Friday, September 28, 2012

Book review: Bittersweet

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances... a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life... and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last...

Before reading Bittersweet, I'd already read Ockler's first novel, Twenty Boy Summer.

And I gotta say, I liked Bittersweet so much more!

I didn't dislike Twenty Boy Summer, but I think the characters were a little young for me. So onward to Bittersweet!

1. Bittersweet has a lot of awesome themes in it. Hudson, the main character, is secretly practicing ice skating, her former dream, and is also trying to juggle working in her mom's restaurant, a newfound social life, preparing for a huge competition, and (also secretly) coaching the boys' hockey team at her high school. Not to mention trying to stay afloat in classes.

So I think Hudson's story was really easy to relate to -- who hasn't tried to do everything all at once?

2. The characters are awesome. Like I said, Hudson is easy to relate to. Her friend Dani is awesome and the kind of girl you want to be friends with. Her little brother is the most adorable little brother I can think of in any book. And there are some cute boys, too.

3. It wasn't all sunshine and roses for me, though. There were a lot of moments when I was mentally berating Hudson for what she was doing. Some of that is good -- as in, it was a device used by Ockler -- but some of it I think I just wanted to understand more why the character was doing what she was doing. Like when she messes around with one boy when she doesn't even like him. Annoying, but could be a plot device if I'd understood better what she was thinking and feeling.

4. The romantic plotline ends in the very last pages. Which I didn't like for some reason. I didn't hate it either, but having it as the very last thing almost made it feel rushed to me. But maybe that's just me as a writer, not as the average reader? I don't know. I was pretty satisfied with what happened, but I might have liked some more detail and time in the resolution.

Overall, though, I really liked Bittersweet and I gave it four stars on Goodreads! It was one of the books I took to read on the beach and was definitely one of those ideal beach reads you always hope for.

Have any of you read Bittersweet? I'd love to hear what you think!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [9.27.12]

Hey friends! Another round of Thursday Thoughts with Sar :)

This weekend I'll be going on a retreat with the leadership program in my department at KU! It'll be 34 sophomores and juniors and I am PUMPED. (I almost wrote pimped, which would have been funny, but not correct.) On the agenda: s'mores, mafia, YAH, and more!

I just participated in a blog swap for fall! My sweet partner sent me these lovelies:

I've already used the hand lotion about 639127 times. I almost wore the earrings today, but then I changed my outfit. Womp womp. But soon!

Also, because fall is my favorite and snail mail is my other favorite and who doesn't love surprises and presents, I signed up for another fall swap over at Life of Meg! Sign up for this one is open till Tuesday (I believe) if you're interested!

These last couple of weeks seem to have been pretty hard on everyone. I've seen a lot of bloggers say they have a lot on their mind or are burnt out or need prayers.

If this is you, keep on keepin on! You'll make it through. Promise.

If things are going well for you, maybe you can cheer someone else up? :) Spread the blogger love!

My anniversary with Pat is coming up. I asked him over the summer if he wanted to do presents or an adventure and he picked adventure. But we have planned nothing. Currently we're thinking we'll go camping? I asked him if he'd be bored without lots of other people there, because last time we went camping in a big group and I have this awful vision of us sitting in silence in a tent. But it could should will be fun, right? We like camping!

(if you have any other ideas, though, feel free to let me know :)

I like pretty sunsets :)

Happy almost weekend, friends!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pay it forward challenge!

Hey friends!

I found this on Amber's blog last night and thought it was really fun! Basically, it's a pay-it-forward type of dealy. The first three people that comment on this post will receive a gift from me within a year, and they'll post it on their blog and send something out to three people! Fun, right? 
To receive your present you have to play along. Spread the love on your own blog promising to send a little special something to the first three people who comment on your post.

You get three days to re-post, or I’ll move on to the next person. Please only comment if you’re willing to pay it forward!

If you want a gift from me in the next year (maybe store-bought, maybe made just for you) please comment with your e-mail address, blog URL and three random facts about you so I can get to know you a little better.

Ready. Set. Comment!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

DIY wall art (boy-roommate approved)

Hey friends!

