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Monday, August 31, 2020

List: Happy blog-iversary to R&W!


Ten years ago, was my first EVER post ever on R & W.
That makes today my 10 year blog-aversary!  Please join me in wishing a very..
Happy Anniversary to Raviolis & Waterworks!
Special shout out those of you that have read my very informative blog since day one.

In celebration of R&W's special day, I thought we'd take a trip through the past.  During that ride down memory lane, I revisited old posts to pick my top ten favorite.  Don't give me that look!  You know you secretly want to relive these..


Happy Blog-iversary to R&W!


I had to list this one because it was my first lovely little list of ten.  It's a list of ten ideas of things for me to do on a Sunday without football.  It may be my most ridiculous list ever, but it is still a list!

This is a list of things I learned after almost a decade of friendship with my good friend, Pat!  It's a perfect testament to our friendship and our entertaining conversations.  R&W started as a diary.  I never imagined that I'd meet such great people and develop friendships.

This is a more recent post, but it was one of my most therapeutic ones.  I was ecstatic to get the surgery but felt so guilty and selfish for it.  This post help resolve those feelings.

This is a list of all my favorite lists.  What's not to love about this post?!  It speaks for itself.

This may not have been my most brilliant post ever, but it's a perfect representation of me.  Rereading this post ten years later had me laughing so hard that I was in tears.  For those of you who are curious, no, the love bug NEVER saw justice!

This post is short, sweet, but FULL of memories and wedding photos.  Just so you all know how privileged you are, I didn't even share wedding photos on Facebook!  Coming to this post to see some snapshots of the special day makes me smile.  Besides the wedding part, it's worth a peek just to see my baby girls MUSHY cheeks!!

My favorite entries to post are the Friday Ramblings because they are real fun to write.  This post, back in October 2015, was my very FIRST Friday Ramblings.

I still suffer from terrible anxiety, although I've become better at distraction techniques.  Through a lot of hard work, I've learned to not allow anxiety to dictate my life.  This post is right around the time that I started taking charge of it by going to counseling.

This is one of my favorites to read to my hubby when he says something preposterous.  Like recently when he asked if I was getting my period because I looked bloated..  Um, excuse me?

For R&W's 4th birthday, I listed notes of appreciation to some of my favorite bloggers.  Many of these fabulous people are around today which totally makes me smile!  Blogger has introduced me to many great people that I am so happy to call my friends.  Another post that proves this is What I've Learned Through Blogging!

What is your favorite blogging memory?
Friday, August 28, 2020

How to attract hummingbirds to your window.


I'm jumping up and down because...
...after failing with a different feeder and store bought nectar, I finally figured out how to attract hummingbirds!  The proof is below.  Now I get to work and see these gorgeous little creatures stop by my window to say hello.  I see several a day, and still get just as excited every single time.  Anyone else feel like they should be a mythical creature like a fairy?
hummingbird window feeder that works; how to really attract hummingbirds; window feeder

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

How to really attract hummingbirds.


1.  They are attracted to red.  
Whether you choose a window feeder or hanging one, make sure it's red.  Don't fall into selling gimmicks and invest in a beautiful feeder of a different color because it most likely won't work.  I fell into this trap and watched for months only to get disappointed.

2.  Store bought nectar usually doesn't work.  I now make my own.
Instead of store bought nectar that not only doesn't attract them but is typically bad for hummingbirds, make your own.  All you need to do is boil (1) cup of water.  Mix in (1/4) cup sugar until it dissolves.  Let it cool and fill up the feeder.  It's been working marvelously for me and it's cheaper.

3.  They aren't shy so they will fly right up to your window to feed.
If you're new to the hummingbird game, you'll quickly find out that hummingbirds are FAST.  Like, really fast.  This makes them extremely hard to see.  To help increase your chances of seeing the little guys up close, try investing in a window feeder.  They are VERY inexpensive and they work.  Hummingbirds aren't too afraid of people so they will fly right up to your window.

