Elly In Love-Colleen Oakes

I’ve got a bone to pick before I actually get into the review. There are two “trends” I guess I could say, that I have noticed with any kind of chick lit I’ve read recently. Or ever.

1. The man is always loaded. Legitimately, you think for once, she’s falling for an average Joe in an average house, average job, average life. Something to give us average people hope. NOPE. SURPRISE! He is A. The CEO of his own company and loaded. B. An heir to a very LARGE fortune. C. A combination of the two. Oh yeah, and they’re never just kind of well off. They’re like, “I have millions in the bank” kind of loaded.

2. Florists. I read 4 books this month where the main female character owned a flower shop. And they all were kind of bah-humbug about the whole love thing because they’re in a “romantic business” and love has screwed them over somehow. Seriously, I know 1 florist. Out of all of our friends, family, kids I went to school with, I know 1.

This has nothing to do with the above two, but I LOVE TLC “Friday Bride Day.” I am a total sucker for all things wedding related. It must have something to do with the rock I get to rock on my left hand. I like how Oaks threw in a fictional TV show that would fit in PERFECTLY with that line up.

These two things being said, Elly In Love had both, but in a good way.

Elly was charming and endearing. She’s the underdog you cheered for throughout the entire book. Regardless of what happened, who came into her life or left, she was awesome. I loved how real she was. When she was sad, she ate ice cream and watched TV. When she was uncomfortable in social situations, she just wanted to read a book in her jammies. Story of my life. I enjoyed the breath of fresh air having a more “normal” female lead.

Keith was good. An absolute sweet heart. The right kind of cheese ball+tough guy= adorable. The kind of quirky prince charming we all hope for at some point in our lives. I was empathetic to his own little hidden plight in life. He was protective, he was understanding, and he was human.

I wish Snarky Teenager had a name. Honestly, she was such a huge part of the story. It got kind of annoying. Give the poor girl a real name. By the end of the book, she’s not so much Snarky Teenager anymore.

The other supporting characters were great. All of the big characters had dynamic, layers and growth. The book kept pace, and it was a good summer read. It was a great “clean,” romantic comedy really. It was refreshing to read a romance that wasn’t necessarily a Christian romance, but wasn’t like the author threw in a porn scene either. Seeing where life takes Elly, Keith and the rest of the gang would be an absolute delight.

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Garden Growth

GREAT PUMPKIN! I don’t think anyone quite understands the joy of having not one, but MULTIPLE pumpkins growing right now. Last year, we had a giant plant and no pumpkins. I LOVE pumpkins. Pumpkin carving and pumpkin seeds are two of my most favorite things in the world. I have not ventured to pumpkin soup. That might change this fall though! They’re still little, and look more like our watermelons, BUT THEY’RE PUMPKINS! Yeah, I’m that excited. Like a kid in a candy store.

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Of course, the tomatoes. They are HUGE! And we have had a few start to turn red. I can’t believe how big they are this year. We must have done something right to the soil. We didn’t get very many even close to the size of these guys. By the time I get back from Antrim I will have a bajillion to make sauce with! Thank goodness I have already set a day aside to do it!

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And the chickens. They are still growing. Their combs are slowly but surly coming in. They LOVE eating strawberries and have begun to associate me with feeding them the delicious little treats. The other day I saw one of the girls “assume the position.” I had never seen a chicken lay an egg and didn’t realize it was different from when they just kind of sit down. Eric, who has a bit more experience informed me that that is how they sit when they are laying an egg! No eggs yet but hopefully that’s a sign that they are coming soon!!! 🙂 I love their fluffy little butts too!

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NEW EC Notebook!

At 1:37pm I received an email from Erin Condren! Their NEW On-The-Go Notesbooks are out! And for a limited time you can get a FREE 18 month calendar booklet!!! OF COURSE I had to get a notebook! AND I’m hooking my mother up with the 18 month calendar! WINNER!

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This is what I got!

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Instead of my name, I got “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” with William Shakespeare underneath. I also made my accent color Baby Blue, just like my planner.

This SEEMS like your average notebook, but it’s not! The cover is interchangeable (AWESOME). It comes with lots of goodies too!

130 lined pages and 20 blank “doodle” pages. If you’re not counting, thats 150 full sized pages! There is also a “keep it together” folder just like in the teacher planner. Also like the teacher planner, there is a zip lock pocket that includes 12 gift labels (6 of which are PERSONALIZED and designed to match your cover) for gift giving on the go, “let’s get together” cards and 120 repositionable colorful stickers. MORE STICKERS!