Remember that weekend I skipped the football game? This is one of the things I did instead:

It was inspired by this pin:

                                                                         Source: via Abbey on Pinterest

and, like everything I do off Pinterest, was super easy. Here's how:

Canvas(es). I got four on sale at Michael's for $10!
Cheapo acrylic paint -- I used the kind that's like 59 cents a bottle at Walmart
Foam brushes
Thin painter's tape (like the blue kind)

A note on the paint: I accidentally bought the red in glossy, but decided to use it anyway. Pat likes the glossy finish, but I liked the others better. I thought the red/glossy was streaky and it's definitely shiny.

You'll also notice I selected KU colors. That was part of my plan to make it boyfriend and boy-roommate approved. But I think lots of different colors would be lovely. :)

Step one: Paint the canvas white. My canvas started out white, but I am glad I painted it anyway because it made touch-ups easier.

Step two: Put the tape on your canvas in however many lines you like. I did fewer lines than the inspiration pin.

I also tried to have the tape pretty tight. If you look at the inspiration pin, their tape was looser and the paint got underneath, but I wanted clean lines.

Step three: Paint as many coats as you like! I did three.
Step four: Remove the tape -- paint should be tacky-ish for this step; not dry yet, but a little bit after the freshest coat is applied -- and touch up lines with white paint as necessary.

Step five: Let dry and hang!

I'm pretty happy with the final product! (Sorry for the crappy photos, but I think they get the point across :) People comment on them when they see them, and they're much better than the big empty wall we had before!

What do you guys think? Have you done any easy DIYs lately?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book review: Insurgent

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. This is a sequel, so my review may have spoilers to the first book, which I reviewed here. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Insurgent was not as great as Divergent, for me.

I still liked it, and I read it quickly, but I definitely didn't get sucked in like I did with Divergent.

Insurgent develops a lot of the relationships we see in Divergent. Tris and Four grow and change now that they're outside of Dauntless. But the focus isn't just on them, which is good. This isn't a romance series, after all.

The relationships between the factions (and the factionless) are also developed much more in this book. And that is really cool -- to see what Amity, Candor and Erudite are like, since we've seen Dauntless and Abnegation. We get to see how they all work and learn more of the minor differences, like what colors they wear and how they style their hair and whatnot.

Tris also has to deal with everything that happened at the end of Divergent -- with her parents and Will, especially. We see Tris grow through her guilt and grief, and it's obvious she has changed, not simply moved on.

There is also a lot of action. But what I remember more about Insurgent is the development of Tris and the world she lives in.

Like the first book, this one makes you think a lot about where you'd be placed and how you'd react to what's happening. And whether you'd be a divergent, too -- and if that's even something you want to be.

Insurgent isn't a filler book. I didn't love it as much as the first one, but it is very good, develops the characters and advances the story.

And it got me psyched for the third book.

Has anyone else read Insurgent? It has a lot of awesome reviews on Goodreads. What did you think?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [9.20.12]

Hey friends! Linking up with Sar for Thursday Thoughts. I have a feeling this one will be short and sweet. Here's what's up.

I painted my nails this week. The polish was a freebie from a company that came to the KU career fair this week, so I didn't take a picture of me holding the bottle like what you'd find on Pinterest. But this is what it looks like:

How awkward is it to try to take a picture of your hands? Maybe that's why people started that whole holding the bottle thing.


I asked Pat what he thought of my red nails and he said they were "fancy-shmancy." :) I liked it.

I've been meaning to write more about what it's been like to move in with Pat, and to write about what it's like living with three boys. I'll get to it. But for now, here's a peek into my life, pretty much daily.

That's Pat. Playing Call of Duty. It happens a lot. Sometimes (a lot of the time) he plays with Sam and they yell back and forth between our bedrooms. Serious bromance, guys.

This weekend is going to be woah homework time. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have read that I bombed my first paper hardcore and have to rewrite it. I also have a paper due Tuesday and another one the following Thursday. Yikes. But Pat and I have plans for a study break to see Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Have any of you seen it? I'm excited.

