I am so excited that my book club was chosen to participate in a This Is Where I Leave You book club before the film hits the big screen on September 19th. When I was asked to participate, I had heard of Jonathan Tropper, but had never read one of his books before. I can honestly say that if you are wanting to add a little sparkle and hilarity to your book club discussion, This Is Where I Leave You is the book for you.
I read this book in a record two days and my husband kept finding me with it in some state of crying-laughing almost every moment I read it. Although he isn’t much of a reader, I handed it to him and said, “You must read it.” Each night when I crawl into bed, I hear random laughing and snorting on his side of the bed. It is that kind of book that you finish and hand off to someone else so you can laugh about it together.
When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide—driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.
In this story, each of the siblings are told that it is their father’s dying wish for them to sit shiva together as a family. The irony is that their father is an atheist who made it known he didn’t believe in religion, but with their mother’s persuasion, she manages to get their family together under one roof for one week. With no escaping each other and a lot of time to reflect on life and the choices they have made, it really makes for some hilarious moments of family dysfunction at its best. What I loved about this story more than anything is the message that even when they drive us crazy, we will always love our family.
I love it in the way that I loved the movie Bridesmaids- so wrong and so right. Raunchy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming, and so perfectly pitched. I would highly recommend this one for fans of Arrested Development as it reads just like my favorite episodes of the early seasons of the Bluth family. The crazy family dramas are always my favorites and this family does not disappoint in the craziness department. For better or worse, they are family, with all that history and messiness and love.
Love stories told from male authors sometimes fall short for me, but that was not the case in this one. Tropper does such a fantastic job of sharing what a failing marriage looks like, what it would feel like to lose the love of your life (interweaving old stories of the couple and new), and how one can find love again. Even in the darkest of moments of this marriage, Tropper finds a way to bring the hilarity into even the depressing situations of losing your life partner.
Since the movie will be hitting the big screen on September 19th, I hosted our book club to read the book and then we plan to make an outing to see the book on the big screen. Sometimes it is difficult to find a book that we all like, but this one fit the bill perfectly for our group and we used the time to have a delicious brunch together and celebrate the kids heading back-to-school.
After seeing the trailer, I already know that this is going to be one of my favorite movies this year. I have to say that after reading the book, the film could not have been more perfectly cast and I kept seeing these actors in these roles even as I read the book. Many times the movies just don’t live up to the books, but I can already tell that this one won’t be the case.
TIWILY Boozy Brunch Ideas
Here are some delicious brunch options for a fun morning with your girlfriends that are some of my favorite when I am entertaining. I am selecting these because they can be made before everyone arrives so that you can really enjoy book club with your friends. You will also find a fun drink I have created just for your book club that you can sip while chatting about the book.
In the theme of the book and all the food that is brought to the family as they sit shiva, you could also make your friends bring you brunch dishes potluck style in excessive abundance, taking the pressure off of you as the hostess.
Perhaps you could even pass some of these recipes on to them and ask them to make them for you.
It just seems like something awkward that the Foxman family might try in the book.
What is a book club without a good discussion? LAME. Here are some of my favorite book club questions that I gathered for our discussion together!
TIWILY Book Club Questions
1. What was your first impression of Judd’s wife, Jen? Because you see her almost entirely from Judd’s perspective, was there any chance to see her as a sympathetic character before Judd finds her so? Do you think that Judd and Jen have a chance at salvaging their relationship, with or without a baby girl to raise?
2. Discuss Judd’s mother and her relationship with each of her children. Do you think that Hillary Foxman was truly a bad mother? Was there any real irony in her being a child-rearing guru? What was your opinion of her character?
3. Most of the characters in this novel struggle against living up to an ideal established either by themselves or by a friend, family member, or spouse. Judd fails to be the perfect husband, brother, and son; Jen fails to be the perfect wife; Wendy fails to be the perfect mother and Alice fails to become a mother at all. Mort and Hillary Foxman, it turns out, fail their children spectacularly in some ways while succeeding in others. What do the lives of these characters reveal to us about perfectionism, ideals, and our expectations for ourselves and others?
