Crush List - April

What a fun month! Easter, my birthday, and a visit from the folks. Now it's all done though, so to fill the void let's virtual shop! Here's what caught my eye this month.

1 - Faceted Ceramic Vases from Anthropologie
3 - Nine West Margot pumps from Zappos

Update: I saw the recipe box at Paper Source and picked it up there. So cute in person!


Let's Go To The Movies - The Age of Adaline

Over the weekend I saw The Age of Adaline with my mom and friend. I loved it, but not for the reasons you may think.

In the year 1937, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively), age 29, is in an accident of such extraordinary circumstances that it causes her to stop aging. As her unique condition starts to pique the curiosity of the government, she is forced to leave her daughter and flee - never staying in the same place for more than a decade or so. She lives a quiet life alone, and resigns herself to a life without love - that is until she meets the dashing Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman). As they grow closer, Adaline must decide whether to finally tell the truth about her condition or run again.

Basically, this movie required Blake Lively to be pretty - which she did very, very well. This film is not about the acting (it wasn't horrible by any means, but it wasn't great either). Actually, there seemed to hardly be any dialogue at all, so maybe the actors just didn't have much to work with. It didn't matter though, because this is a visual film, and it is visually stunning. Everything is romanticized and gorgeous. San Francisco is beautiful, the country and forests were beautiful, the interiors were beautiful, and OMG the costumes!!! I loved it all.

If I'm judging this film on its ability to entertain, then this film was a win for me. The story is compelling (had me in tears), the people are beautiful, and the setting again was fantastic. Pure escapism, and I loved it!


Vegetable of the Month - Eggplant Part Two

It took me a little while to find a second eggplant recipe I was interested in trying. Most were Eggplant Parmesan (or variations thereof) or just a fried variation. I've tried Eggplant Parmesan, and I thought the fried versions were too close to the zucchini recipe we did last month (see here). So, when I stumbled upon some jerky recipes I decided they were just interesting enough to give it a go.

Vegetable - Beets
Recipe - Eggplant Jerky
This one was only okay for me. Considering it took about twelve and half hours to make (1/2 hour prep, 2 hours marinading, 10 hours in the oven)...well, I was hoping for more. I think the concept is good, but it was way too sweet for me. I'd be interested in trying it again with this recipe instead. Maybe it would be the more savory/salty flavor I was hoping for.

The kids tried it, but both gave it up after a few bites. Oh, well.

Sidenote: I think we should all start calling eggplant, "aubergine" like they do in the UK. Way sexier, don't you think?


Book Report - Madam Bovary

It's been a while since I read any of the classics. Feeling up for a challenge, I decided to read Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.
Madame Bovary is the story of Emma Bovary, a farmer's daughter who happily marries Dr. Charles Bovary, the local physician. Her excitement for married life doesn't last long as the realities of being a doctor's wife in rural France soon set in. Bored beyond all measure, Emma starts down a dangerous road full of flirtations, affairs, and mounting debt in an attempt to make her life more like the fanciful and romantic novels she devoured as a youth. But will the payoff be worth the risk?

Let's hear it for Emma Bovary; the original Real Housewife! I admit, I too get bored with the monotony of my every day life, but I certainly wouldn't risk my marriage or savings because of it. Instead, I'll just read about fictional people who do. I really loved this story, and agree it's a classic. I can certainly see how a woman in her position could get herself into all sorts of trouble. She's not poor, so has no work responsibilities. Her child is taken care of by nurses and the house by servants. She's not rich though, so her days aren't filled with any sort of social activities either. She's stuck in the middle, and in her mind, has absolutely nothing to do.

Her dalliances are quite exciting, and the ending of the novel is quite perfectly tragic.

The overall story is very good, but as with any classic, the writing style did take getting used to. A lot of the story is told through random third party eyes. For example, a chapter would start out talking about a character at say, the inn - going through all sorts of back story on the character, etc. I would try to absorb all that information thinking this is an important new character; only to discover 10 pages later that their only purpose was to relay to the reader something random that they see Emma do. Then, poof, we never hear from that person again. It's very different from how stories are written today, which may hinder some readers. Don't be deterred though, as it's certainly not that difficult to eventually get the flow of Flaubert's writing style and really just enjoy the story.

Also, I don't think I read the best translation of this book. I'd definitely like to do a little research into what is considered the best translation and then read it again. Incidentally, Madame Bovary marks off "A book that was originally published in a different language" from the PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge I'm working on. How I wish I could have read it in its original French. I heard it's spectacular that way.

