Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In need of a Style Fix

The last three years have seen my attempts of looking fashionable go down the toilet. I have been living in my yoga pants, nursing tanks and large cardigans for way too long. I thought it was about time I do something about it since I am now out in public a lot more often and with much more stylish moms than me.

This past year, I started taking my 2 year old to school and quickly realized how important this was for me as much as it was for her. I had to make somewhat of an effort to look presentable. My wardrobe, however, was lacking. I started making an attempt to spruce it up a bit with some accessories- jewelry from Stella & Dot and Alea's great shop on Etsy, Pop Culture Junkie. It helped, but now it is time to move on to my clothing.

I need clothes that aren't from Target. Now, don't get me wrong. I love Target clothes. I love how inexpensive they are and comfortable. I can try trendy stuff without spending a fortune. The problem is, that I don't go for trendy. I go for comfort. I go for the same dresses (that may be cover ups) and workout clothes (that I end up wearing all day) every time.

I know I am not the only one stuck in a clothing rut, right?

So here is what I have decided to do. I have seen a number of people mention StitchFix. A stylist puts together a box of clothes for you, you try them on in the comfort of your own home, send back what you don't like, keep what you do. Perfect! What a great way to try new things, refresh my wardrobe and avoid the mall.

I get my first box on the 12th. I can't wait!

Happy Shopping!

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

Wordless Wednesday

Wedding ceremony site
Saturday, Aug 24, 2013

For more Wordless Wednesday visit

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: The Stonecutter by Camilla Läckberg

The Stonecutter by Camilla Läckberg

528 pages, Paperback
Published February 2013, FreePress

Source: sent by publisher for review

Read this one in a weekend.Why did I wait so long to read it? I have had it since March. So good. Loved the characters, the mystery, the dual storyline that seems so unrelated but surprisingly merges at the end. If you like Broadchurch, you will love this. Small town, child murdered, everyone suspect with secrets behind their closed doors. 

The feel of the book is very dark and cold. The story progresses at a nice pace and the characters are interesting. Looking forward to reading more of Läckberg's novels. This one is the third in her series featuring detective, Patrik Hedstrom. I had absolutely no problem getting into this book having not read the previous two books. It could easily be read as a stand alone. 

For more info on author and book visit her WEBSITE.

Happy Reading!

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

Friday, August 16, 2013

Wedding Shawl All Finished

K's wedding shawl

Pattern: Triinu Scarf by Nancy Bush
Book: Knitted Lace of Estonia
Yarn: Madeline Tosh Lace, terra
Needles: US 4

K's wedding shawl

I am finished and absolutely love it. Can't wait to take over to the bride to be and see what she thinks about it. The pain of knitting this was worth it. 

One modification was made. I widened the scarf to a shawl by adding two more repeats of the lace pattern. I cast on 110 stitches. The lace edging had to be slightly modified as well so it could work with the increase in stitches. 

Happy Knitting!

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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani

Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani
288 pages, Hardcover
Published June 2013, Atria Books

Source: ARC for review from publisher

This was a hard book to read so close to having finished Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns more because of the similarities in the subject matter rather than the differences in style. 
I did have to take a break between the two. Children of the Jacaranda Tree is definitely not a light or light hearted read. It has some happy hopeful parts but still it is a very sad look at the troubles in Iran over many generations.

The trials and troubles of the people in Iran and Afghanistan should not be forgotten here in the US. It is ongoing and reading novels like this helps us to remember. It is easy to forget and we shouldn't.

The book itself, is beautifully written. It reads almost like poetry in parts because of the flow from one place to another, almost stream of conscious. It did make for some confusion at times. New characters sometimes got mistaken for previously introduced ones, and previously introduced ones were sometimes not recognized when their stories were being followed again. I would have liked to have followed one character from the beginning of their story to the very end with out skipping around in time and to different people. 

I did still really enjoy it, and feel Delijani's writing is quite good. A brilliant first novel, in my opinion. I look forward to what is next.

Happy Reading!

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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

The Abbot's Cellar in San Francisco
For more Wordless Wednesday go to:

Happy Eating!

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

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Memories Suite Review and Giveaway

 FTC disclosure: Software was provided free of charge for my honest review, giveaway and sharing of code for $10 off purchases made. Here is the code: STMMMS74120

The problem with the My Memories Suite is that I can't stop playing with it! This will fill my non-reading, non-knitting, non-playing with the little girl time with photos and scrapbook page rendering. Fun. Fun.

This was really easy to download (PC and MAC versions available) and easy to get started, especially if you choose to go the route of using an already made template. Pick one, upload your photos and you are done. I, however, like to make my own. I did first try out a template to figure out how papers are layered and embellishments added. Most of the layouts that are included with the version 4 suite are not really to my taste, a little too busy, so I used them more for ideas and guidance on how to do my own pages.

Here is one of my first pages made. A calendar page that I am using on my desktop of my computer (MAC for those interested). 

