Disclosure: I have partnered with USAA for this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Memorial Day is upon us! We all know that means the unofficial start of summer, with most of us spending the long weekend with our first dip in the water, as well as our first sunburn of the year. Do we think about why we celebrate Memorial Day though? Celebrate isn’t even the right word. Do we know why we have the day set aside as a holiday?
Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring those in the military who have died while serving. In our family, it’s known what the day is about, but then we’re a military family. We have spent more than a couple Memorial Day’s at a military cemetery, visiting those we need to remember. Many adults aren’t clear on what the day is about. People say ‘Happy Memorial Day!’, when it’s not a happy day, but a day to remember those who died for their country. It’s also not a day to thank a veteran for their service. While it’s done in good meaning, that’s Veteran’s Day.
So, to teach everyone what the day is about, we start with our kids. USAA sent us a kit with materials to make a poppy flower for Memorial Day. The poppy is a symbol of Memorial Day and they are typically worn on the day to honor our dead. This isn’t just an American custom either. The popular poem In Flander’s Field, was written after WWI by a Canadian. The British, French, and Americans all quickly adopted the symbol, with it soon becoming internationally recognized. Do you remember the old men from the VFW selling the paper poppies? I remember them doing that when I was little, but I never really knew why.
Back to the craft. These were simple to make and it’s a good way to start the conversation with your kids. You’ll need:
2 coffee filters
Red cupcake liner
Large black button
Green pipe cleaner
Have the kids color the coffee filters red. We did some all red, while others had white interiors, just like real poppies. Once they are colored, crinkle the edges up so they aren’t just lying flat. Then place the filters together, one on top of the other, with the inverted cupcake liner on top. All the red should be showing. Punch a hole in the center of all three. Thread the pipe cleaner through the button with equal amounts sticking out and then poke the pipe cleaner through the holes. You may need to crinkle the edges of the coffee filters again, but then you have a poppy!
My daughter and I made these. She likes to get crafty, so she enjoyed putting it together. While she is aware of the meaning behind Memorial Day, it’s always good to remind and remember. My kids know the sacrifice of our military a little better than others, thankfully not as much as some, but they are still kids and need to be reminded of all who give their lives for us.
Check out USAA’s virtual Memorial Day Poppy Wall and dedicate your own poppy to a service member.
I’m a bit of a beach snob. After living in Okinawa and having some of the prettiest, perfect beaches out my front door, I’m picky about my beaches. We have been to the beach on South Padre Island and it was ok. I was pretty much expecting the same for Rockport, but was pleasantly surprised.
The beach is located on a peninsula that houses Rockport Beach Park. If you’ve been to any coastal beaches in Texas, the water tends to be brown. Most beaches have a river that dumps out nearby and Rockport does not. This is big towards water quality and cleanliness. The water was clean and relatively clear. It doesn’t look as clear when you are standing in it, but when I filled an empty bottle up to assist with sand castle building, it was almost crystal clear.
It is also the only Blue Wave Beach in Texas. A Blue Wave Beach is clean, managed responsibly and has a focus on the protection of human health and the environment. Blue Wave Beaches are litter free, have handicap accessibility, public restroom facilities and swimmable waters.
The water is shallow and the waves are small, so you can let your kids play while you relax in the shade. The kids wanted to see how far we could walk, and we went out maybe 100 yards before turning around. The water never did get more than waist high on me. We didn’t see any fish, but we did find a few hermit crabs.
The amenities include covered pavilions, covered picnic tables, BBQ grills, playgrounds, fishing off the pier, and a saltwater pool. It is $5 a day per vehicle to enter or you can buy an annual pass for $20. If you walk on, it’s free. 100% disabled veterans can get a free annual pass with the appropriate documentation. Just stop at the ACND office during normal business hours.
