Friday, August 31, 2012

Book review: Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell

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

Ree Dolly's father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn't show up for his next court date. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.

I grew up on the outskirts of the Ozarks.

I guess, technically, we might be in the Ozarks, but I'm not sure, and I wasn't as country as Ree in Winter's Bone, so I'm gonna go with the outskirts.

I think the fact of growing up so close to the setting of this novel made it way intriguing for me.

Because all through reading the book, it's really easy to forget that this is set in present time. When Ree is hunting squirrels for food and teaching her brothers how to prepare them, it doesn't seem like something that would be happening right now. But then Ree will pull out her walkman and you're reminded that it takes place in the now (although walkmans are old, Ree isn't one who could really afford an iPod, yaknow?).

Winter's Bone gives a picture of life the way tons of people currently live it that many of us have never seen.

Ree is tough. Her mom is not very present mentally and her dad is no where to be found. But even when he is around, it's clear that this girl has had to learn how to survive, how to take care of herself, and how to support two kiddos and her mother while she's at it. Oh, and she's only 16. Pretty sure when I was 16 my dad was still giving me money anytime I wanted to go to the movies.

The story line reeks of desperation, but Ree never really shows it or feels sorry for herself. She just keeps going and does what she has to do. You really get to rooting for her to succeed, even as everything falls apart and it looks like she has very little hope.

The characters are fascinating and real, and very dynamic. A meth dealer could be a very one-dimensional, stereotypical character, but not in this book. You become fond of cookers of Crystal Meth and see them as real people, which is also something many of us don't do often (unless you're my mom, who becomes friends with them as she's busting their labs...). Usually, for me anyway, meth addicts and cookers are just names in the paper or mugshots on the news. The kids are even multi-demensional. Every character in Winter's Bone has at least one surprise up their sleeves that keeps you interested the whole way through.

Winter's Bone didn't become my favorite book in the world. But it did wake me up to a bit of life I'd never have seen otherwise, and shake me out of my middle-class white girl cocoon. I think it's worth the read just for that.

Have any of you read Winter's Bone or seen the movie? I'd love to hear what you thought! Also, here's a fascinating article about how they worked toward accuracy in the movie!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [8.30.12]

Linking with Sar for Thursday Thoughts! :)

1. My first ever giveaway has ended!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congrats Simone! Now we'll have matching bracelets! :)

2. I'm getting nervous already for my 5k. I've been googling average times and worrying that I'll place horribly. I read a story about a man who runs way faster than me and he got 138th! Eeeep!

Of course, my race only had about 80 people registered as of Monday. But I'd really like to not be last across the finish line!

3. I had this for dinner last night and it was Awesome. Seriously already wanting to make it again. I took pictures while I was cooking it, but forgot a picture of the final product. Whoops? But it's seriously so easy, you shouldn't need my pictures.

                                                                                  Source: via Abbey on Pinterest

All you do is cook some pasta (they say penne, but I used rotini) like you normally would, throwing some broccoli in for the last two minutes. Strain that, then set it to the side. They say to reserve some pasta water, but I never remember to do that.

Then, in the same pot you just used, saute some onions and garlic in olive oil till the onions are lightly browned. Dump the pasta and broccoli back in, heat till it's warm, then top with ricotta and nom! I also added lots of parmesan. :)

Like I said, wayyy easy. It also only used one pot! If you click on the picture it'll take you to the pin, or you can go straight to the recipe here. Another bonus: the recipe is written to cook for one! Which is awesome because most recipes aren't, which makes it hard when you only cook for yourself. And if you want to make it for more, it's pretty easy to adjust! :)

4. I'm going to see the new Batman this weekend! We've watched the previous two movies over the last two weekends, so now I'm making Pat take me on a date to see the new one. :)

Other than that, we're going to KU's first football game and maybe playing cards with some friends! And, of course, I'll be running on Monday! (eeee!)

