Wordless Wednesday: Kayaking

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kayaking in Milford Sounds 
Wordless Wednesday 
Photo by me.

Banned Books Week

Monday, September 28, 2015

Every year I "celebrate" banned books week. It's a wonderful reminder that living in a society that has the freedom to choose what we read is important. It's something we should never take for granted and we should fight to protect it! This year I will be rocking my new Out of Print banned books tote.

This year Banned Books Week is from Sept. 27 - Oct. 3. Grab a book that has been banned or read some more information about current censorship here.

So celebrate your freedom to read this week and check out this list of frequently banned and challenged books to see how many you’ve read.

Past Banned Books Week Posts 
2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

Image from here with more great quotes.

Prince Edward Island

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

We're off on a little adventure this week. As my due date gets closer I wanted to see if we can fit in one more trip. So we're headed to Prince Edward Island in Canada! We've both always wanted to visit and so we're so excited!
In addition to lighthouses, scenic drives, and delicious lobster, I can't wait to see the Anne of Green Gables house! I'll see you all back here sometime next week!

Images from here and here.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Huz and I got rid of cable in December. Since then I've been watching tons of older shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime and have found some new ones that are so fun. 

Does anyone else watch Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries? I binged the first two seasons and I love it!. Miss Fisher is a detective in Australia in the 1920s. She defies all normal social rules and basically does what she wants. I kinda love her. The period costumes are gorgeous, the supporting cast is wonderful, and each episode is like an Agatha Christie whodunit. Check it out if it sounds up your alley! 

What are you all watching that I should check out?

Wordless Wednesday: Florida View

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Florida Panaorama View 
Wordless Wednesday 
Photo by me.

A Few Dog Tips

Monday, September 14, 2015

There's a reason people always joke that dogs are like training wheels for having a kid. We are dog people, so regardless of whether we had kids or not, I know we still would have gotten a dog. But trying to figure out the difference between all the car seats and bouncy chairs available for kids has reminded me how many different dog items there are as well. 

When we first got our pup Ollie, I did a ton of research to make sure we picked a good food, and found some toys that wouldn't be destroyed in a week. I thought I'd share a little bit of what we found in case any of you are dog owners too. 

Canidae - So it turns out dog food is often made with some disgusting stuff. Most of the big (cheap) brands have tons of filler and nasty stuff in them. Feeding your pet that stuff ends up causing a lot of problems. So you can either pay a little more for the food now or a lot more for vet bills down the road. 

We tried a few different brands of food when we first got Ollie and it took a while to find one that his stomach liked. Canidae was perfect. We use the lamb and rice type and now that he is fully grown he gets one cup of food in the morning and one cup at night. He's 75 pounds and our vet consistently tells us that he's one of the healthiest dogs he sees. He is still very active, but Canidae isn't full of filler items like corn (which dogs don't process for nutrients), so 2 cups a day keeps him full. One big bag last us for a full month. Also, you can call them directly and they will send you great coupons! They seriously have the best customer service. 

Treats - Dog treats can be gross. We found some that we love and Ollie loves and they smell like granola bars! We use Nutro Natural Choice crunchy treats and Ollie's favorites are apple, blueberry, and carrot.

Sloppy drinker - I hated the fact that Ollie spilled water everywhere when he drank. So I ended up finding the perfect solution at L.L. Bean. It's a food/water dish mat that soaks up water and quickly dries. It has the consistency of a welcome mat and after 4 years of use it still looks great.  

Collapsible Dog Bowl - We use stainless steel bowls for Ollie to eat and drink out of, but we have a couple collapsible bowls for travel. I keep one in our dog park bag. They fold flat and that way we can give him water while we're out on a walk or a road trip. 

(Ollie waiting in front of the dish washer while I wash his kong. 
He's like a kid waiting for his blankie while it's in the dryer.)
Ollie is a big dog and stuffed or cheap toys don't last long. I wish I'd realized that earlier. I was a bit shocked by how expensive some dog toys can be, so I'd buy one cheap one after another and watch them get destroyed. Eventually I figure out that the expensive toys cost more because they last forever. Here's a few that we love...

