Saturday, January 30, 2016

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy is one of those books where I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or not. The story was intriguing to me- Alice finds out she has cancer, and when she's supposed to be dying, she makes this list of things she wants to do. Some of it is good, but some of it involves revenge. She takes along her best friend Harvey to help her, even though she knows he doesn't feel comfortable doing it, but will do it for her (basically exploiting his feelings for her). Then, after her year of torturous treatments, preparing to die, and doing all of these things, she finds out that shes not going to die after all. Now what is she supposed to do?

The story has a lot of elements of other books I love, mainly John Green novels. Think Paper Towns meets The Fault in Our Stars. Then add in the the split storytelling style of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, and you have Side Effects May Vary. And I have to say, I really am not a fan of books that split perspectives while telling the story, but that seems to be a really popular trend in YA right now (along with dystopian settings and kids with cancer). And not only does this one tell the story from Alice and Harvey's perspective, but it also does it in present day and past tense, so it really bounces around. But it wasn't horrible, it suits the story's needs. 

If you read reviews of the book on Goodreads or Amazon, a lot of the lower ratings come from how people react to Alice. I get it- she's not an easy one to love. But I also think that people are spoiled by other books that are about kids with cancer. They get moody, but they're still astoundingly optimistic and cherishing every moment. Alice isn't really like that- shes ready to get her hate on before she goes. I like that this character isn't sunshine all the time- she's sixteen, already has a bit of an attitude, and then finds out that she's going to die. I wouldn't handle that very well either. And she does fix things with Harvey, because that gets pretty bent out of shape too.

I recommend this book to anyone that likes humor with a dark side, needs a bit of a cry, and doesn't mind some mild swearing. 

**This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase on Amazon after clicking on the link I will be compensated at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting KMT!**

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#ShelfLove 2016 January Post: My Goals

So a few days ago I mentioned that one of the reading challenges I was going to participate in this year is the #ShelfLove Challenge. This is where you read books that you already owned prior to the start of the new year in an effort to save yourself some money and to mow down your TBR pile. You can also add to your pile responsibly (meaning, you can't spend all your money on books all the time), but library books and textbooks don't count (sorry students).

Each month also comes with a post prompt, and if you complete it, you can add it up to a monthly linky (all the details here) for a chance to win an Amazon gift card at the end of the year. It sounds like a lot of work, but what's a little work for something you love (that would *hopefully* be reading).

This month's post is just to let you know that I've joined the challenge, and that I've set a goal of reading five books from my TBR read. I purchased a good amount of books last year, with no real opportunities to read them, so this should work. I'm also thinking that five is a good number because I'm going to try and use them for the other challenges I'm hoping to complete this year, and I only have a minimal number that will do double duty.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Personally.....A Health Update

Back in October I told you about my should've died but didn't moment, and then never spoke of anything relating to it again. I figured I would give you guys a little update on my health, just so you know how things are going.

There were lots of blood tests done. Lots of them. For someone that had just had four bags of blood put into them, you'd think the doctors would let me keep some of it. I was trying to hang on to every drop, but they seemed determined to take it all back lol. The tests all came back about the same- my blood levels were low, my iron levels were low, I should plan on another transfusion, etc. They felt okay with calling me anemic, even though my regular doctor and gastrointestinal one decided that there was probably something more to it, they just didn't know what. I had a colonoscopy done, and lots of things were biopsied (and a few things removed), but the main result of that was nothing was bleeding in the lower section to make me so anemic. So then I had an endoscopy done the day before Thanksgiving, and it was pretty much the same thing- nothing was bleeding up top to make my blood levels so low either. At this point I was told to go see my gynecologist because it had to be something related to my endometriosis/lady parts. So I went to see her, and when I told her why I was sent to her, she got a little put out. And I was thankful, because I had also found it a little insulting for the gastrointestinal dude to basically tell me that it was just a period problem. We talked things over, and she was the only one to offer to refer me to a hematologist- you know, a doctor that actually specializes in blood disorders. Why the other two hadn't thought to do that, I don't know. I'm still waiting to see the specialist- there was some paperwork mix up between the doctor offices, and then an insurance change that's made things stall a bit, but I'm hoping to see him soon. And that's where I'm at right now. I take iron pills when I can stomach them (I'm supposed to take them three times a day) and I was told that if I wanted to try a gluten free diet to see if it helps, I can (people with gluten intolerances can't absorb iron I guess. I've been tested for Celiac's like six times since I went to the hospital. I don't have it, but the doctors seem to think its an option.). I still don't feel overly fantastic, but I'm not as bad as I was back in October, and for that I am grateful.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Five Fandom Friday- Favorite Ways to Netflix and Chill

