Thanksgiving and My Birthday Weekend

Thanksgiving 2019 began exactly the same way every Thanksgiving of my entire life has began…watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on tv! Oh how I love watching the parade all warm and snuggly on my couch. I have memories of watching the parade with my parents when I was a little girl, alone when I was living in the city after I graduated from college, with Jon and our dog when we first got married, and now all snuggled up with Jon and our kids.

The Radio City Rockettes was the only time in the 3 hours they weren’t snuggled up against me on the couch 🙂

Pro tip: DVR the parade the night before so you can pass all of the commercials (except for the ET Xfinity commercial…loved it)!

Matching shirts for my kids:

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 19 family members at our house. I put a leaf on everyone’s plate saying “I am thankful for____.” Everyone filled them out, I bought a photo album for them, and each year we will add new leaves to our family album. An official new family tradition that I officially started and will be in charge of each year! At one point during the night I was in the backyard with Jon (he was smoking a turkey and a prime rib) and I happened to look into my house through our back windows. The sight of my extended family together eating and laughing in my home made me instantly tear up! There’s something so profoundly beautiful about growing up going to holiday dinners at other family members’ houses and then one day being the adult hosting in your own home with your own family. So special.

Matching turkey necklaces for my kids and their cousin:

I forgot to turn on the oven to cook the corn casserole and I forgot to take the beautiful fruit bowl out of the refrigerator but nobody cared.  Being together is what the holiday is about and my wonderful family so enjoyed all being together.  I loved hosting everyone and watching as memories were being made inside of our home.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well!

And just as soon as Thanksgiving ended, it was time to celebrate my birthday!

My birthday this year fell on a Monday. My family and I celebrated the day before.

I was woken up by both of my children kissing me on my cheek and whispering “Happy Birthday Mommy.”

Perfection.

Apparently my kids each picked out the wrapping for my gifts. My daughter picked out exactly what I would have chosen for myself, beautiful pink flowers. Nailed it!

Aaaaaand my dinosaur obsessed son picked out….

Amazing 🙂

My husband bought me a full year theater subscription to one of our favorite theaters! There’s nothing like watching live theater and now we have unlimited access to seeing all of the shows there as many times as we want for a year! We bought this a few years ago and it was so amazing. This year’s show lineup is fantastic and includes my favorite production of all time…The Sound of Music! Can’t wait for our year of fun date nights…the first one is in 2 weeks, we are seeing Oliver 🙂

After I opened all of my gifts, the 4 of us went out for breakfast to one of my favorite diners and we all colored pictures until our food came.

We then drove downtown and our first stop was to the filming location of my favorite tv show…Shameless! I have wanted to visit the Gallagher house for years and it was the perfect day. I had to pay the homeowner $5.00 to let me take a picture on her porch…worth it!

Kevin and V’s house is actually 2 doors down!

So freaking cool. While I was there one of the neighbors came out and asked if I wanted to take a picture with him or with Frank, lol. 2 other groups of fans also came to take pictures on the porches while we were there and we all discussed and pointed out places on the property where specific scenes were filmed. Such a fun experience!

If you don’t watch Shameless, WATCH SHAMELESS. You’re welcome.

Our next stop was Chinatown! Another place I have been wanting to visit for years! We had the best time walking through the stores, eating a delicious Chinese lunch at one of the top rated restaurants (Joy Yee), and exploring the grocery stores which are so culturally different from our own.

Frogs for sale at the grocery store:

If there’s a book store in the vicinity, I’ll find it even if I can’t read any of the words, lol!

I loved this piece of furniture so much!  I did NOT love how insanely expensive it was.

My favorite animal: peacocks. They are so fancy! I spotted this beauty on a random wall as we walked past.   Gorgeous.

We came home, sang happy birthday, ate birthday cake, and I was given gorgeous flowers hand selected by my kids.

A perfect, perfect day.

My birthday gift to myself is this gorgeous laptop tote (<—- affiliate link)! I’ve been wanting it ever since my favorite YouTuber Jeana got it. It’s the perfect size and it’s so beautiful! Now when I go into the library with my laptop, book, notebook, coffee, oatmeal, keys, and phone…random strangers hopefully won’t ask if I need any help, lol.