The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
I’ve had this one sitting on my bookshelf for maybe 2 years. It was good though. A slightly different kind of thriller, because we don’t know if the main character is really the bad guy. Tanya leaves town right after finding her dead husband’s body. She didn’t kill him, but she’s worried an investigation will bring her past to light. The story continues with her on the run. She head from Wisconsin to Texas, Wyoming, then back to her hometown, with some colorful characters along the way. People who help, but also cause more trouble. I really liked this one.
The Secret Patient by Alex Michaelides
This was our book club’s pick for the month. It was one of those where I’m reading, kinda wandering where it’s going, but when I finished it, I loved it. So, Alicia killed her husband and hasn’t spoken a word since. Theo, a psychotherapist, takes a job for the opportunity to work with her. He wants to find out what really happened to drive her to shoot her husband and see if he can help her. Holy plot twist is all I’ll say.
The Late Bloomers Club by Louise Miller
This was cute, but I feel like I’ve read this same story multiple times already. The names and location change, but that’s it. Nora runs the diner in a small New England town. Along with her sister, she inherits a farm from a local woman. She is trying to figure out what to do with the farm, why they inherited it, and deal with her flighty sister. There’s all the small town love, a potential romance, and the small town drama as well. I did like that Nora was in her 40’s though. It was nice to read this story and the woman not be 29. I’m just showing my age there.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper
This lady loves the Australian outback. All her books seem to be set there. Nathan meets him brother Bub at their fence line for the first time in months. Because of the size of their spreads, they don’t get together a lot. They meet though to see the body of their other brother, Cameron. The story only covers a few days, but Nathan tries to figure out what would have caused his brother to be alone in the heat of the day with no supplies, while also dealing with issues of his own past. This had you rooting for Nathan, even with all his issues. This was better than I thought it would be. I also liked The Dry though and not everyone seemed to like it.
The Birds That Stay by Ann Lambert
I wrote a full post to review this one. In a small village, an older woman is found dead. Chief Inspector Roméo Leduc doesn’t think it was an accident. In Montreal, Marie is dealing with packing her mother up to put her in a home. She comes across the story in a paper and realizes the dead woman is her neighbor. Her mother then says the woman is their old neighbor who lived next door in the 60’s. Marie gets in touch with Romeo and between the two of them, they figure out what’s going on. Again, people in their 50’s who find love. I’m liking this theme. There was a lot of random French, but you can figure out the context. Also, some Canadian history I wasn’t aware of. The story takes you from WWII to the present though.
Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong
The fourth book in the Casey Duncan/Rockton series and maybe my least favorite. One book picks up right where the last left off and it’s all starting to blend together. Wait until she’s done with these books and read them all at once. I did that with one of her other series and it worked. Anyway, Rockton is a secret town off the grid that people can pay to live in for a set amount of time to escape. Some are criminals, some are escaping abusers. In this one, a US Marshall shows up demanding they release a resident to him, but don’t tell him who or why.
Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy
For any Anne lovers, read this. Marilla makes a comment one time about how Gilbert’s dad was once considered her beau. This goes into all that, as we’ll as about their parents, and some about Matthew. There was also Canadian history and some surprising things.
A Million Junes by Emily Henry
I really, really liked this one. It’s got magic, mystery, family drama, ghosts, and young love. The O’Donnells and the Angerts have been feuding for years. When Saul and June meet, there is an instant connection, even though they are both told to stay away from each other. They keep seeing each other, but things start happening. They get transported into people’s memories, they interact with ghosts, and they try to figure out what happened in the past with their families.
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
Nic’s boyfriend proposes at a Dodgers game and she is caught off guard. They aren’t serious and this had never come up before. She tries to nicely suggest they talk about it later and a couple strangers come to her rescue as the cameras start to surround them. She stays in touch with Carlos, one of her rescuers, and they start a casual relationship. This was a super cute rom-com. I was a quick, easy read and just fun.
The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston
This started out kinda slow and it took me a bit to get into it. I almost put it down to read something else and I’m so glad I didn’t. I absolutely loved this book. Xanthe and her mom buy an antique shop in a little town. Xanthe has a gift where she can sometimes get a story from an object she touches. She finds a new object that calls her in a way no other object has and she ends up getting thrown back in time to help save a girl’s life in 1605. There’s the mystery, the time travel, some romance, but I just loved the story overall. I’m hoping there’s a sequel so we can flesh out the love story.
