Books I Read In May

Oy. I’ll just put that out there right now.

64. No Cheating, No Dying. I mostly wanted to read this so I could side eye the part where the husband spends more on food than on their mortgage, but it was so incredibly boring I couldn’t stand it and I stopped reading it.

65. This was a book about the Titanic I don’t even remember the name of. It turns out I don’t care about the Titanic. At all.

66. Carry the One.  I liked this, but it did that thing where each chapter is told from the perspective of a different narrator, and I don’t love that. Just when I get used to one person, someone else is telling the story, and I find it jarring.

67. Some Assembly Required.  This was…not my favorite Anne Lamott. Is it just me or did she seem a little…tetchy? I don’t know. I love Anne Lamott, but for me this was too self centered and cranky.

68. The One Hundred. Nina Garcia is my new favorite person.

69. The Book of Blood and Shadow.  This was definitely an entertaining read. I would have liked it more if it hadn’t been so oppressively ripped off from The Da Vinci Code.  I consider The Davinci Code to be an actual crime against humanity, so any book that reminds me of it incessantly isn’t going to come off favorably.

70. The Baker’s Daughter. Blah.

71. The Running Dream.  Sometimes I put off reading the books everyone else loves because they just sound boring.  Anyway. Everyone loved this book, two years ago. I loved this book two weeks ago.

72. The Silent Land. I mean, I don’t know. It was entertaining but sort of stupid. This is one of those “OMG what is happening to them” books where what is happening to them ends up being no great surprise.  At least they didn’t turn out to be clones, I guess.

73. I Suck At Girls.  I found this entertaining and it made me laugh, so that goes a long way with me.

74. Sean Griswold’s Head. I just did not care.

75. The Runner. I think I am remembering why I never make it all the way through the Tillerman series, because this book was not for me.

76. An Uncommon Education. I don’t know.  This was just so boring.

77. Jersey Angel. I read a review somewhere that said, disparagingly, “This book is just about sex.” Naturally I reserved it immediately.  Anyway, it’s hardly the great american novel, but you know, I liked it. The main character did not make me want to stab myself in the eye, which is an improvement over the vast majority of the rest of these books. I also did not fall asleep from deadly deadly boredom while reading it, so you know.

78. The Reconstructionist. Very well written, but it just…I don’t know.  THere was no “there” there.

79.  Billy Flynn’s Long Halftime Walk. I loved this book. The maybe last two chapters sort of…lagged on into weirdness, a bit, but that’s my only complaint.  Probably the best book of the month.

80. I Hunt Killers. Oh my god, this book was so FRAKKING WEIRD.  It’s billed as Teen Fiction, which it is, but it’s the story of a teenage whose father was a serial killer and killed and raped hundreds of women!!! And meanwhile it’s told in this goofy teen detective Encyclopedia Brown style and it’s JUST SO WEIRD and not in a good way.  I think this is where I’d like to point out that “Having a weird idea like what if you were a teenager and your dad was a serial killer or no one was allowed to wear hats or we all have nothing to eat but frogs!” is not a sign from God that you should write a young adult fiction novel.  Seriously.

81. Another Piece of My Heart. Wow. I have to admit I didn’t make it very far in this book, because every single character in it SUCKED ASS.  There’s only so long I can read about total jerks before I’ve  had enough.

82. The Little Black Book of Style.  This only made me love Nina Garcia more.  Seriously, read this book, it’s so fun and she’s so awesome.

83.  After the Snow. I think maybe I just don’t want to read books where things are wretched for children and then they get worse and everyone has to make horrible! decisions! about! life! and! death! and leave little kids to die of starvation in the snow. No thank you.

This month, wow.  Can someone just please write a fun summer read about girls and shoes? Aces.

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Snack Time

One of my favorite things about having happy hour all the time is that it’s a great excuse to make snacks. I love making snacks, but it’s hard to have a party where that’s all you make because in general hors doevres type things are fussy to make and expensive to buy.  But for happy hour everyone brings just one or two things and a bottle of wine, which is awesome because I’ve got about ten thousand appetizer recipes saved up and now I  finally have someone to cook them for. Pinterest is awesome for this except for the fact that sometimes something looks and sounds great and then is boring or doesn’t work out, so here’s what’s been working and what hasn’t, at least for me. Feel free to assume user error, obvs.

This apple pie dip stuff was a huge hit, except that I felt a little weird about how much it came out of a jar or a bag. It seemed a little trashy, but in general I think that’s a common theme with Pinterest recipes. Pinterest really wants you to make something out of a box of cake mix and a can of 7 UP, am I right? Anyway, this is a mite trashy and everyone loved it.

