Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain

I was looking through my book reviews and cannot believe I forgot to write a review about this one y'all! It was spectacular!

Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:


A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.


Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. 



Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for. 



A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.


This book was designed, I am sure, for me to like, here's why:

  • Time: 1920s
  • Place: Paris
  • Genre: Fiction, specifically based somewhat on history
  • Characters: American Expats
So, yeah, this book was made for me to love. I love Historical Fiction-type books, escpecially ones that take place in 1920s Paris. The characters I could completely relate to as they were American expats! 

The main characters are Earnest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Both come from well to do families in Midwest America. They meet, fall in love, and quickly move to Paris. They live out their life drinking, partying and even though they are constantly struggling for money have a housekeeper/nanny and travel a ton!

I love how the book takes you to Paris, Italy, Spain, and Austria. I love how all the characters are writers or artists I have hear of and are given a new life in this novel.

I did find some of the characters to be ridiculous and hope they were actually similar to how described in real life...as I would have loved to have known the Fitzgeralds regardless of their ridiculousness! (I've actually always felt that way after reading Gatsby in 9th Grade)

I feel like McClain did a great job of spinning a story based on some recorded history. I loved getting to know the characters as she portrayed them and found them very relatable, living the life I would have found exhilarating in 1920s Paris. 

Have you read the Paris Wife? If so, how did you like it? Do you have any 1920s novel recommendations for me?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A day at Muiderslot Castle

A few weeks back during the kiddo's fall holiday we decided to check out Muiderslot Castle, located in Muiden, Netherlands.


This castle was built around 1285 and has been preserved quite nicely. This is the first castle we've seen since coming to Europe since we haven't been to Germany yet, and we were quite impressed. I loved they still had the loo rooms so you could see the conditions in which they used to use the restrooms. Let me tell you, you needed to be a small individual and I hope if you were pregnant they brought you a chamber pot! We are small people and could hardly fit through!

Anyway, enough about that, on to the castle!

To get there we took the bus line that runs outside our house to Amstelstation and from there popped on bus 322 out to Muiden. From there it was a very fast 15 minute walk, everything is very well marked.

Once we arrived we showed our Museumkaart and went right in.

We spent a little time walking around the outside of the grounds:

Boats in the Harbour

In the Gardens

The Castle from the Gardens; this picture was actually better than I thought with the flags.

The moat is awesome.

They were actually doing some restoration work while we were there.

The entrance.

More looking out where the harbour runs into the sea.

As you walk in, the well is the first thing you see. It is all boarded up though, just ornamentation. Just beyond this you can see chairs, there is a little cafe. Decent food, wine, hot chocomel.

This is a shot of the courtyard from above.

The inner workings of one of the turrets.

Seriously, the bathroom...how would one even fit in there?! Not to mention, it goes straight into the moat! Guess there was no jumping off the ol' castle walls back in the day.


Murder Hole. The teenager was quite fascinated by the idea of dropping boiling hot oil through it on attacking soldiers.

A view of the flags and the gardens, I should note that is actually still a working garden.

The fireplace. I can just imagine the castle guard lighting his fire to stay warm as he walks the wall in the evening.

Once we were finished at the castle we decided to check out the village of Muiden as we didn't know if we'd ever go back there here are a few shots:

Shackled up to do her time for being sassy.

Boats were coming through..check out this video


video
I found it fascinating that these boats were just big enough to fit through.

A little pond we passed...I loved all the fall colours.

So, there you have it, our time in Muiden at Muiderslot Castle. If you have an extended period of time in Amsterdam I highly recommend this day trip. It is cheap and very entertaining for the kids as they are free to roam a medieval castle! You don't get that opportunity often! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday Birthday Recap!!!!!

Some of you may or may not know, but Monday was my birthday! I was a little sad because 1) my hubby had to be gone on my birthday due to a business trip and 2) when we celebrated Sunday he was sick. Like seriously, so, so, so, so, so sick. He had no energy and with a business trip on the horizon I was not going to jeopardize his health so I ran to the store and got some premade goodies and cake. The teenager escorted me hehe See what we ate below.

