Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Rosie Effect - Book Review

I adored The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. It even made my top books of 2013 list. Don Tillman is a refreshing, unique and likable character and I enjoyed the mishaps, humor and chemistry as he fell in love with Rosie. I was excited to hear that Simsion had written a sequel and looked forward to reading more about Don and Rosie.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion rejoins Don and Rosie after they have been married for 10 months and moved their lives to New York City. Don has been trying to adjust to a shared life with another human being. Even though it takes effort, his love for Rosie outweighs the cons of giving up the Standardized Meal System and scheduling every last detail. Then, Rosie surprises him with the announcement that they are expecting a baby and Don's life must drastically shift again.

The Rosie Effect is tender and sweet and Don is still Don. The novel is filled with humorous calamities due to Don's social awkwardness. There is a scene early in the novel where the irony is so thick, I just had to read it aloud. I thoroughly enjoyed reading of Don and his desires to do right. He's a character worth rooting for because he never intentionally does harm.

What I missed through much of this novel was the interactions with Rosie. The chemistry between Don and Rosie in The Rosie Project was unmistakable and she brought out the best in him. Rosie's focus in this novel has shifted and though I fully understood her concerns, I was sad by how little effort she seemed to take in resolving the crises.

However, just as in the first novel, Don Tillman is a fabulous character. He keeps a plot moving simply by being himself. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion is another fun ride with Don.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion is published by Simon & Schuster and releases on December 30, 2014.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Rosie Effect. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

My Top Ten Books of 2014

I had the privilege of reading a lot of great books this year. 
The following list includes the books that I just couldn't stop talking about or thinking about 
or in some cases, dreaming about.
They moved me or entertained. Made me laugh or thrilled. Taught me something or fascinated.

 We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
'Read my review *here*

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Read my review *here*

Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen
Read my review *here*

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
Read my review *here*

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Read my review *here*

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen
Read my review *here*

The Wife, The Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
Read my review *here*

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
Read my review *here*

Wake by Anna Hope
Read my review *here*

Gemini by Carol Cassella
Read my review *here*

The following are books that I read and loved this year but did not come out in 2014.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Serena by Ron Rash
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Redeemer - Nashville Tribute Band - Review

We've reached the point in December where we begin the frantic Christmas shopping to hurry and fulfill all the requests on our gift lists. But as we're rushing about, that doesn't mean our gifts need to be any less meaningful. For the country music lover on your list, consider the  newest album from the Nashville Tribute Band--Redeemer : A Nashville Tribute to Jesus Christ.

Fans of the Nashville Tribute Band (and you already know I am one) will recognize their familiar sound and their familiar spirit as they bare testimony of Jesus Christ through their signature sound. Many of the songs are written from the perspective of men and women from the bible. The song "Pilate's Wife" performed by Katherine Nelson is particularly moving as is the song "Tears on His Feet" with Cardin Lopez (I'm obviously drawn to the songs by women). NTB collaborates with a number of other well known artists. I especially enjoy "When the Son of Man Comes" featuring David Archuleta.

With thoughtful and moving lyrics and the unique country sound, Redeemer will surely be loved by fans, new and old. NTB has an incredible spirit and their testimonies can be felt through their music. Redeemer is a beautiful tribute to our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

**I received a complimentary copy of Redeemer. No additional compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Year With Frog and Toad - Salt Lake Acting Company

Last weekend I announced to my family that we we would be going to see A Year with Frog and Toad by the Salt Lake Acting Company. My kids were not excited to go. Rand was not excited to go. Even though they whined and moaned, I gave them no option. They piled in the car and we headed to Salt Lake. I adore the Frog and Toad children's books by Arnold Lobel but the text is subtle and low key and I had no idea how it would translate on the stage. 

As soon as we arrived, I was impressed. The neighborhood is charming and the theater is inviting. Every seat is a good seat. We found our seats and settled in. The crew was friendly and knew that their audience was full of children.

Immediately, I was taken by the enthusiasm of the actors and the charming lyrics of the songs. I sat between Thomas and Lilly. They were completely engaged by the colors and fun songs and dancing (the kids have been singing snippets of the songs ever since). The show only lasts an hour and the audience was entranced for the entirety.

The cast is passionate and energetic. They were absolutely entertaining. We laughed at the brilliant, ironic and perfectly appropriate humor and fell in love with the delightful and beloved characters brought to life. Pretty sure we smiled solidly for an hour.

