Friday, July 31, 2020

Friday Favorites and Happenings

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

I can't believe we are at the last day of July. And the fact that we have been quarantined for 20 weeks now. How is that even possible? I feel like our world has completely changed and I am not sure how it will ever go back, but I really do we start to go that way soon. Slowly bring things back to a new normal.

This Sunday is my birthday and I never thought I would say that I would be celebrating it during the quarantine. Rory's birthday was during the beginning of the pandemic and I thought that it sucked that he had to celebrate it the way he did. And I thought that this would be long over before my birthday. But here we are and now I am celebrating my birthday during the pandemic. Crazy times.

Onto Friday Favorites and Happenings.

ONE. Last weekend I went to the outdoor mall to get some new candles from Bath and Body Works since they were having a huge candle sale. But then I went two stores down and went into Loft. They were having a mega sale on everything. Shirts and shorts were $12.99 each. I grabbed these shorts and this tank. But in different colors. They are sold out of the colors I got online.
Loft Square Neck Peplum Shell
TWO. I went into American Eagle on this same shopping trip and they had so many Summer items on clearance and a few items that had been returned. I had seen this long sleeve henley online and wanted to buy one, but never did. I always wait for free shipping. But someone had returned one in stores, so I tried it on and it was amazing. It has thumb holes, covers your booty, is super soft and oversized. I got an xs and now I want more colors. This shirt will be worn on repeat this Fall and Winter.
AE Offline Ribbed Henley Tee

THREE. This is sort of random, but for Christmas Rory gave me athletic socks. I wore the same socks to the gym for years. I would only throw them away when they got holes. I mentioned a few times how I needed new ones, but never bought any. It isn't something fun to buy, so I never bought them. 

Anyways, he got me Under Armour no show socks and these are amazing. They are comfy, not bulky, they don't bunch up in my shoes and are perfect for working out. I LOVE them. He bought me a six back and I recently bought more. That is how great they are. If you need new running/working out socks, get these. 
Under Armour No Show Women's Socks

FOUR. At my last hair color/cut, my stylist used a new product on me and then gave me a sample. I LOVED it so much that I bought a full bottle of it. It is designed for fine to medium hair. It adds shine, smooths your hair (no frizz) and it moisturizes your hair. Since using it, I get a lot of compliments on my hair and how healthy and bright it looks. It isn't cheap, but this bottle will last you forever.
Oribe Supershine Light Moisturizing Cream
You can buy here and here.

FIVE. Weekly funnies.

I am linking up with 
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

What's Up Wednesday

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

And just like that, Saturday brings August. I always love August because it is my birthday month and my anniversary. Plus that first week always brings meteor showers and it is so beautiful to see. We usually have so many events in August and I am very sad that a lot of them have been cancelled this year. I understand why, but it still makes me sad.

Anyways, onto this month's What's Up Wednesday...What's Up Wednesday
Sunday: Take out since we spent the day at the beach.
Enchiladas with Mexican rice.
Tuesday: Roasted Veggie Pitas with Avocado Crema.

Wednesday: Thai take out.
Thursday: Coconut Lime Shrimp
Friday: Unsure
Saturday: Unsure

WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT... Vacations past. I am counting down the days until we get to go to Mexico. 

WHAT I'M LOVING... The beach. We have been going a lot more lately and it makes my heart so happy. If we have to social distance, we might as well do it at the beach. And YES, they only let 50% of the capacity at the beach and you have to be spread apart. 
Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe

The girls met identical twin boys who were sitting next to us. They were born 9 days apart and live in the same city as us. It is definitely a small world.

Dare I say that I am loving running? Well loving and hating it. I used to love running, and now I have been running two to three times a week now and I am getting used to it again. I was never an outdoors runner, but now I am and it is so much better. 

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO...I am still working from home, so I have been getting a lot done around the house. I have been going on walks, runs, tending to our garden and just trying to be outdoors more.

In July, we went to Graeagle again for the 4th of July. Rory and I just spent one night there, but the girls spent 4 nights. We have been going to the beach, we have been seeing family, we celebrated my nephews 4th birthday and we have just been enjoying Summer.

