Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Thoughts


// Chitty is almost potty trained. We are on the last stage and he has been a champ.  We haven't had any accidents and he's adapted to a toilet surprisingly well. The end is in sight my friends.  My cat is going to be the coolest cat on the block. He is weirdly territorial of the toilet. Like he doesn't like when you are using it territorial. He will come in and meow or just sniff around with this pissy look on his face. 
I did finally managed to get a photo of him doing his business. I can't help but laugh everytime I see it.

// On the subject of cats, have you seen this video?! I forgot to get a cucumber when I was out grocery shopping but I've pretty much been sharing this video with everyone. LOL's for days

// The other night we had another couple over for dinner. She brought flank steak over and the original plan was to cook it but after she read some Google rec's, it was decided that we should broil it.  First off, I have never broiled a steak. Secondly, it was only supposed to take like less than 10 minutes. Well almost 2 hours later, we ate. I also would like to point out that the roasted veggies and twice baked potatoes were already prepared...Not sure where we went wrong but by the time dinner was ready, I was done with it.

// I got this Q&A A Day journal for Christmas.  I started filling it out at the beginning of the month and I'm really liking the diverse questions. Sometimes I ask Errol the questions and record his answers too. I'm interested to see how things change from year to year.

// I made these Greek Yogurt Blueberry Crumble Muffins by Baker by Nature last week.  They were a huge hit at home and at work. 
// I'm currently reading Sarah's Key and I was pretty much hooked from page 10.  I love books centered around WWII and this one alternates between present and past.  I like how the chapters are short so you get a little bit at a time from each storyline.
I just finished A Little Something Different the other day and I adored this cute story.  If you are looking for a sweet, cute read, don't look any further.  The story of a boy and a girl falling in love through 14 view points.

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Congrats to Kati for winning my $25 Amazon giveaway!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Nothing But The Facts

Twenty nine years equals twenty nine facts, that's how it goes right? So it's officially the first day of my 29th year and we all know how I feel about that. But it's a birthday and I will never not celebrate a birthday; it's just not in me. 



  1. My favorite book is Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  2. If I could have any job, it would be to either get paid to read or travel
  3. If I had won the billion dollars, the first thing I would do is spend a year traveling the world
  4. I hate chevron
  5. Pretty much the only food I dislike is liver
  6. I don't like my food to touch
  7. My natural hair color is black
  8. I collect owls and books, always books
  9. My favorite vegetable is brussels sprouts
  10. I don't have a favorite movie and I tend not to watch something more than once. It's kind of like books, unless it's really good or a classic, I'm probably not going to read it again.
  11. I'm a 75 year old trapped in a 29 year old's body.  I like to read, drink tea and I'm a crazy cat lady.
  12. I love sea salt chocolate
  13. I've never sprained or broken anything
  14. I love stripe shirts. 
  15. If I could, I would wear flip flops all year long
  16. And leggings
  17. Sometimes I snort when I laugh
  18. I'm pro-choice
  19. I'm opinionated. We took the Strength Finder test for work, my strongest strength was "Input"
  20. And competitive
  21. When I asked Errol for a fact about me, he said "you like to have fun and you're intelligent"
  22. I cry at books and movies/shows
  23. I'm very nostalgic/sentimental
  24. I tend to be impatient. I'm working on it but it's not easy
  25. I like to grocery shop and meal plan
  26. I'm fiercely loyal to the people I love
  27. My least favorite chore is cleaning the shower
  28. I'm a glass half full kind of person
  29. My birthday falls on the cusp of Capricorn and Aquarius. It's also when the Presidential Inauguration takes place every 4 years.  
Don't forget to enter my giveway for a $25 giftcard to Amazon!

Book Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 


Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it
3- Decent
2- Would not recommend. Ehh
1- Did not like.  Didn't finish. Gave book away.

Rating: 3-3.5

Summary:

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen...
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy's funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor -- not much else to do in a small town that's almost beyond repair. They just never imagined that she'd start a bookstore. Or that books could bring them together – and change everything.

Let me preface this by saying that I don't tend to read "women's fiction" or feel good type of books. I originally saw Readers of Broken Wheel on a couple posts from the Show Us Your Books link up and it had decent reviews so I requested it on Netgalley. What originally drew me into the book was the literary theme (more on that later). You can't help but smile at the story of Sara's trip to Broken Wheel and the transformation that happens to the town and Sara. And while you know all along where the story is going to go, it doesn't make the book any less enjoyable. 

What I Loved:

I absolutely adored the book theme that was the thread of Readers of Broken Wheel. When you have a deep love and connection with books and reading, you can't help but feel at home when you find people who feel the same; whether it be fiction or not. As my fellow readers know, you can't help but like someone a little better when you find out they are a book lover like you. I loved some of the things that Sara's character said about reading and books; like how different books have different smells and "there's a book for every person ... and a person for every book". I just generally connected with Sara's character. I love quirky, off-beat, messy women in books. 