At thirteen years old, Neal is definitely at his most sarcastic phase and he even admitted that he was surprised how much he enjoyed the show. After the show we went to visit Rand's parents and the kids couldn't wait to tell them all the details about the show. Thomas even said it was pretty good, and if you know Thomas that is HUGE!

When the kids got home, they pulled out the familiar books and their Frog stuffed animal complete with his little brown coat. We've been recalling the humor and last night we couldn't go long before someone sang out "Toad looks funny in a bathing suit".

A Year with Frog and Toad would be a great addition to your family plans this Christmas season. I cannot sing its praises enough. And if you tell them that you heard about the play from me, you can get $3 off ticket. Take your favorite little people and go see the show. You won't regret it.

Tickets can be purchased online at : http://www.saltlakeactingcompany.org/

**I received complimentary tickets to A Year with Frog and Toad. No additional compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The House We Grew Up In - Book Review

November ended up not being my best month for reading. I didn't read nearly as many books as usual and I wasn't blown away by any of them. As the Thanksgiving holiday approached and we prepared to join my siblings at my parents' house, I was finally able to pick up The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. Perfect timing--a novel about a dysfunctional family would surely make my own wonderful family seem even greater.

Lorelei has worked hard to provide a cozy and happy childhood for her four children. With two daughters who inherit their mother's beauty, glowing twin boys, and a kind husband, Lorelei seems to be succeeding at her goal. Unfortunately, a tragedy shatters their family one Easter. Lorelei struggles desperately to hang on to her children and everything else as the children grow up and put as much space between themselves and home.

The House We Grew Up In shows the hoarder from an interesting perspective. As her children sift through the colossal amount of detritus and things that their mother has "collected" and literally filled the house with, the reader sees glimpses into the mind of the hoarder and the motivations and feelings behind what is ultimately a mental illness. It is hard not to sympathize with Lorelei even as the consequences of her illness are difficult to fathom. Jewell successfully puts a human face on the problem.

The other members of the family react to the tragedy and to the ensuing issues with Lorelei in various ways. Each character is very individual and I appreciated the distinctions between the siblings. Fully formed, they are at times despicable, careless and selfish. The actions, reactions, choices and consequences of each character effects the other members of their family. As hard as they pull apart, there is still a pull that binds them together.

With rich writing and strong characters, Jewell creates a novel that is compelling and heartbreaking. It's an interesting study of another broken family--the guilt, pain, mourning and sorrow that follows tragedy and the hope for reconciliation and forgiveness.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell is a She Reads book choice this fall. Many other reviewers have shared their feelings about the novel. Be sure to check them out. The novel was published by Atria Books in August 2014.

**I received a complimentary copy of The House We Grew Up In through www.shereads.com**

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Winter Guest - Book Review

From the cover :

A stirring novel of first love in a time of war and the unbearable choices that could tear sisters apart, from the celebrated author of The Kommandant's Girl

Life is a constant struggle for the eighteen-year-old Nowak twins as they raise their three younger siblings in rural Poland under the shadow of the Nazi occupation. The constant threat of arrest has made everyone in their village a spy, and turned neighbor against neighbor. Though rugged, independent Helena and pretty, gentle Ruth couldn't be more different, they are staunch allies in protecting their family from the threats the war brings closer to their doorstep with each passing day. 

Then Helena discovers an American paratrooper stranded outside their small mountain village, wounded, but alive. Risking the safety of herself and her family, she hides Sam—a Jew—but Helena's concern for the American grows into something much deeper. Defying the perils that render a future together all but impossible, Sam and Helena make plans for the family to flee. But Helena is forced to contend with the jealousy her choices have sparked in Ruth, culminating in a singular act of betrayal that endangers them all—and setting in motion a chain of events that will reverberate across continents and decades.

My thoughts :

The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff sounded like just the novel to fit my current reading mood--a historical fiction combined with a love story and a family saga. It starts with promise. Helena is a likable character who has such hope even in her dire circumstances. Though she's no romantic, Helena can't help but fall in love with the wounded American. Thus becomes the moral dilemma as she must choose between attempting to escape the growing hostilities as the German forces move in or remaining with the family that she has been charged with caring for. 

