A Gift to Myself – Unplug from Social Media

My first hike at Holt Hill in Andover. I want to be doing more of this over the summer!

 

I wasn’t sure if my decision to take a break from social media this summer was a good one. However, if my giddiness, as I sit down to write this is, any indication, then I think the timing is right.

I do not wish to sign off completely from all outlets, including my blog, but I do want to slow down this summer. I want to truly enjoy everything I’m doing without the subconscious nagging that I should post something or take a pic. Honestly, social media can be a lot sometime. I think taking a break once in a while is a great way to reconnect with your real life and what’s really important. In a weird way, I feel like making this happen is really nice thing I am doing for myself – a treat, if you will.

For some, being active on social media comes naturally. Not so much for me and so for now, I just want to be in the moment and if I’ve forgotten my phone, which I do often, then so be it. There will of course be occasions when I can’t resist the periodic Facebook post or Instagram pic (prom and graduation!!!), so I look forward to those moments and sharing the various cocktail and food posts that I’m falling in love with on Delish.com, but otherwise the blog and more regular postings will be quiet for now.

Thank you to all who continue to read 3 Olives & a Twist and I look forward to resuming communication this fall.

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The One Good Thing – Best Book Club Yet

 

The One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne got passionate mixed reviews from the ladies of book club. However, I’m ranking it as the best book club read so far. This is based on the number of book clubbers who actually read it and the lively discussion this book elicited.

I absolutely love that some readers really liked the positive messaging of The One Good Thing, while other vehemently hated it. Yes, the word hate was used. Differing opinions on what we read is exactly what makes book club so much fun!

If you’ve never heard of The One Good Thing (I hadn’t), here’s a little bit about it.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

For as long as Halley Steen has known her husband Nathan, he has carried a handful of stones in his pocket. Each day he uses those stones to remind him to follow the Golden Rule, moving a stone from one pocket to the other with each act of kindness. So it’s not unusual that Nathan stops to help a stranger on the side of the highway while on his way to his son’s football game one Friday evening. But that one act will change all of their lives forever, when a car hydroplanes off the road, killing Nathan instantly.

As Halley and her children Ty and Alice struggle with their grief, Nathan’s spiritual legacy lives on. A Facebook page appears, where countless stories about Nathan’s selfless acts are shared. But among them is one that stands out, from a woman who says that Nathan saved her life. Neither Halley nor her children have ever heard of Madeline Zuckerman. But soon Halley discovers years of e-mails from this woman to her husband on his computer that refer to “our little girl.” How could her husband have kept the secret of this other child for their entire marriage? Why had he lied to her? Was he not the man she thought he was?

Only thirteen-year-old Alice maintains unwavering faith in her father. She knows there’s an explanation. When she sets out to find Madeline and learn the truth, she will start to unravel the complex story of The One Good Thing Nathan Steen did that had the greatest impact of all. 

Review

The range of reviews for this book was indeed wide. Some enjoyed the feel-good concept of acts of kindness. Others thought the story was predictable, trite and even poorly written. I agree on the predictability – I knew the twist would straighten itself out from the very beginning. The fact that this very nice man was tragically killed at the onset of the book was also a bit of a bummer. But, I liked that the author presented the mystery early on and enjoyed the ease of the read. The “do good” lesson also spoke to me in a positive way. Add to that, one of our thoughtful book club members gifted each of us with a bag of little stones and I call that a win. Thank you Kelly!

 

 

Our lovely hostess also served the sweetest handmade chocolates in the form of a little book – adorable and yummy too. Thank you Margaret!

 

 

I passed my copy of The One Good Thing to my mother. Mom, have you read it yet? What did you think?

Next Up

Educated by Tara Westover has come highly recommended and will be book club’s next read. I am looking forward to it.

 

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Organizing a Fundraiser? Soul Warming Soups!

The weather may be warming, but a nice bowl of soup still makes a filling and nutritious meal. Recently, I and a fellow basketball mom (thanks Bethany) were charged with organizing a fundraiser for our daughters’ basketball team. I was introduced to Andrea Gallagher and Soul Warming Fundraising by a friend who was also organizing a fundraiser (thanks Jen!).

I quickly realized that team fundraisers are not only an important part of supporting our kids and youth sports, but a great opportunity to give back to our communities. In the past, I’ve purchased magazine subscriptions, pricey wrapping paper, coupon booklets that sat in a drawer and $10 candy bars. All for a good cause, of course, but no other fundraiser felt as worthwhile to me as this one with Soul Warming Fundraising.

Donate A Bag

The concept is simple. Rally your team, or group, to sell delicious 2 pound frozen bags of soup in a wide variety of gourmet flavors.

