Opening Belle

I finished Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry last night, which just came out earlier this month.  It is already being adapted into a movie and tells the story of Belle, a working mother at an investment bank on Wall Street before the bubble bursts.  She is married to Bruce, an attractive but unambitious man who has essentially become a house husband.

Belle has a tough professional career and must deal with the old boys’ club mentality of the investment bank.  I couldn’t believe some of the actions that are described in the book, including numerous occurrences of sexual harassment.  Belle and a group of women form their own club in an attempt to create change in the atmosphere, but they really don’t get anywhere.

The storyline that was most intriguing involved the reappearance of Belle’s ex-fiance, Henry, as a client with whom she is forced to interact.  I really was interested in knowing how she would deal with him.  Ultimately though, the book jumps ahead in its timeline toward the end and the author explains everything that has happened, instead of letting the reader experience it with Belle.  I would have preferred a different way of wrapping up the story.  I was also disappointed that she appeared on the brink of – SPOILER ALERT – reconciling with her cheating husband, who had treated her so poorly throughout the story.  I couldn’t really find a redeeming quality about him, so it was tough for me to root for their relationship.

I enjoyed the book and the perspective it gave on being a woman in a high powered financial position.

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Ojai – Day Three

We had our last day in Ojai today.  It was so nice to get away, even if it was just for a few days.  It is so important for our marriage to reconnect away from work and the kids.  I genuinely enjoy spending time with him and talking about everything.  We had some great conversation and really connected.

We grabbed a quick breakfast at Jimmy’s Pub at the resort and then headed out on a walk on the trails around the property.  We walked over to the family pool, which was not nearly as nice as the adult one, and through the herb garden.  We walked down past the tennis courts and around to the road leading back into town.  Then it was back to the road to pack and watch a little news before checking out.  We had lunch at Jimmy’s Pub again and split the tortilla soup, a salad and a pizza.  Traffic back home wasn’t horrendous and we made decent time.  The kids were excited to see us and had a fun time with Nana and Papa.  Hopefully we can make time to do these short trips every so often.

Ojai – Day Two

We had a fabulous second day in Ojai yesterday and never even left the resort.  The Ojai Valley Inn is amazing and we would definitely recommend it.  We started with room service, a luxury we rarely do, especially with kids.  It was so lovely not to have to get ready to go eat.  Then we played tennis for a hour, my favorite sport.  The courts were in great shape and we had a nice workout.

After tennis, we went to the pool for a few hours.  We had fun swimming, laying in the sun some more and ordering lunch poolside.  I had a salmon salad and my husband decided on the turkey burger, both of which were really good.  We had massage appointments in the afternoon and so we walked over to the spa and used the sauna, steam room (eucalyptus, yum!) and had relaxing massages.

After the spa, my husband hit a bag of balls at the driving range and then we got ready for dinner.  We ate at Olivella and opted for their four course menu.  I tried the yellowtail appetizer, the crab and lobster pasta and the short ribs.  I ended up trading my short ribs for my husband’s lamb because the lamb was too rare for his liking, but everything was excellent.  I ended with the chocolate mousse dessert, which was fantastic too.  I also tried a fun drink that had champagne, lemon sorbet, honey syrup and rosemary in it.

Ojai – Day One

After our Christmas getaway was cancelled due to illness (boo!), my husband and I had planned a quick weekend trip to Ojai for this weekend.  Bonus points for it being Valentine’s Day too.  Traffic was a little brutal, but we made it here in time for a late lunch.  We ate at the Ojai Beverage Company and tried a beer flight and burgers.  I had the 50/50 burger, which was super spicy and delicious.  We went to Bart’s Books, a really cool used bookstore in town and picked up a few for the kids.

We then checked into our hotel, the Ojai Valley Inn.  It is beautiful and exactly the time of place to relax this weekend.  We went straight to the pool for the rest of the afternoon and enjoyed laying in the sun and being in the pool.  We especially enjoyed the frozen berries they brought around to us.

