Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Book Survey

Hey everyone!

I did this survey last year and thought I'd do it again this year! I found the survey through Ginger (last year) but originally posted here. :)

Number Of Books You Read: 62
Number of Re-Reads: 16
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy YA, I think

 best-YA-books-2014


1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
Somehow not as hard this year? I still read a lot this year, but I think most were just OK. I think two of my favorites were Moloka'i by Alan Brennert and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen. I only kept reading because I loved her mom.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2015?
Maybe Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. I read two memoirs by brothers right in a row - Burroughs' brother's first -- Look Me in the Eyes by John Elder Robinson. Robinson has Asperger's syndrome. When I read Burroughs' book second, I was amazed to hear about his childhood and how much his brother didn't notice or didn't include in his own book. It was interesting.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2015?
I strongly suggested Pat and Anna read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I know Pat did, I don't know if Anna did.

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
THIS IS SO MUCH AT ONCE. I only started a couple of series in 2015 that I chose to continue reading, so I guess I'd say Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. It has a lot of weird religious stuff in it, but not specifically a certain religion. I thought it was a good "chosen one" type of hero story. I'm going to skip sequel and say the best series ender was probably Bitterblue, finishing the Graceling series by Kristin Cashore. I also like Winter by Marissa Meyer but at the same time thought everything wrapped up too neatly.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
I was going to say Jojo Moyes but that was technically in the end of 2014. I guess there's no one I really discovered this year whose work I'll seek more of. I really did like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, but it looks like her only other published work is a series of ten-sentence short stories and I'm not sure I'm into that.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
My True Love Gave to Me is a book of short stories, which I haven't really read since my classes in creative writing. They're all YA contemporary or fantasy, though, which is my normal. Cloud Atlas is out of my normal wheelhouse, I guess.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Winter by Marissa Meyer

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read in 2016?
Harry Potter. Always. ;)

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle



11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Rachel from Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert (I really liked this one!)

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Moloka'i was really on my list forever because none of my libraries had it! I also had Life of Pi forever before I read it.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
Nothing sticks out -- I don't think I'm really a note taker.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
According to Goodreads, and not counting rereads, longest was Winter by Marissa Meyer at 824 pages. Shortest was Delirium Stories, a collection of short stories from characters in Lauren Oliver's Delirium series, 208 pages.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Didn't we already do most surprising?

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar = favorite couple pair)
Simon and Baz, I guess? From Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I also really liked lots of the couples in My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
I'm not sure I have one for this? Maybe Penny and Simon and Baz, also from Carry On. That's the only friendship that's sticking out.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
I don't think she actually recommended it, but I remember Kate reacted strongly to Girls Like Us by Gail Giles, so I checked that one out

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
I don't think I have one? Maybe a boy from My True Love Gave to Me. North or Russel, maybe?

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
I don't even know which books I read are debuts. I'm not book-bloggy enough.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
My True Love Gave to Me 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
Moloka'i, most certain.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Not sure what this question means?

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Made You Up by by Francesca Zappia  and, obviously, Moloka'i

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

.

book-blogging

I'm going to go ahead and skip this section since I'm not a strictly "book" blog and I was a ish blogger this year. Weeeeeeeeeee!


looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?
I need to freaking finish two books I started this year and didn't push through - Stephen King's On Writing and I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. Actually, I want to give up on that one, but I've read so much of it already...

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
I don't really know about debuts before they happen

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
The Raven Boys series

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
I am not that privileged. 


If you're a big reader -- tell me your answers for a couple of these!






Friday, September 4, 2015

Book review: My Name is Brett

My Name is Brett by Brett Ray

Description from Brett's website (below) can be found here along with other responses from early readers. 

