Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mother's Day at Massage Envy

Receiving gifts is not my love language. When holidays roll around, I'm perfectly happy and prefer to pick out my own gifts. For instance, Rand and I will usually talk about what we would like or need and then I order it, wrap it (or not) and put it under the tree. Last year, for Mother's Day I bought myself some books (big surprise) and a Blu Ray player (which did double duty as Rand's Father's Day gift). This year, I'm getting a bike. Honestly, I'd really, really just love it if my kids cleaned their bedrooms for Mother's Day.

However, one year Rand surprised me on Mother's Day. I had a bunch of tiny kids and I was exhausted. I hadn't even thought about Mother's Day. Since he was a frazzled, tired dad in the middle of his master's degree and working full time, I didn't think he had thought about Mother's Day either. But that morning he presented me (and his mom, sweet man) with a gift certificate to get a massage. I was shocked, thrilled and deeply grateful.

I used that gift certificate to get the second massage I'd ever had in my life (the first one was the day after I delivered Neal--a brilliant service the hospital in New Hampshire offered to all new mothers). Anyway, I loved the time to get away, relax, be pampered and feel good. I loved it so much that the following Christmas, Rand surprised me with another gift certificate big enough to get two massages. Since then, I've had several massages and even though I don't fit them into my schedule often enough, I really do love that time of rejuvenation.

Last night I had the privilege of attending an evening of relaxation at Massage Envy. I learned more about the services they offer--everything from facials to deep muscles massages. I was especially thrilled to receive the specialty Sugar Foot Scrub.

As many of you already know my feet have been swollen ever since Lilly was born. She's turning eight this summer so it's been awhile. I've been to podiatrists and physical therapists and to the lymphatic clinic at the Huntsman Cancer Center. I've had them wrapped and I often wear compression socks. Often my legs swell too. Molly tells me I have plastic legs. Lymphedema is not comfortable or lovely.

Last night, after the foot massage and scrub, my feet felt better than they have in years. They weren't as swollen and the skin was soft. My feet felt amazing. They are swollen again today, so it's probably not a cure but I am definitely going back to get that treatment again.

The Massage Envy clinic was clean and comfortable and very relaxing. I was impressed by their staff and their desire to serve and help their customers. I've been to other locations in the past and always had a good experience. I can't wait to schedule a facial and my next massage.

Mother's Day is just a little over a week away. It's time to start dropping hints. Or just treat yourself to a massage. It's worth it. And get your mom one too. #ReliefStartsRightHere #MassageEnvyUtah

Massage Envy has locations all over the state of Utah and all over the country. There is surely a location near you. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Daughter - Book Review

Fifteen year old Naomi was a smashing success in the school play. Her interpretation of Maria in West Side Story surprised her parents with the level of maturity and seduction. Both doctors, her parents are successful and busy and preoccupied but their lives are shattered when Naomi doesn't come home one night after the play. Involving the police immediately, Jenny becomes obsessed with the search for her daughter. As the clues are uncovered, it becomes painfully clear that Jenny doesn't really know her well-behaved, smart daughter at all. In fact, she might not know any of the members of her family.

I was instantly intrigued in The Daughter by Jane Shemilt and found the story thrilling and frightening, especially as a mother. Going back and forth between the period of time when Naomi went missing and a year later was a bit distracting but I adjusted quickly and it was an effective way of foreshadowing and dropping clues.

Jenny is a fascinating character because she is not a helicopter parent. She loves her children but has her career too and has allowed her children a great degree of independence. This perspective is interesting because Jenny ends up dealing with a lot of guilt and her children blame her absence for many of their problems.

The plot moves along at a fairly rapid pace though there are a few odd characters thrown in to Jenny's story a year after the disappearance that seem out of place and unnecessary. Without giving anything away, the ending becomes completely wonky. The entire novel crumbles around the ridiculous conclusion.

The Daughter by Jane Shemilt is published by William Morrow and released in March 2015.  It was the book club read for our local book club and is one of She Reads books of Spring.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Daughter from the publishers. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Where They Found Her

The reporters who usually handle the crime for the Ridgedale Reader are busy so Molly, a life-style reporter at the tiny paper, is assigned to report on the dead body found in the woods near campus. Out of her comfort zone, Molly is new to the quiet town and is still recovering from the death of her baby, yet she's determined to see this story though even after it is determined that the deceased is an infant.

Sandy is also new to town. She's a young woman who has lived a rough life with her mother. Now her mom is missing; she's been evicted from their crappy apartment and her closely guarded secrets are unraveling.

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight combines the perspectives of Molly, Sandy and the police chief's wife Barbara to tell the mysterious story of the baby's death. As Molly digs for the truth she uncovers long buried secrets in the small and quaint community.

