Chihuly at Crystal Bridges

 

Last Friday I got the opportunity to check out the brand new Chihuly exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. I’d visited the museum once before, about three years ago, but I was excited to return to check out the new additions. Before this trip, all I really knew about Dale Chihuly was that he created the gorgeous glass chandeliers that used to hang in the atriums of the Disney Magic and Wonder cruise ships. Seeing more of his work up close and in a very different environment was awesome and gave me a whole new appreciation for him as an artist! If you live near NW Arkansas or will be visiting the area soon (it’s only about 2 hour drive from Branson!) I highly recommend heading over to Crystal Bridges to check out the exhibition! The gallery exhibit runs through August 14th, but the outdoor pieces will be on display until mid-November.

 

I visited the museum as part of a group of influencers treated to a special sneak peek of the brand new exhibition in partnership with Crystal Bridges. We started our evening with a cocktails at Eleven Restaurant and a trio of tasting menu dishes inspired by the works of art on display. The food was just as colorful and intricate as the art:

Crystal Bridges Chihuly Exhibition Tasting Menu Salad

 

Each dish is inspired by a specific piece or collection in the exhibit.

 

Crystal Bridges Chihuly Exhibition Tasting Menu

The Connecticut Bluepoint Oysters with pickled apple batons and chile oil spears were inspired by the Fiori Boat pictured below them. The menu also includes a Beet Caprese (pictured above the oysters) inspired by Chihuly’s Red Reeds, and a Sesame Seed Encrusted Ahi Tuna inspired by the Fire Orange Baskets I’ve included photos of further down this post.

 

Just for you guys and for the sake of thorough research, I also sampled the Eleven Martini, which includes peach vodka, ginger liqueur, and fresh lime. It was way more citrus-y than I expected, but a great palate cleanser between the tasting menu dishes and quite good!

We began our curator-led museum tour with the gallery portion of the exhibition. There are over 300 pieces on display all together, including the 14 works in the gallery and 10 outdoor installations. Several pieces were created just for the Crystal Bridges exhibition, so this is the first time they’ve been displayed.

Chihuly Persians Crystal Bridges

The artist created this new “marigold” color and this collection of objects just for this exhibition! The pattern reminds me of a lionfish.

Crystal Bridges Chihuly Fire Red Bowls

Glass blown art is so cool. Some of the promotional materials describe Chihuly’s works as “Born of fire, forged with breath, and filled with light”, and I think the Fire Red Baskets above really capture all of that! (I posted a video of these baskets on Facebook if you want to see the full collection!)

 

 

Chihuly lives in the Pacific NW, so there’s a lot of Native American influence in his works. How cool are the woven blanket patterns in the glass?

Chihuly Crystal Bridges Glass

 

Because he lost an eye in a motorcycle accident in the 70s, Chihuly has some problems with depth perception. That can be a challenge when your entire career involves creating something 3D, so he started making “drawings” (technically paintings) that show his vision for the glass pieces he wants to create, and his team helps bring them to life.

 

My favorite drawing involved some blow torch action.

One of his newer endeavors involves painting on glass, then layering multiple pieces on top of each other to create really cool images like the one below:

Chihuly glass paintings

This display was definitely a crowd favorite:

It was originally commissioned as a holiday window display for Barney’s New York. You can’t hear it in the video, but it uses Clair de Lune as background music.

 

It’s all clear glass, but the lighting display totally changes the vibe from moment to moment.

There are a couple of pieces on display that you can see even without a ticket to the special exhibition. One is this amazing chandelier, which is located in the main part of the museum:

Chihuly Chandelier Crystal Bridges

 

After the gallery portion of the exhibition, we made our way to the newly remodeled North Forest area outside for “Chihuly in the Forest”.

 

 

The first piece you encounter outside is a collection of neon “tumbleweeds”. As you can imagine, all of the outdoor pieces look completely different a the light changes throughout the day!

 

Just a note: Although there are also awesome hiking-style trails around Crystal Bridges, the path the Chihuly exhibition is set along is paved and pretty flat, and thus totally wheelchair and stroller friendly.

 

 

I love how these pieces look in the natural setting! It turns it into some kind of magical fairytale forest.

Can you imagine how nerve-wracking it must be to be in charge of an exhibition where the pieces you’re putting outdoors are all made of glass? There was a hail storm shortly after these went up, but thankfully none were damaged!