Do any of you have big plans this weekend? Can't wait to hear!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Three things (that turned into four)

Hey friends! Just checking in with a mini life update :)

1. I've been having a lot of trouble remembering what day and time it is and when things happen. I showed up to class half an hour early last night (better than late, right?) and completely confused what day a big event would be on. Which leads me to number two...

2. I registered for a 5k! My very very first event! Eeee! When I signed up I thought it would be on Saturday but it'll actually be on Monday, which is Labor Day. Whoops. But I'm still able to run it!

If any of you are in the area, registration is still open and you can come run with me :) I can even provide a couch to sleep on the night before! (as long as you aren't creepy :)

But really... eeeeeeeeeeee!

3. Lots of you have been asking about how it is to have Pat back/live with Pat. I eventually will probably talk about it, once we're out of the honeymoon, everythingaboutlivingtogetherisperfect phase.But for now, I'm still smiling when I see two sets of towels in the bathroom and two sets of pillows on the bed. :)

Exhibits A and B. His, of course, are blue. :)
And since I was taking a picture in the bathroom anyway...

A bathroom mirror shot! Just for you, Shauna :)
Extra bonus #4! My giveaway is still open. :)

Hope you're all having a great Tuesday! (it is Tuesday, right?)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Holy long description, Goodreads! I cut some to make it fit better. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

...A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings... Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing...

So I've always been a bit reluctant to read the "classics." I read the ones I had to in high school, made a half-hearted attempt at reading 1984 (which I made it halfway through), and called it good.

Then I saw the trailer for The Great Gatsby.

And I had to admit, the story actually seemed kind of exciting. I love that era of US culture. And I was hearing lots of people bemoan all the casting choices. So I decided to read it for myself (and of course, by that I mean I listened to it).

My thoughts:

1. F. Scott Fitzgerald certainly did have a way with words. It's one of those books that if I was reading it, I'm sure I would have marked many pages and gone back to copy down some of the beautiful language.

2. When I think of the "classics" I think long difficult to get through. This might just be because I've been too stubborn to read many of them. The Great Gatsby is neither. It's about cheating husbands, love affairs, the wealthy compared to the rest of us, perception of others, and many other things I could definitely relate to. (Well, I haven't had a cheating husband, but the plotline is familiar. :)

3. I'm not good at pointing out theme, but one of the ideas this book seemed to portray is one of my favorites -- that you can never really know what's going on in someone else's life. Only the parts they choose to show you.

In the end I gave this book three stars. I enjoyed it, but I didn't looove it. I think I might read it again, and actually read it, because I love the way Fitzgerald placed his words and phrases. The writing really is beautiful.

Did I fall in love with the story or the characters? No. Was I entertained the whole way through the book? Yes. So it's probably worth your time.

Plus, you know, it is a classic.

Are any of you huge Gatsby fans? I know they're out there! I'd love to hear what you all think of this one.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [8.23.12]

Hi friends! Checking in today for Thursday Thoughts with Sar :)

1. As you may have noticed, I'm suddenly incredibly busy. Truth is, at my old job, I could blog all day because they just had nothing for us to do. But now, at my new job, I'm pretty all over the place!

To catch you all up, I'm in my first semester of a program in Higher Education Administration to get my masters. As part of that, I have a 30-hour-a-week internship. For non-googleability, I'm not going to tell you exactly where, but it's in one of the professional schools at the University of Kansas. I work in five -- FIVE! -- different departments and have five different bosses!

These first few weeks, they've kind of been trading me around and I shadow and learn from them for a day or a week or whatever. It's a lot of, "once we train you, you'll advise undecided students" and "once we teach you how, you'll be able to..." But for right now, just a lot of following along and learning. I did get to help teach a couple classes though! So that was fun. And my boss said I'm a natural :)

I am going to be in this position for two years, though, so by the end I should know everything. Right?

2. As you might have assumed, being in a masters program also comes with classes. I have three classes each once a week for two and a half hours starting at either 4:30 or 7:30. I love love loooove one of the professors (and I like the other one too!) and have done some of the reading.

Guys, I gotta confess. In my undergrad, I didn't really do any of the readings... like ever.