4.  Surround feeders with flowers they're attracted to to lure them in.
In addition to a feeder, you'll want to native plant flowers that they are attracted to.  We hung several planters filled with vibrant, dark pink petunias.  We also planted two butterfly bushes in deep red and pink.  I've seen hummingbirds feed off of both.  I also believe that this is what initially attracts them to my yard where they discover my window feeder.

5.  Hummingbirds have a spectacular memory.
Hummingbirds feed off of countless flowers a day thanks to their high metabolism.  Believe it or not, they remember every single flower they fed off of and will return consistently if it's a good food source.  This is great because once they discover your feeder they constantly visit.  Just be aware that if you're feeder is empty or not there when they come, they may move on to a more reliable food source.  Don't risk it and fill your feeders after the sun goes down.


Have you ever seen a hummingbird?

Related Post:  How to make a bird sanctuary in your own backyard.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Travel: Everything you need to know about Kalahari Resorts in Pocono Manor, PA.


We recently went on a little road trip to Kalahari Resorts in Pocono Manor, PA.  We've been hearing for years from our friends about how we have to get there because it's so much fun.  Disclosure:  I absolutely hate public pools and completely skeeve any type of shared water experience.  When my husband's 30th birthday came, he chose to go on a family trip over a party.  Without hesitation he said "We're going to Kalahari!".  Probably b/c he knew this was his only chance..  After debating for months, I finally gave in and booked a 3 night stay as a surprise gift to him.  There's no other word to describe it.  He was  e c s t a t i c.  We packed up and off we went to this land of incomparable fun.


a real life testimony of kalahari resorts in pocono manor pa

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Review:  Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor, PA


When we first pulled into the resort, we were taken aback.  It was absolutely beautiful.  The grounds were impeccable and the giant animal statues were breath taking.  The hallways were lined with 3-d artwork that probably belonged in an art museum.  The floors had gorgeous depictions of animals and the rooms were just as nice.  The lobby was filled with statues, paintings, and displays that were one of a kind and gorgeous.  Long story short, I was really impressed for a solid hour of our little trip.

a honest and detailed review of kalahari resorts in pennsylvania


What is Kalahari Resorts?

Kalahari is a resort with (4) different locations throughout the US.  We stayed in the PA location.  They are a resort with hotel accommodations, multiple eateries onsite, different types of onsite entertainment, an arcade, and their biggest attraction one of the largest indoor water parks in the United States.

How were the accommodations?

The rooms in Kalahari were fairly clean, beautifully decorated, comfortable, and well maintained.  While it wasn't 5-stars, it was certainly above average for mostly family orientated resorts that I have been to.  Despite the word "suite", there was no kitchen or microwave.  The room was only equipped with a fridge.

How was the water park?

Kalahari Resorts in Pocono Manor definitely delivered on being one of the largest indoor water parks in the US.  The park was HUGE.  There were big slides, little slides, medium slides, slides that should be illegal, kiddie pools, two lazy rivers, swim up bars, a wave pool, an outdoor pool, outdoor slides, baby slides, pools with basketball hoops, and a whole crazy, safari themed water jungle gym.  If there was anything positive about the water park, it was definitely the size and quantity of the attractions.

There were also some negatives to the park that I feel I should mention.  It was very unorganized.  It got so crowded that you couldn't breathe or move.  At that point I had to leave for the day.  The park isn't just for guests of the resort.  It's for guests and outside parties as well.  I'm not sure what the capacity is so I won't comment on that, but it was very cramped, uncomfortable, and made me feel unsafe.  Additionally, I'm not sure how well attraction capacity was monitored either.  Something as simple as a lazy river had me worrying for my children's safety.  We were being bumped, charged into, and separated by the huge masses of people allowed in the lazy at once.

Lockers were available to put your belongings, but their system to lock them didn't work.  We tried on two different days with two different payment methods and had zero success.  This meant I let my children run free into this huge crowd of people or I don't sit down and babysit my stuff.  When I asked a worker about it they simply said, "Yeah, sometimes those don't work." and that was that.

They were staffed with lots of lifeguards that did their due diligence of monitoring activities.  My daughter got the whistle blown at her, twice, so I know they were watching.    I also witnessed them reunite at least 4 different lost children with their parents.  Poor parenting or just unable to monitor with the extremely high capacity?  I'm not sure.  The high quantity of lifeguards was definitely a plus.