The Sun is just absurdly cool.

There are Chihuly Saurday Nights events with live music going on through August that sound really cool, so I’m hoping I can fit in another visit to Bentonville soon to check them out!

Admission to Crystal Bridges Museum is free, but the Chihuly exhibition is $20 unless you have a museum membership. (Which I do now! Woohoo! Members get early access to temporary exhibitions like this one, too.)

You can learn more about the artist and exhibition on the Crystal Bridges website, and check out the #CBChihuly hashtag on Instagram to see more photos from other visitors. There are some REALLY cool ones in there!

Thanks so much to Crystal Bridges for inviting me out to check out the new exhibition before it even opened to the general public, and for making this post possible. wait to visit again next time I’m in Bentonville!

Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour 👻

Eureka Springs Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour

 

Last week, I took a quick trip down to the quirky town of Eureka Springs in Northwest Arkansas. While I was there, I got to check out one of the most popular attractions, the Crescent Hotel. Known as “America’s Most Haunted Hotel”, there are a LOT of stories surrounding this place, and one of the best ways to hear them is to take the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour, which I got to experience thanks to the local visitor’s bureau, who set me up with a ticket. (Thanks!)

 

The Crescent Hotel in 1886, via Wikipedia. I need to go back and get a similar shot so you can compare the current appearance. It’s basically identical!

My only other visit to the Crescent Hotel was back around 2000 when I was freshly out of high school. We met my sister and her family there for breakfast, and then wandered the hotel a bit to explore. My nieces were around 3 and 6 at the time, so I’m not sure how much they understood about the whole “haunted hotel” concept. What I do know is that after we walked around on one of the upper floors, the younger one started throwing a fit, wanting to go back up there. It’s literally just a hotel hallway, so we couldn’t figure out why, and she finally said that she liked all of the people up there.

We had been the only ones up there. 😮

Crescent Hotel Hallway Eureka Springs Ghost Tour

Helllooo? Anyone there?

When we were almost back to our cars, I turned around to snap a photo of the hotel exterior, and my camera shut off. Nope, it wasn’t the battery or anything normal – it just completely died, never worked again.

So, that was my history with the hotel before now. Paranormal or just weird happenings? Who knows.

For a little extra background before we dive into the tour, there are different types of “hauntings” – one that I totally believe in and others that I’m not super sure about. The one I completely believe is known as a residual haunting. Think of a cassette tape (if you’re old enough to remember those. If not, get off my lawn, you crazy kids!). While I don’t totally understand the science behind them, I think we all get the basic idea – you make some kind of sound, and whatever weird material the tape is made of happens to be able to capture it and play it back when it is triggered to (aka when you press “play”). Residual hauntings work the same way. Something about the building or the atmosphere or maybe a whole combination of things is able to “record” sounds or images, just like the tape does. Then, those sounds or images are played back, sometimes decades or centuries later, causing people to hear footsteps in an empty hallway, children’s voices in an old school, or see a figure running down a staircase. The sound or image always plays out in the same way, often at the same time of day.

This one totally makes sense to me, because it seems scientifically explicable. Just like when you play back a tape, what you’re seeing or hearing doesn’t interact with you, it’s just repeating back. Although I have no idea how it works, some kind of natural, unintended recording happening seems possible.

The other kinds, involving spirits who move things and can be felt touching you and all that?  Jury is still out. But I think the most fun way to approach this kind of tour is with an open mind! The guests on the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour range from complete skeptics to people who come equipped with ghost hunting equipment, and everything in between those two extremes. And even if you’re not so sure about the ghost part, learning about the history of the hotel is fascinating, too. It’s had quite a past!

Crescent Hotel Eureka Springs

Maybe the stone used to construct old buildings like the Crescent contains some of the same properties that let cassette and video tapes record things? Who knows!

There are multiple tours per night, and the earliest tour of the evening is generally the most kid-friendly. That’s the time slot that I toured in, but I only know of one difference going by reviews I’ve read. (We’ll get to that towards the end!) They recommend ages 8 and up for the tour, but there was a little girl on mine who was 6 who was super curious about everything. I think the best rule of thumb here is that you know your kids best. If the Haunted Mansion is their favorite Disney attraction, you’re probably fine. If they’re going to want to run around the hallways all willy-nilly while the tour guide is telling stories, it’s probably not for them.