Birthdays are strange. As a kid, I absolutely loved them! The parties! The gifts! The cake! As I got older they started to lose their luster a bit as the age I was turning creeped up up up. Somewhere the joy of the day turned into focusing on the number of the age I was turning and those numbers weren’t so young and exciting anymore. Another year, another year older. Ugh.

And then 6 years ago one of my dearest friends passed away and suddenly everything changed.

All of the sudden my birthdays started to feel special to me once again. The sobering reality that my dear friend will never again celebrate a birthday, will never grow old, and will never again experience any of life’s beauty hit me and it hit me hard. Suddenly growing old felt like such a precious gift and one that I will never again take for granted. Yes that number goes up up up…and I’m so very thankful that it does. I feel blessed to celebrate another birthday and even more blessed to be celebrating surrounded by so much love.

I miss my friend fiercely, especially around this time each year.

Birthdays (and life in general) should be celebrated. I look for the beauty in the day to day and it’s always in there somewhere! This past weekend was truly a beautiful weekend filled with love, family, delicious food, Gallaghers (!), presents, and laughter. Next weekend will include more birthday celebrations with my parents and with my 3 best friends.

Truly thankful for it all.

Dunkin Donuts Gift Card Giveaway Winner:

Congratulations Mistysbookspace!  Email me your address within 48 hours (bookcoffeehappy@gmail.com) and I’ll toss a gift card in the mail for you!  Enjoy 🙂

Thanks so much for allowing me to share bits of my personal life with you.  You can read about my last year’s birthday celebrations here.

My next blog post will be book focused! What I’m currently reading, the books I recently received, and more 🙂

Xo,

Jenny

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**Dunkin Donuts Gift Card Giveaway**

Today is my birthday and to celebrate, I’d like to mail someone a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card 🙂 What’s more fun than hosting a birthday giveaway?!

If you have been following me for any length of time you know that Dunkin’ is my all time favorite coffee…and I’d like to buy one for you! Or if you don’t drink coffee (the horror), I’d like to buy you a doughnut, a bagel, or anything else that you love 🙂

To enter, just leave a comment below saying something that will make me smile. I’ll randomly pick a winner and announce it in Wednesday’s blog post. Be sure you check back because once I post, the winner will have 48 hours to email me their mailing address before I will choose a new winner. Once I receive your mailing address, I’ll toss a $5 gift card in the mail for you 🙂

I hope you are having a beautiful day today!

Happy Birthday to me AND to my girl Britney Spears 🙂

Xo,

Jenny

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m thankful for all of YOU!

Writing this blog has very quickly turned into my favorite hobby. I love sharing my thoughts and my love of all things books (and sometimes life) with you! Thank you for reading, thank you for interacting, and thank you for sharing my little corner of the Internet with me and with others.

We are hosting 19 family members for dinner tonight and my house already smells so amazing 🙂

I hope you have a beautiful holiday today spent with those you love! I’ll be back soon with more book reviews, book discussions, and little tidbits of my life. Until then, I’ll be soaking up spending time with my most favorite people while celebrating one of my most favorite holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends 🙂  What are you doing to celebrate?  I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Xo,

Jenny

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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An Honest Book Review (Positives and Negatives) of a Currently Popular Book

Book Bloggers everywhere are loving this book and it’s been on my radar for months to read! My review of this one is a bit complicated…there were parts of it that I loved and parts of it that I did not. This book was recently released in mid August and I was fortunate to receive an Advance Reader’s Copy.  It’s currently such a popular book…I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and to start reading!

Before I go into my review, just a few random shapshots of my life:

I dropped off my son at preschool this morning and when I got back to my car, I realized that I had left my coffee in his classroom.  Oh HELL no!  I couldn’t get back into that building fast enough!  As I was frantically running to get back inside, I passed another mom who pointed out the irony of the shirt that I just so happen to be wearing today:

Truth.

My kids attended a birthday party yesterday and after we left my daughter turned the crayon box party favor into a tiny book!  Love her creativity!

And now, a book review.  Have you read this?  I’m truly not sure how I feel about it.

Things You Save in a Fire By Katherine Center (affiliate)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

3.5 Stars

Man is this a tough review to write as my thoughts on this book are so scattered.

First and foremost, it’s a beautiful book with so many beautiful messages.  It’s a very easy read.  I found myself fascinated in learning about firefighters and about the aspects of their jobs in which I really had no idea.