I'm gonna have to learn to read.

The classes are a bit overwhelming socially, though. I feel like everyone else already knows each other through working in similar areas, but I'm the only grad where I work. Boo.

3.I have another family situation going on that I can't really talk too much about, but good thoughts in the health-and-tiny-humans areas are much appreciated!!

4. I posted my first ever giveaway yesterday! Have you entered?

Hope you're all having a lovely Thursday evening! And HAPPY FREAKING BIRTHDAY to Tamara!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vacation pictures + a giveaway!!

Holy potatoes, friends. I just can't seem to get back on a blog schedule! But I'm here now. And guess what? I love you! I love you! I looooove youuuu! (ok... maybe creepy... but it's a quote from Elf :)

Well, it's already been 20 days since we got back, but I thought I'd finally share my vacation pictures and tell you a bit about our trip! In case you don't remember, me and my little sister Anna took off for about a week to New Jersey to visit our aunt, uncle, cousins, and the ocean. :)
As with any good vacation, we ate a LOT. You just can't get that east coast pizza here in the midwest, so we made sure to get it the first day we were there. We also had fried oreos (I wasn't a huge fan, but Anna loves them), a couple funnel cakes, and lots of ice cream. :)
We saw the many moods of the ocean -- one day was stormy and there was lightning over the water, other days were so perfect I didn't know how I would ever leave. And we did our traditional sunrise morning trip to the beach.
Maybe my favorite part of the trip was one of the cloudy mornings when me and Anna walked down the shore and looked at shells and stuff. It was cool and calm and pretty wonderful.

We also took some obligatory pictures in front of the ocean:

And, on our last night, we saw a double rainbow over the ocean!

Oh, and we did one other thing while we were there...

We shopped for you guys!

I'd like to announce/attempt my first ever giveaway! 

One lucky winner will get a small bag of saltwater taffy, a Target gift card, and these pretty bangles

(I have a matching set :)

They were very difficult to take a picture of, but I promise they're lovely! And even if you don't like the bangles or the taffy, hey, who doesn't love Target??

Enter using the Rafflecopter below! It'll be open till midnight next Wednesday/Thursday. Winner must live in the US and not be related to me :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all and I hope you enter! :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book review: Across the Universe

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

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

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

I don't read a whole lot of science fiction, so it's hard for me to compare, but this one seems like a really good science fiction book for someone who doesn't read science fiction.

Did that make sense?

The premise of the book is pretty cool. Amy is frozen and stuck on a ship and she'll wake up in a bajillion (ok, like 300) years and be on a new earth.

The terrifying nature of her future in that alone was enough to get me hooked.

But then you add that someone is trying to kill her, and that they might try to kill her parents too, and it turned into a book I couldn't stop reading. Not that I wanted to.

I really liked and connected with both the male and female leads of this book, which is good, because it switches perspectives between the two. Each time we left one, I was reluctant initially to leave them, but soon got sucked into the plot going on with the other, then was reluctant to leave them.

I really liked the characters I was supposed to like and hated the characters I was supposed to hate. I got pretty darn invested in this story and was definitely rooting for Elder and Amy.

There are lots lots lots of surprises constantly coming in this book. I guessed a few, but I missed more than I guessed, so Revis still managed to shock me a few times.

There's also a lot of ethical issues. Elder is the future leader of the ship, and he's faced with a lot of choices about what will be best for him as a leader and for the people he will be leading, and the choices he makes are not black-and-white issues. There's also questions of race and discussion of the benefits and difficulties that arise from difference.

I think I would recommend actually reading this one (as opposed to listening to the audio). The narrators were both really good, but (and this might be hard to explain, so bear with me) when the male character was reading, Amy's voice sounded really whiny and not likeable. But when the book was read by the woman reading Amy's parts, she was kind of BA. The disparity bothered me a bit.

I liked this book! It mostly got so-so reviews on goodreads, but I recommend it as an easy, fun read.

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thoughts on long-distance love

Hey guys.

I know you all are probably tired of hearing about Pat coming back.