 

These Multi Colored Tomato Tartlets are my favorite thing I have made, maybe ever. In a long long time. Unfortunately the Trader Joe’s puff pastry comes and goes with the wind and it’s way better than the puff pastry from anywhere else, and I would recommend not using shitty grocery store tomatoes with this so you may have to wait a bit for the tomato crop to come in, but once it does, MAKE THESE.


By the time we got around to eating these pretzel bites, I was underwhelmed. I think they need to be eaten hot, maybe? They seemed hard and kind of greasy.

 

This Gouda in Puff Pastry was good, but not great. It also did not fare well after sitting around.

 

This honey herb soda was good, if a little strange tasting, but I don’t know that I’d make it again. I wasn’t blown away, let’s put it that way.

 

I made roasted sunchokes, I thought they were repulsive. They tasted like soap to me.

 

 

 

This focaccia recipe is the bomb. Easy, cheap, makes a ton, and it’s super delicious. I’ve always had someone ask for the recipe for it every time I’ve made it.

 

This toasted ravioli was actually really hard to make and it was rather gross when it was done. Heavy and oily. I’m not a great fryer though, so maybe it was my fault.

 

Ok, I must have done something wrong, but I had to throw these shrimp out. They were inedible.

 

These beet chips were pretty, but I had to buy two bags of overpriced Terra Chips to get enough whole chips to make them, which added to the microgreens and the cheese makes this like, a $14 appetizer.

 

When in doubt, go with the Barefoot Contessa. This recipe for Pan Friend Onion Dip is killer.

 

I was not impressed with these Oreo Cookie Cheesecakes. I thought they were basically tasteless and all that cream cheese makes them really expensive to make for something that tastes like a mouthful of mushy cream cheese.

Source: bit.ly via Elizabeth on Pinterest

 

And these pretzels…hmmm. They just tasted like oily pretzels to me. Maybe I did it wrong. I’d rather have Chex Mix though.

 

Good god, I am apparently terrible at this! These cheese straws were also duds. Really hard to make and requires expensive ingredients and then tasted like greasy flavorless bread.

Source: saveur.com via Elizabeth on Pinterest

 

I don’t have a picture of this, but my other surefire appetizer recipe is to get a brick of cream cheese, dump a jar of red pepper jelly over it, and eat it with crackers. Recommend.

I am hopeful that once the tomatoes kick off my appetizer track record will improve. Caprese skewers are really hard to screw up.

Summer Fun, Had Me a Blast

So I’m sure you’ve seen those adorable lists of summer activities slathered all over Pinterest, right? Because I am nothing if not a slavish follower to the overdecorated whims of the internet, here is our list:

I do well with a list, and I am afraid I won’t remember all the stuff I want to do this summer unless it’s in my face reminding me. Plus I really do need to paint the front porch.  But mostly I am not the spontaneous light saber battle type. I dearly wish I was, but I am not, so I like to think of this list as a little crutch to remind me that really really want to have a Tomato Party and that I can’t wait to take Eli fishing and that the Orange Freeze should be open soon.  Our preschool runs through the next three months (THANK YOU SWEET JESUS) so we have some structure there, but you know, fun.  I like to schedule it.

This weekend we knocked out two of these activities (“wash the car” and “Go to the County Fair”) and all this family togetherness has forced me to reconsider this list, I am afraid, because as much as I dream the impossible dream of an idealized Country Lemonade Commercial version of summer, as much as I want so much for my kids to remember running through the sprinklers and campfire smores, I mean, we went to the County Fair and it sucked, basically. Yeah. It pretty much sucked.

I don’t even know. I don’t know. I mean, I am not sure if it’s our parenting styles or our particular children or if we are trying too much too soon, but it’s exhausting and it’s not an insignificant amount of money to do things like this, and when it’s not fun, I feel defeated. And I don’t expect to party like it’s 1999 in the petting zoo or whatever, but really the entire time we were there at least one child was in the throes of a complete emotional breakdown. Eli did nothing but obsess over going on rides he wasn’t tall enough to go on, and Katie couldn’t go on any rides, so then we’d have to drag one screaming child away from the animals to go back to the rides or drag another screaming child away from the rides to go see the animals, and I find myself wondering if maybe we just shouldn’t leave the house.

