Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge!

Lately I have been wanting to take my blogging further. Not sure where to go with it and sometimes feeling a bit lost I sought out different challenges to complete to help me be a better blogger and blog more.

So, this month of April I commit to blogging 26 days! That is Monday through Saturday I will bring you at least one post every single day.

To give this challenge some direction I have themed my posts, they will all be some sort of project, like a craft or organizing project or sometimes a craft to help you organize!

If you have a craft or project you would like to see for a specific letter please let me know, I would be happy to incorporate anything you might like to see! Please, if there is anything you want to see let me know in the comments below :)

I have been working on this for a month now. I have had a lot of fun with it and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I enjoyed putting it together!

Here is the schedule for the challenge:

If you are participating in the A to Z Challenge as well please leave a comment so I can stop by and visit your blog as well! 

A to Z Links

Monday, March 30, 2015

Cover Release: Tapped by Stacey Grice

Oh.My.Gosh!!!!! This is why I love being a blogger. A while back y'all remember the review I posted of  Totaled, well, Stacey is back with the 2nd book in the series, Tapped! I was selected to be on the blog tour for the COVER RELEASE! I am so excited to find out what happens with Bree and Drew! It has been killing me all these months!

If you haven't read Totaled yet, I really recommend picking it up, it doesn't cost much in the Amazon store and if you have a kindle or the kindle app you can be reading it in a few minutes. It is a quick read and takes place near my hometown ;)

So...without further ado...I bring you the cover of Tapped....

Author: Stacey Grice
Add to  Goodreads

Unexpectedly thrust into a whirlwind romance, Bree thought her relationship with Drew could withstand any obstacle thrown their way. Excited for the future, everything she thought she knew came crashing down in one horrible night. Forced to re-evaluate her feelings, Bree is left alone with a heavy heart and the realization that Drew's nightmare changed everything. 

The effects of his trauma once again surfacing, Drew had no idea how volatile his actions were until it was too late. He must work to rebuild trust with everyone around him, all while participating in vigorous therapy and being separated from Bree. When a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity presents itself with impeccably poor timing, Drew has some tough decisions ahead.

Can he heal the wounds his past has created and quiet the demons that haunt him? Can he repair the damage done with his love or will he give up? 

Discover if it’s all too much and Drew ends up...


Author’s Note: Tapped is a continuation of Totaled, the first book in the Totaled series. It is highly recommended to read these books in sequential order. Due to mature content, profane language, and sexual situations, this book is recommended for ages 18 and up.

Other Books: (Totaled #1)
Add to  Goodreads
Buy from: Amazon | B&N | IBooks | Kobo | CreateSpace

I am a mother, wife, Registered Nurse, avid reader, and most recently pursuing taking my own writing to the next level. I appreciate honesty but not cruelty, a wicked sense of humor, and a good cup of coffee, blond with enough creamer to coat my tongue yellow. 

Being an astute people watcher and having an extremely judgmental mind gives me constant inspiration for my stories. But my characters, like many authors, are conceived from actual people in my life. A hodgepodge of personality traits, real world instances, and conversations that I have directly taken part in are the foundation for my fictional world.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Verzetsmuseum-The Dutch Resistance Museum

I have a friend here. Just about every week we get together and we go see a museum in Amsterdam or we take a walk around the city and see what sort of architecture we can find or just enjoy being in Europe-getting coffee, strolling the canals, etc. Having a buddy that enjoys these outings and being in Europe as much as I do has really made this experience ten times more memorable.

A few weeks back, since we were both political science majors who are learning all sorts of new things about WWII we decided to go to the Verzetsmusuem, The Dutch Resistance Museum. If you are ever spending any length of time in Amsterdam you should put it on your "must see" list, I'd say anything over 3 days, this should go on your list. There is even a section dedicated to explaining WWII to children. It is extremely well done, and for me, connected the dots of all the facts I had learned here and there making WWII a complete picture finally.

When you check in you can use a museumkaart or you can buy a ticket, audio tours are free, but we didn't use ours as we read much faster than the person spoke on the audio tour and all that was said was printed on the walls to read. We also found the audio tour to be quite overwhelming.

