This Week's Meal Plan {May 17 - 23}

5.18.2015


This week's meal plan has a very exciting theme. It's "use up all the chicken in the freezer because there's no room for ice cream right now." So, this week is heavy on the chicken, but there are some recipes here that I think are going to be real winners. The pasta recipes from Kevin & Amanda are reliably good and the picture for Pinch of Yum's Skillet Chicken with Bacon and White Wine looks completely amazing. What are you having this week?

Sunday

Dinner:
Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken {Living Well Spending Less}
Garlic Parmesan Grilled Potato Wedges {This Silly Girl's Life}
Grilled Zucchini {just EVOO, salt, and pepper, then grill it!}

Monday

Lunch:
Blueberry Muffin and Bacon {Momables Member Exclusive Recipe, but you could use any mini or full-size blueberry muffin - this is my daughter's favorite lunch lately}
Yogurt
Berries

Dinner:
Salsa Verde Chicken and Rice Bake {Plain Chicken - I am going to take the advice of commenters and put some avocado on top}
Red Roasted Carrots {The Forest Feast}

Tuesday

Lunch:
Ham and Cheese Stick Roll Ups {Momables Member Exclusive Recipe}
Crackers
Carrots

Dinner:
20-Minute Cassoulet {Rachael Ray}
Buttered Noodles
Garlicky Roasted Asparagus {Martha Stewart}

Wednesday

Lunch:
Hot Lunch

Dinner:
Leftovers

Thursday

Lunch:
Honey Ham Biscuits {Momables Member Exclusive Recipe, but here's the recipe for homemade Honey Wheat Biscuits}
Apples
Berries

Dinner:
Chicken Fajita Pasta {Kevin & Amanda}
Garlic Bread

Friday

Lunch:
Grilled Turkey and Swiss Sandwich {Momables - the key is to grill it, then let it sit on a wire rack to cool before you pack it. My daughter loves a crispy sandwich at lunchtime!}
Mango
Carrots

Dinner:
Skillet Chicken with Bacon and White Wine {Pinch of Yum}
Baguette
Simple Green Salad {just mixed greens, EVOO, salt, and pepper}

Saturday

Dinner:
Eat Out!

Star of Last Week

I have not been taking pictures of my food. Bad blogger! But Star of Last Week is a favorite for me, so it will return next week!

{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}


What I've Been Reading {Quick Lit April and May 2015}

5.15.2015


I missed out on posting what I read last month, so this month is a two-fer. I wish I was too busy reading to post, but no. I was working too much! So far this year, I've read 34 books, which is not too shabby. Here's what I read in April and May (so far):

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - Okay. I feel obligated to like a classic, but this book was almost unreadable for me. The hyperbole was distracting and the story was slow. The guilt of how much I disliked this book will haunt me, but Frankenstein will not.








The Maze Runner by James Dashner - I was completely sucked into this book from page one. Now, the ending seemed a stretch, with parts that made me question whether I had missed something earlier. Even so, I am definitely going to read the remaining books in this series and I might even watch the movie. Gasp!







Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - Holy cow. I loved this book so much that I gave it five stars, which is rare for me! There were times I was laughing out loud and other that I was brought to tears. Rowell's Eleanor and Park was a miss for me, but this one was a definite hit. If you are a geek and have ever gotten obsessed with a series (hello, Outlander) then this book will ring true.







Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - I'm a bit late to the party on this one (it was published in 2001), but am glad I finally read it. Written with wit and whimsy, this book was a true adventure. I want to know more about the characters and the world they live in, so look forward to reading more in this series.








Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - There was so much hype surrounding this book that it would be hard for it to meet expectations. It was on list after list of the best books of 2014. While the writing was consistently beautiful, I wanted more survival story and less back story.








The Rosie Project by Grame Simsion - Here's another book that it seemed like everyone was reading! I was not completely wowed, but there were moments of true laughter for me in this one. I'm not sure I'll read the second one, but I am glad I made it through at leas this one, so I'd know what everyone was talking about!