It takes some effort and time to go through all the stuff available and then figure out how to use it correctly. There is also some needed creativity on figuring out colors, layering and when to stop adding embellishments if you don't use the already made templates. The great thing about this being a digital scrapbook is that you can delete what you did very easily if you don't like it. I really enjoy being able to fiddle with the features and figuring out how to use the software. It's been a lot of fun. 

If you find making online photo books, such as on Shutterfly, difficult, this may not be the software for you. However, if you want your photo books to look more like the scrapbooks you make at home, and you are a little more tech savvy, then you will really like the My Memories Suite software.

Would you like to win your own free copy of the My Memories Suite, version 4? All you have to do is head on over to their site, take a look around, then come back here and leave me a comment telling me what paper pack or template you like. That's it! You have until midnight PST on Sunday, August 18th to enter. 

Happy Scrapbooking!

 FTC Disclosure: I get royalties for any purchases made using the code provided. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I am really enjoying Doyle's style of writing. The background of the characters given in small morsels throughout the books to whet your appetite for more Sherlock, the presentation of the clues that only Holmes sees, the way that the killer always describes exactly why and how they did it once they are caught. 

This last one makes me laugh a bit. My husband hates most police procedural dramas on television because of this one little fact. The guilty always confess. Well, I have explained to him, it is only an hour show. The audience needs the mystery completely solved and explained in the time allotted. What better way than to have the guilty party confess. Seems Doyle had this figured out long before.

The Sign of the Four is a treasure hunt gone badly and of course, only our drug taking, obsessive and complicated detective is the only one who can solve the mystery.

Happy Reading!

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Hardcover, 367 pages
Published May 2007, Riverhead Hardcover

Source: purchased/gift

This book has been on my bookshelf since December 2008. I received it for Christmas after just finishing reading The Kite Runner and loving it. This book, however, just never called to me to be read. I couldn't put myself into the mindset to read it. Not quite sure why I had such a block towards it for so long. 

I placed it on my list of to read books for Roof Beam Reader's TBR Challenge to make me finally read it and it luckily for me it was chosen for my book group this month. So happy to have finally read this. It was an amazing novel that had me bawling silently in a hotel room trying not to wake my sleeping two year old. 

from GoodReads :
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years, from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding, that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives, the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness, are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Initial thought on finishing:

Wow. Just, wow.

Such a moving, tragic and heart-wrenching story. Beautifully told and so much more harder to read as a mother. Don't think it would have resonated as much had I read before having the little girl. 

Having given the book some thought for awhile, what stood out the most to me were the sacrifices and sufferings of the mothers. So many different types of mothers, but all trying to do their best for their children the only way they knew how or were capable of. 

6/12 books

Happy Reading!

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

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Memories Suite

I will be using and reviewing the My Memories Suite v4 in the next couple weeks. Do any of you use this already?
 I have been looking for a good digital scrapbooking software that I could use for some projects I have been planning. Besides the usual Christmas gifts of photo books of the little girl, I was thinking of making some bookmarks or bookplates to promote MariReads a bit. You know, a little something to put in books that I give away throughout the year. Was also thinking of doing the same to promote my daughter's school.

Anyway, I am excited to get a chance to try this one out and in doing so, get the chance to offer you all the opportunity to try it out for yourselves at a discounted price. Just click the button above and enter this code: STMMMS74120.  

Happy Scrapbooking!

 FTC Disclosure: I will receive compensation as an Affiliate for use of the code.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sherlock Reading Challenge Check-In

Hey all! Hope that everyone is enjoying their Sherlock reading. I definitely am. I have just finished my second book, The Sign of the Four and am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with all of you as soon as I sit down and write them. 

Don't forget to link up your reviews here. There are a couple there already, so go check them out. You can also find the link in the right side bar under the Challenge button. I will also place the link on the main Challenge post. 

I would love to know how you are all doing. Leave a comment with what you have read and what you are currently reading and what you plan to read next. Next on my list: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Here is a little something to whet your appetite for Season 3 of Sherlock. Enjoy!


Happy Reading!

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

There's No Place Like Home

We are finally done with our summer travels. Yay!

We have been to San Diego and Sea Ranch and then a week on the East Coast. All within three weeks.  Our East Coast trip was to visit our new nephew in Maine. We spent 4 nights with the family at their lake house in Oakland. We then went on a two day drive south along the coast. We went to Bar Harbor and Camden, ME, then on to Salem, Mass before heading out from Boston last night.

We had a lovely time everywhere, but it is nice to be home and have nowhere to be... for a little while anyway. One more trip at the end of August to Arizona for a big family wedding party after my SIL's wedding here in CA. We had planned to drive, but have decided flying is a much better option considering the little girl. I don't think she would be happy with the 12 hour drive.  

The little girl is especially happy that we are home. She has been playing in her room and out back all morning while we unpack and start laundry. While I drink my coffee and get online. Very nice. She deserves a treat for being so self sufficient for a couple hours.

Here are some pics from our travels.
Summer 2013 travels
Sea Ranch, CA
Summer 2013 travels
Oakland, ME
Summer 2013 travels
Bar Harbor, ME
Summer 2013 travels
Salem, Mass

Happy Travels!

Vacation reading: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (reviews to come soon)

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