Friday, November 28, 2014

Book review: Stardust

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

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

Hopelessly crossed in love, a boy of half-fairy parentage leaves his mundane Victorian-English village on a quest for a fallen star in the magical realm. The star proves to be an attractive woman with a hot temper, who plunges with our hero into adventures featuring witches, the lion and the unicorn, plotting elf-lords, ships that sail the sky, magical transformations, curses whose effects rebound, binding conditions with hidden loopholes and all the rest.

Either at the very end of high school or the very beginning of college, I watched a movie called Stardust with two of my best friends from high school. We knew little about the movie except that it was a fairy tale for grown ups. I think we didn't love it initially, but then we watched the bloopers, and then we loved it.

Fast forward many years and I discovered Stardust the movie was based off Stardust the book, which was written by Neil Gaiman, an author I'd heard loads about but whose work I'd never read.

Gaiman does an amazing job leading you through a world where you slowly notice more and more magic. The book truly feels mystical and magical and brings you into its world.

I loved Stardust the book. The movie followed the storyline of the book pretty well, so there weren't a lot of surprises (until the end, at least -- it's a bit different), but the book was (as most books are) so much more emotional and heartfelt. I loved it. 

If you're interested in trying audio, the author narrates this one himself and it is exceptionally well done. Highly recommended! I gave it four stars.

Have any of you read (or watched) Stardust? What did you think?


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Book review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

I heard a LOT of wonderful things about this book before picking it up and it didn't disappoint. 

Conor is a young kid dealing with a really tough situation. As he's struggling to just make it through every day life, a monster starts appearing. It incites him to do some awful things and then disappears, leaving Conor both with the consequences and wondering if the monster is even real.

I don't want to say too much, because if this book hasn't been spoiled for you, I don't want to be the one who does. But it was very well written, very emotional, and something I think a lot of kids could relate to.

If you're interested in trying audio, this one is narrated by the man who played Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies and it is very well done.

Have any of you read A Monster Calls? What did you think?


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Simone and Levi are MARRIED.

Hello friends!

This weekend was the BEST weekend I'd had in a long time.

My lovely friend Simone is now a married woman. She is someone's WIFE. It blows my mind.

Simone had a wonderful weekend planned out for us -- rehearsal dinner + hanging out Friday night, pampering and a delicious breakfast Saturday morning, WEDDING TIME, party bus, super fun reception, and brunch the next day.

And I was also a little bit extra excited because Pat came to the wedding!

The photographers from North 40 Photography were wonderful and already have some pictures up on Facebook, which they said I could share with you! Isn't Simone the most beautiful bride?

On the way to the reception, we stopped at this covered bridge for some photos. It was SUPER COLD but also really fun. And I think Simone and Levi got some beautiful shots of just the two of them.

I cried a couple times -- when Simone was getting ready, when she was walking down the aisle. I'm just so, so excited for Simone and Levi!

Hope you all had a great weekend!


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Friday, November 14, 2014

Book review: A Practical Wedding

A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene

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

Getting engaged is exhilarating…until it sets in that a wedding costs three times what you thought, and takes five to ten times the effort it reasonably should. And then there are the expectations: from calligraphy invitations to satin chair-covers, all those things that Must Be Done or everyone will be Horribly Offended. Or will they?

A Practical Wedding helps you create the wedding you want—without going broke or crazy in the process. After all, what really matters on your wedding day, what you’ll remember ‘til you’re old and gray, is not so much how it looked as how it felt. In this refreshing guide, expert Meg Keene shares her secrets to planning a beautiful celebration that reflects your taste and your relationship. You’ll discover:

The real purpose of engagement (hint: it’s not just about the planning) How to pinpoint what matters most to you and your partner DIY-ing your wedding: brilliant or crazy? Affording a wedding without having to cut your guest list How to communicate decisions with your family Why that color-coded spreadsheet is actually worth it Wedding Zen can be yours. Meg walks you through everything from choosing a venue to writing vows, complete with stories and advice from women who have been in the trenches, the Team Practical brides. So here’s to the joyful wedding, the sensible wedding, the unbelievably fun wedding! A Practical Wedding is your complete guide to getting married with grace.