After you check in you go upstairs to watch an introductory movie, after the movie you can begin looking around the museum. The first exhibit you enter was my favorite, it gives you a full over view of WWII which really explains just how this was a true World War. It goes into decent detail of each country's involvement and what it was like for people living there at the time. How good, honest people had to do not-so-honest things just to survive. It also makes the connection of how Japan was involved, how Indonesia came to have it's independence , and what happened to the Dutch government after Germany invaded.

The next part of the exhibit goes on to explain everyone's different religious views and how they used this to get through German invasion. It also describes what community was like during this time and what pressure people in the government were feeling. Everyday they were faced with horrible decisions, but did their best to keep their position even if they had to make horrible decisions just so they wouldn't be replaced with Nazi sympathizers.

I have always been horrified by the events of WWII and after living here I am even more horrified by everything that happened as it was so much worse than I was taught. I am glad to have the knowledge I do and want to share that with as many people as possible.

Here are a few photos I managed to take while we were in the museum, I didn't take too many as it seemed a bit weird to be taking photos about such horrible events.

These are different ration booklets and information on rationing.

Propaganda posters 

The V=Victory

"The Germans, with an overwhelming amount of propoganda material, try to influence the Dutch population. Cinema newsreels, pamphlets, brochures and colour posters are intended to drum into everyone's head teh unstoppable victory of National Socialism. Dormant aversion to the Jews is stirred up and the fear of communism is fed."

"Allied aeroplanes drop pamphlets that challenge German propaganda. The letter V becomes a symbol for Victory. In the summer of 1941, the Germans adopt the V in their own campaign: 'V=Victory, because Germany is victorious on all fronts.' In a counter move, the Dutch vandalize the posters. The V becomes W, for Wilhelmina, or V for Verliest (loses) or Verzuipt (drowns)."
{for those that don't know the W in Dutch has a "vway" sound to it if that makes sense. You place your top teeth on your bottom lip and the sound that comes out as far as I understand it like a "vwuh" sound if you were to make it phonetic}

For the Dutch since they had declared neutrality to be invaded and involved was a big deal, I think the biggest issue with this was they didn't know when it was going to end. No one did, so as a country that wanted to be neutral in this whole ordeal how do you go about keeping peace in your country with your government in hiding? The Dutch, much in Dutch fashion, seemed to mostly keep their heads down but doing little things here and there to not necessarily make life a living hell for themselves but figured out small things to do to say, this is wrong. This shouldn't be happening.
This is "Protected by Line 9", this is nearish my husbands work. Apparently there was a nursery, from what I remember this is where Jewish children were dropped as the awaited deportation as it had been turned into an annex of the Hollandsche Schouwburg, which is where adult Jews (16+) awaited deportation. Now, am married couple, Semmy and Joop Woortman, would visit this nursery which was protected by Line 9 and they would go in, grab a child, the owner would wait by the door and let them know when they tram 9 was coming, they would run beside the tram and jump on, and take the children they carried out to safety. They had to do this as the nursery being an annex was across from the Hollandsche Schouwburg which was guarded by Nazi troops. Once tjhe Woortman's were on the tram most passengers would begin laughing as they knew exactly what they were up to, but in typical Dutch fashion didn't say anything.

It was little ways like this the Dutch stood up to the German's and tried to help even if it meant later on they actually wound up in hiding themselves.

This part really tugged at my heartstrings, these were letters that were written by deportees, when they were on the train just as it was leaving the station they would throw them out the window in hopes their loved ones left behind would get them. 

A photo of printing presses used at the time.

The final part of the museum tells a bit about the aftermath of WWII. I loved all the flags on display of the countries involved. 

This little bit really shows Dutch {Amsterdam specifically} culture, a soldier on a bike with two ladies, celebrating the end of occupation. The information on the sideboard tells of all the coupling and babies that were born after this time, almost like a repopulation of sorts!

I saved this one for last, a statue of Hitler's head that was knocked down at the end of the war. I can only imagine how the people that were there felt during this time and I am sure my imagination doesn't do their feelings justice. All we can do is make sure we are educated and make sure we don't allow such abominable horrors to happen again.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My thoughts and feelings on Chappie

This weekend we went to see Chappie. This is an interesting film from Neill Blomkamp, who did District 9.

