Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Favorites: Too Chute Chitty Woo Edition

I've made it no secret around here that I love and am obsessed with my cat. Anyone who knows me, knows this. This month marks the two year anniversary of Chitty joining our family. (See his first anniversary post here) I don't know why he showed up at our house two years ago but I am so happy he did. I totally get why parents are obsessed with their kids and I didn't even give birth to him. I mean, I still don't want kids but I get it just a little bit now. I can be heard multiple times a day asking Errol to look at Chitty because he's being cute. So in honor of finding his forever home and with that, becoming the most spoiled cat, here's my top ten favorite things about Chitty.

+ Even though sometimes if feels like he never shuts up, I love how he meows. He has different ones and I can tell when he's crabby or whiny or just saying hi. My very favorite is when I come home from work, he'll usually come running to meet me at the porch and he meows the whole way. Obviously this means he's excited to see me, duh. 

+ His paws and especially when he cleans them. Also sometimes I give him little foot massages and he splays out his toes but only on his hind legs. He doesn't like his front paws touched. But he does sometimes, if he's real happy and purring, grab your finger with his front paw and it's kind of like he's holding it.
+ When he comes to me over Errol. Sometimes we'll compete over who he'll come to. He doesn't really have a favorite but it's the best when it's me.

+ He's got black hair like his momma. (also I throw up a little every time I call myself that but can't stop won't stop)
+ That he puts up with all my shenanigans. He lets me hold him and tote him around the house, pretty much however I want and he just goes along with it. 

+ When he brings me critter offerings. I don't love picking up after him but I do appreciate the mouse patrol. He's not limited to mice however. He's caught birds, squirrels, moles and even a rabbit. 
+ How he, without fail, knows when I'm eating ice cream and hops up for a bite. Also when we're eating dinner and he thinks he needs a bite, he'll roll around on the floor, doing "tricks" so you'll give him something. We don't keep him people food that often but he does get meat here and there. He's also a fan of string cheese and popcorn.

+ He's potty trained. He doesn't actually use the toilet anymore that I know of but prefers to go outside.
+ When he follows me around. He generally follows me around the house if he's not napping but if I'm outside and call his name, he'll follow me around the yard and stuff and that's my favorite.

+ And most importantly, he completes our family.
Proudly letting my crazy cat lady, freak flag fly since 2014.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ways to Make Cleaning Easier

When I heard about MakeSpace's  4 Week Cleaning Challenge, I was a little apprehensive to say yes, for the simple reason of I HATE cleaning. How am I supposed to talk about something that I dread doing and is the very definition of a chore. If I wasn't cheap and could have a maid come in every day, I would. I want to come home and for my house to be clean and smelling nice without having to be the one making it happen. (To clarify, Errol and I do share the chores) I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like I relax better if my home is clean. Cluttered house=cluttered mind The funny thing is that once you get down to it, cleaning really doesn't take that long. Once you have a routine, it becomes automatic. I can clean my bathroom (less the shower because I disdain this chore with a fiery passion) in under 20 minutes, top to bottom.  I saw Steph post the other day that she sets a timer and does whatever she can in that time allotment. 

MakeSpace's goal of the 4 Week Cleaning Challenge is to help make your dreaded chore list a little easier to handle. When you break down tasks in smaller "bite size" pieces, they don't seem so overwhelming. I practice this daily at work and for the last few years with my home to-do list as well. When I first reviewed their challenge list, I liked how it listed the normal stuff like scrub the toilet and bathroom sink but also the things you always forget or seem to take a backseat; the "I'll do it tomorrow" items. How often do you clean your curtains or wash your kitchen cabinets? This challenge list will remind you to do the big and small chores. The checklist is broken down by week and room which makes cleaning easy to manage.
Click here to download the MakeSpace 4-week Cleaning Challenge Checklist.

While MakeSpace has a more fancy checklist because ya know, graphic designers and stuff, I have a pretty similar checklist that I made a couple years ago. It's certainly nothing special but it gets the job done. Because my house has a more open concept, I find organizing my checklist by room didn't really work for me. I also tend to do one chore over the whole house. I'm not going to sweep/vacuum the kitchen one day and then my living room the next. I broke my list out by daily and weekly chores and chores that need to get done every month or only a couple times a year. I find this works for me and how I clean. 

View and print my free Cleaning Checklist here
MakeSpake also offers self-storage locations  

What tips do you have to make cleaning easier?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set During the Holocaust


It's no secret around here that I love a good historical fiction book. I love learning about the past but also immersing myself in a good story. When I think of my favorite books, it's the books that evoke some emotion or feeling that stand out. If I'm a sobbing mess on the couch or finish a book with a big sigh, I consider that the sign of a good book. Without a doubt, my most favorite time period to read about is WWII, with a focus on the Holocaust. It may be considered dark or morbid to some, to be interested in this and enjoy and seek out books from this period in history but to me, they are the stories that need to be told. We can't forget such atrocities have happened. We must experience them and feel the horror so we can recognize it if such evil shows itself again.