A while back, I was having a discussion about our vinyl collections with a fellow blogger, via Instagram stories. In doing so, I realized how I had my records stored in the most inefficient way. I was also out of room. They had been stored in a cabinet on my tansu (my Japanese entertainment center), but there were so many shoved in there, that you basically had to take them all out to find what you wanted. I then moved them all to a bookshelf and it got much better, but it still took a while to thumb through them all to find the one you were in the mood for.
I used to not have this problem. I’m been collecting them since high school. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but my parents would sometimes acquire them at auctions, mixed in with boxes of other things. They brought home my Jimmy Buffet Live album from somewhere. Then I found my aunt’s old records at my grandmas and added those to my collection. Now, if I’m at an antique store or even if I go to my favorite record store in Austin, I’ll add a couple to the collection. I used to pick them up when we went to concerts too, but we were seeing the same people over and over, so that stopped.
Anyways, they are all on the bookshelf now. I don’t have a lot of room or I would have bought something like this for them. I wanted dividers of some sort so I could sort them by genre and ended up making my own out of record sleeves I found at Goodwill. Super easy to make.
What I did was cut out the top of the sleeve, on the fold, not the open end, so it will fold over and stick out when the sleeve is on the shelf.
Using a small container, I set it half on the sleeve, half off, and traced around it. Then using an exacto knife, I cut it out. The first one was a little tricky because I was trying not to cut all the way through to the other side. Once that one was done, the rest were easier. Then I just hand wrote the genre on it. They aren’t perfect, but it solved my problem and was a lot cheaper then buying anything.
I still had the problem of too many records to fit on the shelf. I tend to leave the ones I listen to the most on top of the entertainment enter, next to the record player. I figured I might as well make something fun to display them. I had the records left from the sleeves I just used. Did you know you can bend vinyl records?
Boiling hot water will bend them. I boiled a huge pot full of water. Then with the record propped up in a 9 x 13 pan, I poured the boiling water on it, filling the pan. Using the edge of a cutting board, I bent the record at a 90 angle. I put books on it and behind it, to help flatten it and keep it’s shape. I tried to do a second record, but the water had cooled too much. It was still hot, but it needs to be boiling. A second pair of hands would have been handy too, but I managed. These can also be used as bookends or whatever.
This entire project cost me $5 and that was only because I bought the records. I had ones on hand, but I just couldn’t bring myself to use them. Instead I got to stare at the face of Jack Jones (totally Googled him and I still have no idea). My Goodwill also had a lot of German records. I found that odd, but ok.
Our spring break trip involved an overnight stay in Midland, Texas. I’ve only ever heard that there is nothing out that way, but when has that ever stopped me. Like most decent sized towns, there is a lot to do, if you look.
George W. Bush Childhood Home
Bush was in the oil industry and they lived in Midland when W was going up. The house is not big or pretentious, but just a normal house of the time in a growing West Texas town.
Permian Basin Petroleum Museum
A museum about oil and gas, how exciting could it be? Very. There was so much going on here. A lot of exhibits are interactive for the kids, while I found just as much interesting information to read along the way. Everything is covered, from how oil forms in the ground, to how it was originally drilled, through the boom years, to how it is today and how it’s forecasted for future use. There’s also old Chaparral race cars.
Museum of the Southwest
The museum is more than what you would expect in such a town. They have exhibits of art, archeology, science, history, as well as rotating exhibits, a planetarium, and a children’s museum. A must visit for sure if you are a museum lover.
American Airpower Heritage Museum
Located at the Midland Airport, the museum is full of old planes and the history that goes along with them.
Odessa Meteor Crater
A meteor hit right outside of what is now Odessa some 63,000 years ago. The crater is 550 feet in diameter. You can walk around the crater and visit the museum. It’s all free.
