Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Podcasts, Books, Miles, and Looks of January

Let's pretend it's not like the middle of February when I'm posting about this, but just know I had the thought many times before now.  Also, totally stealing Lisa's topics. ;)

Podcasts: This month I've been catching up on The Longest Shortest Time, that Kelly introduced me too.  I have so many podcasts that I'm still catching up on. But this is one that I am actively trying to catch up on right now.  It's about stories in parenting and really interesting in the 10 or so episodes I've listened too. 

Books:  I am totally counting the read aloud books I read to my kid this year because it's a commitment and its taking time from my reading so yeah. ;)  My favorite book this  month was probably After the Storm by Linda Castillo.  It's in the Kate Burkholder series.

Pirates Past Noon by Mary Pope Osborne - 3 stars
Defending Jacob by William Landay - 4 stars
Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robison 3 stars
A Hidden Secret by Linda Castillo - 4 stars
After the Storm by Linda Castillo - 4 stars

Miles: I didn't run at all this month as I was trying to heal my feet and they are much much better.  I did do some walking.  I only did 13.096 miles but per my usual when I was on a streak of days I did well and then when I dropped off, I really dropped off.  Whoops.


I wore this to after holiday holiday party.  The dress is from Kohls and the cardigan is from Marshalls. 

I got this top in my last Stitch Fix box and I love it! I've worn it 3 times already.  I got the necklace from my mom from Christmas.  Excuse my kids messy room.  She has the mirror and lighting.

What was your favorite book read in January? What podcast have you been loving?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ginny Gall

Description: A sweeping, eerily resonant epic of race and violence in the Jim Crow South: a lyrical and emotionally devastating masterpiece from Charlie Smith, whom the New York Public Library has said “may be America’s most bewitching stylist alive”

Delvin Walker is just a boy when his mother flees their home in the Red Row section of Chattanooga, accused of killing a white man. Taken in by Cornelius Oliver, proprietor of the town’s leading Negro funeral home, he discovers the art of caring for the aggrieved, the promise of transcendence in the written word, and a rare peace in a hostile world. Yet tragedy visits them near-daily, and after a series of devastating events—a lynching, a church burning—Delvin fears being accused of murdering a local white boy and leaves town.

Haunted by his mother’s disappearance, Delvin rides the rails, meets fellow travelers, falls in love, and sees an America sliding into the Great Depression. But before his hopes for life and love can be realized, he and a group of other young men are falsely charged with the rape of two white women, and shackled to a system of enslavement masquerading as justice. As he is pushed deeper into the darkness of imprisonment, his resolve to escape burns only more brightly, until in a last spasm of flight, in a white heat of terror, he is called to choose his fate.

In language both intimate and lyrical, novelist and poet Charlie Smith conjures a fresh and complex portrait of the South of the 1920s and ’30s in all its brutal humanity—and the astonishing endurance of one battered young man, his consciousness “an accumulation of breached and disordered living . . . hopes packed hard into sprung joints,” who lives past and through it all.

I really liked this book.  It describes the Jim Crow South in a way that I haven’t really read about in recently published books.  We follow Delvin from his dramatic earthly entrance throughout his life and the hardships he faces.

Sometimes the writing is gory.  It shares the truth.  There really isn’t any covering up the horrors that people did to other people just because of skin color.  And I mean Delvin does spend time living with an undertaker so there are some details that are a little icky.

My biggest complaint is the wordiness. It did give the reader a very clear vision and would make for a lovely movie, but as a book it could have eliminated a few pages.  I always find I prefer less is more when it comes to descriptive writing.  And I do admit to doing a little skimming at various wordy parts. 

Verdict - If you are interested in the Jim Crow South and enjoy reading about Depression era travels check it out.  If you need something light, stay away.  I do think it is worth a read, wordiness and all. 
What did you read this weekend? Any recommendations?

I received this book to read for review from TLC Book Tours but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Moonlight over Paris

I really enjoy historical fiction books.  Specifically European based historical fiction books.  When I was given the opportunity to read Moonlight over Paris, I jumped all over it.  I have not read much fiction from the 1920s and this intrigued me.

Lady Helena survives a near death illness and promised herself as she lay ill in her bed that if she lived she would REALLY LIVE.  After healing from her illness she inquiries about art school and staying with her slightly ‘wild’ aunt in Paris.  She TELLS, not asks, her parents that she wants to try it out for one year.  They begrudgingly agree and off she goes on her adventure.