There is an awful lot happening in this novel. Helena and Ruth are embattled in a constant cold war of sibling tension. Helena uncovers deep and dangerous family secrets. She's falling in love with a man she must protect and keep hidden. She's toying with the idea of joining the underground resistance. All while observing the horrifying atrocities committed by the Germans against the Jewish people. 

Unfortunately, even with so many ideas and themes crammed into the tale, the story moves along at a slow and meandering pace before concluding with a sudden rushing yet weak ending. The epilogue, in an attempt to fill in the unanswered questions left by the rushed ending, seemed ridiculously unbelievable and unemotional. Though I can't exactly put my finger on it, something throughout the novel just felt "off". 

Overall, I was left wanting more build up to the passionate love affair; more equilibrium to the pacing of the plot; and more careful characterization of the supporting cast.

The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff was published by Harlequin MIRA in August 2014.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Winter Guest. No additional compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Thursday, November 6, 2014

GI Brides - Book Review

My local book club has been meeting consistently each month for six years now. While several of the original members have moved away and others have joined us since, we always look forward to an evening of visiting, eating delicious treats and perhaps even discussing the book. Many of us stay up very late with the last stragglers sometimes leaving my house as late/early as 4 am. Last night we headed to our beds around 2:30 am. This morning I am definitely suffering from what we call our book club hangovers (and we don't even drink).

Our book club was chosen to participate with the Book Club Girls and our first selection from them was GI Brides by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi. The authors traveled the United States interviewing women who had come from Great Britain to the US after marrying a World War II soldier. In their narrative history, the authors share the stories of four women who met, loved and married soldiers during the war.

While I knew that European women had married soldiers, before reading this book I did not realize the number of women or that the US government had changed laws to help accommodate the women's passage across the Atlantic after the war. I was fascinated by the information and the look into the lives of people struggling to survive the horrors of war and finding love. While many in the US suffered loss and shortage during the war, I always appreciate the reminders that those in Europe have a different and much more traumatic war experience as their homes and places of business were subjected to nightly air raids.

GI Brides is an engaging read. I felt compelled to learn more about Sylvia, Lyn, Rae and Margaret and their lives. The blissful love and dreams of a future together when they first met their future husbands were not fully realized when the war ends and they come to the US. A variety of struggles face them. Many of these struggles are the typical trials that any new wife may face after marriage but some were unique because of the change of country and culture. In spite of speaking a common language, phrases had various (sometimes humorous) meanings. Climates were different. Food was different. Expectations were different. They frequently had to live with their in-laws which presented additional trials. Reality was not necessarily as romantic as they imagined when they were dancing at the Club in London.

Overall, I enjoyed GI Brides. I've always been interested in people and the social histories behind the political histories we learn at school. However, I had a few reservations about this book. First, I had some trouble remembering the various characters. I'm usually pretty good at keeping characters straight, but I often had to refer back to tell the difference between Sylvia and Lyn and especially their husbands. Their early stories when they were first meeting their husbands are especially befuddling. Second, Americans in general were not shown in the greatest light. While I have never really complained about an unhappy ending, I could have used at least one happier story interwoven with the more dramatic stories in the book. Surely, some of the 60+ women that were interviewed by the authors had happy, loving relationships with their soldier husbands. Also, I thought it might have been nice to get a little more perspective from the men. Did their experiences in battle effect their lives and choices after the war?

I appreciated the epilogue. By the end I did genuinely care about the women (more so, because they were real) and hoped for the best for their lives. I very much enjoyed learning about this social history. Two women in our book club learned that they had relatives (a great aunt from Denmark and a grandma from Germany) who married soldiers during and shortly after the war and came to America. A third member had an uncle who married a woman from Vietnam during that war. As we discussed the book, I had to wonder about those women who may have come from the Pacific and the unique trials they may have faced with their husbands in the US.

Barrett and Calvi present a very enlightening look at a small but interesting part of the World War II experience. I applaud their efforts to collect and share these stories. It is a compelling and important part of our history.

GI Brides by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi was published by William Morrow in September 2014. Copies of the book were provided to our book club through the Book Club Girl Blog.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Island of a Thousand Mirrors - Book Review

Yasodara, her younger sister Lanka and the neighbor boy Shiva have an idyllic childhood in the beauty of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the bliss and innocence of childhood is cut short by the violence of the civil war as the Tamil rebels fight against the Sinhala armies. Yasodara's family flees the horrific atrocities by emigrating to America.

