Friday, April 28, 2017

Spring Reading For The Win

Spring is here in full force. We've got sunny days, windy days, and rainy days all mixed up into some very crazy weather. As I posted earlier this week, the sunny days have me craving more beach days! My body and soul just can't wait until the weather is permanently warm and I can set up my beach chair right along the water and read all the books! Just like I did on Saturday. Consider this my open invitation to you all to join me :) 

Our Carolina coastline is pretty amazing and I have plenty of book recommendations for you! Today's post will get you started in the right direction. I'm so happy with the books I read this month. I started April without any real direction again. I read a couple non-fiction books, one hefty young adult contemporary, and then switched gears to lighter reads. I'm staying the path of fun and breezy fiction from here out. My brain just can't process all the heavy material when switched to vacation mode! 

#1 Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick. I do love a celebrity memoir. Let's call it a guilty pleasure. It doesn't even have to be good! I just want all the juicy details of the Hollywood life. And any million dollar health and beauty tips they have to share. Occasionally, I find bits of wisdom and inspiration. Ultimately it's really about the pointless gossip to appease my curiosity. There I said it! I actually listened to Kendrick's Scrappy Little Nobody by audiobook which was narrated by her. This is the only way to listen to memoirs in my opinion :) I wasn't a huge fan. I didn't get a lot of inspiration from her "difficult" journey to success. I think I may be a little above the target age group for this book. I'm on the fence about a recommendation because I think Scrappy Little Nobody would be an entertaining beach read.

#2 The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Wow, what a book. Just go read it now. Before I say anything else, to persuade or dissuade.This book will make you consider and re-consider your opinions on police accountability, low income communities, and Black Lives Matter movement. I've shared multiple times, I am an empathetic thinker with pretty liberal beliefs. These topics still reach to my core and make me think about our current events. You don't have to be 100% Black Lives or Blue Lives Matter to be touched by the message of this book. I feel like Thomas presented a complete story and argument for all sides. The Black, the Blue, and all the hues in between. There is no clear solution. I feel like we need to start educating ourselves with other perspectives.This book does that with so many characters. Once you read the book, come back to tell me your thoughts! I really want to discuss this book with someone!

#3 The Power of Discipline: 7 Ways It Can Change Your Life by Brian Tracy.   I needed this book in a big way. We are coming to a big transitional time in our lives, as my husband's Marine career comes to an end. The 'what comes next' question weighs heavy as we try to find the answer pronto. This book is perfection to motivate and encourage proactivity in your life. It really lit a fire and provided a sensible to-do list for putting the 7 ways of discipline into action. I listened on audiobook; I replayed the short chapters multiple times. I would highly recommend The Power of Discipline to anyone feeling complacent, stuck, or in need of a little boost.

#4 Out Of My Mind by Sharon M Draper. This middle grade fiction novel is told from the prospective a 11 year old girl, Melody, with cerebral palsy. Spending her life unable to communicate, a new computer creates a whole new world of interaction. I love the positive premise of this book. There are so many truths and prejudices Melody faces that were eye opening to me. I was drawn to this book because of my current work in the school district's exceptional child classrooms. Other states might use special education or developmental disabilities. Any way you name the classes, there is still an overlooked and isolated population of students who have very real desires to be included. This book was important to me and I wish so many others would read it.

#5 The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon. I have fallen hard for Nicola Yoon's writing. It's so light and airy yet holds such depth. Her books are the perfect spring read. The Sun Is Also A Star follows the path of two teens budding relationship against the backdrop of immigration/deportation in America. The story shows the interconnectedness of all the minor and major players along the way. As I'm reading along, I'm think "hmm, I never think how my actions might be impacting someone in this same position".  Always a bonus when fiction makes you do that. My love for Yoon runs deep. She writes with love, hope, and empowerment. It's the very sweetest type of writing without the sap :) I will always recommend ;)

Your turn to recommend books :) Anything you think goes well with warm weather and sitting on the beach??? 