Spellbound (Hex Hall #3) by Rachel Hawkins - The last installment of the Hex Hall series was a blast. This whole series is a fun, light read. All the ends are tied up and the humor of the first two books continues here.









The Hatchling by Karyn Lasky - I'm still working my way through the many books of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, This one has a new protagonist, which was a nice change of pace. The stories here are surprisingly complex and told with such sincerety that I always want to go grab the next book in the series from the library.







Son by Lois Lowry - This was billed on the cover as "The Thrilling Conclusion to The Giver." Reviewers seemed to either love or hate it and I fall into the loved it category. This book went places I didn't expect and wrapped up important story lines.








All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - I was on the waiting list for about nine months for this book after hearing only heavy praise for it. Unlike Station Eleven, I felt this one entirely lived up to the hype. At times, this book was so vividly written that I forgot it was not based on a true story. Read this book!







The One by Kiera Cass - I talked about my love of The Selection and The Elite a couple months ago. The conclusion in The One only annoyed me slightly because it felt like the publisher just cut one book into two to make The Elite and The One. Other than that though, I really loved this conclusion to the series. I plan on reading The Heir, set 20 years after The One.







The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson - I will read pretty much anything by Brandon Sanderson. He has yet to write a book I didn't love and The Rithmatist is included! I can't wait for more from this series. The world Sanderson creates is so unique and full of interesting and engaging detail. If you are a fan of Patrick Rothfuss, read his great review of The Rithmatist.







Farside by Ben Bova - This book was available on audio from my library when I was on the waiting list for a whole bunch of other books, so I gave it a try despite the whole ton of negative reviews on Goodreads. I don't get what everyone was so worked up about though - the story was well written, kept me interested, and while sometimes predictable, was fast moving. I will be looking into reading the rest of The Grand Tour series of which this was a part.







White Truffles in Wintern by N.M. Kelby - I also listened to this one on audio, mostly because it was available when nothing else was. However, I am definitely a foodie and familiar with the culinary work of Escoffier, so it was worth the investment of time. The historical fiction aspect of it was interesting, too, because Escoffier was running in circles of seriously powerful people at a time of political and social upheaval.

Check out more of what people are reading, and go blow up your To Read List, over at the newly redesigned Modern Mrs. Darcy.





{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Writers of the Future, Volume 31 {Review and Giveaway}

5.04.2015


I am new to the Writers of the Future contest and was completely wowed by the quality and diversity of the stories found in this anthology. When I had the opportunity to receive an Advance Reading Copy of Writers of the Future, Volume 31, which was released today, I had absolutely no hesitation in grabbing it. I mean, a book filled with short stories written by new authors, with the stories selected by some of my favorite authors acting as judges? Yes, please. The stories and illustrations here did not disappoint - I can't wait to see what these authors produce in the coming years. Enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a copy.

In addition to being an anthology of some outstanding science fiction and fantasy (in a whole bunch of sub-genres like Alien Invasion, Alternate History, Cyberpunk, Comic Fantasy, and Post-Apocalyptic Worlds), Writers of the Future is the result of a writing contest. The contest was established by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 as a way to find and publish new Science Fiction authors. Submissions have been judged over the years by an illustrious panel including many of my favorite authors - Orson Scott Card, Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey, and Brandon Sanderson, to name a few. A few years later, a similar contest was started for Illustrators of the Future and those illustrators are also featured in this volume.

I didn't realize what an influence Writers of the Future had until I saw one of my favorite new finds among Science Fiction and Fantasy authors, Patrick Rothfuss, was a previous winner. While reading these stories, I have no doubt that another author featured here will soon be producing more outstanding work.

This anthology also includes offerings from established writers like Orson Scott Card and Larry Niven that were fascinating. Card discusses the state of Science Fiction and Fantasy publishing and the role of short stories, and the Writers of the Future contest, in it. Niven offers a gripping story of alternate history that I wished wouldn't end. Give this book a try and you won't be disappointed.

Enter below to win a copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. - How appropriate to be writing a review of Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology on May the Fourth!

