What I Read…

Happy Tuesday & happy belated 7th Anniversary to the Show Us Your Books link-up!

I’m so glad Steph and Jana started this series seven years + 1 month ago. I have found so many wonderful reads thanks to them and the community they’ve cultivated. I missed their anniversary link up, but I still wanted to give them a shoutout!

I hit my GoodRead’s goal of 15 books this year! A small but satisfying achievement. Next year we’re upping it to 20 books.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney | Thriller | ★★★★/5
I chose this as my BOTM pick because nothing else caught my eye. Honestly, it was a left-field choice for me; I’ve mentioned I don’t read a ton of thrillers. I tend to try to figure out the twists the entire time I’m reading- I never just enjoy the ride. In this one, I DID figure it out early on, but kept reading because a) I was sucked in and b) I wanted to see if I was right. The characters were shady (but not unreliable) and the setting was spooky, so it had all the components of a good thriller IMO. It was a solid 3.5 star read for me, but I round up.

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena | Thriller | ★★★★★/5
There was nothing mind-blowing about this one to make it 5 stars, but I also had 0 problems with it, flew through it, and enjoyed the ride. So… I had no reason not to give it top marks. No one was likable- especially the dad. You were a little glad that the dead people were dead. And you also wished some of the non-dead people were dead. LOL. *Fun fact- I am Audrey and I also have a brother named Fred. He’s not a dick like the Fred in the book, though.

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling | Romance | ★★★★/5
I found this one as cute as nearly everyone said it was. Based on the description, I was a little worried it’d just be a comedy of errors with nothing going right for the pair. I’m glad I was wrong. I liked Rhys, loved Vivi, and adored her little family and town. I could’ve used more backstory on some of the people/situations, but it was a solid little Halloween romance.

As M grows and cultivates her personality, I’ve started reading parenting books on behavior, discipline, and happiness. I take all parenting books with a massive grain of salt.

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury | Parenting | ★★★/5
All parenting books should be taken with a grain of salt… and the understanding that every kid is different and will react differently. There were things in this book that I found very valuable: remaining calm when your child is not, talking to your kid like they’re a real human, allowing them the big emotions with the safe boundaries. But then there was stuff that made me go “Ehhhh”, too. I’m interested in listening to her podcast, though.

Moo Reads

A Mischief of Monsters by Roger Priddy
This one is a new fav in our household. Lots of sounds and colors. M LOVES it.

I meant to have more M reads, but time got away from me. She’s been a reading machine lately, so I’m sure this category will get bigger soon!

What did you read this past month?

-Aud

Hello Weird Not-Quite-Holiday Szn

I’m not quite ready to transition into Christmas yet. I’m not a strictly-after-Thanksgiving person, but I’m not done with the fall vibes associated with pre-Christmas. Soon, though. Give me another week or two.

I’ve definitely started on my Christmas shopping, though!

36 | If you could switch lives with one person for a day who would it be? Hmm. No one really. I like my life.
37 | What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to try, but you’ve been too scared to do it? Foster a dog.
38 | What’s the one thing you wish you knew at age 19? You do not need to “go out” in college to meet people. You are fun and funny and caring- people will like you most when you are yourself.
39 | Besides your phone and wallet, what’s a couple of must-have items in your purse? Kindle, hand sanitizer, mask.
40 | What is an alternate career you would be doing? I wanted to be a vet. In hindsight, I’d have hated it. Maybe a librarian? I still have hopes of running a dog shelter and becoming an author.
41 | What’s something you can’t do? A drumroll on a snare drum.
42 | Where was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? I loved being in Switzerland. But I love Williamsburg, too.
43 | What’s one city you have always dreamed of traveling to? London.
44 | What’s something you always travel with? Books and a beverage.
45 | Favorite food? Chinese food or anything seafood- shrimp, crab, fish!
46 | Favorite dessert? Crème brulee or ice cream.
47 | Hugs or Kisses? Neither really. Although I love both from Moo.
48 | What’s a movie that made you cry? The first movie I ever cried at was Airbud. Now I almost always cry.
49 | Girl crush? I think Olivia Munn is stunning.
50 | What’s one talent you wish you had? The ability to sing well.
51 | What’s your favorite exercise? Hiking & yoga.
52 | Jogging or swimming? Swimming.
53 | What’s your favorite fast food order? Pretty much chicken nuggets wherever I go.
54 | What’s something you don’t want to be doing in 10 years? Chasing after some false happiness.
55 | Favorite James Bond? Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan were the best looking. I’m hoping the next Bond is Regé-Jean Page.
56 | Favorite superhero? I don’t really have one.
57 | What’s your favorite cocktail? I don’t have a favorite- I like sweet drinks.
58 | If you could master one instrument, what would it be? The piano.
59 | What is one thing you do want to be doing in 10 years? Writing a second or third novel & living in the country.
60 | Would you like to be famous? In what way? No thanks.
61 | What’s your favorite thing in the world? My family.
62 | What’s your favorite color? Yellow.
63 | Secret talent? I can read upside-down almost as fast as I can right-side-up.
64 | What is one hobby you will never give up? Reading and writing.
65 | What the biggest surprise you’ve ever had? Ever? I’m not sure. Lately? That K said yes to kittens.
66 | What is one trend you would never try? There are many trends I’ll never try. So far I’ve resisted tik tok.
67 | Who do you turn to when you are sad? K or my best friends. Or I sit quietly with God.
68 | What’s a trend you would like to see disappear forever? The need for everyone to share everything online. I’m over it.
69 | Last country visited? Canada, I think. 
70 | What’s your current TV obsession? Ted Lasso, obviously.