 

Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour Meeting Location

The tour meets up on the fourth floor and works its way down the building, stopping along the way for stories about the hotel’s ghosts and history. One nice part about starting at the top is that you’re always walking *down* staircases, not up! (Although the hotel is old, it does have an elevator – it was the first building in Arkansas with an elevator! – so the tour is accessible for those in wheelchairs or with other mobility disabilities, but they do ask that you let them know when reserving your tickets so they can prepare accordingly.)

The heart of the Crescent Ghost Tour is its stories. The hotel dates back to 1886, and over the years it has been the site of quite a few deaths. Each ghost’s story is told in the location where it happened, from the balcony a young woman jumped off of after learning she was pregnant back when the hotel doubled as a girls’ school, to the room now located where a 17 year old Irish boy working construction suffered a fatal fall when the hotel was being built. (Apparently he’s still very much a 17 year old boy, so to speak, and enjoys moving the blankets and shower curtains of female guests.)

Crescent Hotel Room 218 Michael

Room 218 is known as Michael’s Room 

Due to this being a working hotel, the stories are often told outside the door of hotel rooms because they can’t just barge in on the guests staying in them. If a room happens to be vacant that night, though, you may get the chance to go inside. I wouldn’t plan on this, since the hotel stays pretty busy (The room of Michael, the boy mentioned above, reportedly sometimes has a 2 year wait for reservations!), but consider it an awesome perk if it happens!

There’s one ghost who likes to tidy people’s rooms up, but if she decides she doesn’t like them, they’ll return to the room and find their suitcases packed and waiting by the door!

Being the #catlady that I am, my obvious question was if anyone ever sees the ghost of the hotel’s former resident cat, Morris. (He has a memorial photo in the lobby and a fancy grave out in the garden. And yes, I made sure to meet the current hotel cat while I was there! You can see him here!) Turns out that yup, kitty ghost sightings are a thing! Man, maybe I can talk some cable TV network into giving me a reality show where I travel around as a kitty ghost hunter?? That would be an amazing way to get to answer the “So, what do you do?” question. Actually, I might start answering “kitty ghost hunter” anyway. Explaining the whole blogging and social media thing gets old. (And LOL, you guys, I Googled Morris and found that he has a page on Find A Grave! I also found this page that lists most of the former Crescent cats.)

But uh, back to the tour before I give up travel blogging to start a ghost cat blog… (But seriously, call me, History Channel. Or TLC. Or whatevs.)

After stops on the “creepy” 3rd floor (back to that in a minute), outside several rooms, the staircase, and lobby, it’s time to head down to the morgue and autopsy room.

What, your favorite hotel doesn’t have a morgue? Lame.

The vast majority of the deaths that occurred at the Crescent were not accidents. Around 1937, the hotel became a “cancer hospital”. The quotation marks there are because the “doctor” running the hospital was a total fraud who never actually cured anyone. He was charismatic and famous, thanks to having his own radio station, and because of that he was able to convince tons of people who were running out of hope to spend all of the money they had to come receive his “cure”. (Than goodness we no longer live in a time where countless people will follow a horrible, unqualified person just because he’s famous and claims to have the answers they’re seeking! Oh, wait.)

You can read the full story of Dr. Baker in this great article on the Crescent’s website or hear about it on this episode of the “Stuff you Missed in History Class” podcast, but I’ll keep things short for the sake of this post. Everyone who came seeking treatment received horribly painful injections several times a day, suffered a lot, and died. Remember my earlier mention of the “creepy” third floor? There’s an area up there where quite a few guests have felt ill, and even fainted. That’s the area that was soundproofed as a place to stick patients who were moaning and crying in pain, so they wouldn’t be seen and heard by potential customers touring the hospital. (Um, it’s also now where the honeymoon suites are.)

Crescent Hotel Baker Cancer Hospital Sign

 

It seems that the ol’ doc was getting pretty delusional by the time he was eventually arrested for fraud in 1940, and he was keeping organs of the deceased in jars so he could show people how totally cancer-free they were! (Because logic!) And so as the tour draws to a close, you get to visit the former morgue, autopsy room, and “body parts room” where the jars of pieces were kept. (Fun fact – apparently when Dr. Baker died, four whole people attended his funeral. In comparison, 50 people attended Morris the hotel cat’s funeral. Cats: They’re better than most people!)

