Friday, May 30, 2014

End of the Week Roundup

How was everyone's "short" week this week? 

1. Saturday my parents came up for dinner, it was a great night that ended with me roasting marshmallows over our fire while we sat around and chatted. This picture sums up my relationship with my Dad and I, we just goof around nonstop. 

2. I took advantage of long weekend to finish up a T-shirt quilt that I was hired to  make. I can't wait to meet up with the girl and see her face when she sees it for the first time. 

3. Monday I took a Zumba class with my friend Linda. I was a hot mess, both physically and metaphorically but it was fun hanging out with her and laughing over our "swamp ass". Yes, I went there, sorry. 

4. I've been looking for a simple pendant necklace for a while and about a week ago, I picked up this necklace from Express and I've been wearing it nonstop. I love finding accessories I can wear with pretty much everything. 

5. Even when it is ridiculously hot, my cats love cuddling up. Here's Squish passed out on my feet in 80 degree weather.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Light Between Oceans

It's that time again for Bon's book club! This month we read The Light Between Oceans.

 A quick synopsis of the book via Goodreads:
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. 
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them. 
I really enjoyed this book. The conflict that M.L. Stedman creates left me wondering what the "right" thing to do would have been and what I would have done in every scenario. It was a bit slow to start but towards the middle of the book, it found a good pacing and kept me hooked. 

I saw this picture while I was at a conference and it completely reminded me of Frank and Lucy Grace. 

And now for Bon's discussion questions:

+ How did you feel about the end of the book?

I really loved this book, the whole thing, including the ending. I feel like the author did a great job giving everyone a "happy" ending while remaining realistic. Would it have been nice to see Lucy stay with Tom and Isabel? Absolutely, but in real life, that wouldn't' be going down. 

+ What are the strengths and weaknesses of Isabel's and Tom's relationship?

Tom is waaaaaaay too much of a pushover. He let Isabel walk all over him. It's why they got in this mess in the first place, why he took the blame for everything, and everything in between. But I guess there wouldn't be much of a book if he hadn't been that way, right?

+ What would you have done if you were Tom in that situation?  Do you agree with the way he handled the situation?  How did you feel about him trying to take all the blame to save Isabel?

It's funny, the entire time I was reading this book I wondered what I would do if it were me. As someone who is trying to conceive and not having much luck, I can understand Isabel's desperation; however there is a sane part of me that knows that it would be wrong to do that and that Lucy probably had a mother that was looking for her. Ultimately, I think that I would have called it in right away. With that being said, I think Tom was a bit foolish for doing what he did. The way I see it is, the damage was already done, why screw up a family twice?

I was a bit angry at Isabel for letting Tom take all the blame. I GET IT, she's mad at him. But they wouldn't be in that situation if it weren't for her to begin with, so it wasn't fair to make him take all the blame and risk death. But, it did end up working out in their favor, so I guess it was smart of Isabel to remain quiet.

Did you read the book? What were your thoughts? 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

14 in '14 May Update

I have a confession to make. I've been slacking on reading in general let alone the 14 in '14 list. Luckily, I'm a bit ahead of the game, so I've got time to make up what I've been lacking. This month I only read one book off the list...which is one book better than I did last month. 

The Alchemyst

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
He holds the secret that can end the world.
The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life.
The records show that he died in 1418.
But his tomb is empty.
The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.
Sometimes legends are true.
And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.
This was a good book, it wasn't the best, but it wasn't terrible. It reminded me a lot of Rick Riordan's books, although I think Riordan does a better job of modernizing mythical legends. It was a quick read and I had no major issues with it. If you enjoyed Riordan's books, this series is a great secondary series to check out while you wait for new books to come out. 

I recieved the entire series as a Christmas gift from my mom, so I plan on reading the remaining five books over the next few months, hopefully it'll exceed expectations. If so, I'll let you know!