Chuckit Balls - We use these to play fetch with. At the bark park we use tennis balls because that way it doesn't matter if another dog runs off with one. (The launcher works with tennis balls too!) At home or a friend's house we use ChuckIt. Make sure you get the big size if you have a big dog. You don't want them to choke on it. We also use the glow-in-the-dark one at night

Kong - We tried a few different Kong sizes and eventually got the Kong Extreme Toy in extra large and I swear it really will last forever. Ollie is happy just chewing on it in the back yard while I read. 

West Paw - They declare that their toys are indestructible. We bought the Hurley Dog Bone (large) and Ollie destroyed it in about 10 minutes. But we contacted them and they sent us a replacement toy at no charge! For the second toy we picked the Jive ball (large) and it's perfect! We've had it for a few years now and Ollie loves it.

**I'm not getting a cent for promoting any of these items. They are just the things that have worked for us. 

*Photos by me.

Ava’s Man

Friday, September 11, 2015

Ava’s Man 
by Rick Bragg 

I fell in love with Rick Bragg's writing after reading All Over but the Shouting. In it the Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist wrote about his childhood in the rural hills of Alabama. In Ava’s Man he takes readers back there to tell the story of Charlie, his grandfather.

From the first pages I was completely captivated. His style of writing clicks so beautifully for me. He's writing nonfiction, but he's doing in an in a way that weaves a beautiful tale of the depression era South. You feel like you're there on the riverbank next to Charlie setting trout lines.

We follow Charlie and his wife Ava and their many children from one tiny Alabama and Georgia town to another. You feel the heartbreak when a child is sick, you hammer nails into roofs in the southern heat, and you sip moonshine when the day is done. By the time you finish you have as much admiration for Bragg's grandfather as he did himself. Charlie was a different class of man. He raised a family not because it was his job, but because it was his passion and his love.

BOTTOM LINE: The incredible thing about Bragg’s work is that he makes an ordinary man extraordinary. He makes the reader fall in love with Charlie by unfolding his life through the eyes of his children and neighbors. Charlie was a legend in his community because he was a good man who everyone loved and in the hands of a talented writer that’s all the story you need.

“It didn’t strike the travelers as unusual to see such a large cemetery around such a tiny church, not everybody kneels, but everybody dies.

Wordless Wednesday: Front Page

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Front pages the day after 9/11 from 
all over the world in the D.C. Newseum.
Wordless Wednesday
Photo by me.

The Queen of the Tearling and The Invasion of the Tearing

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Queen of the Tearling
By Erika Johansen

Kelsea is destined to rule the kingdom of Tearling when she turns 19. With the help of the queen’s guard she must make it to the capital city to be crowned.

I read the whole book during a weekend trip and found myself completely hooked. I'm tired of hearing people say this is the new Hunger Games or Game of Thrones. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel set in a post-apocalyptic world, but it has a medieval feel to the government and ruling class. This book stands on its own and doesn’t need to be heralded as the “new” anything.

There are things I like and dislike about Kelsea, which is a good thing. She’s a heroine with depth. She’s been raised almost in isolation, away from normal children and families. She has self-doubt, but also a fiery temper and sense of justice. She’s never had the chance to fall in love. She’s never thought about how she looks compared to other people. There are moments when it’s easy to forget how new she is to her throne.

BOTTOM LINE: It was almost impossible to put down and I was left wanting more, which is really exactly what I want from a series like this.

"An upset stomach was a small price to pay for fiction made real."

"But now, with the two tall men right on her heels, she wondered if your anonymity have been a gift."

The Invasion of the Tearling
By Erika Johansen

I rarely buy a new release, but the library wait was so long and after finishing the first book I just couldn’t wait.

I actually liked the second book in the series even more than the first. Instead of playing it safe and giving us more of the same, Johansen added in a huge twist to the book. We pick up where we left off with Kelsea, but we also flashback, throughout the book, to a time before the Crossing. We have a chance to see what America had become and why people longed for a new world. It gave a lot more context and depth to the book.