The last thing I'll comment on is dress code.  I didn't see any enforcement of dress code anywhere.  ...and, trust me when I say they need a dress code policy and to enforce it...

How were the restaurants?

We ate at B-Lux Grille & Bar and Sortino's Italian Kitchen for dinner.  The other night we ate offsite.  B-Lux Grille & Bar had good food and a reasonable price.  I would compare it to an Applebees type atmosphere, menu, and food quality.  Sortino's was much more expensive without the food quality to match the bill.  It was this dining experience that caused us to cancel our reservation to Double Cut and eat offsite.  My husband got lasagna and I got chicken picatta.  We were both unhappy with the taste and almost died when we saw our bill of over $120, especially since we didn't order any alcohol.  Overall, we were dissatisfied with the quality and price of the food choices in Kalahari Resorts.

How was the entertainment?

Since we went while some quarantine orders were still in place, many events were cancelled.  I can't comment on these since we didn't experience them, but others who have, said that they were a blast.  Kalahari Resort did have an arcade onsite which the kids had a ball playing in.  It was on the expensive side, but there were enough options to entertain the kids for several nights.  The arcade also had fun things to do like mini golf, bowling, laser tag, and an escape room.  We did most of these and have zero complaints.  They were priced right and lots of fun!  The only downside is once again capacity.  Even with a pandemic, the place was packed to an uncomfortable level and there was no enforcement of social distancing or mask wearing.
As a NYer, the lack of both had me feeling very uncomfortable and caused us to leave early.

What was your favorite part of the trip?

Other then watching my kids smile for 3 days straight, it was two different things.  The first and foremost that stood out was the beautiful artwork displayed throughout the resort.  I went for a long walk twice just to make sure I saw it all.  The second was the customer service.  Everyone there was friendly, accommodating, and super helpful.

What was your least favorite part of the trip?

I'll skip the part that it's a water park & the random person's hair on me bc that wouldn't be unfair.  My least favorite part was the high capacity, completely ridiculous pricing, and the disorganization.  A family friendly resort should have you feeling safe and comfortable.  I did not feel this way at Kalahari.  There wasn't even a person monitoring entrance on any of the 3 days.  Anyone with bad intent could have walked in.  Simple things like monitoring the park entrance or security in the parking lot would go a long way.

Would you ever go back?

No.  Safety for me is #1 and I felt highly uncomfortable at the Kalahari Resort in Pennsylvania more than once.  Although, they should totally open a museum!  I'd pay an entrance fee to see their displays of art.

Have you ever been to a Kalahari Resorts?

Monday, August 24, 2020

List: Ten reasons to start holiday shopping early.


I know that the holidays are probably the last thing on your mind, but we have to talk about it.  It's officially August, which means, we've only got 4 months left until the big day.  If you're like me, you're going to want to avoid the stress and pressure of last minute shopping.  You'll also want to avoid the financial strain being dropped on you like an anchor.  The best way to avoid the stress and enjoy the season is just like anything else - BE PREPARED.  Remain organized, keep lists, and buy a little something each week until you're done.  You won't need credit cards.  You'll get to take advantage of sales.  & did I mention free of stress?  Long story short, for those of you that haven't starting preparing yet, should start right now!


how to get a head start on the holidays; why christmas shop early; christmas shopping; holiday shopping

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten reasons to start holiday shopping early.


1.  To spread out the financial strain.
For those of us with larger families, the holidays really take a financial toll.  Immediate family for me means buying for 28 people PLUS playing Santa for two kiddies.  It isn't cheap, but it feels less expensive when it's spread out over a long period of time.

Idea:  Invest in an inexpensive personalized calendar like this one to keep yourself organized and dedicate a month to someone specific on your list.  This will keep you focused on your end goal and help ensure that you spread out that financial strain.

