Sunday, December 29, 2013

REVIEW--Three Rivers Rising

Yep, that just happened.  I just took over a week off from blogging.  Completely unintentional! But a busy Christmas week allowed me to focus completely on my boys and our holiday.  I hope you had a relaxing, celebratory week as well!

But I'm back with a review!  Today's review is over the book Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards.  I noticed this book in my library because it is a novel-in-verse, and those always spark my interest.  And this one is based off a true event, a dam breaking in Johnstown, PA in 1889, which resulted in a very tragic flooding of the city.  So let's get started!

  • Standalone novel
  • Historical fiction
The Gist:
Three young women have very separate lives in Johnstown, PA.  
Celestia is 16-years-old and from a wealthy family.  But she thinks she is willing to be disowned from her family when she finds love with Peter, a hired boy at her country club.
Maura is a train conductor's wife and is dedicated to making their house (with its ever-growing family) a home.
Kate lost her love in a tragic accident and now works nonstop as a nurse to block out her emotions.
All three women will find their lives completely changed--and connected--when the dam in Johnstown, PA, breaks and drops millions of tons of water down on the city.

What I Loved:
  • A really interesting part of history that honestly isn't well-known.  I liked getting a new perspective of this event.
  • There were some sweet love stories in this book, especially between Celestia and Peter and Maura and her husband.  Sweetness in the midst of sadness.  
  • The variety of voices was great; I loved getting the different perspectives, like Celestia's father's point of view.
What I Didn't Love:
  • I would actually prefer regular prose for this book instead of the novel-in-verse.  The verse just didn't develop the characters enough for me.  I wanted so much more from these characters, especially Maura and Kate.
  • A kind of forgettable book...sorry, it just was.  Nothing to get me super-excited about the book, and I can tell when I booktalk it that my students find it a bit forgettable, too.
My favorite quote:
"I would rather have no husband than the wrong husband." ok book that was interesting, but definitely not a re-read for me.  Three high heels!

Poster preview

And yes, I'll be back with an outfit inspired by the outfit!  

Friday, December 20, 2013

All the Right Stuff-Inspired Recipe

I loooove soup.  It's one of my favorite meals to make during the colder months.  Unfortunately, my hubby isn't a big soup fan, so I have to make sure it's a GOOD soup if he's going to have it for dinner.  And this, by far, is one of my favorite soup recipes.

Maybe it's because my friend Megan introduced it to me.  She's one of my dear friends who now lives cross-country, so I guess this soup just always brings her to mind.

Why am I talking about soup on a book blog?  Because yesterday's review on Walter Dean Myers' book All the Right Stuff had a lot of soup references.  It just fit perfectly!

So here's my favorite recipe for taco soup!

Taco Soup

* 1 large can tomato sauce  
* 1 can Rotel  
* 1 can diced tomatoes  
* 1 can sweet corn
* 1 can pinto beans (drained)  
* 1 can black beans (drained)
 * 1 packet taco seasoning
* 2 packets Ranch Seasoning
* 1-1.5 lbs. ground beef or turkey

Brown meat. Combine with other ingredients. You can cook this 2 ways...

  • Place in slow cooker. Heat on High for 2-3 hours or Low for 4-5. 
  • Mix it all in a large stockpot and heat together on the stove for about 20 minutes.
Serve with your favorite shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips! 

Bon appetit!  I'll be back next week with one book review before I go to celebrate Christmas with the family!  See you then!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

REVIEW: All the Right Stuff

Happy Thursday, readers and fashionistas!  Only a few days left before my Christmas break begins and I CAN'T WAIT!  A few weeks off to spend with family sounds fantastic!

But today I'm reviewing Walter Dean Myers' book All the Right Stuff.  So let's get right into it, shall we?

  • Standalone novel
  • Realistic fiction
The Gist:
Paul DuPree's father was killed in an accidental shooting.  Paul didn't have much of a relationship with him, so he's struggling through his feelings (sure, he's sad that his father was killed, but yet it doesn't bother him so much since he wasn't often around his father).  Paul gets a job for the summer at a soup kitchen with Elijah, an older man who wants to teach him about living better by the social contract of our lives.  Others in Paul's life, like Keisha (a teen mom who wants to play basketball) and Sly (a street guy requiring a bodyguard) don't agree with Elijah's theories, making Paul question everything.

