One of my greatest joys in life is reading by the pool with a cocktail. It's even more exciting if I get to read on vacation. Recently I was able to sneak in some me time on a work trip and read a little bit but instead of a cocktail I enjoyed a warm cup of tea because it was a little brisk out (plus hello I was working). Reading without any interruptions is good for my mind and soul and I wish I had more time for a good novel. I love sharing book reviews with you so I can pass on some good reads. Unfortunately this time I do NOT have a recommendation for you.
I finally finished The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney which took me soooooo many months to finish because it was terrible. I struggled to finish the book but I kept hoping it was going to turn around for the better. To give the book the benefit of the doubt it was set in Ireland so much of the language and jargon was totally foreign to me. I also hated the ending of the book which stopped abruptly without a true conclusion.
Set in a rough part of Ireland Maureen Phelan accidentally kills an intruder who sneaks into her home one evening. The consequences of the unplanned murder are detailed through the rest of the book connecting four struggling misfits, Ryan, Tony, Georgie, and Jimmy. Ryan is a young teen who has already dropped out of school who sells drugs. Tony, Ryan's Father is an alcoholic widower who is failing at raising his 7 children. Georgie is a drug-addict, prostitute who finds herself caught up with a born-again cult movement and Jimmy is a gangster who thinks he runs the dark side of the town. I never connected with any of the characters. The story line was slow and boring; never a twist or a turn.
How is it that my baby is 3?!?! This sassy, spicy, sour, and sweet little girl is such a little person now and I love watching her personality develop. Several months ago Miss Madison started saying she wanted a Trolls party and she wanted to be Princess Poppy, Sissy to be DJ Suki, Mommy to be Smidge and Daddy to be Branch. She never changed her mind; this girl knows what she wants! So there was no question that we were throwing a Trollstice. I had so much fun putting this party together for our baby girl. Step 1 were the outfits; I had the dresses made and I made the Troll Hair Headbands.
I don't have any problems with the creative ideas but I have the worst handwriting and no artistic abilities unfortunately so I was able to get the help of Chalk Talk Queen. She created two chalkboards that added so much to the decor of the party!
The kid's table is always the centerpiece of our birthday parties. I handled all of the table decor but the showstopper was the cake from Kaja's Kreations. It was literally the most fun cake I've even seen in my life. Everything (minus the Troll characters) was edible and to die for DELICIOUS! It was a two layer Oreo cake with cookies and cream-cream cheese filling. It was so moist and tasty; so it was as delicious as it was stunning.
Kaja's Kreations also did the cupcakes for each of the little ones. They were blue velvet with a rainbow frosting. The cupcakes were the icing on the cake for the kid's table.
The beverage bar had colorful drinks for young and old. To make a rainbow of drinks I served watermelon and blue raspberry vodka with Sprite for the adults and Pineapple Fanta and water (with food coloring) for the kiddos.
Tofa's Mediteranean Grill catered the lunch and they way outdid themselves! We had green salad, pita bread, hummus, rice pilaf, chicken kabobs with garlic sauce, pita quesadillas, and french fries to fill our bellies after playing. Every guest raved about how flavorful, juicy, and scrumptious the food was. I can confidently say everyone left full and satisfied.
The birthday girl was quite the star at her party followed around all day by the sweetest photographer Melissa Gotelli. Melissa captured Madi and her party so perfectly! She was extremely kind and engaging with all the little ones. Not only was she sweet but she was also thorough and professional. I am beyond happy with the quality of the photos and her turn around time was nearly unmatched.
|The birthday girl with her grandmas.|
|The birthday girl with her godparents.|
I made Troll Hair party favors and favor tags for all of Madi's friends. The chalkboard was again done by Chalk Talk Queen.
I couldn't have pulled off this party without all the help! Everything turned out so perfect and I was honored to work with these companies. Locals you must check them out!
The post is sponsored. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.
I'm still in shock that it's already May but Summer is just around the corner! So I'm literally doing the biggest happy dance over here. But as the temperatures rise so do the bills, right?!?! I wanted to share some ideas with you on how to save on your energy bills. You don't want to sweat it out in your house but you also don't want to pay as much as your house payment to your electric company. Here are some tips and tricks so you can stay cool and keep those extra bucks in your pocket.
1. Pitch in as a family.
The most obvious way to save a few pennies is to make sure everyone is doing their part to save electricity by turning off lights & unplugging electronics. Even teach your kids from an early age to turn off lights behind them, turn off the tv when they walk out of the room, and to close doors when walking outside.
2. Unplug electronics not in use.
Did you know that when you leave items plugged in they still suck energy and use power, known as Vampire Energy? Unplug those devices or for an easier trick just us a power strip and flip the switch on it when not using those items.
3. Change your filter
It's a cheap solution to change your air filters. The dirtier they are, the harder your system has to work and that costs you more money. Schedule an air filter exchange in your calendar so you don't get behind.
4. Use LED Light Bulbs
LED Light bulbs use 84% less energy and last 25x longer so it may seem like a big initial investment but it's worth it in the long run.
5. Clean the lint trap in dryer.
It's so easy to throw everything in the dryer, set it and run off. But don't forget the simple step of cleaning the lint trap every single time so your dryer can work most efficiently. If it's efficient it will dry faster which means less use and a lower bill. Don't forget to clean the vent a few times a year for the same reason. Plus a plugged vent is a fire hazard.
6. Reduce water heater temp from 140 degrees to 120 degrees.
Your water heater is one of the most costly appliances in your home so lower the temp a bit to lower your bill. Also when you go out of town lower it even further.
7. Program your thermostat
Setting your A/C to go on and off at set times can really save you some money. You can program it to go up when you are away from home and in the middle of the night when you are sleeping.
8. Grill instead of use the kitchen
Cooking in the kitchen is one of the fastest ways to heat up the house. If you're heating up the house internally then your A/C is going to run longer and thus cost you more money. Since the weather is warm outside do your cooking on the grill so you don't add any heat inside. I've even placed my crockpot in the garage so it heats up the garage and not my kitchen.
9. Wash in cold water
Using hot water in the dish washer and washing machine can be costing you a ton of money. There are several types of loads that don't need to be washed in hot water. There are even soaps that allow you to switch to cold water.
10. Use high-energy devices at low-cost times when the energy rates are lower.
You have to get smart about when you are running high- energy devices like the dishwasher, washer, dryer, pool equipment, and A/C. When it's cooler outside like very early morning or late evening then the energy rates are lower at those times. Take advantage of lower rates to run your high energy devices.
11. Smart & Timed Lighting
Although you've reminded everyone about turning everything off when they leave the room or house there may be times when someone forgets. Smart & timed lighting can solve that problem because you can control the smart items with an app on your phone. It also will save money for times that you are out of town. Typically you would have to leave specific lights on 24/7 while you are gone but with smart lighting you can time them to come on and off when you want.
12. Close blinds in the day while away
Keeping all your blinds closed while away will keep your house much cooler and so the A/C will need to run less.
I am a lover of all holidays. I love the decorating, the activities and the family time most of all. We had a special Easter and it was so much fun. Being all together was such a blessing and an Easter we will always fondly remember. We decorated Easter eggs at home as well as at Auntie Lala's with all the cousins. We celebrate Easter with Kevin's family on Saturday and the party was at Mom Mom and Papa's. The day was filled with games, egg hunting, and lots of yummy food. On Sunday we attended mass and then a delicious brunch at Fort Washington Country Club with friends and family.
The Easter Bunny left a trail of eggs from the girls' room to their baskets in the breakfast nook.