That being said, I do feel this book lacks some pretty major character and storyline development.  I just wanted MORE of everything!

There was one major storyline that I really disagreed with and it bothered me throughout the entire story.

I felt that this book was a bit cheesy, predictable, and unrealistic at times…

HOWEVER, I honestly did enjoy it.  I found myself smiling more than once as I was reading.  I even posted on Instagram how much I was loving it! That’s the problem…just when I would start to really love it, I would become bored by it.  My feelings were completely inconsistent the deeper into the book I got.

I wouldn’t say that this was a book I couldn’t wait to pick up each day (except for those few intense chapters toward the end…those chapters were GREAT!  I wish the rest of the book would have held my interest as those few chapters did).

I laughed, I cried (tears down face), I smiled, and…I was bored.  All while reading the same book.

Have any of you read this???  Please comment below…I’d so love to hear your thoughts.

I told you my review of this one is a bit complicated and all over the place 😉

Bottom Line:

Would I recommend this book?  Yes!  Would it be high on my list of recommendations?  No.

Xo,

Jenny

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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Sick, Reading, Coffee, and Books

My daughter has been sick.  There is nothing worse than when your child gets sick!  She was home from school for a few days last week and spent her time sleeping, reading, and watching episodes of her current favorite tv show (Bunk’d).  I bought her a present to cheer her up (shown with the humidifier which has been running every night for over a week in her room):

Her and I quietly reading together.  And yes, the bulb in her closet is pink 🙂  Obviously.

Last week was hard and I was exhausted.  I dropped my coffee all over the floor as I was desperately quickly trying to brew it because I was so tired from being up with my sick daughter the night before.  As soon as my son came into the kitchen and saw this, he thought that the coffee grounds were ants and he promptly freaked out.  Recap: I was dealing with a sick daughter, upset son, huge mess, and NO coffee all at the exact same time.  #momlife

Thankfully now it’s a new week and she’s feeling much better but I do think this nasty cough might be around for a while.  Ugh.

In book news, if you follow me on Instagram you know that I officially gave up on this book.  I found it VERY unrealistic and VERY boring.  Not to mention that I kept pronouncing the main character’s name the wrong way. It has gotten fantastic reviews from others who have stuck it out.  My general rule is when I use words like “stuck it out” that means it’s not a book I need to read, lol.

Also, if you follow me on Instagram you know that I’ve been receiving some very exciting book mail lately!  My dear friend Melissa over at Chick Lit Central mailed me these 2 books and I’m SO excited!  I’m halfway through reading Things You Save In A Fire and I’m enjoying it so far 🙂  Full review coming soon!

Rochelle Weinstein sent me an advance reader’s copy of her latest book which will be released in January 2020.  This beautiful book looks AMAZING and I can’t wait to read and review it!  Thank you so much, Rochelle!

I entered a Bookstagram giveway on Instagram and won!  Thank you so much to Flat Iron Books for sending me a copy of this book!  It looks great 🙂

I went to the post office to buy stamps (holiday card season is almost HEEEEEERE!!!) and the man presented me with 7 different design options.  Obviously I chose the one with a literary reference!

And lastly, this picture because it makes me smile.  Favorite coffee, favorite holiday cup, favorite color:

Happy Monday!  I hope your week is off to a great start.  I’m looking forward to Wednesday…I’m going on a special blog related activity!  Any guesses???  If you have been reading my blog since the beginning, you might be able to figure it out from this clue (that’s me on the top right):

Xo,

Jenny

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

*Please share this page with your book and blog loving friends!*

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Bradley University, The 4 of Us, and Our Amazing College Experience

It has somehow been an entire year since our last college day trip down memory lane to Bradley University.  One of my very favorite days of the entire year.

**If you haven’t read last year’s post, definitely read that one before reading this one.  You can find it HERE.**

And yet here we are. 1 year later. And just like every year the 4 of us are given the gift of our 1 magical day where we can go straight back to where it all began. Back to the place where we found each other for the very first time…and haven’t let go of each other since.

Beautiful Bradley University.

Life gets busy but this one day is so important to us and to our friendship that we plan it months ahead of time. We even put 2 different dates on the calendar including a rain date in case of weather. We group text daily with memes and gifs which reflect how excited we are.  Nothing will keep us from our yearly tradition.