Linking up with Narci and Steph and Jana for books suggestions galore!

Follow Along:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Local's Guide To The Best Temecula Wineries

Today I am talking about wine. This post has been tucked away in my draft folder for a very long time. Like most drafts, eventually you have to pull the cord and delete or publish. I thought why not publish this post today

If I had a magic lamp, I would be on a plane right now headed for Italy or Napa for a nice little wine getaway. A cute little bed and breakfast, artisan food, cozy reading knooks, and wine! One of these days in the distant future, you will see me in my big sunglasses and floppy hat strolling through the streets of Italy with a glass of wine in my hand. I hope that's not illegal there :( Until all the stars align and my amazing children are grown and self-supporting, I am going to stick to local wine areas that are just as tasty. Temecula being one of them.  We were lucky enough to call Temecula home for a few years and took full advantage of the wineries. We went on day dates, celebrated birthdays, took a girls' day, had a blogger meet up, took mini-photo sessions, and just about everything in between at the wineries. we sound like we have a problem...but really it's about the ambiance, food, and the gorgeous California sun...and then the wine :)

One of many day dates the Marine husband.

San Diego Military Blogger Meetup (we always had so much fun). More Meetups here and here.
There is only one in this picture still in San Diego area.
Military life, I tell you. But we are all still connected in some way :)

Girls day at Stella and Dot trunk show (Wilson Creek Winery)

Family pictures at Thorton Winery

Book club at Mount Palomar Winery

We had a good ole time. I thought today I would share this post with readers in the San Diego and Riverside area, who want to spend the day drinking good wine with good atmosphere. I hope you find this blog post helpful. If so, leave a comment or send me a message. I will be so happy to know someone is enjoying some fabulous wine and scenery!

Here are the top five Temecula wineries worthy of your time including a link to a more picture filled post:

Family owned with some of the best wine in Temecula. We always appreciated Wiens was not as busy as some of the others. The rumor was Wiens did not accept the big wine tour buses catering to the smaller group. When you are a local, this is important.

#2 South Coast Winery

South Coast Winery consistently has the best wine. In fact, we still have quarterly shipments sent to us in North Carolina. This is the only wine we do this with. You would understand the depth of our love if you saw 
the shipping rate!!

Best hidden gem. The Cabernet Sauvignon is the best. The restaurant is so good. This is probably top two or three on my rankings. When you click on the link you will see more of what I love.

This one makes the list for the chardonnay and the fire pits. 
I'm confident that is all you need in life.

Vindemia Winery was one of the last wineries we visited before our move. 
Literally, a serving bar and some umbrellas next to fields of grapes. 
The wine spoke for itself and you definitely got first class service.

If you would like to know more, click on the name of each winery for link to more information and photos. 

Follow Along:
Instagram // Bloglovin // Pinterest

Monday, April 24, 2017

Wanted: More Beach Days

Wishing for more beach days today as the rain falls steadily...all. day. long.
I've been feeling the itch for warm weather and warm water.
Those consistent 80 degree days can't come soon enough :)
I'm channeling Saturday vibes as I create my weekly to-do list and try to get motivated for the week!
Hoping the sun finds you today :) 

Follow Along:
Instagram // Bloglovin // Pinterest

Friday, April 21, 2017

Things I Love And You Might Too

A post, otherwise known as Friday Favorites, which is probably dominating your Bloglovin feed today :) If you aren't reading this on a Friday, well, then you might actually read this post :) I am trying to post consistently on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. Today I don't have a recap post with pictures from my week to share with you :( However, I do have a list of things that I'm loving this week that I think you could love too!

#1 Podcasts

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey specifically. The target audience is women and has mentions of Christianity. I thought it was worth mentioning because that may be something you are or are not looking for in a podcast. It's very casual conversation interview style about topics relevant to women with popular bloggers/authors/organization leaders. It's very upbeat and fun. It keeps me company on my commutes. I admit it's kind of inspiring to hear from women doing big things with their lives whether that be in their homes or outside their homes. What Should I Read Next is another podcast I keep up with weekly. I'll give you one guess what that is about!

