Thursday, April 28, 2016

Frustrated, incorporated...

Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about two years, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week,Moma Rock chose the topic: Life's frustrations. Let's talk about it.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.

Darwin Shrugged
Moma Rock

Anyone remember this 90s song? It inspired my title for this post...

A while back, I wrote about some #firstworldproblems I was having. Ironically, this was also around Pesach time. Maybe Pesach just makes me vent more or something. Since most of my frustrations fall in that category, I'm going to list a bunch here.

*How places like Disney Parks charge so much for food even after you've paid all that money to enter the park. Same with airlines charging for stuff like snacks, wi-fi, watching in-flight TV, etc. There are no perks anymore to traveling.

*All the little things people obsess about for Pesach...cosmetics, cell phone covers, dish soap, aluminum foil, etc. And the fact that raw meat does not have to be Kosher for Pesach, but stores market it that way to make a few more dollars of people who didn't do their research.

*How much of a rip-off some Pesach products are. A box of Kosher for Pesach graham crackers had one small plastic package inside and most of the crackers were broken. And don't get me started on the cereal...

*That Israel gets one day for holidays while we have two. It doesn't make sense!

*That some of the stores I frequent do not sell their chometz before Pesach and are thus forbidden for six weeks (in terms of buying more chometz).

*Not being able to get a new car, even though mine is costing more money to maintain. Also the fact that I got recall notices on my car but the parts never seem to be available.

*When people try to parent my children in front of me. I get the safety thing and I won't hesitate to say something if I feel a child is in danger, so I am fine with people saying something to my kids too when that is the case. However, if they're just being rude or whiny or whatever else, let ME handle it.

*Along with that, my older son bossing his siblings around and also trying to be the parent.

*My younger son saving his homework until the last minute, even though that's totally something I do.

*People who think they know my kids' allergies better than I do.

*That not everyone likes Hamilton as much as me. However, if you do, please join me here. However, I'm also annoyed by certain celebrities who try to act like they are more obsessed than I am. (And if you know me well enough, you know exactly to whom I am referring.)

*Being told how I should do something when I already know what I'm doing.

*The ground bees that keep coming back no matter how many times our pest control guy comes by to spray. Thankfully, he offered another solution and I am going to see if that works.

*Shopping for clothes. I may be spoiled by thrift store prices, but I REFUSE to pay $80 for a bathing suit. Or even $20 for one for my kids.

*That I can never seem to get rid of clutter or clear out my e-mail.

*That spring hours at some cool places in the area didn't start on the day the kids were home.

*That people are still voting for Drumpf. (Not that the other choice is any better...)

So even though I've never watched Little House on the Prairie, this is amusing to read.

What are your latest frustrations. Vent away!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Giveaway: Katherine Stone novels

When I was in college, I mainly read horror novels and V.C. Andrews books. I didn’t really break away from that genre until someone from my V.C. Andrews fan club recommended I read Katherine Stone’s romance novels. Romance?!? That was furthest from my mind as I was getting through a break-up with my first boyfriend. However, I checked out Roommates and was impressed. I then went on to read Happy Endings and couldn’t get enough. After that, I devoured each and every Katherine Stone novel I could get my hands on. I got my sister and a friend hooked on them, as well.

Katherine's books were definitely a source of comfort and solace during an emotional time in my life. They gave me hope that the right man for me was out there. When I finally met him, I still read Katherine’s novels anyway, as I was hooked by then. I even rushed to finish The Cinderella Hour before I went into labor with my first child. I think Katherine wrote a couple more after that time, but then she just stopped.

Since that time, I’ve read novels by other authors that give off a Katherine Stone feel, such as Juliet Madison’s “Tarrin’s Bay” series (of which I just reviewed the fourth book recently) or some novels I read recently by Susan Mallery and Debbie Macomber. Even some of Kristin Hannah’s books gave off a Katherine Stone feel, but that could also have been the Seattle setting talking.

Some of my favorites are Happy Endings, Rainbows, Pearl Moon, Promises, and Illusions. I'm sure that nowadays, I'd be casting them all for Hollywood!

Last year, I found Katherine on Facebook and told her how much I love her books. She responded with a sweet message. It was amazing to be able to connect with her to let her know how special her books are.