If you’ve hung around this long- thanks! What are your answers?

-Aud

Goodbye Spooky Szn

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve stared at the letters “szn” and tried to figure out what it meant. Even after knowing what it is, it still catches me mid-sentence and I’m like, “What?” I’ve googled it several times.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a tag post part one (today) and part two (Thursday), just for fun.

In honor of a gorgeous fall and the end of Halloween, please enjoy this video of animals nomming on pumpkins:

1 | Where would you go on a road trip? Yellowstone or Glacier National Park.
2 | What is your biggest weakness? Anxiety, which manifests into anger when not controlled.
3 | What’s your biggest strength? Remaining extremely calm in chaotic situations.
4 | What’s the biggest learning experience you’ve had? Traveling to India & having a baby.
5 | What’s your idea of a perfect date? Sitting on a patio with a view on a fall afternoon, sipping on sweet wine, and chatting.
6 | Favorite movie? Honestly, Talladega Nights. Lol
7 | What is a cause that is important to you? Animal welfare and female equality.
8 | What’s the best compliment you have ever received? When someone compliments my writing or K tells me I’m funny.
9 | When are you most inspired? When I’m in awe of natural beauty- trees, mountains, etc. Or in a very historic place.
10 | Sweet or savory? It depends on my taste buds. Usually something more refreshing.
11 | What is your biggest fear in life? Feeling out of control. Which is fun, because we’re never really in control.
12 | What makes you smile the most? Moo. She is hilarious.
13 | Heels, flats, or sneakers? Sneakers. My Birks when I’m not at work.
14 | What are three things you can’t live without? Something to read, animals, alone time.
15 | Window or aisle seat? Window.
16 | What’s one thing you had to learn the hard way? The people I love the most will not always agree with me.
17 | Leather or lace? Leather.
18 | What is the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life? Traveling to India & having a baby. LOL
19 | How would you define yourself in three words? Observant. Headstrong. Empathetic.
20 | What’s your current favorite piece of clothing you own? I have an old college hoodie that I think belonged to my dad… My brother ended up with it, then I swiped it from him. It’s so cozy. That and my Birks.
21 | What’s a must-have clothing item that everyone should own? Something you feel GREAT in.
22 | What’s inspiring you in life right now? The drive to be a better person- for M & K. And to pour into the parts of my life that have been lacking and would bring me peace (i.e. spiritual life).
23 | What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? A lot of parenting advice… And the fact that nothing good happens when we react out of anger and frustration.
24 | What’s your pet peeve? Having to repeat myself because someone blatently wasn’t listening. And being ignored.
25 | Diamond or pearls?Diamonds.
26 | Winter or Summer? WINTER.
27 | Most recent dream you can remember? I honesty can’t remember any right now.
28 | What’s heavily played on your playlist right now? Lots of instrumental music based on mood- reading instrumental, rainy day instrument, Harry Potter instrumental.
29 | What’s your favorite board game? Ticket to Ride.
30 | Stairs or elevator? Elevator. Unless it’s only one or two floors.
31 | What book did you most recently finish? The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling. Finished it last night.
32 | What are you currently reading? Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans by Michaeleen Doucleff.
33 | How do you start your day? It’s chaos. I need it to be better. I roll out of bed, throw something together, get M up and dressed, and rush off to childcare and work. I need to work on this.
34 | What’s your favorite holiday? Christmas Eve, closely followed by Halloween.
35 | If you could raid one woman’s closet whose would it be? I’m not sure. I think Jennifer Aniston has a very laid back style. Hilary Duff and Hailey Bieber do, too.

Part II on Thursday!

-Aud

The Year Without A Halloween Party

If you’re new around here, you might not know that Halloween is kind of a big deal. It is my favorite non-religious holiday (although if we get down to the nitty-gritty, paganism is a religion and Samhain is a festival to celebrate the harvest…. AND Halloween is All Saints’ Eve which falls on the day before the Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day… so can we really call it non-religious? I digress).

Anyway… we typically celebrate big around Halloween. For example:
2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | (I didn’t post the 2013 party)

Since we said “I do”, we’ve been hosting Halloween parties. It’s expected. People start asking me in August what the theme is going to be. And while I absolutely love that and look forward to the party every year, this year it felt forced and exhausting.

