Thursday, December 31, 2015

Life Lately

So it's been a few days since I've been around these parts and I thought I would give a quick update about what life's been like list form of course.
-Besides Errol, officially 4 people in real life know about my blog.  It's weird.
-There's been a lot of this

-And some of this too

-Christmas Eve I came down with a stomach bug and let's just say it wasn't pretty.  I was a mess on Christmas. Thank god for Errol's because he made my life so much easier.  We had two Christmases to go to and he carted all the presents and just generally took care of me.

-I got a hammock for Christmas, which I am beyond excited about. I've been wanting one for like 2 years.  We don't have trees that are conducive to hammocks so it has a stand one.  And because I'm an adult, I set that baby right up Errol set that baby right up in front of the Christmas tree for me to read in.
-On the topic of Christmas, we got a 9 ft tree this year and never again.  First off, we went to a new place this year and it took us about an hour and a half to find a decent tree.  Since the place we are living now has cathedral ceilings, I wanted something tall. Well, I got it and it was so top heavy that it kept wanting to fall all over the place. We ended up cutting a foot off the bottom and even then, we still had to tie it to the wall with fishing line. It took about 2 hours and 8 holes in the tree but we got it done. It sure was pretty though. 

-Over the last few months, Errol's Mom's dog and cat have passed away (from old age). She was feeling lonely without an animal around and asked for a kitten for Christmas.  We had this cute little thing around our house for less than 48 hours...why? Because our cat couldn't handle it.  Chitty will kill a rabbit but show him a 3 lb kitten and his hair is raised and he's backing away.  It was pretty humorous for a second but he is not a fan of kittens named CoCo.  I guess that nixes the idea of me getting another one.
-Cooking...a lot. Some favorites and some new.
Cinnamon Roll Casserole

A Christmas morning favorite for our Secret Santa breakfast at work.

If you like the taste of cake batter, you will love these blondies. No mixer, 1 bowl, 30 minutes. 
My favorite Cake Batter Blondies for a different work party.
Slow Cooker Parmesan Honey Pork Loin Roast
And I made this Butternut Squash, Bacon and Spinach Quiche that I'm still thinking about. Just take your standard quiche recipe and add oven roasted butternut squash, spinach, bacon and some shredded cheese.  Add alittle grated nutmeg and some cinnamon to the egg mixture and you end up with a savory breakfast or lunch. I brought it in as a work treat and it was devoured.
-And last but not least, who knew this was a thing?! We started this about 3 days ago.  I have doubts that my 15 lb cat is going to jump up onto the toilet to do his business but so far, he's been using the lid with it on the ground. One of the guys Errol works with taught his cat to use it so it could happen. I just can't stop lol'ing when I think about it though.
Litter Kwitter - Kit litière pour entraîner votre chat à se servir de vos toilettes!_3: 
What have you been up to? Would you ever potty train your pet?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top Books of 2015

 I read some really great books and some not so great books in 2015.  This is the first year in all my reading years that I've tracked my reading.  I'm reading number 85 right now and I'm aiming to have it finished before Thursday. Since this was my first time tracking my book count, I made a rough goal of reading 100 books.  I had no idea if it was attainable or if I normally would read that much in a year but I thought it was a good number to try to make.  And while I didn't quite get there, I'm pretty happy with 85 books for the year.  That's roughly 7 books a month and I know that's more than anyone I personally know reads in a year.
But with that being said, for 2016, I'm not making a reading goal.  Because even though I didn't make my goal, I still felt the pressure from it.  Like I couldn't read that 800 page book that I have because it would take too long so I'll read two 300 page books instead pressure. I'm going back to reading whatever the hell I want to, when I want to and not worry about the number.
I decided for this Best Of edition of Show Us Your Books to keep it short and simple and narrow it down to my top ten, in no particular order.  It wasn't easy, I had a few books I had to cut out but I think it's a pretty solid top ten.
// Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
// Golden Son by Pierce Brown
// The Martian by Andy Weir
// The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
(I'm cheating and grouping these into one listing)
// All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Linking up with Steph

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

November Book Review

Between audio and regular books, I read 12 books in November and it was a pretty good reading month, book wise. I'm going to end up below my goal of 100 books.  I'm reading book 83 right now.  I probably good if I cheated and just read small books but, I'm fine with not reading 100.  It was a loose goal.  I never really kept tracking of my book reading and just started to this year.  I thought 100 would be a good number.  I think it's just interesting to know how many books I read in a year. I've also found that it's been helpful to remind me what I actually read. 
Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it
3- Decent
2- Would not recommend.
1- Did not like.  Didn't finish. Gave book away.