What I Loved:
  • The concept was nice--Paul is struggling through feelings and works with a mentor-type figure.
  • I loved the soup emporium idea; Elijah would feed the elderly through a set-up resembling a soup kitchen. 
What I Didn't Love:
  • I did not find this book realistic at all.  Harlem guys are going to sit down EVERY DAY and talk about the "social contract" in our lives?  Way too Cosby Show for it to be realistic.  *Don't get me wrong, I LOVE "The Cosby Show!"  It just didn't need to fit so much into this book!
  • And speaking of this "social contract" that Elijah is so obsessed with--it was discussed on practically EVERY PAGE of this book.  I felt like I was reading a social contract lecture over and over and over.
  • There wasn't a very strong character development in this book...just a lot of talking.  I wanted so much more. 
My favorite quote:  "You never heard of anybody doing anything really bad while they were having a bowl of soup," he said..."You ever see a headline taht said Crazed Killer Shoots Five People While Eating a Bowl of Mock Turtle Soup?  Nope, you have not."

Unfortunately, I just did not enjoy this book.  It's a pretty short book but was nevertheless a long read.  Sorry--just not a fan.


I'll be back tomorrow with a little twist--instead of an outfit, I'll be sharing with you one of my favorite soup recipes!  
See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lockdown-Inspired Outfit

Monday's review was over a really scary, creepy, and super-exciting book called Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith.  Being framed for a crime and thrown into an underground prison for life?!  Ahhh, no thanks!  But I definitely had to design an outfit inspired by this book!  And here it is:

Ball and Chain look 
A prison-inspired look that isn't too heavy on the prison!  Let me explain it:

  • The black romper--such a trendy piece.  And let's be honest--prisoners basically wear full-length rompers.  I love the white detail around the armholes on this one.  *This is a Chalayan Gray Line Organza Trim Romper and runs about $257.
  • The scarf--classic black and white prison colors.  This scarf (Julie Egli and a whopping $474!) is nicely oversized to add some comfort to the romper.
  • The black sandals have some neat chain detailing and keep the outfit's attention toward the top.  These are Jeffrey Campbell Shacked Chain Sandals for $135.
  • And speaking of a chain sandal, I always think of the cartoon "ball and chain" when I think of prisoners, so I added ball earrings to complete the look of the chain sandals.  These are 9 mm sterling silver ball earrings from JC Penney ($18).
So what do you think?  Do you see the prison inspiration in the outfit?

I'll be back tomorrow with another review!  See you then!

Monday, December 16, 2013


Happy Monday!  We're only 1 1/2 weeks away from Christmas and I can't wait!  This is my favorite season of the year, and it's especially joyful when you have little boys to celebrate it with!

Today's book review is, ironically enough, very un-Christmas.  It is one of the most popular books in my library with my male students.  So popular in fact that I haven't been able to get ahold of the sequel.  It's Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith.  So let's get started!

  • First in the Escape from Furnace series
  • Horror and Suspense

The Gist:
Alex is on the wrong track.  It started out with him being a bully and taking money from kids on the playground.  But then it escalated to him robbing homes.  
The government is no longer putting up with criminal activity (there was a "Summer of Slaughter" involving many teen criminals that they have a zero tolerance policy on crime) and has gone to extremes to stop it for good.  Like the fact that Alex gets set-up to rob a home and falls for it.  
But he's not just set-up for a robbery; he's framed by prison guards for the murder of Alex's friend, Toby.  He's sentenced to Furnace, an underground cavernous prison with ravenous dog beasts, huge "blacksuit" guards with silver eyes, and creepy wheezer gas mask guys.  Alex has a life sentence but is determined to find a way out.  But no one ever escapes Furnace...right?

What I Loved:
  • WOW!  There is some intense action in this book!  It had me nervous, anxious, scared, you name it!
  • The villains in this book are like super-villains.  Wheezers have gas masks sewn into their skin.  No one can look in the warden's eyes.  Super creepy.
  • The ending leaves you on a cliffhanger that makes you want so much more.
What I Didn't Love:
  • Alex's parents completely gave up on him.  I was hoping they would fight for him more.
  • I'm a claustrophobic person, and at times I needed to take a break from this book.  My worst nightmare!
  • DONOVAN!  My favorite character had such an unpleasant end.
  • Alex and his buddies were able to set up their escape plan pretty easily; I expected more fight in the guards. 
My favorite quote: "Committing any crime can be easy if you don't think about it."

