Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Club Friday-- Waiting to Be Heard.

GoodReads Synopsis: In the fall of 2007, twenty-year old college coed Amanda Knox left Seattle to study abroad in Perugia, Italy for one year. But that November 1, her life was shattered when her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, was murdered in their apartment. Five days later, Amanda was taken into custody and charged by the Italian police; her arrest and the subsequent investigation ignited an international media firestorm. Overnight, this ordinary young American student became the subject of intense scrutiny, forced to endure a barrage of innuendo and speculation. Two years later, after an extremely controversial trial, Amanda was convicted and imprisoned. But in 2011 an appeals court overturned her conviction and vacated the charges. Free at last, she immediately returned home to the U.S., where she has remained silent, until now.

My Thoughts:  Before I read the book, I knew a little about the Amanda Knox case-- just enough to form the opinion that she did not kill Meredith Kercher.  This book had several details that I was unaware of, so I found it very interesting to read.  I do want to read a book from the other side (or an impartial book) so that I can actually hear about the evidence in the case.  Most of her memoir is (predictably and understandably) about how everything affected her and about her feelings.  There was little discussion of the evidence outside of what she was trying to discredit (her first sworn statement to the police, the knife, the bra clasp...).  If most of her account of her interrogation is true, then she was absolutely railroaded.  Although I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle between her account and the police's account.  It seems that there was a LOT of miscommunication due to language and cultural differences.  I sincerely hope that those are not what put her in prison for four years.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book.  She's a good writer, and it was fascinating to read the story from her perspective.  I got a little depressed in the middle as she described her time in prison.  I had to keep reminding myself that she was no longer (wrongly, I do believe) in prison, so to calm down.  I highly recommend this book!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wimbledon.

This week and next week are two of my favorites of the whole year. Wimbledon is the epitome of class and tradition. It's the most prestigious tennis tournament of the yea. And if there was one sporting event on the calendar that I'd want to go to, this would be it. It's just so unique and beautiful.


This year, since there's no Andy Roddick to pull for, I'm going with my other two favorites on the men's side:
Richard Gasquet
Novak Djokovic

On the women's side, I could pull for Serena Williams.  I like her even though she's pretty controversial at times.  But she's never been my favorite.  So, I'm going with my girls...
Jelena Jankovic
Marion Bartoli

And under absolutely NO circumstances do I ever pull for this smug guy, Andy Murray.  He's always a big crowd favorite since he's from the UK, but not in my house.

Are you watching Wimbledon?  Who's your favorite??

Venus Trapped in Mars

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Bucket List.

Summer feels like it began a month ago, but the official first day of summer wasn't until Saturday.  So, it's not too late to post my Summer Bucket List!  


A lot of these I know will be accomplished with our DC trip, but others are going to be a challenge. But I'll be having fun trying to check things off this list this summer!

What's on your agenda for the summer?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lord, I Need You.


We sang this song at church on Sunday, and I've heard it several times in the last few weeks.  Starting on my 40 days of prayer yesterday, I feel like it's the perfect song to pray through every day.  No matter how often I've heard it recently, it moves me each time.


Lord, I Need You
by Matt Maher

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You

Jesus, you're my hope and stay

Monday, June 24, 2013

This Weekend I...

... took Friday off of work. This week was a conference for the District Attorneys in NC, so there was no court, which meant that work was pretty slow all week. So, I decided to take a mental health day on Friday. And it was amazing.

... walked to Starbucks. Instead of going to the gym, I wanted to take advantage of the awesome weather (80 degrees and sunny) and the excess time that I had on my hands. So I decided to go for a run/walk and made it to our Starbucks which is about two miles away.  The road that I walked on had a little more traffic than I thought it would in the middle of the day, but it was fine.  More than half of it had a sidewalk, so I was set once I made it there.  My only hiccup was when I got to the bridge of the road overlooking the interstate.  I am not a fan of bridges/heights, so I made my way VERY quickly over the bridge.  But I made it home safe and sound!
I have no idea how long this sign has been posted, but I saw it during my walk and, of course, had to get a picture.  Who thought this was a good campaign strategy?? 
 ... spent some quality time in my pool cooling off with my book.
... went after dinner to the driving range with Donny, which was really cool! I'm looking forward to going to the real golf course next. :)
 ... forgot sunscreen on my walk.  I did remember by the time I hung out in my pool, but by then I had already been outside in the midday sun for an hour unprotected.  Oops!  It actually didn't hurt as bad as it looked, and it was much better by Sunday.
... played my first singles tennis match in years.  I usually play doubles, but I wanted to challenge myself this summer, so I joined a singles league.  Playing singles tennis is SO much more intense than doubles, and I had such a great time.  I didn't win my match, but I also didn't embarrass myself, so I'll call that a victory!  Plus, I also burned 800+ calories in a little over an hour.  Win win!
 ... wanted to be outside all day.  It was so beautiful out, so after my match, I went to Panera for lunch and to sit on their patio and read.  Donny was playing golf, so I had some time to myself to sit outside and spend some more quality time with Robert Langdon.
... went out one last time for girls night while Emily is here. Technically she doesn't move until the end of July, but she won't be here on another weekend after this week. We went to a Thai and sushi place for dinner, and it was delicious (albeit overly priced).  We had a great evening reminiscing and hanging out.