After looking at the 3 films that I know of his: District 9, Elysium, and now Chappie; Blomkamp obviously loves films that explore prejudice of some sort. I'm not sure why, I couldn't find a lot on him aside from his career work, but I'm not really here to talk about his fascination, just the connection, and how I feel Chappie explores nature vs. nurture, and how this effects our children.

I find, it refreshing, a man from Johannesburg is fascinated with and exploring prejudices and environment. Exploring prejudice and environment may not have been his outward intent when taking these projects on, but I would like to think deep down, that is what drew him to these projects. He is from South Africa, a place that is no stranger to unrest and prejudice. In today's world, experiencing prejudice whether you are a bystander or a participant happens daily. I always wonder why do these occur? Is it media? Is it how we were brought up? What causes people to act the way they do, would they act differently if they were brought up in a different environment?

Nature vs. nurture, is a concept asking if environment or heredity most affects human psychological development.

I am here to tell you it is definitely both {obviously} but I think ones environment {nature} can have a huge impact upon psychological development, and Chappie is a fantastic example of this.

***Warning***If you've yet to see Chappie and want to, you may want to refrain from reading this. I will do my best to not give away the ending, but I am taking an in-depth look at the nature vs. nurture concept of the movie as a whole, so I cannot guarantee I won't spoil it for you.

In the beginning Chappie is like a new born, scared, doesn't understand anything around him, and isn't sure who to trust. As time goes on he realizes there are some people around him who love him and some who scare him.

As children we all learn this, but the people who scare us we often don't have to come into contact with if we don't want to; in Chappie's case though he lived with one of these individuals who scared him in the beginning. Chappie, being naive was still trusting of this individual since he was constantly around and believed anything he was told.

His "maker" gave him a good foundation by telling him not to use guns, participate in heists, or crimes of any nature, but when someone gives Chappie an order and masquerades it as a nice activity or that he is doing someone a favor Chappie falls in to a life of crime and poor speaking habits. His general spirit of goodness stayed the same, but his outward personality was "tarnished" due to being in a poor environment.

Now, by "poor" I don't mean lack of money, I mean a not as positively nurturing an environment as his maker would have provided him. He learned mannerisms like wiping his nose after speaking since the people he lived with were drug users, he was taught cuss words, and how to handle weapons. He was judged and the majority of those in his home became annoyed with Chappie easily and yelled at him a lot, making him crave acceptance and love. There was one person in the home {mommy} who loved him no matter what {nurture}, just for who Chappie was or who "he" would become or the person "he" desired to be.

Chappie experienced a lot of prejudice because of his outward appearance. He was not taught to bully people or that you shouldn't accept people for who they are so when he experiences people throwing rocks and boards at him, Chappie doesn't quite understand what was happening or why. His outward appearance labeled him, but who he was on the inside was completely different. But, in today's fashion, the group judged him by his outward appearance and decided appropriate action would be to throw stones and hurt him, simply based on looks. Once Chappie finds his way home, those that supposedly loved him took hold of this insecurity he learned during his time alone in the real world, a position they put him in, and taught him that hurting someone before they hurt you is okay. Which we all know isn't okay.

Chappie experienced other abuses, he was also picked on because of his maker. Since someone didn't like Chappie's maker, he suffered by being abused and tortured. This individual didn't take the time to understand Chappie and that he was completely innocent, this man just knew who the maker of Chappie was so Chappie needed to be destroyed.

As a teacher, I have had the opportunity to work with some interesting individuals, as an expat I have had the opportunity to observe people from all walks of life all over the world. I have always asked myself when people behave the way they do is it just their true inner personality or is it how they were brought up? If certain people were placed in a different, more watchful or more nurturing environment would they be better learners? If they had less responsibilities as young adults would they be better mannered?

I don't have the answers to these questions, I think most everyone's behavior definitely has something to do with their life experience. I do feel though, who you are deep down inside will always resonate throughout anything you do. For me, I have always been a deeply feeling, caring person and no matter where I am in life, that has been the number one personality trait to stand out. For Chappie, it was his ability to accept people for who they were without question and to give himself selflessly for those he loved. Even down to his last moments he was thinking about saving those he cared for before himself. When I taught, there were kids you could definitely get through to because deep down they were naturally caring, but, like Chappie had been taught that survival is key, so many times that inner caring gets covered up by a steel exterior to protect their feelings.