So it has been a hot minute since I've done one of these, and I have to say, when I saw this topic I was like, heyyyy Triple F, getting sexy on us!! Because as we all know, Netflix and chill is:
There is none of that going on over here. But my husband and I do use Nteflix as one of the only ways we get to spend any time together. He's the go-getter in our relationship- he has work, school, an airsoft podcast/airsoft events, an active social I don't get to see him too often. Plus, whatever free time he does have, we try to do stuff with our kids. Often times we eat dinner together and watch Netflix, and then its back to the grind. So here are the things we are currently watching:

Making a Murderer
We went through this pretty quickly. The story was too good. It follows the story of Steven Avery, who was found wrongly convicted of a rape after spending eighteen years in prison. He was only out of prison for like, three years before he was arrested for a murder, along with his sixteen year old nephew. I've personally formed my own opinions about it, but I love reading all the articles about all the theories and evidence. Crime shows are my thing though, I blame my grandparents for all those years of Matlock and In the Heat of the Night! You really have to wonder about some of the things in this story, like how the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Office is still allowed to operate. No matter if you think Steven Avery guilty or innocent, there is definitely some shoddy law enforcement practices happening there (and before you jump on my case, I am a huge law enforcement supporter).

This is about a small town in Wyoming, Sheriff Walt Longmire and his two (sometimes, three) deputies. It was cancelled by its network at the end of its third season, then Netflix picked it up for a darker fourth season. I liked that there weren't any commercial breaks in the fourth season, and I look forward to Netflix making a fifth (although there are rumors that it will be the show's final). There is a lot of Native American culture in the show, and I think its really neat to see that on teevee. The plot lines tend to be a little different because of that as well, which is refreshing. The show is based on a series of books, and I've always wondered if the show is anything like them. 

F is For Family
This show reminds me of an animated That 70's Show, just a lot more vulgar. Its set in 1973 and the dad, Frank, has a thankless job an an airport, comes home to drink beer and be crabby. The neighbor isn't dopey like Bob though, hes a total Matthew McConaughey type. I guess its supposed to be more like All in the Family, but That 70's Show is a more relevant reference to me. Its really funny though, you just can't watch it around your children. No really, don't watch it around your kids.

Yeah, don't judge me. We're slowly making our way through the series. It's not that its a bad show, we just get sidetracked by other shows lol. But I'm thinking we'll be all caught up by the time SDCC comes around this year. And I really want to start watching The Flash, so that's a good motivator too. 

And this one isn't on Netflix, its Amazon Prime:
Rick and Morty
We just love Rick and Morty!! There are so many lines that can apply to every day situations. My favorite episode is with Scary Terry. The last episode of season two went a little dark, and I'm anxious to see how season three goes. Until then, I'll just keep watching my reruns :)

What are you currently watching on Netflix (or Hulu/Amazon Prime/HBO Go/etc)? Let me know!! And thanks to Megan and Kristin for starting 5 Fandom Friday!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mage Food- Miso Ramen

I'm going to share with you the most basic of ramen recipes, and I don't mean that in the negative street connotation of the word. The full recipe is found on Steamy Kitchen, so hop on over there if you're interested in seeing the ramen in all it's glory.

Serves 4

10oz dried ramen noodles
8 cups pork or vegetable broth
4 tablespoons shiro miso paste
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

These are what I use.

Cook your ramen noodles according to package instructions. Mine were in Japanese, so I just cooked them until I felt good about them (about three minutes). Drain and rinse your noodles in cold water to stop the cooking process. Put your noodles into your bowls.

In a large pot, add the stock and soy sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove your pot from the heat and stir in the miso paste. Taste your soup and add in another 1-2 tablespoons of miso if your tastebuds crave it. Add your soup to your noodle bowls. Add in any vegetables, meat, eggs if you so desire.

I buy BBQ pork from a local Chinese restaurant to add to my ramen.

And that's it!! This has been hitting the spot on these chilly nights lately. Let me know if you try it!

Monday, January 18, 2016

ModCloth Monday #1

Happy Monday! One of the new columns I wanted to try this year is ModCloth Monday! It'll be once a month (maybe more if there's just too much good stuff!), and I'll share with you some of my favorite things from the site.

ModCloth Monday #1

ModCloth Monday #1 by krystellemt

#1 Simplicity on a Saturday Tunic in Black (although all the colors look great!)
#2 Too Much Fun Dress in Airplanes (in celebration of taking a place for the first time in December)
#3 No Place Like Roam Necklace (I'm a bit wanderlusty right now)
#4 Coach Tour Dress in Violet (all the colors look great in this one too!)
#5 Good Enough to Eat Dress (if I mention this dress enough, maybe someone will buy it for me.....)