I also could not help but smile at the evolution of Sara and Tom's relationship.  I knew where it would end up but it was just so dang cute. 

 What I Didn't Love:

I'm just going to be a little nit-picky on this one and say that the formatting on the e-book was distracting.  I've gotten other books from Netgalley before and they read just like any other Kindle but this had such a wonky format. There would be a conversation going on and it was confusing trying to figure out who was talking because it would end up like a paragraph. It was just weird and took something away from the reading experience.

My only other negative is that there was some stuff teased or alluded to with a couple of the supporting characters and then it never went anywhere. It's like there was a half thought of developing this story line with that character and then it was forgotten about.  

Overall:

Readers of Broken Wheel was a delightful read with a nice happy ending. This is a book you want to take on vacation or lounge on a beach with. You don't have to put too much thought into it. It's a nice light read that will leave you smiling.

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Sourcebooks is giving away three copies of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. Enter for your chance to win below. The giveaway will be open until 1/28/16.

They are also awarding grant money to three nominated bookstores. Click here to nominate your favorite independent bookstore to be in the running to receive a $3000 grant. 

Sourcebooks will award the winning bookstore with a $3,000 prize; two additional bookstores will each receive a $637 prize (the population of Bivald’s fictional Broken Wheel, Iowa). In addition to bookstores receiving prizes, weekly giveaways for those who nominate will be held throughout the campaign. Voting began January 4, and runs until February 19, when the winning bookstores will be announced.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On Getting Older

On the eve of my 29th birthday, I can't help but think that this will be the last year I can say I'm in my 20's.  And I know that you're supposed to celebrate getting older and being wiser. And the whole adage, "age gracefully". But dammit, I don't want to get older. I still remember when I thought 30 was old. When did it stop being that way? I mean, I think of 50 as old but when I really stop and think about it, it's only 21 years away. The first 21 years of my life went pretty quick. It's like you spend your whole life waiting to be older and you collect all the milestone birthdays, 10 (double digits), 13, 16, 18, 21, and then before you know it, you're almost 30 and wondering where it all went.  

I remember when Errol turned 30 a couple years ago and he fought it kicking and screaming and yet here I am, twenty nine, and fighting it kicking and screaming. When your 30, your supposed to be a grown up, you're supposed to have this life that's like the movies; a great career that is fulfilling and pays you lots of money, a large, beautifully curated house filled with a successful husband and 2 kids. I don't have any of that, not that I want it all but aren't you supposed to feel older and more mature.  I still struggle to do my chores and budget my money. And if I'm honest, I suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome. I don't want to grow up. I want to be in this in between stage longer; where you're not quite expected to have things figured out and you can still be irresponsible once in a while and it not be a mid-life crisis. So yes, I am struggling a little bit with turning 29.  The older I get, the more I don't want to get older.

Truth be told...:
So tell me I'm not the only one that feels this way about getting older. Tell me that my 30's will be even better and I won't even remember feeling this way.....until 39 rolls around.  Tell me that it's perfectly acceptable to not be a grown up at 30, to not have my life figured out. Tell me that 30's when you do figure it all out.

PS Don't forget to enter my birthday giveaway
PPS Sticking this here because I'm having a moment with this song right now.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Birthday Week Giveaway


To kick off my birthday week, I'm giving everyone the chance to win a $25 giftcard to Amazon. Not a bad deal, it's my birthday and some lucky person gets to go shopping on me. I know what I would spend the money on ( I have a whole wishlist full of books) but what would you buy??

I'm not sure how it works around your house but around here, your birthday last a week. And I totally take advantage of it.  Don't wanna do the dishes or start your car in the morning? Pull the "but it's my birthday" card. I'm working on my birthday but I have this Friday off and plan to spend it doing something outside, either a small hike or some cross country skiing.

You get a car! Everyone gets a car! You get a car! - You get a car! Everyone gets a car! You get a car!  oprah you get a car




Tuesday, January 12, 2016

December Books

 
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.
 
I just want to point out that this is the first time in weeks that I have posted more than once in a week. I read one really good book this month and several ehh books. Three of the five books read this month were short and probably equaled one normal size book put together but whatever.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Rating 4.5
 
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
 
Ohhh, this book...it was so beautifully written and I just fell in love and connected with so many of the characters. It took me a little bit to get into it even though the chapters were short. This book was so different than any book centered around WWII that I've read.  While the war was at the heart of the story, it was not the focus, if that makes sense? All the Light definitely lived up to all of the hype and recognition.

Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris

Rating: 2
 
What a letdown this book was. I've had this book sitting on my shelf for a while and I figured with the holidays, it would be the perfect time to read it.  I've read most of Sedaris' books and think they're good but I don't think there was one story that was funny or kept my attention.