Honorable Mentions:
The Storyteller// Suite Francaise// The Reader// Everything is Illuminated// Skeletons at the Feast 

Linking up with The Broke and the Bookish

Monday, August 15, 2016

Five Things

Travel

Both work and for fun. I love adventures and going new places. In July, I went to Chicago for a work event. Not sure if anyone is familiar with ECRM events but it's kind of like speed dating but with business meetings. You meet with potential clients for 20 minute increments. It was high paced and a very unique experience. Even though it was my first event like that, I kind of liked it better than sitting at a trade show booth. The food wasn't too shabby either. There was bourbon tasting one night and beer the next. The resort we stayed at was right outside Chicago and a colleague and I made it out to the city one night.






A girl I work with is from Chicago and she recommended Three Dots and a Dash for drinks and it was my favorite stop of the night. It's a vintage tiki inspired bar with perfectly garnished drinks made with a salt foam rims and nitrogen. (I seem to be missing the photo I took) We lucked out and found a couple seats at the bar and that made the whole experience. The bartenders were so into their craft and it was great seeing them mix up all the different drinks. They even recommended our dinner spot, Il Porcellino, everything you would expect in a Italian restaurant in Chicago. We couldn't have had better service. We shared the 1000 Layer Lasagna and I'm so glad the server recommended to split because it was such a hearty portion. I got the cute Pellegrino drink there.

Two days later, we took off for our annual canoe trip down the Connecticut river. This was our sixth year and it's a consistently good time with good people. I don't take my phone down the river but I managed to catch a sunset picture.
I booked our hotel for our 10 year anniversary trip to Bar Harbor this weekend. Acadia has been on my list for a few years so I'm excited to final see the rocky coast and go on some hikes. For the first time ever, we decided not to exchange gifts and just treat ourselves to the weekend. Errol doesn't take too much time off from work so we're only going for a long weekend but it will be fun exploring a new place together.

And then the first week in October, I'll be in Phoenix for another ECRM event. I was really surprised to be asked to attend this one as well since we only tend to do 6 or so trade shows a year and this will be my third one. We won't have pretty much any down time in Phoenix but it should be a good time. It looks like the hotel we're staying at has a casino so I might blow a few bucks. I'm not much of a gambler but I'll play some blackjack if it's there. The only bad part is I leave on Errol's birthday so I do feel bad about that. We're planning on spending Friday and Saturday in Boston and I'll fly out from there on Sunday.

Any Bar Harbor or Phoenix recommendations?

Chitty Obsessions

Just over here taking photos of my cat. We recently had another cat nosing around our house. We live in the woods so we don't have a lot of neighbors. I haven't seen this one around before, I'm not sure if he's homeless or not, but we seem to have scared him off. One night it tried to attack Chitty under the porch and then the next weekend they were fighting between the porch door. 



Errol Lovin'

I always start to feel nostalgic and sappy this time of year. We're a month out from our anniversary and this year it's a big one. I remember our fifth one and thinking how far away ten years (a decade!?) sounded away. It's one of those things that we joked about and then next thing we knew, here it is. I've spend a third of my life with Errol. It seems like such an enormous amount of time but just a blink of the eye. I got off easy this year in that we aren't exchanging gifts. This works for me since after so long, it's hard to think of gifts for the guy that has everything. I'll probably make him something sappy just cause though.

His 32nd birthday is in October and I have a pretty good gift up my sleeve. I really like to gift him experiences and because I know he doesn't read here I'm going to spill the beans. I'm gifting him laps in a sports car at a race track. I know he'll love driving a 500 horsepower car around a track as fast as he can.

Flower Admiring

Every year I'm a fool over the flowers that bloom in my yard. They are on their last legs but I'm still savoring everything I can out of them.





Motorcycle Riding

Errol trading in his FZ-07 for the 09. He said the 07 wasn't comfortable and he felt like he was too big for it. This black thing is more his style anyways and it's way more comfortable for me. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

July 2016 Book Review

Well hello there...I can't believe I'm recapping my July reads and that it's already August. Before I know it, it will be Labor Day. The years more than half over and I'm on track to read slightly less books than I did last year. As of the end of July, I'm at 41 books which isn't too bad. I read 86 books last year. I've noticed I average 5-8 books per month which I'm happy with. I'd like to be at 10/month but it's not something that matters too much. I just like the round, evenness of the number.

Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it. Would recommend
3- Decent/solid read.
2- Would not recommend. Barely finished
1- Hard no, DNF. Gave book away.

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah

Rating: 2.5
Courtesy of Netgalley 

The A to Z game. For Ivo, it's a way to pass the time, a way to avoid the pain, and a way to think about what really got him here.
His hospice nurse suggested it. Think of a body part for each letter, and think of memories connected to each one. And so begins the revealing of his misspent life: the terrible teenage choices, friendships made and cracked, love he'll never get back. He remembers the girl who tried to help him, the friend who wouldn't let her, and the sickness that chases him even now.
 
I really have conflicted feelings about giving books negative reviews. I want to be honest but at the same time, someone worked really hard to put something out there for the world to read and criticize. Plus in this case, I was given a book to review and while it is meant to be honest, it kind of stinks when it doesn't work out. I had this on my phone's Kindle app and was reading it since March. That's how I know it wasn't good. In the end, I finished it to finish it. I liked the premise of the A to Z game that Ivo was playing but the whole story was lacking. I think it was semi trying to be about diabetes but it got lost somewhere in the narrative. If part of the goal of the book was to point out how serious diabetes is and how no one takes it seriously, it was too glossed over to make the point. 

Me After You by Jojo Moyes

Rating: 4
Audio

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

I really liked Me Before You, like 90% of the population I bawled my little eyes out to it. (review here) I randomly picked this up and it started out a little slow for me but I ended up enjoying it. It was pretty depressing in the first part but listening to the audio, you really get the dry British humor. Also not to mention that Louisa made me slightly ragey. I don't have patience for characters where you can clearly see the decision they need to make and the path the story is going to go but they take forever to get there. I liked Louisa and Sam's relationship and listening to it unfold. It was sweet. I think Moyes wrapped up the story nicely and it was a solid "light" read.

Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker

Rating: 4

In the tiny town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, the paper mill dictates a quiet, steady rhythm of life. But one day a tragic bus accident sets two families on a course toward destruction, irrevocably altering the lives of everyone in their wake.

Another solid read. I didn't realize until I started reading it that Mercy Snow was set in New Hampshire. I was immediately drawn in. While Titan Falls is a fictional town, it is set in an area not far from here. It features towns and landmarks that I'm familiar with. Baker's writing reminded me of early Alice Hoffman or Sarah Addison Allen. I fell in love with the little girl in the book. It has a pretty decent underdog family that you can't help to root for. 

Covenant by Dean Crawford

Rating: 2.5

When archaeologist Lucy Morgan uncovers a seven-thousand-year-old tomb holding remains alien to our world, she realizes she has stumbled upon something important—something with the potential to rewrite history. But before Lucy can retrieve the remains, she’s abducted. 

I really wanted to like this book but it was totally not what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be more science fiction based but it was more of an action type of story. Part X-Files (which I loved) and part Cussler or Crichton (which I didn't love). This just wasn't my type of book. I found myself getting into parts but largely this book was a no for me. I wanted to know what happened and see the story pan out but I will not be continuing with the series. 

The Fever by Megan Abbott

Rating: 3.5
The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.
The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community. 

Fever was an engrossing read and I was totally into until I got to the ending and I was like really ...? The twist was stupid. Without giving too much away, there's too much of a lead up to something else to then pull this 180 and basically make it nothing. Sorry Megan but you lost me with it. I think I would have been more happy if the thing that you thought was going to happen,  happened.

The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper

Rating: 4

Right after high school, Joe Goffman left sleepy Bush Falls, Connecticut and never looked back. Then he wrote a novel savaging everything in town, a novel that became a national bestseller and a huge hit movie. Fifteen years later, Joe is struggling to avoid the sophomore slump with his next novel when he gets a call: his father's had a stroke, so it's back to Bush Falls for the town's most famous pariah. His brother avoids him, his former classmates beat him up, and the members of the book club just hurl their copies of Bush Falls at his house. But with the help of some old friends, Joe discovers that coming home isn't all bad—and that maybe the best things in life are second chances.

I honestly didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. I read This is Where I Leave You (review here) last year which I was a fan of but kept my expectations low with Book of Joe. Tropper reads like an old friend. This was an earlier book but it still had those same feels that you got while reading Where I Leave You. Joe, like Judd Foxman, takes the self deprecating male lead without making you hate him. Tropper reminds me alot of Butler and Shotgun Lovesongs. Tropper has a way of writing that so perfectly describes life and these feelings and thoughts you think you are the only one to have. Also ugh, Wayne and Sammy, loved them so hard. I bawled so hard at the ending. I'll be working my way through Tropper's other fiction.

Love It: Mercy Snow and The Book of Joe
Leave It: Covenant (however I really think some people would enjoy this book.)
Life According to Steph
 
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