Okay, so definitely not a typical book I'd review on my blog. BUT. A few weeks (months?) ago, Genna recommended this book, and I loved it so I thought it deserved a plug on the blog.

Guys, I haven't planned that much for my wedding yet and I've already had several stressful moments, or moments where I felt pressure about different aspects of the wedding and how they should go or what people would expect or whatever. I'm not someone who has been planning my wedding for infinity or who feels I have to stick to traditions (shmaditions). But there were still things I was thinking that probably shouldn't have been on my mind even a little bit. Like, if we have a ceremony in a different place than our reception and the ceremony is really short, people will be annoyed that we made them go all the way out there.* 

*totally not a thing I should worry about. I know. I knoooow.

But this book? Totally down to earth and calming. Reassuring. Reminded me that as long as our wedding is what me and Pat want, it will be a perfect wedding.

If you're engaged, or if you're planning a wedding or reception, or if you have a friend who is and is stressed out, I highly recommend this book.

Thanks for the tip, Genna!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[Less depressing] Life lately

Hey friends!

So I think I may have made myself sound a little TOO pitiful last week when I posted about life in Colorado. Sorry if I worried anyone!

While it is hard to be in a new place, I'm doing ok. Here's some of the things I've been up to lately...

Watching movies and Netflix
After years and years, I am finally FINALLY almost caught up on Grey's Anatomy. I've been rewatching Gilmore Girls and I went on a campaign to watch all of the Twilight movies (and am now rereading the books). Though this also sounds a little pathetic, these are things I probably would not do if Pat was around. Pat was never behind on Greys. He hates Gilmore Girls. And he has only seen the first Twilight movie, if you count passing out in my dorm room while I watched it.

Knitting hats!
My little sister and I have started an Etsy store, and I've been busy making hats for it! We are trying to raise money for a trip with her school to Costa Rica next summer :) Anna makes scarves (modeled by my lovely friend Simone, who is getting MARRIED this weekend!) and so far, I've made hats -- though I want to make more things!

It's been a perfect habit because I can knit them while I watch Netflix :) I messed up the very first one I made, so obviously I kept it, and the weather finally got cold today, so I can definitely attest to its warmth. You can check out our shop by clicking below, if you'd like.

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Learning to commute by public transit
When Emily and I were really little, we wanted to ride a bus. A real city bus. So my mom drove us into the nearby city and we parked at the hospital and waited for a bus that would take us to the mall... that never came.

I've never had a great relationship with public transit.

But, here in Colorado, I have been taking the bus to work. It was not an easy transition and it took a few days of a really rough commute -- waiting at the wrong bus stop, taking the bus in the wrong direction... But I've pretty much gotten it figured out and I'm actually really proud of that!

Commuting by bus gives me a ton of time to read. Not to brag too much, but I long ago passed my goal of reading 50 books this year. Actually, as of yesterday, I'm up to 66 books completed! Which makes the highest total since I've been on Goodreads!

You can see all the books I've read this year by adding me on Goodreads.

What have you all been up to lately?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Happy birthday Anna!

My little sister is 16 today.

I can still tell you all the statistics from when she was born. 9:25 am on her due date. 8 pounds, 8 ounces, 21 inches long.

Do you know how crazy it is to look at a teenager and know that you held her on her birthday -- her original birthday, her day of birth.

And now she's 16. In Missouri, where Anna lives, you can get your driver's licence when you're 16. In a weak attempt to think of a theme for this birthday blog post, I started thinking of memories with Anna that took place in cars.

And I am a little surprised -- as far as a theme for a post goes, it's not a stellar one, but I can remember Anna growing up through these memories.

When she was an infant, we took a three-day family road trip through Canada to Maine. Emily passes the eff out on road trips when she's not driving, so I was left feeding infant Anna from jars of baby food for most of the trip.

