Book Club: Choices for Book #3

Happy Friday! Happy Halloween!

We are getting ready to select the next book to read for the Book Club. I can’t believe we are already on book #3, I feel like we just started this club a week ago! It is great to make reading a fun part of your life, even when you feel like there is no time in the day for you to read- trust me, I know! I had to push out our last book discussion a week because I literally had NO time to read with the new puppy and all… but I managed and I loved the last book and I love being a part of such an intellectual conversation about life, happiness, sorrow,love and everything else in between. So, my message to you all -there are millions of books out there…GO READ! …..or better yet, help us choose a book and Read With Us!

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Choices with summaries:

Frog Music – Emma Donoghue

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice–if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

The Goldfinch– Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch is told in retrospective first-person narration by Theodore “Theo” Decker, who recounts the story of his life thus far. As a thirteen-year-old boy in New York City, Theo adores his energetic, beautiful mother — as do many other people in Manhattan. He thinks of his father, who had walked out on them a year earlier, as an alcoholic, abusive thief. Theo’s life is turned upside down when he and his mother visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see an exhibition of Dutch masterpieces, including her favorite painting, Carel Fabritius’s The Goldfinch. There, he falls in love at first sight with a red-headed girl who is accompanied by an elderly man. But then a terrorist bomb kills his mother and dozens of other art-loving citizens. Selected of 10 Best Books of 2013 NYTimes Review.

Where’d you go, Bernadette?  Selected 11/3/14

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

This is Where I Leave You -Jonathan Tropper

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman clan has congregated in years. There is, however, one conspicuous absence: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose affair with his radio- shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the demise of his father and his marriage, Judd joins his dysfunctional family as they reluctantly sit shiva-and spend seven days and nights under the same roof. The week quickly spins out of control as longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed and old passions are reawakened. Then Jen delivers the clincher: she’s pregnant.

This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper’s (One Last Thing Before I Go) most accomplished work to date, and a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind-whether we like it or not.

Book to be selected by next week!

Breakfast and Boston Book Festival

image1 (3)After breakfast, I took my Little Sister to the Boston Book Festival at Copley Plaza on Saturday. This is an annual event where readers and writers of all ages can get together to inspire and be inspired by the power of words. This was also a Big For a Day Event, where the Big Sisters Association of Boston organized all the “littles and “bigs” to get together to enjoy the day! I am proud to say I am a volunteer for this wonderful organization and a Big Sister. We did a creative writing workshop where we both got to show our creative side and learned how to use an old fashioned type writer.. those things were hard to type on.. you really need to press down hard – not like the touch sensitive technology we have today…times have changed, for sure!

I had a great day with my little learning about each other and learning about books, aspirations, and dreams. We got some lunch together at the event and I also treated her to… fried oreos! Every kid needs to try these!

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Puppy Socialization- Is it really necessary?

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6 month old goldendoodle and 3 month old Freddy!

Freddy has been going to Puppy Play time on Wednesday nights from 7:30-8:30 at his vet’s office! Last night, he was out of his mind excited and ran straight into the glass door before I could open it!

He is even excited when we go for his shots because he remembers it being a “happy place”- how genius of the staff to organize this puppy program at the animal hospital.

So as he is approaching his last play time (it ends when the puppy is 16 weeks- as they begin to play differently), have I noticed a difference from his first class to now?  Well what actually is puppy socialization?

Socialization is very important when your dog is between 8-16 weeks old. This is when they learn important skills that they will remember as they get older.

Here is a clip of the hand out from one of his first classes:

 What Is Puppy Socialization?

Socialization is the learning process through which a puppy becomes accustomed to being near various people, animals, and environments. By exposing puppies to different stimuli in a positive or neutral way, before they can develop a fear of these things, owners can reduce the likelihood of behavior problems in the future and help build a stronger bond between pets and the rest of the family. The critical time to socialize a puppy is during the first 3 to 4 months of its life.

Why Is Puppy Socialization Important?