#2 Spring Reading

I totally switched gears with my reading preferences this last week. I had been reading a lot of heavy material for the past 2-3 months. You can see for yourself in my March Reading recap and February Reading recap and January too if you aren't quite convinced :) I always throw in a lighter read, like Everything Everything in March and The Magnolia Story in February. When the warm weather came in last week, I thought I don't want to think so hard! I want to be outside on my patio giggling over silly characters, dialogue,  and letting my brain wander. So, I went to the library (because I don't have enough books around my house from my book haul) and got some lighter books! Nicola Yoon's The Sun Is Also A Star is the one I'm looking forward to most.

#3 Meal Planning

At the beginning of every military pay period, I take a Sunday afternoon to create a meal plan. I started doing this for two reasons: budget and to curb our restaurant outings. It has done wonders for both! I have a secret board in Pinterest where I pin all the meals I want to make for two weeks. Then I go back through and make a list of ingredients I will need. Then I post the meal plan in my kitchen and pick the meal I want on the day I want. Meals that take longer to prepare are made on the weekends or days I don't work. I try to keep them semi-healthy and add in some cheap eats too.  Our current meal plan is 3 weeks long which is the longest I've done. There are some delicious recipes we've tried so far.

Here are links to some of the recipes I'm making:
Sweet Ranch Chicken and Veggies
Senate Bean Soup
Grilled Shrimp With Old Bay and Creamy Parmesan Risotto (with mushrooms)
Lasagna Rollups
Sweet Potato Hash 

#4 Homemade Snack Mix

Often times, I will make my own snack mix for a sweet treat in my work lunch. I will take a few things from the pantry and mix them together. This week I made an additional mix for my daughter to bring in her lunch. The following morning she asked, "Mom, could you make that mix for me again?"  It really was the perfect combo. Almonds, milk chocolate chips, and gummy bears in case you are curious :) Oh and here is the trick to making your eating experience awesome...almond, chocolate chip, almond, almond, chocolate chip, gummy bear, repeat.

#5 Ipsy GlamBag

For someone who doesn't consistently wear makeup, I sure do love Ipsy. This monthly subscription is more than makeup including items for skin and hair care. I have consistently found the value to be at least four times the $10 monthly charge. Now I have a little buddy who likes to raid my Ipsy Glambags, so all items get put to good use! This month I really love the Ofra peach blush and trying the new shade of nail color. I have a very intense nail polish addiction! And the ticket bag is a favorite too!

#6 This Blog Post!

You know those moments when you hear words that are just meant for you. This blog post was that for me this week. I just happened upon this blog, The Girl Who Loved To Write, and immediately loved it. 7000+ followers can't be wrong! Anyways, this particular post really touched on a relevant topic/feeling for me as I continually struggle with living in North Carolina. I know what you are all thinking...still?!? Come on! Well, that is just the way it is for me and this blog post gave me the encouragement I need to keep trucking along. This will not be my forever, this is only temporary, and the whole point of temporary is to make the most of it. To learn and grown in your moment. I may not be in my early adult years, a young mom, or a doctor's wife, but I totally relate to this blog post! So, if you ever feel like you are waiting to get the job, have the baby, raise the baby, move home, buy the house, etc. etc. Read this post: Being Here, Now, in This Moment. (Stepping down from my soap box :)

Linking Up With These Ladies 

Follow Along:


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Let The College Visits Begin

It is that time in our parenting life, when we begin looking at colleges with our soon-to-be senior. 
And I couldn't be more excited! This is one of those parenting moments I have been waiting for.

In fact, after our visit to Duke University, my husband and I are in the market for 
a time machine.
We'd like the opportunity to go to a university like Duke (and be young and carefree again).
Wow to the holy wow for that campus though!