A really enjoyable read--I definitely see why my boys flock to this book.  It's creepy, action-packed, and just downright scary.  I can't wait to read the second one!


I'll be back on Wednesday with an outfit design based off this book!  Yep, I can even be inspired for a Lockdown outfit!  See you then!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Add a Little Ornament Exchange to your Weekend...

I love Christmas traditions, and a few years ago I started one that is quickly becoming my favorite event of the Christmas season: an ornament exchange!  I simply gather a group of friends and we each bring an ornament (either store-bought or homemade).  We then draw names and exchange our ornaments.  I'll be honest--I LOVE watching each woman unwrap their ornament so we can oooh and aaah over it.  

Here are this year's ornaments:

They are all so cute!

I brought the ornament that is on the top row, third from the left.  It's store-bought (which is SO not me, but hey, I have two little boys at home that keep me busy!) and is a wire Christmas tree with jingle bell ornaments on the inside.  I received the large silver beaded snowflake ornament and it is going to match my tree perfectly!  This year's ladies really outdid themselves!

I love an ornament exchange more than the typical cookie exchanges because it gives you something to remember your friends and the changing Christmas seasons.  And who doesn't need a fun and creative girls' night out?!

So what Christmas traditions do you have?!  Ever been to an ornament exchange?  Tell me about it!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Awaken-Inspired Outfit

Happy Friday, everyone!  Yesterday I reviewed Awaken, the third book in the Abandon trilogy by Meg Cabot.  For today's outfit I was inspired by Kayla, Pierce's (human) friend in the book.  She's adventurous and feisty but also a bit of a romantic.  Plus in the book she wears a beautiful lavender dress, which led me to today's look:

Casual Look with a Kick 
Oooh, I think it fits Kayla perfectly!  Let me explain why:

  • The polka dot shirt (an Equipment "Riley" polka dot blouse for $168) reminds us that Kayla has an edgy side to her.  In other words, she'd not going to be wearing button-up cardigans.
  • I added the lavender scarf for a few reasons.  It complements the stark black and white shirt so well!  It brings in the color of her lavender dress in the book.  But it also represents the necklace that Pierce wears in the book (which turns lavender any time Kayla is near).  It is a perfect choice for this look!  *It's a Halogen Linen Blend Scarf for $29.
  • Skinny jeans just complete the outfit and make it super contemporary.  These are Seven for All Mankind and are $275...ouch!
  • The black ankle boots (Camille Block Heel Zip Ankle Boots, to be exact) again bring in the edgy, don't-mess-with-me aspect to the look.  And that is so Kayla's attitude.
So what do you think?  Would you be willing to wear a "Kayla" outfit?
I'll be back tomorrow to share a cute Christmas tradition of mine, and then Monday with another review!  See you then!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


A few years ago, I met Meg Cabot at an IU Alumni event.  It was kind of an embarrassing moment for me--I couldn't remember ANYTHING when I met her so I said the first thing that came to mind, which was "I saw on your blog that you were going to wear a gold dress and it's fabulous!"  Yeah, not my most intelligent moment, but she was gracious and chatted with me about the dress.
In fact, I think Meg and I would make great friends (with our girly similarities).  Hint, hint, Meg :)

Today I'm reviewing Meg's book Awaken, the third and final book in the Abandon series (so go read Abandon and Underworld if you haven't already!).  A very fun trilogy, so let's get going with the review.

Ahhh, beautiful cover!

  • Supernatural
  • 3rd book in the Abandon series
*You should definitely read Abandon and Underworld before reading this book!

The Gist:
Pierce is now living in the Underworld with her love, John.  They brought Alex and Kayla, too, to save them from the Furies that were trying to destroy them.  But there's now an imbalance and the Fates have disappeared.  This allows the Furies to attack even easier, and after a particularly strong attack, John may be gone forever.  Pierce knows she must return to Isla Huesos to return the balance of power and hopefully save John.

What I Loved:
  • The cover is gorgeous.  And oh so romantic!
  • I liked John the most in this book out of the whole trilogy.  He just wasn't as angry and was more relatable.
  • We saw a lot of characters return from the earlier books, and I loved having them reappear in the storyline.
  • The setting was perfectly creepy--hurricanes, debris, etc. 
What I Didn't Love:
  • Pierce's eyes got red whenever she became angry...kind of cheesy.
  • Pierce attacking the Furies with her diamond on a whip was kind of ridiculous.  And there was so much dialogue during the final fight scene that I started to forget they were fighting.
  • The people Pierce chose to take back to Isla Huesos were goofy choices--she takes Kayla because she can drive?!  Really?
My favorite quote:  "He said the word here like it was the worst place in the universe, which isn't true, since obviously high school is."

