NOW CLOSED 17th Blog Giveaway: $30 Amazon E-Gift Card

This giveaway is now closed. Further entries will not be counted. Thank you to all who entered! : )

This blog has been up and running for seventeen months and I could not possibly post every day if it were not for you guys who stop to read it. I have made plenty of mistakes, but above all, I am having fun. My tagline for this blog has always been, “stumbling through life while still having fun.” I never knew how true that phrase would become many months ago. Thank you for helping me up. And for being supportive. I really appreciate it beyond words. Most importantly, I love the interaction and the people I have met here.

I have been shopping a lot on Amazon lately. It is my son’s birthday on Monday, so I have found it convenient instead of heading out into the heat. I also recently showed how I wave my hair with my wave iron purchased there on this post.

I buy almost all of my books from Amazon (although if I am in San Diego, I make it a point to stop at the amazing bookstore, Mysterious Galaxy. I love supporting independent bookstores).

What was I saying? Oh, that’s right. Giveaway. Amazon.

Let’s get to it:


This month I am giving away one $30 e-gift card to Amazon.

To enter for a chance to win the gift card, please leave a comment telling me what food you have been craving in this heat. After reading Rachel’s post on her blog, Promises Like Pie Crust, all I want forever and ever is pizza. If that is too personal, you may leave any comment you wish as long as it is nice.

You may also be or become a registered reader of this blog by subscribing on the right hand side of this page via any method for an extra entry. Please leave a second comment if you do so stating as such. The second comment is your second entry.

Limit two entries per person.

The giveaway runs from August 10, 2014 12:00 a.m. PST to August 16, 2014 9:00 p.m. PST. I will be choosing one winner from the comments entered on this post for the $30 Amazon e-gift card using I will contact the winner on August 17, 2014 and display the winner’s name on this blog on August 18, 2014.

Thank you everyone for entering! And for stopping by! I really appreciate it!

By commenting on this post, you are entering this giveaway for a chance to win one $30 e-gift card to Amazon and agreeing to the rules outlined in this giveaway.

I will attempt to contact the winner three times with the email address provided. If I have not heard from the winner within fourteen days from the first attempt at contact, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be drawn.

Past winners are welcome to enter.

* Negative comments (chosen at the discretion of the owner of this blog) will be deleted and that entry will be forfeit.

*this giveaway is not sponsored by or associated with Amazon.

READING: “The One And Only Ivan” and “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane”


Two book reviews at once? There is a reason for my madness. I read two books to my ten year old son (who turns eleven on the eleventh) in July. He really enjoyed one of them and he was not enthused about the other one. As an adult, I liked both of them. As a mother, I will recommend one of them for children.

Since I found the two books both similar and dissimilar and I read them within one week of each other, I decided to review them together. Both books are supposedly geared towards children. Both books deal with mature themes. And both books are told from the point of view of a non-human narrator.

However, the two books are vastly different, as well. Let’s get to that:


Now, first I need to say that I love Kate DiCamillo. After reading and raving about “The Magician’s Elephant”, I happily devoured more of her work. It was good. “The Magician’s Elephant” is still my favorite. So, when I picked up her book, “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane”, I excitedly began reading it out loud to my child without reading it myself first.

I trusted her.

On the night of my birthday, I finished reading my son that book.

It involved many tears and sobs.

Without wanting to spoil anything, but also needing to discuss an important part of my review, I must say there is a spoiler in this paragraph. Please skip it if that bothers you. This book is about a pampered porcelain rabbit who goes on a journey not of his choosing to learn compassion. If you took “Pinocchio” and combined it with the “Velveteen Rabbit” and then cut out three quarters of the happy ending, you would get this book. It has a part in it where a child dies and I found the situation involving the body definitely not appropriate for the age group it is intended for. Then something else tragic happens to a child and you get no closure from it. That part was the most difficult scene in the book for my family. Not just the dying child but the extreme cruelty to another child by three different men in a row. And I get it. I do. That is the real world.