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I got the regular shipping, 8-12 business days because I don’t NEED this stuff, but it will still be here in time for school to start. I got a third pack of the markers to give to one of my other teacher friends. They are seriously THE BOMB! I can’t wait for my new goodies to come in AND for school to start to really get to use off of this! 😀

*All pictures are from Erin Condren.

For $10 off of your purchase, use this code! You will receive an email with a coupon code you can apply at check out! It does not work if you do not click the following link! https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/annaswenda0116

 

Crepes with Strawberries

Yes, more strawberries. They’re still coming in and will be the rest of the summer. I HAVE to eat them!!!

Crepes:

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup COLD water

1/2 cup COLD milk/cream

2 teaspoons coco powder

BUTTER

Cinnamon

Filling stuff of your choosing

I want to take a minute to adore these BEAUTIFUL brown eggs from Eric’s grandparents. Their red sexlinks have been supplying us while we are waiting for our girls to start producing!

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SIFT the flour, and if you so choose, the cinnamon and coco powder. This removes a lot of lumps and makes a nice smooth batter.

1.Whisk all ingredients together. I added a dash of cinnamon and coco powder because, WHY NOT!? It will all be the consistency of really thick chocolate milk, or a runny milk shake. You will have the urge to add more flour. DON’T DO IT!

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2. Chill in fridge for at least one hour.

3. I used fresh strawberries and chocolate syrup. You can use berries, bananas, peanut butter, whipped cream, caramel, chocolate- think of this as like a dessert/brunch taco. Go ham. HAHA get it, ham? Regardless of what you choose to fill your crepes with, you should prepare it while the batter is chilling.

4. Use BUTTER to grease the pan. Because crepes are French. Butter+French=all things good. In all honesty, I used a non-stick pan and you really don’t need that much butter. Slather it on afterwards though!

5. They are thin so they cook super fast. Add a dollop to the center of the pan, grab the handle and swirl around to spread the batter. The sides will begin to pull away.

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6. Flip once to finish cooking/brown the other side.

7. Slide out and fill til your little heart’s content.

8. YUM!

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Totally should have dusted with powdered sugar and coco powder! Oh for hindsight!

And even though crepes are French, I listened to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack because Jean-Yves Thibaudet is breath-taking.

Children of the Corn

Ok, I thought the play on words was hilarious. I have a very dry, off kilter sense of humor though. It’s ok. I know most of you will roll your eyes or not get it.

Honestly, I didn’t think it would happen. When Eric told me he wanted to grow corn I rolled my eyes. Everyone knows that in order for corn to be successful you must plant quite a bit of it in order to get proper cross-pollination. My aunt and uncle have been growing corn for years, and have had struggling crops more often than not. They do, however, have issues with varmints and deer that we simply do not. Reluctantly, I kept my mouth shut and said “Go ahead,” totally expecting very little to come of this venture. We could be planting green beans in that space! I was quite pleased as the stalks began to creep upward. I was still unsure of whether or not we would get ears of corn. It’s not unheard of to have plenty of stalks with teeny tiny, little to no ears sprout because of a lack of pollination. Today, Eric proudly sent me pictures of  4 baby ears of corn coming in. We have about 20 fuzzy little sprouts coming in.

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I must say, and admit, he was right. I am excited to see how big they get and how many more sprout up over the next few weeks! 🙂 I guess now I have to let him make next years corn area take up a bit more of the garden space.

Queen Of Someday-Sherry D Ficklin

I can add this to my list of historical fictions. I have a serious problem. And this book is good. It is a great disservice to be such a history nerd. I feel like sometimes it ruins reading historical fiction works. I know too much about the realities of the lives of these people to get too attached to their fictitious representations.

There are a number of things I really liked about this book and a few that I didn’t. Obviously I loved the fact that it’s historical. Catherine the Great is somebody whom I have only more recently taken an interest in. However, being the great ruler that she was, this is not the first time she has come across my radar. Ficklin used great, graphic wording to describe the world of Empress Elizabeth of Russia. There is the perfect swirl of romance, danger, fun, passion, fire and ambition. So much is known about the Great Empress, but it is her youth, and beginnings in the strange courts of Russia that Ficklin has chosen to zero in on.

Other than the ebook version being a bit wonky with its layout and just not very good, the flow of the book itself was great. It kept pace. At no point did I feel the need to put the book down or take a break. I didn’t necessarily find myself tearing through it to find out what would happen next either. It was a leisurely read that was perfect for lounging on our porch swing this evening.

