Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Add it to my list vol.2

Lauren and Bre's (relatively new) link-up is all about things we recommend, right?  Well, I recommend reading books.  I recommend talking about books that we read.  I recommend sharing books that we enjoy.  I recommend paying it forward.  And, I recommend receiving little care packages in the mail.  So...with that being said, here's a way that I'd like to combine those things I recommend and what I'd like you to add to your list...

(...inspired and finessed from ideas shared by Megan who suggested a book exchange in my book challenge group and Steph who offered last week to send books she'd read as long as you pass along the books once you've read them.)

My regular habit, after I've read a book that I own, is to exchange it at a secondhand bookstore (I'm a big fan of secondhand books) or donate it to the library or Lifeline stores.  I am willing to offer those books to my fellow book lovin' bloggers.  I will mail it to you (free of charge!) with only a few simple stipulations:
  • you don't mind when you receive it because Australia Post is not always the greatest with delivering something in a timely manner when economy post is chosen, AND if I have a lot of books to send at once, so I don't break the bank, I may scatter it out when I send them
  • you claim one of these books in the next couple of weeks; they are ready to go to a new home and they are taking up space on a floor in my already too-cluttered home
  • you actually read the book
  • you pay it forward by giving/sending a book to another reader
How great is this recommendation?  A book sharing, mail receiving, pay it forward-ing activity!  Are you interested??  Then, add one (or more) of these to your list.

Here are the following books that I have available to send to anyone who is interested (first come, first serve):

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - CLAIMED
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers - CLAIMED
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer - CLAIMED
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt - CLAIMED
The Girl Before by Rena Olsen - CLAIMED
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - CLAIMED
Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper - CLAIMED
Same Kind of Different as Me by Denver Moore, Ron Hall
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Kill Your Friends by John Niven - CLAIMED
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - CLAIMED
A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain - CLAIMED
Trail of Broken Tears by Sejal Badani
Joining Lauren and Bre for the first "Add It to My List" link-up...
Eat, Drink, and Be Lauren

Will you add this activity to your list?  Will you take a book, read it, and pass it along?  Will you offer up your own books that you've read that are collecting dust and you don't need to keep?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.111

I'm a big fan of hair day ~ especially since I found my hairstylist a couple of years ago.  She is young and sooooo talented.  I shouldn't jinx it, but I've never left her disappointed.  I show her pictures as inspiration, not expecting her to match something perfectly because everyone's hair is different, but she gets it right every.single.time.  And, I'm not the easiest customer because I say things like "I want my hair to look like orange sherbert."  If you follow me on ig, you probably saw the inspiration pic + my hair. 

This was one of those bizarre social media moments.  I don't follow Holly Madison (former Playboy Playmate, Hef's ex, Girls Next Door/Girls of Playboy Mansion fame), and she doesn't follow me...but somehow, she "liked" my new hair pic on ig.  Random.

I told y'all about my visit to see The Voice being taped.  I also told you everything was top secret and no phones were allowed.  But........I snuck this pic, and so I'm sneaking it in the midst of a post that hopefully no one from the studio will ever find.

My 16 year old nephew is in the midst of basketball playoffs.  How cool is technology these days that I can live on the other side of the planet but read the write-up on their game AND see my nephew's pic on the front page of the local online sports section?

Megan suggested to the Book Challenge by Erin members a sort of book exchange.  Bev and I swapped books; I sent one to Switzerland, and she sent one to me (with a cute card, sweet note, and a refrigerator magnet from Basel! ~ Thanks Bev!)  I'm carrying this idea over into my "add it to my list" post on Tuesday, so booklovers, make sure you look for it.

I woke up this morning with my knees tucked up practically touching my chin.  Why was a curled up into a little ball?  To make room for these guys. 

After I got up, I needed to stretch my legs.  I went for a walk and took some companions with me.  We walked 3km and had a visit to the playground and duck pond. 

Hope you have a great week to come!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Galentines Blogger Exchange

I've said it before; I'll say it again: The world needs more care packages.  I love sending them, and I love receiving them.  That's one of the reasons that I enjoy participating in blogger exchanges/swaps from time to time.  How fun is it to receive a package, that feeling of excitement not knowing what goodies are inside, and opening it to find some real treats?! 