Here is the list so far:

1. Where'd you go Bernadette?
2. Sacre Bleu
3. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?
4. The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic
5. The Partly Cloudy Patriot
6. Assassination Vacation
7. The Alchemyst
8. The Graveyard Book
9. The Maze Runner
10. The Husband's Secret
11. Beauty Queens
12. The Dust of 100 Dogs
13. The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making
14. The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books

I've got five books left on the list to finish by the end of the year. The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books and The Thinking Womans' Guide to Real Magic are longer reads, but I do go on vacation next month, so hopefully one of those will get knocked out while I'm sitting on the beach. 

What are some books you read this month? Did you like them?

I'm on Goodreads, if you'd like to add me.

Friday, May 23, 2014

End of the Week Roundup

Do you know how hard it is to not start a Friday five post with anything along the lines of "Happy Friday!" or "TGIF"? Also, do you know how hard it is to come up with five legitimate things for the week when you experience one major event during that week? 

1. I graduated. I've mentioned it at least ten times on the blog over the past six months. Sorry for that, I promise to try and not mention it until the time comes for me to graduate again...which will probably be in another 7 years. 

But first, let me take a selfie
2. My parents gave me yellow roses and pink daisies the day of graduation, I now have them in a vase on my kitchen window sill (cause anyone with cats will tell you anywhere within jumping reach and they will get eaten. I love my cats but what jerks! haha). Anyway, all week long they've caught my eye. They are so beautiful. I think I might start looking for a rose bowl vase for my flowers, I really like how roses look in them. 

3. So I took Nadine's advice last week and went shopping at Goodwill. I found this adorable dress for $5 and wore it for the first time this week. I got so many compliments on this dress, it really boosted my spirits, and knowing I only spent $5 to look good made it all the sweeter!

4. Yesterday a really bad storm hit near my work, it was the first time I saw hail as big as strawberries drop from the sky. My friend was a few towns over and got hit with golf ball sized hail. The picture he posted was from his car on his way home from work:

5. I think my cats think they're goats. All they do is eat grass when they're outside...

Hope you have a great weekend and a great Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

All These Feelings, Making Me Feel and Ish

Most of you are aware, this past Sunday I graduated from Immaculata University with my bachelors degree. It was seven years in the making and I have so many mixed emotions right now, it's crazy. 

I feel proud. Sunday I couldn't stop smiling, I was grinning ear to ear and it was an amazing day. It was the "perfect day": warm weather with just the right amount of breeze, blue skies peppered with clouds, and the perfect amount of sunshine. I could not have asked for a better day.

Photo credit: Becca Davidson
I feel emotional. I didn't cry but there were definitely moments where I had to hold back tears. Like when Dave dropped me off at my meeting point and left to join my parents. He turned around and said "Hey, I'm really proud of you". My stomach dropped and I had to look away from him to stop myself from ruining my makeup. Just like I couldn't stop smiling, he couldn't stop telling me how proud of me he was.  Or when my mom was searching the crowd for me as we began to walk in. The minute she saw me her whole face literally lit up. It was like someone shined a light bulb right in her face. It made me feel so good to know that without her having to say anything, I knew she was proud of me and loved me. If she could have burst with pride she would have.

I feel exhausted. When I look back on the past seven years I've been in school, I find myself asking over and over again "how did I survive?" It's crazy what I've experienced while in school, from buying a house, getting engaged, planning a wedding, to getting married. From Dave falling off a roof and injuring himself badly, I literally went on autopilot during that time, going to work, then school, then home to take care of my injured husband and running a newly formed teen book club in between. To meltdowns, breakdowns and being stressed so bad I could feel the knots balling up in my shoulders. How did I manage this? 

I feel terrified. I wracked up quite a bit of debt with student loans and I keep getting letters in the mail telling me that the payments will be due soon. I have no idea how I'm going to pay for them, and it's terrifying. 

Photo Credit: Becca Davidson
I feel incomplete. I have a degree but I'm not where I thought I would be when I envisioned myself finishing my degree. I always assumed when I graduated with my bachelors I would also have my certification and would be teaching, but then life hit and things changed. I haven't given up my dream of being a teacher, but now I have to go back to school to get my certification. It's really mixed for me, I'm happy to be continuing my education, but bummed that I have to continue my education and add even more debt to the student loan pile. 

