Summer Books So Far

Summer’s not over yet and there’s still plenty of time to pack in those reads! Today I’m sharing what I’ve read so far and what’s on my next list of good reads!

  1. The Alice Network - A story that flashes between two different times, two women who are relatively different and yet the same. A story with suspense, drama, heart warming moments and history all mixed. The plot is based on real life spy network during WWI which makes it all the more interesting to me.

  2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Oh my word. I had this book on hold and waited 6 weeks for my turn…only to realize I had 2 days left to read it. My time ran out just a mere 75 pages shy of completing the book so I did what any normal person would do, bought a second hand copy at Half Price and promptly finished it an hour later. I was shocked to learn this was based on a real love story, real people and their incredibly real story. Must read, must read, must read!

  3. What Is Left the Daughter - Not a favorite. Another WWII novel but it takes place in Canada and has a unique perspective of a father writing to his daughter, explaining his history and life to her though they haven’t seen each other in literally years. Heartbreaking but an intriguing story.

  4. Bonfire - Krysten Ritter’s first novel and truly, it was a fun quick mystery read. Some loose ends here and there, a few questionable plot points and maybe a tad bit predictable but I still enjoyed it as a fun light summer read.

Next on my list, I’m aiming for more mystery and some lightheartedness.

  1. The Last Time I Saw You

  2. The Last Mrs. Parrish

  3. The River at Night

  4. Unhoneymooners

I tend to use my library app pretty regularly so we’ll see what actually comes available and what other reads I might find!

Got a favorite book or read something really great? Drop your suggestion in the comments!

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Adventure Day: Pawhuska Trip #2

Weather in Oklahoma these days is no joke. We’ve had over a week’s worth of warnings, terrible storms, tornadoes, the works. In short, it’s been the pits and I’m hoping Mother Nature decides to take a break here real soon.

I planned a trip to Pawhuska to go back to Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile store the day after my birthday. We went through a downpour on the way up but ended up having a gorgeous day after all the rain passed. I made Pyro Man take me last year for the first time ever and I think I’m going to make this a yearly trip. It’s the perfect combination of things for me, things for him and we get to enjoy four hours of just us on a round trip drive together. Not to brag, but we travel pretty well together and I’m super grateful for that.

Food at the Mercantile is still amazing. No photos this time as we were both famished and ready to chow down, but I highly recommend the Chicken Fried Steak and their Ranch Hand Sandwich. I’ve got to try making this one at home, it was delicious! Pyro Man also requested we try PW’s Ranch Dressing at home, that stuff is not your everyday ranch at all! He also kept talking about their $0.25 sweet tea and must have had a gallon while we were there.

Definitely fueled up on caffeine and good food, we (read: I) shopped for some goodies before we headed over to try Charlie’s Sweet Shop. The Maple Pancake ice cream really does taste like pancakes, but I highly recommend the Huckleberry flavor. Superb and perfect for for summer.

We finally got to go on a tour of the Lodge which I have been wanting to do forever and ever amen! It’s not open all the time so I was thrilled we were able to plan a trip on one of those lucky days. The whole place is wide open for all to walk through and see. Open a drawer, any drawer and see all the props, tools, labels and whatnot. The pantry is a dream come true and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I found her back room full of all sorts of gorgeous plates, bowls, dishes and more. In short, I was kid in a candy shop.

So that part of the trip is fun for Pyro Man, but not as fun as the second half of our day, snagging for spoonbill. If you’re not familiar, I definitely wasn’t until a couple years ago, spoonbill or paddlefish are these massive fish, part of the catfish family, with giant bills that can get to be about 100 pounds. They don’t take bait so you have to snag them, there’s a whole technique to getting the hook to snag on. Yes, you can keep them through a tagging process and eat them. No, we haven’t done that, just catch and release for us. Not being much of a fisherwoman myself, Pryo Man filled me in on all the details, the rules, the tagging process as well as the release rules. Let me tell you, there’s so many things to know so if you think you want to just run out there and try this or that your husband might want to, read up on your states website to find out all the regulations first.

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We headed out to Kaw Lake, Pyro Man’s preferred spot to snag and changed into some fishing clothes. I forgot my tennis shoes and had to wear his. With my hat, his camo jacket and shoes, I looked like a bad doppleganger of my husband but better that than getting my good outfit all fishy. It turned out to be a perfect day to be on the water. All the rain had made the lake rise and the fish super active. Since then I’m sure the lake is overflowing.

