Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Officially Fall!! My Sit-Down With Everyday Thoughts

It's the first official day of fall!!! I seriously cannot tell you guys how excited I am. I wait for this day as soon as summer starts. I know, I know. I'm crazy. I've already been overindulging in pumpkin too. You'd be horrified at my grocery shopping this weekend. Let's just say, I'll have something pumpkin at least once a day for the next month. Anyway...to celebrate the official beginning of fall, we have a visitor today. Her name is Brittany and she blogs over at Everyday Thoughts. Read our little Q&A and make sure to check her out!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog.
I love connecting with people and my blog is the perfect way to do that. I talk about all things relevant to a working mama who loves fashion, fitness and food. 

2. Fall is pretty much here for the northern part of the country. What are you most excited for this season? 
I'm a huge college football fan so I'm pretty much in heaven during the fall.

3. Do you know what you're dressing your baby up for Halloween yet? Kid costumes are always the cutest. 
I have no clue what my little guy is wearing for Halloween this year, it's always such a big decision. He was a tiger last year and it was adorable. I'm really looking forward to taking him around since he can actually walk this year.

4. Just because fall is here doesn't mean we have to completely forget summer. What was your favorite part of this summer? Did you go on vacation? Meet any goals you set for yourself? Get some much needed rest? 
I feel like summer is always an opportunity to refresh and reflect on the year. I've made a lot of changes to my workouts and even some tweaks to my diet. I'm proud of myself for sticking to my goals and I hope that I stick to it until Summer of next year! 

5. I have to ask. Are you a pumpkin person? 
I'm a pumpkin person in terms of I like them and I think they are great backdrops for pictures. I hate carving them though. 

6. What is your staple fall outfit? 
I'm a big fan of leggins but this year I'm really embracing the shift dress with sleeves and a jean jacket. Jean Jackets just seem like the perfect transitional piece. And in the South it's still pretty hot so layers are imperative. Inside you need a jacket or sweater since the AC is blasting but outside it's not really necessary.

Make sure you follow Brittany on TwitterFacebookInstagramPinterestBloglovin and Google+

Monday, September 22, 2014

Brunchin' In The Burbs

When I decided to move to the suburbs, one of the things I was sure I was sacrificing was great restaurants. More importantly...great brunch. I had my signature places to go in the city and I was devastated to leave them. When I went to my first Windy City Bloggers get together, I met another blogger named Katie from Beneath the Chandelier. Turns out, she lives just a few towns over from me. We started texting and decided to meet for brunch one day. The problem...I had no idea where we could go in the suburbs. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing particularly special. Then she mentioned Harvest Room. It was in that moment I accepted the challenge to find good places to eat outside of the city. 
The Harvest Room in Palos Heights is a farm to table restaurant. Almost everything they serve is bought from local farmers and ranges from traditional comfort food to delectable treats. A few things that caught my eye where the Harvest French Toast, Monkey Bread, Chicken and Waffles and Crab Cake Benedict. I didn't end up with any of these selections but I desperately want to go back and try them. Instead, I built my own Omelette with Chorizo, Roasted Red Peppers, Tomato and Smoked Gouda. A side of hash browns and rye toast were included. It was delicious. I took half home and had it for lunch the next day and it was still just amazing. Everything tasted fresh and I love that for my first time there, I was able to get something I was familiar with and knew I would love. You see, I had a late night at the Garth Brooks concert so I wanted a big, tasty, familiar breakfast.
I also need to take a second to chat about their coffee. Good God, they serve Lavazza. One of the only ways to get a straight shot to my heart is to give me some Lavazza. Both Katie and I ordered a cappuccino but she had half a mind to take a photo of hers before diving in. Needless to say, mine was sipped a few times before I managed a caffeinated photo shoot. Anyway, the cappuccino was delicious...obviously. It was an overall great experience and I can't wait to go back again.

