Monday, August 31, 2015

#collaboreads: Set in Summertime

I found my book for this month's category via random google search, and I couldn't have been happier to have stumbled upon it!  I didn't have anything on my to-read list set in summertime so after a quick search I found a few options.  Cancel the Wedding is the debut novel for Carolyn T. Dingman.  The story follows Olivia's journey to discover her mother's past via a strange scattering of ashes request upon her premature death from cancer.  A summer road trip to the quaint Southern town where her mother was born and raised yet never visited as an adult allows Olivia to learn more than she ever dreamed.

What part of the book could you NOT get enough of?

I absolutely did not want to put this book down.  The mix of mystery and romance woven throughout really had a tight grip on me.  The most intriguing part of the book dealt with the mystery surrounding why Olivia's mother, Jane, wanted her ashes scattered in two quite specific areas of Huntley.  On the surface, the novel appears to revolve around Olivia and her cold feet issues, but truly SO much more is going on here.  I was fully invested in uncovering the mystery of her mother's young life.  As the daughter of a lifelong genealogist, this story was right up my alley.

How did you relate to/care for the characters?
What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns?

As I mentioned, every aspect of the book that revolved around the life of Jane was fascinating to me.  The book begins with a prelude snapshot of a few hours of young Jane's life so the reader begins the novel at a bit of an advantage since Olivia knows absolutely nothing about her mother's past.  I really liked this element of the book because it allowed the reader to anticipate and make educated guesses about the way the story might go.  I did make a couple of correct guesses, but there were also several twists and turns that really kept me intrigued.  I deeply cared about the story line surrounding Jane and really liked the fact that two characters - Florence and Buddy - provided information, but also respected her privacy (even in death) to only answer direct questions.  This particular twist was both frustrating (as the reader just wanting to know everything right away) and brilliant (as the author allowing an opportunity to provide snapshots, but not give everything away all at once). 

What other books are like this one?
If none, did it remind you of a particular TV or movie with it's themes and characters?
Does it serendipitous-ly line-up with things going on in your life or the news right now? 

This novel was a story within a story where both stories were equally interesting and life changing for the main character.  On Goodreads, the book is compared to "Emily Giffin’s Southern charm and Jennifer Weiner’s compelling, emotionally resonant novels about the frustrations of blood ties".  I've never read Griffin, but I can see why she is compared to Weiner.  

As far as lining up serendipitous-ly with other things going on in my life, we do have seven wedding to attend this year so I guess you could say this is our year for all things wedding.  Thankfully, after this weekend, we only have two left in October!  And I thought the year we got married (last year!) would be our busiest! Ha! 

You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? 
How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages? 

I liked the design of the book.  It is simple, but really invokes the idea of journey.  The book begins with a summer road trip to Huntley, Georgia, so the cover is certainly fitting.  I like that the hood of the car is down and the sun is shining!  The other unique aspect of the novel was the opening prelude with a snippet of Jane's early life that I referenced earlier - great feature! 

How many out of five do you give this book?
Would you recommend this book to a friend?

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.  I would recommend it to anyone.  Well written story with an array of intriguing characters on a mission to discover the truth!  Can't beat that!

Andrea :)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday States: Kentucky!!!


State Nickname: The Bluegrass State

Year of Family Trip: HOME!!
Bicentennial Tour of all Kentucky Counties from 1992-1996

Cities Visited: ALL!!

Can't Miss Tourist Attractions:
Floral Clock at State Capitol, My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown, Churchill Downs in Louisville, Georgetown College, Old Hickory BBQ in Owensboro, UK Basketball at Rupp Arena, and the list goes on...

Each square represents one of the 120 Kentucky counties.

Take it from an expert, Kentucky is the BEST state in the country!  Honestly, even if I wasn't a born and bred Kentuckian, I'd still have to admit it is a pretty great state!  It's mostly peaceful and serene.  There are cities...a couple decent size ones...but mostly things are spread out.  I could probably talk forever about Kentucky and all the things to do there so today I'll focus on a few highlights.