And just like every year, I’m in charge of breakfast. This year’s selection includes Greek yogurt, bananas, blueberries, peanut butter, and homemade apple muffins.

The 4 of us have been known as “The Goats” since the very beginning so this sticker is the absolute perfect way to decorate the top of each breakfast.

The car ride up is filled with retelling stories that we have been retelling for over 20 years. And yet somehow it doesn’t matter how many times we have told them, they get even more hilarious with time.  Laughing.  SO.  MUCH.  LAUGHING.

About 2 1/2 hours later…and we see it.  The exact spot where the bend in the highway suddenly opens up to the skyline which may as well be a banner saying “Welcome Home”.

We drive straight to the campus and suddenly…

We’re back.

The sights, the sounds, the smells, all the same. How can so much time have passed and yet it feels like just yesterday when we were wearing our sorority letters and Eddie Bauer backpacks while walking across campus? Wasn’t it just yesterday when I had a meeting with my astronomy teacher and told him that I didn’t understand cosmetology and he told me that word means makeup and the correct word was actually cosmology? Wasn’t it just yesterday when we were having class outside on a beautiful day and in the middle of a serious class discussion, I put my hand down on the grass and it landed straight into a pile of dog doodie? Wasn’t it just yesterday when the creative writing teacher said that the 4 of us should have our very own comedy sitcom because our friendship was so hilarious? How did all of this happen over 20 years ago?!?

The night before I turned 21, my best friends decorated literally every single sidewalk on campus with the words “Today is Jenny Zwass’s 21st birthday! When you see her wish her a happy birthday!” and “Happy 21st Birthday Jenny Zwass!  Your best friends love you!” When the sun rose the next morning, it shined on a campus dedicated to ME.  For the entire day I had literally EVERYONE on campus wishing me a happy birthday! Faculty, students, everyone.  Everywhere I went for that entire day, everyone knew it was my happy day. It was so amazing. I felt so special. Love my girls.

All of these years later there are absolutely zero signs of my beautiful birthday dedications from my special girls. And yet when I look at these sidewalks today, it’s all I see.

We head to the bookstore where we are surrounded by Bradley love.

These shelves used to be FILLED with textbooks!  It’s still so crazy to me that everything is now online.  

Avantis for lunch, One World for coffee.  Avantis gondolas are what dreams are made of.  And dream about them we have…for an entire year since we were here last.

Sigma Delta Tau. What if the 4 of us had joined 4 different sororities?  The night we had to “pref” during the sorority rush process and write down our 1st choice sorority I actually wrote down a different sorority’s name!  After I left and walked back to my dorm room, I was filled with the most unsettling feeling and walked all the way back across campus just to switch my first choice to Sigma Delta Tau.  Somewhere deep in my heart I knew just where I belonged.

What if 23 years ago I DIDN’T walk back and change that form???  What if I had kept it the same and had joined a different sorority?  What if I had never met my 3 soulmates?

But I DID. I changed it.  I proudly resubmitted my first choice with the words “Sigma Delta Tau” and the next day was accepted into what would ultimately determine the course for the rest of my life.

Walking in the front door today is walking directly back into the late night mini pizzas, the 90210 viewing parties, the chapter meetings, the secret sorority rituals, the corner kitchen table with assigned seats where the 4 of us ate every single meal together, the laughing…the LAUGHING….

….and we’re home.

We leave SDT and walk through the alley to our off campus house where we lived senior year.  We take our yearly picture on the front porch.  Oh the memories we once made just behind that door!  

Our rent in that massive old house was only $190.00 a month each. I had never written a check that big (!) and wrote my very first month’s rent check for $1.90. Once he received my check, our landlord came straight over to the house and gave me a lesson on decimal points 🙂

And to think that I almost burned down that house when I so long ago burned a pizza in the toaster oven causing flames…

We walk through the campus, relive our favorite memories, and laugh until it hurts. And when it’s time to drive back, somehow our friendship feels even deeper than when we had arrived that morning. How is that even possible after all of these years???

Our ride home is spent reflecting on the day, reflecting on the past 23 years, and laughing until it’s hard to breathe.