Although, price tag + SAT scores will makes this choice highly unlikely as a front runner for Kyli.
Always the sensible one, she said she will "save this one for med school".
Did I raise this one right or what?
My child, saving this one for med school. Be still my heart!

Med school or not, Duke campus is amazing!
Duke Chapel is even more stunning in the flesh.

I think everyone agreed. And no one was bored or preoccupied with anything else. Just kidding. Someone is always bored or preoccupied.

After Duke, we stopped by the North Carolina Museum of History.
I'm going to say with all honesty that I was less than impressed. I cannot stop raving about the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. It is my most favorite place in the whole state. Sadly, the history museum just didn't measure up in my opinion.

There is plenty of history in North Carolina. Native American, pirates, Civil War, and racial injustice to name a few. It's like a Hollywood jackpot of topics to elaborate on. The entire first level of the museum focuses on just that. 

And there is some interactive stuff that kept the wild ones engaged.
There is never a dull moment with these four. 

On the way back to the parking area, we passed through the State Capitol grounds and took pictures.
It's a nice little area that cover about one city block. 
It's very minimalistic with lots of historic monuments.

I think we have Raleigh covered for tourist attractions.
I'm ready to start exploring some more areas of the state.
Stay tuned!

Follow Along:
Instagram // Bloglovin // Pinterest

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Azalea Festival With No Azaleas

One thing I've learned living in North Carolina is this state love festivals.
There is a festival for fish, for flowers, for food, for just about everything.
It reminds me a lot of our life in Japan when we were stationed at Atsugi.
The Japanese were notorious for festivals and always carrying someone down the street in parade fashion. I wish I had understood more of what was going on back then :) From a foreigners eyes, it all seems quite confusing.

A very similar feeling to what happened this weekend at 
the Azalea Festival without an azalea in sight!

These are azaleas. Absolutely gorgeous and brightly colored flowers! 
Unfortunately, these azaleas were not found at the festival. 
Nope, I took these photos in my neighborhood where azaleas bloom in abundance.

*shaking my head*

Here is an opportunity you won't get very often. This was the start of our Azalea Festival experience, helping out a bunch of clowns who needed a tire changed. The kids and I just thought it was the funniest sight. I mean, really, when in life will this ever happen again?
My saint of a husband took liberty to help out and do the heavy lifting.
Those Marines I tell you. Their job never stops helping out America ;)

The azalea part of the festival may have been a bust but Downtown Wilmington never is! The historic sites and the waterfront walkway never get old.
We loved being able to show downtown off to my mother in law.

I'm  beginning to think festival really means street fair.
There were plenty of crafty vendors to visit.

And free food to sample.
We are speaking the teens love language now.

As we looped around the street fair vendors, we made our way along the Cape Fear River walkway I mentioned early.
It's a great place to stop and observe everything. 
I love looking out across the river. 
The water is crazy powerful and just swirls and swirls.

It also makes you kind of nervous as a momma when your clumsy child sits right up on the ledge of that powerful river. I need one of those monkey backpack leashes!
Believe me we used to have one for that child!

The USS North Carolina is docked here and used as a museum.
We haven't visited but I've marked it on our To-See list.

In my opinion, the giant piñata balloon was the star of the show.
When is the last time you saw a giant piñata balloon?
I think the answer might be never!
That is why I needed a picture :)

We spent most of our time watching the multicultural dance stage. 
These dancers were getting their cardio in early.

We sat there for a couple hours and then decided to go back to the car.

I was a little discouraged the Azalea Festival lacked the flowers I expected.
So, when I saw these flowers I decided I needed a picture. 

A block later, we finally found these azaleas outside a historic building or church (I can't remember). 
They were the only azaleas we came across at the festival.

Which means we had to take all the pictures!

Follow Along:

Instagram // Bloglovin // Pinterest