Ultimate Coffee: December’s Let’s Chat!

Wow. November went by fast, didn’t it?! I am excited to chat this morning…doesn’t a hot cup of coffee sound good? Let’s catch up a bit…

Ultimate Coffee | Hardly A Goddess

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
I am really not having coffee. (!!!!) I know! shocking, right? I decided to break up with coffee for 10 days…I am doing an Advocare 10-day thing. I was feeling really gross and bloated and had headaches a lot, so I am hoping this will set me straight and get me back feeling more comfortable in my own skin! So I will share more of this 10 day later too, but for now, I have been liking the Spark-drink that is part of Advocare enough, not to totally miss my java. Though just typing this, makes me miss it. Breaking up is hard to do…

spark advocare

Like my cup? Such an awesome pic! lol!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
We had an amazing visit to Santa’s Village last week! Our tradition is to go the day after Thanksgiving, and it did not disappoint! My kids love this place- there are rides, Christmas themed everything, lights, elves, real reindeer, a cobbler, gingerbread, and just fun everywhere. I love it. I will offer a review later this week in full form, so if you are considering a place in New Hampshire to take your family, this is a great option!

Santa's Village

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
Soccer is over, and basketball has begun. No rest for the weary cheering section, my friends. But the good part is I love watching basketball, so it’s all good. My boys are psyched to watch their favorites, the Celtics, and I of course will watch Syracuse…until I don’t. I don’t love it that much- all four of my kids are playing this season, and we only have one with a sprained ankle! Trying to get this kid to “rest” and not run around- it will never heal, I feel. She is a trooper though, and hopefully can play this weekend. And as for my weekend…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…
We are getting our tree this weekend, and going to set up our lights and all. We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas- or really the kids just do Christmas, but I do Hanukkah and we all get to enjoy the benefits of both this year at the same time, since they overlap. Hanukkah starts on the 24th at sundown, which is so nice for us. It will be a wonderful family time, and makes it that much more special. For now, I am enjoying the lead-up and getting the house ready, and ordering stuff, and watching a lot of fun Christmas movies, which I love. They are corny and I love them: The Santa Clause, Elf, Eloise at Christmas….terrible and awesome at the same time!

Last Year's Tree

Last Year’s Tree

Are you ready for the holidays?! I hope you have a good weekend doing whatever it is that makes you, your best self. Thank you for reading…and the chat! Enjoy~

November Reads: What’s on your nightstand?

What's on your nightstand? November

Jean-Honoré Fragonard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s talk about books!

*This post contains affiliate links, where if you click on them and make a purchase, I make a small percentage. I include them so that you can find what I am referencing and loving!*

To recap what I read last month, you can read the post or I can just tell you:

The Story of a New Name, Dad’s Fat, and Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing

I am happy to say that I kept up with the good pace and read even more for November- and soooo I have a bunch of great titles to share with you. Honestly, the reason why I am reading so much is that I sort of panicked! I have just 30 more days to complete my Book Riot 2016 challenge and I still haven’t read quite a few books.

After a dive into my TBR (to be read) pile, I now am happy to say that I have just a few (omg- still too many to finish!) for December.

 Here’s what I read for November:

The Story of a New Name, by Elena Ferrante (finished!), 2013
Not part of the challenge, so it takes up a lot of my reading time, that doesn’t “count” toward anything but is probably the most fulfilling…As I finished this book, I found that this is pulling me completely to the next in the series. I have to say, I am tired of series in general though. It limits you to having to read the next one if you liked it. I feel like I need to get on with other books already but am tied to having to read the series! The third book in the Ferrante books is on my pile of to-read books now, so I will start it this week.

Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins (audio), 2016

I loved this! what a great audiobook! It did win the 2016 Audie award for book of the year(!) so I knew other people thought so, and I had always wanted to read it, but never had. It was so compelling and fun to read that my commute was all but over before I wanted it to be! I finally finished it by sitting in my driveway until it was done! Highly recommend as audio, but as a book as well. Now I just have to watch the movie to complete my book challenge of both reading the book and movie of the same name. Do you ever try not to do that? I always shy away from a movie if I loved the book, so that I am not disappointed. But this time, I couldn’t stop thinking about the face of Emily Blount whenever her character was read. Hazards of books turned into movies, I guess! It’s a who-done-it type of book, that keeps you guessing as the story line is told from several points of view, that track time backward from a terrible event. Yes. Just get this one!

Amityville Horror, by Jay Anson, 1979
I had never read this true story, but I remember when the movie came out and was super scared by the concept.  This was the “horror” book that I challenged myself to read this year, and since it is a true story that occurred in 1975, I wanted to know about it. As told in a journalist style, the book details how after moving into a house where a horrible event occurred, a family experienced several repeated occurences and situations that left them terrified and running from the house after just 28 days of living there! This is a non-fiction book, my friends. So if you are interested or intrigued by poltergeist, exorcisms, or things of this nature, then maybe read this when you want to be spooked. It is a fast read- I read it in a day, which says a lot on it being super fast to read! Overall, I liked it. Very different from what I would normally pick, so it was a push to explore something I know nothing about.

Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler, 1980.
This is the first in a series of 4  in the Patternist Series, about two immortals who live in constant struggle with each other: one as a healer, the other who only exists by killing others.  The “wild seed” is the healer, Awaynyu, who Doro, the tyrant wants to breed, in order to finally create a people who are like them: special powers of mind reading, shape shifting, and long lives. The time period of the book is during slavery in Africa to America and presents a different existence based on the lives of these two beings. This books is both a historical account of the atrocities of slavery and also a futuristic look of what our world would look should these books be reality. Very much a science fiction pick here. If this is your type of book you will love it. It definitely would compel me to read the next in the series if I didn’t have so much to read already!