We caught several and yes, I partook for a bit learning how to snag and reel. Pyro Man would help cast and when he got a hold of one he let me reel in to know what it felt like. I got a little 10 pounder and that sucker was pretty hard for me so I can only imagine how much more difficult a larger one would be. The last fish Pyro Man snagged is a crazy story. He got caught on some line and when he tried to reel it in he felt a giant tug and knew there was a fish on there. Get this, he reeled in an 80 pounder by snagging on a line that was still attached to the fish! How crazy is that?!

Had to end on that one because I just don’t think it gets better than that. Another two hours back home, crime podcasts playing and we were home. Days like that are always a joy because we’re both able to partake in things that interest us. I feel really lucky that my adventure loving husband wants to explore things that light me up and that he enjoys teaching me about the things that make him happy. Is there a better win-win out there? I don’t think.

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Top Notch Summer List

First day of Summer might not actually hit until late June, but for me, it’s totally summertime, baby! I always have a summer list going of things I want to do over the break. Every year it’s a bit different but I always have staples like bake a pie, see a summer box office hit, spend some days reading for fun, watch a fireworks show and don’t forget about a good ol’ ice cream date.

I started making summer bucket lists after a few summers felt lost with work and catch-up to-do’s. Summer has always felt like a season of freedom but this crazy list lady sometimes needs a list to help her embrace that freedom with a few ideas waiting in the wings. Thus the bucket lists were born! I’ve got my personal one written but I played around writing some of my favorites on a simple list for anyone else who wants to join.

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The best part of this list and that it’s just a jump off point. Want to road trip but can’t go states away? Just the next town over might have the best donut shop ever! Go see a baseball game if you’re not into coffee shops or heck, a great bar might fit your feel better. Doesn’t matter. The point of a list is to give yourself some ideas of fun things to do that really encapsulates summer time and now’s the time to really think how you want to spend hazy crazy days of summer!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

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Back to School Hopes

Dear Fall Semester, 

It's time we meet again. I can't believe it's already back to school, but you and I both know you seem to come around too soon. It's just your nature. 

This year I'm hoping you could take into account a few hopes I have for this semester. Just mere wishes or prayers, requests for a good start to the year, positive thoughts to put out for your consideration: 

Let this be a good start to a fulfilling year for everyone who walks into a classroom. 

Let the work be meaningful, the frustrations be small, the improvements be grand and the lessons be clear. 

Let there be more cookies and surprise treats in the break room. 

Let there be happiness in the time given, the earnest of efforts made, and the process of the projects exciting. 

Let there be a lot more laughing and less griping. 

Let there be a sweet friends with an open doors to walk through. 

Let there be plenty of concealor, hair ties, and red lipstick around for when the work gets tough.

Let confidence grow from those moments of doubt. 

Let the times of victory last as long as possible. 

Let the coffee pot always be hot and the brew always be strong. 

Let the joy of what we do shine out and spill over all. 

Let there be positivity in every word we say and actual effort to do better and try harder the next time. 

Let the favorite leggings never fade and computers never crash. 

Let the inspiration from the "aha!" moments fuel us to keep going. 

Let the tap shoes be loud, the buns be high and jazz hands be strong. 

Most importantly, let us not forget how lucky we are to do what we love. 

 

Amen

Already starting the year with a laugh--can't beat that! 

Already starting the year with a laugh--can't beat that! 

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Sunny Disposition

Sunflowers have always been one of my favorite flowers. As I kid, I just thought they were the cheeriest flower that ever was and how big and beautiful! One year in a production number to "The Wiz", I got to be an actual sunflower dancer, yellow flowered hat and all. I tell you what, I really loved it! 

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Sunflowers just say summertime to me. The last two summer's we've planted a small row of them in the garden to bring in bees. Someday I'd like to plant a whole field. 

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We've enjoyed watching them blossom and grow. Picking up the dried heads, I'm hoping we can harvest the seeds for next year. So long as Penny doesn't keep eating them...

Sometimes it's the simplest thing, like a bright happy sunflower that can add a little cheer to a person's day, add a bit of positivity to your day. How can you have a bad day with a sight like this? It all reminds of a very appropriate and favorite quote: 

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It's what sunflowers do.     

Helen Keller

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Don't sweat the small stuff. Look to the good and always keep that sunny disposition! 

What flowers put you in the best of moods? 

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Think Pink

I'm in a pink mood these days. 

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And still very much into summer dresses. 

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Trying to cool down this summer in ice shades of pink with soft light fabric and flowing skirts. 