2.  To remain organized.
It's much easier to remain organized when you aren't in the mad dash of the holiday season.  To start holiday shopping early, you can use tools like excel, or if you're more hands on, get a real cute paper checklist book like this one.  I keep an Excel sheet dedicated to the holidays to log every gift I buy.  Crazy?  Maybe, but that's ok..

3.  To limit the suspicious amount of packages.
When a billion packages come to the door in December, the kiddies will know something is up.  When you evenly spread it throughout the year, the kiddies will never suspect a thing.  Additionally, the more packages you get, the more your house could be flagged for burglary.

4.  To eliminate panic buys.
When you spread out your shopping, you'll get the advantage of planning out thoughtful gifts.  You could skip the cheesy ties, holiday pins, and other popular last minute items.  Instead, your gift will be sentimental and meaningful.

5.  To cash in on the best deals.
There are some good deals around the holidays, but the best deals are at the change of seasons.  Starting you holiday shopping early means taking advantage of the best sales and buying the same items for less.  I just scored an Owleez for $8!!  Last Christmas these things went for about $40.  I rest my case.

6.  To not have to worry about delivery times.
Early shopping means assurance that your gift will be in stock and/or delivered in time for the holiday.  Even with Amazon Prime, there have been several times that desired items went out of stock and had delayed delivery dates.  That's when you deal with the embarrassment or do #4.

7.  To avoid Black Friday shopping.
Every year on Black Friday there are a few steals to get online, but I'd never go to the actual store.  The deals aren't worth risking your life which literally happens around here.

8.  To avoid the scramble for the "it" toy.
Every year I see parents begging the mom groups to post when the "it" toy is in stock.  ...and every year I chuckle because I know that I am overly prepared...  Start your holiday shopping early to ensure that you are scrambling to find that hot item that's out of stock everywhere.

Idea:  My daughter has been begging for these Rainbocorn toys for months already.  According to her and her friends, this is going to the "it" toy this year.  You've been forewarned.  I already have mine purchased and hidden away.

9.  To avoid fighting for ___.
To avoid fighting long lines, for parking space, long customer service holds, and much more.  When things are done early, you can address problems before the whole world decides to.

10.  To actually  E N J O Y  the holidays!
It is possible to enjoy the holiday season despite all the hustle and bustle.    Don't believe me?  Those of us who are done shopping in early December will tell you all about it..

When do you start holiday shopping?


Friday, August 21, 2020

Life: Friday Ramblings

 

Related:  Ten tips to survive a road trip with young kids.

what to do in lake harmony; nick's lake house review; lake harmony restaurant review

Friday Ramblings

I'm glad to be back home more...
...than you all probably would have thought!  While the kids had a blast, it wasn't my thing.
I'm glad to be home where my bathroom is clean and there's limited risk of drowning.

One place that I did enjoy visiting was...
...Lake Harmony, PA.  During our trip to Kalahari, we took the 20 minute drive up twice.
One evening, we ate at Nick's Lake House Restaurant for outside dining with a breathtaking view.
We timed dinner perfectly so that we could watch the sunset as we ate.
The food was mostly American food, but it was delicious.
My husband got a crab cake meal and I got a mushroom explosion hamburger.
As simple as the meals were, it was easily the best food that we had during the entire trip!
I would highly recommend this place for the food, view, and service.

I did embarrass everyone that night because...
...a SPIDER decided to land right on my arm during dinner!  A gross, jet black BEAST!
I swatted at my arm, screamed as loud as I could, jumped up, and ran across the restaurant.
The spider got vanquished, but he won the fight because he had me itching all night long.

I'm a little disgruntled because...
...my daughter's school district decided on hybrid classes for the start of next school year.
This means three days in school and two days at home.  I just don't get it.
1.  What about people who don't have the privilege of watching their kids while working?
2.  What about people that will lose their jobs to stay home with their kids?
3.  What about the people that don't have computers or tablets or the funds to get one for remote learning?
4.  What about the people that are going to starve, lose their homes, and worse because of this?
The state needs to ban together.  Privileged children can stay home while the others go to school.
This eliminates high attendance which will allow for social distancing without hurting those less fortunate.

