Random Thoughts {SNOW, Movie Night, Best Friends, Michelle Obama, Children’s Book}

This is seriously the current weather forecast where I live:

INSANE.  It’s so cold.  I accidentally left a peach in my husband’s car and when I went to retrieve it, it had completely frozen.  As in, icicles were dangling from it.  Ridiculous.

Needless to say, both of my children are home with me today.  Both of their schools are closed and I have a feeling there may be more snow days in their future throughout this week!

How was your weekend?  Mine was lovely.

Friday night was family movie night which included pizza, pajamas, robes, and Harry and the Hendersons (my daughter’s pick.  The 4 of us rotate who gets to choose the movie each time).  It was perfection.  Movie nights will become one of my cherished memories of my kids’ childhoods when they are older, I already know it. 🙂

Saturday night my 4 best friends (we call ourselves the Goats…it’s been our nickname since college) and I celebrated a double Goat birthday!  Amy and Beth have birthdays 10 days apart so we always celebrate them together.  We had reservations at a delicious restaurant downtown but once we started driving, the snow started coming.  We quickly realized that the same restaurant recently opened a location much closer to us!  Same restaurant, same delicious food, much better snowy commute.

The birthday girls!

As always, our dinner was spent laughing, telling stories, and allowing new inside jokes  to make their way into our friendship.  I just love these girls so much!

My beautiful best friends and I:

Yesterday Jon, the kids, and I went out for a lovely Sunday morning breakfast and then did the usual pre snow preparations along with everyone else in this town:  Costco and the grocery store.  The grocery store was so crowded…there were no carts!  Trying to get turkey at the deli counter was truly every man for himself.  We got everything needed for a snowy week at home.

People here always go nuts right before a big storm and with good reason:

I’m currently reading this book (affiliate) and the jury is still out on my feelings about it.  I posted a few stories on Instagram asking if I was the only one not absolutely LOVING this book and I was overwhelmed by the responses of people who agree with me???  I thought for sure that I would be the only one who feels this way but it turns out that I am not alone.  Have you read it???  I’ll do a full review once I finish reading.

And lastly…a cute story about my daughter.

When my husband and I confirmed that we were pregnant with our daughter, she was the size of a poppy seed.  We called her Poppy throughout my entire pregnancy!  I saw this picture in a store a few years ago and had to buy it, it now hangs in our kitchen:

For my birthday this year, one of the gifts that she gave me was this book because it had the word Poppy in the title (she loves when we talk about when she was Poppy)!

She bought it and gave it to me with the intention of her and I reading it together 🙂  How sweet is that?!  We read chapter 1 last night, it’s cute so far!  Excited to read chapter 2 with her tonight.

I loved writing this post and sharing little bits of my life with you today…I hope you enjoyed reading it! 🙂

Stay warm, local friends….Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….

Xo,

Jenny

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Book Review: This Is How It Always Is {Laurie Frankel}

Happy Friday!

If you are reading this that means that I haven’t actually frozen into a block of ice by this point.  Silver lining, right?

It’s. So. Cold.

Breathtakingly beautiful outside?  Absolutely.  Ridiculously unbelievably freezing outside?  You betcha.

I just walked in the door from driving my daughter to school (I was not about to let her wait at a bus stop this morning) and the thermometer in my car was reading in the negative numbers.  Holy hell.

I posted this photo on Instagram yesterday and titled it “My Favorite Summer Reading Spot”.  It’s funny and yet heartbreakingly sad all at the same time.

Stay warm, local friends.  It’s insane out there.

One great thing about spending time inside when it’s too cold to leave is the opportunity to read a well written book!  Unfortunately, the book that I reviewed for you today is not well written.  I would encourage you to browse through past blog posts to find book recommendations because I definitely would NOT recommend the following book…

thisishowitalwaysis

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

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)

2 Stars

I know I’m in the minority here but I really didn’t like this book.  I SO BADLY wanted to!  I was very excited to read it because I heard such great things.

The actual story was beautiful and the message behind it was important.  However, the characters were underdeveloped and the writing was…painfully long.

There were certain moments that were well written and others that felt like they were never going to end.  Ever.  This book took entirely too much time for me to finish because honestly, I was so incredibly bored through so much of it.