She spends a summer painting and reviving herself in the South of France.  She spends mornings painting and afternoons relaxing on the beach with family friends.  Returning from a day of painting she encounters a handsome American, Sam, who makes her promise to catch up with him when she gets to Paris.

When fall comes she moves into her aunt’s impressive house and begins art school where she meets a diverse close group of friends.  They encourage each other and become her lifeline in her new world.  She does eventually reconnect with Sam and a semi-romance blooms. 

Her art improves, her worldview improves and at the end of the year she returns home for a wedding and with a new knowledge about herself.

If you are looking for a quick light read this is your gem.  It has cameos from the Fitzgeralds and the Hemingways.  There were eye rolling moments for the love/romance part from me but it wasn't tooooo bad.

It makes me wish I could have been in Paris in the 1920s.  Ah, nostalgia for a world I never knew. 

I will say that the way Lady Helena’s growing up reminded me very much of how Downton Abbey would portray the time and it shocks me that even that close in the past women had no choices or could be RUINED by stupid rumors.  I do know that I am in a time period much better suited for my tastes. ;)

What light books have you read recently? Do you have any 1920s recommendations?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Virtual Coffee Date...

Good Monday morning!

I know I am needing the strong black coffee this morning.  I haven't posted one of these posts before but decided, why not?

If we were having coffee today, I'd tell you...  That I am all about the changes lately.  Now, the motivation isn't all there yet but the want for it is.  I'm usually slow on this but I'm making plans and focusing efforts on making it happen.  I really am glad I switched jobs 6 months ago! I am so much happier and that has helped me focus and make more changes.  I had a doctors appointment last month and last year for the first time ever I had high blood pressure.  This year? Back to normal.  I attribute this solely on the job change.  I did work out quite well for 3 months last year to help try to reduce stress but fell of that wagon.  But, I feel the difference in my body and it has been a great change!

If we were having coffee today, I'd tell you... that I was listening to the Happier podcast and really resonated with the idea of 'do not organize.'  I always say I am going to organize my office and I really just need to throw some stuff away.  I'm slowly getting better at this, but the bulk of what I really need to go through is my filing cabinet and then I would in theory throw almost all of it away and the piles that are on my desk that I want to save could go in the filing cabinet ha.  So yes, just throwing stuff away needs to happen.  Like I said above, getting the urge to make changes.. need the motivation to go through and pitch it during a nap time or at night.  I am not brave enough to throw without going through it yet!

If we were having coffee today, I'd tell you..   that in August we will have lived in our house for 10 years.  (will officially have that sucker paid off in 4 more years!!)  I am just now caring to decorate.  Most of our furniture is hand me downs.  We did buy two new chairs 3 years ago.  Our couch was a hand me down from 10 years ago and an end table came from my college apartment that I got free somewhere.  So yeah,  those two need to go this year! We also had work down on our ceilings last January and we finally need to hire someone to paint our upstairs and we are getting new carpet.  We just finally put up a new curtain rod and new curtains on our insanely large window after me hating it for 10 years.  In theory, I'd really just like to buy a new house but my husband is pretty set on this yard/location.  Plus, before we could sell it we need to do new carpet/paint like I mentioned and purge a ton of shit.  In 10 years we have re-done the kitchen, both bathrooms, new flooring upstairs,  re-done the laundry room and totally changed up one of the bedrooms (flooring and built in destruction).  I just want a new house.  Fresh, not old and with flaws. 

the new curtains.. nothing too exciting but so much better than the old ones! (as you can tell our window is huge!)

If we were having coffee today, I'd tell you..  I am so ready for summer.  We have three big plans made so far! Mackinaw Island trip, Port Crescent trip and Higgins Lake! So excited! I also bought a 10 visit pass to the zoo that I'm excited to use (along with the children's museum).  I can't wait to have my toes in the sand and a book in my hand!  I'm also trying to convince the hubby to splurge on a luxurious 10 year wedding anniversary trip next year.  I so want to do something, away, just the two of us. 


What's new with you? What is something you'd share if we were having coffee today?