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrick Bachman, 2013

A story about a very different and lonely little 7 year old, who has a very connected relationship with her crazy grandmother, who tells her wonderful fairy tales and stories to make the very best of some very hard situations. It is brilliantly told- the best stories unfold as the book progresses. I love the sense of peeling back of the layers of the onion to find the best part at the end of the story. This is such a great book. The author wrote the bestselling, A Man Called Ove, and also the book, Britt-Marie was Here…which I of course now have to read both of these!

What’s on my eBook reader- reviews?

I am in the midst of reviewing for its January release, Selection Day by Aravind Adiga. He wrote a great book, White Tiger, which won the Booker Prize in 2004, about a poor boy living in Bangalore, India who grows up yearning to be a part of what he deems the true Indian culture of entrepreneurship. It is a dark and funny book, that I loved, so I decided to review Selection Day, which is also a book about Indian culture, but one much different. This book is about two brothers who play game of Cricket and how their lives are shaped by their intense upbringing and lives together. Review to come!

What are my kids loving?

11 Year Old

Now done with #3 of the Harry Potter books, she is onto #4 and in deep love with these books.

10 Year Old

The Thea Stilton books feature a girl-mouse who encounters a dilemma and then figures out an answer. Very cute, straightforward middle-reader here, but the way that the text is written and with scattered pictures is compelling for an 8-10 year old- the beauty is that she is reading harder books, and this is a fun read that she can finish. This series is one that she will re-read when there is nothing else. Fun and cute.

6 Year Olds
Still love their Richard Scarry books. It  is funny, but my guys love the character of Mr. Frumble. He’s such a pain in the neck for the Fire Fighters and for whatever reason, it compels the boys to read this over and over. I am partial to these books too, since I read them when I was a kid and remember loving Lowly the worm and his apple-car.

I have trying to find books with a theme for the boys, so last month we were Fall-themed and this month, in the lead-up to winter we picked some snow-books that we’re liking:

Blizzard, by John Rocco

This author accounts his own experience in the “Blizzard of 1978” as a young boy. My kids love this book because the pictures are from a little-one’s viewpoint…like 4 feet tall and covered in snow! Their dad has a few stories and pictures from when he was little and sitting on a mountain of snow from the blizzard and they love that the book is true and also a great story. Nice pictures and a fold-out that is a fun, map of his world type of picture.

Sooooo. That is IT! A lot, right? Well, for me, it was!

What’s on YOUR nightstand? Comment below to share– I am not a book snob, clearly, so bring it on! I love hearing what’s out there: good, bad or ugly!

Check out these nightstands at : 5 Minutes for MomBookDate, &  Booknificient on Thursday!

What are you reading and loving right now?

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. It does not affect your price at all. For more information, see my full disclosure page.

H.A.G.’s Best Stocking Stuffers for Little Kids

Here are some great smaller gifts that I think my kids and probably yours…would love this season. They are big enough to stuff the stocking, and small enough that they don’t always work as big-presents. I love these, and I will tell you why! I am providing buying options for your convenience, and some- not all- may be affiliate links, where I make a small percentage as commission. It does not affect your price at all. Let’s shop!

Best gifts for stockings stuffers for little kids

Hidden Pictures Discovery

I love these hidden pictures books, and also lots of activiites from this publisher. When I am making dinner, the kids will sit occupied for quite a while, competing to see who can find all the items on a page the fastest. We usually use up 2 pages per kid at a sitting, so I buy more than one of these with different themes. This “Around the World” theme is just one of many. It is great to keep the kids busy at restaurants too (wink, wink), so a great thing to stash in your purse! More of a present for mom, but fun anyway!

Uno Card Game

I love UNO, but inevitably, we lose cards. A once a year re-stock is always a great idea. I also like regular playing cards, or other small-boxed card games. When these are on sale I stock up- I use these all the time as add-ons for presents throughout the year. Small and fun. Perfect for a stocking.

ty® beanie boos™
Five Below

Boys or girls, like these little cute stuffed animals. You can find them almost anywhere, but the Five Below is great- because it’s $5 and below. If you you don’t have one nearby, you can go to Justice or Target or anywhere they sell Toys probably! The smaller the better for the stocking, so your choices are many!


Easy. These sink and fit right into the bottom of the toe, and they are heavy, so they make the stocking feel like a million bucks! Plus, we always need new playdoh, so this is a toy that we’ll use and need!

Kids Toothbrushes
Dollar Tree

I never buy toothbrushes anywhere else. Not only do they have the name brands, but of course, you can get these at the DollarTree for $1- whootwhoot! Love the Dollar Tree come stocking time! Tons of fun little add ons too: nail polish, gum packs, lifesavers, bath fizzes, chapsticks, socks, match box, and other little things that you can sneak in there.

We have always had a hard time with the Stockings part of Christmas, since they seem to get overlooked. Recently we changed our tradition to letting the kids open their stockings first. That way we can get coffee before any of the opening of presents starts! Details. How do you deal with stockings? Do you even have them? I would love to know! Share great ideas that have worked for you in the comments below! In the meantime, Happy Shopping!

I can’t wait to offer products like these that I know you will love! This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. It does not affect your price at all. For more information, see my full disclosure page.