I’m a big baseball fan and I love going to new ballparks and watching games. Minor league games are also super fun. We were there before the season started or we would have gone to a game if there was one.
Located on the University of Texas campus, it’s a museum dedicated to all our presidents. This is one that was on our list, but we didn’t end up getting to go to.
Monahans Sandhills State Park
The park is full of sand dunes and they fully encourage sledding down them! The visitor’s center rents the sleds by the day. It’s a gorgeous view and loads of fun.
Disclosure: Thanks to Armitron for providing me with a watch. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
For so many of us women (and men), the accessories make the outfit. I’m pretty simplistic when it comes to accessories, but I do like them to be bold. If the only jewelry I have on is earrings, I want to them to stand out and pop. If I’m going even more simple and a watch is all I have on, I want it to stand out as well.
Enter Armitron watches. They have bold, colorful watches, at an even better price. I have this sports watch in light pink and I love it. It’s lightweight, but has everything I could need on it. It’s also water resistant. And pink. I do love just about anything in pink.
They have a great variety of men’s watches too, whether you want to go sporty or classic.
Armitron has a long standing relationship with the military, having sold their watches at the Exchange for years. They are now offering the same deals online. Military and First Responders get a 10% discount. Just click on Get Code for a one time use code. If you later plan to make another purchase, you can get another code. They have partnered with Noah Galloway in the past to design a watch, with funds from it donated to military charities. I do love to support companies that support our military.
Their watches are already priced reasonably, so the discount is just an added bonus and I do love a good deal!
We seem to be in that busy season of life. With the end of the school year looming and both kids going to different schools next year, there is a lot going on. The big one will be in high school next year. HIGH SCHOOL PEOPLE. I’m not overly upset about how fast time is going, though it does need to slow dow, but it’s really hard for me to fathom him being in high school. It wasn’t that long ago that I was in high school, right? Never mind the fact that my 20 year reunion is this year, it was only a few years ago. The little one will be in fifth grade next year, which puts her in middle school or intermediate school as they call it here. Too much. I’m more worried about how she will cope, since her dyslexia puts her at a disadvantage. I know they make accommodations and she gets help, but she gets frustrated so easy and then just doesn’t try. She is smart, but gives up so easily when the frustration kicks in.
She also is playing softball this year. She seems to absolutely love it and has a great team. That has been keeping us the busiest. She’s got games a couple nights a week, so there goes any plans of cooking. It’s good for her. She’s learning new skills, making new friends, and just having fun. She’s already talking about playing next year and then in high school and college. Go for it, girl.
The big one isn’t a sports person, which is fine. I’m not a sports person. I can watch, but playing is not something I am good at. He is doing marching band in high school though. That is apparently a sport unto itself. He has to have a physical for marching band. I guess that makes sense, but then it’s like, what? It’s also really expensive. My sister was in marching band in high school (again twenty years ago), but I don’t remember it costing all this.
I managed to sprain my knee. I fell. We took a trail up a hill to a cross at the top. I hopped up on the concrete base around the cross (there was 2 sections to the base, a larger part that was only a few inches off the ground, then a large step up to the next section that the cross was actually on) and was going to take a video of the view for my Instagram stories. I looked down, but obviously misjudged and stepped into thin air. It hurt. I managed to ding up my right and left side, but sprained my knee. I guess I also banged my shin on something because it’s giving me more problems that my knee. I’ll just continue to hobble everywhere. This puts a hold on me working out though. I had finally got into a good grove and was walking daily and working out like 3-4 days a week. Now, I can’t do any of that. It’s frustrating to say the least. I’m watching my diet, but I’m afraid I’m going to end up gaining back the little weight I had lost.
Summer plans. We have a trip to Colorado planned. This will be family reunion/get together number 2. We did it a couple years ago in Missouri and moved locations for this year. 20 some people in one house. It’s actually pretty fun. I’m also looking at doing a solo trip to Southern California to see a friend. She feels like I didn’t get the full Orange County experience when we lived out there (and she’s right, I didn’t), so since she lives there, she wants to make sure I do it all. I’m a money worrier though and that’s a lot of flights in a short amount of time. Everything else I want to do this summer is within an hour’s drive.