Certain things just shouldn't be...
...political.  Unfortunately, some can't separate politics and life.
The coronavirus doesn't discriminate based on political party, so how can you fix it with politics?
I hoped that people would rise above that so that the children wouldn't have to pay.  They didn't.

Meanwhile, I'm thanking God that...
...I can work from home.  That we do have a computer.  That we won't lose our jobs.
&, for the record, we'd give up my daughter's spot in school to make room for someone that needed it.

I got WAY too excited when...
...I saw a hummingbird flickering around my petunias the other day.
Apparently I screamed so loud out of my excitement that my husband called me "embarrassing".  Ok, Scrooge!

What are your Friday Ramblings?

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

DIY: Spray Painted Flower Pots


When it comes to home decor, I tend to be a little boring with color.
I love creams, whites, and gold.  If I'm forced to add color, it's usually a pop of teal somewhere.
This year, my newly self declared interior designer of a husband decided to call me out on it.
He wanted us to add color to our home but we really didn't have extra cash with our furloughs.
We decided to compromise and refurbish planters that we inherited when we bought our home.
It seems like such a small, easy project, but it really did add the color we needed to the deck.


spray painted planter; how to spray paint ceramic planter; diy flower pot spray paint; rust-oleum spray paint; outdoor spray paint

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

How to spray paint a planter to make it look new.

When he dug out these old, discolored stone planters, I told him to forget it.
He assured me that it was a simple project, cost <$10, and that I would absolutely love it.
Well, as much as I hate to say it, he was totally right!  They came out fabulous.

Step One:  Thoroughly clean the planters.
You're going to want to get all in there and scrub off any dirt or lose particles.
After cleaning, wait until they are completely dry before moving on.

Step Two:  Prep your work area.
This may be a simple project, but it sure is  M E S S Y  !
Lay down a large piece of cloth or plastic to protect the ground underneath.
Make sure that you account for wind.   We didn't and I now have a half teal stone..

Step Three:  Spray the base color.
Spray as evenly as possible throughout the whole item.  Wait 20 minutes for the paint to dry.
The spray paint can be bought here.

Step Four:  Spray the second coat.
After waiting the 20 minutes, spray a second coat just as even and as thorough as before.
Wait another 20 minutes for the paint to dry.

Step Five:  Seal and protect with a top coat.
...anyone else feel like we're talking about nails?  We used Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover Semi-Gloss Spray in clear.
Wait a full hour for the three layers of spray paint to fully dry before handling.
The top coat can be bought here.

Some other tips to consider:
Wait for a clear, Sunny day to do this.  Humidity will increase dry time.
Wear "work" clothes because any hint of breeze is causing you to get painted too.

Not only was this real easy, but it really made such a difference.
We have a wooden deck and wooden patio furniture.  Usually our only pop of color are flowers.
We surrounded the teal planters with smaller, white ones really making this just a pop of teal.
The best part, we passed a quarantine day feeling productive and got an inexpensive deck upgrade!

What DIY projects have you done this year?


Monday, August 17, 2020

List: Top ten best children's books according to a child.


Today I'm linking up with my good friend, Pat Hatt!  You can find him at Pat Hatt Time.    Well, sometimes you'll find him.  Usually you just find his rhyming cat!

Today I was lucky enough to not really deal with either.  Instead we got to grill the kiddies.  This post is all about my kiddies and his nephews.  Together they made the ULTIMATE list of kid's books.  Disclosure - Despite all comments the cat might say that the kid's said, they think I'm a very nice lady!!

****************************

The other night my two year old son had me cracking up as he was "reading" his book.  He really did a fabulous job looking at the pictures and putting together a story.  That reminded me of when my daughter recited her favorite book from memory on her 2nd birthday!  At the time, everyone was so impressed and I just couldn't understand why.  Well, five years later, I realized why they were so impressed.  They didn't know one thing.  Children will actively engage in reading if they love the story.  I know that doesn't sound like the biggest epiphany, but it totally is.  I mean, when was the last time YOU tried to get a toddler to listen to full story, let alone recite one?  Toddler's attention spans are usually so tiny that it's nonexistent, especially if a cookie is nearby.

