Summertime Giveaway!

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Summer has finally arrived in Michigan! It’s warm, birds are singing, the sun is shining and there are multiple opportunities for fun everyday, from road trips to ice cream to summertime reading on your front porch!

Last week I was talking about how when you are a kid, summer feels endless, and full of promise, brand new adventures whenever you are ready. I realized I want a little of that back, that feeling of summer stretching out in front of us like a blank slate, despite having adult responsibilities. These moments can be small or large, summer vacations or a trip to the library, whatever you make it. A chance to make your own summer story.

When I saw this decorative stack of books, I knew that it would help inspire me to keep to my goal – and then I realized I wanted to give an opportunity to one of you to have this as well. When I was talking to Michelle of Bombshell Redesign about what I wanted to do, she generously gifted a matching stack for someone to have the chance to win!

A little bit about Michelle and Bombshell Redesign: She is a firecracker, a whirl of energy and creativity, with an eye for repurposing things that may just get thrown away or recycled. She is a mother, an avid reader, an entrepreneur, an artist. Bombshell Redesign is a quirky, quotable, bookish way to upcycle books headed for recycling or a landfill. She offers many different options, including personalizations and special requests. These decorative stacks are fun and perfect gifts for friends, grandparents, book clubs, and teachers – or for anyone for that matter!

To win, just live in the United States and follow the Rafflecopter prompts! Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on July 7.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

(Also if anyone can tell me why this HTML isn’t showing as the widget it would be appreciated! Lol.)

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

So far, summer break has not been much break for me, but it is nice to have Wyatt here. Last week we did a bunch of non-fun things but still stuff that needed to get done, so I think..we might be ready to just kick back and relax for a bit! Friday Billy took the day off work and the three of us went to the zoo to celebrate World Giraffe Day, as giraffes are Wyatt’s favorite animal currently. We spent the rest of the weekend pretty much just hanging out around the house and with family, and it was nice to have a long weekend together.

Read last week:

Last week, I said I was going to read Where the Crawdads Sing, and I really honestly thought I was going to. Lol. Then I got a lot of comments from people mentioning that their library hold lists were seriously long and that they had a long wait, and I started to wonder. I went up to the library to see if it was in for me, and well, it wasn’t. So I asked about it, as my online account did not show that I was any number in line, so I assumed it was in for me. I learned that the library changed its policy and no longer is telling people where they are on the list, and that it appears I do have a while to wait. I was kind of bummed about this change in policy – I don’t understand it. My dad called as I was leaving the library and I was telling him about my book woes, so he surprised me later by calling and telling me that he ordered it for me from Amazon! Yay Dad to the rescue! In the meantime, I read Last Summer. I plan on reviewing it July 10.

Reading this week:

I usually love Lorna Landvik so I am looking forward to this one! It’s all lined up in case Where the Crawdads Sing comes later in the week.

Posted Last Week:

Book Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

World Giraffe Day

What about you all? What is going on in your neighborhood?

World Giraffe Day

Friday was World Giraffe Day and also summer solstice, celebrating the longest necked animal on the longest day (or night depending on your hemisphere) of the year.

Wyatt loves giraffes. They are his favorite (coincidentally, his favorite colors are also orange and yellow..) We were already planning on celebrating solstice in our own small way, by eating summery fruits like strawberries and getting together with some friends, but when I read about Giraffe day, I decided to make a whole day of it. Billy even took the day off from work so that he could celebrate with us all day as well!

We headed out early, basically waking up and packing up our “adventure backpack” as we call it and hitting the road, zoo bound. The giraffe festivities at the zoo were starting at 10, but I like to get to the zoo, or anywhere, right when they open as I have found places are less crowded earlier. We found the parking lot empty and the zoo almost to ourselves when we got there, and since we had time before the giraffe day things we visited some of the new exhibits, like the red panda’s new enclosure, with its rope swinging bridge, which puts zoogoers closer to the treetops where the red panda’s hang out, and the arctic exhibit which is usually jam packed. We had both exhibits to ourselves, which was kind of neat, especially the arctic exhibit. I finally got a chance to view the artwork that is inside! We were able to get very close to the glass as well with our kiddo, so close that a passing seal startled him a little! Most of the seals at the Detroit Zoo have cataracts and would not be able to survive in the wild and it is amazing how they still can perform their water acrobatics and swim and dive with limited vision. Nature is so cool.

After checking out the most popular attractions, we went to our other favorites, the wolves and the bears, who were all out and up front and center that early in the morning. I have actually never seen either the wolves or bears so close to visitor areas, we were able to get great views of them. By the time we were done, it was time to head over to the giraffes, our whole reason for going!

The zoo had volunteers standing by to answer questions, as well as information tables and signs laid out everywhere. We saw the skull of a giraffe, and signed the card for Kuvali, the mom giraffe at the zoo. We have a family of giraffes, Kuvali, Jabari (dad), and Mpenzi, their son at our zoo, and they were showing off in the yard, playing and posing for photos.