I hadn't participated in Mattie and Olya's previous blogger exchanges, so I jumped at the chance for this one.  My guy and I aren't really Valentine's Day people.  Honestly, I have no strong opinion for or against the day, we just don't celebrate it with cards or flowers or chocolates or dates.  So, why not avoid being a total Debbie Downer and celebrate the day with bloggers? 

I was assigned Ashley as the person to send a gift.  I'll let you visit Ashley's blog to see what I sent her.  Ashley and I have been reading each other's blogs and interacting regularly for a while now, so I had a few things in mind that I'd enjoy sending her.  I'm going to take guess and say I nailed it (as far as the gifts I chose.)

As for what I received...I'd never used "elfster" before.  How fun and helpful is that site?  I added a few things to a "wishlist" as a guide, but honestly, I'm just happy and grateful to receive anything. 

What did I wish for?  A lot of kitty things.  So, you know, now's a good time to show you some pics of my beautiful little felines as they were my inspirations. 

Jess from To Sparkle Punch sent my gift, and oh my, I was giddy when I opened my package.  I certainly feel spoiled!  I wished for a pair of super small kitty cat earrings.  Jess said that the ones I had on the wishlist didn't ship to Australia, so she selected a different pair.  I love them!  How adorable are they?!?!

I put them on immediately and am still wearing them!

And, many of you know that my guy is a jeweller.  So, I'm a lucky girl to have received some pretty rings throughout the years.  How cute is this ring holder for those special pieces of jewellery?!

To say this blogger exchange was a success is an understatement.  I enjoyed selecting my gift to Ashely, and I adore my gifts from Jess.  As a bonus, Jess is new to me, so this weekend, I plan to stalk read her blog and get to know her better.  Thanks ladies, and thanks to our hosts! 

Oh, and so my canine lovelies don't feel left out, here's a pic of their gorgeous mugs, and I'll wish for some doggie goodies next time. 

Are you interested in participating in blogger exchanges?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Decade Playlist with Jana and Erin: The Ladies of the Eighties

We (Jana and Erin) told you last month, as we looked at the music from the Men of the '80s, that we are unable to come up with any kind of sensible length of a playlist in the '80s unless we broke it down for you.  There will be more to come because we will take a look at groups, and hairbands will probably get their own list too.  So, you've probably figured out what today is all about...well, the title kinda gave it away...that's right...it's time for "The Ladies of the Eighties!"

Awwwww the '80s...when the ladies (and the guys) used Aquanet so our bangs could reach heights never seen before.  Spandex was king.  So were shoulder pads and blue eyeliner.  We saw Janet Jackson step out from behind the shadows of her famous brothers.  We saw her choreographer, Paula Abdul, step out from Janet's shadow and become a pop star too.  Cyndi Lauper just wanted us to have fun.  Madonna wanted to feel like a virgin.  We had artists with established careers shine on the radio and in the movies (Dolly and Cher.)  The ladies danced, they sang, some yielded guitars, and most of them kicked ass. 

Erin's note:  Before we hit you with our list, I have to give Jana props.  She came up with this ultimate playlist.  I just added a few touches to finesse it.  I wouldn't have picked all the songs that she did, but as I looked at the total list, I thought she pretty much nailed it.

As always, some of our picks are obvious ones and others are hidden gems.  We hope you enjoy!

Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Madonna - Dress You Up
Stevie Nicks - Edge of Seventeen
Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time
Janet Jackson - What Have You Done for Me Lately
Paula Abdul - Cold Hearted
Pat Benatar - Hit Me With Your Best Shot AND Invincible (okay, yes, we normally try to limit ourselves to only one song per artist, but Jana felt strongly about her choice, and Erin did as well, and Pat Benatar is awesome, so, yes, she gets two.)