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

This Week's Meal Plan {March 22 - 28}

3.23.2015


Sunday

Dinner:
40 Clove Garlic Chicken with Creamed Spinach and Mashed Potatoes {Notions and Notations of a Novice Cook}

Monday

Lunch:
Mini Corn Dog Muffins {Momables Member Exclusive Recipe, but these are similar from Iowa Girl Eats}
Mango
Berries

Dinner:
Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon {Good Life Eats}
Green Salad

Tuesday

Lunch:
Berry Cheesecake Crepe {Momables Member Exclusive Recipe}
Yogurt
Apples

Dinner:
Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard, and Garlic {Smitten Kitchen} - I don't make recipes twice very often, but I think this may be the fourth or fifth time for this one. It's soooo good.
Baguette

Wednesday

Lunch:
Hot Lunch

Dinner:
Leftovers

Thursday

Lunch:
Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs {Momables} - I throw a sandwich in there, too, with the usual sides.
Carrots
Sandwich

Dinner:
Sauteed Chicken with Garlic-Cream Sauce {Keepers Cookbook}
Roasted Asparagus {Food Network}

Friday

Lunch:
Mango Coconut Sushi {Momables Member Exclusive Recipe}
Yogurt
Berries

Dinner:
Eggplant Parmesan {Table for Two}
Spaghetti
Garlic Bread

Saturday

Dinner:
Eat Out!

Star of Last Week


Well, I didn't post a menu last week, so I am going to preemptively name the dish from this Sunday as the Star! This was easy peasy from start to finish and if you are garlic fan, you will adore it. You mash up the roasted garlic with butter to make a sause, people. It was also a leap of faith because I don't really understand what Tumblr is, but I found this recipe on Pinterest and just couldn't pass it up. It was worth the risk!

Here's the site I use for meal planning and creating grocery lists:

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

 I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday!











{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

What I've Been Reading {Quick Lit March 2015}

3.17.2015


Here's what I've been reading over the last month. It was a mixed bag as far as what I loved and what I hated. I guess that means I'm reading enough books - I would assume I wasn't reading enough if I loved them all..... I'm five books ahead of schedule, with 20 books read of my 75 book goal for the year.


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I think this is the third time I have read this classic and it only gets better each time. I named my daughter Darcy, so that should tell you something about how I feel about this book. If you have not read it, stop reading this blog and go pick it up!






Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - This book has been popping up on lists as a "must read" for Fantasy fans. I was completely sucked it, but it took awhile, maybe 100 pages, for me to be really engaged. This has EPIC written all over it. And what fun to learn all about a new fantasy world. I've got the second one just waiting to be cracked open.





Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry - This second installment of the Giver series was not as mind blowing as the first, but certainly had its charms. While the society of The Giver is ultra technological, the society of Gathering Blue is on the other end of the spectrum. The rich details of this story were intriguing, but I didn't feel particularly connected to the characters.





Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick - I had no idea what this book was about - I only know that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence were in a hit movie based on it. But oh my, I absolutely loved it. Great story, unique perspectives, and story that was emotionally raw at points. I highly recommend this one.





Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins - I love a good series, especially a YA one. This is the second book of the Hex Hall series and I appreciated the character development and the progress of the story in this one.







The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - Here's another book I knew nothing about other than the fact that the title was funny. Written in an epistolary style and set in the period shortly following World War II, this book takes a look at the occupation of a small island in the English Channel. I just loved this story and it made me want to (a) find out all about Guernsey and (b) find more books written about the period immediately after the war and discussing how people picked up the pieces.

The Martian by Andy Weir - Sci Fi fans, this is a must read, but only if you don't mind a whole bunch of facts and figures. I found that they added to, rather than detracted from, the story, but I can see how some might be annoyed. Check out my in depth review of this novel here.





The Elite by Keira Cass - I loved the Bachelor/Dystopian mashup that was The Selection, but the second installment in this series, The Elite, wasn't quite as enthralling as the first installment. It was definitely still a fun read and I'll be reading the final installment The One, when I can get my hands on it!