A Bicentennial Tour: Kentucky Passport Style

Kentucky turned 200 years old in 1992.  We were at age 8, Jordan at 7, and McKinley just shy of 2.  Mom and Dad decided to make a series of family road trips to collect Kentucky counties over the next few years.  There are 120 counties. We managed to cover them all by 1996.  There were even these fun Kentucky passports that allowed us to gain a stamp at various state park or historical sites.  We sure made some great memories on these trips throughout our state.

Jordan Falls

Our family has made more than one stop at Cumberland Falls over the years.  On a trip when we were a tad older - let's say at least high school age - Jordan provided us all with a memorable family moment.  There are several sets of stairs at Cumberland Falls.  And on one of these staircases Jordan, you guessed it, fell.  Hence Cumberland Falls will forever be known to the Heflin clan as Jordan Falls.  Before you start feeling too bad, let the record state that no one was hurt in the making of this memory...though Jordan probably wanted to hurt me after the new name was born!

"Rigamortis Has Set In"

My only word of advice about visiting Kentucky is be careful in that eastern region.  I grew up in western Kentucky, but spent my fair share of time in the central and northern parts throughout my collegiate years.  And even though I traveled back and forth from Georgetown to Richmond for my graduate courses at Eastern Kentucky University, I didn't really spend a ton of time in that eastern part of the state.  Now, those that grew up there might have a different story to tell, but here's mine.  Way back on one of those collecting KY counties trips in the early 90's, a highly impressionable moment occurred in the backwoods of eastern Kentucky.  We were driving along the crooked roads at a little more than a snail's pace when we noticed a dog in the yard up ahead.  Not just any dog though. This one was lying on its back.  With its legs straight up in the air.  And it wasn't moving.  As we approached, Dad said, "I think rigamortis has set in!"  Someone (maybe or maybe not me...I can't recall) suggested we pull over to get a photo.  I mean, it's not everyday you see something this crazy, right?  We needed evidence.  As we slowed to a stop, we noticed the dog had company.  On the porch sat a rugged old man with a shotgun by his side.  Um. Nevermind about that picture, Mom!!  Let's get the heck outta here!! 

Molly's (Do we really have to go again this year?) Ride

The Civil War re-enactment of The Battle of Sacramento is our home county's claim to fame.  Every May folks from far and wide convene on little ole McLean County to check out the settler's tents and see if the North or South will win the Battle.  At first, it was fun to go.  The kettle corn and cream soda were treats to look forward to each year.  And I always loved Molly's Ride as she went to notify the troops their opposition was near.  But then after year two...and year three...and year lost a little appeal.  If you ever find yourself in McLean County around Battle time though, it's worth a peek for a first time viewer!

"I Love You, Dad"

Working Cincinnati Bengals camp during my undergraduate summers became routine while at Georgetown.  My family usually came up to visit at some point throughout camp.  After a few years of getting to know the coaches and players, I was quite comfortable around this bunch.  Among others, Chad Johnson was always one of my favorites.  And, in true Chad fashion, when I introduced him to my dad he exclaimed "Dad!  I Love You, Dad!" as he embraced and lifted Dad off the ground.'s a family portrait of Dad with all his kids!

A Derby to Remember

The 136th running of the Kentucky Derby is the only one I'll never forget.  It was the year my friend Reba and I completed our own triple crown...and we kicked it off with my family at the Derby!  My dad and I have always enjoyed the track.  We've even won big a few times.  Ok, maybe it was just that once, but we have fun regardless.  The rest of my family wasn't super thrilled about the experience though I recall them enjoying the fried turkey legs!  But, I digress.  We arrived early, brought our chairs and set up shop in the only area that we could see even a sliver of the track.  We were all set.  Or so we thought.  As race after race went by, the infield became more and more crowded.  The day had already begun with a drizzle that turned into full out rain showers that pitter pattered into sunshine so we were prepared for anything.  And by anything I mean drunk frat boys that had been sliding through the mud for hours who thought they could waltz right up in front of our group as soon as the bugle player began his call to post for the biggest race of the day year.  Oh, no they didn't!!  The New Yorker in me came right out and promptly put those folks in their place much to the chagrin of my more mild mannered family.  Minutes later, we saw those horses for the split second they whizzed by our 2 inch viewing window between a fence post and a security station though.  And that made everything worth it!  However, you'll never catch me in the infield again.  If another Derby is in my cards, I'll have a (preferably covered) seat in the grandstands!