Unfortunately, behavior problems remain the top reason that pets are relinquished to animal shelters. Proper socialization will help make puppies more tolerant of changes in their environment and help prevent common behavior problems in the future.

A quick breakdown of his progress:

Play 1: Freddy hiding from the Wheaten Terrier puppy – He was very scared, defensive, in a way,  aggressive. He played “OK” with the other puppies -had a few time outs as the Wheaten and him did not get along! I guess it meant they both were very unsure of who would be the more dominant one. Also, the pups did not look like his litter mates! I was a little discouraged and was worried that I might traumatize him around other dogs! I was a scared mommma :/

Play 2/Take 2: He seemed more comfortable, but still had 1 or 2 time outs when play got too aggressive. The nurses that monitored the play were great! so encouraging and informative and helped the puppies get adjusted to one another.

Yesterday (Play 6): like I said above, out of his mind excited to go inside! Some new puppies were there and Freddy made an attempt to play with them although they were at “play 1 phase”. He would bring toys over and slowly nudge them to the younger puppies. Him and the Wheaten would cross paths and play a little but decided to avoid each other for the most part- He played with Hunter, his German Shepard brother from another mother! Those 2 are inseparable and its so cute to watch them play – so cute that I had to take a video:

 

 

BONUS!!: He sleeps all the way home because he is so tired out – a win win!

So, is puppy socialization necessary?  YES, I recommend to all new puppy moms and dads. I can’t talk long term yet – but I have noticed such a difference in Freddy’s behavior even when we play at home. His biting has tamed down and he will only playfully bite lightly. Every dog he meets, he will attempt to play and is gentle, observant and excited!

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Fall Hair – to go darker or lighter

download3-Le-Fashion-Blog-17-Inspiring-Long-Hairstyles-Subtle-Highlights-Via-Negin-MirsalehiCome fall, come colder months here in New England, come hair change? It seems to be a constant pattern for us ladies, we go lighter in the warm months and darker in the cold months –why? As if to add to the “seasonal depression” by being dark, pale and gloomy! I’m thinking I might add some caramel highlights to my locks. Nothing crazy (I have always been the natural type- not wanting to add anything too drastic to my hair, skin, nails, body),  Granted, I say that and there is a lot of truth to it – but don’t we all have that year in middle school where we don’t quite know where we fit in? We want to be blonde, as a result turn our hair orange (oops), want to be dark, as a result turn our skin orange (oops again) and end up looking like an Oompa Loompa instead of something we see in a J-14 magazine (does that still exist?) My grandmother would always comment on my hair! She loved how my sister and I had thick, long, brown hair that we would put up in a bun on top of our heads. She ALWAYS mentioned that and then always yelled at me when my hair was lighter or I made any change from what nature gave me! My sister STILL has that gorgeous thick long brown hair. Me, on the other hand did not keep that gift… my hair became fine, as the hairdressers call it. Blame it on product, blame it on constant hair teasing for fashion shows and photo shoots (my secret love) blame it on my mother’s genes, whatever it is – whatever it was, I have been determined to get it back to that bun on my head that my grandmother loved! The last year I have focused on getting it healthy —- To look, feel, BE healthy. If this meant, I needed to get more than a trim and have short hair, so be it, if I needed to get a deep conditioner to replenish dead hair follicles- let’s do it… I want minimal but I want results. My hair has felt thicker and healthier since going for regular trims and gloss (keratin) treatments. You gotta work with what you got, ladies! And men, don’t dye your hair – embrace the salt and pepper when it comes! (for thinning hair, I hear Tio Nacho Mexican Herb shampoo works wonders for men – Target and local drug stores should have it- not that any of you young men have thinning hair or are finding grays!)

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Find yourself a honest hairdresser! Don’t get pressured into getting all these crazy treatments, research and ask around to see what works for you! Honestly – I still believe minimal is best! As long as you eat well, drink PLENTY of water, have a good intake of vitamins and veggies, your hair will restore itself – but if you need a little extra – head to a professional! Cheap little trick: Coconut oil once a month massaged in your scalp and hair does marvelous things.