4. For all of their faults, is the Foxman clan a likeable group of people? What makes them an endearing group of people? Who did you like the most, and who did you find the least appealing, and why? Were there any characters you would have liked to see developed further?
5. Clearly, Judd is an adult, yet this book can also be seen as a delayed coming-of-age story. What does Judd learn in the end about himself and his role in helping to create the world in which he finds himself?
6. Discuss Judd Foxman, the novel’s protagonist, from his very ironic and dry sense of humor (shared also by his brothers and sister), to his anger and vulnerability regarding his wife’s infidelity, to his conflicted emotions regarding his immediate family. What was your first impression of the protagonist/narrator of this novel? What did you find the most engaging aspect of his character? Did you find any aspect of him off-putting?
7. What comment is Tropper making about the role of trauma and tragedy in our lives? Almost every character in this book suffers or has suffered: Phillip from his neglected/overindulged childhood; Judd from his wife’s infidelity; Horry from his brain damage; Paul from the Rottweiler attack; Wendy from her unhappy marriage; and Alice from her infertility. What does their unhappiness, and the way each person copes with that unhappiness, teach us?
Be sure to head to the theaters to see This Is Where I Leave You on September 19th!
Share your own book club and hashtag it with #TIWILY #TIWILYbookclub
In honor of the movie, I am hosting a giveaway today for one (1) $50 Visa gift card and a copy of the book so you can enjoy reading the book and then catch the film in theaters September 19th! Please follow instructions in the Rafflecopter below to enter to win by September 12th! One winner will be chosen at random! a Rafflecopter giveaway
Back-to-school season means back to the daily grind of controlling paperwork, keeping track of schedules, checking homework, figuring out meals, and corralling the backpack clutter in the home. Thankfully, it is easy to create a DIY Command Center for your family on a budget and even in a small home. Today I want to showcase eight ideas for command centers that would work in small spaces, or in a larger home, and how you can utilize Goodwill for some of the supplies for your project.
I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, and thrifty ways to spruce up your home. Nothing brings me more joy then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!
I have been so excited to show off this incredibly cute DIY Family-Friendly Bar Cart that I created for Kenmore this month. This DIY bar cart is my new favorite thing in our house and I love that I can wheel it out for all of our entertaining needs.
Have you ever seen the pricing on beverage carts? It is quite astounding! I love to have a cheap chic home, especially when it comes to entertaining needs, and I just can’t picture spending $500 or more on a cart that houses our drinks. I decided to wow my friends with a budget-friendly and family-friendly drink cart that would sit perfectly in my budget. You know what fits right in my budget? A tool cart.
Today we are making over a Sears Hardware Cart into a beautiful bar cart. Say what? I know! This cart retails for a mere $82.87 and has just the type of clean and modern lines I was looking for in a more expensive cart. The best part is that you can personalize it to your own taste and color scheme.
Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!
Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”
Summer is coming to a close. Once the kids go back it’s basically already over, but there are still warm weekends that you can make the most of before the wind turns cold and the produce stops flowing. It’s actually right now in this early September air that my farmer’s market seems to be bursting at the seams with tables overflowing and after months of waiting, there are watermelons for the taking.
There’s something about a watermelon grown locally that just sings more than any supermarket watermelon (that I’ve been enjoying liberally all summer long, mind you). We usually get our best watermelon of the season right at the end of summer, a bright flag-waving send off as we head into the colder months. It’s only right to dress it up then.
I’m the first to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with my melon baller. The waste is what gets me. There’s all this juice that seems to collect as you’re balling, and then the bits in between the balls are just byproduct – okay, so I just snack on all the little bits, and I’d do the same if I were slicing it.
Still, it’s a kitchen tool I don’t often use. I pulled it out recently to make a fruit salad for my daughter’s swim team (high school sports do so many meal functions), and everyone was excited about the end result, but none more so than my 6-year-old, who told me it was like “eating a bouncy ball made of watermelon” that was “so, so tasty.” That, folks, right there is how you win your mommy over.
This fruit salad gets a minty punch from reduced watermelon juice, and an extra special crunch from a few chia seeds sprinkled on at the end.
Cut the watermelon in half and, using a melon baller, scoop the watermelon into balls. Collect the formed balls in a bowl, and pour off the excess juice that collects in the watermelon into another bowl or pot to use for later.