This LOFT dress is simply gorgeous. I have a marigold colored dress in similar style and it's one of my favorites. It reminds me of this Gal Meets Glam dress, soft, pink, feminine, and chic.  

I love my lavendar suede Steven Madden shoes, but these would be a lovely option, too. I love a good ankle strap and the return of the chunky heel is a nice change from the stiletto. 

Simple gold jewelry from my favorite, Nan Lee. I love her simple style, including these wire earrings. I wear these Lotus Leaf earrings quite frequently. 

Yes, I'm pretty good with my rose colored daze and think pink vibe. 

What colors are you currently crushing on?

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Summer Books

Summer reading, had me a blast! Summer reading, happens so fast!

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Okie dokie--someone got me stuck on Grease here recently and those darned songs just get stuck in your head! Not the point of the post, but summer reading actually is! My goal this summer was ten books and I'm a little bit behind. OK, I'm a lot behind! No worries, I'm sure I'll catch up and with a set time of reading for 20 minutes each night before bed, I'm sure to make it happen. So long as I don't get sucked into scrolling Insta...

"Yeah right, Mom" - Penny, My nighttime reading buddy. 

"Yeah right, Mom" - Penny, My nighttime reading buddy. 

I reached out on Facespace a while back for good recommendations to read and so many people hit me up with awesome sounding novels. I'm working my way through the list right, but here's what I've read and loved so far: 

1. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Oh. My. Gah. Wonderful read. So many moments I just did not see coming and the author did a great job of throwing me some curve balls when I thought I knew exactly what was going on. Get it. You won't regret it!

PS--Amy Adams and Julianne Moore are starring in the movie version! Just announced last week! 

We interrupt this chapter for a chin scratch.

We interrupt this chapter for a chin scratch.

2. The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Beautiful novel about three women that come together in the aftermath of WWII, becoming a new family, working through their ghosts and all that happens after. It was just an incredible read based on the author's stories from her grandmother--I read that after I finished it because you just feel like every story told is so very, very real. 

Can I help you? I'm in the middle of this story...

Can I help you? I'm in the middle of this story...

3. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Alright, it's a total young adult novel, but I still enjoyed it. I definitely got vibes of Katniss and every other female heroine in a dystopian universe that's out there lately including the love triangle. Still in all, it was a fun quick read for adventurous story. 

I use the Overdrive app to rent books from the library. I've put several on hold and when they pop up, I have a week to read them before they disappear. Needless to say I've started several and haven't finished them yet including The Wife Between Us, another suspense book I really want to finish! I'm patiently waiting my turn (again) for about four incomplete books right now...whoops! 

Just got to a good part! 

Just got to a good part! 

I'm working my way through Nightingale currently and really enjoying it, another WWII historic fiction this time about two sisters. Truly, I think historic fiction is probably one of my favorite book categories. In any case, back to reading! I've got another four books to finish after this one! 

What books are you reading this summer?  

Our little hambone, Penny. She's a sucker for those belly rubs! 

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My, My, How Can I Resist You?

Y'all. I adore music theater. I remember the first time I went to see a musical in rehearsal, my mom was helping with costumes on our local production of Camelot and I got to go up to see a rehearsal one timeI walked in through the doors of the auditorium and it was like I walked in to the most wonderful magical place on earth. Truly. There was a parade of performers singing, dancing, and all these people directing them down in front. I'd never seen anything like it in my whole life. 

I was seven at the time and every summer after I would spend most evening at the performing arts center where I was eventually dubbed a PAC Rat. It wasn't long before I got to be up on stage myself just living my best life. Those were some of the most magical summers of my life. My mom would take us the video store or library to rent musicals, too. I remember watching My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Showboat, Funny Girl, Hello Dolly and so, so many more. 

When Fosse came out, my dance teacher at the time was a huge fan. We rented Pajama Game and Damn Yankees and I did a whole research project over the man in 7th grade. My sophomore year I had to build a mole for Mole Day in Chemistry. At the time I was in A Chorus Line at another theater so naturally I worked with my costumer mother to build a mole with a replica of the infamous "One" costume. Naturally. So let's be real, I've loved me some music theater for a long time. 

Honestly, who doesn't enjoy a show where everyone breaks out into song and dance AT THE SAME TIME? I can even get my husband to see one on occasion. And speaking of seeing shows, I took myself to see Lyric Theaters Mamma Mia just this week. Oh y'all, who doesn't enjoy a little ABBA?

