Friday, October 24, 2014

Semi-Charmed Winter 2014 Book Challenge

After seeing multiple posts on blogs about the Winter book challenge from Semi-Charmed Kind of Life, I knew I had to join.
What can I say? I've always been a follower.
But seriously, I LOVE to read and have felt the past couple of years like I haven't been reading nearly enough.

You can head over to Megan's blog to check out all the details, but here's the short version:

    • The challenge starts on November 1, 2014 and ends on February 28, 2015. Only books read during that time period will count.
    • Each book must be at least 200 pages long and audio books count.
    • A book can only be used for one category, and each category can only be completed once.
    • Books must be new to you, with the exception of three books that you can "reread".
    • Each category allots different points, and the maximum number of points you can earn is 200.
    So here are the categories and my picks; I'm not gonna lie, some of these are tricky and I might be changing things up. There are also a couple I still need to decide on for sure.


    5 points: Freebie! Read any book that fits the general rules.
    >>We'll see ;)

    10 points: Read a book written by an author who has published at least 10 books. 
    >>Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, 238 pages.
    I love this whole series and this book will be one of my "rereads". This time I plan on reading it to my littles and seeing if they're old enough to like it yet.

    10 points: Read a book of short stories.
    >>The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway, 650 pages
    I read some of these years ago for AP English, but haven't read the whole book all the way through. Does that count as a "reread"?

    10 points: Read a book with a food (not a drink!) in the title. 
    >>The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, 274 pages
    I have been wanting to read this book for awhile so this is the perfect time to get 'er done.

    15 points: Read the first book in a series that is new to you (so no rereads for this one!). 
    >>The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, 458 pages.
     My husband owns these books and obviously I've seen the movies, but I have never read any of these. At least I know enough though to know that the first book in the series is not The Hobbit. ;)

    15 points: Read a book that was originally written in a language that is not your native language. 
    >>Les Miserables by Victo Hugo, 1463 pages (unabridged)
    This is my favorite musical and I've started the book on two different occasions, I'm hoping this time I can make it through.

    15 points: Read a book written by a local author (either an author from your state if you live in the United States, or in your country if you live somewhere else.
    >> Eragon by Christopher Paolini, 503 pages
    I really lucked out because a lot of authors come from California. :) My husband has read this whole series and I haven't read any of them yet.

    20 points: Read a "bookish book" (in which books play an important role, e.g. the setting involves a bookstore or library, a major character is an author, or a book that celebrates reading and books.
    >>The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, 552 pages
    This is another one that I have been wanting to read for awhile and figured this was a good opportunity to cross it off my list. Although, did you realize it was so long?

    20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title (e.g. north, south, east, west or any combination of those). 
    >>Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz, 272 pages.
    Another one I've heard of and wanted to read the past couple years. Also, quite honestly, I was trying to decide between this and another one, and this one was almost half the length.

    25 points: Read a book from a genre you don't usually read. 
    This one has sat on our bookshelf almost our entire married life, and I thought it would be the perfect choice for this category since I think the only biographies I've ever read have been assigned for school.

    25 points: Read a book with a song lyric in the title. Be sure to tell us the song name and artist as well! 
    >>Hmm... I still have to decide. I'm hoping to stumble across something fantastic!

    30 points: Read two books with a different meal in each title (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, brunch).
    >>Thirteen at Dinner by Agatha Christie, 260 pages
    I have read a couple of Agatha Christie books in the past and really enjoyed them so I'm sure I'll like this one.
    >>Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, 302 pages. A Vonnegut story I've never read, I saw this on a couple of other people's lists and it sounded interesting.


    In the whole list I only have one actual "reread", which is pretty cool I think. Looking at the length on some of these is a little scary, but that's okay! I'm sure I won't get the full 200 points but the important thing is to start gobbling up some books again!

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    10 candy-free goodies for Halloween

    Well, you might have noticed from my Instagram feed that we finally made it to a pumpkin patch. Two actually, yay!

    And we went apple picking!
    Sort of.
    We are crossing items off of our Fall bucket list left and right, and having a lot of fun while doing it!
    We'll be decorating our pumpkins the first part of next week and I've been thinking about painting mine (Mike and our little dove will definitely be carving theirs, they love that). In fact, I'd already been thinking about some turquoise spray paint I had when I came across {this article}.

    Have you heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project? Nobody in our household has food allergies (yet, knock on wood) but we know so many people who have different gluten, soy, dairy, or nut issues; it seems like a good idea to have a few non-candy/food items. In the past I've usually tried to have a couple of options and have always been surprised when kids go for something other than candy! SO here are 10 ideas for a candy-free Halloween.

    1. Juice boxes/other drinks: Several years growing up I remember that there would be someone passing out small cans of soda or juice boxes and those years when you'd be out for hours with your friends you really get thirsty! This is a great way to still pass out something edible, but low risk.s You could even pas out small bottled water with fun labels on it.

    2. Loose change: How many of us have a big jar of loose change floating around? This is another one I remember from growing up; there was one house where the guy had a HUGE bowl of loose change and he had a big serving spoon in it, how ever many coins you could scoop and keep in your spoon, you could keep! It was kind of like a carnival game at the doorstep. You could take this a step further and have your child participate in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, which is such an easy and fun way to give back! I did that a couple of years growing up and had a great experience! This is a great option if your kid has a lot of allergies, that way you're just avoiding the candy all together and your child has a sense of pride in helping others.

    3. Mini flashlights: Oriental Trading has some cute Halloween ones, and the price isn't too bad. I know this would be a great option for my neighborhood because there are no street lights and it gets dark so early! You still have time to order if you choose express shipping. And while you're at it, check out all the little Halloween toys they have.