The Messenger by Lois Lowry - Okay, now I'm sensing a theme for this month's reading. I am in the middle of a whole bunch of series! This is the third book in the The Giver quartet. I liked this one better than the second book and loved the magical aspects that seemed to be missing from the second book.




Check out more of what people are reading over at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

The Martian, by Andy Weir {Book Review}

3.12.2015


I won't be ruining the story if I tell you the basic premise - The Martian, by Andy Weir, is about an astronaut stranded on Mars after his crew thinks he died and leaves him behind on the planet, by himself. This story is full of science of all forms, but more importantly, it is full of the human spirit and humor. (It's only $5.99 for Kindle right now, too!)

A few of my favorite lines from this book as an example of what I mean:

  • "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped."
  • "Call it 100 because ninety-five cries out to be approximated."
  • "I started with a large rigid sample container (or "plastic box" to people who don't work at NASA)."

You have to love a book that is what it is, without trying to please everyone. That was exactly how I felt about The Martian. Not everyone wants to read the intricate details of how an oxygenator works, but that does not deter Weir and, in fact, enhances the story. You can really understand the level of expertise and creativity that the stranded astronaut must use in his struggle to survive.

If that doesn't convince you, the back story will. Weir wrote this book and self-published it as an e-book on his own website, where he gave it away for free. After getting requests for a Kindle version, Weir began selling it on Amazon, where sales took off. Next came a publishing deal and a deal for the movie rights. This guy is living the dream for a self-published author and after reading this book, I think it is well deserved.

{I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Stitch Fix #7 Review {March 2015}

3.11.2015



Oh, Stitch Fix, how I missed you. Getting new clothes dropped in the budget priority for awhile there, but with a big event coming up, I needed some new threads. I let my stylist know I was attending an auction and would love a cute dress to wear that could also be worn to work. She sent two! It was hard to choose between them.

If you're new to Stitch Fix, here are the essentials. You fill out a detailed profile on the Stitch Fix website, then schedule the date of your fix and pay $20. Stitch Fix sends you five items of clothing and accessories. You keep what you like and send back what you don't within 3 days, in a provided envelope. If you purchase nothing, you lose the $20 styling fee. If you purchase anything, the $20 styling fee is credited toward that purchase. If you keep everything, you get 20 percent off the whole order.

In exciting news, Stitch Fix has released a coupon for the first time since I've been paying attention.

Here's what I received:

Each Fix includes an info card listing each item your stylist sent, a quick discussion of why they sent it, and some styling ideas

Kensie - Conrad Speckled Chevron Dress
$88 to keep
A closeup of the speckled pattern - pretty cool! The shoulder pieces are faux leather.

41Hawthorn (Stitch Fix's In House Brand) - Teresa Colorblocked Sleeveless Blouse
$48 to keep 
Lily - Imelda Geo Diamond Print Wrap Dress
$68 to keep

Fun2Fun - Aurora Tab Sleeve Blouse
$44 to keep

Market & Spruce - Kristah Ruffle Knit Blazer
$78 to keep
So can you guess what I kept? I only needed one dress, so went with the chevron because (a) I am obsessed with chevron and (b) it would be more practical for the auction, where I will be running around as a volunteer. I don't want to have to worry about the wrap dress being a bit too open while I'm helping out!

I also kept the colorblock top. It is so perfect for wearing under a blazer for work or with jeans when it's warm out. The zipper back is very cute, too.

The blue button up shirt was so perfect, except the sleeves were about 2 inches two short, so back it went. And the purple blazer was well made, soft, and cute, but I don't own anything purple and I'm trying to make a closet full of clothes that coordinate. Plus, I just don't really like purple!

So, there you have it! I kept two out of five items, but I will love them. Let me know if you have any questions about how Stitch Fix works. My best advice is to be brutally honest in your profile - pick your actual style, not the style you wish you had.

If you want to check out my previous Stitch Fix reviews, find them here:

Stitch Fix #6
Stitch Fix #5
Stitch Fix #4
Stitch Fix #3
Stitch Fix #2
Stitch Fix #1


{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}