I can't see Unagi anymore without thinking about Ross!

... went to the more contemporary service at our church.  I really enjoyed the worship music so much more than at the regular service.  With our new pastor, we're starting a 40 days of prayer initiative beginning today.  Part of that is a media fast of some sort.  So, I decided to give up my lunch break, which is usually spent watching Netflix or reading, to spend with the Lord in prayer and in his Word.  I'm looking forward to seeing what he has to show me and how he moves our church! 

... spent some time at the pool.  I just had this huge desire to be outside and by the water this weekend, so Donny obliged me, and we made it in the late afternoon to our public pool.  We had a lot of fun jumping and diving off the diving boards and just hanging out in the water.  The only problem was that there were no chairs.  So, your only option was to sit on your towel on the hot cement (unless you knew this ahead of time and brought chairs, which we didn't...).  Next time, we'll know the system and plan accordingly.  

Hope you all had a great weekend!
Mingle 240
 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Club Friday-- Presumed Innocent.

GoodReads Synopsis:  In Presumed Innocent, Rusty Sabich, family man and the number-two prosecutor of Kindle County, is handed an explosive case -- the brutal murder of a woman who happens to be his former lover. A shocking turn of events suddenly transforms him from the accuser into the accused and plunges him into a nightmare world where nothing seems real and no one can be presumed innocent.

My Thoughts:  I really, really liked this story.  I thought the author spend way too much time telling us what the narrator was thinking and daydreaming about than what was actually happening though.  But since this was Scott Turow's first novel, I'll let it slide.  What I loved was that he wrote the protagonist so ambiguously that I wasn't sure until almost the very end if he was innocent or not.  That made him a difficult guy to pull for, but it also made it a very interesting read.  And the sub-plot gave took some very interesting turns.  I definitely recommend this one, and am anxious to read the sequel!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tried and True Beauty Products.

I'm pretty A.D.D. when it comes to beauty products.  By the time I make my way through an entire package of something, I've found four or five new products I want to try to replace it.  But there are a few that have been so great that I've repurchased.

Urban Decay NAKED Foundation.  This is the best foundation I've ever used, and I've tried A LOT.  It's pretty thin when it comes out of the bottle, but it gives plenty of coverage.  I like that it's light and doesn't feel heavy on my skin, but it evens out my redness and I can build it up to cover any blemishes.
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in 'Light'.  Full disclosure-- I haven't tried many pressed powders.  I grew up using Cover Girl and used it FOREVER until I found this MAC Mineralize Skinfinish, which I absolutely adore.  I love it so much that I haven't even considered trying anything else in a long time.  Benefit's Hello Flawless powder was good too, but it was much more sheer.  The MAC actually has some opacity to it, and I can use it by itself on "no-makeup" days.  I don't see myself straying from this for a while.
MAC Cleanse Off Oil Tranquil.  I know I've written about this before, but oh how I love this!  There's no mineral oil and no having to shake it up.  It cuts through my waterproof eye makeup like a hot knife through softened butter.  Love love love.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow in 'Smog' and 'Sin'.  This is my go-to combo every day, along with 'Virgin'.  I use 'Sin' all over my lids then 'Smog' in the crease and outer corner.  Top it off with 'Virgin' just under my brow and in the inner corner, and you've got a fantastic every day eye look!
MAC Powerpoint Eyeliner Pencil in 'Industry' (a deep grey).  I don't use pencil eyeliners as much as I used to.  These days, I primarily use a dark eyeshow with a liner brush.  But sometimes I like to change it up and go with a pencil.  When I do, I go with the MAC Powerpoint.  The MAC pencils don't smuge, and are very smooth and easy to apply.  I've bought several of these and surely will again.
Clinique Moisture Surge and Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion.  I don't love Clinique's makeup (and I've tried a lot of it), but I really do love their skincare.  These two moisturizers are my favorite.  I use the Moisture Surge in the winter when my face is super dry and the DDML the rest of the year.  Moisture Surge is pretty pricey, but I only buy it once a year, so I can justify $40 once, rather than several times, per year.

When I started this post, I didn't know it would become a promo for MAC or Urban Decay.  But somehow that's where we ended up!  I can't help it-- they're two of the best beauty brands out there.  I can always know that their products are good quality and worth the money.

What are your favorite products that keep you coming back for more?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Growing Up and Apart.

I've been in a small group for almost five years now, since October 2008.  We started off with five women and currently have five women, but only three are the same.  We've added and lost others throughout the years, but for five years this group has been my stability.  They've also been my best friends.  April and Emily (the only two, along with me, who have been there the duration of the last five years) were even in my wedding.