My Name is Brett: Truths from a Trans Christian is the story of a transgender Christian finding his name, voice, and strength. The book holds humorous stories of his upbringing, tough stories of addiction, and the stories of hope he has found in his transition. It centers on his journey toward his name—Brett—and how foundational finding and being called Brett is for “naming” the big truths in his life. A transition is never easy, and the book refuses to water down the difficult complexities of being transgender. But, it simultaneously refuses to deny the continually regenerating hope found in loving family, friends, recovery, and in the ability to tell one’s story honestly and boldly. Most simply put, My Name is Brett: Truths from a Trans Christian is a love story; it’s a love story about a man finally falling in love with himself.

Disclaimer: Brett is a friend of a friend and sent me an advanced reader's copy of his book in exchange for me reviewing it here and on other platforms.

More and more, transgender men and women are stepping into the public eye. Most recently, Caitlyn Jenner famously came out, but before that, the world was already getting to know Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Geena Rocero and more wonderful transgender celebrities.

I've previously read and reviewed Janet Mock's memoir, but Brett's book, My Name is Brett, is the first I've read from a trans man. I was excited to get to hear his perspective on his transition and his life as a Christian, trans man.

Brett's book is an honest retelling of his thought process throughout much of his transition -- from the day he realized he was transgender, through picking his name, through the days when he would forget his own name and be corrected by friends. This play-by-play of his transition makes My Name is Brett an awesome read for anyone who knows someone transitioning or knows someone who is transgender and wants to understand more what that process feels like.

Though Brett's experiences are only his own, and not truly representative of the entire trans community, his story conveys the importance of supporting trans people in whatever way they need support. His story shows how calling someone by their right, true name can be a life saving act. It allows cis (non-trans) people a peek into the mind of someone transitioning and allows us to have true understanding and empathy for someone going through something we may never experience ourselves.

Brett's story also tackles the tough topic of the physical changes someone may or may not choose to go through as they transition. As you hopefully know, it's rude to ask someone about their physical transition -- it's a very personal topic! -- but Brett shares some of his thoughts and feelings behind his choices.

I was moved by Brett's story, by the affect a supportive person could have on his transition and his mental health, and by his ability to understand and empathize with his family and friends' varied reactions. Although a gender transition is a very foreign experience to any cis person, Brett's story makes it relateable and close to home. His honesty and openness made the emotions of transitioning real to me, even though I've never experienced anything like it.

I would recommend My Name is Brett to anyone who wants to know more about the experience of transitioning -- even if you're not a person of faith, even if you're not transitioning, even if you don't know anyone who has.

My Name is Brett officially comes out (haha... see what I did there?) September 9. If you're in the Durham, NC area, he's having a release party September 8 and you can get an early copy! Brett's book is not officially on Amazon yet, but I'll update this review when it is -- it will be available hard copy and in kindle version.

Thoughtful comments and responses only please! :) I don't worry about my normal readers, but if anyone were to post hateful content, it would be deleted.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"So, are you married yet?"

Pat and I have been engaged for 15 months this Saturday.

FIFTEEN MONTHS.

I have been engaged the whole time I've known everyone I work with, so every time I talk to some colleagues, they ask if I'm married yet, or when the big day is or something wedding related. Since I've worked here, TWO coworkers have gotten engaged and married.

The wedding is just under a month away. And I don't think I've blogged a single thing about it? (Not that I have blogged a single thing about anything lately.)

So here's where we're at:

--I used this project for Save the Dates (way back in November and December!) They're super cute and since I printed them myself at FedEx and recruited the fam to put them together over Thanksgiving, they were cheap and easy. Win/win/win.

--Invitations are out! We worked with Andrea at SoulPress, who designed a BEAUTIFUL invitation suite just for us. She's working on other stuff for the wedding now -- table numbers, signs around the event, etc, so it'll all be matchy matchy. Andrea and her team area also my wedding planners / coordinators and I am so grateful for their help since 99% of the time I don't know what the heck I'm doing.

--RSVPs are currently at a stand still :( but had been trickling in before that. It's exciting to actually know who is going to be there! Sad too, obviously, when we hear about people who can't make it. But it's easier to imagine the actual wedding now that we know some of who will be there!

How am I doing?

