Tuesday, March 24, 2015

February 2015

Three quarters of the way through March isn't too late to do a February recap, right?

The only thing that happened in the first two weeks of February is that Quinn made me (and herself) a new friend in the dairy section of the grocery store. The other woman and I were just trying to figure out what yogurt to get and Quinn invited her and her kids over for mac and cheese and to watch Big Hero Six. Quinn does NOT talk to adults she doesn't know. Sometimes she will talk to them if they have kids, but not to invite them over! It was the craziest/funniest thing. So now we've gotten together with the kids a couple times. Quinn's apparently my friend wingman.

We went over to my sister's to review Junior Explorers, but Quinn had to model for me first.

My mom and I started working out at the end of January and I try to be motivating, but it doesn't always come out right.
Me: Come on! You can do it! Be a fat ninja!
Mom: *weird look and laughter*
Me: Wait! Not a ninja that is fat, but like the fruit ninja? A ninja of fruit, be a ninja of fat!
So, now we're fat ninjas.

Quinn got her hair done all pretty for Valentine's Day by my sister and then I got all fancied up (in a dress I borrowed from the same sister) for date night.

view on Instagram
view on Instagram
Later in the month my mom, 2/3 of my sisters, Darci, and I all went to the Women's Fair. I spent too much money there, as usual. But it's tradition to go and I'm still slightly bitter about the one year my mom couldn't go with me, so I'm not going to complain.

I also purpled my hair in February. It's slightly lighter and more blue now, but I still love it.

Books I read in February:
Blood Orchids - Toby Neal
White Cat - Holly Black
Jeneration X - Jen Lancaster
Matched - Ally Condie

And for most of the month I had Uptown Funk stuck in my head.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

So, This Happened

Just in case you don't follow me on Twitter or Instagram, and possibly for posterity, I figured I'd share what happened last week.

And I am IN LOVE with it. Although, I think I might go back and have her cut me some straight across bangs, like I used to have (but I don't think I'll do black hair again). If you're new around here, I'll let you know this is not the first time I've had awesomely bright hair. I had pink highlights, blue hair, then purple over blue. I've also had (both naturally and unnaturally) blonde, brown, and red hair. So far, this is my favorite.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Winter Reading Challenge is DONE

My original list has changed somewhat, but since the challenge is over I figured I'd give you some small reviews for Semi Charmed Life's Winter challenge.

5 Points - Freebie! Any book over 200 pages - The Wake of the Lorelei Lee by LA Meyer
Five stars to this one, one of my favorites in the Bloody Jack series. In this one, Jacky gets sent to a women's prison in Australia and it includes some of the real founding mothers as side characters.

10 Points - Author with at least 10 books - City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I saw the movie before I read the book and I think I liked the movie a little bit better. It did a better job of explaining/showing why Alec was jealous of Clary and I think it also did a better job of making the whole not talking to people look normal instead of insane. JUST TELL PEOPLE WHAT YOU'RE THINKING/FEELING. I give the first book of the series 4/5 stars, but that last all-caps sentence is what I've been thinking while reading all the other books. However, I keep reading them because the whole Shadowhunter mythology is really interesting.

10 Points - A book of short stories - My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins
I don't usually read short stories. I prefer the stories I read to have more depth and short stories usually leave me with more questions and I just don't like that. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how many of the short stories I actually enjoyed. Here's a shot from Goodreads of how I felt about the individual stories:

10 Points - Read a book with a food (not a drink!) in the title - I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
I just started this one a few days ago and didn't get it finished in time for the challenge. I still haven't finished it and I'm not 100% sure I'm going to. It's okay so far, but not fabulous. Sidenote that has nothing to do with the book, but Sloane Crosley is GORGEOUS.

15 Points - Read the first book in a series that is new to you - Matched by Ally Condie
I've had this one on my "to-read" list since it came out, I think. Only took me five years to get to it, yeesh. It was really good except it felt like something was off between me and the book. Either something was missing or it was too mellow for what was happening? I'm not sure if I was just used to louder and more rambunctious heroines and Cassia's a little more reserved or what, but I'm definitely going to read the sequels.

15 Points - Read a book that was originally published in a language that is not your native one - The Bat by Jo Nesbø
Ugh. I wanted to like this one, but man I DID NOT. I don't even remember who the murderer was.

15 Points - Read a book written by a local author - Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout
Another one I didn't finish. Rex Stout was the only local author I could find who didn't write only poetry (like short stories, I also don't really do poetry) but this book was published in 1934 and I just don't think crime books from that time period appeal to me. At least, this one didn't. I doubt I'll pick it up to read again, but I have a small paperback copy if anybody's interested in it.

20 Points - Read a "bookish" book - The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
This one sounded good and might have been good, but it was not my favorite. Although, I didn't hate it either. I just didn't care for the secrets and why the girls would have been allowed to have lived that way. If there was a time period specified, that might have helped it be a little more believable.

20 Points - Read a book with a direction in the title - The Mark of the Golden Dragon: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Jewel of the East, Vexation of the West, and Pearl of the South China Sea by LA Meyer
Thank you Mr. Meyer for the extended titles on your books, otherwise I'm not sure what I would have read for this category. Anyway, this was not my favorite book of the series (although I did like it better than the 11th one, that was the worst of the series so far for me) but it was still good. I enjoyed learning about Ching Shih (although I'm sure a lot was fictional, it was still interesting).

This post is lacking pictures so enjoy a picture of Quinn from almost THREE years ago "reading".
25 Points - Read from a genre you don't normally read from - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Okay, so, short stories AND poetry AND non-fiction are all genres I normally stay away from. This book was one of the ones that doubled for Erin's challenge as well (it's in a science category in that one) so I'm glad I didn't have to read two of these kinds of books. As much as I don't like science or non-fiction, I did really like this book. Well, like it as much as one can when learning about how jacked up the medical system is/was.

25 Points - Read a book with a song lyric in the title - The Mind's Eye by KC Finn
I think I cheated a TEENY bit with this one because I hadn't ever heard the song before (it's by Haken, whom I hadn't ever heard of either), but it wound up working out. The book was really interesting, it's about a girl who can see into other's minds and it's set in Europe during WWII.  And the e-book's still free on Amazon.

30 Points - Read two books with different meals in the titles - Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson & Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult's Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development; Or, Why It's Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not for Dinner by Jen Lancaster
This category is also known as Books Where I'd Like to Thank the Authors for Extended Titles Once Again. The Audrey Hepburn books was super boring to me, so sorry Mr. Wasson. However, Jen Lancaster's book, while not my favorite of hers, was fabulous. Seriously, she's one of my faves.

Phew. I'm REALLY hoping that I will actually be able to finish the summer challenge. We'll see.
I still have five books to read for Erin's challenge PLUS she has a bonus round. I might make a list for the bonus round for gits and shiggles.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Q&A for FIVE Years

I received this book from Blogging for Books, but all opinions are my own.

If you haven't noticed yet, I enjoy Q&A type posts. I especially enjoy them when I have other things to do. There's just something nice about not having to think too hard about what to write for a blog post and they're reminiscent of MySpace quizzes, which I was also obsessed with. I have had the Q&A a Day book on my Amazon wishlist for about three years now for exactly that reason, so I was super happy when I saw it available on Blogging for Books.

I've been answering the questions for almost a month and they range from factual

 to confusing.

I kind of wish there was more room to write, but only because I write large. I know this isn't meant for more than a couple sentences a day, which I can do! I'm really excited to be able to do this for five years to see how I change. Provided I don't lose the book. Which, let's be honest, is a real possibility with how often we move.

I was slightly worried that the questions wouldn't be interesting, but so far they're all really good (except for maybe that remix one). If you're into the idea of keeping a journal, but never seem to know what to write or don't want to write too much, I think this was made for you.

Oh, also the book is produced by Potter Style and they have SO MANY cool journals and books, including what's pretty much a paper version of GoodReads, plus puzzles and note cards.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Arctic Adventure with Junior Explorers

I received compensation from Junior Explorers and there are affiliate links in the post, but (as always) all opinions are honest and my own.

I have to be honest in that I hadn't heard of Junior Explorers before I was approached to review them. I'm not sure how many people have heard of them, but I'm hoping I'll help spread the word because it's a really cool program!

I'm sure you're familiar with the subscription boxes that come in every type of product you can imagine; make-up, food, alcohol, etc. Well, that's the same premise with Junior Explorers. Every month they come up with a new mission to help your kids learn about nature.

Junior Explorers

Junior Explorers is recommended for elementary-aged kids and with Quinn being only three, I wasn't sure we were the right people to review this product. Then I remembered that my niece (referred to as CC) just turned five and it seemed like something she'd really like. I also have a nephew (LC) who's two and a half months younger than Quinn, so we got to see how all three kids interacted with the games and information.

First we unpacked the mission packet. It included a pin, a wristband, two tiny animals (I wish they would have been a little bigger because I think we've lost them already), postcards, temporary tattoos (the kids' favorite part), stickers, flash cards, a fact sheet, and an activity booklet. A lot of cool things and we haven't even gotten to the online part yet!

The girls, my sister, and I hunkered down on the floor in front of my laptop while LC was playing in the other room. Both girls were intrigued, especially once they saw the fun animations and found out our goal was to find a mama polar bear because her cubs had been found alone. Along with the mission of finding the mama bear, you're informed a LOT about the arctic and the animals that live there. I even learned a few things!

I was pretty stoked I had a good hair day since I wound up being in some pictures!
We proceeded through the sections which includes quite a bit of reading. That's one of the reasons why this is recommended for elementary-aged kids, most of them can read. None of the three kids I had with me can read so there was quite a bit of adult involvement, but I think if you're expecting to do that then this will still work for not-quite-elementary-aged kids.

These two are Kia and Kyle, they lead you through the entire program.
LC did join us at one point, because the girls seemed to be having fun. At least, I'm pretty sure that's why he joined us, he didn't actually say.

The program goes back and forth between reading information, following simple directions (such as clicking on the camera to take a picture), and games. The games in the Arctic Adventure included completing a food chain, a Flappy Bird-esque game with a white owl and lemmings, one where you move ice blocks so a seal can get to its breathing hole, and steering a kayak with the arrow keys. The food chain concept seemed to be a little over the kids' heads. Quinn in particular seems to think that everything eats the plant option. I'm not sure she quite puts together live animals and the animals we eat are one in the same. I played the owl game because none of the kids wanted to try that one and I'm happy to report that my high score is 14! As for the kayak game, all three kids tried that one and enjoyed having to dodge the icebergs.

The aforementioned Flappy Bird-esque game.
Quinn loved this so much we have played it another five times since playing it at my sister's house. And she would have played it even more if she could use my laptop by herself. My sister said "It's a wonderful educational tool with lots of fun activities!" and I completely agree with her. I'd say that when the company recommends elementary-aged kids, they're spot on. This would be best for 5 to 9 year olds. And, like I said before, if a younger kid can read or an adult is willing to play it with them, it's good for them too.

Beyond learning about different ecosystems and animals, once your child is done with the mission their points are converted into money that gets donated to great non-profits such as World Wildlife Fun and The Nature Conservatory. I think that's a great bonus to such a fun learning game.

If you're interested in learning more about Junior Explorers or ordering for yourself, just check out their website or feel free to ask me any questions!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

January 2015

I decided that instead of waiting until the end of the year to do a recap, I'm going to attempt to do monthly ones. That way everything is fresh in my mind and it doesn't take forever to do.

The first part of this month was spent waiting for my nephew to be born. He was due on the 10th (I think), but kept us all waiting until the 17th. I'm not allowed to share pictures of him yet, but look how happy Quinn looks to meet him!

I read a few books. The Bat and The Thirteenth Tale for reading challenges. I didn't like either of them. I also read City of Ashes, City of Glass, and City of Fallen Angels in the Mortal Instruments series and I'm really liking it, although I'm terribly annoyed that NOBODY tells anybody anything. I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for reading challenges and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it considering I am NOT a science-y person. I read and reviewed Choose Your Own Autobiography. I also read The Story of Awkward, Peeps, and Blood Orchids. I really liked all three of them and the first one is free via Kindle right now. Ten books in one month isn't bad! I'm actually surprised.

I went to a Jamberry party at my (step)sister's house and ordered a cute pair that looks like knitting and a floral one. That took up most of my spending money, but luckily I was able to sell some stuff at a consignment store for $40 so I have spending money for the Women's Fair in a couple weeks.

Other than my nephew being born these people had birthdays in January: A brother-in-law (the new nephew's daddy), my mom and her sister (they're twins and I'm SO SORRY I forgot you Aunt Crystal), my niece, my friend Genevieve, my father-in-law, Jarrod's best friend, and my grandma. I think that's it, so happy birthday to you guys!

(also, don't forget to enter the giveaway in yesterday's post!)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Valentine's Day and CardStore!

I have been given free cards in the past from CardStore, but all opinions in this post are my own.

I love getting cards in the mail and I love sending them, but I'm not the best at actually remembering to order them. For this last Christmas I did manage to get some pictures printed and sent them out in some basic Christmas cards I bought on clearance a few years ago.

The picture we sent out, the three of us at Darci's wedding 11/2014
I don't send cards to everybody for every holiday, but I do like to get Jarrod and Quinn fun ones for the smaller holidays, like Valentine's Day. One of my favorite places to get cards is CardStore.com because they always have super cute designs and a wide selection of funny and sweet cards.

Here are a few of my favorite Valentine's Day cards that are available right now:

L: Love Being Married     R: Love Makes the Happiest Memories

L: Cute Hugging Jellybeans     R: Totally Rocking Valentine
All of the cards have the option to customize part of the inside and plenty of them also offer the option to customize the front or add pictures (like the Happiest Memories one). Right now you can even get a Valentine's Day card for only $1.99 and get school cards for $0.99! (These two deals are good until Feb 6th, so hurry up!) Check out the deals page for more information. However, if you're a fan of free (like I am) the lovely people at CardStore are letting me do a giveaway! Whoever wins will get 10 free cards from CardStore!

Important information: Giveaway is open to all countries that CardStore ships to, must be 18 years of age or older to enter, all entries must be entered via Rafflecopter, the giveaway is open until 12:00am CST Feb 9, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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