Happy Fall! Let your hair down! – or put it in a nice big bun on top of your head 😉

I think I might do something different with my length too: Inspiration? A LOB?

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Book Review: Me Before You

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vegan blueberry muffin from Whole Foods

I just got back from our second book club meeting to discuss Me Before You. I met a few girls at the Whole Foods in Bedford, where we got some lunch and dished out our thoughts about the read.

Honestly, this was a great book – It was warm, emotional, cinematic and heartbreaking. Reading it felt like you were watching these people live their daily lives, it made you think about your own aspirations, your own struggles, your own relationship – the what if’s, the unknowns…

It may sound crazy, but it inspired me to travel more, to take up a job that I actually enjoy, to take chances, to love myself more, to volunteer more, to appreciate what I have in my life.

A lot of times, we get so caught up in our daily lives – get frustrated with the small things like traffic, or not having clean laundry,  or spilling some coffee on your shirt, or not making enough money as the person next to you. Look. life is not fair, life is a challenge, life is a journey, life is short and life is unpredictable. There is always someone out there that has a fancier car, a bigger house, more expensive clothes, a life that may seem so desirable. There are also people out there just like in this book, just like Will, who have all of those things but become a quadriplegic and cannot enjoy any of them, without the help of a caretaker. A grown man who cannot dress himself or cook a meal or drive a car…

Just remember, the next time you want to scream at someone who cuts you off in traffic or the server makes your coffee the wrong way, that your life really isn’t that bad. TRY and enjoy it everyday – realize there are people out there who have it a lot worse than you – people who can’t afford to get a car, or buy themselves fancy clothes – people who can’t even feed themselves food ….the saddest thing,however, is the people who feel their life is not worth living anymore.

Love your life. because you never know when it can all change.

Highly recommend this book -big tear jerker – make sure you have a box of tissues for the last 3 chapters!

Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup

I have been feeling a bit under the weather the past few days. My mom thinks it has to do with my non-stop schedule…hmmm Anyways, I took 2 days off work to “relax” and it was really difficult!! It harder than it sounds..at least for me.. when I have a 100 things I want/need to do.

I managed to snuggle up with Freddy and my Kindle to finish reading Me before you! We’re having a book club meeting next Wednesday so I better catch up quick.

Back to the topic… SOUP!! We had 3 days of soup: chicken noodle, tomato basil and, yesterday I made Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup…with parsnips for added flavor.unnamed (1)

I made a separate batch for Freddy w/o the onions or added spices – he got parsley though- really good for dogs! (nerd fact: Parsley freshens your pooches breath and provides phytochemicals. It also has Vitamin C, Vitamin K, carotenoids, B vitamins, iron and limonene)

Here is the recipe. Serve with some crusty bread- I made Guy Fieri’s Vegan garlic bread to go with.

Cauliflower & Cheddar Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 medium head cauliflower, broken in florets
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 1-2 parsnips, chopped
  4. 4 cups water
  5. 1.5 chicken bouillon cube
  6. 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  7. 2 tbsp olive oil
  8. 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  9. 1 tbsp. sour cream
  10. 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  11. Chopped fresh parsley (to garnish)
  12. Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
  13. Crumbled organic bacon, bake it
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 minutes. Add cauliflower (& parsnips, if using) and cook until just beginning to brown, 12 minutes. Add water and bouillon cube; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is very tender, 20 minutes. Add rosemary.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk sour cream with flour and take with a tbsp. of the hot broth. Wish really well and then blend into soup. This will add a nice cream color to the soup and also thicken it up.
  3. I use a potato masher to mash everything up right in the same pot - you can also use a blender to get a smoother consistency- but why add another dish to the wash?
  4. Heat over medium until warmed through; add cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with parsley and bacon, if desired. (I made a couple strips of bacon in the oven with the bread and crumbled it on top)
You Bet Your Pierogi http://youbetyourpierogis.com/

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Enjoy!