Dolly Parton - 9 to 5 (our mutual love of Dolly continues to shine)
Irene Cara - Flashdance...What a Feeling
Alannah Myles - Black Velvet
Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart (always reminding Jana of "Old School")
Toni Basil - Mickey
Juice Newton - Angel of the Morning
Kim Wilde - You Keep Me Hangin' On

Donna Summer - She Works Hard for the Money (Jana's love for Donna almost rivals her love for Dolly...almost.)
Belinda Carlisle - Heaven is a Place on Earth (don't worry, the Go-Go's will be represented in our groups post)
Taylor Dayne - Tell It to My Heart (the original Taylor)
Joan Jett - I Hate Myself for Loving You
Cher - If I Could Turn Back Time

Lita Ford - Kiss Me Deadly
Sheena Easton - Morning Train
Debbie Gibson - Electric Youth
Tiffany - Could've Been (fun fact: Jana's first concert ever was Tiffany and New Kids on the Block.......another fun fact: Erin forgot this song existed, but when listening to it for this playlist sang almost every lyric.  How do our minds remember song lyrics like that?!)
Laura Branigan - Solitaire
Tracy Chapman - Fast Car

Now, it's your turn.  Tell us your favorite song(s) by The Ladies of the Eighties!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

That time I sat in a studio audience for the taping of a tv show for 2days

I mention here that I'm not a regular tv watcher.  I haven't watched a full series since...Dexter, I think.  Oh, and the husband and I watch Ink Master.  I just don't commit myself to tv these days.  But, that's mostly for another day, another post. 

One show that I do watch is The Voice.  Not the version most of you watch (although I'd love that because I love myself some Gwen.)  The Voice has its own version in Australia.  Similar to its American counterpart, the coaches have varied throughout the seasons.  In the past, Australia has had Keith Urban, Ricky Martin, Kylie Minogue, Will I. Am, Joel Madden (and then Joel was joined by his brother Benji), Jessie J, and a few others maybe. 

This year's Australian coaches are:
Seal - he's been here before, won a couple of times, took a couple of seasons break, and now he's back
Delta Goodrem - she is a beloved and accomplished Australian singer, songwriter, and musician, and she's coached most of the seasons
Kelly Rowland - new to the Voice family - Houston, Texas in da hizz-ouse
Boy George - new to the Australian Voice, but he's coached a couple of years for the UK version

So far, all that I've told you is what is already in the media.  No secrets or spoilers shared.  The above picture is from their facebook page

Most everything else is super secretive.  As in I'm not allowed to tell you about much of what happened.  They were super strict about phones.  No phones.  No cameras.  But, here's what I can tell you: I went to a studio taping of "The Blinds" on Tuesday.  I watch the show, I was curious, I had some free time, and I've never been to a television taping.  I thought "hey! something new! could be fun!"  I had so much fun Tuesday, I went for Wednesday's taping too.  The tickets were free, and there were some open spots for the "day" taping this week, which is when I went.  The night tapings had filled already.

The show in itself is supportive and encouraging, and that's one of the reasons I watch it.  Everyone involved was professional and lovely.  I met some nice people sitting around me.  I enjoyed seeing family and friends' reactions.  There were some moments that were genuinely entertaining with laughter and fun...other moments that were truly touching with goosebumps and real tears.  That's not all just put on for tv.  I cried during one contestant's segment, and laughed huge belly laughs today during another.  Sure, there were some taped/staged moments too.  The coaches dancing and the crowd applauding.  A few staged moments of the coaches acting surprised or excited and the crowd responding with them. 

While we're talking about the coaches, they are doing a job, but they do interact with the audience too.  They can't do it much, or they'd be there all day & night...but I noticed a few children and people with special needs get some hugs and autographs from coaches, and I think that's great.  One kid brought a stuffed animal that was a seal, and a crew member made sure that Seal signed it, waved to the kid, gave him some "thumbs ups", and made the kid's day. 

The contestants ... well, like these shows are ... some had potential, some of their nerves got the best of them, and some were AMAZING.  But, all seemed really humble.

All in all, I enjoyed this experience and would most likely do it again.  Oh, and I've renewed my love for Boy George. 

Have you ever been to a television show recording?  Tell me about it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.110

Example #1 why I'll never be "skinny":  These pancakes with bananas, strawberries, butterscotch, and vanilla ice cream were worth every single calorie.

Example #2 why I'll never be "skinny": my accompaniment to this month's Show Us Your Books link-up was Ben & Jerry's Phish Food.  No regrets.