Here are some highlights from the month.
star cookies
Cookies that I ordered for the 4th

This was a fruit tart for the 4th and it was soooo good!

The girls learned to ride their bikes without training wheels in Graeagle.

Avery lost her first tooth on July 17, 2020

WHAT I'M DREADING... Nothing really. Ok, maybe the thought of not traveling for work for a very long time. I miss traveling.

WHAT I'M WORKING ON... As always, I am trying to get ahead on my blogging, but it hasn't been going to so well. I have been pretty busy with work lately.

I am still trying to sand and stain some old lounge chairs in our backyard.

WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT... My anniversary, maybe a date night or two, more beach time and the girls starting Kindergarten (however that looks this year).

WHAT I'M WATCHING/READING... This last month I read three books and you can read my reviews here. I am currently reading Home Before Dark which I am almost finished with.

We finished Schitt's Creek and I am so sad that it is over. I am going to miss that show. I watched the last season of 13 Reasons Why and I was not impressed. It was a weird season. I just finished Sweet Magnolias and I am sooooo sad that it is over. Can season 2 come out ASAP? I just started Outer Banks after everyone told me to watch it. Otherwise, we have been watching Million Dollar Listing LA.

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO... just the dryer running.

WHAT I'M WEARING... I haven't bought much in the last month. I am wearing the same shorts, dresses and skirts that I have been wearing all Summer. I did buy myself a pair of Olukai Pehuea Li Hulu Sneakers at a local store because they were on clearance and that NEVER happens. These are amazing shoes. They are so comfy. Definitely recommend getting a pair.

WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND... Saturday we are going to the beach again and Sunday is my birthday, so I am not sure what the plan is. I know we are going out to dinner, but the rest of it is a surprise. This is the dress I am wearing out to dinner.
Billabong Nessi Dress

WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH... August brings my birthday, my wedding anniversary and another Graeagle trip! Plus it is the start of Kindergarten for my girls.

WHAT ELSE IS NEW...Today (I wrote this yesterday) the school board is deciding if the kids will be going back to in classroom school or if it will be virtual for 9 weeks or longer. Initially, they stated that Elementary would go back full time and Middle/HS would go back on a rotating schedule. 

There has been lots of going back and forth on if that is ok, how everyone feels about it, etc. Today they decide once and for all what they plan to do. I have mixed feelings on this as I am sure everyone does. I feel that kids need to be back in school for so many with disabilities need that structured learning. Kids rely on the nutrition factor. Kids listen to their teachers better. It is hard for elementary students to sit on a computer for 6 hours a day. I could go on and on. And believe me, I have worries about them going back in the classroom, but I know that the school district will keep them safe and put in measures to protect them and the teachers and staff.

So, for now, we have a back-up plan as it will be really hard for me to work full time from home and teach my children plus allow them to each use the computer for 6 hours a day. And no, I can't quit my job. I am the one who is bringing in a consistent income right now and that isn't an option. 

If the school decides to do distance learning for the school year, we will have our kids go to a private type of school. Their current pre-school has hired a teacher from the school district and they will teach Kindergarten to 15 students. They will be provided meals and everything that the normal school district provides. I do have to pay for it and it is just like attending private school for this year.

So we shall see what happens today.
Monday, July 27, 2020

Show Me Your Books - July

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

I didn't read as many books this month as my library e-book account had expired and I had to link it to my old library card. This meant that all of the book I had on hold were pushed back up to 14 weeks. So I have read some that were not on my list and I even got two in that were on long holds but then became available.

What did you read this month?

Someone We Know - Shari Lapena

This was one of the first books that I "lost" when my account was expired. Luckily, I put it back in my holds list and I received it about a week later. I have read most of Shari's books and I have loved them. This one did not disappoint.

The book starts off with a mother finding out that her son has been breaking into people's houses for fun. She sees a text message from a friend and confronts her son about it. She writes letters to the two houses that he has broken into, but leaves them as anonymous.

It turns out that someone has been murdered at one of the houses that the son had broke into. Did he see something? Did he do something?