Overall, not freaking out yet. Probably TOO relaxed. I am SO TIRED of planning that I don't even care about some of the details anymore. I just want it to happen! I want to party! I want to see my aunts and some of my cousins and all my BFFs!

I want to get MARRIED and go on our HONEYMOON.

So that's where we're at. Scrambling for the last minute details that I care a little too little about, counting down the days, and waiting to be married.

How are you all lately?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Must-read books


I made Pat start reading a book I love love love.

(Ok, so I can't actually make Pat do anything. But I did set it on the table in front of him and say "I think you should read this next" and when he finished his book he started reading it next because I told him to.)

And now I have the same kind of nervousness I did when he asked to watch my favorite movie, You've Got Mail, and I had to sit there and watch it with him and sneak glances and gauge his reaction to all my favorite scenes, lines, facial expressions.

(I do have favorite facial expressions in that movie, thank you very much.)

But today, I was thinking about how you can't really predict what someone will think of a book.

I made the mistake of reading the Goodreads reviews for a book I finished recently. I was hooked on it, gave it four stars, couldn't put it down. And it had about a bajillion negative reviews. Some were on point, just things that hadn't really detracted from my enjoyment -- like, yes, it's a flaw in the book, but I still enjoyed it a lot. And it made me question whether my four stars were overkill and was it really a good book and good lord people have told me they read books just because I've reviewed them and then what if they hate them and what will they think of me??


One more anecdote -- another book I love love love is The Book Thief. Love it. In my second year in grad school, someone made a second attempt at starting a book club. (The first attempt had failed the year before after discussing exactly one book.)

The first book the New Book Club picked was The Book Thief and I was stoked. I reread it in preparation. I went to the discussion meeting, which took place in a bar because duh, and discovered everyone had hated it. Most people didn't even finish reading it.

In my head today, before I started thinking all of this, I was making a list of books I think all people should read, or at least start to read and they can put it down if they want. The book I've asked Pat to read, The Scorpio Races, would be on my list. So would the Harry Potter series, though I know plenty of people who don't really like HP.

What would be on your list? Have you known people who read your faves and hated them? I'm curious!

(Pat has not yet finished the book -- he's studying for the CPA tests and doesn't have much time for reading these days, but he'll likely pick it back up after his tests are done.)



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Back to Couch to 5k

Hi friends!

Over two years ago, I posted my eternally most popular post ever: the Couch to 5k plan I used when I very first started running.

That post is clearly the most viewed post I have -- although the competition isn't super fierce. I'm not really a very pinnable blogger. But that post -- or at least the image from it -- has been pinned over 5000 times.

So. I thought I'd quickly revisit it because: Guess what? I've been using that plan again.

I kind of wanted to put it out there that I have completed a marathon and am now being challenged by Couch to 5k and that's ok.

After my marathon, I pretty much stopped running. I ran one 5k about two weeks later. I did a fitness class for a couple months, but just could not bring myself to run.

Then I moved to Colorado. I spent a lot of time eating my emotions and making friends on Netflix. Which, you know, not the best coping mechanisms, but they got me through the winter, which was pretty tough. I was leaving when it was dark in the morning and getting home when it was dark at night. I had little motivation to work out, so I didn't.

A few months ago (I think?), I decided to get back at it. I fiddled around on the stationary bike, elliptical and treadmill at my apartment gym with no real goal in mind. I got my endurance back to where I could complete 30 minutes of exercise.

And then I started Couch to 5k again.

After all that time not running, I have totally no shame in scaling back my running and having to get back into shape. It was basically nine months-ish (10?) of not running and barely working out. OF COURSE I have to start back at the beginning. I would destroy my body trying to jump in at any level other than the beginning.

I think people who work out and especially runners are embarrassed to take a step back. As if because I ran one marathon I will eternally be able to run marathons. Um. No. That was hard as hell.

And right now, Running a 5k distance is enough to make me feel accomplished for the day. Because I've worked to get my fitness back. I have woken up for more 5:30 am workouts than I wanted to. I've done burpees and froggers and planks. I've put in the miles, again.