I love the intricacies of this movie and how it got me thinking about past students and what they were up to, how their lives may have panned out, and how their lives could have been different if they had been in a different environment. Or how they may not have, how some people, even given everything can still manage to dig themselves into a hole.

So, what do you think, does environment and how one is brought up play the biggest role in personality and life success or is it personality and perseverance?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Currently, Vol. 7

This last week has been full of some interesting and fun days. We are going through a rather complicated issue with the kiddo and school, I was sick for four weeks, and spring is definitely on the way. So, here is a little recap of what is going on Currently.

First off I want to give a great big thank you to Motherhood Through My Eyes for featuring one of my instagram photos in her Moms Who Motivate post yesterday, really made my day as Instagram is my favorite social media and I am glad I made her feel like gettin' up and movin'! Now groove on over there and check it out, and follow me on Insta if you don't already, would love to "see" you over there! 

Making...a lot of smoothies lately. Trying to use up the frozen fruit so I can defrost the freezer, it has a lot of ice build up.

This gem is from Angela over at Oh She Glows, it is her Flu-Buster Clementine Smoothie. Full of Vitamin C and just really makes your throat feel awesome when it is raw and dry and just feeling awful.

Watching...sunsets, around 18.30...so lovely to have no clouds and sun until 18.30!

Enjoying...my workouts. Took me a long time to fall back in love with exercising again. I had continued on my workout path but wasn't truly enjoying them, I am happy to report I am truly loving my workouts again.

Loving...the date nights my hubby and I have had and the yummy restaurants we've been finding.

Thankful...for all the time I get to spend with this young lady and that she is so adventurous in exploring our city and Europe in general.

Quote of the day...Things haven't been easy the last few weeks for the kiddo at school, but as soon as she gets home and can be herself and we can goof off laughter seems to cure all. So, chin up, everyone...if you are having a bad day, try and laugh it off....will at least bring down the stress levels ;)

So, what have you been making, watching, and enjoying?

What are you thankful for lately?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Meal Plan Monday 2015 #11

Well, this weekend was a fun one. It really started on Thursday with a 25 km bike ride with the kiddo. Thursday she is released early from school and since the sun is up longer we decided we would start doing something cultural after school each of those days. I will say I have raised such an adventurous kid with an amazing sense of direction. She managed to convince me-who has always been too scared to bike downtown-to bike downtown...and follow her! She navigated us there like a champ, coming home was a bit longer but sooooooo much fun!

Friday evening we just relaxed as she had come home sick from a bit of dizzyness. Saturday she was fine and wound up going downtown with friend to walk around in their onesies...because what else are a group of teenage expats to do on a sunny Saturday?!

While they were busy doing that the hubby and I headed over to rent a tux for a party we are attending in a couple of weeks and then we walked around De Pijp and had lunch at The Butcher.

Best burgers we've had in Amsterdam...go try them!

After that we biked over to the Rijksmuseum (it is only a 5 minute ride) so we could ride under the building which has had a lot of controversy, which I will write about in time. It was a lot of fun, after we headed over to see Chappie.

This past week was fairly successful, I really focused on my goals and managed to get back on working out, didn't do much reading, because I got involved in Call the Midwife on Netflix, ha! But, this week all reading. ;)

Workout Schedule
  • Monday: PIYO drench
  • Tuesday: 2 mile run, fit tutor
  • Wednesday: 4 mile run, stretching
  • Thursday: Yoga
  • Friday: Insanity Cardio
  • Saturday: 3 mile run, fit tutor, stretching
  • Sunday: Stretching
  • Dutch
  • Finish the Poet's Wife
  • Get at least 5 cards made
  • Mail birthday packages
  • Oatmeal bowl, using up the frozen fruit X3
  • Egg whites with sweet potato and breakfast greens X2
  • Saturday: Pancakes
  • Sunday: Cinnamon roll croissants
  • Turkey and cheese sandwiches with orange slices and cheese X3
  • Leftovers X2
  • Saturday: Grilled cheese and soup
  • Sunday: Snack on leftovers
For this week I have two dinners which my husband won't touch because I highly anticipate he will have at least two dinners at work this week...he usually does. The rest are things he will eat. I didn't include any days to eat out as we are going on an over night trip the weekend after next and I don't want to spend any unnecessary extras :)
So, what are you up to this week?