I thoroughly enjoyed McCreight's novel Reconstructing Amelia so I was looking forward to reading her newest novel. However, I had a really hard time getting into Where They Found Her. It felt disjointed. I was intrigued by the mystery of the baby's death but for some reason I just couldn't connect with the characters. Perhaps it was the newspaper articles and online chats interjected between the narrative that threw me off.

The pace picked up in the second half of the book and I fell into an easier rhythm reading it. The story lines started to come together and gain momentum. The plot definitely takes center stage and I hungrily turned pages wanting to know how the mystery would be solved. Unfortunately, the psychological aspects of the tale still seemed forced and the characters cliche. The ending felt abrupt and thrown together.

Overall, I was disappointed by Where They Found Her. It's not horrible. There are thrilling moments. It was just not up to par with McCreight's previous novel.

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight is published by Harper and released April 14, 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of Where They Found Her. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Fires of Autumn - Book Review

After reading Irene Nemirovsky's masterpiece Suite Francaise, I immediately became enchanted by her insightful and luscious fiction. A few years later, I read and reviewed her All Our Worldly Goods.  I was anxious for the opportunity to read The Fires of Autumn as it has recently been translated and republished.

Written while Nemirovsky was in hiding in France, The Fires of Autumn takes its French characters from the horror of the first World War and delivers them only two decades later into the horrors of the second World War. In between, the former soldiers and the women they left behind struggle to survive in a changed world. Values, morals and belief systems have been shattered. Money speaks and corruption is rampant.

Bernard Jacquelain is so young when he first enlists in the war. Surviving when so many others didn't, he's only sure that he no longer wants his old life when he returns from the war. He seeks the glamour and money that his new mistress's husband can provide and becomes ensnared in the corruption.

Initially, I felt disconnected from the  main characters. The reader is quickly introduced to many characters but as the story moves along their lives are weaved together in truly marvelous and thought provoking tale.  I was enraptured by their lives of dissatisfaction as they each tried to fill the unquenchable void left behind after the first war. I cannot even fathom the heartache and defeat the people must have felt after one war to find themselves headed straight into another war so soon. The selfishness and greed that took over their lives is met with horrifying consequences.

Nemirovsky was a great writer and I so appreciate her ability to write completely believable characters who are deeply flawed and yet deeply feel. Living through the wars, she was uniquely able to capture the emotions and actions of the people. While more depressing generally than All Our Worldly Goods, The Fires of Autumn is a valuable work of literature.

The Fires of Autumn by Irene Nemirovsky was republished by Vintage in March 2015.

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

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Zorro at Utah Children's Theater - Review

"At the fiesta Don Carlos wants his daughter, the beautiful Valencia to marry Don Alejandro's son, the charming but seemingly weak Don Diego. But treasure and treachery is in the midst of Old California, lead by Captain Ramon, the bumbling Sargeant Gonzales and a mysterious figure. Who will stop them? Zorro! With a flurry of a cape, the flash of a sword and a crack of the whip our masked hero will bring the greedy tyrants to justice!"

The exciting and absolutely entertaining production of Zorro is playing at Utah Children's Theater now. It will run through April 25, 2015 and you can purchase tickets online at or by phone at 801-532-6000. • 801-532-6000 • 3605 South State Street, South Salt Lake, UT 84115

We were thrilled to start our Spring Break by attending Zorro at Utah Children's Theater last Friday night. As soon as we entered, we were impressed by the new theater. There is still a bit of construction going on but the retro style and all the interior details immediately make you feel like you've entered a professional theater. The restrooms were stylish and CLEAN (which is totally awesome). Every seat in the theater is a good seat. It's small enough and surrounds the stage so that the children are fully immersed in the action.

While we were in our seats excitedly waiting for the show to begin, Aubrey recognized the picture of the theater that I posted on Instagram and realized that we were both in the same theater. Aubrey and I have been long time Twitter friends but since she lives in Seattle, we've never met in real life. It was so fun to finally meet and introduce our families. She and her children are as beautiful in real life as they are online.

The night had to be amazing!

The show starts right off with a dramatic and astonishing scene. It immediately captured the attention of all my children and kept us spellbound throughout. The cast was funny and engaging. The sword fighting scenes were expertly choreographed to be thrilling yet just over-the-top enough to amuse the young audience.

The story was simple enough for young children to follow but also kept the adults in the audience fully entertained and satisfied. There was plenty of action, romance, mystery and humor to keep everyone happy. My kids loved it and the audience was completely wrapped up in the action on the stage.

Following the fabulous show, the actors were in the lobby to meet their young audience. My girls were especially thrilled to meet the beautiful actress who played Valencia. (My boys attended the show and totally loved it but are not very willing to pose for pictures lately.)

After thoroughly enjoying Zorro, my family is definitely fans of Utah Children's Theaters and the kids are already begging to get tickets to Winnie the Pooh that will premier in May.

Thanks to Utah Children's Theater we had a fabulous family night out at the theater.

**Thanks to Utah Children's Theater, my family and I got complimentary tickets in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**