Well, I think that's all folks. How are you all doing? It's almost the weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ooey Gooey Butter Bars

Hey friends!

I've got another new recipe for you! I found it here at Kevin & Amanda. Here is their picture of the finished product.


Also, super easy. Because that's really the only kind of recipe I do.

Here's what you need:

A box of yellow cake mix
1lb of powdered sugar (2lbs pictured)
8oz cream cheese, at room temperature-ish -- I used 1/3 less fat
A stick of butter, melted
3 eggs

That's it!

Preheat your oven to 300 and grease up a 9x13 pan.

Mix the cake mix, melted butter and one egg into a crumbly crust. Like this:
Then press it into your pan. Like this:
I spy my finger prints :)

Then mix everything else together (the cream cheese, the powdered sugar, and two eggs) and pour it on top of the crust. Like this:
Then bake. Kevin & Amanda say bake at 300 for 40-50 minutes or until it's golden brown on top. That didn't quite do it for me -- I kept running up and down the stairs to add more time. (Maybe killed some of the calories of eating it?) But I'd say keep an eye on it and pull it when it looks golden-y :)

It was a unanimous winner in our house. Pat and Sam approved! And me too. :)

Have any of you made these before? Soooo yummy! :) Happy baking!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Life lately

Hey guys.

I've been kind of awful at keeping you all updated lately, haven't I?

So here's some stuff that's been going on.

My sister (not pictured. obviously. that's Pat on the left and Sam in the middle) signed up to be a foster mom through our local humane society. Two Thursdays ago she got these adorable five-and-a-half-week-old kittens. They were given several names, but Pat, Sam and I named them Winston (left, grey) and Karl/Carl (right, black).

We met them two Fridays ago for the first time and all fell in love and talked very seriously about adopting them before discovering our landlord won't let us. Boo.

Then, early last week, we got some awful news. Carl died. The humane society said it was "failure to thrive," which is apparently common in young animals separated from their mothers.

Pat and I have visited Winston since then and he seems to be doing alright. He's lonely, but once he's out of his crate and with people, he plays and purrs and seems very happy. So everyone cross your fingers for Winston!

I'm so busy. Seriously. I don't remember the last time I constantly had so much to do (or so much I should be doing, as is the case right now...) I'm never caught up on reading, soon I'll have real papers due, and I've been up to my ears in planning an event that happens tomorrow. I'll be so relieved when that's over, though, that hopefully the rest will seem easy!

We bought a fish.

His name is Omsoc and I think he's much lovelier in person than in this picture. He has quite a personality. For a fish, anyway.

As you may have noticed, my blog got a bit of a facelift. :) The lovely miss Sarah Grace designed my header/buttons and was just wonderful. I love the new look and am so thankful for her help!

I went to the KU vs TCU game this weekend. We were not as bad as expected, but we still lost. But look! People parachuted onto the field!

I tried kickboxing!

Which means I got to cross it off my 24 before 24 list!

It wasn't hardcore kickboxing -- more like an aerobics version. But there was kicking and punching so I'm counting it. :)

Sarah and Amber were also kind enough to nominate me for the Versatile Blogger award! Thanks, ladies! I'm not at all surprised that either of them were nominated -- both are pretty amazing bloggers. (seriously, did you see Sarah's post about the party she threw? Ah-may-zing. And Amber is one of the kindest, most lovely blog friends you could ever meet.)

My wonderful friend Simone visited me this weekend! We didn't get any pictures (or, more like, I didn't want to be in pictures because I've been sick for two weeks and sick doesn't look good on me) but I was very very happy to see her. Now if I could just make it out to her place someday...

Sometimes you really just need to spend time with someone who knows you and loves you. Simone's visit was good for my heart.

Amy wrote this post and I think it's wonderful. I recommend you check it out.

I think that's it for now. Coming up this week: A super yummy, super easy recipe! I know you'll love it.