I feel overwhelmed. In a good way, there's so many emotions running through me right now, but ultimately, good or bad, this was one of my greatest achievements in my life so far. Ridiculous student loans or not, I will never regret my decision to go to school and try and fulfill my dreams of becoming a teacher. 

To sum it all up, the greatest lesson I've learned through my time at the university is this: You can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. It doesn't matter how I managed the past seven years, and it won't matter what I do in the future to reach my goals, all I know is that I want it bad enough that I will do whatever it takes to make it. 


Monday, May 19, 2014


I mentioned last week that I was at a conference in Philly, so I took the opportunity to take some pictures to share with you guys. Today's post is all about the photos because this weekend was a bit busy for me with graduation and all...either way, I hope you enjoy!

Ben Franklin Bridge

My personal favorite

Friday, May 16, 2014

End of the Week Roundup

Do you think anyone out there hates Fridays?

1. This Sunday I finally get to walk for graduation. It's been 7 years in the making and 5 months of me waiting for this day to arrive. For the past week the anticipation has been messing with my head, like last  Saturday I was walking through the grocery store and thought that I was missing my graduation at that exact moment. Sunday should be interesting, I'm really looking forward to it. 

2. This past Sunday I spent the day up at my mom's house for Mother's Day. It was a really fun, relaxing day!

3.  This was my view while watching a movie Sunday night. Cuddles from Nibs and Squish was the best Mother's Day gift I could ask for. 

4. Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I went to a conference in Philadelphia, which is about an hour away from home. I took a bunch of pics, and I'll have more posted for you this coming week!

Ben Franklin Bridge
 5. I love, love, love this picture of Squish. The way the sunlight is splashed across him, the look on his face, it's so serene. I can actually hear his purrs when I look at this picture.

How was your week?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I was all ready to write a post about my favorite movies that inspire me, but then Lulu went and posted a great list of movies that she enjoys, so I decided to modify my original post. The movies on this list are by no means exclusive. Seriously, I've seen so many films,  and I can't even think of 1% of them right goes nothing!

Movies that are inspiring to me:

- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: seriously guys, if you have not seen this movie yet, PLEASE DO IT. It's such a great film, with a great message that is not in the least bit preachy. I loved it so much!
-Big Fish
-Meet the Robinsons

Movies that make me cry:

-Pretty much every movie out there 
-Up (before the movie even starts now I start blubbering)
-Extremely loud and incredibly close

Movies I avoid like the plague:

-Anything that hurts animals...even imaginary ones. How to Train Your Dragon gave me a panic attack when they went after Toothless in the end. I almost turned it off, until Dave told me to just wait it out and that he was sure he'd be fine...even know I know he's okay in the end, it still gets me all upset

- Scary movies
-Movies that spoof other movies (ie The Starving Games or The Hangover Games) stupid and such a waste of time and money

Most disappointing film:

Sex and the City 2. Why? WHY?!?! 

Favorite actors:

-Channing Tatum
-Robert Downey Jr
-Hugh Jackman
-Christian Bale

Favorite actresses:

-Kristen Wiig
-Emma Stone
-Leslie Mann
-Kristen Bell
-Tina Fey

What are some notable films for you?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Super Easy Steak Marinade

I have a confession to make. Prior to this steak marinade, I was a steak snob. I only ate filet mignon because I don't like chewy, unflavored steak. Then Dave's brother made a variation of this marinade and I couldn't get enough of it. Dave and I made a few changes and now we eat top round/london broil all the time. This marinade is so good, and it makes the steak so flavorful and tender (not filet tender but enough for me to love it) and it's the perfect meal to cook up on the grill during the warmer months. 

Here's what you need:

-minced garlic
-sesame oil
-soy sauce
-Worcestershire sauce
-top round (aka london broil)

Here's what you do:

1. In a dish, place a few drops of sesame oil in the bottom, and put equal parts of the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce in the bottom of the pan, enough to cover the whole bottom. 