Slice the strawberries, rinse the blueberries, and combine with the watermelon balls.
Julienne the mint, setting aside 1 tablespoon for garnish, and combine with 3 cups of the reserved watermelon juice and the honey in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has reduced by half. Once the liquid has reduced, strain the mint pieces, remove from heat and chill.
Pour the watermelon-mint syrup over the fruit. Sprinkle the chia seeds on, toss to combine, and serve cold.
Oh, I hope you did read that title! It brings me back to the Sweet Valley Twins books and getting that Super Edition book that you knew was going to be so much better and longer than the regular editions. That is exactly what starts this week on our 3 Little Things.
I am trying to figure out a way to blend my fashion capsule challenge with the rest of the blog and decided that I can’t manage a whole separate series and try to build a following to that. Since you guys already love this section so much, the three little things just got more awesome. I am going to include my usual 3 things that make me happy and am now adding 3 outfits that I wore and 3 things you loved this week on the site from our top searches. Consider this the super editions from here on out! Life got so full with my activities and kids and running and running and running. I still want to inspire you and take you on my journey towards a more minimalistic wardrobe so this is a great way to blend my two loves together.
3 Things That Make Me Happy
The Yoga Pants Of The Bra World
Padded, without wires or hooks, and can comfortably be worn to bed or under clothes. It is the yoga pants of the bra world and it is called the bralette. Behold the awesome from aerie. It’s my new favorite thing! Be sure to sign up for their email list or check here for coupons because you rarely have to buy anything not on sale at this store. If that doesn’t make you happy, then you are crazy.
I promise I am not being paid to say this, it’s just something that is saving me some money and time this month. I am madly in love with the new Walmart Savings Catcher app. I shop there a lot for my projects for my clients because I can grab my groceries and craft supplies in one place. If you download the Walmart app, they now have a Savings Catcher tool on that app that you can use for price matching. What I do is I scan the barcode on my receipt when I get home. They then compare the prices of all of the stores and give you back the difference on an ecard if they find someone with a lower price. I signed up a couple of weeks ago, entered one receipt, and I already have $2.46 accumulated. I have gotten a few friends to sign up and they have already accumulated a few bucks too. Pretty great stuff!
My Home Management Binder
I am so thrilled after months of chattering with my assistant and recruiting our designer and contributor to design a home management system and coordinating the distribution of these files with my husband that these printables are finally out in the world. I am so thankful to Money Saving Mom for sharing this freebie with her readers. We were baffled when the sign-ups suddenly stopped on our brand new newsletter. It turns out that if you have more than 2,000 people sign up, you have to start a paid plan on Mail Chimp.
First world problems, I tell you.
All I can say is, “WOW!”
My hopes of getting a couple of hundred subscribers has been surpassed. Thank you all for signing up for our newsletter and I am so happy that we got to share these home management binder printables with you after a lot of hard work behind the scenes to make these. I finally feel like I can breathe now that we have mailed them to you.
I am truly using these printables and can’t believe the paper pile-up with school just starting that has already happened. I’m proud that I am a little more organized than the years before and I am loving that I didn’t have to buy a planner this year. I have already started inputting my work trips in it and got a ton in it for my husband so he knows when/where/what to do with our children. Each year it feels like so much more and I’m hoping this helps me stay cool and collected this year.
3 Things I Wore
Did you see I started a fashion capsule wardrobe challenge? I’m so thrilled so many of you are joining in so I have some accountability partners. If you are looking for inspiration I have spent far too much time making a Pinterest Fashion Capsule Board to inspire you into embracing a simpler wardrobe. You really must take a peek.
This week started with a bang. I went to a bridal shower, hopped in the car with my sister-in-law, jetted to Starbucks, spilled Starbucks all over my skirt (a signature piece, I might add!), tried to spot clean it, ended up washing it on delicate, took the skirt out and it was…
Yup, dry clean only. I spent all day fluffing and separating the fabric and shaping it back into its former glory. I wore it to church the next day and felt like a slip was dragging behind me. I looked and sure enough the whole underlayer was hanging out an inch. I called my mother-in-law and declared a fashion emergency and she GRACIOUSLY let me bring my tiny skirt over to her house and hemmed it for me.