Anyway, the reason I picked Madame Bovary, was that a movie adaptation of the book is coming out later this year. Looks pretty good.

Or how about this modern interpretation? I'd see this one too.

Have you read Madame Bovary? What did you think? Do you read the classics? What are your favorites?


Vegetable of the Month - Eggplant

Bill and I were at the store over the weekend, and the eggplant just looked beautiful. I decided right then and there that eggplant would be our vegetable this month and picked some up. Then I realized I had no idea what to do with an eggplant. That's what Pinterest is for though, and before I knew it I was making Baba Ganoush!

Vegetable - Eggplant
Recipe - Baba Ganoush
I've heard the phrase Baba Ganoush before, but I had no idea what it was. Turns out, it's a lot like hummus, and it is delicious!! I loved this. It was good and super easy to make. The best part...Seamus ate it!!!

It only took 4 months and 7 recipes to find a vegetable dish he would eat. Who would have thought it would be eggplant or Baba Ganoush? I just gave him a pita chip and he went to town. Of course, I then had to cal him "my little Baba Ganoush" all night long.



Presents for Me!

Bill was pretty smart this year, and asked me exactly what I wanted for my birthday. I gave him a list of four things, and got two of them. I was pretty excited, because they're things I've been wanting for a while - just never pulled the trigger.

First, The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz (remember from this Crush List). It's such a beautiful book; with so many details and photos from all my favorite films. It's going to take me forever to flip through and absorb it all. Can't wait!
Next up, this Parisian Restaurant Lego set. Madeleine and Seamus are pretty into Duplo at the moment, and I must confess I'm enjoying them all as well. I wanted something a lot more challenging though and, well...more me. So this 2,469 piece set was right up my alley. I'm having so much fun putting it together each evening, and am amazed how intricate it is.
I really loved both of them, and they're both such great stress relievers. I either get lost in the book or lost in the Legos, and all the stress from the day slowly releases.

What are some of your favorite gifts? Do you Lego? 



My 36th birthday has come and gone. I got this lovely cake from Bill and the kids, and it was pretty perfect.
I'm pretty okay with turning 36. This is the last year I can say I'm in my mid-thirties, so I'm going to enjoy it. I'm reminded of this post though - there's so much I still want to do. Hopefully I'll be able to check more items off my list this year.


Let's Go To The Movies - Woman In Gold

Friday night I went to the movies with a friend and we saw Woman in Gold. Such a moving story.

Woman in Gold is the true story of Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), who, as a newly married, young woman in Vienna, Austria, witnessed her Jewish family's home stripped of its belongings and taken over by the Nazis. She narrowly escapes to the US with her husband, and never looks back. One of the items taken from her home was a portrait of her Aunt. Her Uncle had commissioned it by the now famous artist, Gustov Klimt. It's been hanging in the Austrian State Gallery since after the war, but Maria claims it was stolen from her family and rightfully hers. With the help of her lawyer, Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), Maria takes on the Austrian government in the hopes of righting a wrong done to her and so many other Jewish Austrians long ago.

I really enjoyed this movie.  We're all aware of the atrocities committed against the Jewish people during WWII, but it was interesting to see a circumstance where the government was technically still profiting from such an injustice. It was shocking how many times Maria offered to let the Austrian State Gallery and Austrian government keep the painting if they would just acknowledge the wrong doing of how it came to be in their possession, and they wouldn't do it. That's what really struck a chord with me. That still, after all this time, they couldn't admit the truth.

Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds both gave really good performances, but it was Tatiana Maslany (from the BBC's Orphan Black) who I thought stole the film as the young, Maria. She was outstanding.

Have you seen any good movies lately?


My New Ride

My husband, Bill, has pretty much gone from never having biked before to apparently training for the Tour de France in the last 9 months. When he went in, he went all in. He clocks about 100 miles a week (and even did 100 miles in one day once). He has dozens of jerseys and tons of gear. Oh, and he's dropped 20 pounds to boot too. To say he has found a new love is an understatement, so it was only a matter of time before his new passion trickled down to me.

I got a bike!

Specifically, I got a Giant Liv Alight 2, and it's pretty sweet. It's a road bike, but has mountain bike handle bars. It's super light, and rides fast. Plus, it's a cool raisin color that I love. The first time I rode it I was surprised at how freeing it felt - like being a kid again, and I could see why Bill likes it so much. I'm only going about 5 miles at a time when I take it out, but I've noticed that each time I go a little faster and it gets a little easier.