 

As I mentioned earlier, this seems to be the main difference between the kid-friendly 7 pm tour and other reviews I’ve read. Other guests mention the lights being turned off to experience the room in darkness, and a rather long video of the hotel’s appearance on Ghost Hunters. On my tour, the guide asked if anyone wanted to go into the former cooler where bodies were kept with the lights off and door shut to try to capture ghost photos, but everyone else stayed out in the (dimly) lit autopsy room. We got a shortened version of the Ghost Hunters video, which I think was around a minute.

One moment that struck me as hilarious while we were down here – While the tour guide was telling the story of the morgue, a little boy around 2 started babbling to himself the way kids that age tend to do. Since it was pretty distracting, the guide suggested to his dad that he might want to step outside, but since it was kind of icky out there (There was a pretty strong grease smell coming from the kitchen at the time), they might be more comfortable in the autopsy room. Ahh, the Crescent, where the autopsy room is the LESS icky/uncomfortable option! 😂

I’m a total whimp when it comes to spooky stuff, but I didn’t find this portion of the tour bad at all. There’s quite a bit of freedom to explore after the video, so if you want to go in the dark body parts room on your own to try to have a spooky experience you can, or you can stick to areas where you feel more comfortable. (I did NOT hang out in the room from the above video very long! Although the creepy old wheelchair in there freaked me out more than the locker from the video.) If you’re really not feeling the vibe down there, I’m sure the guide wouldn’t be offended if you wanted to head out early, since it’s the last stop on the tour anyway. If it IS totally your scene, take note – the ghost tour is the ONLY way to get access to the morgue and autopsy areas. While you can wander around most of the hotel any time, these areas are off limits to the general public, so if you want to explore them, the Ghost Tour is the only way in.

One other funny note – I didn’t pay much attention to the hallway we exited the morgue through at the time, but then I found myself there the next morning when I returned to the Crescent for my massage at their New Moon Spa. Only in a town as quirky as Eureka Springs do you find a spa right next to the morgue! (The spa is amaaaaaazing, though, so don’t let the unusual location scare you away from it! I’ll be sharing my experience there soon.)

 

 

I would definitely recommend the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour to Eureka Springs visitors who want to learn more about the town’s history, especially those staying at the hotel! It’s also an obvious must-do if you’re into the paranormal or mysterious. I do think that the tour experience will vary a lot depending on which guide you get. Each tour guide puts their own spin on it, has their own experiences to share, and (obviously) their own personality. My guide, “Aunt Reba”, was a fantastic storyteller and never crossed over into being cheesy or  trying to force a spooky feel.

You can learn more about the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour on their website and Facebook page, where they share photos and videos sent in by people who have been on the tour. You can also find tons of reviews on TripAdvisor. The tour lasts around 75 minutes, and the current price is $22.50 for adults and $8 for kids.

Have you ever had a ghostly experience? 👻 Do you think the Crescent’s ghost stories are real? Share your stories and opinions the comments!

Friday Favs

How is it already Friday? I’m so far behind on ALL THE THINGS that I need at least six more days in this week to catch up. I had an early alarm set this morning because I have like 4,000 words to write for a work project plus a billion other things to do, but tornado sirens woke me up before 1 am and I didn’t get back  to sleep until around 3, so I’m basically the zzzz-face emoji today! Sleeping Face on Apple iOS 10.3

I didn’t do a Friday Favs post last week because by Friday I was really sad and nothing seemed worth celebrating as a “favorite” that week. My 14 year old kitty had a tumor removed from her mouth last year, and at the beginning of the week she started kind of smacking her mouth and not wanting to eat again. I took her to the vet on Weds and they ran tests then had me bring her back to on Friday to stay overnight and get IV fluids. By the time I got her home on Saturday, I was pretty sure I knew what was about to happen, so I tried to keep her as comfortable and happy as possible until Sunday afternoon, when she was gone. She went from being as spry and playful as a kitten to weak and not really “there” so fast it was head-spinning. In a way I’m glad it was only a week and not months of gradual decline but man is it weird not to have her asleep next to me at night.

It’s weird to follow that depressing news with a list of good things but that’s kind of how life goes isn’t it? Ups and downs and the occasional weird  kaleidoscope-y spiral.