I wanted MORE out of the writing.  I wanted the author to dig deeper into this intricate story and these characters. I wanted her to develop these characters on an entirely different (deeper) level. So much of this book was just “surface writing” on a topic which truthfully deserves so much more than that.

Bottom Line:

This book had all of the potential to be wonderful.  It wasn’t.

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

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

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

Let’s Chat: Is Reading a Social Hobby?

It’s absolutely freezing here.

So. Much. Snow.

The roads are ridiculous, I can’t feel my fingers, and I’m currently eating steaming hot banana oatmeal to warm up my insides.  I’m writing this sitting next to my dining room window where the current falling snow is making me feel like I’m blogging from the inside of a snow globe.

And…I’m loving every second (minus the driving).

Winter is favorite season and I’m obsessed with snow!  There is nothing more gorgeous to me than freshly fallen snow.  This is mine and my daughter’s favorite snow covered tree.  So, so beautiful.

Stay safe and stay warm, local friends!

Today’s blog topic is one that I have been pondering for quite some time, especially the older that I’ve been getting.

Reading is an interesting hobby.

I think it’s the most antisocial and yet completely social hobby all at the same time.

I need silence when I read.  As in no talking, no television, no distractions.

I am an only child and have always loved having alone time.  I prefer quiet to chaos, silence to loudness, and peace to noise.  I have always been like this!  Reading is the perfect, quiet hobby for me.  Always has been and always will be.

Throughout the day, I find myself thinking about whatever book I’m currently reading.  While I’m driving, while I’m washing dishes, etc. I could be at the most amazing and exciting party and yet somewhere in the back of my mind…be dreaming of the next time when I will be able to peacefully snuggle up with a book.  Antisocial hobby?

And yet, I have had AMAZING and in depth discussions with people about books.  People who I don’t even know well!  Books have such a magical way of instantly providing complex topics for discussions.  Reminds me of a picture I posted on Instagram last month.  LOVE IT!

How can something be called antisocial when the very focus of it is to meet characters, travel to far away places, learn cultural differences, and to broaden the horizon of topics which previously had not be known?

I started this book blog as a creative outlet for this stay at home mom to be able to share her passion with others.  I can’t believe all that it has provided for me in such a short amount of time!  I have met so many new friends, both physically as well as virtually.  I have created a space in which I’ve watched others interact with each other though books.  I have had numerous people tell me that they appreciate the community I have created here.  All because of books.  Amazing.

This all brings me back to my original question:  Is reading a social hobby?

I’m not entirely sure…I just know that either way, it’s the perfect hobby for me. 🙂

What do you think?  Is reading a social hobby?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMY! I love you and I love our friendship so, so much! Can’t wait to celebrate this weekend! 

(To learn more about us and our special friendship read this post)

Stay safe and warm, everyone!

XO,

Jenny

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

 

Book Review: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing {Marie Kondo}

Have you watched the new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo?  Everyone is talking about it!  It is currently causing millions of people to reorganize and declutter their homes. I read and fell in love with her book and her logic years ago.

Synopsis

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international best seller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

My Thoughts

When The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing was released in 2014, I ordered and read it immediately.  It’s fantastic!  I currently keep it in my nightstand to refer back to when I need a refresher.  It’s about keeping the absolute most special and useful physical things in your life and getting rid of everything else.

The older I get, the more into minimalism I become.  I started on this journey a few years ago and I work on it bit by it each day.  It’s important to me and has been so beneficial to our entire family.  I used to be the EXACT opposite.  I used to buy things just to buy them without giving much thought to if I even wanted or needed them first.

My thought process really changed once I had my children.  The baby industry is RIDICULOUS, making new moms think they need every baby product on the market.  By the time I had my 2nd child, I knew that there were very few products that we actually needed and would be using. The true things that all babies actually need cannot be bought!  This really opened my eyes as to what we were bringing into our home and why.

One of my favorite things to do is to hold our annual garage sale.  I spend all year putting stuff into bins to sell and when the time comes to haul those bins into the garage, a feeling of peace comes over me!  I LOVE getting rid of stuff.  In my opinion, a clutter free home leads to a clutter free mind.