Here's the recap:

Sunday Celebrations:

Birthday Appetizers:



Birthday Drinky:


My dinner:

My birthday dessert:



Monday Celebrations:
I wanted to start the day off on a good foot so had some coffee with my kiddo and banana pancakes.


Post workout was an apple and pb (unpictured lol)

Lunch was an egg sandwich:


Snack was a coffee and pb honey toast with a little sprinkles (I mean, come on, it is my birthday!) & I once again forgot a picture.

Dinner I wanted to do something super fun because 1) it was my birthday and 2) the hubby was out of town so...if you are a Gilmore Girls Fan, in season 5 I think it is Lorelai and Rory are ready to sit down and they have marshmallows, poptarts, donuts, and candy and are putting in the oven hashbrowns and talk about a pizza stack...well, my kiddo asked if we could do that sometime and I agreed...so, that is just what we did a Gilmore Girls style feast (the likes of which I am sure Lorelai would be proud) and watched Drop Dead Fred:

Who remembers this movie?! The best, right?! Ok, not really oscar material but hilarious for sure!

We started with donuts...



The Entree was a pizza stack and french fries
This was super easy, I just bought a four pack of mini pizzas, cooked them all up, added some extra cheese and stacked them! See below...

Didn't exactly stay stacked but we had fun picking them up and trying to eat the whole thing!

Finally we ended with hot chocolate, cake, and candy.




Needless to say we were tired after this, and slightly sick...we couldn't actually eat all of it...we mostly sampled everything....it was super fun though. The kiddo leaned over several times and said that this was a great idea. I love making memories like that! Also, Drop Dead Fred is one of my all time favorite movies...yeah...don't judge me. :P

Now, I did continue all my workouts this week.
Last Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: Cardio Recovery
Friday: Cardio Power and Resistance
Saturday: Plyometric Cardio Circuit and Cardio Abs
Sunday: rode my bike in the rain (not by choice, but I'm counting it lol), did 200 squats, 100 jumping jacks and ran in place off and on to stay warm at cheerleading haha
Monday: (my birthday workout) didn't happen...I have nothing but excuses so I won't list them, but it's on for Tuesday.
Tuesday: Plyometric Cardio Circuit, stretching
Today: Pure cardio, bike ride, cardio abs

What is the best way you've ever celebrated your birthday?

PS check out the rest of the party over at Peas and Crayons!

Monday, November 17, 2014

There are Rocks in my Socks...



Goodreads
My birthday was yesterday, I turned 34 years old. I've been reading a lot lately and then began thinking about books I really loved as a kid.

Y'all, honestly, and don't hate my lovely mother but she never read Dr. Seuss to me, not that I remember anyway...she was probably Dr. Seuss'd out after my brother 8 years earlier. But, the only book I really remember her reading to me was "'There are Rocks in my Socks!' says the Ox to the Fox".

I remember this book being hysterical. I couldn't get enough of it. I know the copy we had was smaller than the photo to the left and had a purpelish background. The edges were used and the pages well turned.

I remember laughing my self silly when my mom would read lines like, "Eureka! I have it! Just do a flip-flop...
    Put your legs in the air so your feet aren't on top
    Of the rocks; which will then slide right out of your socks." Or, 
    "With a swish of my tail, I'll give that old tack a good whack that will knock it from under my back!"

These lines are classic and the situations just down right silly. I have always enjoyed reading and it wouldn't surprise me if this book is one of the many reasons why. It has tongue twisters, silly characters, and of course a gullible protagonist. To this day I giggle every time I say, "I have rocks in my socks".


If you have the book at home for your children this is an adorable read along on YouTube:



If you would like to purchase a copy you can use my amazon affiliate link below to purchase at no extra cost to you and help support me in my blogging efforts!



Now tell me, what was your favorite book when you were a child?


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Menu Plan Monday #61

I am a little bummed today...it is my birthday and my hubbins is out of town. But, that is ok because we celebrated yesterday and today when the kiddo gets home we are going to spend the evening watching Drop Dead Fred and eating a Gilmore Girls style feast!