So if you see me bragging about hitting milestones again when I hit them for the first time years ago. Well. I'm probably going to be just as proud this time through as I was that time.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Book review: I Was Here

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.


First things first: this book deals with suicide. So, if that's something you shouldn't be reading, don't read this book. And maybe also check this out, if you need to.

And also maybe be careful who you recommend this too. (lookin at you Kate) (not because you wouldn't be careful, just a heads up)

Moving on: I Was Here is the story of Cody, who was left behind and shocked when her best friend committed suicide. She didn't see it coming, even a little bit, and begins to question everything about her friendship with Meg, her life, herself.

Parts of this book are really intense. Cody is so shocked that she takes a lot of steps to understand Meg's mindframe -- to try to find the why of Meg's suicide, and it takes her to really dark places. I related to Cody's questioning of how she could not have known this about her friend, questioning how well she actually knew her friend.

Some parts of the book, though, I felt were too light. The relationships that form in the wake of Meg's suicide felt shallow to me -- I wanted more from their development, wanted to see more how that was happening. I think death can bring people together in weird ways, but I Was Here seemed to make people close really quickly in the way that can happen after a death without acknowledging that it's kind of weird and quick and different from normal. So while a lot of the emotions were really intense for me, I didn't always buy the relationships.

I'm trying not to say too much so I don't give anything away. I liked the book, but I think it could have been better.

Have any of you read I Was Here? What did you think?




Monday, April 20, 2015

It's not me, it's you: Retail sizes and shopping


I've already posted about my wedding dress shopping experience, but there's another bit I wanted to mention.

In the runner-up dress -- the dress I aaaaaaaaallllmost bought, the second favorite dress, I was measured at THREE DIFFERENT SIZES.

If I remember correctly, my natural waist was a size 8, my boobs were a size 10 and my hips were a size 14? That might not be right. I don't remember anymore. But the point is that at three different spots on my body, I was measured at three different sizes that actually spanned four sizes because I skipped right over one size -- my hips got big game.

If I had gone with that dress, I would have had to buy it at the largest size and had everything else altered down. (this led to the panic spiral about buying a dress in a different state that needed serious alterations that ended up sending me to David's Bridal, where I bought my dress)

I definitely laughed it off -- the dress sizes were crazy all together. One dress style, a 6 would fit and another dress I was squeezing into a 10 so it was hard to take it seriously.

But it was a GREAT reminder that all clothes -- the super formal and the everyday wear -- are made with arbitrary "average" measurements.

When you can't find clothes in the store, the problem isn't your body -- the problem is the clothes. You are not wrong. Your body is not wrong. Those clothes are just wrong for you.

I started thinking this way after reading this post from thewannabeathlete.

It's not me, jeans that fit my waist but no where else -- it's you. It's not me, wedding dress that has three different sizes appropriate for my one body. It's you.

For sure it's you.

But maybe there is a body out there for you somewhere.

For another look at this, check out these buzzfeed stories! (I absolutely adore Kristin and her facial expressions.)

BTW, the picture has nothing to do with anything. It's just peaceful and pretty.

Hope you're all having a happy Monday!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

App review: Nike Training Club

Hi friends!

A million years ago, Julie from PBFingers posted about the Nike Training Club app, and I immediately downloaded it. Ok, so a million years is an exaggeration, but it is not an exaggeration to say that it took me at least six months before I ever actually did a workout from the app.

Now, though, I've been using it for over a month. Not super consistently -- I've done about 7 workouts on the app -- but enough to know that I should have started using it forever ago. So I wanted to share it with you all in case you're looking for something to up your workout game.

Before I started using the app, I had been out of shape for all of those six months, but I was starting to get base level fitness back on the elliptical and bicycles in my apartment complex's little gym.

(RIP gym. Just found out they're closing it for the next month. So sad.)

I wasn't challenging myself in any way -- I was just putting the time in, but no effort -- and realized pretty quickly it wasn't doing much for me.

So, I tried the Nike Training Club app.