I took both kids to the book shelf and asked them to pick out 5 of their favorite books.  Sure enough, these are ones that they were able to recite from memory at a very young age.  I'll share them with you in the hopes that your babies will enjoy them as much as mine!  

Note- They were limited to only (1) absolute favorite book per series.


top kid's books; top children's books; what kids are reading today; top book picks for children; books picked out by a child

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own

Top ten best kid's books according to a child.

This is the book that I mentioned above that my daughter recited by heart on her 2nd birthday.  This story is my daughter's absolute favorite book, series, and character.  The pigeon is relatable to a young child, often acting like one and learning from his mistakes.  The author does a great job of simplifying, being inadvertently funny, and accurately depicting a meltdown.
Can be found here.

My son loves everything Pete the Cat, but it all started with this very book.  He's mesmerized by the octopus and loves to remind me not to be scared when it first appears.
Can be found here.

3.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
This book is a classic and was no surprise when it was my daughter's second favorite pick.  She loves the sing song rhyming rhythm of the story and she absolutely LOVES the Grinch.
Can be found here.

4.  Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky Treat by Doreen Cronin
This twist on the popular Click, Clack, Moo is a common read in my son's bedroom.  He loves to point out all of the animals, "oooOoo" like a ghost, and tell me the farmer is scared.
Can be found here.

5.  Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
This choice got me so happy that I squealed!  It was my childhood favorite AND my original book.  My daughter loves this book and constantly uses it as a reference whenever someone overfills their plate.  This was her pick when I was a reader at her school.  It was such a hit that the class asked for an encore!
Can be found here.

While both of my kids LOVE some Mo Willems, the Knuffle Bunny series is my son's pick.  He loves to read and see the realist pictures of the bunny's adventures.  For the record, this is always my son's potty training book of choice.  Whatever it takes!
Can be found here.

7.  Clash with the Lash by Patrick Hatt
Baby girl said she picked this book because she wants a yellow car with eye lashes one day.  She also enjoys the adventure and loves the silly voices we make as we act out the story.  I try real hard to get her to pick a certain other book about a robot and shampoo, but noooo..
Can be found here.

8.  5-Minute Mickey Mouse Stories by Disney Book Group
Whenever I offer to read my son a book he screams "MICKEY" and comes running to me with this.  It's a volume of all different Mickey stories and he gets excited to read every single one.
Can be found here.

9.  The House on East 88th Street by Bernard Waber
This pick surprised me.  The book is signed by the author & is over 20 years old so I always hide it.  My daughter says that she likes this story because Lyle is cool and that it's very special.  Basically, special = mommy always hides it so it doesn't get destroyed.
Can be found here.

10.  The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
My son isn't really a fan of Dr. Seuss, probably because he's too little to appreciate it.  When he picked this book I was shocked because it's usually my daughter that will take it out.  When I asked him why he picked it, he laughed and said "That silly cat, messy messy mess!".
Can be found here.

What was your favorite book as a child?


Friday, August 14, 2020

Life: Friday Ramblings


bird sanctuary in your yard; attract birds to your yard; bring different species to yard
Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Friday Ramblings

I got WAY too excited the other day when...
...this guy pictured above came to visit.  He's a European Starling & is a brand new species for the feeder!

I also got way too excited to see...
...e-mails in my R&W inbox with questions on my bird sanctuary.  If you missed it, that post is here.

The first question was- What is bird suet?
GREAT question!  Bird suet is bird food packed into some type of lard that is also safe to eat.
The birds have to dig and peck through the suet in order to get to the seed or other type of food.
A suet feeder hangs upright and is great for birds that prefer not to or simply won't perch on a regular feeder.
You would use suet to attract birds like woodpeckers, blue jays, and our new friend the European Starling.
We have this suet feeder, but haven't installed it yet.  I need to do more research first.
Once I get a better understanding of strategic placement and the best food to buy, I'll share!
In the meantime, the blue jays have lots of fun feeding on the seeds that the sparrows throw down.

The second question was- Why is your hummingbird feeder empty?
Well, because I never filled it.  I wasn't going to acknowledge this one, but it was asked.