How is your week looking? Tell me about it! I hope it's delightful!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Book review: Stupid Fast

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

My name is Felton Reinstein, which is not a fast name. But last November, my voice finally dropped and I grew all this hair and then I got stupid fast. Fast like a donkey. Zing
Now they want me, the guy they used to call Squirrel Nut, to try out for the football team. With the jocks. But will that fix my mom? Make my brother stop dressing like a pirate? Most important, will it get me girls-especially Aleah?
So I train. And I run. And I sneak off to Aleah's house in the night. But deep down I know I can't run forever. And I wonder what will happen when I finally have to stop.

Thoughts while reading this book went something like this:

1. Why does he keep comparing himself to a donkey?
2. Wait, now he's a squirrel?
3. Are all boys this weird?

The first chapter was a bit confusing for me. Maybe it would have been better if not on audio. But from there on, the book just got better. Promise.

I think the description to this one is pretty misleading, though. First of all, this line: "Most important, will it get me girls." I don't like books, usually, where all the character wants is popularity/boys/girls. Felton NEVER seems concerned with it, really. I mean, he gets more popular and it affects him, but it's never his motivation for doing anything he does.

Secondly, the description barely mentions that his family is going cuh-razy. And really, that's what makes this book super engaging and unique. Poor Felton's life falls apart all at once, and we just get to watch how he handles or doesn't handle it all.

I loved Felton's voice. It really made me wonder if all boys are that crazy, but he is so so funny. Maybe even laugh-out-loud funny a couple times. Like how he calls his brother Andrew a pirate. Which, by the way, I also loved Andrew, and think the relationship between the two boys is just spot-on perfect. All the characters were really dynamic and fresh -- definitely not characters I've already seen.

I ended up loving this book, despite my initial concerns, and highly recommend it.

Have any of you read Stupid Fast? What did you think?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New books! New music!

Hey all! I thought I'd share the books and songs you all recommended to me during the giveaway I had a while back! (if you missed it, some of the entries were to recommend a book and to recommend a song) That way everyone can come away with something, right? :)

If you'd prefer I not link to you, please let me know!

Tristan recommended The Yada Yada House Series, Where Do I Go?
Kate recommended The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Brianna recommended I read anything by Emily Giffin (I think?)
Alyx recommended Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Katrin recommended Hakan Nesser's crime novels
Genna recommended Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess
Amy recommended Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Breenah recommended anything by Scott Westerfield or L.A. Meyer
Sar recommended The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
Tamara recommended the Dreamhouse Kings series by Robert Liparulo
Sarah recommended The Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig
Shauna recommended Life of Pi
and finally, Simone and Cassy both recommended Water for Elephants, which is funny because I know both these girls in real life and I loooved that book!

Tristan recommended Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem
Kate recommended Pistol by Dustin Kensrue
Brianna recommended anything by FUN
Alyx recommended Good Time by Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City (love this one!)
Katrin recommended Apply Some Pressure by Maximo Park
Genna recommended I Am Me by Willow Smith (with the disclaimer not to judge her by her looks :)
Cassy recommended Still Fighting It by Ben Folds
Amy recommended Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars
Breenah recommended this lovely gem :)
Sar recommended Bad by The Cab (with the disclaimer that she is a good girl, but the song is really catchy :)
Tamara recommended Misty Blue by Dorothy Moore
Sarah recommended Good Night by Gloriana
and Shauna recommended All My Love by Led Zeppelin

I thought this was a really fun way to enter the giveaway -- almost all of these songs and books are new to me! And now you all get fun recommendations too!

Have a wonderful day, loves!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Book review: Stay

Stay by Deb Caletti

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Clara's relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it's almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is— and what he's willing to do to make her stay.

Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won't let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough....

Abuse is not an easy topic to cover.

I think Deb Caletti does a more than fair job of depicting the complex emotions of someone in an unhealthy relationship in Stay.

Stay goes back and forth in time -- Clara now, with her father, in a little beach town where her history can't catch up with her, and Clara then, when she's beginning, and then in, a relationship with Christian. 

The parts in the present show us how emotionally wrecked Clara is. But then the parts in the past show how she got to be in that position, how she justified staying in an unhealthy relationship, how all the tiny decisions led up to this monumental breaking point, how small acts in their relationship led to this huge, awful, scary monster of a relationship.

