Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) Reading A Book


Yusuf Islam aka Cat Steven’s music has always been part of the soundtrack of my life. From childhood on through present day if I’ve ever needed to clear my head and find a little bit of peace, I turn on a Cat Stevens song and zone out. He’s a beautiful person with a beautiful voice. I was so happy when he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon recently, and his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction performance was amazing. I heard he might be going on tour this fall and I really hope Nate and I are able to see him live.

I found this picture of him reading on his Instagram account. I hope it brings a smile to your face. Have a great Sunday.

Now I’ve been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun

Peace Train, Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens


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5 Summer Acitivities Your Kids Will Love

LittleMerciesOver the weekend, I read the novel Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf. The book begins on the hottest day of the summer and leads up to a family dealing with a horrible mistake. The novel examines themes like family, forgiveness, love, and what it means to be a mother. This lead to me thinking about my children and the gift it is for my husband and I to parent two amazing little boys.

We live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The summers here can be unbearably hot, and it’s taken me a few years to work out parenting in sometimes 100 degree weather.

Here are some of my favorite summertime activities to do with my kids:

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1. Mama’s Little Helpers: Sometimes the best kind of play for wild little ones is to “put them to work.” When I’m working in the garden, I let the boys come outside with me and tell them they’re my helpers. They love this! Even though they typically get too excited to really help and end up using the tools to “dig a hole to the earth’s core” (pictured above), it gives them a sense of what I like to call “playful purpose.”

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2. Swimming: A blow up pool in the back yard is my favorite standby summer activity. My boys love anything that involves getting wet. Swimming, water balloon fights, and the slip n’ slide all make appearances in our yard throughout the summer. It’s a great way to play in the sweltering heat while staying cool.

3. The Classics: Activities like flying a kite (Pictured above) or blowing bubbles (pictured below) can occupy the kids for hours. The same activities we enjoyed as kids can become your children’s summer favorites. You can find kites, bubbles, and a ton of other fun activities for the kids at the dollar store.

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British at The Little Beach

4. The Beach: If there’s a beach in your area, put it to use. Bring a cooler filled with drinks and snacks for the kids, some beach toys, and of course, loads of beach towels, and make a day of it!

British at Mary Mahoneys

5. Have a Staycation: Did you know that you don’t have to leave town to have an awesome vacation? Take your kids out to explore your town. Go to a museum or a restaurant you wouldn’t normally go to during the school year. Every week I try to take my boys to a place we rarely go. Last week we went for dessert at Mary Mahoney’s (pictured above). It’s a “fancy” restaurant and I used it as an opportunity to learn a little bit about table manners and etiquette for the boys.

Tip: One thing I took away from the novel Little Mercies was the importance of safety. Make sure your kids stay hydrated while playing outside. If they aren’t strong swimmers, make sure they wear floaties. Also, have fun! Your kids make memories all summer long that they’ll hold in their hearts as adults. Cherish the time that you have with them while they’re little. It all goes by in the blink of an eye.

Find out more about Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf:

·         Watch the Book Trailer

·         Visit Heather Gudenkauf’s Official Site

·         Follow Heather Gudenkauf on Twitter,Facebook, and Pinterest

·         Visit Little Mercies page on Goodreads

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Harlequin.


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Dancing With Dolphins

Dancing With Dolphins on Life Between Books MandyBoles.com

My family and I went to a Super Bowl party about a couple of weeks ago. We decided to take the scenic route down Highway 90. Highway 90’s known for the MS Gulf Coast’s beautiful beaches, casinos, and… souvenir shops. Every time we pass a certain shop with a huge shark head for an entrance the boys beg to stop.

This time we stopped, because sometimes you have to stop and dance with dolphins and hang out in a shark’s mouth.

Dancing With Dolphins on Life Between Books MandyBoles.comNate and I have two wild little men and the smallest things can make them so damn happy. Playing with dolphin and shark statues on the beach being part of a growing list of things that bring joy to their little hearts. Building forts out of cardboard boxes, making funny videos, and keeping a notebook of video game design drawings are a few of the recent activities British and Bruce have been obsessed with lately.

Everyday I’m grateful Nate and I have these two precious gifts we created together.

Of course they’re not always happy little angels. Lately Bruce, our sweet four-year-old, has taken to saying NEVER! when I ask him to do any sort of task. Bruce, the sweet one who always kind of went with the flow is starting to develop quite the forceful little personality.

British, my older boy whose eyes have a constant sparkle, has always had a willful personality. When the doctor pulled him out of me I’m pretty sure B looked around and said, “Where the hell am I”? So it’s surprising to me that Brucie is just now becoming an extrovert, because British was boisterous from the very beginning.

Isn’t it crazy? I always think I have their personalities pegged. I think British is the funny one or Bruce is the shy one and then one or the other will do something that doesn’t conform to the label. Which I guess is why we shouldn’t label our kids or presume to know how they feel or the person they will one day become. They will always surprise us. One minute they might want to dance with dolphins and stand bravely inside the shark mouth door and the next? Not so much.

Kids Are Not An Extension Of Ourselves

Sometimes Nate gently reminds me that just because I suffer from anxiety and depression it doesn’t mean the boys will too. I worry about this constantly. I try not to over analyze when one of the boys has a bad day at school. If Bruce gets sad for what seems like no reason, I remind myself that he’s only four. Four-year-olds get upset when they’re sleepy or possibly just watched the end of Toy Story 3, and it’s not the end of the world. That’s what I tell myself.

I’m a worrier. It’s what I do between being stressed out, depressed, and anxious. I haven’t been able to focus long enough to write a blog post or finish a book lately. Tonight I finished a book I’ve been reading for a couple of weeks. Normally, I read 4-5 books a week. So, maybe I need to take a cue from British and Bruce. Stop being stressed and worried and take time to clear my head, dance with dolphins, and relive the childlike curiosity that lead me to love reading.