Nike Training Club has several workout categories. When you choose a category, it then asks you to indicate your fitness level. I chose beginner.

After that, you can scroll through workouts. The titles don't really tell you a whole lot, but they do show how long the workout is.
  

Once you choose a workout, it takes you to this screen that shows the time and any equipment you need. You can also click that center icon and see a list of all the exercises. I've found that the equipment list isn't always totally accurate. One of the workouts I've been doing requires a step for tricep dips, and I don't have a step.

When you're looking at the list of exercises, you can edit some of them, not all. So in the picture below, I can choose between burpees and froggers (both are awful) but there's not an alternate for the alternating side lunges.

Each individual exercise has both photos with instructions and a video you can watch to make sure you're doing the exercise right. You can look at all of them ahead of time (I recommend it!) but if you're in the middle of the workout and you forget what the move is, you can watch the video again.

Each individual exercise has a timeframe. There is audio to prompt you from one move to the next. The audio also gives you reminders and hints on how to complete the exercise -- like to keep your weight in your heels on lunges.

It sprinkles in 30-second recovery periods and sometimes gives you 10 seconds in between to get to the next position -- so to go from squats, where you're standing, to pushups, where you need to be on the ground.


OVERALL THOUGHTS
I really enjoy using this app (using the word "enjoy" loosely). Yes, I could do all of these exercises without the app, but the app challenges me to do ones I wouldn't choose myself, it times me, and it makes me do more than I would naturally do in 30 minutes without direction. And it definitely got me to stop just putting in the time and start challenging myself again.

The one complaint I have is the lack of modifications. When I've taken fitness classes, often they'll says something like "If your legs are feeling really tight, bend at the knee a bit more" or "if your lower back is lifting off the ground, stabilize your back with your hands" or anything like that. And, as I said, there are a few where I (surprise!) didn't have the equipment. For most, I can modify on my own -- I've been working out long enough to know a few modifications, and I will sub in weights for a medicine ball, do the exercise without equipment, or sub in a different activity that works the same muscle group. So my experience with this type of workout does help.

There are a couple yoga workouts on here, but you have to have a pretty good grasp of yoga positions to do them, because if you need to watch the video while you're doing the workout, it pauses the workout -- so you can't follow along like you would with a DVD. There's also a 15-minute stretching routine I have yet to try, but might need eventually.

Finally, the biggest endoresement I can give is that these workouts make me sore every day. I think as I'm getting better, I'm able to push myself harder, so that means even though I've been using it a while, it'll keep challenging me -- do more push ups this time. Move from modified push ups to real push ups, etc.



Have any of you used this app or others to expand your workouts? I'd love more recommendations!


Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy birthday Dad!



To my dad

who calls me every morning to help me get out of bed and work out(even though I am a grown ass woman who ought to be able to get out of bed myself)

who is working full time at his job and then going home and working on 100% full fledged art for my future father in law's new home

who texts me countdowns to the next time I get to see Pat

who sends me selfies and pictures of our pets when I'm missing home

who still calls me by my childhood nickname

who uses emojis better than any other dad

who calls me on Sundays, just to catch up

I hope you have the happiest of birthdays!


So sad I'm always far away on your birthday, Wolf. Hope it's a good one.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What they don't tell you about being long distance

Pat just visited for a week++ and it was awesome. In the five birthdays I've had since we've been dating, this was the first one we were in the same state! I decided all I wanted was to eat all the things, so that's what we did.

Anyway, his visit made me think about this whole long distance thing (again). We are in the final countdown of being long distance -- May 1 I fly to Lawrence for my friend Jac's wedding and when I come back, Pat will be with me, moving to Colorado. No mo long distance.

So. Here are some things I didn't expect going into this whole shenanigan. (Is there such a thing as a singular shenanigan? I always hear it pluralized.)