And guess what...I have some books of hers to share with TWO lucky readers in the US and/or Canada! Just enter via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends April 26th at midnight EST.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The questions I haven't asked

Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about two years, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week, Darwin Shrugged chose the topic: Write an open letter to someone or something.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.

Darwin Shrugged
Moma Rock

Dear Authors:

In my past six years of book blogging, I've had the chance to interview many of you. I usually ask light and fun questions, as well as some about your books. However, there are some I haven't asked but have been on my mind and I wanted to put them out here now. If you'd like to answer any (or all) of them in the comments section, I'd love to hear your answers. (You're even welcome to write a blog post to answer any or all of them.) They may even inspire another thought provoking blog post at my book blog.

Here goes:
*What was an idea for a book that was in your head but you could never get on paper, so you dismissed it altogether?
*Which book do you wish you wrote (not because of it being popular or a bestseller, but because you loved it)?
*What role do book bloggers play in your book promoting process?
*What is your preferred social media outlet?
*If you had written your book before the Internet came about, how well do you think it would do in generating sales?
*If you could re-write any of your books (or your one book, if you don't have others), what would you do differently?
*What would you like to ask a book blogger?
*When you receive a legitimately bad review (not a troll), how do you feel?
*Have you ever lost a friend over them giving you a bad review? (Or you doing so to them?)
*Have you ever taken constructive feedback from reviews to use for future novels?
*Have you ever contacted someone who reviewed your book that you didn't already know regarding either a good or bad review (i.e. not a book blogger or someone you're in contact with via social media, just a random reviewer)?
*Has another author ever copied one of your ideas?
*What do you think of Book Expos or other writing conventions?
*How do you decide where to have book tours?
*What is a book tour experience like for you?
*Do you read other books while in the process of writing your book? Why or why not?
*What is the publishing process really like?
*Is it crucial to have an agent in order to be published?
*Do you prefer to work with your publisher on marketing your book, or do you work with a publicist instead?
*Have you ever read a book that you wanted to give only one star to? (If you want to tell me what it was, great. If not, I understand.) If so, why?
*What do you think of the term "chick lit"?
*How do you determine if your book is a success?
*How do you get book blurbs from other authors?

Thanks for taking these questions into consideration. I'm just curious about these things.
An avid book blogger

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hey, It's Okay Tuesday

One of my favorite blogs, Airing My Laundry, does a post every week that was inspired by a section of Glamour magazine. She invites her followers to do their own posts like this. I enjoy doing this a every so often, so I thought it's time for another list. Since I don't do this weekly, my list will be long.

It's okay...

*To not be ready for Passover at all yet. I can't even fathom buying the food at this point in time.

*To be excited about The Mindy Project, Orphan Black, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt coming back this week.

*To have really enjoyed Zootopia. And to have "Try Everything" in my head whenever Hamilton songs are not.

*To not want to read a book for book club because it sounds really boring, even if it got good ratings on Amazon, and I have way too many books that I actually WANT to read waiting for me.

*To not keep good track of who I loan my books to.

*To have dressed like Becky Bloomwood for Purim and to have been noticed by Sophie Kinsella. #fangirlmoment

*To have my kids do chores around the house. I want them to learn responsibility early on!

*To be writing "Baby-Sitters Club" fan fiction. My latest installment can be found here.

*To have done good deeds along with the rest of the Jewish community in my area this past weekend.

Showing off the picture I made for terror victims in Israel
*To have already scheduled my 40th birthday as a vacation day. I don't know how I'm spending it yet, but I deserve a day off for this reason!

*To be attending Kindergarten orientation for the last time this month.

*To be excited that my younger son can now ride a two-wheeler by himself at eight years old. (It took me WAY longer to learn how to do that!)

*To be one of the hosts at Hello...Chick Lit's blogiversary party. I really like her blog and am glad to help her celebrate this milestone! Join me tomorrow at 9 pm EST!

Airing My Dirty Laundry

Friday, April 8, 2016

Stacey's Big Break

I've decided to add to my Baby-Sitters Club fan fiction piece, sharing Stacey's perspective this time. While I related more to Mary Anne as a kid, I enjoyed reading about Stacey as she seemed to have it all together and always dotted her "i's" with hearts. The books about her were a lot of fun, especially "Boy-Crazy Stacey," which I decided to re-visit by bringing a character back from that story.

