Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Recap of 2014

I know I don't share an awful lot of personal information on the blog but I thought I'd share some of my best moments of this crazy busy year.  I'd say it was average.  It was a freezing winter, an awesome spring break, a fabulous summer vacation, a very trying work related fall, a busy holiday season and a lot of trying, rewarding and amazing parenting moments.  This year has been by far my favorite year with my daughter so far.  I love the person she is, her sense of humor and her caring ways.  It makes the trying stuff okay to handle when I know that I am raising a world changer right in my house.

January --- The month of reading and working out

I started out my spring break weight loss challenge for work strong and recorded multiple weeks of workouts.  I am hoping to challenge this same motivation this year as I just got a fitbit and I am going to do a mileaday challenge for the month of January to get me started.

I also read a ton of books! Two Sarah Jio's, Orphan Train, and The Abduction all which were some of my better reads of the year! I read a fabulous YA book, Something like New and it was super cold so that would be why I read read read!

February - The month of frigid temperatures and more reading

I did a lot of reading this month too! I sure started out the year strong and then I stalled out around August when I started getting the back to work blues.

I wrote a post about Discouragement that resonated with a few people, visited the local library's used book sale again and was introduced to Dick Wolf's books, which I recommend!

March - Where I entered a new decade

Butterfly Exhibit beginning of the month

 Nashville on a road trip

 lunch in Alabama
lunch in Alabama

playing on our road trip

 I attempted to do a day in the life and imagine that, I got distracted... life of a teacher!

April - Took a road trip (which technically part of it happened in march ahha)

 Gulf of Mexico - I WANNA GO BACK!
Nap time, every day... with a book and a beer... ahhh

<3 p="">
Had a blast driving from Michigan to Florida with my fam! We ate lots of good things, and spent lots of time on the beach!

Easter - 2014

May - The beginning of the crazy

Memorial Day
 Someone turned 3

Working on her alphabet

Had to start taking breaks from the blog's group read and only posted 3 times the whole month.  The end of the school year was crazy and well crap happens. 

June - SUMMMER!!!

We threw a retirement party at our house for my mother in law and we went camping for 8 days! Weekly library trips returned and summer fun was had!

July - Boating/Camping 11th anniversary!

The 4th of July marked the 11th year that I've known my husband.  We met on the 4th of July so we celebrated how we've done all the other ones, back on the lake where we met! Had a blast (too much fun ha).  We took a long weekend camping trip to the Thumb and more library trips were had as well as outdoor summer lunches with my girl!  Oh and we saw James Taylor in concert! I also read probably my favorite book of the year, I'll be Seeing You, well maybe I read it at the end of June but I posted about it in July!  I also had a successful day in the life share and read a lot of fun books!

August - The month that sucked

I mean it wasn't allll bad but I had a lot of anxiety, didn't read a lot and got lots of disappointing news.  So I don't really remember the good.  Except I did road trip with my husband and sister in law to see Jimmy Bufett and we took a day trip to Chicago .

September - back to work and grumbles

My daily commute started bugging me but I did get to see Journey in concert with my best-friend, college football and farmers market trips took over my weekends and I wished for summer again.

 October - College football fun and road trips

Work sucked and I spent two weekends away.  One to Louisville for a friend's wedding and another down to Columbus for a football game!  Also did pumpkin patch and boo at the zoo with the kiddo. I also got my second stitch fix, which i loved!

November - Tailgating fun

We spent a fun weekend child free that included a date night out and tailgating for the OSU vs MSU game in East Lansing.  

December - alll things Christmas with the 3 year old

This year Christmas time was fun.  We visited the Santa House, decorated and decorated and read tons of Christmas books while we moved an advent calendar every night.  The excitement was very real here! She just looooves Santa and she is so glad he came to her house! (after she got over the initial weirdness about a stranger leaving her presents (smart child) ).

I hope your 2015 is all that you hope and want it to be.  Live well, laugh often and have fun!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Biggest Disappointments of 2014

I think there was only one book that I set down unfinished this year, that being The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  I may attempt to get back at it some other time but I was about 100 pages in and wasn't feeling it.  A friend however was interested so I passed it on to her, along with Orphan Train, which was NOT a disappointment. ;)

Here's a list of books that I had high hopes or expectations for and they just fell short.

Labor Day - Joyce Maynard
We read this as a group read on the blog and I read it with my Books & Bars group.  I think across the board it was a flop.  It wasn't as good as I hoped.  It was badly written, just not my style.
The Idea of Him - Holly Peterson
This was a bad chick lit book.  It just wasn't my style.
The Burgess Boys - Elizabeth Strout
This was just a sad blah book.  The writing was fine.
Don't Try to Find Me - Holly Brown
"In theory this is a book that I would really enjoy.  In reality it took me over two weeks to read it.  It just didn't hold my interest, was way to predictable and I just didn't get into it.  I honestly think I will end the month of August with possibly one book read, this being it. 