The book goes back and forth and you keep thinking you figured out who the murderer is, but then the twist comes and you were completely wrong.

The only thing I didn't like was the last page. The ending wasn't fully "closed".

I would give this 4 stars.

Here is Amazon's synopsis:

"This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much. . . My son broke into your home recently while you were out."

In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses--and into the owners' computers as well--learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they're telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets?

In this neighborhood, it's not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide . . . 

I Found You - Lisa Jewell

I rented this book about three times but never got around to reading it. I don't know why. I love Lisa Jewell's books, but I never started it. That was until I didn't have books to read. I am so glad that I finally started this book and quickly read it.

Alice finds a man on the beach in front of her house. He can't remember anything about himself or how he got to the beach. She takes him in and he stays in her shed off of her house. She gets to know him and tries to help find out who he is.

Meanwhile, back in London, Lily's husband goes missing. Are they the same guy? 

The book goes back and forth between present day (Alice and Frank's story) and Gray and Kristy's story from the 1980's. 

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the different perspectives, trying to figure out what happened in the 80s and how it relates to today and the story of Frank. I didn't guess what really happened, but the book was worth the read.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars.

Here is Amazon's synopsis:

In the windswept British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on a beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, newlywed Lily Monrose grows anxious when her husband fails to return home from work one night. Soon, she receives even worse news: according to the police, the man she married never even existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty Ross are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. The annual trip to Ridinghouse Bay is uneventful, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just because he’s a protective older brother.

Who is the man on the beach? Where is Lily’s missing husband? And what ever happened to the man who made such a lasting and disturbing impression on Gray?

The Half Sister - Sandie Jones

I have had this book on my wishlist for awhile now. I liked The Other Woman and I couldn't wait to read this one. I was expecting a thriller from this, but it was more like a mystery book. 

One day Jess shows up and rocks Lauren, Kate and Rose's world as Jess states that she is the half sister of Lauren and Kate and Rose's late husbands daughter. So how did this happen?

Lauren takes to Jess since Lauren is the reason Jess is here. Lauren uploads her DNA sample to a genealogy website just for fun, but finds Jess who is her half sister.

The story goes back and forth between Kate and Lauren's perspective. Kate is a journalist and doesn't believe anything and takes her skills to try to find out the truth. Lauren is accepting and just wants to make Jess feel at home. But does Jess have ulterior motives?

I enjoyed this book. I thought I would like it a lot more, but it is still worth the read. I would give it 4 stars.

Here is Amazon's synopsis:


Sisters Kate and Lauren meet for Sunday lunch every week without fail, especially after the loss of their father.


But a knock at the door is about to change everything. A young woman by the name of Jess holds a note with the results of a DNA test, claiming to be their half sister.


As the fallout starts, it's clear that they are all hiding secrets, and perhaps this family isn't as perfect as it appears.
Friday, July 24, 2020

Birthday Wish List

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

I thought I would do something a little different for Friday Favorites since my birthday is a little over a week away. I have gotten some requests for things that I want for my birthday and I thought I would share it all with you. Maybe you can treat yourself with something, stash some of these ideas away for your birthday or a loved ones or just sit with me and dream of some things that you would like.
Lululemon Align 28" Leggings - I love these leggings. Other than my 90 degree leggings, these are my more expensive go to. They fit perfectly, are not see through, hold up wash after wash and are comfortable.

Madewell Medium Transport Tote - This tote has been on my wishlist for years now. It is a best seller on Madewell's website and it is perfect for travel and every day use.

Tory Burch Miller Sandals - This is another item that has been on my wishlist forever. I can't count how many times I have been in a Tory Burch store and haven't bought these. 

Garmin Quick Release Leather Watch Band - I bought my Garmin Vivomove Style for Mother's Day and I love it. Now I want a leather watch band for use when I dress up or go into the office (if that ever happens again).

Lululemon Fast and Free Run Hat - I have been running and walking outside everyday of this quarantine and I need a runners hat to protect my head and keep me cool. I have been eyeing this hat for awhile now.

