Friday, March 30, 2012

Favorite Things Friday: The Hunger Games

It's been a while since I've been this obsessed with a book.  A series of books actually.  Out of stubbornness I didn't want to read it.  Everyone else had read it.  It was wildly popular.  I didn't want to like it.  I was the same way with the Twilight series and the Harry Potter series.  Both were good - but this series was amazing.  I'm contemplating reading them again - and I only finished them a couple weeks ago.

I read The Hunger Games in two days.  It would have been only a matter of hours, but I started it in the evening one Friday and stayed up past midnight reading.  I had signed up to work overtime at work from 6am-11am the next morning and was regretting that decision.  One the way to work the next morning I seriously contemplated pulling out my Kindle while at a stop light.

At work the following Monday, while reading Catching Fire, I thought about taking my Kindle into the bathroom with me during a potty break.  This series was all I could think about until I was done.  The books were so well written and vivid.  I finished Catching Fire in two days.  Two days later I was done with Mockingjay.  I read the entire series of books in 6 days.

Then I became obsessed with the thought of the movie.  It consumed my thoughts.  I watched the movie trailers over and over.  I wanted desperately to see the movie.  But I told Frank he couldn't see it until he read the book.  (He has a similar prerequisite for me with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).  My good friend Barb and I went on Sunday afternoon.  It was so wonderful.  There were a few parts they could have spent more time explaining, but I understood everything because I had read the book.  A few things changed here and there, but nothing of much significance.

I'm already thinking about going to see the movie again.  Maybe this weekend during Ezra's nap time.  Until then I think I'll start reading the book again.

If you haven't read it, or had any desire to read it, please try.  But good luck waiting at the library.  Your best bet is just to buy a copy.  They're like $7 at Target right now.

Did you see the movie?  Read the book?  What did you think?


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More Ezra-isms

My child is just like his dad.  A talker.  When he's playing he whispers to himself.  In the car he's singing and talking.  At the dinner table.  At the store.  In his bed when he's supposed to be sleeping.  This kid talks.  All.  The.  Time.

Here are a few of the words he says:

  • "feud"
    • This means food.  He always wants more "feud."
  • "pick-ups"
    • This means hiccups.  He thought he needed medicine to fix them.
  • "too cute/too funny/too much"
    • He actually means "so cute/so funny/so much."  i.e.: "I love you too much, Dada"
  • "I no like dis"
    • Yes.  This one is pretty self explanatory - "I don't like this" - We've been hearing a lot of this one lately.  He's decided to be picky with food, toys, books, movies, you name it.
  • "Kawa"
    • My name.  He recently realized that I had a name besides "Mama" and he likes to use it.  He pronounces it just like I did - where the "R" sound is replaced with the "W" sound.
He is so funny.  He's developing opinions about everything and finally really seeing everything around him.  Frank took him with on a grocery shopping trip and he wanted EVERYTHING.  We used to be able to push him around and he'd just be oblivious and sit there with his slice of cheese from the deli and his red sucker from the meat counter.

He's totally obsessed with red.  He wants to wear his single pair of red pants everyday.  He only wants red suckers.  He has been sleeping with his red blow up guitar.  He has a red and white striped shirt with a guitar on it and wants to wear it every time he sees it.  I'm sure it stems from Murray the red Wiggle.  Murray has been his favorite Wiggle since he started watching them.

He recently got his hair cut and looks so much older.  He was such a good boy and sat totally still.  The stylist even said he was the best 2-year-old she'd ever had.  I think he was terrified.  But he was rewarded with a red sucker - so all was right with the world.


What a cute boy I have.

Don't you think?


Friday, March 16, 2012

Favorite Things Friday: Sioux Falls

Our town is pretty amazing.  It feels like a small town, but with a population of 153,000 it's a little metropolis.  It's pretty, has great shopping, and it's safe.  It's the 47th fastest growing city in America.  People clearly love it here.  Including us.  We moved here 8 years ago (seems like that couldn't possibly be true!) and can't imagine living somewhere else.  We love the conveniences of living in a city: 7 Hy-Vees, 2 Walmarts, 2 Targets, a huge mall and tons of movie theaters and restaurants.

Downtown Sioux Falls is a little delight.  Phillips Avenue is so cute.  Little hometown shops line the streets.  Bars, restaurants, and the State Theatre (which is being renovated and has plans to reopen sometime in 2013).  Every year artist have an opportunity to submit a sculpture to the Sculpture Walk which is a collection of 50 sculptures from around the world that are on display downtown.  There are maps in the downtown stores so you can see them all and vote on your favorite.  