Though I've never been in an abusive relationship (thank god), I'd imagine that Stay gives a pretty good perspective on what it feels like to be swept away into a romance you think will be your perfect happily ever after and then end up scared, feeling at fault, and wondering how it got this bad.

Stay is not a light read, but I didn't think it was overly intense, either. Or, at least not as intense as the topic could be. There's definitely a lot of happy, particularly with the chapters in the present. Clara is recovering, and a new romance with a very cute, sweet boy begins, and there is a lot of light to balance the heavy.

Which, I think, is so like life.

Have any of you read Stay? What did you think?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [9.6.12]

Linking with Sar for Thursday Thoughts!

1. I like to send mail. Always, but especially when I know someone is having a bad week. Sometimes I see that someone is going through a hard time on their blog and I want to be like, hey, what's your address so I can send you something?

But then I realize how creepy that is and don't.

(if you wouldn't get creeped out by this, you should let me know so that if I ever have the urge to send you something I won't feel creepy...)

2. Also, sometimes in emails, I want to be like, Hey, have a great weekend! But then I feel like that cuts them off. Like maybe they would have kept the conversation going except that I told them to have a great weekend or night or whatever, which implies that I don't expect to hear from them till after their great night or weekend.

3. Obviously I overthink things sometimes.

4. Here's a picture from last weekend's football game (first of the season!). I really really like this picture, even though it's just an iPhone pic and those guys in the background look way intense.

We won! (the game, that is, which is kind of rare for KU football) But I'm already not sure if I want to go to the game this weekend. Sure, they're fun... for the first half. And then I get tired of standing and hungry and hot. And I just don't know if I want to dedicate five hours to the game. (I'm glad I go to KU. If I said that in Nebraska or Alabama or somewhere else, I think they'd kick me out!)

5. Other than the potential football game this weekend, we don't have a whole lot planned. I'm working on a surprise adventure for Pat (woo!) and I'll go to Zumba on Sunday, but hopefully this weekend should be a bit more low-key than last weekend. Which is exactly what I need.

Hope you're all having a wonderful short week! Happy almost weekend, friends!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I need your heeelp!

Hey friends!

I want to start drinking coffee. I'm super busy and super tired! I need the caffeine!

Only problem is I think it is naaaastay.

My mom says she started drinking coffee in grad school, though, and now she drinks it black. So I have hope!

Pat's been giving me some of his coffee, and I attempt to drink it with a ratio of 10% coffee 90% milk and sugar. But even that isn't working.

I'm thinking I should try one of those crazy flavory things.

Anyone have any tips or flavors I should try? Many thanks in advance!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I ran a 5k!

Hi friends!

Well, as you all probably know, I ran my first 5k yesterday! I've been training since mid May, when I started a modified version of the Couch to 5k plan. (Well, technically I finished the training schedule a while ago but I didn't run a race because I was scared to go alone.)

And yesterday I finally ran a 5k!

Before I tell you about the race, though, first I have to tell you about my dreams the night before.

All weekend I'd been planning to go to bed early Sunday night. In the end, I thought I was going to have to take a sleeping pill.

But eventually I did fall asleep.

Until the middle of the night when I woke up and removed the blanket from our bed (and from on top of Pat -- yup, the one he was currently using) because I thought it had fallen into a spider web behind our desk and had spiders on it. He asked me what I was doing and claims I said nothing about spiders or webs, but I'm sure my explanation was actually very logical and coherent.

Then I dreamed that my older sister Emily ran the same race as me and finished in 25 minutes and I was ANGRY at her.

So maybe I was a little anxious about running yesterday.

Anyway. I ran. Pat was nice and came to the race to cheer me on. :)

It felt harder than my normal runs, but I think it might be because I was unfamiliar with the route and couldn't gauge how I was doing.

I finished. I ran the whole time and did not get lost, which were my two big goals. And, my other goal was to finish under 40 minutes.

I finished at 33:41.8 :)

Here's some pictures!

After I ran and after he made me walk around a while :)
Finish line! :)
Any of you wanting to run a 5k?? I was not a runner at all before I started training, so this is pretty exciting for me :)

Have a great Tuesday, friends!


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