I work hard on keeping my house clean and free of clutter.  I truly believe that when my house is clean and clutter free, I feel calmer.  I make our bed every single morning.  I try to do at least 1 load of laundry each day.  I try to never have dirty dishes in my sink.  These things not only keep our home in working order, but keep my mind in working order as well!

My daughter had a play date here a few months ago and when her friend’s mom came to pick her up, she told me that couldn’t believe how organized my house was when there are 2 young children living here.  I loved hearing that!  I truly believe that kids can have toys, but those toys don’t have to take over the entire house.

I’ve been trying to teach my kids to clean up after themselves.  When they finish playing with something to put it away before taking out something new.  This is a work in progress 🙂

Our family and friends know how we feel about this. When it comes to buying gifts for our children, they have been respectful in following our wishes to not allow clutter into our home. Our kids already have way too many toys that they don’t play with.  TOO MANY TOYS. In this house, toys truly just equal clutter because they are abandoned within 5 minutes of receiving them.  As for clothes, I’m very picky with their clothes and like to pick them out myself.  This leaves my absolute favorite gift that people give my children…gift cards for experiences!  Plays, concerts, zoo/museum memberships, movies, fun restaurants, etc. Experiences are ALWAYS welcome, especially ones that will give our family lasting memories.  One can never have too many memories with family…but one can DEFINITELY have too many unplayed with toys.

As for Jon and I…when we got married, we had a massive (gorgeous) comforter with THIRTEEN throw pillows.  THIRTEEN.  Every single morning, I would artfully arrange those pillows and every single night, I would carefully pile them in the corner of our room.  I would fold down the comforter so that all of the designs were in perfect harmony.  It was stunning.  It was gorgeous.  It was a production.  It was insane.

Our bed now is simple, beautiful, and perfect.  It takes me exactly 1 minute to make each morning.  So much better.  Our nightstands are always neat and clutter free.  When we go to bed each night and wake up each morning, we are surrounded by peace and not by chaos.

I work hard to keep our home clutter free and only keeping things that we love and that “spark joy” as Kondo would say.  My husband came home from work one day and discovered that I had gotten rid of everything in our downstairs bathroom because I was “over it”.  That was over the summer and I still haven’t replaced everything in there because I refuse to buy things until I find things that I absolutely love!  In hindsight, I probably should have bought all of the new stuff BEFORE getting rid of the old stuff?  Live and learn…

Bottom Line

If it doesn’t spark joy, you don’t need it.  Period.

Did you read Marie Kondo’s book?

Have you watched her Netflix show?

Do you practice minimalism?

Xo,

Jenny

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

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

Book Reviews: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (Books 1 and 2) {Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo}

Today is my daughter’s 7th birthday.  7!?!?  How is that even possible? Where does time  even GO when you’re a parent?

She’s smart, beautiful, sweet, hilarious, and amazing.  I am so lucky that she’s mine 🙂 She has been counting down to this day since her birthday last year.

She requested to have her hair curled for her special day so I ordered a curling iron online and we had a trial run last week:

She thinks it’s super cool that I have a blog.  She’s always talking about it and now wants a blog of her own.  She wants to name it “iPad Candy Happy” (get it???)  I told you she’s hilarious 🙂

We have LOTS of celebrating to do over the weekend including a fun adventure and awesome dinner tonight and a pizza party with her friends tomorrow.

In honor of her birthday, I thought I would review 2 of her all time favorite books:

rebelgirls

Synopsis:

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 BEDTIME STORIES about the life of 100 EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 FEMALE ARTISTS from all over the world. Each woman’s story is written in the style of a fairy tale. Each story has a full page, full color portrait that captures the spirit of the portrayed hero. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is also the MOST CROWDFUNDED ORIGINAL BOOK IN HISTORY.

rebelgirls2

Synopsis:

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls 2 is the sequel to the sensational New York Times bestseller, and the most crowdfunded book of all times. The authors, Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli, will take you and your kids on an empowering journey through 100 new bedtime stories, featuring the adventures of extraordinary women from Nefertiti to Beyoncé. The unique narrative style of “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” transforms each biography into a fairy-tale, filling the readers with wonder and with a burning curiosity to know more about each hero. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 boasts a brand new graphic design, a glossary and 100 incredible new portraits created by the best female artists of our time. “This amazing book shows girls they can be anything they want.” – Melinda Gates “Essential reading for girls and indeed boys; children who read this at bedtime are guaranteed some big and inspirational dreams.” – Fiona Noble, The Guardian “The anti-princess book teaching girls to rebel.” – Georgina Rannard, BBC News

My Thoughts:

My daughter absolutely LOVES these books.  My husband was the one to read them with her.  Each night before bed, they would read a few stories together.  My daughter couldn’t WAIT to hear these each night!  I read a few of them with her when he was unable and I was impressed with the variety of well known woman and their accomplishments that these books focused on.