Things that have made this week a little bit brighter include…

 

1. On Tuesday,  had been at the library all of half an hour (I sometimes go there to write so I can focus – not in this case) when I decided that I was so freaking hungry that I had to take a break. Just as I was packing up to leave, a notification popped up from the McDonalds app (because I’m a fancy person and have both that AND the Taco Bell app. This blog is super aspirational.) with a coupon for a free McCafe “beverage” with any purchase. Free coffee-ish things? DONE. (I put beverage in quotes because let’s be honest, most of them are actually desserts, not drinks. Especially what I got.)

I ordered a Happy Meal because I am a responsible adult, waited a few minutes for my order, and then headed out to the car. As soon a I got there I realized they hadn’t given me my frappe! GIMMIE MY SUGAR IN A CUP!

So I went back in and told the girl at the counter, and she made me a large instead of a medium to make up for it. It was such a small act of kindness, but after the weekend I’d just had, it meant a lot more than it normally would.

 

2. I kept hearing about the Great British Baking Show and finally gave in and Netflixed it up. It’ now my favorite thing to have on in the background while I work! It’s so diferent from American reality shows – no crazy made-up drama and the contestants are nice to each other! (Looks like you can also watch full episodes on the PBS website if you don’t have Netflix!)

 

Old Navy palm print dresses

3. I feel like I really need a palm print dress in my life this summer. I came across these two on Old Navy and am seriously considering. The one on the left is $32, and the one on the right is $25, but you can get an extra $30% off if you sign up for their email newsletter, so that comes out to basically free, right? (Math is not my thing. This is why I’m a writer. And don’t have an awesome credit score.)

4. Great tweet or the very best tweet?

 

5. Y’all know I love planning any kind of travel, and I’m pretty happy right now because I have 3 or 4 upcoming mini trips in just the next couple of weeks! I’m planning to finally fit in a quick trip down to Eureka Springs, Arkansas early next week, the lake resort I wrote about a couple of months ago has invited me to come back, I have a media trip to the art museum in Bentonville, AR the first week of June, and I just discovered last night that there’s a Pow Wow coming up in Jefferson City the end of this month, and I really want to go. (I’ve been wanting to visit the capitol building again, too, so it can be a dual purpose trip!) Unfortunately, my bank account is in the single digits after the crazy vet bills of last week, so I may have to skip the last one unless I can pic up an extra writing gig before then. Cross your fingers that I can figure out a way to go! The dude who played Cloud Dancing on Dr. Quinn is going to be there, and as a human who was a teen in the 90s, that is very important.

 

Hope your upcoming weekend is awesome! I’m about to dive into a very long work day, but it will be worth it when payday comes!

 

Friday blog linkup

Show Us Your Books – May Edition

may book reviews

 

Happy Show Us Your Books Day! I am running on like 3 hours of sleep this morning, so I’ll skip the lengthy introduction and just get straight to this month’s book reviews!

 

One Part Plant by Jessica Murnane

Goodreads * Amazon

I’ve been listening to Jessica’s podcast, One Part Podcast, for over a year – it actually made my post about my 8 favorite podcasts a few months ago! She shared the whole process of writing and publishing this book on a second podcast, “The Cookbook Deal”, which has also been interesting to follow, and definitely got me excited to check out the actual book.

First, this cookbook is gorgeous. I’m *so* thankful that the publisher (Harper Wave) sent me an actual hardcover copy to review rather than just an e-book, because so much thought clearly went into the design that it seems like not enjoying it in print form would be a shame.

But let’s talk food. The philosophy behind One Part Plant is basically what it sounds like – adding one plant-based meal per day into your lifestyle. No crazy diets, no “omg you can never eat the stuff you like again”, just adding in a little something here and there. I love how approachable and flexible that is.

After an introductory section that covers things like suggested ingredients to keep on hand and FAQs about plant based diets, the book is divided into sections of recipes for breakfast, soups and salads, main courses, desserts and snacks/beverages.

I was worried that not many of the recipes would appeal to me, but just flipping through for the first time made me hungry. A few that I can’t wait to try include:

  • Almond Cherry Muffins
  • Chilaquiles with Cilantro Cream
  • Strawberry Chia Jam
  • Vinson Petrillo’s Fresh Chickpea Spread with Crispy Black Olives
  • Open-faced Falafel Sandwich

I had this glorious vision of trying out a bunch of recipes before it was time to post my review, but you know how life goes. Despite making it through fewer recipes than I’d hoped, this book *has* already had an effect on what I eat in the form of two ingredients: masa harina and nutritional yeast. (I posted about my newfound love of nutritional yeast in a Friday Favs post a couple of weeks ago, but long story short: I add it to everything now.)