ONE. Skyping can be so much better
The single best thing Pat and I have done to survive being long distance is playing online games while we Skype. About once a week, we Skype and play Dominion with our friend Sam. If Sam can't play, we'll still play Dominion or Cribbage online. We are not very chatty people. If we were straight up skyping or talking on the phone, we would run out of things to say. Sharing an activity while we talk feels so much more normal. 10/10, highly recommend.

TWO. Every visit will seem like a vacation
Meaning you will want to shirk all responsibilities and routine. Meaning you may not work out for a whole week if he visits you over his spring break. Meaning you may gain weight every time you're together because you feel like you're on vacation and can eat all the things and drink a whole bottle of wine. Doesn't work out if you're doing this once a month or more. Not good.

THREE. You may gain weight anyway
Because long distance life is hard, you'll give yourself permission to eat your feelings. Or do whatever unhealthy habit YOU have that you use to cope. Oops.

This is actually a scientific-y thing related to self-regulation. If you're regulating your emotions a lot -- say, missing your partner, working in a job where you can't be yourself, doing a lot of something you don't like -- you use up all your willpower doing that thing you don't like doing. Leaving you no willpower to not eat Nutella straight from the jar. Self-regulation is limited in quantity. Positive psychology, yo.

FOUR. You'll never do the things you plan
Every time we visit each other, I plan a billion things I want to do. And even if it's not a billion, I plan a lot of things I want to do, and my plans usually seem reasonable for the amount of time that we have. Nope. You won't do all the things. Because all you'll want to do is be together in a way that feels normal. Because while you might miss having a partner for adventures (I do), what you'll probably miss even more is having a partner for the every day stuff -- like cooking dinner, watching that movie you've been waiting to watch together, and playing Yahtzee. Pat was just here for a week, and we did not manage to go hiking or to the Celestial Seasonings tour I want to go on. But we did cook together almost every night, watch at least seven movies, and play a million games of Yahtzee. We can adventure later.

FIVE. You will get used to sleeping alone
If you and your partner are the type that share a bed, you will eventually get used to sleeping alone. Which is, you know, good, because you can't spend all your nights alone struggling to fall asleep. However, when they visit -- sleep becomes a struggle bus again until you remember how sharing a bed with a full sized human works.

EDITED BECAUSE I FORGOT ONE -- SIX. You'll probably get each other sick.
One of us aaaalways gets the other sick when we visit. Every. Freaking. Time. It's stupid and awful. We end up being sick the whole time we're together and when the visitor leaves, all you're left with is snot and tissues and cough drops. My mom says we're just not used to each others germs anymore. Stuuupid.


Anyone out there who has been long distance -- anything that surprised you?


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wedding dress shopping!

Is it weird if I don't blog consistently anymore and just pop in when I have something to talk about? Because it's looking like that's what it's going to be.

A couple weekends ago, I picked up my wedding dress. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) It's now hanging in my closet in an opaque bag so Pat won't see it when he's in Colorado. I stare at it -- even though it's all zipped up and I can't even see it -- I sit on my bed and stare at it.

Sheep's gettin real, you guys. We are getting maaaaaaaaaaarried.

So anyway. I wanted to tell you about my experience shopping for a wedding dress! Broken into thoughts. Because.

(This post turned into a much longer post than I expected. Oops! There's your warning.)

ATTEMPTING TO BE NON-TRADITIONAL
I was open to the idea of a non-traditional wedding dress -- meaning either a tea-length dress or a dress off the rack in a department store. I ran into trouble though and ended up getting a traditional Wedding Dress.

When I tried just going to stores like Macy's to look, it turned out they didn't really have white dresses in the middle of winter. Imagine that. And I did want my dress to be white or white-ish -- ivory or champagne or something. I wanted to find the dress sooner rather than later because I knew if I ended up with a traditional wedding gown, it takes time to find and order and alter and all that. So I abandoned the department-store idea pretty quickly.

For the tea-length dress idea, the trouble was that stores don't tend to actually have them on hand -- they are online or in the catalogs, but of the three places we went shopping, I think I found one or two tea-length dresses -- that was it. So since they didn't work for me, that was it for that idea. I didn't want to order a dress without trying it on, so that meant no online orders.