I was a total dancing queen in my seat the whole time! The music is so darn fun, you can't help but sing along. I was in stitches over "Mamma Mia," their Donna was a hoot! I thoroughly enjoyed Tanya during "Does You Mother Know," and my eyes were on the brink of spilling over during "Slipping Through My Fingers." Oh, it was just so good and such a fun way to spend a night.

Best part was getting to see several of my students out there just living life on stage! I tell you what, if my seven year old self knew I'd someday be working with the talent that crosses that stage, sometimes even getting to set work for musicals myself, she would be pretty dang proud. 

Next up, I guess I'm going to have to check out Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again in theaters to just round out the experience. Anyone interested in going with? 

Seriously, a riot and had me in stitches! 

Seriously, a riot and had me in stitches! 

  OK folks, name your favorite musical! Go! 

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Podcast Roundup

As much as I love listening to music or watching a good show, sometimes I need to hear something different. I found podcasts serve as a great substitute for that. Whether it's listening to a story, a bit of business advice, an interview from a neat person, or just news stories, it's something different for my ears. And my brain! 

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Alright folks, it's time for a podcast round up! Whether you're doing some road tripping, commuting to work or heck, just cleaning around the house, here are a couple of podcasts you might enjoy: 

1. Crimetown 

Oooooh, you better run from you mama now! Or so the opening song goes. This one, it's pretty dang good. So good, in fact, that Pyro Man really dug into this story. Crimetown is all about the mob out of Rhode Island and it's inner workings with the government, specifically mayor Buddy Cianci. If you like mob stories, you're going to love this one! 

2. The Daily

I like this one a lot as an every day news briefing. About 20 minutes focused on one element in world news with a few last parting things, "what else you should know today." What I like most about this New York Times podcast is that it's straight facts, some interviews, but mostly facts about what is going on and why it's important to be informed on it. Essentially, I get the 411 on my way to work every day. 

3. Up & Vanished

A documentary film maker turned detective sleuth. Seriously. And it's all true. Payne Lindsey takes you on a journey through his search to find out who killed Tara Grinstad, local Georgia teacher and former beauty queen. The whole story is riveting and something we binged on our way out to Charleston and back last year. If you like mysteries and unsolved crimes, definitely check it out if you haven't yet. 

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4. Goal Digger Podcast

Somehow I found Jenna Kutcher a couple years ago on Instagram and I was drawn to her postings. When she started a podcast for entrepreneurs, I was subscribed without hesitation. What I like about her show is a balance of talking to successful entrepreneurial woman and her own episodes offering tips and tools for business. I find her encouraging, the stories interesting, and the information helpful. Mostly, it just makes me feel inspired. 

BONUS:   How it Works  episode with  Kate Spade is one of my favorites.  

BONUS: How it Works episode with  Kate Spade is one of my favorites.  

That feels like a pretty solid group of shows right there. Trust me, i definitely dig into other ones and I'm always on the hunt for more, but these are a good start if you're looking for a change up in your radio dial. 

Alright, spill! What are some of your favorite podcasts you've been listening to lately?

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Summer Breezy Staples

It's hot ladies. And it's unfortunately going to be hot for a while. For me that means light material and nothing that constricts! I want some air flow, something cool and definitely breezy while I'm working. It's only going to get hotter so if you're in a shopping mood, try some of these: 

1. LOFT Stripped Crossover Dress

I've worn this dress out several times and it's comfy (yay knit!). Great for summer parties, farmer's market runs or just hanging out at the house. 

Plus it has this lovely cross in the back for a fun twist!

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2. Target Black Knit Dress

Found this knit number back in May and I've loved it. Style it up, casual it down, silver or gold, heels or flats, hat, no hat, hair up or down, it all looks good in a staple like this 

 

3. LOFT Romper

I have several rompers in my closet and I adore each and every one of them, but this one, oh man. This romper has been my favorite. I've worn it out for shopping around town and on a lovely date night with Pyro Man. When you got an outfit that can do both that means I can wear my sneaks or my heels--either way, I'm good to go. It's breezy, cool, and oh so freaking cute! 

If you can't tell, I really am a huge fan of LOFT. I love their style, their prices and of course, their sales. But I have been doing a little window shopping at one of my favorite stores and pined over these current crushes: 

This gorgeous red maxi from Anthropologie. Plus this fun green dress is so sweet, love the details! Tell me that this white cotton number doesn't scream summer? And then this beauty, eyelet and embroidery with sweet straps! 

What are some of your summer staples? 

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