The first recipe I tried was  Corn Cakes with Black Bean Spread, and I have to admit that after trying out some experiments with the Masa Harina that’s the base for the corn cakes, that was basically all I wanted to eat for like three days. If something was in my kitchen, I probably tried mixing it with masa , and it probably turned out delicious no matter what it was.

Overall, a big thumbs-up for this one. If it can get a non-foodie like me excited about cooking healthy stuff, it clearly has superpowers.
 
 

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Goodreads * Amazon

Who doesn’t  Anna? I don’t read many celeb memoirs, but this was fun. She’s not trying to be the world’s greatest author, just sharing interesting stories in a very “girl next door” vibe. I didn’t know she did Broadway before getting into film, so that was interesting to read about. I love that she shared that even after Twilight and Up in the Air, she was coming home to her IKEA bed in the stained carpet apartment she shared with several roommates. It’s easy to assume that once someone gets their break, everything changes instantly, so it’s nice to have some light shed on that illusion.

I wanted to do the audiobook version of this, but my library had an insanely long wait list for both the audio and the e-book , so I joined both and went with the one that was available first.
 
 

 

Happy Pretty Messy by Natalie Wise

 
Oh man, you guys. I almost never have DNF (Did Not Finish) books, but I just could not. The description of the book on Netgalley (who provided the free review copy) sounded great:

“Happy Pretty Messy is a modern-day inspirational guidebook for women of all ages seeking to live with beauty and bravery. As a modern lifestyle philosopher, Natalie Wise brings her trademark poetic prose to finding and cultivating balance, joy, and depth of self in daily life. Filled with wit and fresh insights for the heart and home, you’ll learn how to: Thrive through tragedy, Turn off your inner monologue, Get ‘back to brave'”

Great in theory! But the writing style was something I could not get over.

There’s an episode of the “Mortified” podcast where a guy reads the poem he wrote for his high school English class assignment after attending a poetry summer camp. It sounds exactly how you’d expect a poem written by a teenage boy sure of his poetic greatness to sound, down to lines like “Why praise the trees when they did not arrive there on their own accord?” and “When a moose ceases to be a moose, it begins to be a woman!” (Go listen to episode 6 of Mortified, it’s amazing.) Anyway, the point of this tangent is that there’s a quality to the writer’s style that reminded me of that episode. You can always just tell when an author is trying REALLY HARD to write in an “artsy” style rather than their authentic voice, and it comes off sounding forced and fake and for me in this case, painful to read.

The reviews that are up so far on Amazon and Goodreads are mostly positive, so maybe it’s just that the writing style was a bad fit for me and you will dig it. I wish I could provide more in depth feedback but despite picking this up four separate times to “give it one more try” because I really wanted it to get better, I only finished 12%.

Since I couldn’t finish, the best I can do here is give you guys an excerpt (from the page where I finally 100% gave up) and let you decide if you find the writing style inspiring and poetic or impossible to get through.

I clicked the author’s bio on Goodreads and was surprised to see that she’s written a few other books, including one on organic housekeeping, one about self discipline, and one about DIY gifts in jars. That makes me feel like she’s still trying to find her place in the world, so maybe finding her “voice” goes along with that.
 
 

 

The Goddesses by Swan Huntley

 
Goodreads * Amazon 
 
This book was totally different from what I expected based on its Netgalley description, the short version of which was, “The Descendants meets Single White Female in this captivating novel about a woman who moves her family to Hawaii, only to find herself wrapped up in a dangerous friendship.” I guess I expected something more thriller-ish?

It definitely started off slowly – I found the main character SO unlikeable for the first few chapters that it made it tough to get through, but eventually I was drawn in. It’s a slow build, but overall I was kind of “meh” by the end. I saw the plot twists coming way ahead of time, never did manage to like the main character, and the climax didn’t feel climactic enough after so much build-up. To borrow a term from Steph, I’d put this in the “passed the time just fine” category.

(This book will be released in July 2017. Complimentary review copy received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Life According to Steph
 
Head over to Life According to Steph and Jana Says to see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading this month. I always come out of this link-up with a billion new books on my to-read list!