Moral of the story: if you have more patience than I do or more faith in ordering dresses without trying them on, this might work for you. Otherwise...

BOUTIQUE VS. DAVID'S BRIDAL
I went to three places -- two boutiques and then finally David's Bridal. My experience at each place varied, but the boutiques were definitely similar to each other. Still, I ended up getting my dress from David's Bridal. The boutiques were better experiences, but I don't know if that's just because I didn't like my salesperson at David's Bridal. Has anyone else gotten theirs at David's Bridal? My lady was VERY sales-y and kind of fake. But I didn't have that experience buying my bridesmaid dress for Simone's wedding at a different location, so maybe it was just her.

GETTING NAKED WITH A STRANGER
Even if you go with bridesmaids and/or your mom, be prepared to get VERY friendly with a stranger. At the first boutique, the girl helping me said I could have my sisters do it instead, but it was easier to work with her since she knew how the dresses worked. At the second place, I wasn't allowed to put the dresses on myself -- the girl had to be the one to get me in and out of the dress (which for most dresses I needed help anyway). And at David's Bridal, I was by myself, so I never had the option of someone else helping me.

So be prepared to be pretty nakedy with a lot of people when you go dress shopping.

STRAPLESS BRAS
All of them offered me a strapless bra to try on with the dresses, which I didn't need, but I guess it's cool they had the option? The second boutique offered me a slip so I wouldn't be quite so naked with a stranger. David's Bridal was actually pretty pushy (again, might have just been my lady) and I ended up wearing one of their bras -- I think because they're hoping I'll buy it.

GOING IT ALONE
It's maybe smart to go by yourself to at least one appointment. I went to the first boutique when my family visited me in Colorado, the second when I was home for Thanksgiving, so I had my family/friends/bridesmaids/someone with me at both the boutiques. I wanted them to be there when I found my dress. But I'm a very empathetic person, so if they got excited about a dress, I think I got more excited about it than I would have otherwise. So when I went to David's Bridal by myself, I was a little sad that I was by myself, but I knew when I loved my dress that I loved it.

BRING A SELFIE STICK IF YOU HAVE TO
For the love of Jim, have someone take pictures of every dress you like. The very first boutique we were thisclose to buying a dress, but we left without buying it so I could think about it. The more I looked at the pictures of it, the more I knew I didn't want it to be my dress. (It was like, half a size too small. I would have had to buy all kinds of spanx and hope that it smoothed me out and made it look like my size.) Without the pictures, I probably would have bought the dress -- the issues revealed by the pictures were harder to see in real life. But this is probably going to be the single most photographed moment of my life, so I want a dress that's flattering in person and in photos.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas 2014

The holidays were a bit weird round these parts.

Despite hours and hours of Christmas-music-listening logged since October (yes, October), it didn't really feel like Christmas Eve as I boarded a plane to get home for Christmas. I think partially because I didn't really have the budget to buy presents this year, and gift giving is my favorite, and because I didn't really have anyone here in Colorado to Christmas with.

Then, as we drove to my hometown from the airport, my mom filled me in on my grandma's health which, to be short, was quickly deteriorating.

My grandma ended up passing on Christmas. Our planned Christmas dinner ended up being cooked 100% by me and my little sister -- which is funny when you consider I haven't eaten meat in 10 years and was in charge of the Christmas ham -- and eaten in shifts on couches instead of as a full holiday dinner.

So the holidays were a bit different this year.

After Christmas, Emily was able to come home, too, and all of us worked on putting together a memorial service for my grandma, including a 15-minute slideshow that got applause at the end (thank youuuu).

If there's one thing I'll remember from this trip home, I think it's the hours of combing through old photos -- Grandma's and ours -- to put together a tribute to her life. We all picked the photos, Emily digitalized them using an app, I put them into a powerpoint, my mom gathered music, and Anna combined the music and made it match the timeline in the pictures.