But. Since you've all been with me this summer as I suffered through survived our three months apart, I thought I'd share a few things I learned/noticed/felt while being separated. Yeah? Ok. Here goes.

1. First of all, let me just say I realize how lucky I am. While Pat has been gone, he's safe -- or as safe as he would be here, anyway. He's not in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever. And, three months is a relatively short time. So let me just give props (does anyone say that anymore?) to all you military wives and girlfriends and family members.
2. Do you all remember how me and Pat have different love languages? I'm all about telling him how awesome I think he is all the time (and telling all of you :) but he communicates affection differently -- by holding my hand or resting his hand on my leg or whatever.

Turns out physical touch isn't a language that translates distances easily. (Imagine that! Shocking, right?) So it's been yet another adjustment period for this gal to realize it's ok, he still likes me, and to find the other ways he communicates affection. Because there are other ways. He just uses them less.

3. Communication is always important, but distance multiplies the importance by like a bajillion and a half. Seriously. I have two examples as proof:
  • The slapping incident. Totally not really that big of a deal (on Pat's end, anyway. maybe kind of a big deal for me and the boy I slapped). But. It was something that was witnessed by, oh, like six of our mutual friends. So imagine it got back to Pat from someone who wasn't me three months down the road? Makes it into a big deal. So I texted him immediately the next morning and told him exactly what was up before anyone else could. Just in cases.
  • Pat and I generally text each other good night. But early in the summer, he stopped for a couple nights in a row. Not a big deal, except I didn't know why. Pat is the most logical person in the world, so I knew there was a reason. It was because his internship was keeping him up really late and he didn't want to bother me if I'd already gone to bed. (It was even a sweet reason!)

    If I hadn't asked, I would have thought he was tired of it or it annoyed him or something was wrong. Without the opportunity to see him and know nothing was wrong, this overthinker would have just fretted for, I don't know, like eight months, and never sent a goodnight text ever again.
4. Pat kind of doesn't feel like a real person anymore. I don't get his personality as much through texting and emailing, and we only managed to skype twice all summer. I kind of feel like a girl without a boyfriend. Not like a single girl -- I'm not looking for anyone. But it doesn't feel like I have a boyfriend out there somewhere. And I do!

5. I'm suddenly very, very nervous to see him again. Which is so weird. Like, it's been a growing anticipation -- I keep imagining whether I'll hug him or kiss him and whether it will matter to me if his dad or our roommates are standing right there and whether I'll be home when he gets here or if he'll be here already.

But now, I'm like, legitimately nervous. I'm scared I'm taking up too much space in our room and that I'm too messy. I want the room to look perfect and wish I'd gotten my act together and decorated before it was time for him to be home. I'm sure I'll get butterflies tomorrow and be unable to concentrate all day. Aaaaaaaah.

I think that's all I have to say on it. It's a very weird thing, to be separated for so long. Have any of you done long distance, even temporarily? Did you experience anything like I did? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thursday, the third day

So I definitely owe you guys a real post. About a beach and a giveaway.

And I started it last night. Well, I took pictures of what you could win.

But it's very difficult to concentrate because my brain is saying Thursdaythursdaythursdaythursday. Because Pat (aka boyfriend who has been gone for three months) will be back Thursday. And he's already 378 miles closer than he was yesterday.

I'm like Joey in this clip (if you skip the first 30 secondsish):

And then he'll be here and I'll be like this:

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Happy birthday Emily!

Today is my older sister's birthday.
Me on left, Em on right
When I was a kid, I used to call Emily evil. We have always fought like siblings do. My mom got really mad when I called her that, but sometimes I think I really believed it.

But when we were fighting every other day, when she hit me so hard she left a handprint, or when I pulled out her hair (as a toddler) and then looked to see how much I'd gotten...
Me left, Em right
Even then I have great memories of me and Emily.

She's the one who taught me to put on make up. She taught me to serve a volleyball and was there when I tasted my first sip of alcohol.