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Rating: 3.5
Jake Marlowe is the last werewolf. Now just over 200 years old, Jake has an insatiable appreciation for good scotch, books, and the pleasures of the flesh, with a voracious libido and a hunger for meat that drives him crazy each full moon. Although he is physically healthy, Jake has slipped into a deep existential crisis, considering taking his own life and ending a legend that has lived for thousands of years. But there are two dangerous groups--one new, one ancient--with reasons of their own for wanting Jake very much alive.
It took me a little while to get into this book. I find that sometimes the narrator of audio books can be distracting but once I did, I really liked it. Jake has a dry, sarcastic sense of humor.  This is actually a three book series, which I didn't realize until I started reading it.  I started the second book on Friday last week. Without giving too much away, a love interest appears and the second book is told from her narrative. There's some pretty raunchy parts and my friend that recommended the book to me said the second one is even more so. 

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Rating: 4
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship with her family and the world—forever.
I didn't expect to be hooked on this book like I was, or for it to destroy me the way it did. I've had a few discussions with people at work about this book.  One of their sister's has Alzheimer's and she said that it helped her to understand the disease. It was so emotional seeing the decline of Alice from when she was diagnosed until the end of the book and really what an isolating disease it is. To just know that you are counting down until you won't be able to remember your family or yourself. With that being said, Alice's husband made me so mad.  His utter disrespect and thoughtlessness in regards to Alice and her life was so frustrating. If you haven't read this book yet, make sure to have some tissues near by.  I cried the last 40 pages.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Rating: 4-4.5
Two and a half years after an unspeakable tragedy left her a shadow of the girl she once was, Nastya Kashnikov moves to a new town determined to keep her dark past hidden and hold everyone at a distance. But her plans only last so long before she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the one person as isolated as herself: Josh Bennett.
Well, all the hype with this book is true.  I finished it in roughly a night and stayed up until 1:30am just to finish. I loved, loved Josh Bennett. His character made the book for me. He is so beautifully broken and so kind and gentle. READ THIS BOOK.

Still Life by Louise Penny

Rating: 3.5
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it's a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.
The girls I work with are obsessed with this series and have been trying to get me to read them.  I was on the fence because it didn't really sound like something I would normally read but I loved the narrator and the characters. As with any whodunit, you need to find out what happens but honestly, I had a hunch who it was for a while.  It was really the community and character's histories that drew me in. I'm going to continue listening to this series.  Gamache is the star of the series but I've heard that several of the characters from this book are in the other books too.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Rating: 5
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
I absolutely loved this book, even more than Sea of Tranquility. I will for always cheer for the underdog and the quirky, different girl. I knew this book was going to break me from the second Will Traynor made an appearance. I knew that he was always going to make the decision he did but I still wanted Will and Louisa to have the great love story.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Rating: 2.5
Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.
This book was extremely quick.  I think I read it in 45 minutes but it was informative. I would recommend this book to anyone that is directly effected by autism but also pretty much anyone.  It gave a glimpse into a world that is misunderstood.  For instance, Higashida said that an autistic person might not be quiet and withdrawn socially but that they get generalized that way because it takes them so long to process conversation.  By the time they understand and can respond, the conversation has moved on. Definitely worth the read.

All We Know of Heaven by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Rating: 3

Bridget Flannery and Maureen O'Malley have been BFFs since forever. Then a brief moment of inattention on an icy road leaves one girl dead and the other in a coma, battered beyond recognition. Family and friends mourn one friend's loss and pray for the other's recovery. Then the doctors discover they have made a terrible mistake. The girl who lived is the one who everyone thought had died.
My first reaction to All We Know is that it literally could have been a Lifetime movie.  The book was fine. Nothing special or remarkable and a lot of it was predictable.

Durable Goods by Elizabeth Berg

Rating: 2.5
On the hot Texas army base she calls home, Katie spends the lazy days of her summer waiting: waiting to grow up; waiting for Dickie Mack to fall in love with her; waiting for her breasts to blossom; waiting for the beatings to stop. Since their mother died, Katie and her older sister, Diane, have struggled to understand their increasingly distant, often violent father. While Diane escapes into the arms of her boyfriend, Katie hides in her room or escapes to her best friend’s house—until Katie’s admiration for her strong-willed sister leads her on an adventure that transforms her life. 
This was another short but sweet book.  I adored Katie, the young girl at the heart of this story. As I said above, I will always be the champion of the weird and eccentric girls.  I have a special place in my heart for the girl who's inquisitive and a little bit of an outcast. The story itself was meh.

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo

Rating: 1.5
Though twenty-one-year-old Fenfang Wang has traveled 1,800 miles to seek her fortune in urban Beijing, she is ill-prepared for what greets her: a Communist regime that has outworn its welcome, a city in slap-dash development, and a sexist attitude more in keeping with her peasant upbringing than the country's progressive capital. But after mastering the fever and tumult of the city, Fenfang ultimately finds her true independence in the one place she never expected.
A Ravenous Youth is written through twenty small stories with photos accompanying them.  I would definitely not have finished it if it was more than 120 pages.  I found the book pointless and depressing. I didn't connect with the main character and found her quite annoying.

Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me by Chelsea Handler

Rating: 2.5
It's no lie: Chelsea Handler loves to smoke out "dumbassness," the condition people suffer from that allows them to fall prey to her brand of complete and utter nonsense. Friends, family, co-workers--they've all been tricked by Chelsea into believing stories of total foolishness and into behaving like total fools. Luckily, they've lived to tell the tales and, for the very first time, write about them. 
I'm usually a fan of Chelsea Handler's books but this one was not really all that funny.  I did like how each story was read by the person who wrote them and at the end, Chelsea had something to say about that person. I think that difference was is just that Chelsea is funnier than her friends.  I did find myself lol'ing a couple times but overall the book was just ok.

Addition by Toni Jordan

Rating: 3.5
An absolutely delightful tale of obsessive-compulsive love, Toni Jordan’s Addition is just the ticket for fans of TV’s Monk and readers who were captivated by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. A wonderfully funny, supremely intelligent debut novel, Addition is “witty fun” (People), while OCD-afflicted heroine Grace and her new-found paramour Seamus are thoroughly endearing characters, and their romance is sweet and fun.
This was a really cute book.  I loved Grace. I'm sensing a theme for this month.  She was another weird and quirky character. I hated how she felt like she needed to go and get therapy because of her OCD counting and that the medication and therapy stopped her numbers and made her numb. The therapist actually seemed happy that she was more "normal" and numb because she wasn't counting anymore, it's all that mattered. She could barely function but they all thought she was doing great. It's like what do you really gain by all of that?  Sure, you stop the incessant need to count everything but you also loose yourself in the process.

Above by Isla Morley

Rating: 4
Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an aban­doned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Deter­mined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give mean­ing to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promis­ing and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice—between survival and freedom.
This book had everything I love in a book.  It was full of suspense and horror with even an end of world survival story thrown in. As much as it was about the end of a lot of things, it was also a story of hope.  It really felt like it was two books in one.  Half of the book was centered around Blythe and her being held captive and the other half was about after. Totally loved this book.
I tried, I really did because I wanted to love the book but it was just so wordy  and tedious.  I got to around page 90 and gave up.
Love It: Above, Me Before You, Addition and Sea of Tranquility
But really also Still Alice and Still Life.
Leave It: Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth and Durable Goods

Life According to Steph
Linking up with Steph

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fall Goal Recap

I'm not quite sure why I'm even posting this...I completed 3 goals and they were the easiest/naturally occurring ones. But hey, gotta keep it honest and real. It's funny because I think I've done maybe three (?) goal posts and every recap is the same. I fail at the whole completing goals thing. Which ironically is funny because when it comes to work, I totally think of myself as a goal orientated person but for some reason, that doesn't correlate into real life. Which is even more ironic because I have a 2016 goals and dream post planned.  Glutton for punishment? Or self improvement?
Do you think if you don't have goals that that means you're not driven?
Anyways, on to the list.

Blog Goals

// Consistently blog three times a week for October and November Nope, not even close.
// Figure out a reading and commenting schedule that works out for me.  When my reader gets into the hundreds, it makes me antsy and not want to read posts at all. No, again. It's not like I have a lot of choices on this one.  It's either before work or after work and I will never be a morning person so...and then it's the eternal struggle of every reader out there;  sacrificing reading time to do something else.

Fall Seasonal Goal

// Carve a pumpkin BAHAHA, I couldn't even do this one! This is the second year I missed the pumpkin carving train and I don't like it.

Personal Goals

// Host a dinner for my family Nope, but I am planning a taco night because my Dad doesn't like tacos but my Mom does and she never makes them.  I'll have them over and make my Dad something separate.
// Organize and change over my clothes room for fall/winter WooHoo!  I finally completed one but let's face it, this was going to happen anyways. I bought a new shelving unit for my sweaters and I love it.  Plus, my tbr bookcase was overflowing and I needed somewhere to put them.  This is after I cleaned out 60+ books.

Work Goal

// Make it a point to get into work a half hour early once a week for a month. I'm giving this a half.  I've been staying late consistently.  As I said, I am not a morning person. I'm the person hurriedly walking in 2 minutes before I'm supposed to be there.  

Fitness Goals

// Go on a hike before the snow falls No, I did have plans but the girl I had plans with got sick so it didn't happen.  I haven't made it a priority like I need to.  It calms me and is a form of therapy.
// Work out every day for a week LOLOLOL

Reading Goals

// Read 10 books between October and November I did better than that, I read 11 books in November alone.  I can't wait for the link up next week.  I read some good books!
// Read Sea of Tranquility due to popular blogger demand And it didn't disappoint!
So, what's your thoughts on goal setting? Yay or nay? Do you get upset if you don't follow through on your goals?