Even as they work to assimilate and become at one with their new home, Yasodara and Lanka cannot fight the lure of their homeland and their memories. Adults now, the civil war in Sri Lanka continues to rage--bloody and vicious. Lanka decides to return to teach art to the children left crippled by exploding landmines and begs Yasodara to follow her. They discover that Shiva too has returned to the island. Though Shiva is Tamil and they are Sinhala, their childhood friendship binds them together.

Based on a recommendation from a trusted friend (Julie from Girls Just Reading), I was anxious to read Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera. I love learning about other parts of the world and gaining some understanding of the historical events and political histories of these lands. Mostly, I love people and gaining a greater insight into different cultures and traditions. Since in my current state of life I'm not able to travel, I regularly turn to books to inspire, teach and open my mind. I, of course, especially love when novels are able to do this and tell a fascinating story.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera completely shattered me. Munaweera's prose is so elegantly beautiful and deeply emotional--describing a world so lovely, picturesque and delicious then detailing brutal violence and the horrifying acts of people against one another. In my sheltered world, I knew not of this tragedy before reading Munaweera's thoughtful masterpiece and am grateful for her work opening my eyes. My heart aches for those mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who lost loved ones in the fighting that continued to ravage the land and the people for twenty five years.

Munaweera's novel is part of a great work of contemporary literature including Ratner's In the Shadow of the Banyan, De Robertis's Perla and Mara's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena that tell the heart wrenching stories of war, hatred for another people, and tragedy, while simultaneously telling stories of hope and redemption. Perhaps these novels speak to me so much because they are the stories of our world's recent history--many of these atrocities occurring within my own lifetime. These novels and others weave a tapestry that tells the world's history of war and yet inspire peace and love.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera is published by St. Martin's Press and released in September 2014. 

**I received a complimentary copy of Island of a Thousand Mirrors. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Us - Book Review

Douglas is a fairly good looking, reserved, scientist. He doesn't do drugs. He doesn't really get art. Somehow, against all odds, he manages to woo and win the heart of Connie, a beautiful, independent artist. Douglas and Connie marry and have a son. Albie is about to leave for college when Connie delivers the fateful news one night--she thinks their marriage is over.

Douglas is madly in love with Connie and decides to use the "Grand Tour" vacation that they've planned to win her back and save their marriage. As the fracturing family travels about Europe, Douglas repeatedly stumbles and bumbles his way with these free-spirited artists in his sincere efforts to salvage his family.

Us by David Nicholls, the author of the popular One Day that I didn't actually read, is the story of Douglas, Connie and their son Albie. It's the history of their family. Douglas has a unique voice in literature. He's mild mannered. He's kind and careful and wary. He's smart and he works hard. He's loyal. He regularly says the wrong thing to the people he loves. I could relate to Douglas.

Nicholls has a beautiful way of telling a story and I was transported across Europe and through the museums. I could literally see the artwork and the cities and the parks through his words. I felt Douglas's desire to save his family and I cheered for him as he clumsily and humorously tries to convince his wife to stay. I was definitely emotionally invested in Doug's plight.

Nicholls's prose is lovely and the story of Douglas, Connie and Albie is at times tender, funny and heart wrenching. Us is the story of a marriage--the highs and lows, the triumphs and the sorrows. I, for one, applauded Douglas's noble efforts.

Us by David Nicholls is published by Harper on October 28, 2014.

**I received a complimentary copy of Us. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Zupa's Introduces a New Salad Menu

I'll admit I'm a soup and sandwich type of girl whenever I lunch at Cafe Zupas. I just love that lobster bisque and the wild mushroom bisque (I sound like that bisque guy from Studio C). Bisque! However, not long ago I was invited to try some of the new salads that will be appearing on the menu at Cafe Zupas this month. I'm pretty sure that I've just become a soup and salad type of girl on my future visits to Zupas.

I love that as consumers have begun to demand a healthier and fresher fare, fast and casual dining restaurants have started to answer that call. Zupas' new salads are offering healthy, made in-house salad choices that are pretty impressive considering the relatively low cost. Introducing ingredients such as kale, goat cheese, baby field greens, edamame and quinoa to their salads adds to the flavor and the nutrition. They're upgrading other ingredients including fire-roasted corn and sliced grape tomatoes.

Eight new house-made dressings will be offered, such as my favorite the cherry balsamic vinaigrette. Care and consideration has been made to the visual appeal of the salads and believe me, when you see them you are going to want to eat them.