If you're in the Chicago suburban area, I'd love to hear any restaurant recommendations from you. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee...send me whatever you've got!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Mysteries of Laura Premiere

source: IMDB
Fall TV started this week and I couldn't have been happier with the premieres so far. First, we got a sneak peek at Nicholas Sparks' Deliverance Creek on Lifetime. On Wednesday, we got the first episode of The Mysteries of Laura with Debra Messing. I. Love. Her. Watching all the previews had be a little skeptical if I was going to like it or not. It looked corny but if you've ever seen Will & Grace you know that's what Debra Messing does best. Unlike most people, it actually works for her. So let's chat. What did you think of the premiere? Were you sold? Because I was...

Laura is a police detective and full-time mom. She rocks at her job and is well respected in her department. She's in the middle of a divorce with a man who refuses to sign the papers and is half the parent to his kids that she is. Oh, and her kids? Two adorable boys that love to get into trouble. In fact, the first time we meet them is in their pre-k room where they annihilated the walls and themselves with red paint. They're just too cute.

source: Google Images
As a detective, Laura kicks ass. In the first episode, she took her boss down for murder even though he was a close friend of hers. In one episode we learned so much about Laura's character. She strong, determined, ambitious and fierce but has a huge heart. The reason she was able to prove her boss as a murderer was because she was so close to him and his wife. I can't wait to see where this season goes. Debra Messing is hilarious and captivating. Her partner Billy, played by Laz Alonso, is the perfect combination of brute and brains. Last but not least, Josh Lucas playing her husband Jake, is the cherry on top. He brings a fun and silly element to the show with a potential for romance. I can't wait to see where this goes.

Have you guys seen The Mysteries of Laura? What did you think? Also, here's the lineup for premieres I've got going this week:

Monday: Gotham, The Voice, Sleepy Hollow 
source: Google Images
Tuesday: S.H.I.E.L.D 
source: Google Images
Wednesday: Chicago P.D, Nashville 
source: Google Images
Sunday: Once Upon A Time
source: Google Images
Who's pumped? I sure am! Be ready for some premiere roundups as fall TV gets moving. Which shows are you most looking forward to?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Thunderstorms & A So-Called Homemaker

The weekend is here and in Chicago, we have some lovely thunderstorms going on. I have friends who hate storms. They get really nervous and panicky when they know one is coming but me...I love them. If I'm sleeping, I sleep deeper. If I'm working or in today's case, blogging, I get motivated and so much done. I've already written three posts! What are you like with storms?

Anyway...I want you guys to meet a lovely lady named Christine from So-Called Homemaker. She's pretty awesome and come back to see the Q&A I did with her. It's got a few laughs in store.
Make sure you follow Christine on Twitter, Bloglovin, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest

Check out some of her favorite posts:

Nicholas Sparks Delivers With Deliverance Creek

Source: Nicholas Sparks Website
Nicholas Sparks is one of my favorite writers of all time. When I found out through his newsletter (yes, I subscribe) that he would be writing and producing his first tv show, I was thrilled. Most movies that are based off of books lose that quality you love about them in the first place. Because Nicholas has such a heavy hand in his movies, that special quality from the book is always there. I couldn't even imagine what he was going to do with a tv show that has an original script. All I did know was that it would be amazing. 

Deliverance Creek is set in a small Missouri town in the Civil War era. The union was winning the war and confederate supporters, although still deeply rooted in their past beliefs and traditions, had become union supporters. The main character Belle is a fighter and a straight shooter but she was dealt a pretty tough hand. Her husband was killed in the war, she's raising three kids on her own and she's struggling to keep her ranch running. To top it off, she has a greedy neighbor who wants to take everything from her. When her brother Jasper returns to hide at her ranch with his battalion, she's welcoming but cautious. Among her struggles, she's created a new life for herself. She's in a secret relationship with the sheriff and she helps her sister free slaves through the underground railroad. 

Source: Lifetime - Zade Rosenthal
By letting her brother back in, she opens herself to danger. Her neighbor snoops on her property and brings union soldiers to her home. They throw her things around and end up shooting her eldest son. This heartbreaking turning point is what really starts the story. She wants revenge for her baby's death and to do that, she wants to get back at her neighbors who own the bank the union was holding their gold for the night. She helps her brother take all of the gold, some of which she gets to keep herself.