At the North end of downtown lie the falls.  The landmark Sioux Falls is named for.  All the times I'd been to Sioux Falls before moving here, I can't remember ever actually coming to the falls.  I didn't really know they existed.  They're actually quite pretty.  There's a sidewalk that meanders around the park and a bridge that goes over the falls to the Overlook Cafe.  There's even a visitor center and a viewing tower.

There are over 50 parks and greenways in town.  One of our favorite is the picture above: McKennan Park.  Someday I'd like to live in one of the houses that surround it.  A girl can dream.  There are parks with playgrounds, baseball diamonds, pools, soccer fields, tennis courts... The parks are amazing.  There are also 3 aquatic centers and at least 3 other basic pools in town.  They sure come in handy when it's 99ยบ in July.

The Sidewalk Arts Festival is my very favorite event each year.  Usually the second weekend in September hundreds of artists and crafts people bring their wares to Sioux Falls.  They close down streets surrounding the Washington Pavilion and it becomes a walking market.  There is an application process - you have to submit photographs of your work to the Washington Pavilion and they'll decide if the things you make are worth enough to sell.  The applications are submitted in May - maybe next year I'll apply.  I wouldn't have enough time to make anything wonderful in time to apply this year.  

This weekend we are going to the Japanese Gardens.  I've never been there since we moved here.  Frank just went the other day and insists we go this weekend.  The weather here has been fantastic.  It's been in the low 70's and as long as it doesn't rain, we are excited to check out a new place.

One of the best things to do in town is go to the Great Plains Zoo.  I got a half price family membership last year and it was totally worth it.  We are going to get a membership again this year.  They have tons of animals and a petting zoo.  Ezra totally loves it.  The penguins especially.  Wonder why.  

We love our city.  The only thing we don't love is the snow... but that's not Sioux Falls' fault.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thrifty Finds #2

I've spent my fair share of time in thrift stores in the last few months with little success.  Sure, I'd find a few things that were adequate but nothing fabulous.  I was getting disappointed.  Then last Saturday after I worked 5 hours of overtime at work I decided to hit a couple that I can only visit on weekends because they close by 5pm during the week.

I first stopped into the Salvation Army Thrift Store.  It was surprisingly busy in there.  One of my usual stops in any thrift store are the books... but sadly I couldn't find anything.  I also looked for some vintage dessert plates for Holly's wedding but they didn't have any that were attractive.  But I did end up with a couple gems!  Then I went to the Volunteers of America Thrift Store and found tons of stuff!  It was packed to the gills with goodies.

Little Tikes van = $1.49
2 yards of Sesame Street fleece = $1.49
Glass Pyrex pie plate = $1.49
Scrabble = $2.49
Glass footed bowl = $1.00
6 assorted dessert plates = 50¢ each

This idea came this blog I found recently.  She has a cute glass dish that she stores her earrings in and her name is Kara, too.  My favorite earrings hang on the outside for easy access and others (like hoops) are inside.  It's genius.  Plus it's pretty.

Set of 3 stacking cooling racks = $3.00
Tupperware sandwich keeper = 50¢
Neat mug = 50¢

I went to a Pampered Chef party a few months ago and contemplated buying these, but at $15 a pop I decided not to.  Boy am I glad I didn't buy those suckers.  Same goes for the Tupperware sandwich keeper.  Did you know they're $15 for a set of 2?  That's crazy.  I found that baby for 50¢!  

The mug is so cute.  And it must be old because the bottom has the brand "Waechtersbach" and "W Germany" on the bottom.  I plan on taking it to work for a little something pretty on my desk.

Total spent:  $15.00

Have you found any gems lately?


Friday, March 9, 2012

Favorite Things Friday: Target

Anyone who knows me knows I love Target.  It's my favorite store on the whole earth.  Sioux Falls has 2 now (which is so exciting!) one on each side of town.  The new one opened in October 2010 (sad that I remember that) and is so convenient and wonderful.

There are so many reasons why I love Target... and here are my top 5.

The DIAPERS!  As the mother of a 2.75 year old who has ZERO interest in potty training, I love cheap diapers.  These are leaps and bounds better than any other "store brand" diaper I've found.  

When Ez was just a little 8 pound infant we used the Huggies with the pee strip thing on them that told us when he was wet.  That is the most brilliant thing ever.  We went through SO many diapers.  They sure pulled us into their money trap.  The second those strips turned blue we were changing the dang things.  Then we decided that we'd rather send our kids to college than spend this kind of money on "name brand" diapers.  