As I’m unloading all of my stuff from the car, the front door to my house flies open and my 2 footie pajama clad children run out onto our front porch literally jumping up and down yelling, “Mommy’s home!  Mommy’s home!” and just like that…I’m back.  As I fall asleep after this long day, I fall asleep with a smile on my face. My 20 something college self would be so very happy and proud with how her future life has turned out.

This year’s souvenirs:

A t shirt for my son, a glittery waterbottle for my daughter, 2 sweatshirts for me, 2 18 inch Avantis Gondolas, 1 container of Avantis ranch dressing, and 2 sorority notepads and 1 sorority shirt for my daughter (aka a TRIPLE sdt legacy…my mom and my great grandma were also in sdt)!

To My Goats: To think that when I first stepped foot on this campus over 20 years ago I did it without the 3 of you absolutely baffles me.

One of the greatest wishes that I have for my daughter is that she will one day experience a friendship like this. The kind of friendship where the word “friends” almost feels like an insult because they are not “friends”, they are family.

Love you, goats. Forever.

Thank you Bradley University for being our home base. Thank you for allowing us to come back each year and to relive the very best and very earliest memories of our lifelong friendship.

What we learned inside of the classroom was valuable but it’s what we learned outside of the classroom that was life changing.

And most importantly…thank you for bringing us to each other.

See you next fall.

Xo,

Jenny

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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Snow, Halloween, and Books!

It’s SNOWING!  On Halloween!  I’m so happy, I’m so obsessed with snow.  Feels like such a fun bonus to have our first snowfall of the season on Halloween!  Other towns around us are canceling trick or treating today and are postponing until Saturday.  Ridiculous!  Halloween is Halloween and this will be a fun memory for my kids.  We will definitely freeze…but this will always be a Halloween to remember

My favorite fall bush.

My kids and I spent so long attaching creepy spider webs to our bushes and now you can barely even see them.

Our neighbor’s house.  This cracked me up!  Poor ghost!

Last weekend when it was still actually fall:

And this.  Our clown.  He’s over 10 feet tall, lights up at night, and he’s AWESOME.  He fell over last week and our neighbor texted me “CLOWN DOWN”, lol.

Today.  Clown down.

As for reading, I’ve been in a bit of a book rut.  First I started reading this one…

….and was so bored that I eventually called it quits.

Then I started reading this one…

….and was so bored that I eventually called it quits.

UGH.

And now I’m reading this one.  It’s cute!

I posted this on Instagram:

So confusing, right?!?  Apparently I’m not alone because the author of the book somehow got wind of my post and commented:

Super cool!  Love that she commented!  I’ll post a full book review when I’m done reading.

Last Sunday, this happened:

Love it.  So did Lisa Barr!  I did warn Grandma that it’s a bit of a…sexy…novel 😉

Remember when I told you that my daughter has to read for 20 minutes each night for her school homework assignment?  This morning she apparently took it upon herself to silently read in her bed for 20 minutes because she knew that with Halloween she might not have the chance tonight!  I was SO proud to initial her reading log for today and send it back to school 🙂 She did a GREAT job this month!  Proud mama over here.

Her new favorite book series is Dog Man (affiliate). Have any of you or your kids read it?  They seem so weird to me but she LOVES them???  Currently obsessed.  I haven’t actually read them but from what she’s told me they just seem so strange???  I don’t get it.

Happy Halloween!  Any fun plans today?  I’m spending the afternoon at my daughter’s school Halloween party.  Can’t wait to trick or treat!  My daughter and I are going as unicorns and my husband and son are going as dinosaurs 🙂

Speaking of being excited…I can’t wait for Saturday!  One of my absolute favorite days of the entire year!  It’s heeeeeeeeeeeere!  Be sure to follow along on our adventures on Instagram…I’ll be posting Instastories throughout the day 🙂

Happy Halloween!

Xo,

Jenny

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

*Please share this page with your book and blog loving friends!*

*Subscribe with your email address to my blog (scroll all the way to the bottom of this page on mobile devices OR check the top right of this screen to enter your email address)*

*If you already have a blog, please “follow” mine*

*”Like” my Facebook page (and please comment on, “like”, and share my posts)*

*Follow me on Instagram*

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*Subscribe to my YouTube channel*

*Clicking and buying products through my Amazon Affiliate links.  The cost to you is exactly the same and I receive a tiny commission off of your purchases.*

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