Friday Favorites – First of May

 

Happy Friday! This week’s post is going up pretty late in the day, but better late than never, right? I had the headache of doom yesterday, so I spent today just struggling to catch up. I have a crazy weekend full of work ahead now, but such is life when you’re self employed. Sure, take all the sick days you need! And then enjoy your 32 hour work weekend!

Anyway here’s what I’m loving this week!

1. It looks like the crazy rain might finally be (mostly) over! It’s sunny and almost 70 today, and I can’t wait to get outside to soak it up. I finally looked up the actual rainfall, and it looks like we got over 15 inches in the past month. Our usual annual rainfall is 45 inches so that’s a LOT!

 

 

I’m mostly excited that I should be able to resume my walks by the lake soon! I tried to go check out how flooded it was a few days ago and actually got kicked out because the marina was bringing in heavy construction equipment to get the dock ramps out from under the water. (They did at least kick me out nicely, with suggestions that I head over to the campground to take pics instead.)

The photo above was taken from a parking spot along the road that’s part o my usual walk. So yeah, the entire two lane road s underwater, plus the parking, plus whats usually a pretty good sized chunk of land between the water and the road. I’ve often said that my afternoon/evening walks by the lake are the only thing that keep me sane, so as you can imagine I’m dying to get back to normal after an entire week away!

(Note- I wrote the above on Friday morning and stopped by the lake around 7pm Friday evening, and everything was closed off with security blocking the entrances. Still no lake for me! But hopefully soon!)

2. Making my own corn cakes makes me feel badass.

I’m a pretty decent cook, but I pretty much never do it because I live alone and I’ve never understood spending an hour making a meal that I’ll eat in like 15 minutes. I wanted to try out some recipes from One Part Plant before I write about it for the book review link-up next week, and decided to try the one pictured above first. I didn’t have corn on hand, so I decided to experiment mixing other stuff with the masa harina (a kind of corn-based flour… I’d never heard of it, either.)  and then became obsessed with mixing ALL THE THINGS with it to make different kinds of corn cakes. My current favorite is to mix it with the black bean and red quinoa flavor of Well Yes soup.

I still haven’t gotten around to actually making the recipe the way it’s intended to be made. I keep putting black beans in to soak and then forgetting about them.

So yeah masa harina gets my 2nd favorite spot this week. I bought a one pound bag and have made at least a dozen different experiment recipes, and I’ve only used maybe 1/4 of the bag. You can get it from Amazon for way cheaper than I found it in any grocery store here.

 

3. I’m planning to write up a whole post about it, but I just became an ambassador for Maven and if you use the code CRYSTALWVIP, you can get $25 off your first video medical appointment! Consultations with nutritionists and physical therapists are $25, so you could get either of those totally free, and I’ve seen some such as consulting with a midwife for as little as $18. You don’t even have to enter payment info unless you’re booking a more expensive appointment. (Most general doctors and nurse practitioners are $35, and mental health specialists are generally $70. Some other specialists include career and pediatric sleep coaches, which are $50 each for a half hour appointment.)

I’ll be sharing more info in the full post soon, but so far I LOVE that Maven provides access to great practitioners that can otherwise be hard to access if you live in a rural area or work hours that make it tough to make an appointment during regular office hours. And sometimes you just plain want to talk to a doctor without having to like, put on pants and leave the house, you know?

4. A little PSA about befriending the clerks at whatever store you visit most often. (This probably won’t work in major cities, but definitely in small towns!)

I stopped by the Dollar General by my house today because I knew their clearance stuff was an extra 50% off and I wanted really cheap Easter candy. One of the ladies that works there informed me that although the sign said half off, the clearance clothes were ringing up as 13 cents. I was able to get a cute floral top for my mom, and a plaid tunic (above – it’s supposed to be a short dress, but I’m tall) and charcoal grey hoodie for me, all for a total of 39 cents including tax. Whaaaa?

5. This is a thing that recently happened to me: (I know, I know, I shouldn’t give him food. But he does the little washing motion thing with his paws before he eats each one! And I really need to get out more!)

 

This is how we party at Casa Crystal at 4 am. I’ve really been in Missouri too long.

A post shared by Crystal Ward (@crystalward11) on

ICYMI, I have a Target/Amazon/Walmart/BN gift card giveaway going on – Enter here!

Are we friends on Instagram yet? Come follow my adventures! ➡️ 

 

Friday blog linkup