The awesome part about all of these is that they are currently on sale! Check out the details below:

Deal: 25% off Marvelous Must Have styles at ModCloth
Start: Monday 1/18 (that's today!) at 8am EST
End: Thursday 1/21 at 8am EST

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links. Its a way of supporting KMT at no extra cost to you! Thank you!**

Friday, January 15, 2016

Quests- Maui,Hawaii/Things To Do

Food and drinks were an important part of the trip to Maui, but what about things to do? Well, today I'll talk about a few places we visited that I guess are considered pretty touristy.

Surfing Goat Dairy:

This is a working goat farm that does tours and stuff, but we went when we were a bit pressed for time, so we didn't take one. The little goats are so cute, one came right up to my husband and started sucking his finger, and then a farm lady got mad at him and said that the goats weren't of sound immunity and people are nasty so the goats can't do that. They sell all kinds of goat milk products, including some of the best goat cheese ever! And these amazing truffles that were also sold at the vodka distillery I wrote about yesterday. They are right next door to each other, and they have a bit of a partnership (some of the truffles have alcohol in them).

Kula Botanical Garden:

This place was so pretty! It had all different kinds of flowers and trees, birds and some lizards. It was very well maintained, and there were signs along the paths so didn't get lost in there. Towards the end of our walk, we saw some guys up in one of the trees who were gathering macadamia nuts, then opening them on a rock with a rock right below it. My husband and in-laws tried it out, but I have horrible hand/eye coordination, and all I saw was a trip to the hospital for me! The fresh macadamia nuts were amazing though, and it was really cool of those guys to let us intrude (and really cool of the gardens staff to let them do that).

The drive to reach the top of this place is long (37 miles from sea level to the top of the summit)!! We thought we were going to run out of gas. But the view was amazing. You are above the clouds, its just.....amazing. I mean, there isn't another word for it. Its chilly up there, so dress accordingly. And there's a gift shop a little ways down, so if you have a National Parks Passport, that's where you get it stamped at.

That little black speck is a whale!

My husband and in-laws have been to Hawaii on more than one occasion, so they were tired of doing luaus. Instead of going to one this year, they chose whale watching as their "touristy" activity. Whale watching was fun, I was worried that I was going to get sick on the boat because motion sickness is sometimes an issue for me, but I did fine (my mother-in-law on the other hand...not so much). We saw a good amount of whales, but they were really hard to get a picture of because they were so fast. The only thing that made me go hmm was at one point our captain came back from a break (right, as we're sailing along) with two Mai Tais in his hands. Like, couldn't he have waited for our adventure to be over first? Or at least drank those were we couldn't see him doing it? But we didn't crash, so that was awesome. 

So that's it! Other than spending way too much time in ABC Stores (part convenience store, part souvenir shop, they're everywhere- like Starbucks!), the grocery store and Longs (yes- a Longs! Not CVS! That probably doesn't make sense to you East Coasters. They're like a Duane Reade, or whatever your drugstores are called, and there hasn't been a Longs here in a very long *lol* time.), we didn't do much else. Oh, we did go to the movies twice too. It was a total throwback theater. I mean, it was a Regal Cinemas (which are very modern), but the decor felt very early 90's. We saw Daddy's Home and The Hateful Eight. Both good movies for their respective genres, but not gonna lie, I fell asleep during part of The Hateful Eight. 
This is from the theater. They had lines of this stuff in the bathroom on the walls and floors. I thought it was really cool because it was sparkly (which my photo fails to capture) and a collage, and I love collages! This was next to me by the mirror, and I took a picture because Harriet the Spy is in there, and that's a favorite of  mine. 

If I ever visit Hawaii again, what are some places that I missed that I should definitely check out? 

*All photos in this post were taken by me. If you use them, please credit. Thank you!*

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Quests- Maui,Hawaii/The Alcohol

While in Maui, we visited a brewery, a distillery and a winery. I'm not much of a drinker anymore (and I've never liked beer), so I was a little leery of these destinations. But they all turned out to be great experiences, and I found some wine and beer that didn't leave me gagging :)

Maui Brewing Company:
We toured the Maui Brewing Company as part of my father-in-law's birthday celebration. We missed our initial tour time, but they placed us into the next one with no problems. While we waited for our tour to being, we ordered drinks. As I mentioned above, I do not like beer! I never have. But I tried the Mana Wheat. As described on their site:

An unfiltered, freshly handcrafted American-style Wheat infused with Maui Gold Pineapple. Our crisp and refreshing wheat ale is lightly hopped to allow the fruity sweetness of the pineapple to shine. The yeast stays in suspension making the ale traditionally cloudy.