There's nothing wrong with the story.  It has unreliable narrators, a bit of a mystery that slowly explains itself and it has some pretty sad characters.  It's not a perfectly put together mystery and there are bad things that happen. If I read it at a different time, perhaps I'd think differently."
Others that were just okay ----- Return to Sullivan's Island - Dorothea Benton Frank, Backseat Saints - Joshilyn Jackson, The Vineyard - Michael Hurley, The Tiger's Wife - Tea Obrecht
What were your duds of 2014? 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Breaking Silence

It's been awhile since I read a book in the Kate Burkholder series by Linda Castillo and I really don't know how that happened.  I do vaguely remember attempting to check this book out from the library and it not being there but it's been awhile since I did that.  However, I did make sure to include it on my Christmas Wish List and my husband did not disappoint on that gift. Now I just need the other THREE and a half (ha love when there is a .5 in a series!) to be at my house like yesterday.  Seriously, I read this one in less than 12 hours with multiple interruptions.  I mean I do have a three year old and a house that apparently I am only motivated to purge and clean and update in December and January. 

Police Chief Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of a horrific tragedy on a peaceful Amish farm.
The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death—clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?
Having grown up Amish, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes—and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community.

Sometimes when I read these types of books I don't pay any attention and am promptly surprised at the end because I paid zero attention to the clues dropped in.  This time, I paid attention and was rewarded and yet still surprised as to who could have possibly been behind the murders.  That's just the way I like it. 

I also like that it is small town Ohio and references things I recognize.  I also like that this series incorporates a lot about the Amish in the area.  I've always been fascinated by the Amish and we have quite a big population north of us that are Amish.  They sell things at our farmers market and there is an Amish store near us that is quite fun to visit.

I like Kate's character and I like the way Castillo writes.  Quick, not lots of random crap thrown in and a mystery.  Characters you care about and action that isn't stupid.  Winner winner!  My only complaint was the few times Kate got retrospective on her crappy past but that was just a wee bit and she covered more ground in her growing relationship with Tomasetti.  Overall a very quick and entertaining mystery for a Sunday afternoon. ;)

Have you read any books by Linda Castillo? Do you have an Amish population by you?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Girl with All the Gifts

I am not a zombie person.  I think zombie movies are usually stupid and poorly done.  That said I've only watched crappy 80s versions of zombie movies because zombies are something that do not interest me.  I also find zombies inappropriate for four year olds but apparently the parents of my students disagree or need to be taking a better look at the toys/shows/games geared at four year olds.  That said, I would have put up a little stink if I would have known this was a 'zombie book' when we decided to make this our final book club pick of 2014.  Surprisingly, for a dystopian zombie book (neither subjects I tend to read) it was pretty darn good.

Description: Not every gift is a blessing...

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

Now, see the description doesn't TELL you that these people are dead.  But they are.  I mean I suppose I could read between the lines but I was maybe a beer or two in and I said, what the heck, sounds good to me.   So I read a book about zombies.

Thankfully, it was good.  Melanie doesn't realize she's a hungry nor does she really fully put together the whole picture of the wierd that is her life because she is taught things about the world that used to exist and is told about hungries and junkers but not really enough to connect all the dots. 

At Hotel Echo, where Melanie lives she has a very limited life.  She lives in a cell and goes to class.  She eats once a week and bathes with her classmates.  She has never seen anything more than the hall she lives in.  Until the day Sergeant Parks retrieves her for Dr. Caldwell and everything she knows changes.

I don't really want to say too much because it gives so much away but it is a book that has some awesomely written characters and a lot of action.  So much action that after it ends I feel like there were loose ends of some of that action that I wanted explained more! But that kind of goes with the book and that information is always changing as is the status quo.  The ending is fantastic by the way. 

So, if you can get past the zombie part (I feel I must point it out because, I mean I didn't know ha) it is a great adult dystopian novel.  If you are looking for a fast paced intense read then check it out.  Then talk to me about it!