But I read children’s books as an escape from the real world. The conclusion was predictable and it did not satisfy the ache that was left in my heart from the unresolved ending with one of Edward’s owners.

In fact, almost all of Edward’s companions’ stories are tragic. They all took possession of this porcelain rabbit and are left with a sadness that is never resolved.

According to the Amazon description, this book is supposedly for children ages seven to ten. I do not find that to be true. If I had read this book as an adult short story knowing in advance that it would be melancholy, I would have enjoyed it more. So, if you are an adult who enjoys reading children’s books like I do, then I highly recommend this one to you. It was gut-wrenching but gorgeous. My good friend informed me last week that her twelve year old son loved this book. Each child is different. If your child wants to read this book, I would recommend you reading it first to see if it is appropriate for your child.

Now let’s get to a book I highly recommend for children.


Before it is said in defense of the book review above that children need to deal with death and life and different hard-knock scenarios through reading books, I am going to agree. I am also going to write that “The One and Only Ivan” has those things. It has death. And in the same vein as “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” it even has an unfortunate occurrence with a body, although this one is not human. However, it is handled with finesse. It teaches children that there will be hard times and that people can be cruel but that there is always hope.


That is what I feel was missing from the book in the previous review.

It emphasizes that just one of us can make a huge difference. We cannot wait for someone else to change our circumstances, we have to do that ourselves.

My son and I both loved “The One And Only Ivan.” It won The John Newberry Award. It is recommended on Amazon for ages 8-12 and I would lean towards it being for ages 10-12 (although I happily devoured its pages, too). The writing is short and choppy at first. I had a difficult time settling into it. But it is being told from the point of view of a silverback gorilla, so it is to be expected. And once you recognize that, then it is a very easy and enjoyable book. While reading this story, I had strong reminiscent flashes of reading “Charlotte’s Web” as a child.

Ivan, a silverback gorilla, lives at a mall with other exotic animals. He is the main attraction and the star of a small show. His claim to fame is his likeness on a large billboard that he can see from his tiny enclosure. He paints pictures that are misunderstood. Ivan is content with his life in a compact little cage until a baby elephant arrives one day and makes him take a hard look at the life he has been living. We go on an emotional journey with Ivan as he finally remembers his tragic past and proceeds to try to change the future.

There were several lines in the book that I enjoyed. It was interesting how Ivan saw situations and described things. I enjoyed Katherine Applegate’s writing.

One line from the book that I whispered to myself more than once was, “It is the most beautiful mad I have ever heard.”

Isn’t that lovely? It is Ivan’s way of describing an elephant’s trumpet sound when it is upset. I think it is perfect.

This book brought many tears as well, but I got my happy ending.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think of them? Would you recommend them to children?

*this post contains affiliate links, purchasing a book through the link will provide a small commission for tissues this site.

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream


The summers of my youth could be described in three flavors. Grape juice, cheddar cheese and homemade honey vanilla ice cream. Being from a long line of beekeepers meant that my family had learned to incorporate the very nectar of their labors into almost every food they ate.

I have mentioned that as a young child, a spoonful of honey was a snack. A few drops of pollen, a special treat.

But nothing compared to my grandma’s honey ice cream. And nothing ever will.

I have tried to replicate it the best I could. I also wanted to make it a bit less rich. I believe my grandmother used mostly cream. I decided to use half milk. Half cream.

If you have never had honey ice cream, well, I don’t know if you should try it now. You will never go back. It is that good.

Seriously knees-dropping-to-the-ground-as-you-pay-homage-to-a-passing-bee good.

The person who invented the saying “you’re the bee’s knees,” may or may not have been referring to this phenomenon after just having eaten honey ice cream.

I mean, that makes sense right?

Well, it makes more sense than comparing someone to bee’s knees. Which, while they are quite cute and fuzzy for knees, do not come close to comparing to this treat.

Let’s make some heaven!


2/3 cup honey
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Caviar from one vanilla bean
5 egg yolks


Pour your milk and cream into a large pot on the stove. Add your honey. Turn heat to medium-low.