Honeydew Something Sweet Short PJ Set - I love Honeydew. They make the cutest pjs, undies, etc., and now I want a pair of pjs.

Ugg Duffield II Robe - I love a good cozy robe and this one has been on my wishlist for awhile now. I feel like I upgrade my robes every couple years and I am ready for a new one.

Birkenstock Granada Oiled Leather Sandals - I used to hate Birkenstocks, but now I love them. These ones have the soft bed and are so cute. Perfect for my Graeagle trips.

Other Items:

Amazon Gift Card
Lululemon Gift Card
J Crew Gift Card

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Penne Alla Vodka - Updated

About three years ago, I published my go to recipe for Penne Alla Vodka. Well since then I have changed it up a bit. I no longer use sausage in it and I add in the spice once the dish is finished as my girls don't like spicy food.

I thought I would share this again with my new updates. This dish is a huge hit with my girls and my husband loves the changes that I made.


3 to 4 oz of pancetta (slices)
1 pound uncooked penne pasta (whole wheat is really good in here)
2 tsp minced garlic
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (plum tomatoes are the best)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup vodka
red pepper flakes


1. Cook your pasta according to the package. You want to cook it until it is al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Cut your pancetta slices into 1/2 inch pieces. Just roughly estimate the size. Brown your pancetta. 
Penne Alla Vodka with Pancetta

3. Add your garlic (and red pepper flakes if everyone loves spicy food, add it now) and cook for a minute until your garlic is fragrant and slightly browned.

4. Add your canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Add your vodka and whipping cream and bring to a boil. 
Penne Alla Vodka with Pancetta

6. Reduce heat to low, add in your pasta, toss and let it all come together. About 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (I always add on lots of pepper).
Penne Alla Vodka with Pancetta

7. Season with red pepper flakes if you haven't added them in already (for those who like spicy food). Enjoy!
Penne Alla Vodka with Pancetta

Friday, July 17, 2020

Friday Favorites and Happenings

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

Happy Friday all! This week has been crazy. I have been pretty slammed with work and then when I am not working, I am being a parent, researching all this crazy child exploitation news, cooking, reading and just trying to keep my head above water. But we survived the week and I am so looking forward to this weekend.

Onto Friday Favorites and Happenings.

ONE. I am going to start with something heavy. Something that has been on my mind all week. I want to start this off by saying that I am one who tends to not watch the news all the time because I just get too worried. I get upset by how unfair each media outlet is and then I am not sure what is right or wrong and I get frustrated. I am always saddened by the news, so I read and watch sparingly. Now my husband on the other hand, is always on twitter, always reading up on things and he is one who always knows what is going on. He pretty much shields me from it all as he knows I worry way too much. 

He has brought up things in the past about Chester Bennington as he knows I used to listen to Linkin Park all the time. He has mentioned the connection between him, Chris Cornell, and John Podesta. I have done a bit of research myself, but never anything real deep. That is until I first heard about the Wayfair stuff last weekend. 

I went down a long rabbit hole one night. I was looking into Pizzagate, the Wayfair allegations, Justin Biebers allegations, the child sacrifices, etc. This stuff is sick. I am so upset that this stuff has been going on and nothing has really been done about it. I am so glad that the lid has been blown off of this stuff. I am disgusted by so many celebrities, politicians and the cover-ups that have been going on. 

I don't want to go into the specifics of it, but I just want to say to do your research, become aware of what is really going on, protect your children, report anything that you come across or see, and to not turn a blind eye to what is going on in this world right now.

This isn't about Republicans vs. Democrats. This is about good vs. evil. We need to put these sickos away and save these children. Please spread the word, do your research and educate yourself.

Now onto more fun things.

TWO. This week I bought the cutest dress from Billabong. I recently started wearing more Billabong stuff again. Last time I bought anything from Billabong was when I was in Australia in 2012. But everything is so cute and their shorts have been a favorite of mine this Summer. This dress has sold out at Nordstrom, but it is still available at

THREE. Now I know that many of you don't live in Nevada or California, but one of my favorite local shops has been putting out the cutest tie dye tees and tanks. And if you are a bachelor/bachelorette fan then you have seen Garrett (who won Becca's heart) wearing this line.