So, this past week was a BLAST! We went to Video Games live at the Heineken Music Hall, this was the gift I gave hubby for his birthday and he loved it. We went and wore our Mass Effect gear. The leggings were a birthday present to me, they are from Black Milk clothing.


Friday night I had a girls night with some lovely ladies I met through the parent group at the teenager's school. We all come from different backgrounds and have kids of all ages..this gave us so much to talk about which is why we were out until midnight! ;) I met a woman that lives in my building who also loves to craft, I am so excited I have someone close by to hang out with when it gets cold! I wore this super cute Win or Die Game of Thrones Dress from Black Milk Clothing which was one of my other presents from the hubby ;)

How cute is this dress?! I seriously can't wait to wear it again.
Saturday hubby had to work and the kiddo was out with friends so it was just me at home. I did a lot of writing and scheduling of posts and lots of housework and my nails. On instagram Sally Hansen is doing a #nailartnov photo prompt so I did my nails chrome with a zebra print on the ring finger. Hubby loved them!


I settled in Saturday night and finally watched The Book Thief, it was fab! I didn't think I would cry quite so much after reading the book but I was terribly mistaken. Watch for a full review coming soon.



Sunday was of course cheer and my birthday celebration. We had grand plans, but the hubby sadly wasn't up to it. He was so sick, so we decided to stay in. We grabbed some yummy food (which you will see on Wednesday), rented Maleficent and enjoyed the night together. I received two tickets to the ballet so the teenager can dress up and enjoy an evening seeing Cinderella at the National Ballet and Opera.



It was a great weekend spent with great people. We missed the Sinterklaas parade, but the weather was crummy so I'm not too sad...next year :)

Now for what you really came here for...

Linking up over at Mommy Run Fast and I'm an Organizing Junkie

Monday:
Breakfast: Banana pancakes with peanut butter and honey. 
Lunch: Chicken salad with balsamic/chicken wrap for the kiddo
Dinner: Gilmore Girls style feast for my birthday: start off with poptarts and donuts, main course will be a pizza stack, edemame (not sure the Lorelai and Rory would eat that but we love it), and fries, dessert will be a selection of candy. We will probably be sick after this, but we'll do our best to consume.

Tuesday:
After Monday we will be very good lol
Breakfast: warm fruit bowl with a hard boiled egg
Lunch: Sandwich for the kiddo/eat out with friends as I am going to a lunchtime opera performance
Dinner: Red pepper pasta with salad (never got to this last week)

Wednesday:
Breakfast: Eggs, bacon, apple slices
Lunch: Tuna salad/leftovers for the kiddo
Dinner: Honey balsamic chicken tenders with brown rice and sugar snap peas

Thursday: 
Breakfast: Smoothies with hard boiled eggs
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Teriyaki beef with fried rice and mixed veggies

Friday:
Breakfast: Banana pancakes
Lunch: Sandwiches with mixed fruit/salad
Dinner: ham and cheese crescents with peas and orange slices

Saturday:
Breakfast: Omelets with bacon, cheese, veggies, salad on the side
Lunch: leftovers/snacks
Dinner: I have another girls night so I thought I'd have the kiddo and hubby have a little daddy/daughter date night and he can treat her to something special

Sunday:
Breakfast: Cereal or smoothies
Lunch: Snacks: smoked meat, cheese, bread, fruit
Dinner: Wings and pizza of course! These have started to be the best days. 

That is our meal plan for the week. What sort of goodies are you cooking up?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

So, this one time I started a blog...


Writing honestly has never really been a passion of mine. I remember in first grade doing a creative writing unit and that was my worst nightmare! I remember sitting in class not having a clue as to what to write. I know I came up with things...mostly ridiculous spellings, but they were words on a paper nonetheless.

As I got older and had to write for assignments I usually enjoyed research, especially in college. I then became an English/Humanities teacher and loved helping teach my students how to research. But, still didn't consider myself a creative writer.

When we moved to Austin, TX I started the blog Travels in Austin and recorded a few of our travels around Austin.

Of course, we then moved...to Los Angeles. I didn't have anything more to add to our Austin Travels but have let it stay up because it still gets a few visitors each week lol

Then, upon moving to Los Angeles in 2010 hubby and I decided it was best I stay home with the kiddo as we were now living in a much more fast paced city with people that didn't often share our same moral beliefs and we wanted a constant contact for the kiddo who was racing into teenagehood. Since I wasn't working outside the home any more I knew I wanted to do something to fill my time. But, we then moved to Vancouver.

Upon this move is when I decided to finally create this blog. The original name was Adjusting and Readjusting...I started off with my first post, but after a while I just felt the name didn't fit what I was putting on the blog. So, I renamed it Diary of an Urban Housewife.

I named it this because I don't really have a niche and I wanted to be able to share all aspects of my daily life.

I love sharing everything from my weekly menu, crazy things I am encountering in my travels, the different craft projects I am doing, and the stuff I'm reading.

Blogging is something I have truly become passionate about. I am looking at finding my first blog conference to go to {if you know of any in Europe coming up please let me know} and would like to collaborate with some other European bloggers to do some sort of European City Tour or something neat like that.

So, that is why I blog, to just talk to people and share the things I am doing so people have a point of reference if they are interested in similar things! :)

Do you blog? If so, why?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday +week in review of workouts



Finally feeling like I am back on track with my fitness 100%. For me fitness encompasses good nutrition and exercise. I sucked at the nutrition part these last couple years. My sweet tooth gets the better of me and I often give in and that really prohibits my results. But, these last few weeks I have really listened to my body and am doing so much better. Plus, I am feeling more energetic over all and am feeling more confident in my own skin and that is always what matters most!

So, my workouts this last week have looked like this:

I restarted Insanity so that is the schedule I am following. I didn't do the fit test so I had an extra rest day, plus I slightly injured my knee so I took another rest day...but it is feeling drained and 100% better so this week it's on!

Last Wednesday: Cardio recovery and a bike ride
Thursday: Short bike ride, and rest. My knee was killing me.
Friday: Pure Cardio, plus a walk, and a bike ride
Saturday: Resting the knee, took a nice walk all around downtown enjoying the sun and shopping ;)
Sunday: Rest...stretching and foam rolling
Monday: Cardio power and resistance, walk through the park
Tuesday: Pure Cardio
Wednesday: Plyometric cardio circuit, 1 mile run

I've really enjoyed my workouts, but I forget how much protein I need to get me through! So I've really picked up my game and have been making sure to have lots of my good fats, tons of veggies, and lots of lean protein like chicken and tuna.

So, here are the meals I ate Monday....


Morning coffee but of course! Since it was a cloudy Monday I decided I needed some extra sparkle in my life so I whipped out my Union Jack Mug ;) I also had a banana and water as my morning "snack"

My post workout breakfast. Scrambled eggs with avocado, tomato, leeks, and onion and a steam sweet potato with peanut butter...I actually wasn't hungry for hours after this.

3:30 snack, not pictured was a healthy no bake cookie...these are so great make with natural pb, local honey, coconut oil, gf oats, and raw cacao powder and a cup of vanilla tea

Dinner was so great. The kiddo and I inhaled it. We still have just a little leftover...not much though.
Green beans, one small potato, one medium sweet potato, eggplant, onion, garlic, and yellow pepper. I simmered it in some tomato puree. I used up all the veggies I had hanging around in the fridge and freezer. It was ridiculously delicious. 

Now, to put in a random meal from Tuesday: DESSERT!

These are olliebollen...well, the one on the left is; the one on the right started with a K, I can't remember the name but it is the olliebollen but stuffed with cream! They are so amazing and apparently only come out here in the Netherlands at Christmas time (although I hear there is a cart of them at Wailabi World year round)...but, we got these treats because here in the Netherlands Tuesday was Sint Maarten....this is a holiday similar to Halloween, but the children make lanterns and sing songs as they go door to door. We went to the Vondelpark to watch the parade they do where the local children can join in with their lanterns. It was quite adorable. So, since the kiddo didn't get to do any trick or treating on our way home we stopped by a cart and picked these up. We cut them into thirds so we all got a little taste. Trust me...it was more than enough, but they are really good! They are almost like a fried pancake. A favorite treat for sure!

That's it for What I Ate Wednesday...what have you eaten lately?