She dragged me out with her and her friends in high school and I thought they were all so, so cool. One time we all climbed in a trunk to see if all the girls there that night could fit. (We did.)

I ruined several of her dates (I'm sure) by playing on the computer all night in the same room they were trying to watch a movie, shouting out mistakes in the film as I looked them up online.
My 21st, when she took me to see John Mayer
In high school we had connecting rooms. Sometimes in the mornings I'd run over there and ask her if I looked all right before leaving for school. Sometimes I'd run into her at school and see that she was wearing something from my closet.

I've lived with Emily when I couldn't live at home. I've borrowed her furniture and her car. And all this week, I've been using her shower because we still have no hot water.

She's helped me move every year of college, paid only in pizza or hashbrowns. I used to cry at Em's house my freshman year when I hadn't made any friends. And she picked me up late at night after the world's worst breakup, when I couldn't even talk, I was crying so hard.
Em, Anna, me, at our cousin's wedding
And sometimes I get to pick her up from the bar and she dances and tells the same stories the whole way home and is just as happy as anyone has ever been.

These are random memories, and probably not entertaining to anyone but my family. But. My point is that Emily and I are the quintessential sisters. We fight like crazy, but she's (almost) always been there for me.

I don't think anyone in the world deserves a happier birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EM! Hope it's great :)

Book review: We'll Always Have Summer

We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Because this is a sequel, it will by nature have some spoilers. Read my review for the previous books here and here. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

It's been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college-- only, their relationship hasn't exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It's time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever.


I'm just not super thrilled with this series. Which is so weird, since usually I'd stop reading if I wasn't liking it. So I guess I liked this book enough to keep reading, but not enough to look back on it favorably.

Should I even say more in a meh review?

I think this book could have been better. There are a lot of intense relationship issues going on, but I feel like it skates over the serious issues (alluded to in the description as "the worst mistake a boy can make") and focuses on more superficial issues.

I also just don't get the whole Conrad thing.

Like, he's cute, I'm sure, and she loves him, loved him since she was little.

But that seems to be the only thing going for him -- that she always wanted him and never could have him. He never wowed me. He never really treats her well in the first couple books, so I just don't get why she keeps going back to him. I just don't get the love triangle thing.

Maybe that makes it realistic, though. We don't always want what or who is best for us. Not that Jeremiah is perfect for Belly either.

Idk. I'm apathetic.

I know I've asked this the last couple reviews, too, but has anyone else out there read these books? Do you get the Conrad thing?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [8.9.12]

Linking with Sar here :)

[1] As you may know if you follow me on Twitter, Pat aka boyfriend will be back one week from today. Finally. (He's been gone since mid May!)

And I'm just a little bit excited.

[2] I've always been one to save bugs. As in, instead of squishing them. I don't have the stomach for squishing bugs. If they're too creepy to go near, that's when you'll hear me calling for my dad or roommate. (Actually, when we were younger, I remember my sister calling me in to kill bugs for her. Wonder what happened to make me squeamish.)

Aaaaanyway, I keep accidentally killing or maiming bugs I'm trying to save.

  • I opened a window to let a tiny tiny flying bug out of the car and it turned out we were driving so fast the poor thing got pulled into pieces.
  • Then I accidentally smeared a spider all over when I was trying to just fling him away with my debit card.
  • And then today I think I removed a bug's antenna as I was getting him out of Emily's bathroom.

Whoops? At least my intentions have been good!

[3] On a related note, I'm not huge into titles in relationships. But Pat did get a new title as of last night:

Personally, I think it's a promotion. :)

[4] Finally, I am so so so excited to be going to the lake this weekend with these lovely ladies!

I grew up in the Ozarks, which is a huuuuge laking area, but my family never really did that. So this will be my first legit lake trip. Eeeeeeee! Wish me luck, friends! 

What do you all do when you find bugs in your house? Do you try to save them like I do? Or do you yell for help like I do when it's a big scary spider? Aaaand, do you have any lake loving tips? I'm hoping I won't be too much of a wimp to try the water sporty things!