There are SO many lessons taught in these books…they teach tolerance, determination, hard work, dedication, etc. all taught from the true stories of successful women.  These books are inspiring on so many levels.  As an added bonus…through the stories, my daughter even learned bits of history!

My husband absolutely loved reading these with her and it was wonderful bonding for them.  When I told him that I was reviewing them today, his exact words were, “I love those books!”

These books make such amazing gifts.  My daughter received the first one as a gift from her aunt, uncle, and cousins.  Her aunt wrote such a beautiful message on the inside cover about how my daughter is capable of great things, they can’t wait to see all that she will do, and that the stories of the women in this book should be a reminder to her of all that she can achieve.  Such an inspirational message was the perfect inscription.

As soon as they finished reading the first book, my husband immediately preordered the second and it arrived as soon as it was released.  They were both so excited to start reading it that night!

These books will continue to hold a special place on her bookshelf for a very, very long time.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY LITTLE GIRL!  I’m trying hard to protect our privacy by not saying her name 🙂  I love you more than you will ever know…Let the celebrating BEGIN!

Xo,

Mommy (Jenny)

Do your children own these books?  Do they love them?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

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

Book Review: Swear on This Life {Renee Carlino}

Oh do I have a lovely book for you today!  I honestly adored everything about this beautiful book.  If you haven’t read this one yet, you are in for such a treat!

swearonthislife

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

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)

5 Stars

This is one absolutely beautiful book.  I loved everything about it from the first to the last page.

The characters, the settings, the plot, all of it…just beautiful.  So well written, so well developed.  Both stories told in this book (present and past) were equally interesting and captivating.  Usually I prefer one story to the other but not in this case…they both held my attention and kept me interested the entire time.

I couldn’t imagine how Carlino would be able to tie all of the complicated aspects of these 2 stories up in the end and she did it perfectly!  I loved the ending….and the middle….and the beginning.

I highly, highly recommend this book.  You will love it and and won’t be able to stop thinking about it long after you finish reading.

Bottom Line:

Beautiful.  In every way.

Have you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Donna Baier Stein Instagram giveaway will be posted shortly!  

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

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

A Book Blogger’s Instagram in an Instant {Part 2} and a Fun Book Coffee Happy Announcement

Hi Friends!

How was your weekend?  Ours was a perfect mix of relaxation, errands, and lots of fun.

Friday night the 4 of us went to my kids’ favorite pizza restaurant for dinner.  The restaurant has been around for a million years, is filled with taxidermy animals, peanut shells on the floor, and the most delicious pizza ever.  It’s crowded, small, loud, and perfect.  Our kids beg us to take them to the restaurant with the “animals”, lol.

Do you follow Book Coffee Happy on Instagram?  If not, head over there and join the fun!

Last month, I posted A Book Blogger’s Instagram in an Instant and it was such a hit, I decided to make it a regular addition to my blog!  Welcome to part 2 🙂

Here are a small sample of photos and videos that I’ve recently taken and posted to my Instagram account (see my account for photo explanations, lol).  Just like my blog, it has lots of posts about books with bits of my personal life sprinkled in. 🙂

If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, this is a perfect time to start because I will be hosting my very first Instagram Giveaway on Wednesday!  The winner will be able to choose 1 book from 3 amazing book selections.  I can’t wait!

A Fun Book Coffee Happy Announcement:

Local friends, I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be running storytime at the brand new and beautiful Whimsy Play in Buffalo Grove on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 10:00-10:45 starting this Tuesday! Local friends, bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price will be included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up! If you are a blog reader and we don’t know each other in real life, please come and introduce yourself. 😍 I can’t wait to meet all of you and your little ones! ❤️

I hope you are all having a great Monday!

Xo,

Jenny