The nine new salads will be introduced at Cafe Zupas locations around Utah by the end of October and will be in Arizona and Nevada in early November. I need to go back and decide which one I like most. Right now it's definitely a toss up between the Cherry Balsamic with it's delicious Anjou Pears or the Citrus Berry Spinach salad with the amazing Blood Orange Vinaigrette. But you know, I am a sucker for anything chipotle. Wow! This is going to be tough to decide which of the new salads I love the most.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Silent Sister - Book Review

Riley has returned home to clean out her childhood home and settle her father's will following his recent death. Her angry, older brother lives like a hermit in his trailer nearby but isn't much help. Though Riley remembers her parents fondly, her brother doesn't have such good memories. He was old enough to remember when their older sister Lisa killed herself and their family fell into sorrow and depression.

Riley may not remember Lisa but the knowledge that her sister was depressed enough to take her own life has inspired Riley's career as a high school counselor. Now, as Riley sifts through the paperwork and detritus of her parents' lives she discovers clues that perhaps Lisa didn't take her own life. Perhaps Lisa is still alive.

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain is one of the She Reads Book Club fall reads. It's one of those nicely paced mysteries that just begs to be read in one sitting. Riley is a likable character and she was easy to root for as she searched for the truth. I figured out the entirety of the mystery fairly early in the story but I still enjoyed reading the follow-through and the drama. I'm sure my family members have their share of secrets but I can't even imagine being in a family so full of deception. It's no wonder Riley's brother has such a hard time.

Chamberlain has a comfortable style and writes an exciting plot-driven story. While there are some holes and unanswered questions, I enjoyed reading The Silent Sister this week. It was perfect to snuggle up with as I recovered from a head cold.

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain is published by St. Martin's Press on October 7, 2014.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Silent Sister from the She Reads Book Club. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Monday, October 6, 2014

Winner of the Schwan's Gift Card Give-away

And the winner of the $25 gift card to Schwan's Online Grocery is... 


Congratulations! Please contact me by Friday, October 10th to claim your prize.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rocking the To Be Read Shelves in September

The month of September was a very good reading month for me. I read 10 books during the month. It helped that I got a horrible cold that has hung on for weeks and made me not want to leave the house.

I'm also pretty excited that I managed to read off my overflowing To Be Read Shelves.

I bought a copy of Sarah Water's The Little Stranger for myself for my Mother's Day gift. (I know my husband and kids love me and I'm never disappointed when I just get my own gift. Honestly, I'd have bought the book anyway but I just excused it as my Mother's Day gift.) Anyway, as far as my To Be Read Shelves (aka the Black Hole for Books) this book has been on my shelf for a relatively short time.

The Little Stranger is suspenseful and atmospheric. Though it takes place after World War II, the crumbling old manor lends the house at Gothic feeling. Dr. Farraday is called out on a house call to administer to the sick maid but become embroiled in the strange and mysterious happenings at Hundreds Hall as he befriends the family trying to maintain their estate.

I love a good ghost story and I enjoyed The Little Stranger. It's frightening and violent yet lacking gruesome descriptions. It's more of a psychological thrilled a long the lines of Jane Eyre or Rebecca. It's nice and spooky for this time of  year.

I figured out that I can read while on the elliptical if I read an ebook on my phone. My phone is the perfect size to fit in my hand comfortably so that I can still exercise. I get so darn bored on the elliptical so being able to read has definitely encouraged me to work out more. I would have read more ebooks if the cold hadn't curtailed my work out plans.

Anyway, I read Labor Day by Joyce Maynard as an ebook. I had heard good things. It was made into a movie and I rather enjoyed Maynard's After Her. Henry and his mother become the hostages of a man escaping from the hospital of the prison. Over the Labor Day weekend, Frank hides out at their home.

A quick and easy read, I was initially taken in by the characters. The plot was interesting and I was intrigued to read of the budding relationship between Frank and Henry's mother. His mother was a unique character, lost in grief and strangely brought to the surface by her kidnapper. I had expected more action and drama.