Monday, January 18, 2016


Reading:  Moonlight over Paris by Jennifer Robson

Loving: My slippers.  Seriously.  I kind of want like 10 pairs.  And that my new curtains and my new curtain rod is up! FINALLY! We have lived in our house for almost 10 years and they were so gross and disgusting.  We have an insanely large window so it's been a process trying not to spend an arm and a leg while making sure we still block out sun and yada yada yada.

Thinking:  about life changes and how to make baby steps to make them a reality without being overwhelmed!

Frustrated: by winter.  I hate being cold.  Oh and people who are encouraging He Who Will Not Be Named  in his presidential campaign

Feeling:  glad that I had today as a paid holiday off and tomorrow as a sick day.  I was able to go to school with my kiddo today and have a lunch date with her and then tomorrow I can take her and then do my appointments and have an afternoon to myself!

Anticipating:  our summer trips.  The one good thing about a cold winter is that it is the perfect time to plan our summer camping trips! We have two booked and plans on where the third trip will be and will book that as soon as it opens up!

Watching: catching up on Blacklist a lot.  That and Madam Secretary.  Love that show.

Sad:  that my kid keeps asking questions about my grandpa who passed away.  I'm glad that she obviously had a connection and his sad that he's not here but it's sooo sad to have to explain this to a 4 year old. 

Working: on fixing my feet.  I'm hoping to have more insight soon.

Grateful: for days with my girl

Listening: to Serial and catching up on Get Booked podcasts..

Wishing: that we would have won the Powerball. ;)

What are you listening to, anticipating, and reading?

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 mileage and 2016 excercise plans

Last year I started out strong with a #mileaday challenge to utilize my Fitbit and get more active.  It worked --- BIG TIME.  January was my most active month all year and it set me up to be more healthy and lose inches.  And because I used what I knew about myself.  I have to work out every day or it will turn into zero days.  The commitment of one mile at least a day was huge and helped me then try new workouts with some walk/runs thrown in between.

Having made this commitment I decided to make a google doc and write down all of my run/walks.  Now I didn't always get every walk I took if it was not on the treadmill but I tried to remember.  I did not record all workouts because I would delete them after I completed them, also using a google doc.  I think for this coming year I shall record both workouts and mileage.

 Now like I said, knowing myself if I don't do it every day, I fall off hard.  And fall I did over the summer.  So all of the inches lost came back.  Plus some.  So regardless of how not high the numbers are, it was interesting to me.

Highest mileage month? 53.04 miles in January

Lowest mileage month? 0 in July.  Whoops.

Longest run/walk? 4.1 miles on January 23rd

Shortest run/walk/? .749 on December 27th

Most time spent on a run/walk? 63 minutes and 9 seconds on January 23rd]

Shortest time spent on a run/walk? 14 minutes on May 7th

Most run/walks in a month? January with 31

It was interesting looking at the months where there were lots of gaps.  Per my usual, there would be 2 or 3 days together and then a huge break and 2 days together and repeat.  I did fairly well until mid April then the year fell apart.  I tried again in November and got 11 straight days before my feet messed up on me again.  I've had major issues with them and I actually am talking to my doctor about it later this month.  But long story short they've made walking very painful and pretty much pushed me into more sitting around.  This past week or so I started out again with just walking and slowly increasing the minutes.  It seemed to be okay and then I tried running yesterday and that was apparently not okay. 

So I don't want to make any big grand plans for 2016 since I have no idea what the year holds for my feet and what not but barring any issues I'd like to...

-increase my total mileage
-record all run/walk
- tally up times spent run/walking
-record all workouts
- try more youtube workout videos

Do you record your workouts? What are your fitness goals for 2016?

Yearly total of miles? 138.259 miles

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Book Stats

How many books read in 2015? - 42, which is 7 less than last year and 10 less than my goal of 52.  This was a hard year of focus for me.  It seemed like I'd sit down and fly through a book in a day or it would take me an entire month.  For some reason, I lost my joy in reading.  I think it has a lot to do with other life crazy things and I think I had a lot of anxiety about some topics I was reading about it and it made it hard.  Reading is emotional and apparently I was a wreck this year!

How many fiction and non fiction? I read 2 memoirs (nonfiction) and 40 fiction.