ABV 5.5 | IBU 18

It was pretty good, as far as beer goes. I couldn't finish though, so I had to pass it around the table. My husband and father-in-law got these things called flights (I think), so they got to sample six beers a piece. My sister-in-law tried their root beer (which is delicious!) and I can't remember what my mother-in-law got. 
The tour wasn't very long (the facility is really small), but it was fun and the tour guide was cool. At the end of it, you do a tasting and I drank all three without complaint (and one of them was really nasty!). You get to keep your tasting cup and they give you a token for a free drink. I used mine on a root beer. 

We went here right after the brewery, so it might seem like we're alcoholics, but that's just how it worked out. This place was beautiful! They make Ocean Vodka and Deep Island Rum. Even though this facility was also small, the tour went a little longer because everything was spread out (and our tour guide talked a lot lol).They have a bunch of different types of sugar cane they use to make their products, and they're organic if that's a thing for you. There was a tasting at the end of this tour, but they hardly gave you anything to try! Now, I realize that this is more, uh, spirited than beer, but I can actually drink vodka and rum, so it was a little disappointing. You also got a cute shot glass at the end of the tour. 
This little kitty lives there. It made me miss my cat!

The winery was so pretty. It had at one time been a ranch, and even a vacation spot for the Hawaiian King way back in the day. At the start of the tour, they give you a taste of Lokelani Rose Wine, it was good. I don't know a darn thing about wine though, so it could be garbage (I don't think so though. My SIL drinks wine, and she liked it). Some people were swilling it around their glasses and stuff. I just drank it. That's how I roll. Anyway, this tour was the longest of the three, I think because everything was very spread out here. There was also a lot of history involved with the property, and they talked a lot about it. After this tour, we got to taste three wines of our choosing. I chose the Hula O Maui, Maui Splash and Framboise. All the wines I chose were flavored or dessert wines, and the Framboise was so sweet and good, it really felt like I was drinking a raspberry dessert. The other two were both pineapple wines, and they were good too. Added bonus, I had a tiny bottle of Stella Rosa Stella Pink in my fridge that I had tried once before and was a little on the fence about. I reopened it after coming home and had a new appreciation for it!

So those are my alcohol related tours. Tomorrow I'll be concluding my posts about Maui with some other things to do while there. Don't forget to check out yesterday's post all about food!

**All photos were taken by me. If you use them, please credit. Thank you!**

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Quests- Maui,Hawaii/The Food

During Christmastime, I was in Maui. I had never been to Hawaii before (or on a plane), so it was pretty interesting. I have lots to share, so I'll be breaking it down into a couple of posts. The first post I wanted to do is on the food, because it was very good! (I'll also share a few that were meh and womp womp, just to be fair.)

One of the first things we did when we got there was go grocery shopping. Besides the price of food being way higher than here in CA, the variety of foods in the store were very different than what I'd expect to see at a grocery store here. One of the first foods I saw was this hot dog musubi. I didn't try it, but I was intrigued.
Spam is another huge deal over there. It goes back to WWII, and I have nothing against Spam. It was just strange to see it offered in restaurants and to have such huge end caps dedicated to the stuff. Here at home, its usually just shoved at one end of a dusty shelf, and nobody admits to eating it because its considered a poor man's food.

While we did cook in our timeshare sometimes, we also ate at a few restaurants. We ate at L & L Hawaiian BBQ twice because it was very good. They gave generous portions and the prices were so reasonable. I didn't take a picture of my food there, I think its one of the only places I didn't. I was just so hungry I forgot! They also have locations scattered throughout the mainland US and some overseas, check their website and see if they have a location near you. 

We also ate breakfast at a place called Slappy Cakes three times. Their food was soooooo good. I'm not usually a pancake person, but I really tore into theirs! I tried the Blueberry Tart pancakes that was served with house-made lemon curd and the Hawaiian pancakes. I also had the lavender lemonade and the hibiscus lemonade. All of it was tasty, but the lavender lemonade and Hawaiian pancakes were my favorites. There are also griddles in the middle of each table in case you choose the DIY pancake option. I thought about trying that, but I was also feeling lazy since I was on vacation, so that didn't happen. Slappy Cakes also has a restaurant in Portland, and a few overseas as well.