A really enjoyable read and finish to the trilogy.  A high recommendation!  I'll be back tomorrow with an outfit designed around Kayla, Pierce's close friend!


Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Way I See It-Inspired Look

Happy Wednesday!  On Monday I reviewed Melissa Anderson's book, The Way I See It.  It's a biography on her time as Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie.  So I decided (of course!) to design an outfit based off a good old prairie girl (but no bonnets allowed).  So here's what I designed:

Down on the Farm Look 

Here's the breakdown:
  • I had to go with plaid, of course!  I picked a cute plaid tunic dress that has a little bit of country flair.  The colors are deep and perfect for the end of summer/fall season.  This particular dress is $35 through
  • Brown boots--yes!  Very country, indeed, and these are super cute with the double buckle detail.  These are BYO Banjo Boots for $50.
  • The dress didn't have much around the waist, so I added a skinny belt.  The yellow really brightens up the outfit.  I think the belt is perfect for showing off those hips!  This is from Fossil for $32.
  • Dainty hoop earrings keep the outfit a little glamorous without going overboard.  These are Alexis Bitter hoops for $195.
  • I love the big purse (more like a bag, really) with the double colors of black and white.  This particular one is pretty pricey, though--$2550 from Sac de Jour.

So what do you think?  Is this a contemporary interpretation for a Little House look?

I'll be back tomorrow with another book review--see you then!

Monday, December 9, 2013

REVIEW--The Way I See It: A Look Back at my Life on Little House

Happy Monday, everyone!  I have a book confession to make: I love reading autobiographies.  Serious or silly, autobiographies just keep me engaged.  Sometimes I just peruse the biography section of the's in my nerdy nature!

So I was really excited to read Melissa Anderson's autobiography called The Way I See It: A Look Back at my Life on Little House.  Anderson played Mary, the oldest of the Ingalls children who is infamous for her character going blind.  Even though Little House aired before my time, I still watched re-runs as a child (my favorite episode was "Sweet Sixteen" when Laura finally falls in love).  And I love reading behind-the-scenes info on TV shows and movies, so this book was an easy choice for me.

  • Standalone book
  • Autobiography

The Gist:
Melissa Anderson documents her life during her time as Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie.  She starts with her audition and runs through each season she was on the show.

What I Loved:
  • I loved reading the inside snippets that Anderson gave about actors/actresses and show production.  Did you know that Miss Beadle was a very fashionable woman?!  I just love trivia like that!
  • I like how she explained what the actors were known for later on in life...I believe her character's husband was later a producer for Malcolm in the Middle...just interesting information. 
What I Didn't Love:
  • Even though I did need some episode recap to understand some of the stories, it was excessive.  Some chapters seemed to only be episode summaries--this would probably be pretty boring to a hard core Little House fan.
  • I wish Anderson would have shared more about her family background.  There was just very little about her personally.
  • In addition to wanting fewer episode summaries, I wanted MORE of Anderson's feelings.  Again, she just kept herself out of it and stuck to the episodes.
  • There were a few "inside sentences" here and there that left me wanting so much more.  That would be my main frustration with the book--I just wanted more.
  • The ending was pretty abrupt.  She mentions her marriage and children just within the last few pages. 
So an enjoyable read for Little House fans, but don't expect much meat from it.  A book that seemed to play up her celebrity status.


I'll be back on Wednesday with a prairie-inspired outfit!  See you then!

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Boy on the Bridge-Inspired Look

Yesterday I reviewed the book The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford.  Something that I really enjoyed from this book (and from Russian culture, in general) was Alyosha's nesting dolls.  He painted a nesting doll to look like Laura and I thought that was just adorable.  And let's be honest, a nesting doll outfit would be much cuter than an outfit with a giant coat for the cold Russian weather.