Happy almost weekend!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm nerdy and I know it

You all remember a while back when I was tweeting about a boy who was IMing me (I know... straight out of our middle school flirting handbook) and wondering how to drop into the conversation that I have a boyfriend and make it clear that his flirtation was wasted on me?


Ok. Well. That happened.

And even after I mentioned that I have a boyfriend a few times, he kept chatting me up, so I was friendly and whatever.

So this guy asks me what music I listen to when I go walking on my lunch break, and I told him
I was listening to the This American Life podcast. He didn't know what it was, so I sent him to the website. And he said,

"Honestly, that looks kind of nerdish."

First of all, who taught this guy how to talk to girls? Because he definitely needs to retake a few lessons.

Secondly, "nerdish." And in a context where it's clear that being a nerd is a bad thing.

So the next day I'm walking at lunch and listening to the same podcast and just thinking how much I love it.

If you don't know, here's a quick background: This American Life is a radio show produced by Chicago Public Media. It is often the most popular podcast available and was a TV show for a few years, winning three Emmys in its time on TV. Half a dozen stories from the show are currently being developed into films. (Info from their website.) So clearly, I am not alone in enjoying this program.

Each show is based on a theme and will have three or four acts, typically, on that theme. For example, one was on the theme "What I did for love." The first act was a true story of a man and his girlfriend who had been together for thirteen years and decided to go on a break before considering getting married. The second act was about a kid in high school who sold pot to an undercover cop because he had a crush on her. The third act, possibly my favorite story I've ever heard ever, was about a duck who falls in love with a rock. And finally, a woman tells the story of when she dated a man who called her "foxy."

Where else can you hear these kinds of stories??

In the end, This American Life is storytelling. Possibly at it's best. It's real life and sometimes fictitious short stories (like the one about the duck). It's great journalism.

I've learned about the election fundraising process; Dos Erres, Guatemala; counting cards at black jack; and the cost of the Euro.

I've heard the story of a man who lost his true love very shortly after meeting her, the story of a woman who discovered her father had a secret second family, and the story of a man who was almost part of what seemed like a very illegal business deal all because he waved at the wrong man at a cafe.

I was raised to be a curious person. I was raised to care about people around me. And honestly, caring about people around you? Yeah, that's a human instinct a lot of people could foster a bit more within themselves.

I love This American Life because I believe everyone has a story it allows me to hear a few of them.

So maybe this podcast is nerdish, and maybe some people look down on being a nerd. But I want to know what's wrong with being curious and engaged and caring. Because that's what I feel when I listen to it.

To sum up, here's an amazing quote by someone much better with words than I:

                                                                      Source: via Abbey on Pinterest

Is there anything you all nerd out completely on? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I'm still here, promise!

Hey there blog friends!

I bet you feel a little abandoned right now.

I feel like I've abandoned you. It's been foreverrrr since I was on here. But what can I say? Life gets hectic. I don't even have hot water at home right now, so internet is kind of on the back burner.

A peek into my life lately, or since I've been gone (because I know you've been dyyying without my updates):

  • Errands! (Do all the things!)
  • Beach! (Do nothing!)
  • Moving! (Pack all the things! Move all the things! Unpack all the things!)
  • More errands! (I didn't really do all the things that first time!)
  • I tried my final new food (eat the thing!) and sent my final letter (mail the thing!) for my 24 before 24 goals!
  • Aaaand, I started my new job! (Learn all the things!)

I have missed you all terribly and think of you. Promise I do.

I'm seriously sooo behind on blog reading that I have no hope of catching up. (More than a week... yeesh.) So, if you've posted anything in the last week and a half you love love loooved, you should let me know so I can come read it. :)

I promise more substantial posts in the future, to include:
  • Beach pictures!
  • A giveaway!
  • Things about my new job!
  • Talking about being a nerd!
  • aaaaaaand... PAT WILL BE HOME SOON.
Here's a sneak peek of the beach...

Try not to hate me too much ;)

Let's get together soon, shall we?