Wyatt and I had been doing some reading in preparation for World Giraffe Day, to expand our (my) knowledge of giraffes, and I learned quite a few crazy things! We learned that the collective noun for giraffes is a tower, which makes sense, and that giraffes actually have the same number of vertebrae in its neck as a human. Giraffes also have blue-black tongues to protect the tongue from sunburns, and fight by swinging their necks around, which I never want to see.

Sadly, these gentle, quiet, beautiful creatures have become endangered. According to bornfree.uk, giraffe numbers plummeted by a staggering 40% in the last three decades, and less than 100,000 remain today. I hate hearing about all of our animals slowly disappearing; it is hard to imagine a world where these magnificent beasts no longer roam. To read more about their plight and what you can do, visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation here. I have already signed up to make a monthly donation and “adopted” a giraffe, but there are other ways to help, which can be as easy as just making people aware that these amazing animals are in danger.

How about you? What is your favorite animal?

Book Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Goodreads Summary:

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

My Thoughts:

I was so excited to read this final installment in the Caraval series. I have been enchanted by this world since I first picked Caraval up on a whim- I think it is such a unique story, and so visual for a book. I can totally imagine this series as a movie or television show – everything just feels so alive and bursting off of the pages, in glittering technicolor. There is a sense of vivaciousness, excess, beauty from this world and Scarlett and Tella are such great characters, and their fierce love for each other. They are truly sisters, so different yet loyal and devoted to the other. In this book, we got to hear almost equally from both and I loved it reading a book that had both of their perspectives.

Holy Love Triangles Batman! Not just one character with a love triangle, but two. I have a slight favoritism for Scarlett and Julian though, so I have to say I enjoyed their journey in Finale a wee bit more. Tella and Legend, I’m just not as into their story as I am Scarlett and Julian’s. Maybe it is because we met Scarlett first? Regardless, I still greatly enjoyed seeing their stories spin out and finally conclude.

There were some pretty big surprises in this book! From sad ones to ones that I didn’t see coming, it was a bit of a roller coaster from start to finish. I found myself drawn more to the character of Jacks, and was almost sort of rooting for him over Legend! Of course, you will not find out until the very end who Tella ultimately ends up with..

I also really enjoyed hearing the stories of the Fates, how they came to be, their history and the lore surrounding them. That was actually really cool. They played a huge part in this book, and I really loved it.

Overall, I really enjoyed Finale!

Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review!



My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

Our weekend is unfolding pretty slowly. It’s rainy and a little dreary, so today (Saturday) we are pursuing indoor pursuits like blogging, coloring, painting, and later crafting as a family. We are going to make strawberry necklaces out of salt dough to wear for our full strawberry moon party on Monday. We went out for a bit this morning, and daydreamed over retro trailers – they are just so darn cute and the idea of just hooking up and moving out for a night or two on a whim suits us. Or I could just park it in the driveway in our yard and use it as a quiet reading retreat too! I feel strongly that we will have one of these, one day…

Read Last Week:

The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms – I do not usually read books that do not match the season I am living, I am weirdly seasonal. This book however, it didn’t matter. I totally adored it and it was the perfect little happy escape read that I needed!

I also started A Buzz in the Meadow and while I am not a super bug person, I am fascinated by this book.

Reading This Week:

I have been very inspired by Lakeside Musing’s posts lately and I hurried to put a few of the books she has read recently on hold. Well, two of them came in and this was one! I am looking forward to reading it. ETA: So everyone’s comments on how long the holds list is made me double check my status! Lol. Our library changed their policy and no longer tells you where you are on the list for a book, so the way it was listed in my holds area online made it look like it was in. I am not sure why they wouldn’t tell us where we are though. 😦 So…it looks like I have a long wait ahead of me if I am going to read it from the library, darn it!!!

Posted Last Week:

Hello, June!

Supporting Small and Local

Watching:

The Durrells on Prime and Criminal Minds on Netflix. I love the Durrell family!

How about you all? How are you doing?

Supporting Small and Local

For a year now I have been trying to find a way to source a majority of our groceries from small, local farmers. It has actually been harder than I thought, honestly. We do not live in a “food desert” but my area is much more urban than rural, and we have to drive a ways to find a farm. And then to try to make a list of which ones have what, and of those, make sure they are organic and humane, then finally, where are they, in relation to me and to each other? However, brilliant people eons ago solved this problem for me, I just needed to take advantage of it. Instead of running all over the map sourcing these ingredients, farmers make it easy on us by bringing it in to farmer’s markets, a resource I have neglected for far too long. Before Wyatt, we used to go all the time – for some reason we stopped going regularly. But last Saturday, we were up early and my kiddo is full of beans in the morning so we just threw on some clothes and left the house, in search of adventure and good food.