So, there’s a lot going on right now and I feel like we are always running her or there, but it’s the same stuff and there really isn’t anything going on. I know once we get through the end of school, everything will really calm down. I’m waiting for summer to start all the new shows I want to watch on Netflix. I just feel like I can’t keep up with my book pile and tv right now, so the tv waits.
One of the best parts of blogging is getting books in the mail to review. Surprise mail is always fun, but books in the surprise mail is the best. Thanks to Second Story Press for sending me this one to review!
The latest is The Birds That Stay by Ann Lambert. This is book 1 of the Russel and Leduc mysteries, so I’m looking forward to reading the followups.
In a small village in the Laurentians, north of Montreal, a reclusive older woman is found strangled outside her home. Roméo Leduc, Chief Inspector for Homicide, is one day away from his first vacation in years but reluctantly answers the call on the case. Marie Russell lives in the same small community. She did not know her elderly neighbour, and she does not expect to become embroiled in solving her murder. But when a startling new clue emerges, Marie becomes an inadvertent detective. As Marie and Roméo combine wits to find the killer, they are forced to face demons from their own pasts as they confront a case where no one and nothing is really as it seems.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. We have Marie, a divorced mother of two grown children, who is trying to pack up her mother’s house to put her in a home and Romeo, a divorced cop with a grown daughter, who is trying to figure out what happened in the death of Anna Newman, a recluse in her 80’s, who also happens to me Marie’s neighbor. Anna doesn’t seem to have any next of kin and keeps to herself and they initially think her death might be a hate crime cause by local Nazi’s. Marie’s mother, who suffers with dementia, sees the picture of Anna Newman in the paper and identifies her as their old neighbor, Mrs. Kovak, a Hungarian immigrant who lived next door in the 60’s. Marie takes this to the police, where she becomes acquainted with Romeo.
The story takes us from current day Montreal to post WWII Hungary and back again. I wouldn’t classify it as a thriller, but a mystery for sure. As the story goes along, you start to piece everything together and figure out what happened to Anna.
I would give this 4 stars. One thing that did slightly bother me was the French. In most cases, you knew what they were saying via context, but there were a few times when I looked the word up. It’s set in Montreal though, so that’s just a complaint from a strictly English speaker.
We all love a good mural for Instagram pictures, especially when traveling. When we were in Lubbock over spring break, we found a number of murals, many that were representing the city. It’s only right to share.
The mural is full of popular places and historical significance’s to the city. Things like Buddy Holly, the tornado of 1970, Texas Tech, ranching and more. Done by artist Joey Martinez, it’s located at 1219 Ave. A.
Another mural focusing on the town, with each letter in the city’s name focusing on a different element. This is also done by Joey Martinez and on the side of 1413 19th Street, Suite A.
Fight for Life
Another Joey Martinez, I’m seeing a theme, this one features a woman battling breast cancer in a Day of the Dead mask. It’s on the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts building at 511 Avenue K.
The area code for Lubb0ck, this is on the front of California T’s at 1611 University Ave. and is by Nate Pollack.
Located on the side of a furniture store a block from the Buddy Holly Center, this features Holly, his bride, and the band members. 1901 Buddy Holly Ave.
I couldn’t find much on this one. It’s located at 1717 Broadway Street.
This is painted on a cube outside of 511 Avenue J. Surrounding it are 3 metal hearts.
Made in LBK
This doesn’t apply if you are just traveling through, but it’s on Sugar Brown’s Coffee, so you could take a picture of it with your coffee. 1947 19th Street.
I couldn’t find anything on this either, it could be a sunset for all I know, but it’s probably my favorite. 1106 5th Street.
There’s a lot more murals in town, many of which are located in the Depot District. Just take a drive or walk around downtown and you’ll find plenty.