Nesting dolls are pretty iconic--they're very recognizable and pretty standard in their look, so I decided to design an outfit for this book based off of nesting dolls.  So, as a reminder, here are some typical nesting dolls:
One thing you tend to notice on most nesting dolls is that they have a floral design and a shawl.  So keeping that in mind, plus the fact that Laura liked to look good for Alyosha in the book, here is my outfit:

Floral dress

Ok, so let me explain what I've done:
  • The dress (AX Paris Floral Belted Skater Dress for around $33) is floral and feminine.  The floral pattern really draws you in more than the black background, and that's exactly what I wanted.
  • I chose a complimentary-colored shawl that could be worn around the shoulders.  I didn't want to choose a shawl to be worn around the head since that is not very common, so this was a nice compromise.  I picked cashmere in this particular shawl since poor Laura is cold in most of the book and deserves some soft fabric--this is a Semon Cashmere Lacy Shawl and retails around $390.
  • The black sandals (Steve madden Daisey, $70) are sweet but definitely don't take attention away from the dress.
  • I grew up in the 80s and remember my mom always having silver and gold hoop earrings.  So I chose some gold hoops as the staple earrings for this look.  They're Kenneth Jay Lane hoops and retail for $53.
So what do you think?  Do you see the connection to the nesting dolls?
I'll be back Monday with a new book review!  Have a safe and cold weekend!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

REVIEW--The Boy on the Bridge

Well, it's definitely getting colder here in Indiana!  The forecasters are predicting 5 inches tonight which has all my students buzzing about delays or school closings (I'm sure all you in the West are laughing about that!).  So today is a PERFECT day to review The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford, a book set in the cold and dreary Soviet Union.  So let's get to it!

  •  Standalone novel
  • Romance
The Gist:
Laura, an American, is studying abroad in Leningrad (the Soviet Union) in 1982.  An odd choice for studying abroad, yes, but she has always been fascinated by their violent history.  Despite all the warnings she receives from her teachers and guides, she falls in love with Alyosha, a Russian who is fascinated by American culture.  But Laura soon starts to question whether Alyosha really loves her or just wants to use her as a ticket to America.

What I Loved:
  • I LOVED the setting--1982, Soviet Union.  You just don't get this very much in YA literature and I really appreciated itIt definitely opened my eyes to the USSR at this time.
  • I enjoyed seeing the Soviet Union from Laura's point of view.  She didn't love it all the time--actually, A LOT of the time--due to its depressing climate and even its temperament at times.  I probably would have felt the same way.
  • I liked how things wrapped up with Alyosha at the end.  And that's all I'll say :)
What I Didn't Love (which, unfortunately, was a lot):
  • The cover and the title...UGH!  Ok, this is not a 1982 couple on the cover.  He is wearing skinny jeans, for goodness sake.  And they don't have coats in the freezing USSR temps!  And "The Boy on the Bridge" is just too cheesy for my taste.
  • There was just no growth in Laura throughout the book.  I just never saw her change.  And she made dumb decisions over and over--not going back for curfew, saying yes to getting married...oh Laura.
  • I didn't care for Alyosha throughout the entire book.  Especially when he showed up on Laura's field trip...umm, possessive much?!  Regardless of the ending, I believe he had major ulterior motives.
  • The college essays that Laura wrote?!  I'd be disappointed if a high school student wrote them!  Very low level.
  • Olga--I just never fully understood her.
  • The minor characters that lived in Laura's dorm--I never saw enough of them to keep them all straight.
My favorite quote: "She decided that day to study Russian, the language of violence, terror, and absurdity.  She knew she would never be bored."

Yeah, not my favorite read of the year for sure.  I'm only able to give this one two heels.  But I'll be back tomorrow with a very fun outfit inspired by some traditional Russian toys!  Can't wait to show you!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Night She Disappeared-Inspired Look

Yesterday I reviewed the book The Night She Disappeared by April Henry, a creepy mystery about a girl who was kidnapped while delivering pizzas.  So today's outfit is a girly pizza delivery look.  Because, hey, sometimes you have to work a job that doesn't allow you to look your cutest, but there are ways of showing off your cuteness anyway!  So here it is, a feminine pizza delivery look:

Cute pizza delivery look 
So let's go through it:
  • The red polo shirt is kind of a given.  These are probably given to employees to wear (and for some reason I always see red or green polos when it comes to pizza), but I picked one that had some extra white detailing around the buttons.  This particular shirt is from Fred Perry and retails around $78.
  • I added the white shorts to keep the outfit looking fresh and fun (plus I'm sure delivering pizzas can get hot!).  These are Edwin Bridget Denim and are around $77.
  • Converse shoes in gray keep the outfit young.  And you definitely want something comfortable when you're running around!  These are about $40.
  • Diamond stud earrings along with bangle bracelets make the outfit girly and fresh.  Layering jewelry is fun and adds a lot to an outfit!