Before you start, read Kristy and Mary Anne's chapters, in that order.


I wake up to sunlight streaming through my window, a pounding headache, and the chorus of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” playing over and over.  The latter being my ringtone.
“Turn that thing off!” I shout to no one, as Toby already left for work and it’s a little past 11 a.m. I cover my head with the pillow and groan, trying to piece everything together from last night. There was the impromptu dinner with the girls from the BSC, also known as my best friends in the world, aside from Laine. There was Kristy’s little attitude problem. And then there were the celebratory shots that Mallory and Dawn kept ordering for me. I don’t even know what time I got back to my apartment or even how I did that.
The ring tone shuts off by itself and I hear the ping telling me I have a new voice message. I hope it’s Kristy calling to apologize, but that would be asking too much.
After fixing myself some coffee, I check my voicemail.
“This message is for Stacey McGill. My name is Amanda Swanson and I am calling to invite you to audition for the national touring cast of Mary Poppins. Please come to the Javits Center on Saturday, March 19th at 9 a.m. We hope to see you then.”
I nearly drop the phone. Mary. Poppins. My all-time favorite movie, and I have a chance to audition for the stage version! I want to tell all my friends at once, but I have a feeling they need a break from “The Stacey Show.” I decide to call Claudia instead, since it’s only a little after five in the evening in Paris.
After several rings, I’m about to hang up when Claudia answers.
“May I speak to Claudia, please?”
“Stacey, it’s me.”
“You sure don’t sound like you.”
“Sorry. I think I picked up whatever my roommate brought home from the preschool where she teaches.”
“I should probably let you get some rest then.”
“No. You are calling me in Paris when everyone else lives somewhat nearby.”
“Well, since you’re my best friend, I thought you should hear first that I was invited to audition for the National touring cast of Mary Poppins!”
I am met with silence.
“Claudia? You still there?”
I hear some rustling.
“Sorry, I dropped the phone. What were you saying?”
“I was invited to audition for the National touring cast of Mary Poppins!”
“That’s amazing! They have to cast you as Mary. You know the whole movie by heart and you sing the songs perfectly.”
“Aww. Thanks!”
“Does anyone else know?”
“Before you dropped the phone, I was saying that you’re the first person I’ve told.”
“Before Toby? I feel honored. Do you think he’ll be excited for you?”
“Like you even have to ask? He knows this has been my dream.”
“How are you going to get married if you get chosen to be in the show and are barely home?”
“Let me figure that out. Why has this week been all about bursting my bubbles? First, Kristy questioned my marriage plans, and now you’re trying to keep me from auditioning for my favorite musical ever! Besides, it’s a tour and it might only go for a year or two.”
“What if you want kids? Aren’t you pushing the age limit to even try for them?”
“It hasn’t come up yet and I haven’t given motherhood much thought, thank you very much. Anyway, I should get going.”
“Okay… Well then, break a leg, and don’t forget to eat something before the audition.”
“Thanks… ‘Mom.’ Hope you feel better soon.”
“Thanks. Call me when the audition is over and let me know how it goes. Bye.”
After I hang up with Claudia, I pace around the apartment, trying to let out some negative energy. Then I start practicing “A Spoonful of Sugar” for the big audition while waiting for Toby to come home. I’m sure we’ll go out to celebrate, so I don’t even bother cooking.


I am up bright and early on Saturday, ready for the audition that could change my life. Quite a change from when I was woken up by the phone call about it a week and a half ago. I shower, change, kiss Toby while he’s still sleeping,  and am out the door with my audition bag (the “Kid Kits” inspired me to make a bag of stuff to keep me busy during the long waits at auditions) at 8:15. I hail a cab and am on my way to the Javits Center with plenty of time to spare so that I’m not completely rushed once I arrive.
Good thing I get there when I do, as the area roped off for auditions is already packed full of young women hoping for their big break on stage. I begin to wonder why they called me. Everyone else seems to be 10 years younger than me, or so it feels that way.
After waiting what feels like several hours and finishing a whole book, as well as catching up on e-mail (thanks, audition bag!), I finally get called in with about fifteen other girls. We’re led to a big conference room with a raised podium in front of a table with several men and women seated behind it.
I sit through several repetitions of various Mary Poppins tunes until I am finally called up to the podium for my turn. I make my way up there, trying to ignore the rumbling in my stomach that isn’t from nerves. (Why didn’t I listen to Claudia?!?) And as I’m standing on the podium, I see him. Jeremy Anderson. Tony winner several times over and intensely attractive. He's sitting at the table with the rest of the people who are patiently waiting to decide my fate, as I wait for the pianist to give me the starting notes. And he's piercing me with his radiant blue eyes, like he can see through me. Everyone else is giving me an impatient stare, in the meantime.
I think I'm supposed to say something, so I clear my throat and introduce myself.
"I'm Stacey McGill and I'm auditioning for the role of Mary Poppins. I'll be performing 'A Spoonful of Sugar' today." Then I look at the pianist to give him a cue to begin. I still feel Jeremy's stare as I position myself to audition for the role of a lifetime.
I hear the first note from the pianist, but then just a rushing sound in my ears like I'm underwater. My heart feels like it is racing a mile a minute, and just as I'm about to sing, the room turns pitch black.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