We found both! Eastern Market downtown is a huge farmer’s market, that has everything from flowers to meat to baked goods to produce to cheese and eggs. We happily wandered the sheds in search of what we wanted, and bought quite a few other things not on our list as well. We spent thirty dollars, and left with a giant bag filled to the top with fresh veggies (it’s a little early for fruit really here), including a huge bunch of radishes still all covered in dirt. I love radishes, and we eat them a lot, especially in our spring green quinoa bowls which we enjoy at least once a week. So that was an exciting find. We also bought a jar of fresh honey, handmade spinach basil ravioli, a small bag of mushrooms, a loaf of olive bread and a giant loaf of farm table bread, microgreens and pea shoots, asparagus, and some other assorted veggies that I can’t seem to remember.

I was entranced by the mushroom stall, as you can see. I have never seen that many different kinds of mushrooms all at once, and there were quite a few I had never heard of. We didn’t buy morels but they are on our list for next time!

We spotted this beauty too, also home grown in the D….

Since we were already out and on this mission we decided to head to Calder’s Dairy as well, to round out our day. It was a bit of a drive, and not well planned out to go from Eastern Market down to Calder’s Dairy, but it was a beautiful day and we had no other plans, so why not? At Calder’s we bought eggs, milk, butter, and ice cream, and oooed and ahhed over the cute little babies there! Calves and ducklings and goslings were everywhere! I wanted to take a few ducklings home but unfortunately my city frowns on raising any fowl so no chickens or ducks for me, although I would love a few of each!

When we got home I had a better idea of how to do this in the future, and next time I will have a plan. It was a little impulsive, fly by the seat of our pants but it was a fact finding mission and adventure this time. I did have to buy other groceries still but we had a chunk taken care of, and I felt good about where most of our food came from. I had to make our dinner plan around what I had bought, rather than the other way around, which was a little challenging, but it was doable. We just had different sorts of dinners! We had scrambled eggs on toasted olive bread sprinkled with microgreens and steamed asparagus on the side, spring quinoa bowls, the spinach basil ravioli, a pizza from the local Italian bakery that we baked ourselves (I bought this a different day but stuck to my mission), and then we ate out one day at my mom’s special request to eat at a particular restaurant. So, we got three meals out of our expedition and that was without a plan. We are going back next Saturday and you can be sure that I will have a rough dinner plan mapped out in my head and a mental list of ingredients. I am looking forward to doing this as often as we can this summer, and then to start preserving for the winter as well! It also forces us to live seasonally, which is better for the quality of our food as well as our environment.

I would love to hear your favorite farmer’s market style meals! I need ideas!

Hello June!

Wow, how is it June already? It seems like the year is flying by!

June is the month of the Strawberry Moon, and I am so excited to begin this month! This month I think we want to really soak up the month, as I am not sure where April and May went to so fast!

Summer begins in June, and it always brings to mind that freedom and joy felt when you are a child, and the whole summer is stretched out before you like a blank canvas. Mornings of sleeping in, lazy days reading under a tree, chasing fireflies and playing tag, trips to the cool library on those really hot days, visits to the zoo and beaches and walks through shady woods. Peeking under rocks for bugs and just laying back in the grass, staring up at the clouds. Playing with friends and cousins and backyard cookouts and pool play dates. Summertime feels like freedom, and we lose that feeling so much as an adult, with all of our responsibilities of work, whether it is a work out of the home job or stay at home. But if there is one thing I have learned in the past few months, it is that time is short. We all only have so many summers and while we do have to take care of lives, and can’t live with the utter carefreeness of a child all of the time, we can incorporate some of that spirit into our everyday. Stop and take half an hour or an hour on a busy day to just be. To enjoy and savor your life. Make days just for playtime and family and fun days out. Try and make the most of these days. The other day my husband came home from work and although it was dinner time and we had lots of things we could have and should have been doing, instead we hopped in the car, stopped at a bakery for pizza rolls, and headed off to the marsh for a sunset. A spur of the moment dinner picnic. It was good for the soul.

This summer, we are planning on many trips to the library, little morning hikes, and lots of evening front porch sitting. We are enjoying gardening and the farmer’s markets that are popping up, and we are looking forward to many backyard bbqs and fires, chilled white wine, iced lavendar coffee, and of course, lots and lots of ice cream! Mint chocolate chip for Wyatt and Billy, chocolate for me. Wyatt also started adaptive swimming lessons which are fun, he loves being in the water. He also really loves to splash! I think the two of us are going to the zoo, and to a few farms around here together, and we are planning on going strawberry picking with my brother and his family, including Wyatt’s cousin L. But we are also seeking out just those quiet moments too, sitting in the grass on a blanket surrounded by books and cookies and lemonade. Iced tea parties and poetry. Lounging about in our pajamas on a lazy morning, eating pancakes and listening to music. (My son loves Down by the Bay and will sing along, quite loudly…) Dancing around the house to Prince and Van Morrison and Tom Petty and Eric Church. Spontaneous trips for ice cream for dinner.

We had our first outdoor evening, soaking up the beautiful weather, warm and breezy, at my brother’s house the other night and it was perfect. Birds singing their evening song, burger and hot dogs, chips, cold beers, and bubbles for the kids to play with. I am looking forward to many more this summer!

What do you love about summer? Do you have any favorite memories from when you were a kid?