While that is heating up, separate five egg yolks. Whisk the egg yolks for two minutes continuously. Or bust out your stand mixer if you have one. And let it do the work for you on medium speed for two minutes.


Add the caviar of a vanilla bean to the steeping milk mixture. Whisk. When milk mixture comes to a light boil, turn heat to low. Very slowly add a ladleful (about 1/2 a cup) to the egg yolks while you whisk them. Now add that mixture back into the hot milk mixture. With a wooden spoon, stir continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. This should be about three minutes.

Turn heat off. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Add vanilla extract. Stir.

Cover bowl and refrigerate at least two hours to overnight.


Follow your ice cream maker’s churning instructions. For my machine, I simply dump in the chilled ingredients.


Freeze your ice cream in a freezer-safe container. And then indulge the next day. I like mine covered in Trader Joe’s Fudge Sauce.


I warn you. You will never look at vanilla ice cream the same way again.

Or a bee for that matter.

Now let’s get some padding for those knees.


*I adapted the vanilla ice cream recipe that came with my Cuisinart Ice-100 (a super fancy name for a big ol’ ice cream maker. The link is an affiliate link) to incorporate honey. Seriously, next time your husband makes the brilliant mistake of not asking for anything for Christmas, you might want to get him one of those babies. I might love it more than David Beckham.

It’s The Little Things: Paper Straws

Folks. I have a problem. We can joke about. Pretend it is a silly thing. A small thing.

But it is getting a bit out of hand.

It is kind of my habit or need, if you will, to have a supply of every possible thing. Imaginable. Just in case. You never know.

“Just in case. You never know.” That is the mantra of my life, by the way. In one word it can be summed up to: greed paranoia.


I have always been a Straw Freak. I bet you didn’t know there was such a thing. Well there is. Here I am. “Nice to meet you.” I cannot drink out of a glass without a straw. I make weird slurping noises. It is like I have been drinking out of puddles all of my life. My lips cannot form properly onto the glass.

I am sure at this point you are crossing off the word “straw” in Straw Freak.

I don’t blame you.

Also. I cannot drink water with a straw. Or milk (unless the milk is from a donut shop in a small container purchased on the way to the airport between the hours of five and seven thirty in the morning. Jealous of my husband now?). It is simply not done. Sends shivers down my spine, it does.

If I am at a restaurant, I always grab extra ones. Especially at Coffee Bean And Tea Leaf. Their straws are the absolute best. They are big. They are purple. They live in my purse where I can stroke them daily.



So, I started seeing these gorgeous paper straws popping up all over the place. And the Need Beast in my heart grew.

I finally caved and purchased some hot pink paper straws from Amazon.

But the Need Beast was not satisfied.

So I bought a small pack of twenty yellow polkadot and stripe ones.

But he longed for more.

He wanted. All. Of. The. Colors.



But I did not want to pay for them. Well, the other day Anthropologie had free shipping on anything. That’s right. Anything. Do you want to know what I bought?







Shocker: I bought straws.

Eight boxes of fabulous clearanced paper straws. Eight boxes of 144 count straws (seriously, the best price I have found is on Anthropologie. Who knew?). This, combined with my previous Amazon purchases, left me with a total of 1,196 straws.

My husband was very impressed with this number, folks.

You should have seen his jaw clench.

I think it was in anticipation of the fun sipping he will be doing all season.

Don’t you?


I am so ready for this summer. For margaritas by the pool. For lemonade. And piƱa coladas.

All made more exciting with the use of colorful, happy straws.

It’s the little things: Making a drink even better.

Do you have paper straws in your house? Do you drink from a straw? Do you have weird rules about straws? Please share. My Need Beast really wants to know.

* The Amazon link is an affiliate link. The straws for this link are $1 more than what Anthropologie is selling their straws for. However, I provided the link in case Anthropologie runs out. Also, I get free shipping on Amazon but not on Anthropologie. Purchasing through the Amazon link will result in a small commission for The Need Beast this blog.