We have a short ramblings for today because...
...we are heading back from our trip to the Poconos!  The kiddies had a BLAST.
I hope to catch up and reconnect with everyone by the end of the weekend.  Happy Friday!

What are your Friday Ramblings?
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Book Review: The Secrets We Kept


I recently finished reading The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott.  After seeing this book listed as a Reese Witherspoon book club pick, I decided to give it a shot.  It was labeled a historical fiction novel told through the eyes of several different characters.  The setting was mostly Washington DC during the height of the Cold War.  That instantly sealed the deal.  The Cold War was new territory for me and I wanted to learn.  I immediately hit the "buy now" button on Amazon Prime and began reading.

The novel is titled The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott.
The book was read by Carlotta Brentan, Cynthia Farrell, Mozhan MarnĂ², 
Saskia Maarleveld, Jonathan Davis, David Pittu, and James Fouhey.
The unabridged version was 10 hours and 55 minutes long.


lara prescott; historical fiction; cold war novel; historical fiction book reviews

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Review:  The Secrets We Kept By Lara Prescott


The story begins in the typing pool of the CIA.  The secretaries were tasked with typing documents of highly confidential information.  They never spoke about it, but they knew many deep, dark secrets of the American government.  Two of those secretaries were pulled from the typing pool and turned into spies.  Their mission was to get a Russia novel, Doctor Zhivago, into Russian and have it read by the people.  This love story was being used by the CIA as a weapon during the height of the Cold War.

There was several main characters in this book.  The number of characters introduced was a bit overwhelming.  Out of all of them, there were three characters that stood out the most to me.  They are Irina, Sally, and Olga.  To be completely honest, if the author focused on just Olga's story, it would have been a MUCH better book.  The other characters were merely supporting roles, but they had full chapters written in their perspective nonetheless.  I felt like this was unnecessary to the story and a bit confusing.

Irina was a young Russian immigrant who was trying to make a life for herself in Washington DC.  She was unsure about a career, her lifestyle, and even her sexuality.  Despite having everything that the typical woman would have wanted, she remained unsettled.  Her story started out as intriguing, then got a tad ridiculous, and then abruptly ended with no real resolve for the reader.  She may have been the biggest disappointment in the novel, but the voice actor was the most fabulous of all the narrators!  Irina gets a small shout out in the epilogue, but even that just left the reader with a bigger black hole of questions.

Sally was an experienced spy that felt too old and washed out for the business.  Despite this realization, she got recruited by the CIA for another mission.  As quickly as this job came, it was swept out from under her due to unfair consequences to her alleged sexuality.  As often as this character was mentioned, she really didn't play a significant role in the novel.  Her true purpose to the story line is unclear.  While I may want to be her BFF in real life, the book could have done without her.

Olga was the character of interest.  She was the mistress of a Russian author named Pasternak.  She also existed in real life.  This part of the book was based on a true story.  This wasn't an ordinary affair.  The two were madly in love and would remain together until the author's dying day.  The price Olga had to pay for this relationship was almost unbearable to read.  She was arrested and served extended time in a concentration camp twice.  She suffered a miscarriage.  She neglected her children.  She basically lived to be with Pasternak.  She was also Pasternak's muse for the main character of his novel, Lara.  To finish out Olga's story was the only thing that kept me going to the novel's end.

While I didn't hate this novel, I didn't exactly love it either.  I average about a book a month.  This book took me six months to finish.  & that was during a pandemic, quarantine and all!  I finished the novel feeling like I learned nothing.  Other than now knowing how the CIA used Russian literature as a weapon, I still know nothing about the Cold War.  Although, it did motivate to start reading the novel Doctor Zhivago.

I would not recommend The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott.

Unless you're looking for a mediocre story about a dozen random people that know of each other, I wouldn't recommend it as historical fiction.

Have you read The Secrets We Kept?


Monday, August 10, 2020

Life: Vacation


on vacation be back


We are celebrating my husband's 30th birthday party in the Poconos this week.
I hope that you all have a fabulous week without missing us too much 

See you soon!