Have you ever been to my old Kentucky home?

Literally, My Old Kentucky Home...

Do you have any questions about things to do or places to visit in KY?

Andrea :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

#MarriedMaitlands - TEN months!

I can't believe another month has come and gone.  We seem to be getting the hang of this married thing with each passing month!  Summer has been busy, but great for us!  We had some fun date nights this month along with a romantic birthday getaway in the Finger Lakes.  I am looking forward to all the fall holds for us!
Date Nights

-Deception Night with Nonverbal Group
This event was totally random, but we enjoyed it.  The premise was to arrive at a venue set up to resemble a social function.  You mingle around trying to figure out who is lying as you converse.  After an hour or so of conversation with various individuals, the liars are revealed.  It was actually a lot harder than I thought to pin point those not telling the truth!  Fun event!

-Deon Cole at Caroline's

-Red Bulls Game


My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
 (LeBron gets 5 stars from me though.)
Chris' Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
(Review here.)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


-We celebrated my birthday with a weekend getaway to the Finger Lakes!
Here are the recaps of Day 1, the Castle, and Day 2.

-I was in Philly for an overnight work trip and saw a couple of classy Eagles!

-I spent a weekend in Vegas celebrating a fabulous and fun bride-to-be!

Notable Events

-Halfway through the TV series Parenthood via Netflix.  Awesome show!

-Enjoyed Miracle Treat Day with a blizzard at Dairy Queen!

-Celebrated Dave's birthday at the beer garden in Astoria.  Neat spot!

Andrea :)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saturday States: Ohio

As Kentuckians, Ohio is that neighbor you just take for granted.  We've been there SO many times throughout the years, but below you'll find a few of the highlights...


State Nickname: The Buckeye State

Years of Family Trip: 1993, 2004, 2009

Cities Visited: Cincinnati, Sandusky

Can't Miss Tourist Attractions:

Reds Game (1993)

King's Island (1993)

While I can't recall these particular trips to the Reds Game or King's Island, I do recall others as I got older.  King's Island always made for a great road trip destination!  And you really can't beat a good baseball game in the summertime, right?

Bengals Game (2004)

On the other hand, the Battle of Ohio game we all attended is etched in my mind...mostly because my beloved Bengals fell to lowly Cleveland that day...ugh!!  My brother, Jordan, is a Browns fan so we have a lot of fun talking smack to each other before this match-up each year!  I'm not sure what he was thinking when he decided to root for the Browns instead of becoming part of Who Dey Nation!!

Cedar Point (2009)

A Dream Fulfilled

When McKinley graduated from high school, he requested a celebratory family trip to Cedar Point. We've never been much on denying the baby of the family what he wants so we all planned to convene on the roller coaster capital of the world (I was already living in NYC; Jordan and Jen were married) and make his newly graduated dream come true!  Great memories of this fun trip!

Have you ever been to Ohio?  
What do you suggest checking out there?

Andrea :)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Mini of the Month: August

To be honest, I wasn't thrilled when I learned this month's mini was Boston Cream.  Ugh!  Doesn't even sound appealing to me. On the other hand, Chris was quick to mention it was his donut of choice as a kid.  I was shocked since this favorite New Yorker of mine despises all things Boston, but that's a post for another day.

Today, we're focused on the Boston Cream mini. With standard yellow cake and chocolate frosting, its Bavarian cream stuffing and white drizzle topping really work together to give it some flavor.  Regardless, this cupcake was pretty basic.  It didn't have a lot to offer, but I wasn't as disappointed as I expected originally.  

Do you like Boston Cream?

Andrea :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Fall Film Challenge!