If you're interested, here is the slideshow. It moves really slowly because we wanted all the old folks to have time to read the caption and appreciate the photo. Also, it's 15 minutes long. So, you know, don't feel obligated. I think it's really neat but, duh, it's my grandma.



So. Anyway. All this is why you haven't seen any cheery happy Christmas or New Years posts from me. As ever, I am hopeful to blog more consistently. But you know. We'll see.

Hope you got to spend some time with someone you love this holiday season.






PS - I've turned the comments off on this post. I appreciate all of you anyway. :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Because apparently all I write about anymore is books

I thought I'd do a look back at 2014 in books.

Yes?

(If your answer is "no," please feel free to click away now :)

I'm using a survey I found through Ginger but originally posted here. :)


reading-stats-2014

Number Of Books You Read: 81
Number of Re-Reads: 21 (holy wow!)
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary YA, I think? Some realistic fantasy thrown in there?

 best-YA-books-2014


1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Holy cow that's hard. I think my favorite that wasn't a reread was probably The Host by Stephanie Meyer or one of the Raven Boys books by Maggie Stiefvater

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
Maybe Raging Star, by Moira Young. It ended the Dust Lands series in ways I did not expect.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
Probably Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell. I loved Fangirl. Also got my mom and little sister to read the Lunar Chronicles series, Marissa Meyer.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
THIS IS SO MUCH AT ONCE. I'll just say two best series(es?) were The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater and The Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Rainbow Rowell

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I read pretty broadly, so that's a tricky one for me. I don't read much that isn't YA, though, and I read and loved One Plus One by Jojo Moyes.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read in 2015?
Any of the Harry Potters since I plan to re-read them as soon as I get back to Colorado

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Maggie Stiefvater and The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton



11. Most memorable character of 2014?
I feel like this survey is definitely affected by what I've read more recently, because everyone from the Raven Boys series is sticking out. Before that, though, probably Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Redefining Realness, Janet Mock

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
Cinder. I judged it too harshly by the description and didn't think I'd like it. Clearly, I did!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
Nothing sticks out -- since I read mostly during my commute and mostly library books, I don't have much opportunity for note taking. Or maybe I'm just not a note taker. 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Longest was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 870 pages according to Goodreads
Shortest was Finding Cinderella, 90 pages according to Goodreads

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Didn't we already do most surprising?

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar = favorite couple pair)
Maybe Cath and Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Or, let's be real, Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter. I also really like the idea of Blue and Gansey in The Raven Boys.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Cath and Reagan from Fangirl.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Host by Stephanie Meyer

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
The Host  and One Plus One

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
All the boys in The Raven Boys.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
I don't even know which books I read are debuts. I'm not book-bloggy enough.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
If we're just talking new books, I loved the world building in Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Slowly, slowly revealed. But, if we're counting rereads, always always Harry Potter and The Hunger Games

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Probably Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
The Host. I think it's the only one.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Not sure what this question means? But I'll use it as a chance to plug The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. More people should read that book.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Maybe Allegiant by Veronica Roth, but not for the reason most people were crushed by it.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Fire, Kristin Cashore. Sequel to Graceling. I really like that world.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
I was mad at Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. I thought it had a great premise but it was just a really annoying book.

.

book-blogging

I'm going to go ahead and skip this section since I'm not a strictly "book" blog and I was a ish blogger this year. Weeeeeeeeeee!


looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
I have Bitterblue, the third in the Graceling series, on my Kindle, so I'll probably end up reading that first in 2015.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
Sarah Dessen's next, Saint Anything, because, Duh.

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Again, I'm not ingrained enough in the bookish world to really track debuts and whatnot, but I did see a description for Vivian Versus the Universe, which I originally saw called Vivian Apple at the End of the World, and it looks pretty good.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
The Raven Boys and Cinder series(es?)

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
I am not that privileged. 


Hope you all are doing well. Hopefully I'll post soon with a life update. Holidays were kind of weird in these parts, but Pat comes to visit for a week tomorrow, so I'm really excited about that!

If you're a big reader -- tell me your answers for a couple of these!










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