to know the plan for the day and reminders about what's next throughout the day. Also, going over what we did at the end of the day.

This I try and do already but I am not consistent. I would like to make reviewing the day a regular part of our dinner conversation. It would be great to make this routine now so that it will just happen naturally as she gets older.

Anyway, I know talking about my child's meltdown isn't what some might expect on Mother's Day, but I think it is appropriate since I am anticipating another meltdown tomorrow. We are heading to the in law's for the day and she never wants to nap there. Oh no. Also, dinner isn't until 6pm. Maybe I can convince the hubby to not head down until after her nap. *fingers crossed*

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

May Photo A Day Challenge: Day 6-10

Photo a day challenge by Fat Mum Slim.

6. You 7. Someone who inspires you 8. A smell you adore. 9. Something you do everyday. 10. A favorite word.

Winner! The Day the World Ends: Poems by Ethan Coen



You have won a copy of The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen.
Please email me your address to marireadsATyahooDOTcom. 

Winner chosen by Random Number Generator.

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Book Review: The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley

THE ORCHID HOUSE: A Novel By Lucinda Riley
Published by: Atria Books / Trade Paperback Original
ISBN: 978-1-4516-5578-0
Pages: 449
Price: $15.00
US Pub Date: February 14, 2012
eBook: 978-1-4516-5580-3

Julia has suffered a great loss and finds herself depressed, holed up in her dark dreary cottage avoiding contact with everyone. Her sister and family try to help but it takes a return to Wharton Park, the estate where her grandfather worked in the gardens and she used to visit as a child, to help her start healing. Along with the new Lord Crawford and the history they learn after finding an old journal, Julia finds a way to live and love again.

What a beautiful story this was. It spans generations, takes you from the English countryside to Thailand and to France. Not only a story about Julia, but also of all the people who made Wharton Park home, including the servants. Rich in atmosphere and family secrets, it was a hard book to put down. It had been awhile since I had gotten so caught up in the lives of characters in a book. It was fun to lose myself in their stories every night this past week.

If you enjoy Downton Abbey, you will enjoy The Orchid House. Especially when the story jumps back to the 30's and 40's. I highly recommend this book. It would make a great choice for book groups.

Source: publisher

 Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and during her childhood, traveled extensively abroad, particularly to the Far East. While taking a break from writing and acting to have her children, she designed and built a house on the island of Koh Chang, Thailand. It was this experience, combined with her passion for history, that inspired her to write THE ORCHID HOUSE, which Atria Books is publishing as her American debut. She currently lives in rural England with her husband and four children. To learn more about Lucinda Riley and her work, visit her website at:

England, France

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May Photo A Day Challenge: Days 1-5

Have you all heard of Fat Mum Slim's Photo A Day Challenge for May? I participated in February and for part of March. Now I am back for May-having fun taking some pics I wouldn't normally. Here's the list for May:
 I have been sharing them on Instagram and Twitter but thought it would be fun to share them here as well. Instead of a pic everyday, though, I will share every 5 days. 

So, here are the first 5 days:
1. Peace 2. Skyline 3. Something I wore 4. Fun 5. Bird

Let me know if you are participating and where I can follow. I would love to see all of your pictures. :)
FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pin It and Do It!: Trudy's Mexican Martini

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

In honor of the day, I felt the need for the drink we always celebrated with in Austin. Happy Hour's and Cinco de Mayo's were always spent at Trudy's drinking a Mexican Martini. I have been missing those nights since moving back to California. 
The hubby and I decided to make our own and luckily found a recipe on that comes pretty darn close to the original. I made sure to Pin It  so I could find it easily the next time I feel like having one. 

If you haven't had one of these before- you are missing out. Go make one now! :) Be sure to add some pimento stuffed olives and some salt on the rim!
FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.