Over all, I wish the characters had shown a bit more dimension and dynamic growth. It is obvious that this is a first book in a series and I get that. The scene and the foundation must be laid for all involved. I could tell that Ficklin really wanted to show a change and growth in Sophie (Catherine), but I felt that it fell just a bit short of her goal. Granted, most of the characters aren’t supposed to have much dimension, that IS the point. As the rest of them stay stagnant, it is Catherine who is to rise to the occasion. I found myself unable to quite connect to Sophie/Catherine in my usual immersive way. I am hoping in the next book, her transformation from naive, young woman will more fully blossom to her full potential.

I am certainly looking forward to Sherry Ficklin’s next installment in Catherine’s story. I would recommend this to my students being that is it “clean” as far as sexual and lexicon content are concerned. It was an entertaining read and enjoyable as far as summer reads go.

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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Milk Shake

Yes. Another strawberry recipe. I have a giant strawberry patch. What else am I supposed to do with them!? This one is super fast, super easy and sure to be a pleaser!

Ingredients:

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1 cup of Milk

Vanilla Ice Cream

Fresh Strawberries

One hot chocolate packet

1. The order in which you dump the ingredients is extremely important here!!!! Ice cream, hot chocolate packet, strawberries, milk on top. If you do not put the milk on top of the hot chocolate mix it will fly up and not combine into the shake like you want it too.

2. Blend until combined with no strawberry chunks or ice cream globs. Unless you like that sort of thing. You might need some more milk to reach the desired consistency.

3. Pour into a glass and enjoy! YUM!

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Variations: Add chocolate syrup, use chocolate or strawberry ice cream, throw a banana in there, make it chunky

The Revealed- Jessica Hickam

I didn’t mean to read this book in one solid sitting. I trudged into bed at 12:30am and thought “I’ll just read a few pages.” I checked the clock at 1:30 and kept on, I checked the clock again at 2:15. I checked the clock after I finished the book and it was 4:30.

I recognized relatively early on that this was going to be a series, or at least more than one book. Which, in this case was a good thing. It gave me time as a reader to build a relationship. At first, I thought this book was just going to be Lily being a temperamental young adult falling in love with the bad boy the entire book. Throw in some “new world order” and you’ve got what you THINK is something like The Selection Series. You’re wrong.

Lily was a completely relatable, endearing character. Struggling under house arrest, dealing with being in the spot light and the constant threat of life combusting around her, she handles it all like a real teenager would. Screaming, crying and kicking the whole way. But she is strong and destined for greater things.

Kai is the bad boy you want to love. You want to love Kai just as much as Lily does. You want to trust him, you want to believe he will be the prince charming and good guy. He is a surprise at every turn and by the end of it I was absolutely in love with him. It happened.

The Revealed are this big scary monster the entire book. When they show up the first time, you can’t breathe. You hold your breath and tell everyone to run. When they show up the second time, you’re a bit more prepared. But not really.

Rory and Skylar are probably my two favorite characters in the book. Both are supportive characters and Skylar doesn’t even show up until the last quarter or so of the book. I can’t wait to see what happens to them in the following book(s?). Rory is Lily’s spitfire friend that becomes an increasingly more important player in this twisted game of life. Skylar is the….other male character? He’s not quite a love interest, but I have a sneaking suspicion that in later books he could be. He’s definitely a friend, almost a mentor and an all around nice guy. It doesn’t help that he’s super attractive.

This was just an all around solid book. The characters have dimension, there are twists and turns, but it’s not overwhelming. I don’t have an obnoxious book-hangover. I am excited and can’t wait for the next book to be released but it hasn’t overwhelmed my life. Hickam has left just enough to the imagination, just enough questions, just enough things left open to have drawn me in. I am totally ready for the second book. I feel like if I didn’t get to read the second book that I would be ok. BUT I fully intend on reading the second book. I am super excited to see how Lily’s life continues!

The Revealed would be a great book for my students. Not too much, not too little. Not too long or too short. Just enough action, romance, and drama to keep you interested. It is easy to get enamored with these characters and long to know what happens next. But I guess we’ll just have to wait for that to be revealed. 😉

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And So It Begins

Tonight, I sat down with my measly little washi tape collection and began filling in some of my planner! 😀 Before I begin, I would like to say that I am a SENIOR and have one last round of field experience before I enter into the world of student teaching. I am using the month view to keep track of my every-day stuff. Classes, office hours, work, nannying, work outs, payments, pay days etc are all visible on my month view. Once I get into student teaching I won’t have as much personal stuff in the monthly view because I won’t have classes!