Watching a good movie can't be beat. You know the feeling...when the acting is on point, the story totally has you captivated, and the score is running through your head days later.  There are very few things I enjoy more than some quality time in front of the big screen!  And if you've been around here very long at all then you know I spend FAR too much money at the theater during Oscar season and always post my picks to see how I compare with the Academy.  You can imagine my delight when I saw that Jenn over at Quirky Pickings had posted a Fall Film Challenge! I immediately starting thinking of which movies I could use to fit each category!  I am SO excited to start watching on September 1!  Here's my final list:    

one. any set in new york city. 
A Most Violent Year

two. any incorporating hot air balloons in the story.
Around the World in Eighty Days

three. any that features a child as the main character.
 Annie (2014)

four. any disney film.
The Great Mouse Detective
five. any set in egypt OR have an egyptian character OR star an egyptian actor/actress.
Exodus: Gods and Kings
six. a close friend or family member's favorite film.
Scent of a Woman
seven. any with the word great in the title.
The Great White Hype

eight. any starring harrison ford. 
American Graffiti
nine. any that features an idiot as the main character.
Dumb and Dumber To
ten. any mentioned in levis strauss' list: denim in the oscars: a look at jeans in cinema.
No Country for Old Men
eleven. a film about a knight.
King Arthur
twelve. a love story.
The Longest Ride
thirteen. a movie about something miraculous. 

fourteen. a film starring an actor/actress with the same first name as yours.
Loser (Andrea Martin)

fifteen. a film about the Olympics.
sixteen. a film on time magazine's list: the top ten newspaper movies.
All the President's Men
seventeen. a movie with a question in the title.
What's the Worst That Could Happen?
eighteen. any film with a score of ninety percent or greater on rotten tomatoes.

nineteen. a film about a superhero.
Superman Returns

twenty. any film with subtitles.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
twenty-one. any incorporating unicorns in the story.
Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantonamo Bay
twenty-two. a film about a personal victory.
The Judge
twenty-three. a film with black or white in the title.
White Chicks

twenty-four. any set in a country you would most like to visit.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

twenty-five. a film set in a zoo.
We Bought a Zoo
Andrea :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Get Organized: It's Giveaway Time!!

With summer winding down and the start of another school year on the horizon, it's time to get organized!  Even though I don't have any real reason to follow the school year timeline at this point, something about seeing all those back to school photos on Facebook always makes me want to run out and snag up ALL the school supplies!

This year, my friends at Bloom Daily Planners hooked me up with some awesome grown-up organizational supplies!  They produce everything from daily planners and notebooks to file folders and binders.  And I just love their pretty designs!!

One of my favorite items they create are planning pads!  The grocery list and meal planning pads are phenomenal for a newbie meal planner like me!  They also offer a really neat daily planning pad that allows you to keep track of exercise, meals, glasses of water, your to-do's for the day, and even something you are thankful for each day.  Even with all the modern technology of unlimited tracking devices and calorie counter apps, there is just something motivating about writing everything down on paper.

Thanks to the lovely ladies over at Bloom, I have a fun prize pack to giveaway to one of YOU!!  Good'll definitely make great use of these items!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Andrea :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday States: Illinois & Indiana

Growing up in Kentucky, meant Illinois and Indiana were our northern neighbors.  We have been on many trips to and through both states, but I'll focus on a few particular stand-out moments today.


State Nickname: The Prairie State

Year of Family Trip: 2003

Cities Visited: Springfield, Chicago

Can't Miss Tourist Attractions:

Abe Lincoln burial grounds

Skydeck at Sears Tower (now Willis Tower)

Eating deep dish pizza in Chicago

Museum of Science and Industry

A Chance Encounter

Ellis Foster played the role of a conductor at the exhibit on the Pioneer Zephyr: The Silver Streak at the Museum of Science and Industry on our 2003 trip.  We struck up a conversation with him after the presentation and discovered he had been in a number of movies - most notably, Hoodlum (as an undertaker).  He was such a pleasure to talk with as we wrapped up our day at the museum.  A few years later when we returned to Chicago in the winter for a Bulls-Cavs game, we had a chance encounter of a different kind with Fast Eddie.  Needless to say, we didn't spend near as much time chatting with him.