Seriously, I am not exaggerating when I say that any activity involving taking both children out of the house is terrible, and yet I want nothing more than to do these things with the four of us and actually when it was the three of us we managed pretty well, but now we are four and we cannot go out to eat, we cannot go to the library, we cannot go to Target or Home Depot without screaming or someone falling out of a cart or someone falling into someone else’s nachos and I just feel defeated.

If I squint hard enough into the future I can see a well behaved eight year old and a well behaved five year old really having fun watching the fireworks after a baseball game or riding the roller coasters at the County Fair, but I guess what I’m wondering is if this time now, this wretched unpleasant soul sucking time, is necessary for those moments, or if we should just give up?  Should I just buy the one fishing license and let fishing be something that Eli and Erik do alone together, even though I really want to fish too, dammit? Am I doing something important, now, actually?

Or am I just bashing my head against a wall that says “Summer Fun” on it for absolutely no reason? Beacuse I have to tell you. The head bashing? It’s not really as much fun as you might think.

 

 

What I Wore This Week Stripes Edition

First of all (Emily) the reason I am making all these weird faces is because the only other choice is the face where I look like I will cut you.  It’s GoofyFace or BitchFace, so I go with goofy.

I love this t shirt. Do not ask me why it only comes in orange stripes or neon green stripes, because if it came in red and navy and yellow I would buy the crap out of this shirt. In other news, this outfit made my boobs look humangous.

{american eagle shorts, old navy t shirt, target necklace, top siders}

In retrospect, this outfit was not my favorite. I think that sweater is supposed to be cropped and it hits me at the wrong spot on the skirt so it makes me look like I have no waist, but I was late for the Cactus and Succulent Show that my husband had been obsessing about all week, so I just went with it.

{old navy sweater, old navy skirt, american eagle tank, target flip flops, target necklace}

I LOVED this outfit. LOVED IT.  LOVED LOVED LOVED.  You can tell I loved it because I look really happy in every picture. And this skirt is so short and it’s less poofy than I normally wear but I think maybe, maybe I have been doing that thing where I am trying to cover myself up with things that are too long and too long poofy and too big and when I wear things in the correct sizes and proportions, I look better?  I am  not sure but I have started to think about it a lot.

{talbots skirt, gap t shirt, target necklace, franco sarto wedges}

Then we have the infamous skirt that I asked Twitter about.  I started out wearing it with a long t shirt pulled over it, and it looked just…off.  I think this is along the lines of what Slynnro was very nicely trying to tell me last week.  My general fashion MO for the past few years has been =  really puffy skirt plus too long t shirt and sweater pulled down tight over it.  I feel very SAFE in that outfit.  But when you start to look at pictures of it, it’s not actually very flattering.  It’s…bulky and hippy.  This skirt feels very short and it’s tucked in and it was SCARY to wear.  In fact I ended up returning it but now I’m thinking maybe I should get it back and take a deep breath and tuck in a t shirt or two.

{target skirt, old navy t shirt, target necklace, j crew wedges}

This is the skirt I wrote about in my Style Lush post this week. I LOVE this skirt, and it is also making me rethink my “puffy skirts fix everything I hate about my body” stance.  I kind of sort of maybe think that fitted pencil skirts, which I would NEVER ever have considered buying before, are more flattering on me than puffy skirt plus tight t shirt pulled over the top.

{target sweater, old navy skirt, hush puppies red wedges, necklace I can’t remember where I got it but it was somewhere on the internet so probably Ebay}

Someone graduated from preschool! (It wasn’t me. I’ve already done that). See? A non poofy skirt. With a real waist.  That fits! And looks nice! Anyway.

{target sweater, gap skirt, gap t shirt, franco sarto wedges}

Edited to add! I forgot an outfit! And I love this one!

Fashion blogger fail! Anyway. I tucked this shirt in, even though you can’t tell.  It felt revolutionary though. Funny how these things seem like a BIG deal. And then they don’t.  Also, I love that sweater with the fire of a thousand suns.  They really can make a lightweight v neck sweater at Target, I must say.

{jcrew skirt, old navy t shirt, target sweater, target necklace, target flip flops}

What I Wore This Week

Old Navy yellow eyelet skirt (last summer), Target shoes (from the little girls sections, last summer), navy t shirt from Target, yellow necklace from Target.

I think I saved the Old Navy boat neck shirt! It was just too long and tunicy to wear with a skirt.  But these white shorts worked with it because they are more fitted and look like bike shorts under a loose shirt.  I don’t know that I’d nominate this for “The most flattering thing I ever wore” but I liked it.