I could get into all of the details of the show easily. It was a two hour premiere and a lot happened. But, you probably want to know whether this show is worth it to watch on your own. The answer put simply is yes. Sparks has done it again. Belle is a character you immediately identify with and root for. Her brother who can easily become the antagonist teeters the line between villain and hero. We know he's no good but he's also protective of Belle and her family and would do anything for them. There is a potential love triangle that I'm really hoping continues throughout the season and a lot of drama that could go down with Belle and her sister releasing slaves through the underground railroad. This was just a sneak peek to what the series could be. I'm still not sure if it's being picked up or not but I really, really hope that they keep it going. I'd be disappointed if they let it stop here.

Did you watch Deliverance Creek last week? What did you think?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton: A Review

About a month ago, I finished reading The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton. I was a bit disturbed at some parts of this book because the graphic nature it could have but I was also completely consumed by the characters. I needed to understand them and that's what kept me reading. I have it a rating of three out of five stars on Goodreads. Find out why below.

What Goodreads Says
Source: Flickr Creative Commons, User - Yavuz
Set in 1980s Chicago and on the East Coast, this electric debut chronicles the relationship between an impossibly rich chocolate heiress, Babs Ballentyne, and her sensitive and bookish young daughter, Bettina. Babs plays by no one’s rules: naked Christmas cards, lavish theme parties with lewd installations at her Lake Shore Drive penthouse, nocturnal visits from her married lover, who “admires her centerfold” while his wife sleeps at their nearby home.

Bettina wants nothing more than to win her mother’s affection and approval, both of which prove elusive. When she escapes to an elite New Hampshire prep school, Bettina finds that her unorthodox upbringing makes it difficult to fit in with her peers, one of whom happens to be the son of Babs’s lover. As she struggles to forge an identity apart from her mother, Bettina walks a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction.

As funny as it is scandalous, The Chocolate Money is Mommie Dearest,Prep, and 50 Shades of Gray all rolled into one compulsively readable book.

What I Say
This was a really intriguing novel. Half the time I wanted to throw it across the room out of pure disgust but I just couln't tear myself away. It's a book about a woman named Bettina remembering her childhood and the relationship she had with her mother. You think that it's about her life growing up but it's really about how her mother influenced her life. Everything up to her mother's death, potentially even afterwards, was affected by what she thought her mother would think or what her mother would do. Bettina needed so badly to be accepted by her mother that she became almost obsessed with her own behavior.

I think all of us can relate to Bettina's need of acceptance to a certain point. Everyone wants to be loved by their parents. Some people just need it a little more. The Chocolate Money explored the life of the rich and what it was really like to be a part of that lifestyle. It started early with Bettina's memories of her mother's lavish parties and ended with her inheriting millions of dollars but lonely at the same time.

I thought this was a very dramatic depiction of youth and adolescence. The wants, needs and desires of a child from the age of five to twenty-five. It's about finding yourself while trying to identify with someone else. I wasn't completely thrilled with this book but I couldn't put it down either. I was so immersed in Bettina's character and how obsessed she was with her mother. I needed to understand not only her behavior, but her mother's as well. I wish I knew what Bettina was like now, twenty-something years later. I want to know what Bettina is at forty because she still had a lot of growing up to do by the time we finished what was so far written of her story. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Love With Food August Box Review: Fun at the County Fair

Beauty boxes are fun but food boxes are downright tasty. I love getting my Love With Food box in the mail every month. I'm excited to try new treats and see if there's anything I can add to my food addiction list. I love how they give a meal to a kid with every box as well. It's just an added perk. Get a box of snacks, feed a child. 

Montral Steak Spice Seasoning Potato Chips by Covered Bridge
What LWF Says: These old-fashioned kettle-cooked gluten-free chips are seasoned with your favorite steak seasoning for a spicy crunch. @CBchips

What I Say: These were delicious. They were full of flavor and very satisfying if you crave salt like me. They were super salty though. I highly recommend eating these with a very full glass of water within reaching distance.