We ate dinner in town at Suzanne’s Cuisine.  It was Italian and had such a cute atmosphere.  We sat in the enclosed patio and looked out on a garden with lights.  We tried the tomato puree soup, the scallops and jumbo shrimp with goat cheese shells, as well as the flourless chocolate cake with ice cream.  Everything was really good and well prepared.  It was a great meal for our first night in Ojai.

Stitch Fix #2 – February 2016

My second Stitch Fix box arrived today and I was so excited to open it.  I convinced my husband that this was my Valentine’s gift so I was hoping there would be a couple of things in the box that I loved.  You can check out Stitch Fix for yourself: here.

Item #1 –  Marlyn Schiff Rizza Clover Drop Earrings for $28:

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I normally wear much smaller earrings and I found these a little too flashy for me.

Item #2 – 41Hawthorn Shalley Split Neck Blouse for $48:

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This one is a keeper.  It looks a little boxy in this picture, but it’s really flowing and flattering.  The brights colors are a change for me, so I will definitely be wearing this in the spring.  It’s 100 percent polyester, which is a downside, but is not stratchy.

Item #3 – Just USA Anguli Dark Wash Denim Jacket for $58:

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Looking at this picture, I am starting to think that this looks pretty good.  I am not keeping it for a couple of reasons.  The sleeves are a bit long and up close there are a ton of distressed rips in it and to me, it didn’t look like the cool rips, but more like I snagged the jacket on something and now it’s ripped.  Plus, I already have a jean jacket.

Item #4 – Kut From the Kloth Odilia Dress for $118:

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I love this dress!  It was really hard to get a good picture because of the dark color, but it’s a pretty navy, is lined and is really soft.  I can totally see myself throwing this on and looking put together without really trying.

Item #5 – Level 99 Giovanni Straight Leg Jean for $108

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I kept this pair of jeans in my last box, but in a mint green color.  With the white though, they look just a tad small and I already have a great pair of white skinny pants, so I will be sticking with those.

Overall, I was happy with my box again.  I was happy to find two pieces that I really liked and will get a lot of use out of them.  If you want to see Stitch Fix for yourself, you can use this link.

Between the World and Me

I picked up the book Between the World and Me not knowing anything about it.  It won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction and I try to read the “best” books of each year, whenever those lists come out.  It was written by Ta-Nehisi Coates as a kind of letter to his son about his own experiences growing up as an African-American in Baltimore.  One of the main themes is that he was often in fear of bodily harm.

The book is quite bleak about race relations and doesn’t offer much hope for improvement.  While it was interesting to read this perspective, it was difficult for me to identify with the author’s point of view.  It almost reminded me of an essay one would read for a political science or sociology class.

Becoming Me – Generosity

Spiritual disciplines are habits that help us learn to live in sync with how God is working around us and in us.  The more personal something is, the harder it often is to talk about. Money is extremely personal, so that’s why it is so hard to discuss.  How we manage our resources has everything to do with how we are in step with God.

In Luke 10:27, Jesus is asked what is most important and He answers to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.  He said this because whatever fills your heart, leads your life.  If God is what is in your heart, that will guide your life.  He has to be in your heart, not just in your head.

Luke 12:34 states that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  This refers to all earthly goods, including time, energy and money.  Wherever your treasure is, there is your heart, and this will lead your life.  We put our treasure into so many other things besides God, but God so wants to be the priority in our life.  In Exodus 25:8-9, God says: Have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them.  This was different because gods lived somewhere else and never among the people.

How were the people supposed to build this sanctuary? In Exodus 35:4-9, God commands that his people take up an offering of gold, silver, bronze, yarn, linen, goat and leather, wood, oil, spices and gems.  This was only if the people are willing.  Exodus 25:1-2 said that God will receive the offering from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.  In Exodus 35: 20-21, everyone who was willing brought an offering.  People gave their time and energy too.  In verse 25, every skilled woman spun.  In Exodus 36:8, skilled workers made the tabernacle.

Giving is more than just about stewardship; it is about your entire life.  You have to choose where to put your time, energy and money.  These are finite resources.  We have to ask the question: what kind of person do I want to be?  Then we can ask where we are putting our treasure and how we need to reorganize.