Ultimately, this is a coming-of-age story and Henry's preoccupation with sex (normal for his age) is often overwhelming and at the same time integral to the way he observes and interprets the relationship between his mother and Frank. The emotions that Henry feels during this period of his life are confusing and contrasting. Maynard excels at creating the conflicted young boy.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta was the choice of the month for my local book club. Admittedly, it's pretty different from most of the books we read at book club--an interesting change of pace. The Leftovers follows the people who are still left on earth after many people simply disappear in a  Rapture-like experience. 

While I was taken with the writing and was intrigued by the story, overall The Leftovers was dark and cynical. We're going to discuss it next week and I'm curious to see what others thought about it.

Serena by Ron Rash has been on my radar since it was published in 2008 but I didn't get a copy for myself until a few years ago at the Salt Lake City Library Used Book Sale. Ever since then, it is the book I look at longingly whenever I'm in the middle of another book that I'm not loving.

Serena has all the elements that appeal to me. I am a sucker for stories that take place in Appalachia and during the Depression. The characters are strong. It's violent, dark and tragic. (As I'm writing this, I can't explain why these stories appeal, but they do. They really do.)

Serena and her new husband Mr. Pemberton are the owners of a logging operation in North Carolina. They are ruthless and powerful and greedy. Yet, they employ many men who are desperate for a wage. Serena did not disappoint. I was enthralled and disgusted. I've been wanting so much to talk about it with Rand but I don't want to spoil the ending. While he probably won't have a chance to read the book, the movie version is releasing soon. I am very anxious to see it. I love the casting already so I really hope they do the book justice with the movie.

I am still coughing and not in the mood to get out much, so maybe October will be a great reading month too. I'm already planning a spooky stack of books that hopefully I'll get to this month.

What are you planning to read in October?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Schwan's Online Grocery Home Delivery - Review & Giveaway


I don't love grocery shopping. Who does? 
I also don't love meal planning. 
I don't mind cooking.
I just hate trying to come up with dinner ideas every single night
 only to have a kid turn up his/her nose at the offerings.

I was excited to try Schwan's Home Delivery. I've seen the Schwan's trucks around but we'd never ordered food from them before. Rand and I looked over their website together. It's easy to navigate, understand and has a wide variety of offerings. Rand's tummy was rumbling and he wanted a little of everything.

Our order arrived in a special insulated pouch. Molly was initially disappointed because she was just sure they were delivering her an actual swan. 

The evening that I attended the KSL Preview was a perfect night for Rand to introduce some of the offerings from Schwan's. He didn't have to freak out about what was for dinner and even though he's a pretty good cook and knows his way around the kitchen, the hot & spicy chicken breast fillets turned out perfectly. They put them on buns with some fresh sliced tomatoes and a little cheese and they all agreed that they were just as good as our favorite fast food chicken sandwiches. They saved me half a piece to try when I got home that night. So generous.

The Triple Berry Blend turned into delicious smoothies. The berries were plump and ripe and I could pretty much eat them all day.

I'm not a fan of frozen pizza. I don't buy it. Ever. However, as far as frozen pizzas go, the Special Recipe Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza was pretty good. The price was fairly reasonable for a frozen pizza though it really only fed three of us for lunch. (Shh! Don't tell the other kids.)

Our family loves fish. Seriously loves it. It's actually one of the only foods that all of my kids will eat without complaining. Needless to say, we were super excited to try the Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon. But really, we weren't overly impressed. It was OK but for the price we weren't over-the-moon about it.

Overall, our experience with Schwan's Home Delivery Groceries was positive. It would be nice to have our freezer full of some easy, time-saving entrees on those nights when we're running to meetings or feeling sick (like this entire last two weeks) and not really in the mood to cook. The website is easy to use and well designed. Schwan's offers a wide variety of foods that are easy and can definitely save a family time. For busy families Schwan's can be a life saver!

Even better, if you order now you can save at Schwan's.

Use discount code:   MYESHA2 for $10 off a $50 order

And enter here for a chance to win
 a $25 gift card to use at Schwan's.

Simply leave a comment on this post about what you might order for dinner from Schwan's. The contest will be opened to entries until Friday, October 3, 2014 at 11:59 pm MST. One winner will be chosen randomly from the comments and announced here on Saturday, October 4th. The winner will have one week to respond to me or another winner will be chosen. US only.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kidecals - Review

Last year Thomas lost three jackets at school. Lilly lost her backpack (and the jacket inside). We looked in the coat room and in the lost and found. We looked all over the playground. It was as if they had disappeared. Vanished.