Old Navy boat neck t shirt, Target turquoise necklace, white American Eagle denim bermuda shorts, gold Top Siders.

This is my “I cannot believe I’m having cramps and I still have to do preschool drop off” outfit.  Luckily this outfit was saved by this jacket, which is a fabulous piece of miracle clothing. Normally I look SO GREAT in pieces with structure but I don’t like the constricting feeling of a blazer.  This is made of thick sweatshirt material so it gives great structure but it’s still comfortable. I really debated buying it and it was a great purchase.

Target Converse One Star Jacket (last year), Old Navy t shirt, Target elastic waisted convertible cargo pants, Target flower flip flops, Orla Kieley purse (old, can only be found on Ebay)

I’m sort of on the fence about this outfit.  It looks really cute on and I always get compliments on it when I wear this skirt with a different t shirt I have, but in pictures it looked so hippy and something about the length and the layers gave me a weird can can girl vibe.  I don’t know. I’m still pondering it.

I have about ten million of these 3/4 length cardigans from Target and I think they’re great.  Cardigans, especially fitted ones, tend to gap on me, though, so whenever I buy one of these I just sew the front shut. Voila! No more gapping.

This series of pictures inspired me to wipe off the terrible dark berry lip gloss I had on and to throw it out. It’s a color the whole internet raves about it. It’s very safe. It looks awful on me. I put on some bright red lipstick and then I felt better. Way less safe, but better.

Target cardigan, Gap skirt (old, via Ebay), Target shoes, Target necklace.

I loved everything about this outfit, especially because it redeemed this skirt which was just about to get shit canned! And those shoes! They are my new favorite thing.

Gap Mason Crew tee, Gap white skirt (old), Target necklace, Franco Sarto wedges (via Ebay).

I love this outfit because it is the uniform at work! I’ve been branching out a little bit lately but this look adheres to all my guiding principles.  Colors/fit/etc.

This is my “I hate preschool field trips” face.  The field trip is why I am wearing shorts and flip flops.  I LOVED this outfit. I felt so proud of myself that I had this stuff in my closet and could put together something comfortable, cute, appropriate, and that looked casual but nicer than a t shirt and denim capris.  I love these shorts so much, btw.  I wish they came in more colors online (they’re from the J. Crew outlet) but I am thinking of buying another pair in gray because they fit me so well.  I have a few pairs from earlier this year when I gave up on shorts and just kept a couple pairs that weren’t great, and this just proves to me that if something is not great, you should keep looking.  The right piece is out there.

J. Crew Factory city bermuda shorts, white American Eagle tank, American Eagle Kimono Tee (similar), Target necklace, Target flip flops.

I Wear Navy on the Outside When I Feel Navy on the Inside

I took about six thousand pictures of this outfit before I decided that this t shirt was just unflattering and I should get rid of it.  I will learn an “$8 I don’t wear an XL t shirt at Old Navy” lesson and move on.  Also, I always buy boat neck shirts and then I have a hard time wearing them. I love how they look, but wearing a tank under them ruins that nice open shoulder effect and then I just have to move my bra straps way over to the side and that’s strange feeling and unflattering and I don’t know. Probably I should not  buy boat neck t shirts.

Anyway, this was better.

Navy blue Gap favorite t shirt (why do they not sell a navy blue v neck t shirt?!), allegedly the J. Crew bubble necklace but via Ebay for 1/10th the cost, hand me down Old Navy skirt, Top Siders)

 

A Note From the Shameless Commerce Division

So I finally girded up my loins and cleaned out the FOUR (four!) tubs of too small clothing that I’ve been hauling around with me for the last several years just in case I accidentally got a tape worm and lost sixty pounds.  I saved some of it that I just can’t bear to get rid of, but it turns out most of that stuff that I’ve thought longingly of from afar all this time? Not that great.  Apparently I equated “professionally dressy” with polyester, or at least I did 5 years ago.  Our local Goodwill got a LARGE drop off of Target capri pants yesterday, let me just put it to you that way.

Anyway, there was some stuff that seemed in good shape and that I’d totally wear if it fit me, but that I don’t really see the point in hanging onto, and I am slowly putting it all up for sale on Ebay.  Hey, if nothing else, maybe the clothes I can’t wear anymore can fund a new pair of shorts I can wear, right?

Anyway, if you’d like to check out my claim that yes, I do somehow seem to have come into possession of all the denim skirts there ever were, you can check out my ebay listings here.  And thank you in advance for not reminding me that I once wore jeans in a size 4. Petite.