Male/Female author ratio? 25 females and 10 males (tried not to double count any)

Favorite book read in 2015? this is so hard... I was more generous this year with my goodreads 5 star rating it appears but have tons of 4 stars.  I think my top three that I turned around and recommended to others would be Lucia, Lucia by Adrianna Trigani, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlin.  With a bonus 4th of The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney. 

Least favorite? Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why? Broken Trust, it just wasn't hitting me and I meant to keep picking it up and I didn't.

How many books from the library? 8, which is up 1 from last year.   

How many books read did I purchase? 6 brand new (down from 9 last year, thought I feel like I bought more books ha), 2 were used from the book sales the previous year

How many were gifts? 2

How many borrowed from others? 1

How many were given to me for reviews? 15, up 4 from last year

How many books read on kindle? I read a half book in the Linda Castillo series on the kindle and that is it.  I did purchase a book for 1.99 when there was  sale but I haven't read it yet. And I have a new kindle fire.

Any re-reads? Nope

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading? United States, France, Cuba, Egypt, England, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Italy, and Germany I do believe.  It's hard trying to remember if characters traveled other places.

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation? Not so much recommendation but for book club, Can you Keep a Secret? and The Haunting of Hill House

Which author did you read the most of? Linda Castillo

What was your best reading month? January I read 5 but a lot of months I read 4.

What was your worst reading month? November.  The only books I finished were the chapter books I read with my kiddo!

2015 Reading Goals - revisited...

1. Read 52 books - Nope, I'm at 42.  And I will not be finishing my last book by midnight.
2. Read a book by Hemingway - I kind of forgot I said this. :p So, no.  I do know which one I will read whenever I get around to it!
3. Read one autobiography - I read memoirs but not really an autobiography.
4. Clear off my shelves. - I did manage this.  I have donated over 40 books. 

2016 Goals
1. Read 52 books.
2. Complete the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.
3. Read more books that I own and continue donating.
4. Post more on the blog. 

How many books did you read this year? Did you complete your 2015 reading goals? What are your goals for 2016? Which author did you read the most of? What was your most recommended book? Any you couldn't finish?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 Read Harder Challenge and other book goals

I will admit that I am not good at keeping goals.  Making them, yes.  I am not accountable to myself.  Even when I make it public.  Last year I know a lot of people who started and some that finished the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.  Last year, it did not appeal to me at all.  I don't know if it was the categories or just that last year was hard and I couldn't commit to anything. 

2016 is not last year.  It's a new year and a new goal.  I am excited about this challenge and I spent way too much time today looking at my goodreads TBR list and thinking and looking at books on my bookshelves to help me cross off books that I own that I've never read.  A twofer if you will.

So, I still have some categories blank.  I have some that I know I will be able to fill with a book I read to Isla so I'm kind of leaving it up for grabs.  I am sure I may change my mind on some of theses, so my plan is not set in stone. 

The majority of these books are ones I own which is how they got here...

Read a horror book: Shutter Island but I am up for suggestions on this.

Read a nonfiction book about science: The Immortal Life of Henriette Lachs

Read a collection of essays: Me Talk Pretty One Day (I think... )

Read a book out loud to someone else: Pirates Past Noon (Magic Treehouse for the Win!)

Read a middle grade novel: The Last Newspaper Boy in America

Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography): Eight Eight Years with Sarah Polk

Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel: Uglies

Read a book published in the decade you were born:  I can't decide on this one.. I was born in the 80s.. any suggestions?

Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award: Yes Please! by Amy Poehler

Read a book over 500 pages: The Poisonwood Bible

Read a book under 100 pages:  I am going to put an Isla book here or a book I found I own called Abraham and Sarah Todd

Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender: Being Emily

Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia: First they killed my Father: A daughter of Cambodia Remembers

Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900: The Red Tent

Read the first book in a series by a person of color: Blanche on the Lam

Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years: Lumberjanes

Read a book that was adapted in to a movie, then watch movie. Debate which is better: Suite Francaise

Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes: I know why the caged bird sings

Read a book religion (fiction or nonfiction: The Shack

Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction): ???? can't decide

Read a food memoir: Garlic & Sapphires:The Secret Life of a Critic in disguise

Read a play: ??? no idea

Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness: ??? I'm sure I own one but I couldn't easily find one.. not sure..

So that is my plan for this year.  And my usual, read 52 books in a year. 