We started trying cheaper brands: Luvs, Parents Choice (Walmart), and Target's up & up brand.  The Luvs smelled funny.  Powdery or something.  And they felt like they were going to burst at any moment.  The Walmart ones were really rough and didn't have a gathered back so blow outs squished right out the back of them.  Gross.  The Target ones were wonderful.  Not just because the other ones were terrible.  They were great.  It's no surprise to anyone that I also love polka dots and these diapers have blue and green polka dots all over them!  We've bought so many packages of these diapers.  I've even made storage boxes out of them by cutting the tops off and covering them with contact paper.  (I'll post that sometime.)  Anyway, they're wonderful and I love them.  Yay, Target!

Paper towels.  Toilet Paper.  Napkins.  We buy Target up & up brand for all of these items.  They're just as good as the name brand and way cheaper.  The paper towels we like are the ones that are about 6" wide and you get to pick how many you use depending on your spill size.  All the brands have their own name for this type of paper towel.  Bounty is Select a Size.  Target is Make a Size.  Somewhere else has Sized for Spills.  Frank couldn't remember what they were called and called them Select a Spill, which I thought was hilarious.  

Zip top bags in all sizes.  We go through tons of these bags.  It's not very green of us.  But we've been trying to save money as much as possible so we've been taking lunches to work and snacks in the car.  These are the best "non-Ziploc" brand we've found.  And they're considerably cheaper, too.

These carts!  They are so smooth and easy to push.  They don't give us shocks like the metal ones from Walmart.  They even make a fun clunking sound when they're pushed together for storage.  (I have a weird thing for sounds.)  You can fit SO much stuff in them too!  Wait, maybe that isn't such a good thing.

The Starbucks inside the Target.  Coffee + Shopping = Win.  That is all.

Do you have a favorite Target product?  Or a favorite store I should know about?


This post was not sponsored by Target.  I'm simply expressing my love for it.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Favorite Things Friday: A Few Good Books (and an ode to my Kindle)

It's no surprise that I'm a reader.  With my goal to read 50 books this year SMASHED in December (which was only 8 months into my challenge) it's obvious to anyone that I love to read.  Speaking of that, I should probably update my Read list.  Oops.  Sorta forgot about that.

Anyway, so at first I thought I'd do a rating system on my Read page, but it was so hard because most of them were good.  But a few were terrible.  Terrible enough that I contemplated not even finishing them.  One of them I didn't finish.  It was awfully written and had typos all over the place.  Bad ones.  Your vs. you're even.  But then I realized it was probably a self-published piece of drivel since it was a Kindle only publication that was only 99¢.  Not sure what I was expecting.

Because I'm on a budget I've been flocking toward the cheap Kindle books (99¢, $1.99, $2.99) and a great deal of them are Young Adult.  This is another reason why I LOVE my Kindle like a child.  No one can see what I'm reading.  So if someone asks, I can be like "Oh, I'm enjoying Anna Karenina!"  When I'm actually reading something like "Flat Out Love" (which was WONDERFUL by the way).

These are the stand-outs.  The ones that even months later I remember them being great.

buy it here

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

Okay, so don't judge a book by its description.  It's not a creepy pedophile story.  (Got you wondering, huh?)  It's a great story about surviving on an uninhabited island and the interactions between the only two people living there: Anna (a high school tutor) and TJ (a high school student).

buy it here

Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer

Four friends.  One dies and leaves a secret that the other three friends set out to solve.  It sounds cliche but it was actually really great.  

buy it here

A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White

This book I found at the Goodwill in Santa Barbara for 99¢.  I didn't even intend to buy it at first.  I had found two books and two movies (a Wiggles one for Ezra and Ratatouille for Lenon) but I discovered on the walk back to my parent's house that Ratatouille was missing.  Duh me for not checking to see if the movie was in it.  So we walked back and talked to the girl who rang us up and she said to just trade it for something else that was $3.99.  So I looked through their books and found this one and 3 others and we were on our way.  It is a great book.  It's so easy to connect with the characters.  It was one of those books that I couldn't wait to read.  I would think about it at work and was tempted to smuggle it into the bathroom with me to read it.  But I refrained.

buy it here

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

I love anything by Kristin Hannah.  Wait, I take that back.  There was one book that was just okay but I can't remember the name of it because I've read almost all of her books.  That's one thing I do.  When I find an author I like I read their EVERYTHING.  Then I get disappointed because I'm out of books and I have to wait for the next book.  Anyway, this particular book is really good.  I don't remember tons about it because I read it so long ago.  But believe me, it was good.

buy it here

One Pink Line by Dina Silver

I didn't expect much from this book, what with its pink cover and cliche title.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  I'm sure you could guess from the title --- a girl ends up pregnant but that's not where it ends.  You'll be surprised, and emotional, and enjoy it.  I promise.

So those are a few of the good ones.  Have you read any good books lately?