2. Score the steak and place some garlic in the scored parts as well as a little in the bottom of the dish. Wisk the mixture around to make sure everything's all mixed together and place the scored portion of the steak facing downward in the dish.

3. Score the upper part of the steak and repeat all the steps (garlic in the scored part, equal parts soy/Worcestershire). 

4. Let the steak sit for at least a half hour, flipping halfway through. I prefer to let the steak marinade for at least an hour to really get the flavor in there. I would not marinade this steak for more than a few hours, overnight may be too much for this. 

5. Grill the steak to your liking and enjoy!

Friday, May 9, 2014

End of the Week Roundup

Hello! I can't express how happy I am that the week is over, I can't wait to relax this weekend!

1.  Nibbler loves to hang out with me when I make quilts. He doesn't get in the way, he just sits nearby and chills. Saturday I caught Nibbler sleeping with his tongue hanging out while I was stitching some batting to the quilt. 

2. Tuesday night was girl's night with three of my friends, we went out to dinner and then watched The Other Woman, which was hilarious. It was definitely the pick me up I needed after a tough week at work and I'm lucky to have such great, supportive friends.

3. Teen Book Club met this week too and we discussed one of my favorite books, The 13 1//2 Lives of Captain Bluebear. It was so uplifting hearing the teens talk about how much they enjoyed the book, what they connected, how they could literally feel what Bluebear was going through. I definitely left club that night feeling great.

4. I caught this picture on the way to work, the picture doesn't do the sky justice but it was such a beautiful morning. 

5. I love it when the boys lay with me together. It makes me feel so loved!

How was your week?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Simple Ways to Save Money

Who doesn't love to save money? Today I thought I'd share with you some easy tips to save some money (hopefully you don't know all of these already!). 

:: Bath and Body Works will replace wall plugins for free ::

You know, these doo-hickies:

Like anything that gets used nonstop, these plugins stop working from time to time. Instead of getting flustered at needing to buy new ones, take the plugins that do not work to the store, and they'll replace them for free. 

:: Carry store coupons in your purse or car ::

I know what you're thinking: why, if you want to save money would you put coupons in your purse that will promote you into buying something? I put one of those Bath and Body Works coupons in my purse and when I went to the store to exchange my plugins, I walked out with a free lotion thanks to my coupon. If I hadn't thrown it in my purse just in case, I wouldn't have gotten a free lotion in the deal. The point I'm making is, throw it in your purse or car just in case you happen to be in the area, because if you do end up shopping anyway, wouldn't you rather get the discount than not?

:: Speaking of carrying coupons with you, Bed Bath and Beyond coupons do NOT expire ::

I repeat, BBB coupons do NOT expire. Don't throw them out! I bought new towels recently with coupons that "expired" in 2007. I leave them in my glove box just in case I stop at the store for whatever reason. Also, BBB has a great coupon policy, they are probably the best customer service oriented company when it comes to it. There is no limit on how many coupons you can use in one shot either. After Dave and I got married I had a ton of gift cards so I went on a BBB shopping spree and used a coupon for each item I bought, 8 in total, in one order. 

::Never pay for Victoria Secret underwear again::

No, I'm not telling you to steal them. Every couple of months, VS sends out coupons for $10 off a bra and a free panty. I hope that you're established enough in life that you have enough underwear to last you through the week and then some, so it shouldn't be an issue to wait the few months for when a new free coupon comes out. If you are not, then go to Target, Walmart, wherever and buy some Hanes, Fruit of the Loom or whatever that will give you five for the price of one from VS and then wait for your coupon.

:: Sign up for bonus rewards through your local grocery store::

The local chain store around me is Giant Foods. They offer this really great bonus rewards system that gives you 10¢ off each gallon of gas for every $100 you spend every quarter. Now that may not seem like a lot to you, but if you think about it, lets just say you spend $200 every month on groceries, that's $3.20 off a tank of gas each month. Plus, they offer "bonus" buys where you can get money off gas buy just buying a particular item. Again, it's not ground breaking, it's not going to make you a millionaire but it's still saving some money. Dave and I normally wait until the end of the quarter when we have about 60¢ off and then fill up.