Love love love.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Book review: It's Not Summer Without You

It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Read my review for the previous book here. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started--at Cousins Beach.

I liked this one much better than I liked the first book, The Summer I Turned Pretty.

I think a big part of it was that this one had more of a plot. The first book was kind of just Belly flailing around and lusting after boys for most of the time. But the characters had something they were all trying to accomplish in the second installment.

This book also gave a better, more well-rounded view on almost all the characters. We got to see some things from Jeremiah's perspective and understand his motives better, and through him we also learn more about Conrad. Not just how Belly sees the boys, but how they see each other and how they really are.

I also liked the role of the parents in this one. Laurel turns into a rock star. I loved her.

The characters really are what shine in the first book, and they're still awesome here. Although I'm still not a huge fan of Belly's. But this one had a much better storyline and plot. If I gave the first book three stars, this one probably gets three and a half.

So I kept reading. As I'm writing this, I already finished the third. I got a little behind on my reviews.

Have any of you read this series? Which book was your favorite?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What to expect on an Italian beach

Hey friends! Today I'm hoping to get in a bit of beach time before Anna and I take off for the trip to the airport and then back to landlocked Kansas. Please welcome Joslin, who's keeping you company today. :)

Now that the sun is burning hotter, my husband and I have been making frequent trips to northeast coast of Italy. We learned very quickly that the beaches here are different from back home.

1. It is acceptable to go topless in public. The American guys (aka the people I hang out with) love it. But most of the girls going topless aren't the sexy models. Usually it's the older women. Guys: Don't stare. If you can't help yourself, wear sunglasses...preferably mirrored so they can't see your eyes.

2. Be prepared to be harassed by walking salesmen. They have backpacks and arms full of merchandise to push while they troll the sands. Sunglasses, jewelry, kites, bubble blowers, purses (they are really cute and hard to resist). Some will accept a polite smile and shake of the head and quickly move on. Some will get up in your personal space and shove their wares at you until you say no several times.
Side bar: My favorite hustler experience was when my husband and I brought our friend, Ben, along with us. A bag guy came and practically set his arm of purses on my lap and raised his eyebrows at Ben. "You buy?" Basically we interpreted it as he thought Ben and I were together. My husband couldn't decide if he was amused by the whole exchange or offended that the guy didn't pick him as my significant other.
This guy was particularly annoying.
3. The girls here hate tan lines. If they're not topless, a lot of them wear halter tops. But instead of tying the top strings around their neck, they tie them behind their back. It makes their breasts look saggy and strange, but it prevents those strap lines. The guys were weirded out by the "fashion statement". They don't have the same problem us girls have. I've never seen this done in the US, have you?

4. The beaches aren't small. They just seem that way because most of it is taken up by beach loungers. It leaves little room for tossing a ball around. I've seen the local kids with mini soccer balls. They kick them from the sand into the water to their father/sibling/friend. A lot of the older Italians have paddles and a ball and whack it back and forth...kind of like badminton without the net...and with a ball instead of a birdie...and a paddle instead of a racket. There's also a lot of volleyball circles playing "Keep It in the Air". I guess they don't see a lot of pickup football games because there were a lot of people watching when the guys were playing.

5. You have to pay to use the loungers. The attendants aren't super strict on supervising them since there are so many of them spread out, so it's possible to get away with lounging for free. But be prepared to pack up when they catch you. Yes, we tried it once and got away with about an hour and a half of free beach luxury. The "I'm American and didn't know better" act works, but don't push it. This country is big on fines so I'm sure they'll be happy to call the police to give you a ticket.

The beaches closest to us are Jesolo and Lignano, both are easily accessible from Venice. Hopefully later this summer, we'll be able to go farther south or to the west coast to see what those beaches are like.

Hi, I'm Joslin. I blog over at Joslin as Mrs. Williams. My husband is in the Air Force and we're living in Italy for the next few years. I started my blog a week before I got married as a way to document my life after marriage. It's a mishmash of my travel adventures, kitchen attempts, and the giggles that come along with being a wife.


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