I hate losing things. It's one of my pet peeves. Yet, it's so easy for kids to do. They set down their water bottle at soccer practice or leave their basketball at the gym. When they visit their grandparents they leave socks and underwear and jackets. It gets so annoying.

Needless to say, I was excited to have the opportunity to try out the name labels from Kidecals.

Adhering to any surface, Kidecals can go through the dishwasher or the washing machine and stay firmly attached. I ordered a bunch of pretty generic circle decals with our last night and my phone number and when school started I attached them everywhere--to their jackets, backpacks, water bottles and lunch boxes.

Thomas was especially excited to get a new jacket for school. He typically wears Neal's hand-me-down jackets but since he lost so many last year, he needed a new one. I found a great one on sale and Thomas loved it. He kept telling me how amazingly soft it was and it's orange which is his favorite color. The Thursday before Labor Day, Thomas and Lilly didn't come straight home from school. We were hurrying to pack to leave for our vacation that night so I was getting antsy. Finally, I saw Thomas and Lilly slowly and sadly walking toward home. The morning was chilly so Thomas had worn his new jacket to school but now he couldn't find it anywhere. Lilly had even helped him look. He was crying and I promised to head back after B track to help him look. He was sure that if he didn't find his jacket before we went to Wyoming on vacation that he would never see it again.

Later that afternoon, Thomas and I returned to the school to search. We searched his classroom and the coatroom. We talked to his teacher. We talked to the other third grade teachers and looked in their classroom. We looked in the classroom where he had gone to art. We looked in the lunchroom and all over the playground. We checked the lost and found. For crying out loud! The jacket is orange. It shouldn't be that difficult to find. Finally, we gave up. Thomas insisted that we had to buy a new jacket exactly the same.

Later the next week, after we had returned from vacation and the kids were in school, I had to take a forgotten lunch box to Amberly at school. I stopped by the lost and found and lo and behold there was Thomas's beloved orange jacket with the Kidecal label right inside. We had found the jacket!!!

Not sure the Kidecal label had much to do with that long story, but it still helps me feel better to know that my kids' belongings are properly labeled. The labels are cute and trendy and can be personalized. There are so many options.

I also bought some really cute blackboard labels that I put on the jars  filled with crayons, colored pencils and other school supplies. I love them.

Kidecals has the cutest personalized labels for canning and other DIY projects.

Or personalize your computer laptop with decals for the back or keyboard stickers.

Really the creative possibilities are endless with Kidecals
Check them out today. 
Use the code : ilovelabels to receive a special 15% discount on any Kidecal order.

Monday, September 22, 2014

KSL Fall Preview for Bloggers

Usually, I just go on and on about books around here, as you know. 
But let's talk television for just a bit
Last week another blogger friend (Jen from Utah Queen of Chaos) and I went to the Fall Preview at KSL. 
It sounded like an awesome chance to get away from the craziness for an evening and have some adult conversation. To make it even better, there was a delicious spread of appetizers. 

I'm not really a television watcher. Utah Dad and I have a handful (literally less than five) shows that we binge watch. Lately, as a family we've been watching the first three seasons of Little House on the Prairie. 
I know. Really. Fortunately, it's an NBC show. 

While I may not watch many shows, I am an avid news watcher and I faithfully watch the KSL team every evening. I follow them all on Twitter. As a weather fan, I've had a crush on a Eubank since I was a little girl. Deanie Wimmer and I share a love for books. So, I was pretty excited to meet the news team at the soiree. 

Temperatures are going back up for the week.

Brooke Walker from Studio 5 is so personable and just lovely. 
Jen and I enjoyed hanging out with her much of the evening.

During the evening, we got a tour of the Studio 5 set, the newsroom and the radio.
  Ethan and Alex from the Nightside Project on KSLradio invited us in during their live show. They had some strong opinions about the movies coming out lately. 

They also filled us in on some of the new fall programming from NBC.  
Marry Me and A to Z are fun and fresh romantic comedies. We watched the pilot for A to Z. Andrew and Zelda are pretty adorable characters with a supporting cast of goofballs. The show has potential.

The new show that intrigues me to the most is The Mysteries of Laura starring the stunning Debra Messing.
Laura is a smart detective and a mom to naughty twins. She appears to be a strong, female character and I'm anxious to watch.

To top off our fun evening, I won the trip to see The Voice!!! Exciting, right?
Anyone want to tell me what The Voice is?