I have several items from her store. I have a sweatshirt, t-shirt, stickers and now a tank. And my girls have several items from her line as well. But this week, I purchased this tie dye tank. Now let's hope that the football season is able to proceed (even if it starts late or no spectators there) and I can wear this to all the Summer/hot weather games. She does custom items too, so you might be able to get one with your state/city.

FOUR. I usually save my amazon purchases for the prime post, but if you are a runner/workout/hands-free person, this armband is amazing. I have had it for about two weeks now and it has made my runs/walks so much easier. I was running and holding my phone which always made me worry that I was going to drop my phone. Plus my hands would get sweaty and the popsocket was just uncomfortable to hold. 

I used to have an armband a long time ago, but then I stopped running and I didn't need it. And with buying new phones every few years, the sizes change and you would need to change the armband. Luckily, this armband is $14.98 and is awesome. It soaks up the sweat since it is made from Neoprene, is adjustable for smaller and larger arms, you can still change stations, answer calls and use your phone if need be. It also has an area for a key, money and a spot for your headphones should they still connect to your phone. Totally worth the $15.

FIVE. Weekly funnies.

I am linking up with A Little Bit of Everything and Becky. Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Out of the Office

I am out of my blogging office right now as I have been so slammed with work that I just haven't been able to sit down and write a post since last week. I hope to have a post on Friday as I had already started it last week. And I hope to be able to read a few blogs this week in between meetings and deadlines because reading your blogs gives me a little "getaway".
Friday, July 10, 2020

Friday Favorites and Happenings

*This post contains affiliate links. When you click a link, it is no cost to you and I make a small commission (pennies) from it. Thank you for supporting Sparkles and Lattes.

Sorry for not getting back to everyone's comments on Wednesdays post. I have been really slammed at work and I didn't have much time to do anything other than work hard. So I will get back to more of those today.

Onto Friday Favorites and Happenings.

ONE. About a month ago, we purchased a new leather collar for Walter. I went on Etsy to find something new since the other place I got his last collar out, I couldn't even find anymore. His collar lasted a long time. Well, I measured his neck and his old collar and picked my selections. I upgraded to have my phone number added on and when I got the collar, it was way too big. It hung about 4 to 6 inches too long. So I contacted the seller and he said he would fix the collar or remake one. Well, I don't think one needs to be remade, so he fixed it for us. That is amazing customer service. And now I am just waiting for it to arrive in the next couple days.

Here is an example of what I ordered:

TWO. Remember a few weeks ago, I also mentioned that I bought some new tank tops from Target? Well, after wearing them several times, I want to let you all know that they are amazing. I love the this tank top so much that I bought it in 3 more colors. I also said I wasn't sure if the sizing was right, but again, it was spot on. I love this tank. It is currently $8, but you can get two for $14. So worth it. 

And this tank is just as amazing. I bought it in more colors as well. The same deal is going on above.

THREE. While I was looking for my favorite American Eagle tanks (the ribbed ones with the buttons), I noticed they were sold out. But then a fellow blogger said that the Old Navy ones were pretty amazing. And they are on major sale too, $8. So I figured I would try one out and I got the one below. The color I got is sold out (the tan color), but I also want to pick up this blue one. I ordered online and picked up at my local store.

FOUR. This is super random, but I was ordering shoes lately for my mom and I noticed that her shoe size went up. And I realized that my shoe size went up in a lot of my shoes too, but my feet haven't gotten bigger. I asked my dad about this and he said his shoe size went up too. So I recently bought a new pair of black Converse Shorelines since my old ones tore in the back (after many years and lots of wear). I tried them on at the store and bought an 8 1/2. When I got home, I noticed my old ones were size 8. I put the bottoms of both shoes (the one ones and the old ones) together and they were the same exact length. When did shoe companies change their sizing? Anyone else experience this? 

FIVE. Weekly funnies.

I am linking up with A Little Bit of Everything and Becky. Have a great weekend!