First lesson learned: check care label information before making minimalist wardrobe purchases.
Holy heavens! It was a heat wave and I did not put shorts in my minimalist wardrobe. I did, however, give camis a free pass so this long tank (hidden discreetly under my bird skirt) worked perfectly. I should have probably counted this one as a piece because it is long, but I’m not going back on my decision to include it now that it is ninety degrees out.
That last outfit isn’t my normal attire, but it turns out we got a sitter for the night so I am heading out for a sushi date with my hubby! I bet that makes my happy list for next week. We haven’t had a date night in ages and I can’t wait to steal that guy all to myself.
I struggled this week..I would say hobbled along in my fashion challenge. Breaking the habit of changing a few times a day because I think I am hosting an award show, REALLY thinking about accessories, and taking better care of my pieces are all shedding some light on some of my behaviors and habits.
This is going to make me a better person even if I did feel a little Amish the first day because I have never had to work so hard accessorizing to make my clothes stand out.
I am a loud person. I am a loud patterned person. I am the one with the jazz hands screaming, “LOOK AT ME!”
Just a tiny identity crisis this week. Ahem.
These were my favorite looks because I put some jazz hands on them, but I got dressed EVERY DAY and made it count. So I am really proud of that.
3 Things YOU Loved This Week (you, lover of MomAdvice things, you!)
Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!
This week on MomAdvice our most exciting post was all about our FREE set of Family Binder Home Management Printables you can get to help you organize all your household needs. These were designed by our own talented Sarah Milne and all 14 are yours free when you sign up for our MomAdvice newsletter. Make sure to go here to sign up for this and more freebies we plan to offer!
I don’t know if I ever devoted an entire post to grapes in over a decade of running this site, but perhaps this showcases how underappreciated this fruit is. It is a staple around here as a side to round out our sandwiches, it’s an effortless appetizer paired with wine and cheese, and it spends its freshly rinsed self at the pool with us as a snack that can withstand the heat and temperatures. We are definitely fans of the humble grape and I am sure you are too.
Unlike some of the more difficult fruits I have featured, it is quite easy to spot a good batch of grapes. Did you know premium grape season is actually September and October? It really is the best time to buy a big bag of grapes for your family. It is advised to select grapes based on the color of them. For green grapes, they should have a slightly yellowish, translucent hue rather than a true, opaque green. Red grape varieties should be mostly red and have a rich, crimson tone.
One other way to check for a good grape is to look at the stem of the grapes. A dry and brittle stem indicates that the grapes might not be as fresh and seeing a little peek of green on the stem is a good indicator of a fresh batch. The shape of the grape should not be misshapen or wrinkled, but plump and juicy. Of course, you can always bring them back to Walmart if they aren’t perfect thanks to their 100% money back guarantee so selecting great grapes is foolproof.
I decided to incorporate these grapes into a gluten-free pasta salad to take to a cookout. This salad was hearty and filling for someone who is often unsure if she will be able to eat at social events (ahem). Not only is this just the kind of creamy pasta dish I love, but it incorporates the smoky saltiness of turkey bacon and chopped toasted pecans for a protein punch that really fills you up. The smokiness is balanced with the sweetness of the grapes making for an interesting flavor combination and perfect for showcasing the beautiful in-season grapes.
Oh, grape, you certainly are a wonderful fruit and I’m sorry we haven’t loved on you more over the years! I promise to do better!
A gluten-free pasta salad laced with pecans, bacon, and sweet grapes.
1 bag of gluten-free pasta (any variety)- 16 ounces
1 lb. fresh broccoli
½ cup light mayonnaise
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 packets Stevia
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups seedless red grapes
10 cooked turkey bacon slices, crumbled
½ cup pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan for about 6 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Once done cooking, rinse well before assembling.
Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems and separate into small pieces using a paring knife. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, yogurt, Stevia, red wine vinegar and salt and toss with broccoli, hot cooked pasta (that has been rinsed) and grapes. Stir to coat.
Cover and chill for up to 3 hours. Stir in bacon and toasted pecans just before serving.
Note- The sauce on this can be doubled if you desire a more creamy pasta.