The first meh place we ate at was Sansei. My in-laws loved the food there, but my husband and I were left a little underwhelmed (and no, we're not foodies or anything). The food was really expensive, the portions were small, and it tasted like food we could get at home for half the price. I will say though, that the first thing I tried (which was a mango crab salad handroll), was really good.

There is a great little bakery called Sugar Beach Bake Shop that made the best macarons! I even brought some home with me!

The womp, womp place we ate at was Moose McGillycuddy's. The place was overcrowded, so we were put at a table that was too small for the five of us. The food was comparable to things you can buy premade at a grocery store, and the rest was just flavorless and blah. Not to mention that it made all of us sick. I don't recommend that place at all

Genki Sushi was a really fun place to eat. There are conveyor belts that have plates of variously priced sushi travel all through the restaurant. We ordered everything straight from the kitchen (because we don't trust people lol) and it was delicious. The plates are color coated and the waitress just counts up how many of each color you have and that's how they figure our your bill. It was really affordable and tasty. I also had to try some tamago Spam nigiri. You can't go to Hawaii and not eat Spam at least once :)

And to finish up this post (I know, its a long one!), I leave you with a Dole Whip. I never get these at Disneyland, so I figured I would try one where the pineapples are very fresh. It was delicious!
Tomorrow, I'll talk all about the alcohol related tours we took on the island!

**All photos (Except the L&L BBQ and Moose McGillycuddy's logos) were taken by me. If you use them, please credit. Thank you!**

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SlimFast VoxBox #ItsYourThing

I just love Influenster! I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but out of all the sample/review sites I've joined, they're my favorite. Not only do the products seem a little more in-tune with my life, but you tend to get bigger sized products. The catch (and this is what frustrates a lot of people), is that in order to get these samples, you have to qualify for VoxBoxes. Its hard to get them, and I went almost a year without getting anything from them, then I got the Pumpkin VoxBox and the one I'm about to tell you about, the SlimFast Advanced Nutrition VoxBox, within about a month and a half of each other.

Pictured above are the items that were included in my SlimFast Advanced Nutrition VoxBox. I've always found SlimFast products to be tasty, almost to the point where eating them in moderation was tough, and these are no exception. The drink is my favorite, I consider myself a fairly liquid person, and SlimFast shakes have always been my favorite when I'm trying to lose weight. The problem I run into though, is that I have a hard time feeling full after drinking one, so that often leaves me roaming for food almost immediately, defeating the purpose of the shake (and adding on extra calories, womp womp).

The SlimFast plan is to replace two meals a day with their shakes/smoothies/nutritious bars, enjoy one healthy 500 calorie meal, and indulge in three of their 100 calorie snacks. I don't have the willpower for this, but you might, and the SlimFast Advanced Nutrition line are pretty tasty if you're looking for a plan to try.

*I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions in this blog post are my own.*

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Krystelle's Book Club in 2016

I've decided not to do one of those new year/new me posts this year. In the past I've hoped that by making my goals public, I would become more accountable to achieving them. But I've found that even in typing my goals for the world to see, I still don't really accomplish them. So this year I will make my goals privately, and if I accomplish them, I'll share them. And if I don't, well, then you'll never have to hear about them. Deal? Good.

I would like to share with you the three book challenges that I'll be trying out this year though. I've set my goal at reading fifty books, and I think participating in these challenges will help me get there. This will be a tough one, since I only read ten books last year and my goal was fifteen, but I'm hoping that these reading challenges will get me back into the reading spirit, and get me motivated to post more here. One of the sections I have here on the blog is Krystelle's Book Club, and I think I've only reviewed about five books. I'm hoping to change that this year (whoops, I let one of my goals slip already), so we'll see.

*2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (22 books to read, 2 book related actions)
*Popsugar 2016 Reading Challenge (41 books to read- one item requires reading two books)
*Reads the Books 2016 Reading Challenge (32 books to read, 14 bookish actions)

Luckily for me, there are a few common items on these lists, so I can cheat a little bit and count one book for more than one list or category. I think that will make it a little more manageable. That, and the challenge from Reads the Books has other book related things that help break up the monotony of just reading, but still keeping you in the book-loving spirit.

source: Tumblr tag via Google search

Do you ever participate in reading challenges? Do you find that they work for you, or add too much stress in wanting to complete them? Or do you just have an awesome book recommendation? I'd love to hear it!!

Edit 01/18/16: I have joined another book challenge! What am I doing to myself? Its the Shelf Love Challenge, and you just read books that you already own that were obtained before January 1st, 2016. There are monthly prompts to write about, and overall it just seems like a lot of fun. Thanks to Alice at The Geeky Burrow for cluing me in!