Blood Roses and Psyche In A Dress by Francesca Lia Block

Rating: 2.5
 
Blood Roses is made up of short stories that connect and Pysche was about modern day Greek myths playing out in LA. I have been a fan of Block in the past and read a lot of her in my early teens but maybe I've outgrown this author? I do still enjoy her magical realism type of writing that is in all of her books but the stories just weren't there for me. If you've never read Block, I would recommend her Weetzie Bat series. She has an erotic, fantasy sort of theme going on with her books which are generally set in or around the California Valley. They tend to be about broken girls who transform in some way or the other.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Rating: 3-3.5
 
“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
 
I don't know if I had too high of hopes for Never Told You but I slogged through it. I couldn't help thinking that everything could have been avoided if the Lee family had just talked to each other. And I thought that James, the dad, was pretty mean to Nath, Lydia's brother. I felt terrible for Hannah, the younger sister.  This whole book was just depressing and quite frankly, boring. I did like the ending but it was too little, too late. Tell me, what am I missing about this book?! I read so many positive reviews.
 
Love It: All The Light We Cannot See
Leave It: Holidays on Ice



Life According to Steph

Monday, January 11, 2016

Currently 1.11.16

Thinking:

About my goals for 2016 and how to make them happen. I have high hopes for lots of good things for this year. Just really trying to go after the things I want, embrace change and not be afraid to set the path I want.
30 Motivational and Inspirational Picture Quotes: 

Reading: 



This book has had me hooked since the first chapter. A young girl's parents are brutally murdered one night and the mystery around it.  Except it's not your usual mystery in that the parents were demonologists. This book kind of reminds me of the movie The Conjuring because of the couple who comes and performs exorcisms link. 

Watching:

Life in Pieces (2015) Poster
Has anyone been watching this show?  The episode last week wasn't that good but it's a pretty funny show. The show has four different storylines or pieces, all centering around this one family.  The dad is hilarious and the young girl is full of sass. 

Anticipating:

My birthday in less than 10 days.  The last one until 30.  We get to take a paid day off during our birthday month, so that's nice.  I'll probably take either the Monday or Friday of my birthday week off so I can get a long weekend.  I'm looking forward to dinner at The CommonMan plus my Mom always make me a birthday dinner, menu chosen by moi. Sometimes it's a whole appetizer, entrĂ©e type thing or sometimes I like to pick favorites that my Mom makes. And always a big fancy cake!

Cooking:

Hearty Veggie Chowder
Source

This slow cooker Hearty Vegetable Chowder. So yummy and packed full of Winter veggie goodness. And also the butternut squash quiche I mentioned the other week. 

Wanting:

I'll be in Orlando in March for work and there will be lots of walking involved.  I need a new pair of sneakers to wear with office pants and stuff and am leaning towards these. Any other shoe recommendations out there? Must be good for being on your feet all day and work with button down shirt/dress pant type outfit.  I almost thought about bringing my Danskos but I think I want to stick with a sneaker. I looked at the Sketcher Go Walks but I just can't figure out if I like them or not.
 
Check back tomorrow for my favorite day of the month, Show Us Your Books Tuesday.


 


Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Ambitions

 

+ Find My Passion

I don't know what this looks like or where to start but it's at the very top of my list. I want to focus on things that make me feel alive.  I have a group of things in life (books, hiking, adventures) that I love doing and that stir my soul so I want to spend more time doing them. But I also want to find my work passion.

+ Travel More

On Truly Living:
Source

+Contemplate a Tattoo

Don't quote me on this but something small with either significant person meaning or something bookish.

+ Get Healthy

Eat better and be more active. Regularly. Also hike more.  This year was pitiful.

+ Save Lots of $$ to Buy a House  in 2017 

This is right below "find my passion" but more likely to happen. While I love the non-responsibility of repairs and taxes of renting, I want my own place and I need DIY home projects in my life. And I want that adventure with Errol.

+ Focus on my Blog & Get a Custom Blog Design

I started this blog in March of 2015 on a whim. And I've grown to love this space I've created.  I want to grow it and not monetarily but post and content-wise.  I'm still trying to find my voice and figure it out but I want to put a better effort into it.  I decided early on that once I reached a year of blogging, I would invest in a custom blog design and I can't wait.

+ Go on More Weekend Adventures This Summer & Plan Our 2017 10th Anniversary/Rose's 30th Trip

My big weekend adventure goal is a long weekend in Arcadia National Park. Our winter trip this year was delayed because of my job change so Winter 2017 it is. Any thoughts?

+ Read 5 Classics in 2016 & Re-read His Dark Materials Series

I'm not setting a reading number goal this year.  I'm just going to read as much as I can, same as any year.  I thought I would switch things up and I have a whole shelf of classics waiting to be read so maybe I'll discover a new favorite.
 
And my one word for this year?
When I think about this year and all the things I want out of it, most of all I want to just have fun. I want to be carefree and enjoy life. I want to enjoy loving and being with Errol. After all, this is the last year of my 20's and no, this is not the last you'll hear about it.
What is your biggest goal for 2016?


 
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