Do you ride a bike? What kind do you have?


Book Report - The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son

Get ready, because I'm about to hit with you four book reviews in one post!

Last month I read The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry, which consists of four books - The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

First, The Giver, which centers around 12 year-old, Jonas, who lives in a future world where things like choice, emotion, sexuality, and even color have been stripped from society. Everyone follows the path chosen sensibly for them by the communities' Elders. Children receive their job assignments at 12, and Jonas is given the strange, but important job of Receiver of Memory. Under the tutelage of an Elder called The Giver, Jonas is tasked with holding the memories of the entire human condition (love, pain, desire, war, death), so they will always be remembered without having to burden society with the overwhelming task. Once he learns the truth though, will he be able to go on living in society as before?
I really enjoyed, The Giver. The future dystopian society that Lois Lowry created was one of the more interesting ones I've read. The whole relationship between Jonas and The Giver was intense and I looked forward to seeing how it developed. So, I was a little disappointed that this book ended up being almost entirely just set-up. It hooked me though, and I was looking forward to seeing how the story progressed.

Which brings us to, Gathering Blue, the second book in the quartet.

Set in a different future dystopian society, Gathering Blue, follows newly orphaned girl, Kira. Lame from birth and no longer under the protection of her mother, Kira attempts to navigate her place in a society that has no use for the weak. Her village is small and there are little technological advances, and people survive only because they are strong and fight (most often each other) for all they have. Kira's skills with a needle and thread prove invaluable to those in charge though, and she is tasked with the job of repairing and continuing the embroidery work of their sacred robe which details the entire past of their civilization. As Kira starts her work she realizes her stitches not only record the past, but may be able to alter the future.
I enjoyed Gathering Blue as well. It didn't take me long to realize that this book has nothing to do with The Giver though (they do hint at the connection towards the end). Kira was a strong character, and I enjoyed her friend Matt as well. This was a stranger society than in The Giver, much more brutal and savage. Again, I wanted to find out more. How are they connected? Will Kira and Jonas ever meet? What is the story leading up to?

So, I moved on to the next book, Messenger.

Set in a third future dystopian society (not kidding), Messenger, centers around Matty, who we were introduced to as just Matt in the Gathering Blue. Having left his home and Kira behind, Matty now lives in Village and has blossomed under the guidance of a man called Seer. A refuge to all, Village, has always opened its doors to anyone in need, but something sinister is seeping into its residents and the surrounding forest; and the residents have voted to close its doors to all outsiders for good. Matty is in a race against time to find Kira and lead her back through the treacherous forest before Village closes its doors for good.
In Messenger the stories finally start to come together - a bit. We learn where Jonas and Gabriel (a character from The Giver) have been all this time. Village seems to be the utopia that everybody has been looking for...until it's not. Matty is a really strong character, and his story is the best developed in the entire quartet. I was surprised how much of Jonas and Kira's stories are just glossed over in the book. For me, there was a lot of unanswered questions. What became of the society Jonas left behind? They mention Kira really helped to change her village and how they did things there, but they give no explanation of how that happened or what she changed. Again, I liked Messenger, but I was starting to get frustrated with the series as a whole for starting a new story each book without really finishing the last one.

Then, finally, there is Son.

Set in a fourth future dystopian society, Son, tells the story of Claire. Claire is a former birth mother from the same society as Jonas in The Giver. After the birth of her child does not go as planned, she is relieved from her job as birth mother and goes to work in the fish hatchery. Somehow, though, she has slipped through the system, and is not given the same emotion-surpressing pills as the rest of society, and starts to love longingly for the child taken away from her. In the chaos that ensues when Jonas flees society, Claire escapes by ship and ends up shipwrecked in a new society with no memory of her former life. When it all comes back to her though, she realizes she must leave again to find her son. The only way out though is a harrowing climb straight up a dangerous cliff. Will she be strong enough to make it out? Will she be reunited with her son? 
I had the same feelings about Son that I did about the previous three books. I liked it on its own, but as the conclusion of the series it was unsatisfying. I was unable to find the underlying theme of these books. I have so many questions. It was more like four separate stories that kind of had some of the same characters in them. It was so odd to focus on a new character and so much of the past in Son because the conclusion was all about Gabriel vanquishing this evil person (spirit?) from the world. I feel like that was the story that needed the focus, and not the one that was told. There is also a ton of magic and mysticism in these books that never really gets explained as well. I assumed these are future societies on Earth, so how did we develop magic? What was the point of it all?