The supporting characters keep things interesting. There’s Mace, the head of the queen’s guard, the local priests, the young children living in the Keep, a thief named Fetch whose face no one has seen, the Red Queen and her devious ways, and more. Along the way Kelsea is trying to figure out who she is as a ruler and a woman. 

Each chapter starts with a small passage from a history book. It took me a minute to realize who the author was and who they were written about, but I loved the element that those lines added to the story.

BOTTOM LINE: A fast read that left me eagerly awaiting the final book in the trilogy. The books aren’t perfect and there are certainly pieces that remind me of other books, but they are entertaining and very engrossing reads.

“Anger clouded judgment, precipitated bad decisions. Anger was the indulgence of a child, not a queen.”

“The Queen had not thought of her soldiers, only a principal, and principal was cold comfort to men who are going to die.”

“Corruption begins with a single moment of weakness.”

“It's a real thing, glory. But it pales in comparison to what we sacrifice for it. Home, family, long lives filled with quiet. These are real things too, and when we seek glory, we give them up.”

Book Blogger Book Swap: Round 1

Friday, September 4, 2015

 Allie of A Literary Odyssey recently started The Book Blogger Book Swap. A few times a year she partners participants (anonymously) with another blogger to exchange a package of books and goodies. The gifts are chosen based on a short survey we each filled out (wish list books, favorite things, food preferences, etc.). Anyway, I got my first box!!!

It was just awesome! Jenna of JMill Wanders filled it to the brim with so many things I love. There were the first three books in the Fairyland series, which I've been dying to read. Since getting the box I've already made it halfway through the first book and I love it. She also included a Harry Potter onsie for my little soon-to-be reader who is due in January! 

There was an Out of Print banned books tote, which couldn't be timed any better. I celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week every single September and now I'm going to do it in style!  

Let's not forget the delicious dark chocolate with blood orange and raspberry. I tried one of them before I even finished opening the whole package. I'd never had blood orange before and I think I'm in love. Plus a Doctor Who bookmark and something called Biscoff, which is a cookie spread (kind of like Nutella). How did I not know that was a thing?!? 

On top of all those goodies she also sent me an electronic version of the new season Orphan Black so I could catch up! After all that I am sure that I've been spoiled. : )

(Ollie shoving his nose into the box to try to smell 
ALL OF THE THINGS, while I tried to open it.)
The whole package was amazing and so thoughtful! Things like this remind me of why I love being a part of the blogging community. Yes, sometimes I get behind in my posts. Sometimes life gets in the way of visiting all the blogs I want to comment on. But in the end, it's the people I've met while blogging that make this it so rewarding.

Photos by me.

Wordless Wednesday: Scottish Rite Cathedral

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Scottish Rite Cathedral in Indianapolis
Wordless Wednesday
Photo by me.

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Every year Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings hosts the R.I.P. Challenge and for two months (September and October) participants read and post about any books that are mysteries, thrillers, Gothic, horror, etc. Except this year Carl passed the hosting baton to The lovely ladies at The Estella Society! You can check out the complete details here.

I always look forward to this challenge and find myself saving books to read during these months. This year I have a great mix of books, including classics, nonfiction, short stories, and more. 

I'll also be co-hosting a readalong with Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity and Care at Care's Online Book Club! We will be tackling Uncle Stevie's classic Salem's Lot and getting scared silly together. We'll be reading it in October and I'll post more details when it gets closer, but I hope you'll join us if you've been wanting to read that one.

Here's my list of potential R.I.P. books:
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier 
- Salem's Lot by Stephen King 
- The Edgar Allan Poe Audio Collection 
- The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule 
- Dark Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft (Vol. 1) by H.P. Lovecraft 
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- The Quick by Lauren Owen (the R.I.P. group read this year)

If you need any ideas for books to read, here's a few of my previous R.I.P. challenge posts:
R.I.P. Challenge IX
R.I.P. Challenge VIII
R.I.P. Challenge VII
R.I.P. Challenge VI