::If you haven't discovered ebates, you need to::

Ebates is one of those companies where it seems too good to be true and you wonder how the heck it works...until you get your first check and then you don't really care. Just in case you do, Ebates gets a commission from stores for referring shoppers to their websites, and they share that commission with you. The other nice thing about ebates is that they are always up to date on online codes, so you can save even more money! 

Also, retail me not is another great site to check out before you checkout. If you aren't aware of how it works, you enter in the store you are purchasing from and they will offer up codes to try out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I've gotten free trial sized philosophy products by entering in a code through this site. It doesn't hurt to take a few minutes to see what you can get for free or knock off the bottom line!

::If you have a smart phone, there is no reason why you should NOT be googling coupons in store::

I was in Joanne Fabrics one day picking up items I needed to make a quilt, and I decided to google "Joann Fabric coupons" on my phone before I checked out, and was able to find two directly on their site for 40% off and 50% off one item each. All I had to do was show the cashier my phone, she scanned the coupons and I got a discount. So please, take a few minutes before you head up to the checkout line to see if you can save some money...cause if I see you doing it while you're up there I might have to praise you for saving money, then hurt you for holding up the line. 

::Do your homework::

Let me tell you a story about a little chair I fell in love with at Marshalls that would be ideal for the "library" Dave and I are trying to put together. This beautiful chair reclined and was perfect in every way: it was the right size, color, and comfortable. It would  have been a great chair for my quaint little library, and I HAD to have it. Problem was it was $300 and my $25 gift certificate wasn't going to cut it. I tried to reason with Dave, that it really wasn't $300 it was technically only $275 after my gift certificate and that it was a steal at that price. Dave didn't buy my pitch, and I didn't get to buy my chair. He told me to go home and do a little research online and that I'd probably find the same chair for cheaper. 

So I went home and went hunting. I'm only saying this here because Dave rarely reads my blog so I know he won't know I said this but... he was right. I found a very similar chair on overstock for $100 less. 

Moral of the story? Listen to your husband Do your homework before buying a big purchase, you may save money in the long run.

What are some easy ways you save money?

**Please note, the ebates link is a referral link, if you choose to sign up for ebates through this link, I may receive compensation for that. Please also note, if you choose not to sign up through my link, you should still sign up for ebates, cause it'd be silly for you to shop online and not get some free cash back**

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hearty Taco Casserole

This is one of my favorite meals to make. I found the recipe out of a Taste of Home comfort food diet cookbook and slightly modified it.

What you need:

-2/3 cup cooked brown rice
-4-5 Tbs water
-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1/8 tsp salt
-2 Tbs cold butter

-1/2 lb lean ground beef
-1/2 cup chopped onion
-2 garlic cloves minced
-1 cup water
-1 envelope taco seasoning
-2 eggs, lightly beaten
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-shredded lettuce
-chopped tomatoes
-sour cream

What you need to do:

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in enough water to form a soft dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12x8 rectangle. Press into a 13x9 baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

2. For filling, in a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until the meat is cooked through and drain. Add water, taco seasoning and rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, simmer, uncovered for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in eggs and spread mixture over crust.

3. Cover and bake for 15-17 minutes or until the filling is set. Cut into squares. Top with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

Friday, May 2, 2014

End of the Week Roundup

Normally, I write my posts the night before they go "live". I totally forgot to write this last night, so I'm doing it now, at my desk, at work. Sorry boss!

1. I took this picture of Nibbler last Friday from my iPhone. I really wish I had a good camera, but sometimes I can get some good shots on my phone.

2. Saturday my friend Linda was honored for her excellence in teaching. I took this pic of her son, Christian, and I while mom was giving her speech. 

3. Sunday was so gorgeous out, I had to do a little bit of work on a quilt I was making, but I had to stop and enjoy the day. My hammock was screaming my name!

4. Reason #1,428,457,216 that I want to go see Jimmy Fallon....lip sync battles!

5. They don't normally lay butt to butt, but when they do its simultaneously the cutest and funniest thing I've seen.

How was your week?