When Anna was three or so? toddler ish, not sure exactly how old, we were on a road trip. In my memory, we were in Arkansas, though there's only about a 3% chance that's right. It was dark, we were driving and this song came on the radio:

(There's also a something percent chance it wasn't that song. But. Regardless. It was a song that sounded like that.)

And we look at Anna and she is ROCKING OUT. Full on air guitar, headbanging, singing along. And none of us can figure out how she knows about air guitar, headbanging, or the words to the song, but girl had it going on.

When I was an RA, there was a tradition in the hall I worked in to make a staff CD. Every RA picked a song that represented themselves and one person burned CDs for all of us. The summer after my first year as an RA, I was OBSESSED with the CD. For some reason I was driving Anna around a lot that summer. We listened to the CD so much that, by the end of the summer, Anna could tell me which of the 18 songs belonged to which RA. She hadn't ever met any of them -- but she paid attention and memorized them all. That's how much time we were in the car together that summer.

That same summer, Anna and I went on a road trip to a part of Arkansas that was only an hour and a half or so away. I will probably always remember that trip because, for the first time ever, Anna was allowed to sit in the front seat of my car. She was finally old enough. And it was a bigger moment than I realized. Anna started as a tiny little thing, and then she was always my baby sister. Suddenly, on that road trip, she was more like a friend. She sat next to me and DJed the whole drive. She picked music and we talked like friends talk and she wasn't a baby anymore, or even a kid really. All of a sudden, she was grown up.


There have been more awesome memories in cars. The two years we've driven around our hometown to look at Christmas lights. Driving to plays together, and driving to see Brian Regan live. And the time our Uncle Mark picked us up from the airport and drove like a mad man to the beach house (although the summer before, when Anna went to New Jersey with Emily, they missed their flight home. So that, I'm sure, was a crazier drive).

Last November, I was home for Thanksgiving and Anna had just gotten her driving permit. We were off to visit my grandma, who lives only a few blocks away, and Anna asked me if she could drive.

I about had a panic attack. I had only gotten my car in May (and had only lived 24 years... I wanted a few more!)

But either that same trip home or when I was home for winter break, I let Anna drive me to grandma's in my car.

I remember telling her to slow waaaaaay earlier than she felt like she had to -- just for my sanity, because I get nervous with experienced drivers who don't brake till the last second, let alone my fifteen year old sister.

And Anna did great.

When I got home, I told my mom and she remarked that it was incredible that Anna was able to even make that adjustment -- to not only realize when she should brake, but also to brake earlier than that.

Sometime soon, she'll get her very own driver's license. She'll take her first trip somewhere by herself. (Do you remember your first drive alone? I went to get milk. My dad, on his way home, saw me, turned around and followed me. Rude.)

And she's about to make that memory.

I'm rambling now, I know it. Probably no one I'm not related to will read this far anyway. But all of this is to say, happy birthday Anna. I'm so proud of who you are, so excited for all that's ahead of you, and so grateful that you've turned into such a good friend.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Life lately

Hello friends!

Once upon a time, I was inspired to post because my friend Layne pointed out it had been weeks since I'd posted anything but book reviews.

Now, again, it's been a while since I posted anything but book reviews and birthday posts.

Really, though, I haven't had much to post! A few weeks ago, I hosted a bachelorette party for my Simone, but I failed to take many pictures, and since then, I have had literally no plans.

Zip. Nada.

Truth is, moving has been hard. I miss Pat. I haven't seen him since mid-September and won't see him until Simone's wedding on the 15th. I haven't really met anyone here, although I have joined a ton of groups on -- now I just have to get up the courage to go.

I know I am lucky to have this job and I am lucky to have a roof over my head and things to eat and all of that. I know.

But it's still been really hard.

So I apologize for the silence. I hope to write more. And I hope to be more cheerful. Just keeping it real for all of you. :)

How are you all doing? I'd love to hear what's happening in your lives!


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