    4. Glowsticks: Another way to light up the night is with glowsticks. With prices ranging anywhere from 5-15 for $1, this is a very economical decision if you live somewhere where a lot of trick-or-treaters come to your door. One of the best places to get these is at your local dollar store. I have passed these out before and kids loved them! And as my husband pointed out to me the other day, they last longer than a piece of candy does. :)

    5. Frosty coupons: So this treat isn't diary-free, but it is safe for those with gluten, soy, or nut allergies. Head over to your local Wendy's fast food restaurant and purchase a Frosty coupon book for $1. Inside each book will either be 5 or 10 coupons for a free Jr. Frosty, and 90% goes back to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. This is another great way to do some good at this time of year! And what a fun and different treat for the kiddos to get!

    6. Crayons: This is another option that can help stretch your dollar if you get a lot of trick-or-treaters. You can either purchase individual boxes (Crayola sells small boxes for a $1, or you can generally find big packs of boxes of 4 at your local party store or seasonal aisle at Target), or purchase a big package and separate them into groups of two or three and tip them up with a pretty ribbon or some baker's twine.

    7. Applesauce pouches: Here is another safe food item you can hand out. My kids are big fans of the individual apple sauce pouches, and I'm a big fan of the fact that they don't make messes! You can even go the extra mile and spookify them {like this}. I can usually find these on sale at one of my local stores.

    8. Playdough: This is one of my favorite things to pass out at Halloween; even I think they're fun! You can find Halloween colors in the Halloween aisle at stores like Target and Wal-Mart, or you can find them in regular assorted colors in the toy aisle near the rest of the Playdough. Dollar tree also sells an off-brand.

    9. DIY Bead Kits: time consuming, but relatively simple to put together, these might be a good choice for those that don't get many kids coming to your door, or it would be the perfect treat to make for your daughter's playgroup or Preschool. Check out {this post} to see the cute and fun  (and allergy safe!) treats that one momma made!

    10. Bubbles: These are another great choice that kids love! And you have so many options for size, shape, and cost of bubbles! You could pick up Halloween ones from a seasonal aisle, you could pick up plain ones from the wedding aisle at a store like Michael's or Joann's, and sometimes in the Fall you can find small bottles on clearance left over form the summer season.

    So there you have it, 10 candy-free options for Halloween! I encourage you to check out the Teal Pumpkin Project, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption this Halloween and see if there's a way your family can help out while having fun this Halloween season!

    Monday, October 20, 2014

    my Swapoween show-off!

    My Swapoween package finally arrived (no thanks to USPS... just kidding ;)) and my kiddos were SOOOOO excited to see that box on our front step, my little dove couldn't wait for me to "get the scissors so we can cut it open!"

    When I saw all the awesome goodies that Aubrey had packed in there I was a little nervous that my package might not have been up to par. But anyway...
    My most favoritest thing that I opened from the box chock full of Halloween awesomeness was this cute little elixir bottle. As soon as I unwrapped it I ran over to my mantel and stuck it up there. I have seen things like this and it's the perfect example of an item that I have always wanted to have, but would never buy for myself (my husband's frugality is slowly rubbing off on me).

    My two older kiddos were stoked about these cute little rings, in fact, my little miss took hers to bed with her at nap time.

    She included lots of seasonal treats that I can't wait to make some yummies with. I've been wanting to try all these items; and she must somehow know about my husband's love for all things bacon. :)

    I was also really excited to see all these fun things to make various Halloween treats with: a silicone pancake/egg mold, silicon pumpkin tray, and silicon vampire teeth ice cube tray. I've mentioned on this blog a few times that my husband is a dentist, but it's not something I go on and on about so I'm not sure if she knew that; so I think it's perfect and I know he'll get a kick out of it!

    There were also lots of fun things for the kids and I to enjoy together. A big pen, stickers, and who doesn't like PEZ? My kids also loved pushing the center of the 'Trick or Treat' sign because it makes noise.
    Thanks for that Aubrey. ;)

    And finally, I got some colored bulbs (some of my favorite things to have for Halloween and I haven't bought this year yet!), a HUGE reusable shopping tote from Marshall's, and cute disposable hand towels that I put in our guest bathroom.

    So, the verdict on my first blogger swap? Completely wonderful. I enjoyed opening that package even more than I had though I would. And my kids loved it too! I can't wait to participate in another swap!
    Thanks so much Aubrey! I hope you like your package as much as I liked mine!

    Go check out Chaotic Goddess Swaps to see all the goodies people hauled in!

    And be sure to head over to High Heeled Love and see what I purchased with Aubrey in mind! But, before you do, check out the fun questions I sent her and see if you can guess where my inspiration came from:

    1. Best way to spend a crisp October day?
         a. baking in the kitchen, filling it with the aroma of fall: apple, pumpkin, maple...
         b. snuggled up on the couch watching a scary (or not so scary) movie
         c. buried under the covers in my nice, warm bed and sleeping, duh
    2. Quick! You have about 30 seconds to raid you neighbor's/nieces/nephews/strangers candy haul. You quickly grab all the       ___________ you can find!
    3. Pumpkin pie or caramel apples?
    4. The Halloween color scheme you like to decorate in:
        a. black and white... because it's more streamlined and sophisticated
        b. green, purple, orange... it looks like a clown's nightmare over here
        c. orange and black... traditional all the way
        d. red... blood, guts, and gore!
    5. Finally, what's your favorite Halloween tradition?