So I decided to cancel it. (I’d even made the FB event already.)

As soon as I did I had a few friends reach out to make sure I was ok. I had a few people tell me they were glad I took the year off. Some people were sad to not be getting together.

I felt very blah about it. Which kind of let me know it was the right decision. If you’re not excited about a voluntary just-for-fun party, why are you throwing it?

I love having people over and planning parties and celebrating Halloween with costumes and food and games, but… none of it sounded fun to me this year. I’m worried about COVID. I’m tired from chasing a toddler. I’m swamped at work, buried in home projects, and deadass tired by 7pm.

There is a small part of me that’s sad I cancelled. It doesn’t really feel like Halloween this year. Maybe that will change when we dress Maddie up on Saturday to trick-or-treat, but I didn’t make a puking pumpkin or carve a jack-o-lantern or buy costumes for the dogs. It’s a weird year.

And also, after last year’s party, I came down with COVID. (I don’t know that it was the party- we were outside the whole time, food was individually packaged, and I was the only one of all the guests to get it.) It made me very hesitate about getting people together. And I still feel that way.

It’s difficult to make a decision that might let others down (or feels like it might). Maybe past guests are thrilled to not have to come to another Halloween party at our house. Maybe it won’t be missed. I don’t know. But it did feel a little selfish to cancel.

I know it was not. I know our friends will celebrate the holiday in their own way this weekend, and we will take Maddie around the neighborhood, and next year we can chose to have a party or not. But it’s odd to break an 8 year tradition. And there’s my explanation for why there will be no Halloween post.

And now let’s switch topics. Tell me something fun you’re doing or did for Halloween!

-Aud

New City – New Orleans

A long, long time ago we went to New Orleans. (Over two years ago to be exact- WOW.) I figured I’d finally share about our trip, mainly because we’re still talking about the delicious food we ate and cool things we saw.

A work event brought us to NOLA. We landed on a Thursday afternoon and took off on Sunday, but we squeezed in as much as we could! Also, I was third-trimester pregnant and it was bloody hot in September.

I don’t love cities or crowds or terrible smells that seep up from the sidewalk. We walked down Bourbon Street in broad daylight and that was enough for us. Most of our trip was spent in downtown NOLA, but on the outskirts of the party streets.

While I don’t love cities, New Orleans is stunning. The gothic French architecture and history embedding in every corner literally took my breath away. I could feel the soul of the city. And I could’ve sat and stared at the buildings and cemeteries and ironwork for days & days.

Where We Stayed

We stayed in the French Quarters area at the Marriott. The conference we were attending was on the third floor. It was a clean, beautiful, convenient hotel. Bar and Starbucks in the lobby, roof top pool on the fifth floor, centrally located to lots of sights.

Where We Ate

I’d say 90% of our meals were unforgettably delicious. This city knows how to cook.

Curio | Royal Street | link
Our first taste of NOLA. It was good, but the beauty of the building was even more impressive.

Cafe Beignet | Royal Street | link
First taste of beignets and 10/10 would recommend.

The Carousel Bar & Lounge | Royal Street | link
Such a cool place! We managed to snag a few seats at the rotating bar! The drinks were crazy expensive but good. You’re really just pay for the experience, lol.

Cavan | Magazine Street | link
We took an uber to this one. It was yummy, but I don’t necessarily need to seek it out again.

Cafe Du Monde | Decatur Street | link
We obviously had to try the other BIG beignet cafe. Very yummy. The iced coffee was delish.

The Ruby Slipper | Magazine Street | link
I heard mixed reviews on this one before we went, but we had a great experience with the yummiest breakfast! I was extremely sad to be pregnant and missing out on the mimosas.

Creole House Restaurant & Oyster Bar | Canal Street | link
This one was next door to our hotel and a tasty lunch find.

Crescent City Brewhouse | Decatur Street | link
This was my favorite place we ate & it was a last minute decision on our way to our late night ghost tour. The service was great, the food was INSANE, and the view of the street from our balcony table was lively. (We eventually moved inside because it was also h o t.)

What We Did

Honestly, we did a lot of walking. It was our first time in New Orleans and we just wanted to soak in all the houses and parks and history. We were in awe just taking in the architecture, statues, churches, and cemeteries.

Faulkner House (bookstore)

Ghost Tour
I forget which one we did. It was long and wordy, but we enjoyed ourselves. Honestly, the most interesting part was the information on Hurrican Katrina and the longterm affects.

Rode the Street Cars

We were in town to exhibit at a new convention being launched in our industry. For being its inaugural year, it went pretty smoothly. Our job duties were limited and we were a little overstaffed (because we all wanted to go to New Orleans) so we had quite a bit of time for exploring.

It was hot and it smelled like a city, but in hindsight I would go back. I don’t have any need for Bourbon Street but I wouldn’t mind eating my way through the city, again.

Have you ever been to NOLA? What should we plan to do next time?

-Aud