I did mix in some exercise though...a lengthy walk along the harbour.

One of the special things about living here...you can exercise (with a walk along the harbour), then relax by reading a book with a view like this.

Taronga Zoo hosts a summer concert series called "Twilight At Taronga" at an outdoor amphitheatre.  My good friend, Kate, and I scooped up tickets when we saw the line-up this year.

This was the view to the side of the stage while the opening band was playing.  I'm not even kidding.  Sydney can be such a show-off sometimes.

JET!  I love this band so much.  They hadn't performed live in 7 years (until this summer).  I'd seen them a couple of times back in the States, and I saw them here before as well...there was something really fun and exciting to see them back together again.  The crowd was so pumped and sang along to every song.  This show sold out, and they are playing a second show tonight. 

Hope your week had some tasty treats, or a refreshing walk, or a good book, or time with a good friend, or seeing great live music.  Tell me if you did any (or all) of these things.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I show you my books, you show me yours... vol.25

Valentine's, Schmalentine's...it's Show Us Your Books Day!  The day hosted by Jana & Steph, the day that makes my goodreads "to read" list grow, and the day I interact with a blogging community of readers.  I love this day of the month.

And, this month, I enjoyed everything I read, so you can't go wrong with taking a look at one, two, or all of these for your future reads...

What I've read since our last link-up:

1.  The Girl Before by Rena Olsen - I did not want to set this book aside. I would have read it all in one sitting if that had been possible. I felt so many things while reading this story. I was infuriated and saddened, annoyed and disgusted, but I also felt compassion and empathy. I enjoy a book that can provoke so many emotions while reading it. There were aspects that seemed far-fetched, but hey, it's fiction, right? 4.5/5  (Special thanks to Micah for gifting me this book during the Great Pumpkin Swap!)

2.  I Came to Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington - Oh, my heart. This book put my heart through the works. It smashed my heart, wadded it up, stomped on it, tore it in pieces, and put the pieces back together, scattered them again, and on and on. It was narrated in a unique way which added different elements to the story. The book dealt with extremely difficult, uncomfortable topics from abandonment, child abuse, family relationships, mental illness, and more. I thought it was excellent and will definitely read more from this Australian author.  4.5/5

3.  We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler - An unexpected profound and beautiful story about a unique family dynamic.  4/5

4.  Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta - In a book that contains numerous storylines that are all interconnected, there was one I wasn't buying. But, I enjoy her writing so much, I just eventually gave in to it all. A mystery & thriller book that also examines themes of race relations, family relationships, sacrifice, and more. 4/5

5.  Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani - A powerful story about the aftermath of abuse and how victims' lives, choices, and relationships can be negatively impacted for years, even after they are no longer living with the abuser(s). Some of the writing felt a bit melodramatic, and it was difficult to have empathy for a couple of the characters, but overall, I still felt it was a good book. 3.5/5

6.  A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain - A modern day FBI agent ends up helping to track down a serial killer in 1815 England; time travel books are not my usual cup of tea, but I enjoyed this book.   I had no idea "whodunnit" until that was revealed. Sure, there were hints and suggestions, but I had no idea where the story was going to go, and that kept me interested to the very end. I'd even be willing to give the follow-up a try.  4/5

7.  Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - I can't rate this book. I can see why people like it. It's fast-paced and creative, thrilling and unique, but this type of story just isn't my thing. I recommend it to any science fiction reader, something I am not. And, I'm aware other readers have really enjoyed it as well.  I read it quickly, because it's so fast-paced it's easy to do, but also because I just wanted it to end. Sometimes, I enjoy reading a genre that isn't my normal choice, and I find a new love of story-telling. Other times, I learn not all books are for all readers.  And, that's okay.

A solid month of reading for me.  How was yours?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.109

Hellish heat continues...several days this week exceeded 110*F (43*C)...I tried to walk early...as you can see by my tomato face, I was still feeling the heat. 

We had some fun times for the husband's birthday weekend including the Guns N Roses concert.

My pics from the show are crap because we were farrrrrrr away, but if you care about rock music at all, you will understand my excitement when Angus Young of AC/DC joined the stage for 2 songs.  Living legends!  This is a pic of Angus, Duff, and Slash. You just have to trust me on that.