What are your goals for 2016? Do you plan on doing any reading challenges? Any suggestions for an 80s book? Politics? Mental illness? Any I should change?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Choosing Books

I was listening to a Books on The Nightstand podcast and they were discussing how you choose books and it got me thinking about how I pick books and wondering about how others do too.  I think my process has evolved as technology as changed and as I’ve grown as a reader.  I used to find books solely by browsing shelves in the library, trying to remember the name of an author I’d enjoyed before and sometimes remembering a mention by a friend.  Sometimes I’d check out the lists of books to try out that the librarians had put together.  Or I’d be in Barnes and Noble wandering and doing the same thing.  In college I’d usually pick up books on the 5.95 and lower table just because of price, the cover (gasp) and maybe what it said on the back.  If I read all of it.

I have a back cover reading problem.  The more I know about the book, sometimes I am less inclined to pick it up and read it.  Weird.  Even then, sometimes for book club I may have read a blurb about it but when I get the book in my possession I very rarely read the jacket cover or the back.  I just jump in. 

Now when choosing books I tend to utilize my friend’s on goodreads suggestions.  I’ll scroll through and notice what books they read and usually if they get a 4 star or more  I may read the blurb.  I also will read whatever book is picked for my book club.  I’ve also started using podcasts, mostly the Book Riot podcasts, to add to my growing TBR list. 

I also used to read a lot of book blogs and get suggestions from them.  Now, I don’t get as many suggestions from them only because I rarely sit down daily to read blogs anymore.  When I do catch up, there are only a few blogs where I go all the way back and see what they posted and book blogs generally aren’t the place I go now.

I am weird too in the sense that when books are ALLL THE RAGE, I shy away.  I may read them years later unless book club forces it sooner.  I feel I am more picky with those and tend to not like them for a weird reason but if I wait and read it later when it DOES sound good to me, I usually love it.

What I don’t usually do when choosing books is read the blurbs from other authors.  I don’t really care what another author says about another book. I only look at those AFTER I’ve read and loved a book to maybe get another suggestions on an author or book I should check out that may be a similar taste.

Covers also win me over.  Cheap books win me over.  Authors I’ve already enjoyed win me over.  Books a friend whose reading style fits mine who recommended it usually will win me over.  And if I glance at goodreads and it has generally good reviews, I’ll check it out too.

I have over a 1000 books on my TBR list on goodreads.  I rarely go edit it because I have the best of intentions.  Maybe someday it will resonate and I will grab that book. ;)  I do so badly at reading the books I’ve stocked up on from used book sales that I need to go looking their more often!

I think I’m pretty comfortable in my reading bubble and I know that I’ve struggled a lot in 2015 to read as much as I want so I don’t tend to try out different genres or authors or styles just because I should diversify my reading.  I get the importance of reading diversely but I also understand the importance of keeping something I enjoy, something that I enjoy.

I am going to attempt a reading challenge in 2016.  And I know that I am not good at keeping personal challenges with myself but I am trying for some accountability with my book club friends and I have shelves of books that need to be read.  More on that later.

How do you choose books? How has the process evolved? What is one way to turn you off from a book?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What's in my Purse?

I love bags.  I used to carry two with me when I was teaching.  A purse and a bag for my stuff.  Then my friend started selling Initials Inc. and I had changed jobs but I was still carrying two bags.  I really don't need to carry two bags.  So I hosted a party because... BAGS!  Now I have a behemoth sized tote that I carry everywhere.  I wish I would have had this idea yesterday, but then again I do not.  It would have been more embarrassing.  I had more trash ha.  So, this is what is in my purse minus the usual 34234 receipts, my water bottle and my planner.  Since I take those out when I get to work every day.  And on another purse note, I think I need to get a purse organizer.  Or maybe I don't really need to carry my life with me.

I like big bags and I cannot lie... It's huge.  I can fit everything in it.  And I am a disaster in a store trying not to knock people out with it ha!
Inside view of my stuff...
All the stuff out of the bag..  You can tell I have a child and I like to read..

up close of my sunglasses.  so glad I splurged on prescription ones this year!
my nerdy gloves.
I think I have too many crayons in my purse.. And I may need to steal these fruit snacks soon! ;)
And, I love these pictures.  I just upgraded my phone over the weekend to a Samsung S6 edge and love it!
Do you carry a big bag? Small bag? No bag? What do you usually carry with you?