Check out the rest of the party with Mommy Run Fast, Jill Conyers, and I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Currently, Vol. 6

Well, it has been two weeks since I've done a currently! I was so sick for two whole weeks then my kiddo had her "early spring break" and now I am still fighting something in my chest...but I am still operational, thank goodness!

 Enjoying....all of the sun we have been having! It has been soooooooo nice! I am also 

enjoying the flowers I am seeing popping up all over! 

This was my 3rd day in a row of sunglasses!

These flowers are amazing. There are all different sorts popping up all over in all different colors. It is make the city very vibrant.

Attempting....to get back on track with healthy eating. Less sugar, less treats. Not doing half 

bad so far, really enjoying the salads I have been making lately, I think my body was greens deprived.
This is my favorite salad lately...arugula, other green of choice, tuna, cottage cheese, avocado, apple, onions, and tomato with a drizzle of balsamic and some salt and pepper.

Shopping....just for groceries this month. We are spending on nothing but the necessities, so 

that is all we are buying.

Excited about...the upcoming night away hubby and I have planned. Should be fairly 

romantic...cute little dutch town planned around a castle. Can't beat it.

Quote of the Day...Not really a quote but more a series of statements I try to live by.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 2015 #10

 Last week's menu was pretty successful for the most part, we took lots of snacks to Belgium and threw out a couple of meals in favor of leftovers! ha! My workout schedule was not successful, I tried a couple of days, but coupled with all the sight seeing we were doing and still not being 100% apparently I had to abandon my plan and listen to my body.

Let us move on to this week!

Workout Schedule
  • Sunday: Yoga
  • Monday: 3 mile run, fit tutor
  • Tuesday: Insanity workout
  • Wednesday: 2 mile run, fit tutor
  • Thursday: Yoga
  • Friday: 3 mile run, fit tutor
  • Saturday: Insanity workout
Weekly Goals
  • Meal plan, prep, and stick to it.
  • Bike to one cultural event.
  • Create four items to list in Etsy store.
  • Complete 4 hours of Dutch practice, and try and conduct one meeting with a Dutch person in Dutch.

Weekly Menu
  • Sunday: Cheese Crescents with fruit salad
  • Monday: Smoothie bowl
  • Tuesday: Quinoa Oatmeal (Thug Kitchen Cookbook)
  • Wednesday: Eggs with sweet potato
  • Thursday: Quinoa Oatmeal
  • Friday: Eggs with sweet potato
  • Saturday: Eggs, pancakes, sausage
  • Sunday: Snacks/Leftovers
  • Kiddo: Sandwich with cucumber and orange slices x2
  • Kiddo: Leftovers x2
  • Kiddo: Buy one time
  • Me:
    • Monday: Grilled chicken with Italian cabbage salad
    • WF: Chicken Salad
    • Tu/Th: Tuna Salad
    • Will Have a potato and leek soup to go with the meal each day (didn't get to this last week)
  • Saturday: Panini's with Veggie Soup
  • Sunday: Tacos/Roasted Chickpea and Broccoli Burritos with side salad and apple-pear (once upon a time this said broccoli-pear sauce, I meant apple-pear, that is what I get for writing while hopped up on cough medicine! ha!) sauce. We are having a dinner guest and will serve for dessert Stroopwafel and coke floats!
  • Monday: Coconut-lime rice with red beans and mango (a meal I didn't get to last week)
  • Tuesday: Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf with side salad and apple-pear sauce
  • Wednesday: Roasted cauliflower/chicken wings for the hubby, corn, fries, green beans
  • Thursday: Zoodles with creamy tomato sauce and chicken (optional), from 21 Day Sugar Detox cookbook; Chicken carbonara for hubby served with a side salad for everyone
  • Friday: Leftovers/breakfast for dinner
  • Saturday: Create something fabulous out of the leftovers, date night for the hubby and I, we will probably go for a movie and walk depending on the weather.

What are you eating and planning this week?

P.S, Join in on the parties over at Mommy Run Fast, Jill Conyers, and I'm an Organizing Junkie.