So what do you think?  Could you see a pizza delivery girl wearing this look?
I'll be back tomorrow with a new book review (which will match the cold weather that's coming in Indiana!), and of course an outfit on Friday!  See you then!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Who Wore It Best? Under the Never Sky vs. The Night She Disappeared

Maybe it's just my love for fashion and "Who Wore It Best?"...but...I couldn't help but notice some particular similarities between these two books...

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Girl on top of cover...walking.
Title underneath
Author on bottom

So who pulled it off the best?

I'm going to go with Under the Never Sky.  Here's what I think:
  • I like the variation in the font sizes better (with "Under the" being smaller than "Never Sky").
  • I prefer the brighter background and the clearer image of the main character.
  • The cover just fits the book more.  Aria is leaving her domed home and facing the rough outdoors.  Kayla, on the other hand, in The Night She Disappeared, is kidnapped from her car and not while out walking.
Do you agree?  Which cover do you prefer?

Be back tomorrow with an outfit inspired by The Night She Disappeared!

REVIEW--The Night She Disappeared

Ahhh, I love a good murder mystery.  I think it started with Agatha Christie; she had me hooked from my first Poirot book and now I love reading mysteries.  And I never seem to guess the murderer!  Maybe that's why I love it so much...?

Today's review is on The Night She Disappeared by April Henry.  It is a through-and-through mystery with a pretty creepy concept.  So let's get right into it!

  • Standalone novel
  • Mystery
The Gist:
Gabie works at Pete's Pizza and frequently delivers pizzas for the store  in her Mini Cooper.  One evening, a male customer calls and asks for the girl with the Mini Cooper to deliver his pizzas.  Gabie isn't working that night, so Kayla, her replacement, delivers the pizzas instead.  She never returns to Pete's.  It is soon obvious that Kayla was kidnapped and Gabie was the intended target.  Gabie has a feeling that Kayla is alive and joins with Drew (the boy who took the phone call) to find her.

What I Loved:
  • This book was told from multiple points of view and it worked really well, especially getting the victim's and kidnapper's points of view.
  • The book had a very creepy undertone throughout and a CRAZY creepy villain.
What I Didn't Love:
  • It wasn't a nail biter and wasn't super scary like I was hoping.
  • The police investigation seemed pretty weak; they just seemed to give up after awhile.
  • The supervision at Pete's Pizza after the kidnapping also seemed weak.  If I were the owner, I would have wanted to be more present with the working teens. 
 My favorite quote: "Drew's mom came into Pete's a couple of weeks ago...I didn't know it was his mom.  He and I went to elementary schools, which is about the last time you see people's parents."

Overall an enjoyable read but maybe a little weak on the scary factor.  

 I'll be back soon with a "Who Wore It Best" cover edition for this book and another recent read (can you guess which one?!).  And then tomorrow I'll have an outfit based off of Gabie herself!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Thanksgiving Recap

Hello, readers and fashionistas!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!  Our family celebrated through a new tradition this year, but it was one that we all really enjoyed!

Instead of spending hours cooking the traditional meal...and then cleaning and cleaning and cleaning...and then eating ALL the leftovers...we met my side of the family at a local state park lodge.  We ate a giant buffet at the lodge--avoided all cleanup!--and then enjoyed their indoor water park.  A really great decision, because it allowed us to just enjoy the holiday as a family without spending so much time working.

And of course, I got to enjoy so much time with these little guys:

Baby Cedar...always smiling

And chatty little Ransom!

And to make our day even more fun, I brought along some Thanksgiving photo booth props that I found and downloaded from here!  We had a lot of fun with these:

My sister and her brother-in-law has a chicken leg mustache!

My parents and Cedar...or should we call them John and Mary Smith?!

Little Indian Cedar sticking his tongue out!

And little Indian Ransom!

And of course me and Luke..."So Thankful" just sums it all up!

We finished the holiday with a free train ride around the local town and a quick visit with Santa (Ransom told him he wants "choo choo trains").

How was your holiday?  Did you start any neat traditions?
I'll see you back here tomorrow for a new book review!