Soul Warming Fundraising also has a generous matching program for groups that reach their DonateABAG.org donation goals.

flyer for organizing a fundraiser

Looking for Something Even Easier?

You can also opt to only donate soup vs. selling direct to family and friends. This is the option the girls’ basketball program chose and we could not have been happier with the outcome. All donations were secured online. Participants were thrilled with the ease of it and satisfaction knowing that with every bag donated, we were helping a local family in need.

One mom told me that this was the best fundraiser any of her three children had ever been involved in.

Our fundraiser did so well, we were able to cover all of our team’s expenses for the year. In the end, members of the basketball and ski teams volunteered to help deliver the soup to Lazarus House Ministries. It was a great feeling for everyone involved.

Organizing a fundraiser can be a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be when you Donate a Bag with Soul Warming Fundraising.

Are You Organizing a Fundraiser?

Contact Andrea Gallagher at 401-212-0211 or andrea@soulwarmingfundraising.com

“My heart is in it all year round. In spring and summer, food pantry or food bank shelves are traditionally low with food.  Many parent groups, classes and sports teams are still in need of funds. It could be an easy, heartfelt way to raise dollars.” Andrea Gallagher Owner & Fundraising Consultant.

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Happy 18th Birthday Julia!

I interrupt my regularly scheduled programming to wish this sweet baby the happiest of birthdays! I couldn’t resist the opportunity to tell my girl, now an adult, how very proud I am of the young lady she’s become.

Happy 18th Birthday Julia!

Today, she will don this apropos graphic tee as she begins this new and very exciting phase of life.

 

Personally, I feel 18 is one of the most momentous of birthdays. Yet, my visit to CVS, to find just the right 18th birthday card, left me empty handed. Sweet sixteen, 21 and 50 were all available, but not 18. Hey Hallmark! Let’s get some smart 18th birthday cards on the shelves. You’re missing out on a big milestone moment!

Forgive me, I digress.

Welcome to adulthood Julia. You may now vote, you may legally enjoy a cocktail with your cousins when we go to Aruba and you can be selected for jury duty (that might be interesting seeing your latest obsession with Criminal Minds.)

Here are a bunch of other things you can also do, but I hope you won’t do most of them!

What you can legally do when you are 18!

I am so happy to celebrate this big day with you. xoxo!

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Where the Crawdads Sing – Book Club

novel where the crawdads sing by delay Owens

My last book club post revealed Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens as our next selection. I shared that the popularity of this book left me at #260 on the library hold list. Thankfully, a fellow book clubber breezed through this beautiful read in plenty of time to pass it off to me. I can’t imagine how amazing it must be for author Delia Owens to be a first-time novelist with such a critically acclaimed book. Kudos to Delia and thank you Lisa for sharing your copy with me.

I also noted in my last book club post that I was trying my first audio book. Well, that didn’t turn out well. The book expired before I could even get halfway through and Americanah didn’t hold my interest enough to re-download. I haven’t tried the audio book route again. It’s just too easy to get distracted when listening vs. reading.

OK, onto Where the Crawdads Sing.

Synopsis (an excerpt from Goodreads)

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Review

Imagery

Book club enjoyed many things about this book and number one may be that everyone read it. I think that was a first. This allowed for some lively discussion. We all agreed that the story was well written. There was a captivating artistry to the way Owens wrote this story. Her telling of a part of our country that we were all unfamiliar with was interesting and colorful. The imagery of the marsh and small town of Barkley Cove was vivid and expertly written. The beautiful scenes in my mind made me feel this would make a great movie. I could envision the picturesque North Carolina marsh backdrop coming alive on screen.

Story

The story itself had intrigue, mystery, romance and touching emotion that shaped the main character, Kya, in a compelling way. As the dramatic details unfolded, the reader was left wanting more. This is true even at the end, when book club concurred there were a lot of unanswered questions and plenty of room for a sequel.

Struggles

Interestingly, I spoke with some people who had a hard time getting into the book. The author is very, if not overly, descriptive in her writing. While, for many, that added to the reading experience, I see where it might be a road block. I, personally, struggled early on with the premise – a child abandoned by her family to fend for herself. Had I not been committed to reading this through, I may have put it down merely for the fact that I couldn’t relate, whatsoever, to a mother leaving her child with an abusive father.

The insertion of poetry throughout the chapters also gave me pause. While it may have elevated the story for some, it didn’t add for the many readers who skipped past those bits all together.

All in All

There was a lot of depth to Where the Crawdads Sing with some surprises and twists. The ending was conclusive and, at the end of the day, everyone liked the book. It was unique and beautifully written.

Next Up

The One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne

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