This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Phillips
I don’t think I’ve seen anything she has been in, but I’m also not a big TV watcher. And I never watched Dawson’s Creek. Of course I know who she is though. The book started out fine. Like any celebrity memoir, it’s just stories. I like reading how things were on set and experiences with other famous people. The last quarter of the book felt preachy to me though. I don’t read to be preached at. I’m a mom. I get it. It also was rushed. Like she brought up her emotional affair, but it was so quick you didn’t get the full brunt of it.
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
This is a take on the 5 people you want to have dinner with. Sabrina shows up to a 30th birthday dinner with her friend, but the people she put on that list 10 years before are also there. Her father, a guy she liked at the time, Audrey Hepburn, her friend, and a professor she had. Some are alive, some dead, but it’s interesting how it all plays out.
Little Women and Me by Lauren Baratz-Logstead
Emily is the middle sister and tired of it. She gets a school assignment to write about what she would change in a classic novel. She picks Little Women and then ends up in the book, becoming the fifth March sister. She plods along, reliving the things that happen in the book and deciding she wants Laurie for herself. She then finds that she might not be the only one who has time traveled to the book. There were times when I wanted to smack Emily. I mean how could she forget crucial things that happened in the book, especially when she claimed to have read it so many times. It was pretty good though.
No Exit by Taylor Adams
This was a little different than the normal thriller. It all takes place at a snowed in rest stop in the mountains of Colorado over a period of 6 hours. Darby stops when the weather gets bad and sees a girl in a kennel, locked in the back of a van. She has to figure out who’s van it is. I occasionally read a book and think it would make a good movie and this is one of those. I liked it. It wasn’t a who done it so much as a how to escape and make it out alive.
The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff
Her books have always been good and this was too. It was more of a love story than anything though. A Jewish German, Margot lived with her father in England during WWII. They are in Paris for the treaty discussions and she meets a German Naval officer. She tries to keep her distance since she has a fiancé in Germany, but she doesn’t love that fiancé and can’t help herself. Between meddling people, their circumstances, and politics, things don’t quite work out.
Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman
This was more the story of the relationship between two sisters, with the war and the era being the backdrop. They have a strained relationship with the older thinking the younger is favored and more popular. As their lives turn out differently than they thought, they end up living together and helping each other. It’s still strained, but circumstances and events bring them closer and finally let them get all the frustrations out. Seeing as my sister and I didn’t get along for years, it’s relatable. We weren’t nearly as bad as these two though. The book was ok, I didn’t think it was as good as her first book.
Watching You by Lisa Jewell
This also wasn’t as good as some of her others. There were a lot of characters and a lot going on. I get that it was so it wasn’t obvious what was going on, but overall, it was just too much and kinda anticlimactic in my opinion. It was a thriller though. It cuts from transcripts from interviews at the police department, to a couple months prior and leading up to the murder. There’s so many people though, that you really don’t know what’s going on and what one person has to do with another.
How To Walk Away by Katherine Center
This was a very cute book and very. much like Me Before You, but kinda the opposite. Margaret is on a date with her boyfriend and he proposes! But, he also takes them on a plane ride and she is deathly afraid. Things go wrong and she ends up in the hospital. BF is being a dick and feels guilty, her parents are driving her crazy, and her sister reappears after having had no communication for 3 years. Then there’s the hot physical therapist. She has to deal with all her physical issues, how her life has changed, and did I mention her dickhead boyfriend? This was cute though and would make a perfect movie.
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
This is a kid’s book and I read it with my daughter. She brought me this 600+ page book and I’m like WTF? The book was 2 stories though. One was in the normal words, but the other was told through illustrations. As the story goes on, we learn how the two stories interact and come together. Thanks to all the illustrations, it didn’t take that long to read and it got us talking about what was going on. We liked it.
MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
Two non-fictions in a month. That’s a record for me. This was the first book choice for my book club. Appropriate since most of us joined to meet people. A retelling of one woman’s journey to make friends as an adult. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. She talks about all the way she meets women, as well as their friend dates, but also throws facts about friendship and all that in as well.