In September 2010, our family unit convened on Chicago once more when the three Heflin kids ran our first ever half marathon there.  Through chaffing, blisters, and excruciating heat, we all made it to the finish line!  The boys only wished Mom, Dad, and Jen had been waiting there with a box of Giordano's pizza instead of bottles of water!!


State Nickname: The Hoosier State

Year of Family Trip: 1993

Cities Visited: Reo, Evansville, Santa Claus, Indianapolis

Can't Miss Tourist Attraction:
Holiday World!!!

As a child, we spent every summer visiting Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World) to ride all the rides and play in the awesome water park.  The above photos are all of when McKinley was a wee little tot, but believe me when I say we were there a lot through the years.  There were school trips, church trips, family trips....Holiday World was the place to go!

As a teenager, we spent many a weekend at the mall in Evansville or gobbling up junk food at the drive-in in Reo.  Oh to go back to the days of crushes and homecoming dance dress shopping!!

As an adult, my work brought us all together in Indianapolis for the NFL National 7-on-7 Tournament.  When we weren't working or watching football, we tried to see bits and pieces of the city.  We even celebrated Landon's first birthday there that year!

Have you spent time in Illinois or Indiana?  
What is your favorite thing to do in either of these states?

Andrea :)

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Vegas Bachelorette to Remember!

It doesn't get any more real than a bachelorette party in Vegas!  When my friend, Amanda, announced she'd be gathering a group of ladies for a weekend of bachelorette fun in Sin City I started researching flight options!  This wasn't a party I wanted to miss!

Others had been there for a day or so when I joined in the fun on Saturday morning at Amanda's lingerie shower.  We had a lovely brunch spread with everything from bagels to fruit to bacon and eggs.  It was a great atmosphere to get to know a few of the other ladies in attendance.

After a few fun games and showering the lovely bride-to-be with gifts, I tore into my Survival Kit and got myself ready for some fun in the sun at the pool.  The Mandalay Bay boasts a lazy river and wave pool though our group found both to be a bit lacking.  The lazy river was anything but lazy...the current in there was on point.  And the wave pool managed to average one single wave every five minutes or so.  However, we enjoyed snacks at our cabana and eventually made our way to the adult pool.  The vibe here was a bit more relaxing with music and drinks.  Unfortunately, my eyes are forever branded with some images I'd rather forget...and I'll just leave it at that.

After a brief romp in the adult pool, I made my way back up to the room to chow down on some pizza and begin getting ready for a night out on the town.  While a group of ladies went with the Bachelorette to check out Brittany Spears up close and personal, the rest of us got rested up for Marquee.  My roomie for the weekend and I headed over to the nightclub around midnight to meet up with the Brittany Spears crew.  Marquee left much to be desired, but we made our own fun for awhile and got some photos before we peaced out to the casino for the rest of the night.

Brunch at Border Grill inside the massive Mandalay Bay came early the next morning, but thankfully they served some delicious juices.  I recommend Berry Good - yum!  The food was also tasty here.  I had an early afternoon flight back to NYC so I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time with the bride-to-be after brunch before making my way to the airport.

Now, I can't wait for October when the last of the "old" girlfriends crew gets hitched!!  It really has been one heck of a year for each of us!! 

Andrea :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Breakfast Before Dreams

You know that dream.  The one that sticks with you long after the alarm rings.  The one that startled you out of sleep in the first place.  The one that is still vivid in your mind even as you sit down to begin your day at breakfast.

Well, you better eat quick because you can't speak of that dream until you are finished with breakfast.  At least that's how things went in our house growing up.  Call us superstitious if you'd like, but we didn't discuss details of a dream before we got something in our stomach.  Especially if the dream was scary or bad.  We wouldn't dare chance it coming true.

To be honest, it wasn't until a few months ago I found out this wasn't a general practice in all households across America.  My husband woke one morning and began immediately telling me about his crazy dream.  It took me a second to realize what was happening.  I quickly shushed him and forced a granola bar on him so that I could find out how this story ended...after breakfast!

Do you have any post-breakfast rituals??

Andrea :)

*Linking up with Mia and Vashelle for #WODW.  This week's prompt is the word Breakfast.  Join the fun!