Pineapple + Coconut Fruit Ice by Smooze!
What LWF Says: Beat the summer heat with this delicious vegan, dairy-free pop (remember to freeze before you eat) @SmoozeFruitIce

What I Say: To be honest, I haven't tried this yet. I put it in the freezer after it got cooler outside so I haven't exactly been craving a cold treat. Once I do manage to get around to it, I'll post my thoughts on Instagram.

Cinnamon Grahams by Skeeter Nut Free
What LWF Says: These little squirrel-shaped nut-free snacks will satisfy your sweet tooth and keep you going ride after ride. @SkeeterNutFree

What I Say: This was the first snack I went for
when I got the box. I love graham snacks and these were delicious. I would also get these for my little cousin who has a nut allergy. They're perfect for him.

Salty Caramel Apple Salt Water Taffy by Salty Road
What LWF Says: Inspired by salted caramel apple pie, this taffy wins our prize for "Best in Show." @saltyroad

What I Say: I'm not a fan or taffy or caramel. This honestly just went in the trash. I wasn't going to put myself through it. I'm sure there are people who loved this treat but caramel just ignites my gag reflex to be honest.

Lollipops by Yumearth
What LWF Says: Let out your inner child and indulge guilt-free in these organic suckers in flavors like Googly Grape and Strawberry Smash. @YumEarth

What I Say: I'm not a candy person but the grape lollipop really curbed a sweet craving I was having the other day. I loved it. It brought back some childhood memories too which was surprisingly welcoming.

Crispy Cheddar Crackers by Back to Nature
What LWF Says: Presto! Just like crackers you loved as  kid, but without all the junk - savor the taste of cheddar cheese in a deliciously light crunch. 

What I Say: I love these crackers. We get these at
the office and I'm constantly trying to avoid them. They're such a great much food and these make it slightly less guilt-ridden.

Nutt Rice Bits with Blueberries by 180 Snacks
What LWF Says: Crunch your way through these bite-size crispy clusters, all dressed up for summer with sweet blueberries. @180snacks

What I Say: Oh. My. God. I was expecting to hate these...don't ask why. They were so delicious. I wanted more! I still want more. It was such an unexpected treat for me. I would definitely buy these on my own.

Kettle Sweet Peanuts by Love With Food
What LWF Says: Its okay to get carried away with this sweet, salty and nutty combo...just do it and #GoNuts @lovewithfood

What I Say: These were so delicious! I downed this bag real quick. They had a sweet and salty element to them which curbed every craving and made them addicting as well.

Love With Food helps you discover new organic or all-natural snacks delivered to your door every month. Our subscription membership starts as low as $10/month. Every month, Love With Food members will receive a curated box of unique, hard-to-find tasty snacks which varies based on seasonal themes.

For every box sold, they donate a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength - No Kid Hungry. Join them to help end child hunger one meal at a time!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Literary Junkies Tuesday Link Up

Pink Heels Pink Truck 

Happy Tuesday!! It's time for our monthly Literary Junkies link up. Let's see what you've been reading lately...

And now for this week's questions!

1. What are you reading right now? Tell us about it.
Right now I'm focusing on magazines. I just finished reading The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon which was amazing. I can't wait to get that review up. 

2. There are a ton of movies coming out soon that were based off of books. Are there any you're particularly excited to see?
I'm incredibly excited for Gone Girl. I love Ben Affleck and can't wait to see him in it. I'm also excited for Serena. They just came out with the trailer this week and it gave me goosebumps.

3. With fall finally here for some of us, are there any books that you're particularly looking forward to reading in the season of big sweaters, blankets and hot chocolate? 
I want to tackle some more of the Temperance Brennan series. I want to read A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and I want to read A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire. If I can make that happen, I'll be happy.

4. We only have 3.5 months left of 2014. Did you participate in any reading challenges? How are you doing?
I have all my reading challenges documented on My Bookshelf. As you can see I haven't done particularly well. I set a goal of 25 books for this year on Goodreads and I've made it to 14 so far. If I can make it to at least 20, I call that a success. It's more books than I've read for leisure since I started college.

5. What has been the best book you've read so far this year?
I think it's a tie between What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon. They were both really great books but completely different. I absolutely loved both of them.

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