Do you like zombies? Are you a horror fan? What about dystopian novels?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Best of 2014: Easy/Fun Reads

I read a lot of funny books this year.  Which was probably good since I usually read dark disgusting things.  Not to say I didn't read those, but I read a lot more 'fun' than I have recently.  This is a pretty broad topic but I didn't want to limit to 'chick' 'women' or whatever other descriptive others put on books.  So I made up my own.  No brainer fun reads, which does include some books that are hilarious. ;)

Morning Glory - Sarah Jio
Mary Kay Andrews - Summer Rental
Susan Hayes - Loretta Nyhan - I'll be Seeing You
Joshilynn Jackson - gods in Alabama
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Borrows
Double Whammy, Double Strike & Double Dip - Gretchen Archer

My Review of Double Whammy & Double Dip
My review of Double Strike
Downtown - Anne Rivers Siddons
What fun/easy books did you read this year? Favorites? 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Best of 2014: Thrillers/Suspense

It's that time of year again where I like to share my lists because if there is something I love almost as much as books it is lists! Though, in true list making paranoia, I hate actually doing these in December because I mean there are still reading days LEFT IN 2014! What if whatever I end the year on is amazing and I can't share it because it falls in the in between of 2014 and 2015 reads? Ahh the horror. ;) I'm going to start this year with my favorite thrillers/suspense which I use loosely so get over it and make your own lists.

Dick Wolf - Intercept
Dick Wolf - Execution
Hypocrisy - D.M. Annechino
Say Goodbye - Lisa Gardner

Postmortem - Patricia Cornwell
Favors and Lies - Mark Gilleo
Surprisingly I didn't read as many in this category this year even though it is one of my favorites.  I basically kept it light and simple this year and it worked but I did miss my thrillers/suspense.  I can't believe I didn't read any Tess Gerritsen or Karen Slaughter.  Must remedy that soon.
What were your favorite thrillers/suspense books read in 2014?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Stitch Fix #3

Last weekend I opened my third Stitch Fix package! It is addicting.  I can't wait to see what I'm going to open.  I'll admit that as soon as I get the email that my box has been shipped I do go look in my cart to see what is coming my way and try to google or use pinterest to see what colors or what it may appear like.  Sometimes I can find similar items but I still don't always know what color or what it will specifically look like but it's enough of a tease to keep me excited!  Plus, I can start thinking about what I may want to keep or send back before I even get the items. ;)

I had requested a bag and they sent this gorgeous tote.  I liked it since I normally go for large bags but I didn't like that it didn't have a zipper on the top.  I am too klutzy to not have a zipper with a bag that large! It had a insert pouch that was a decent size but it wasn't love at first sight nor something I neeeeeded so I returned this.

This dress I loved.  I had pinned the exact one on my Pinterest board and my stylist sent it.  For a dress it was a miracle that it fit my boobs, was a perfect length, everything! But.... my butt looked rather large in back.  So it was a no go.  It did look super cute with leggings and my boots and probably a cardigan would have made it awesome too but I know me and it wasn't a winner.  Maybe if the chevron did not include white I would have been a fan.  As you can see, I had a playing dress up 'helper'.   Also, disregard my hair, I had no makeup on nor did I do my hair, since it was a Sunday.

I debated on this sweater.  It was a pinkish color and I need new sweaters like this, but it just seemed to make feel boxier or something.  It may have been from what I had available to try on underneath it at the time.  But I did like it.  I used to own a similar styled sweater once and I think if I was also the same weight as then I would have liked it.  But my boobs are like whoa and that is about all the positives and that is not really a positive.   And once again my helper.

In my last fix, I was sent a shirt that I really liked.  It was a green dolman styled top with thin black stripes.  I liked it but it was much too big.  So they sent me this blue with black hints one in a size smaller. This is not the most flattering picture and I need to clean my mirror from my helper (ha) but I really ended up liking it.  It makes my eyes pop and it's comfy and casual.  Something I need in my wardrobe.  I ended up keeping this one.

There was another shirt that I didn't even bother taking a picture of.  I had it also pinned on my Pinterest board and in theory it was cute.  Until it was on me.  Then it was a hot mess.  The top was cute and laid nice over my boobs and arms but it crossed over/ cinched on the side and went to a different print and it just accentuated my stomach area which was not good.  So it did not win a photo haha.

Overall I've been very pleased with what I've been sent.  It's been nice to slowly get newer nicer items into my wardrobe and I am going to continue scheduling fixes every now and then.  Right now I am pretty much doing about every other month and that seems to be about what I'll keep up for now.  It is so convenient to be sent to my house, try on, and send right back out! For 20 bucks to give a shot at clothes, it's as good as driving to a decent mall by me to attempt the same!

If you want to give Stitch Fix a try use this link to sign up and see what it's all about.  And get me a store credit if you do happen to schedule a fix! ;) Otherwise, it's just my opinion and my dollars at paying for these clothes.

Do you use Stitch Fix? Do you have a problem finding sweaters you like? How many undershirts do you own?