You know you're obsessed with Hamilton....

I recently saw a video about stages of becoming obsessed with Hamilton. I can certainly relate to some of the stages mentioned. Here's my personal list of how obsessed I am with Hamilton.

*I've succeeded in getting my older son obsessed so we can share in our love for this great musical.

*I've never seen it on stage, but I can picture all the scenes in my head.

*I saw a picture of Jonathan Groff in a magazine and immediately told my son "It's the King of England!" (My son actually said "You mean King George?")

*I was disappointed that I couldn't find an Alexander Hamilton figure at Madame Tussaud's. (Yes, I was looking for one...)

*I have the songs going through my head...."Non-Stop!" ("Why do you write like you're writing out of time?")

*I find random videos online and watch them all the time. My favorite is still the high school performing Hamilton, where it looks like a mockumentary. I also love the a capella group.

*I listen to the soundtrack in my car all the time and then feel like I'm betraying it if I "Take a Break." ("There's a little surprise before supper and it cannot wait.")

*I use lines to describe a certain Presidential candidate potentially winning the election. ("The world turned upside down.") However, I hope I can instead sing "You're never gon' be President now..." come Election Day.

*I saw a street named Schuyler and immediately wanted to say "Work, work..."

*I got all happy about recently meeting a kid named Alexander and e-mailing with a woman named Peggy.

*I downloaded the lyrics so my son and I can learn the words to the songs better.

*I rushed home from work to watch the coverage from the White House a few weeks ago.

*I find ways to work Hamilton into conversations whenever possible or try to figure out who is as obsessed as I am.

*I sing the songs around the house all the time.

*I just want to be in the room (or theater) where it happens and if I see it once "that would be enough." (Who am I kidding?!? I only saw Rent 10 times on stage...)

*When someone asks "what time is it?" I want to say "it's showtime!"

And finally...

*I'm working on a way to fit one of the songs into our Passover Seder this year.

A small glimpse into my obsession...

Thursday, March 31, 2016

You're probably doing it wrong...

Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about two years, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week, I chose the topic: Try out a life hack you've seen online and talk about your experience. (You can do more than one if you have time.) If you've tried some in the past, talk about those, as well.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.

Darwin Shrugged
Moma Rock

I always see posts with different "life hack" ideas posted online, usually with ways to get organized. When I decided to propose this topic to my group, I found a site called 1000 Life Hacks. It's very addictive to read through and I did find some interesting ideas. One was about a website that gives free piano lessons. I sent that to my kids and it will be interesting to see if they try it out. Another suggested crushing candy canes to use in food and beverage items during the winter holidays. I did try that once for a cookies and cream pie I usually make, but it took a while to crush the candy canes and they were almost too much in the pie.

A while back, I read about stuffing your sheets into your pillowcase in order to organize the linen closet and keep everything together. Of course, when I did it, it just took up more space! I'm not good at folding the fitted sheets into something neat and flat.

Someone else shared the idea of putting little dollar store baskets in the linen closet to sort towels, wash cloths, extra pillow cases, etc. I tried that out and it has seemed to help a bit. However, I still have more wash cloths and towels than I have space in the baskets for them.

From the website, I found another idea that I decided to try out, since I was making challah anyway.

This is how it turned out. I'll know this weekend if the taste or texture are any different.

What is YOUR favorite life hack?