What I've read lately

26 April 2016

26 April 2016
I went on a big reading kick this last month or so. Sure, it meant the laundry didn't get done quite on time, and I had to sacrifice some sleep but...totally worth it!

I'm not sure anyone much cares what I've been reading, but I love looking back at what I've read and using that as a way to find new authors/more books in series I haven't read yet, so I like writing them.

If you are a super-nerd like me, and aren't on Goodreads yet -- umm, get on that! It's a social media for book reading and book lovers, and it's a fantastic way to track what you've read and get others' recommendations. I'm right here if you want to be friends!

Book links are Amazon affiliate - if you purchase from Amazon after clicking through, I get a small percentage back. Thanks for supporting my Prime book addiction!

To the books!

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
by George R. R. Martin

You know how last year I spent the last two months binge-reading Game of Thrones way too quickly and ignored all my other responsibilities? Well, this is a different set of stories set 100 years before the stuff in GoT but the same world and the same basic ideas. It's about a knight and his squire, and split into 3 short stories, and it was a great short read -- if you like GoT, that is.

The Cuckoo's Calling
by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

I honestly don't know why it took me so long to finally pick this one up - being two of my favorite things together, anything J.K. Rowling writes + the mystery genre, but I think I was worried I would be disappointed. I WAS NOT. This was clever, and intriguing, and captivating, and so much better than I expected. And Cormoran Strike, the detective, is someone you just want to get to know better. (If you got turned off of J.K.'s other endeavors by her political book, The Casual Vacancy, still give this one a try. Totally amazing.) Highly recommend to all mystery fans and to all J.K. Rowling fans as well. I picked up the next two from the library and I can't wait to crack them open.

The One & Only
by Emily Giffin

I started reading Emily Giffin's fluffy rom-com novels on a whim during the summer of my freshman year of college. They're nothing too special, but somehow manage to capture your imagination and bring real characters to life. This latest one of hers was no exception - centered around a small Texas town obsessed with football, this had Midwest NE football-loving me written (pun intended) all over it. Solid quick read, entertaining, and a sweet ending.

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

I honestly thought I was the only person who hadn't read this one yet - until I saw Britt say the same thing and felt a little better about myself. If you haven't read it yet, it's an indescribable book - something about it sticks with you in a way too deep for words. I wouldn't say it necessarily lived up to *all* the hype I heard, but this book is a serious good read. Prepare to be immersed for a few weeks in a world you can't escape from - I won't say any more to keep the spoilers away.

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

Not a book for the faint of heart, but another one of those books that sticks with you in a funny way after you're done reading. But this one is more on the thriller/mystery side, something I (obviously) enjoy. Also it looks like it's going to be a movie sometime next year, so that's fascinating!

Agatha Raisin & the Quiche of Death
by M. C. Beaton

On a whim browsing through the mystery section at our library, I came across this series and decided I'd try the first one to see if I liked it. Aaaand since then I've read the first 5 and can't wait to get my hands on more. They're little mysteries set in the style of the Agatha Christie, but updated to the 90s and with quite a different character as the lead (even though her name is also Agatha). Highly recommend if you like quick mysteries set in the English countryside.

Well, that's all I have time to type up right now but there have been, and will be, more where that came from - I got my hands on the next two Cormoran Strike mysteries for vacation next week, as well as some others I've been meaning to try.

What else should I be reading next? Hit me up with your suggestions!

bits and bobs, again.

20 April 2016

20 April 2016
This little old blog has been neglected as of late.

There's been a lot of normal around here: clipping toenails and fingernails that keep growing, book reading over and over again, making lunches of whatever I can scrounge from the fridge, pretend phone calls, the occasional SCREAM EVERYTHING meltdown...you know how it is.

It's been rainy and kind of chilly (relatively) the last few days, which also means my sanity saving "put Murph outside so I can work somewhat productively when Kate's awake" strategy doesn't work because...dog + rain = smell I can't handle. So we've been improvising and trying to not go stir-crazy. (I've never thought about dog ownership in the Pacific Northwest. How do people do it? Do they just have non-sensitive noses? Or make their dogs stay inside all the time?)

There's also been house renovation dreaming (here's looking at you, kitchen! and p.s. thanks for everyone's input, y'all are the best), a proper date night thanks to a free sister babysitting for the first time in a LONG time - including our first time mini golfing together, a cold David and Kate have been battling for what seems like forever now, and a whole lot of walking (I got a FitBit!).

had to take a selfie to prove I got a hole in one!
I haven't even taken any photos on my phone since my last post about the kitchen, besides a few on our date night (best one shown above). That should show you how out of it I've been! (Although I've still been, and will forever be, on Snapchat. It's amazing.)

Lately I've been getting really nostalgic for Kate's baby days - she seems to grow up by leaps and bounds these days, and all I can see is this little baby that was just here a minute ago - I turned around and she's gone!

I've also been doing a fair bit of reading: finally got my hands on the first Cormoran Strike novel, The Cuckoo's Calling (I know, about 4 years late, but SO GOOD), a bunch of Agatha Raisin mysteries, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms...voila, my very eclectic taste in reading in one short paragraph. I'm excited to start The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah soon, and then the other two Galbraith (Rowling) mysteries.

Otherwise, pretty much same old same old -- see piles of laundry needing to be put away, a lack of meal planning, trying to shirk responsibilities.
How about you?

Books are affiliate links - if you click through to buy on Amazon, I get a tiny percentage back! Thanks for supporting small mama blogs like mine!

HELP! aka kitchen remodel plans

13 April 2016

13 April 2016
Guys, the kitchen in our house is atrocious.

It's the perfect size if you live alone, love faux painted yellow brick, don't do a lot of cooking, and you love washing dishes by hand. None of those requirements fit our family-of-3-plus-a-puppy needs.

Here's a picture tour to give you a sense of it...

 First, the view from the living room. This is about 50% of our kitchen in total, if you want a clue as to how small it is.

Problems to point out from here: really ugly and chipping linoleum, the fact that the door to the basement AND the back door take up a lot of the storage room we *could* have, the very makeshift additional storage we've added via pots & pans hung above the window and tiny wire shelf below. Plus the high chair, where Kate eats breakfast & dinner.

This was last night at dinner time (for Kate, we usually eat after she goes to bed around 7:30 or so). As you might have guessed, literally any surface we can use for storage gets used - that's why the two window sills are covered in spices, tea bags, etc. 

 This is a view with my back against the back door. The cabinets are AWFUL - first of all, there aren't any handles and they don't go all the way to the ceiling. Plus, for some unknown reason, they start up higher on the wall than most average cabinets, which means short people like me can only really access the bottom shelf without a lot of work. (I can straaaaain and get to the very top shelf if I'm up on one foot on tiptoe.)

As you can also see, when we do dishes, or when David does dishes I should say, the drying takes up 50% of our available counter space. Which forces us to use the stove as a prep area, and that isn't fun.

See what I mean about the tall cabinets? Plus, they don't go all the way to the ceiling for some unknown reason, which just means we have to store things ON TOP OF THEM. Grrr.

Also for some reason everything in the kitchen is just marginally crooked? Which drives me nuts.

Our small appliances/recycling pile are to the right of the fridge, which is fine because that's part of the counter we couldn't use for prep even if we wanted to. We also store most of our bread/chips/snacks on top of the fridge. Unopened food is in one of the lower cabinets, but not a lot because there have been mice problems...yuck.

The other 50% of our counter space. Such a nice big expanse, right? Except that a lot of the time it's filled with dirty dishes, because the sink is too small to hold very many and we don't have a dishwasher to hide them in.

And the terrible sink - it's about two bowls deep, yet somehow comes down so low underneath the cabinet that we can't store anything large under there.

Feature I haven't mentioned yet? The uuuuugly painted brick. The thing is, it's not even real brick! It's half bricks glued onto the wall, and then painted over. Which means when you try to remove one, half the plaster wall behind it comes with. STUPID.

Next to the door, there's the terribly skinny & oddly proportioned extra "pantry" cabinet. It's got so many weird-sized shelves in it that we can only store certain things in it. I'd love to get rid of that whole cabinet and put some shelves along the whole wall, mostly because it'd probably double the amount of storage we have in here.

Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever have the budget (or time...) to redo the layout of the kitchen, which is really what it needs (think: moving the back door to the center of the house, knocking down a wall, moving the stairs...impossible, really). Originally we were thinking of just knocking out the wall behind the fridge, which backs out to the dining room, but that is a lot of work for not a lot of extra square footage...so that's on the back burner for now.

What I'm thinking is something like this:

New floor (same as our bathroom!), new cabinets that extend all the way from a normal height to the ceiling, a new backsplash, getting rid of all the terrible faux brick, new countertop, adding some open shelves, a dishwasher, and a new sink would make this kitchen sooooo much better. (I really love the dark blue on bottom, white on top cabinets - I think it would make our kitchen feel twice as big, too.)

We might have to settle (due to budget) with a new floor and a fresh coat of paint on everything, which wouldn't solve a lot of the underlying issues with the place but would cost a lot less than the other plan.

But we're still at a loss as to how much money we want to invest in a house this size, or if there's a way we can reconfigure the floor plan without spending an arm and a leg. It's a serious blight on the rest of our house, and by far the worst room since we fixed up the bathroom.

So. Ye of the internet, got any ideas for us?
HELP PLZ. and thank you. :)

everyday life.

07 April 2016

07 April 2016

I haven't been blogging much lately. Nor really feeling like blogging either, for that matter. Hey, it's my blog! I do what I want!

Instead I've been reading lots of books (literally 4 books in the last week -- sometimes I really like the fact that I can speed read), watching Kate and David play soccer on the driveway, making bacon & pepper quesadillas, pinning way too many cute farmhouse pictures on Pinterest, watching House at night when I'm too tired to do anything else.

I spent two solid weeks looking for toddler tennis shoes for Kate that didn't cost an arm and a leg and that met my very high standards -- no characters, no super bright colors, no shoelaces...you get the picture, I'm picky. I finally went with the boy version of the last pair Kate had from Target. I've tried looking on eBay like Grace swears to but I just never have any luck! So new tennies it was. (Plus, I don't feel too bad about buying new because she wore her last pair into the ground.)

As evidenced by the above photos, Kate's hair is getting crazier and messier as it grows longer. Most days I get around to putting a pony tail in her hair, but if I don't she looks like the ultimate 80's rocker:

I just know she's going to look back at pictures of herself at this age and say, "Mom, why didn't you do something about my hair?" and I will have no valid reason except laziness. Oh well. :)

We have a fancy fundraiser to go to this weekend in David's hometown, and I used Rent the Runway again. If you haven't heard of them I highly recommend it! Super easy way to rent very expensive dresses and get to feel all fancy without the cost out of pocket. (If you're interested, and click through my link here, you get $20 off and I get $20 off my next rental. Win-win-win, as Michael Scott would say!)

Nothing much else new around here. Hang loose, mongoose! (Is that a Leslie Knope phrase or what?)

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