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I am awaiting my school’s website to update so that I can put in my personal assignments. THAT will be the biggest task when they come through. I went through and started finding birthdays, end of quarters, college breaks, special dates, wedding countdown, and high school dates. Keeping track of high school in-service days, and “holidays” as well as my own breaks is interesting. Thanksgiving is the only break that actually kind of lines up with the high school I am doing my field experience and student teaching at.

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August is a bit more on the sparse side being that school hasn’t started for ANYBODY yet. The best part of August is pre-planning my tomato sauce making day with my new mason jar washi tape! It’s so stinking cute and absolutely PERFECT! I like to plan my sauce days as far in advance as I can because sauce making day takes ALL DAY LONG. Especially this year with double the number of plants we had last year! This also helps me remember WHEN I made the different batches. They’ll last for a few years in the jars but I just like to keep track of when and how much I make. 🙂 I am also using my library stickers to help me remember when my library books are due, not just when I will be in the library with my high school students.

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I am using my washi tape in the month view to block out my schedule. Monday and Friday I am nannying so they get the fun colored strip. The pink zigzag denotes when I will be at the high school for field experience. I LOVE my cooperating teacher. She is the kind of teacher that when I jokingly said I would teach the Romeo and Juliet unit to the freshmen said “Ok. If you want to do it sure. I’ll just fill in on days when you’re not here.” I taught a whole unit in my first field experience. Basically, SHE’S AWESOME! Highlight of my week for sure! The yellow tape denotes my classes. Thankfully I only have those Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester. The blue is for my work out time after classes. EW. I am super excited to rock my EC bands to workout in though! I left space in-between to write in my office hours. I am a professors assistant at school. The man is a genius and teaches Theology, Philosophy, Fine Arts and a few other classes that make my brain hurt. I left space to the right of my tape for any extra notes or things that pop up. I am also taking online classes this semester. The blue stripes on Monday and Wednesday are dedicated online class time and homework time. Saturday and Sunday are empty so I can write in my work schedule for my retail job. Yay….

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One of my super friends picked me up a few packs of Sharpies last week when they had the “glitch” for the packs at $1.50. She ended up getting them for $1.05 because she had some extra coupon. In the meantime my mommy let me borrow her stash to write on my tape. They just show up a bit more vibrant and better than the EC markers. I still love them for regular writing in the planner and am stoked to use them for grading! The stickers are also definitely removable and adjustable. THANK GOODNESS!

It’s not a stupendous as some other EC planners out there, but baby steps right!?

For more info on my planner check out The Package. To get your own planner and get $10 off use this referral URL.

Pocket Pork, Cheesy Bacon Potatoes, Fresh Green Beans

After spending my afternoon floating around reading “The Jane Austen Handbook,” and drinking my favorite Summer Tea, I got to make dinner!

Ingredients

1 cup chopped onion

4-6 Boneless/Skinless pork chops

1 clove garlic

Salt/Pepper

1/2 cup EVOO

Fresh Green Beans

3 tablespoons butter

8-10 red potatoes (as many or as little as you need really)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Marble Jack

Worcestershire Sauce

Garlic Powder

REAL Bacon bits

1. Mince the onion and clove of garlic. We had a little baby onion from our garden that was the perfect size! Add almost all of them too a bowl. You’ll need about a tablespoon of the onion/garlic for the potatoes.

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2. Add the EVOO, salt and pepper, and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to the onion and garlic in the bowl. Add in the thawed pork chops. Shake around to distribute the marinade.

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3. Pre-heat your oven to 400. Start a pot on the stove to pre-boil the potatoes.

4. Dirty peel and chop your potatoes. Add them to the water with the remainder onion and garlic. Boil until soft NOT mushy.

5. Create a foil pocket, spray with non-stick spray. Dump the pork chops and marinade into the pocket. Wrap up, and place on a baking sheet with sides.

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6. Grease a baking dish. Add half of your potatoes. Cover with half of the cheese and bacon. Dump rest of potatoes on top. Cover with remaining cheese and bacon. Cut up 2 tablespoons of butter to add on top. Cover with foil.

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7. Add potatoes to the oven with the pork chops. The pork should be in for a total of 30-45 minutes depending on how thick the chops are. The potatoes really just need to melt and have the flavors meld together and should be in for about 20-30 minutes.

8. As everything finishes cooking, boil your green beans until soft and strain. Toss in your last tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle with garlic powder.

9. Pull everything out, make a plate and ENJOY!

 

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