My goal for the rest of the week is to read three books. Next week I have lots of cool things to share on the blog including a Q & A with Jill Shalvis, a guest post from Bradley Spinelli on his first favorite book (a new feature Bradley is kicking off for me), and a review of Spinelli’s book Killing Williamsburg. Until then, I’ll be taking time to dance with dolphins and play in the mouths of sharks.

More pictures below.

Standing in the shark Mandy Boles Life Between Books

Dancing With Dolphins Life Between Books Mandy Boles.com

Outfit Details:

Shirt: J. Crew
Jeans: Madewell
Clogs: Kork-Ease
Bag: Rebecca Minkoff similar / similar
Necklace: Natalie B
Earrings: Natalie B
Rings: 1 / 2 – sold out, similar
Bracelets: 1 / 2

Natalie B and Stella and Dot Bracelets and Rings Life Between Books MandyBoles.comRebecca Minkoff Bag Life Between Books MandyBoles.comKork-Ease Clogs Life Between Books MandyBoles.comBag and Bling Life Between Books MandyBoles.com


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FTC Disclosure: I receive a commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon and ShopSense links on this site.

Bookish Fashion: The Book Bag and The Beach

Bookish Fashion on Mandy Boles: Life Between Books

I love books. I mean obviously I heart books. I’ve been writing about books on the internet for about four years now, so my love for books is a given. But did you know I also love fashion? I’ve mentioned it a couple of times on the blog before, and I also write a feature called Literary Look. Lately I’ve been thinking abut the ways fashion and books intersect in my life. One  of the many ways the two converge is when I go purse shopping. I tend to judge a purse by how many books it’ll hold. Basically, I never grew out of the “book bag” phase. Granted, I don’t run around with a Jansport backpack like I did back in high school, but the concept is still the same. I like a substantial bag that fits at least four paperbacks, an eReader, my makeup, wallet, and camera. Yes, I carry all of that stuff around with me at all times. A quick trip to the grocery store or to pick my kids up from school are maybe the only two exceptions to the rule.

I found a bag recently that fits all of my criteria for the perfect book bag. It’s called the Collector’s Item bag by Disaster Designs (pictured above). I purchased it from Modcloth and it’s even cuter in person than it is on the shop site. Click here to take a look. I’m planning to do more bookish fashion posts in the new year. Sometimes they’ll feature a book or a book related item of clothing. These posts make me incredibly happy because I’ll be able to write about my two passions at once.

Here are a few photos I took at the beach on our property. Clothing and featured book info follow the pictures.

Bookish Fashion on Mandy Boles: Life Between Books Fashion for Book Lovers

Bookish Fashion on Mandy Boles: Life Between Books Fashion for Book lovers

Bookish Fashion on Mandy Boles: Life Between Books Fashion For Book Lovers

Outfit Info:

Sweater by Milly (I purchased it at Grant’s For Her, a local boutique in Biloxi.) Click here to view it.
Jeans by J. Crew (on sale!) Click here for more info.
Boots by DV for Dolce Vita (on sale!) Click here for more info.
Hair: Dipali Bobbies by Anthropologie Previously seen in this post.
Ring by Stella & Dot
Necklace by Stella & Dot
Earrings by Stella & Dot
Bracelets by Stella & Dot 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
Bag: Collector’s Item Bag by Disaster Designs Find it on ModCloth here.
Books Featured: The Good Wife by Jane Porter, Saved By Cake by Marian Keyes, Mr. Maybe by Jane Green, and Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster. (You can find my review for Here I Go Again here.)

FTC Disclosure: I receive a commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon and ShopSense links on this site.


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Weekly Obsession/Inspiration/Etc: Girls

Weekly Inspiration Girls1. The Unofficial Girls Guide to New York  2.  Dipali Bobbies  3. Fitzgerald Quote Print

4.  Aurel Forest Pencils

The new season of HBO’s hit series Girls starts on January 12th. For the photo above I surrounded the copy of The Unofficial Girls Guide To New York: Inside The Cafés, Clubs, and Neighborhoods of HBO’s Girls by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin with a few things I have around the house that remind me a bit of Lena Dunham’s character Hannah. My SIL Jenny and I are obsessed with that show (especially Hannah) and we can’t wait for it to start back up. We watched just about every episode last season together and the ones we missed seeing together we would text each other during the whole episode (“what is Hannah wearing?!!” “can you believe Marnie just did that?!” “This episodes called ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’. *sigh*”).

I was sent a copy of The Unofficial Girls Guide To New York recently, and I have a feeling Jen and I will be spending lots of time looking through it this week while we watch seasons one and two on the DVR. (Poor Nate will also be watching seasons one and two with us again. I tried to start up season one this afternoon and stopped because he gave me the “sad face.”)

I really wish Jen and I would have had The Unofficial Girls Guide To New York a couple of trips to NYC ago when we decided to go to Greenpoint and explore. (FYI: Don’t go to the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn on a Sunday if you’ve never been there before and have no idea where anything is or what time anything’s open. It’s also not smart to take a cab there. I don’t know anyone dumb enough to do that though. *whistles* We did find a couple of killer boutiques that day… and brunch. We had brunch.) I definitely think this book will come in handy when I’m back in NYC this May. I’ll probably mark off at least one day to check out places listed in the guide.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m off to read The Unofficial Girls Guide To New York while trying not to think about Hannah’s Q-Tip incident. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about you really need to watch Girls.)

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Unofficial Girls Guide To New York from the publisher, Smart Pop Books. I receive a small commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon and ShopSense links on this site.


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