Not my picture, but I had to share to show that Duff won the best t-shirt contest.

The stepkid's birthday gift to his dad was taking him to a cat cafe, as they share a love of all things feline.

There are 13 rescue cat residents at the Catmosphere Cafe ~ we watched them snooze, fed them tuna, and enjoyed every second of it.

Going to a cat cafe checked off another item on my "50 Before 50" list too.  Bonus!  I'm surprised we didn't try to leave with them all. 

Kitties & a concert ~ that's a good week for me ~ hope it was a good one for you too!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Stuff & Things vol. 8*

*Somewhere, I lost count what volume this is, but I'm going with "8", not that anyone really cares.

Happy birthday to this guy...my guy...I don't gush about him much in this space, but let's just agree that he's a great match for me, and I appreciate him and his love immensely.

I'm going to walk a 10K.  I'm not even sure I can walk 10km, but I'm going to try.  At the end, there will be cured meats, artisan cheeses, wines from local vineyards, and craft beer.  Reward me with food.  Please, and thank you.  If you feel so inclined to support a worthy cause (and support me), you can make a contribution here

A fascinating, scary, informative, and interesting read:  The psychology of why 94 deaths from terrorism are scarier than 301,797 deaths from guns.  And, I suppose I should mention, I'm not trying to take away allllll the guns from every American.  I just think sensible regulations are worth discussing (and enforcing.)  But, enough of what I think, read that article.  I swear it is all the things I said it is -----> fascinating, scary, informative, and interesting.

I had an in-depth conversation with a friend the other night.  I'm going to try to keep it simple when summing it up:  She is American, in her young twenties, and entering a master's program here in Sydney.  She is a survivor of a sexual assault that occurred approximately two years ago.  She reported it to the police.  No charges were filed.  You know, that whole "he said/she said" reason.  Her parents are big Trump supporters.  She asked her parents (after some failed attempts to explain to them why she did not support their choice for President) to not talk "politics" with her anymore.  An argument ensued.  The parents ended up telling her that there is no correlation between her sexual assault experience, and the women that accused DT of inappropriate sexual behavior.  Her parents didn't talk to her for a month, and then when they did contact her, they demanded an apology for being disrespectful to them.  Again, this is me trying to keep it simple.  I've been thinking about this ever since she and I talked. 
One, I'm thinking of my friend.  Her assault, her struggle, her emotions and feelings, her strength, her path of healing.  Two, I'm thinking of other victims.  Those out there who may be struggling silently.  Or arguing with loved ones.  Who are needing support but not getting it.  Three, I'm thinking of people like my friend who reported her assault to the police but got little to no support from authorities.  She is not my first friend to tell me a similar story.  Four, I'm thinking of the negative impacts that this election season and new administration has triggered in victims of sexual misconduct.  Some are feeling like the American people excuse such behaviors.  My friend specifically mentioned this.  She also mentioned the laughable sentence received by the convicted rapist, Brock Turner.  Five, I'm thinking we have a long way to go to smash this rape culture that is still alive and real and prevalent. 

Do you know about Booksgiving by The Bloggess?  Check out this link.  It's wonderful.  Gifting books to strangers.  I love it.  I gifted one. 

Do y'all know about NE Patriots Tight End (and former Texas A&M University Aggie) and his children's book?   I love stories about athletes who aren't just athletes.  NFL Star Martellus Bennett Pens Children's Book Based on Daughter's Persona  Apparently, there is a free app that you can download as well.  If you have young readers or gift books to young readers, check out the website for it.   Bennett was also named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
Friday night,
we're going to see the 2017 version of Guns N Roses.  I saw them in 1993.  I saw Axl's version of himself with hired musicians a few years back.  I've seen Velvet Revolver several times with Duff and Slash, and they played some GNR in their setlist.  I saw Slash solo a few times too.  But, Axl, Slash, and Duff are back together, and I'm excited to witness that reunion live.  Slash is my favorite live guitarist, Axl is a phenomenal vocalist, and Duff is just cool.  If you need further proof of how cool he is, check out this post of his on twitter:

Speaking of twitter, I give you this:

Linking..... with  Kristin: