March Stats and Faves

March was thriller month! Four of the seven adult books I read were thrillers, with the other three being one romance, one fiction, and one motivational.

My 2 favorites

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen. I posted about it here. She is one of my very few auto buys.

My Darkest Prayer by S.A. Cosby. I’ve read all three of his books, this being his debut. He’s grown into a must read for me.

I read 21 books for kids. 10 non fiction picture books, 8 fiction picture books, 3 middle school fiction.

My 5 favorites

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. Middle school historical fiction based on Norwegian children smuggling gold out of the country on their sleds while Nazis watched, unknowing.

King Sejong Invents an Alphabet by Carol Kim and Cindy Kang. Education is for everyone!

Rice from Heaven by Tina Cho and Krug Jin Sing. A beautiful true story of South Koreans sending food to their starving northern neighbors by balloon.

Zhang Zheng and the Incredible Earthquake Detector by Randel McGee. Great story and fabulous illustrations.

My Dragon Boat Festival by Bing Ge and Li Li. I thought this book looked too childish for Gage, but when we read it together it was a good jumping off point and I loved the illustrations.

I’ve read 69 books this year, less than I would like, BUT, I really am trying to find a life balance.

What was your favorite book this month?

3+ Books 1 Word – Pick My Next Book

I saw this challenge over on IG (OliviaReadsFiction) and decided to try it with my TBR piles.
My word is LIGHT

📔The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama
📗 All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
📙 All the Light We Left Behind by Tessa Harris
📘The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron

I’m going to let you all choose my book for next week. Which one should I start on Monday?

Other Birds by SAA, a fun book club choice

I hosted my book club this month and we read Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen. I love magical realism. When I had by first bookstore job after college I would always make a display of staff picks and then make sure I read one of them each month. Thanks to those excellent recommendations I first read and fell in love with books like Like Water for Chocolate and The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. Fast forward to 2016 when I picked up Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and fell in love. I quickly read the rest of her books and have been waiting impatiently for this next book.

There were ghosts, but it wasn’t a ghost story, there were misfits looking for a tribe, there was a mystery or two you didn’t even know needed solved, and there was love in many different forms. There were secrets revealed and secrets kept, invisible birds, and childhood trauma. Even with all of that going on at one this is, at its hear, a comfort read.

In an interview with the author she said that she always envisioned the setting first and that’s why it always feel like a character. This setting is the fictional Mallow Island, South Carolina, known for its marshmallows and that leads to what makes this a fun book club read… the menu!

So, I started with marshmallows. A S’mores cake and orange marshmallow fluff and coconut marshmallows.

I also made a marshmallow dip for sweet potatoes fries and fruit.

There was also a chef who based his menu on cornmeal. Cornmeal popovers with raspberry jam. Cornmeal candied bacon. Sweet potato soup served over marshamallow.

I also made a cornmeal pudding in the crockpot which was probably my favorite.

Oh, and Zoey, the main character, loves potato chip sandwiches so we had those too. 

So, you can see how easy it is to totally get into the food for a book club meeting and I had so much fun doing it!

Everyone loved the book so that was a bonus 🙂

Are you in a book club? Has there been a book where the menu for the meeting wrote itself?

This Week – Puzzle Champions

Last week’s post mentioned a local puzzle competition and I’m happy to report that we won! Here we are with the 500 piece donut puzzle and the basket full of goodies we won. There were only 5 other tables and it was a fun family night for all.

The rest of the week was crazy busy. Election training and family in town for two days happened over the weekend and into the Monday. Gage got spacers in his mouth in preparation for an expander and, eventually, braces. I hosted book club for Other Birds and I WILL get a separate post up because it was a great book that led to a fun themed menu.


Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen. A comfort read. Look for a post this week.

Blackwater Falls by Ausma Zeharat Khan is the first in a series about Detective Inaya Rahman and I really liked it. It’s politically relevant and I’m looking forward to the next one.

I’ve read 5 picture books about China that will show up in a post soon.

Read 7 books. 62 for the year.


Nope, 2022. If you’re looking for something different this is the movie for you.


Sammi is turning into quite the puzzle model lately.

Plans for the Weekend

A friend started a virtual Romance Book Club and today is the first meeting. The sun is out so I’m hoping for some time outside.

What about you?

This Week – March Madness

March Madness is always a fun time around here. Since we first met Jason and I have always filled out the brackets and played for bragging rights and choosing the next 5 movies we saw at the theater. We just celebrated the 27th anniversary of our first date this week, so that’s a lot of years of competition. A few years ago Gage wanted to start joining in the fun so we made it a winner’s choice for what the prize would be. The first year Gage won he chose a YES DAY. Last year I won and we watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy in one day as a family (it was Gage’s first time seeing them).

This year I decided to follow our cat’s advice when filling out my brackets and I’m winning after the first round, hahahaha! If you want to see the video Gage made of our cats picking the Final Four, here it is. Time will tell how well this works out in the end. I’m guessing not very well.

On to the books!

I posted about the books we read for Norway week.

I finished only 1 BOOK this week! That is a record low for sure. At least it was one I really liked, Stacey’s Abrams political thriller, While Justice Sleeps. It looks like the heroine, Avery Keene, and her friends will be back for book 2 in a few months and I’m excited to pick it up.


Jason and I went to the movies last weekend and saw Creed III. I loved the storyline of his deaf daughter, but missed seeing Rocky.

We finally watched Joker last night. I knew it was going to be dark, but not that dark. Joaquin Phoenix was amazing.


Aren’t these pink flamingos gorgeous? And Sammi too!

Plans for the weekend

Tonight, as a family, we’re participating in a local Puzzle Wars. It’s our first time so I’ll have to tell you about it next week.

Tomorrow I head downtown for election training. Elections always need workers, so sign up if you can. I’ve been a poll worker since before Gage was born and he’s 12, so I do my part.

My cousin and her family are also headed to town tomorrow and will be here a few days so I’m looking forward to that.

Any fun plans for weekend?

Homeschool Norway Week

We took our Norway books out on a snowy day. Gage decided that he’s not cut out for the Norwegian weather!

We listened to the audio of Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan, a 1942 historical fiction book for tweens. A great story, based on stories never confirmed, about Norwegian children smuggling gold past the Nazis during WWII. 196 pages

The two troll books based on Noregian tales were fun. Sister Bear by Jane Yolen and Linda Graves is a picture book Christmas story sure to entertain the older elementary set. The troll illustrations alone are worth a look. 32 pages

The Heartless Troll by Oyvind Torseter is a graphic novel that will appeal to middle schoolers. 120 pages

Sniffer & Tinni by Breit Helberg and Torgeir Berge is the story of a true life friendship between a dog and a fox told with photographs. Sure to delight elementary school animal lovers. 40 pages

Norway looks beautiful, but not someplace I’m adding to my travel plans just yet.

This Week(s) – Lightning on YouTube

My to do list never seems to get shorter and what free time I have never really feels like free time with said list taking up space in my brain 🙂 So here I am with my weekly update a few weeks behind.

Exciting news for Gage fans. He started a YouTube Channel this week. I’d be much obliged if you’d give him a follow or even just view or like one of his photos. They are silly, but they are short 🙂 The process of him learning how to make videos and uploading them to a channel that he started all on his own while his parents were sleeping is the most initiative he’s ever shown and I want to support his excitement. We’ve had to put rules in place, including a weekly meeting where we approve all videos, but so far I love to see him creating stuff. He has like 20 videos but has only posted 3 so far.

I also love The Cottage Fairy videos. They are a relaxing and your mind has no choice but to slow down.

Books read since last update 20 (55 for the year)

A few standouts…

This past week I read SA Cosby’s first novel, My Darkest Prayer, and really liked it. The same narrator has done all three of his books and I would recommend giving it a try that way.

This was my favorite picture book of the week. King Sejong Invents and Alphabet celebrates learning in the biggest of ways. This is in preparation for studying Korea this next week.

We read the historical fiction Snow Treasure as we studied Norway this week. An inspiring book for 9-12 year olds.

Movies watched

Moxie! I really liked this coming of age movie and seeing Amy Poehler as the mom.

Solace was a good thriller for a date night.

I watched Bliss a few days ago and still don’t know what I watched 🙂

Puzzles finished

This 500 MasterPieces puzzle as so much fun!

Plans for the weekend

A date with the hubby tonight, but I’m not sure what we’re doing.

February Movies and Money for Charity

When I started this monthly list forever ago it was a way for me to track the movies I watched and to involve others on my blog. I’ve been less involved in the blogging community and some of my main participants around anymore, but I’m still going to plug along and hope a few of me will join me when you can.

In a comment, give me your 5 words (or less!) and earn $1 for charity. Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity. Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to. Anyone is welcome to join in at any time. Click here to see past movie posts.

We’re at $85 right now.  Your charity could be next 

True Spirit, 2023 (Teagan Croft, Cliff Curtis, Anna Paquin, Josh Lawson) Grade A

Inspiring true life sailing adventure.

Luckiest Girl Alive, 2022 (Mila Kunis, Finn Wittrock, Jennifer Beals, Connie Britton) Grade A-

Overcoming trauma can be impossible.

Knock at the Cabin, 2023 (Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint) Grade B

Totally messed up and intense.

Your Place or Mine, 2023 (Reese Witherspoon, Ashton Kutcher, Wesley Kimmel, Jesse Williams, Zoe Chao, Tig Notaro, Steve Zahn) Grade B-

Predictable friends to lovers romcom.

Shotgun Wedding, 2023 ( Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Coolidge, Lenny Kravitz, Sonia Braga, Cheech Marin, Callie Hernandez, D’Arcy Beth Carden, Desmin Borges) Grade C

Destination romcom wedding goes awry.

You People, 2023 (Jonah Hill, Lauren London, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nia Long, David Duchovny) Grade C

Cringe and funny, heavy on former.

February Wrap Up with Favorites!

We had a lovely vacation to the DC, Charlottesville, Virginia and Lake Norman in North Carolina areas. I’m still trying to catch up, but I’m much less stressed 🙂

This was my slowest reading month in years with only 16 books.

Adults – 7 (3 romance, 2 fiction, 1 memoir, 1 spiritual)

Middle School – 3 (2 fiction, 1 non-fiction)

Elementary – 6 (5 non fiction, 1 fiction)

Highly Recommended

An American Story by Kwame Alexander and Dare Coulter – kids picture book

Book Lovers by Emily Henry – contemporary romance

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd – fiction

The Love You Save by Goldie Taylor – memoir

Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught – historical romance – reread

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane – contemporary romance

I watched 6 movies which I’ll post about tomorrow. My favorite was probably the one we watched together as a family, True Spirit.

On vacation we had Apple+ so we were able to finally see what all the Ted Lasso fuss was about. Loved season 1!

I finished 3 puzzles for a total of 4,500 pieces. That’s a lot of puzzling!

What was your favorite read of the month?

This Week- I’m already stressed

This week we celebrated my dad’s 76th birthday. Not bad for a guy who had a heart attack and double bypass at 37! The kiddo and the cats had various doctor’s appointments and Jason and I have continued our streak of weekly date nights, which we lost track of during these covid years. I met with a mom friend and we signed up our boys for 4 weeks of camps this summer. That’s nice to have out of the way early. This week is going to be crazy and I’m stressed, made worse by the sinus headache that woke me up at 3:30 this morning and is still lingering. Homeschooling during these kinds of weeks is always challenging and when I miss public school the most.

Books read 8 (35 for the year). Loved both Book Lovers by Emily Henry and If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane, reviews to come. I also want to give a shout out to this new picture book about slavery that I loved for the content as much as the outstanding artwork. Do yourself a favor and take a look.

An American Story by Kwame Alexander and Dare Coulter.

Reviews posted The Cartographers was excellent. Take a look at my review

At the Movies

Jason and I went to an actual theater last night and saw M. Night Shyamalan’s latest mind teaser. This was intense and totally messed up. A mom at the theater was there with her son, maybe 8 years old? Don’t do that to your kid. And if you’ve ever had nightmares of planes falling from the sky, consider this your trigger warning.

On the Small Screen

We watched this as a family and it gets three enthusiastic thumbs up!

Puzzling – The fact that I still have a sizeable part of the 3000 piece puzzle to finish is also stressing me out. I had wanted to get it done before we left, but it might have to be left to the cats. That’s not good.

Plans for the weekend First, dinner. Then getting stuff marked off my extensive to do list.