Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Ambitions ll Revisited

I wrote this post at the beginning of 2016 and didn't really think much of it since. Every once and while  it would pop into my thoughts but I wanted to revisit my goals and see how I did and where I want to go in 2017. All in all, 2016 was a good year. I traveled, Errol and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary and I marked my first full year at my new job.

+ 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.
Still working on this one. How do people find their passions? I kinda feel like it's something you fall into or just know, which I don't. 

+ Travel More

On Truly Living:
I did well with this one. I went to Orlando, Chicago and Phoenix all for work related events. Errol and I took a long weekend and went to Acadia/Bar Harbor for our anniversary weekend and visited Boston twice for the weekend.

+Contemplate a Tattoo

Don't quote me on this but something small with either significant person meaning or something bookish.
Still contemplating this one. I'm almost leaning more towards getting my nose pierced...

+ Get Healthy

Eat better and be more active. Regularly. Also hike more.  This year was pitiful. 
LOL....let's just say this was a failure. I will be making this my number one priority in 2017 as I'll be starting my 30's and would really like to be more healthy. I need to make it a priority now or it never will be.

+ 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.
We opened our joint house savings account and have done well adding to it. We did better when we first opened it but I have a plan outlined for us in 2017 to save more, just in general, as I'm hoping 2017 is the year we buy our first house.

+ 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.
Nope. I wrote 60 posts this year which is laughable. I'd really like to focus more on this space and if I do well at that, reward myself with a new custom blog design.

+ 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 Acadia National Park. Our winter trip this year was delayed because of my job change so Winter 2017 it is. Any thoughts?
See above. We went on some weekend adventures and I completed the goal of making it to Acadia. We have booked our combined Christmas/my 30th birthday trip in January and will be flying to Vegas and driving to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Zion National Park which I am extremely excited for.

+ 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.
Well, I read three classics but did not read the Dark Materials trilogy. I'd like to continue reading some more classics even though the ones I read this year were not my favorites.
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.
I think I did a good job with that this year and honestly, having fun is really one of my mottos in life. You only have one life and I want to have fun living it. I want to have experiences and go on adventures and laugh. 

What is one of your goals for 2017?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Best Books of 2016

My reading was slightly down from last years 86 but I'm on my 74th book of 2016 and I'll probably end it with either 75 or 76 books. I listened to 13 audiobooks and read 61 books including three classics. I fell short of my five book goal for this year.  I'm thinking about my reading goals for 2017 and want to continue reading a few more classics as well as revisiting one or two favorites. I like to check in with books I've read before and see if they still feel the same. I also want to read a few more larger books. I always skip over them on my bookshelf but I truly love big sweeping stories that tell a whole history.

I love looking back on the books I read this year and remembering some favorites that I may have forgotten about. I narrowed my list down to ten for this years Show Us Your Books Special Edition.

In no particular order and maybe not necessarily all 5 star books, these are my best books of 2016:

Life According to Steph

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What I Read: November

How is it December already?! I can't believe we are in the last month of 2016. I have the week after Christmas off and I'm counting down the days. Also, we just booked our Christmas/my 30th birthday trip in January and I'm anxiously waiting for that to roll around. I'm excited to go on a new adventure with Errol. We're flying into Vegas and then road tripping to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion and Bryce Canyon. If you have any recs, send them my way!

On to the books!

Loved It:

I didn't know what to expect with this book and I loved it. It had the perfect mix of nerdy linguistics and action. Imagine if you could control people just by saying a word; that certain words contained enough power to kill someone. The story wasn't linear but it also didn't flip back and forth between time periods. It unfolded in a way that told you bits of the story and it wasn't until the end that it all connected. Some people might not like that but I didn't mind it and thought it added to the story. I totally loved Emily and wanted more.
A short but interesting book. I was shocked by the ending. I thought I had it figured out. Historical fiction is my jam and this did not disappoint. I know basic Russian history so I enjoyed learning more about the Tsar and his family. 
Alice is one of my very favorites. I will admit I was disappointed upon opening my Amazon package and seeing how slim the book was. I knew it would be over too quick. But I was happy to see that she was back to her old storytelling. Her latest books have been more historical fiction based but Faithful reminded me so much of her "original" works. I fell in love with Shelby and the evolution of her character. Something about her just resonated with me and it didn't hurt that she was an animal lover. The postcards and how everything happens for a reason.
Gamache #9 - Audio
I'm just so in love with this series. I listened to Beautiful Mystery earlier in the month and that was just so-so for me but this one, ugh! It was just so good. I don't want to say too many things but Rosa, Ruth, Beauvoir and the awesome-ness that is Gamache.

Liked It:

 What a totally fucked up book. I'm just totally shocked and appalled that no one, especially a medical professional, caught on to what was going on. The author was completely alone. If the foster kids get taken away because the place is not fit to live, how can you allow the biological children to stay there? Mothers like Gregory's make my skin boil and the bad part is they don't even know they are doing anything wrong. Part of the book reminded me a lot of Glass Castle in the way the mom and dad were so self involved that the kids were just bystanders. 
Gamache #8 - Audio
This is one of the series that took place away from Three Pines and those ones tend to not be my favorite. I miss everyone in Three Pines. This one took place in a remote monastery and it was really hard for me to keep all the monks straight while listening. It's also where things start to come to a head between Beauvoir, Gamache and Francuir (no idea if I am even remotely close on that spelling!). The whole thing with Beauvoir and Gamache is just breaking my heart. It's hard not to want to just shake Beauvoir and be like wtf are you doing?!
I don't typically gravitate toward essays or short stories but this has been on my list for awhile. Keegan's writing is good and I loved the title essay. Some of the stories were depressing but it could also be because you know the writers fate. I liked that it was split up between fiction and non. I enjoyed Cold Pastoral, Stability in Motion and I Kill for Money.

Leave It:

 I was disappointed with this book. I know it was made into a tv series and I've enjoyed some of Perrotta's other books but man, did this book drag on and on. I do like his writing but the story lost me. The whole book was pretty lack luster and pointless. 
Another personal development book assigned at work. I didn't think much of what Tracy said was inventive. Parts of the book were contradictory. Some of the tricks I already implement because they seem like common sense, like prioritizing your to-do list. It did make for good discussions at work. 

Poll: when you make a to-do list, do you write it down or use an electronic version either an app or something like Excel or Outlook?

Love It:Faithful & Lexicon and always Gamache
Leave It: The Leftovers

Life According to Steph