All in all, the books are interesting and enjoyable, just not as highly developed or interconnected as I would have liked.

Have you read this series? What did you think? Did I just miss the point, or did you feel the same as me? I'm just so confused because these are really beloved and highly praised books.

Well, at least I got to check off four books for my Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge.

A Book that became a movie (The Giver)
A Book with a color in the title (Gathering Blue)
A Book with magic (Messenger)
A Book set in the future (Son)


Easter Recap

I hope everybody had a nice holiday weekend!

Here's a few of our Easter highlights. Friday night we colored Easter eggs. The kids took a bath, got into their pajamas, and got down to business.
This is the first Easter that Seamus could really get in on the action. He had fun, and wanted to do it all by himself just like his big sister.
Madeleine liked to dictate what color each egg would get dyed. If she had her way, I think they all would have been green.
Some sibling love with a very serious Madeleine.

Sunday morning, the kids woke up to discover the Easter Bunny had hidden eggs all over the house!
They were very proud of their haul.
Madeleine found her Easter basket hidden under her art easel.
Seamus found his behind the curtains.
All in all, it was a pretty nice day. Madeleine and I went to church. They read their new books, snuggled their new bunnies, and ate too much candy. Then, we made a fantastic dinner - ham, sweet potatoes, asparagus, croissants, and a lamb cake and sugar cookies for dessert. We're going to have leftovers for days.

Happy Easter!


Pretty Pots

When we bought our house we inherited three planters along with it. This large terracotta one has just been sitting in our backyard, like so, for over a year. It's filled with dirt, and the kids have just been digging in it with shovels for the past year or so.
Since we had the pot and all, I thought this would be a good opportunity for us to try growing something; but first, of course, I had to pretty up the pot.

I set Seamus to work, which by the way is a great way to keep a kid busy for a while. "Okay, kiddo, take the dirt from this pot and put it in this wheel barrow."  Just don't try it if you're in a time crunch.
After it was empty, we cleaned and scrubbed it down as best we could.
After it was dry, we spray painted it a nice bright purple. This was my first time spray painting anything, and I must say, it was super fun and easy. I just want to spray paint everything now.
We decided to get a dwarf citrus tree, and after browsing the nursery, we decided on a Clementine tree! It will be a little bit before the tree will bear any fruit (like possibly a year or two), so here's hoping we can keep it alive until then.
I put it in this little corner of our yard. It's the perfect little spot, and I love the bit of color and greenery it adds. It would be great if it grows tall enough to cover the neighbor's satellite dish too.

There you have it, our first foray into gardening. We have two more pots we painted that we still have to find plants for. They're going in the front of the house though, so we're looking for something a bit more decorative; hopefully something that flowers.

Stay tuned.


Multiplying Like Rabbits

Easter is pretty early this year, and for once I'm ahead of the game. I've already got all the goodies for baskets, and put up some decorations. There are bunnies...lots and lots of bunnies.
On the mantel I have a "Happy Easter" garland I picked up at Pottery Barn Kids last year.
I got these cute vintage bunnies from Zulily.
My grandmother hand painted this little guy. I've had him pretty much my entire life. 
Then, finally, I have my childhood Easter basket that my mom made for me. Yes, it's macrame, and it's awesome. I'm determined to make similar ones for my kids someday.
Moving into the kitchen. I picked up a few new items from Target.
They're white ceramic bunnies with gold ears. One is a cookie jar and the other a candy dish. So cute.
Then, finally I made up the table and the bar top in the dining room as well.
I found this super cute set of velour bunnies on Amazon (here).
I've had the ikat table runner for ages. It's originally from Crate and Barrel. The glass basket and alabaster eggs are from Williams-Sonoma. I've had them for a while too, but they still sell alabaster eggs there (here).
Finally, at the bar, we have a little ornament egg tree I picked up at Target last year, some foam glittery bunnies from Zulily, and my Peeps salt and pepper shakers from Lennox.
There you have it. We'll be surrounded by bunnies for the next week or so, and it makes me pretty happy. Do you decorate for Easter? What about Easter traditions? I just picked up this cake pan from Amazon to make our traditional Lamb Cake.