But life changes.  I got married, Emily is moving to Vegas, Jen and April are now roommates that live 30+ minutes from Sara (our newest member) and me.  So, there's some natural separation that is occurring in our group.  But if I'm being honest, there's been separation occurring with me for a while.

I've started to feel distant from them.  And I know that's natural.  I have a husband now, and he's my priority.  Before I met Donny (and even when we were dating and living in different states), I hung out with my friends all the time.  Small groups on Tuesday, NBC comedy nights on Thursday, and usually something on the weekends or lunches during the week.  Now, he's here, and I spend most of my time with him and my family.  I can't (nor do I want to) spend all my free time with my friends (who, btw, are all single).  I do see them once a week at our small group, but they hang out a lot now without me.  So now when I do see them, they all have inside jokes and stories that I don't know about.  And it's not their fault-- it's no one's fault, really.  It's just a reality of our changing lives.

I also feel the desire to find some friends who have husbands (or at least boyfriends) so that we can have couple-friends.  None of the women in my small group are married or even dating anyone.  So, when we all do hang out, Donny ends up being the lone testosterone contributor, and I know that's awkward.  Not to mention, you deal with some different issues when you're single vs. when you're married.  They all still talk about how they want to find a husband, and I feel like I can't talk about Donny without making them feel lonelier.  So, I want to find some friends who are in the same stage of life as me now.  Not that I want to abandon these girls because I have a husband now and they're losers with no man, but I want some people that I can talk to now who understand my situation too.  And marriage is something you can't possibly understand until you're in it.  And when we start to have kids, I know this gap is just going to be even bigger.

So I'm left at the point of deciding whether to stay in the small group that I don't really feel a part of anymore or to leave it.  It makes me incredibly sad to think of leaving and not seeing these girls regularly anymore.  But I also have come to dread our Tuesday night meetings, and that's not really the attitude that I should have going to Bible study.  With one exception a few weeks ago, I haven't felt renewed or uplifted after leaving a meeting with them for months.

I just don't know what God wants me to do-- renew my efforts with these girls or find a new group.  Because the one thing I do know is that I should have women around who challenge me, pray for me, and encourage me to be in God's Word.  I know I need that in my life.  I just don't know if THIS is the group anymore, and I'm praying that his desires will become evident.

Growing up is hard, y'all.  And doing it at different paces as your friends is tough.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Summer To-Read List.

This week's topic at The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Books at the Top of My Summer TBR List.  And since my To-Be-Read list on GoodReads is a mile long, I thought this would be a good opportunity to prioritize and strategize the for the summer!  (Also, blogger doesn't recognize "strategize" as a word.  They should update their dictionary perhaps...)  And of course, I'm always open to suggestions of books to add to my list!
This list is in no particular order...
1. Joyland by Stephen King.  After reading 11/22/63 last year, I want to read more Stephen King books.  But I don't care about any horror books.  This one sounds suspenseful and interesting without being gross.

2. Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.  I like all of the Weisberger books I've read.  They're not great literature, but they're good.  And I thought that The Devil Wears Prada was the best of her novels.  I'm curious to see where she takes the story.

3. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham.  I was anxiously awaiting the release of this book this past spring but somehow never picked it up once it came out.  I love Lauren Graham and am curious to see if she can write...  I hope so.

4. Still Missing by Chevy Stevens.  I've read such great reviews about this book that I'm very excited about it.  It sounds fascinating-- can't wait to get my hands on it!
5. January First by Michael Schofield.  I know this book is going to make me cry, but I've been curious about it from the first time I saw it.  Schizophrenia and similar mental illnesses are fascinating to me.  I'm nervous and anxious to read this one.

6. Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.  This book has been on my list FOREVER.  But since he just released Inferno, I'm going to finally sit down and read this one!

7. Inferno by Dan Brown.  The Robert Langdon books are such great, suspenseful stories.  They're a little ridiculous and far-fetched, but they're fast-paced and keep me reading.
8. The Closers by Michael Connelly.  It's actually been a few books since I've picked up my favorite author, Michael Connelly.  I'm getting close to the end of his books that I haven't read, so I started to slow my pace a little.  But I think I'm going to pick him back up again and finish out the rest of his books before I start another author (Jo Nesbo, Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, or any other recommendation??)

9. The Innocent Man by John Grisham.  Another book that's been both on my list and in my house for a while.  I've been putting this book off because I don't want it to depress me, and I'm afraid it will.  But I really do want to read it, so I'm going to give it a go this summer.

10. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  I found this book at my parents' house when we were getting ready for the yard sale, and it was perfect timing because I just finished reading through Hosea!  So, this one is definitely going to get read (finally-- I've only had it since high school...).

So, as you can tell, this summer I'm going to reading books that I've been putting off.  I didn't plan it that way, but I'm looking forward to it.  Of course, there will be new books that strike me and get read in between these, but I'm pretty excited about the list that I've got here!

Any books that I just HAVE to read this summer/year??

Monday, June 17, 2013

This Weekend I...

... left work early on Friday to get ready for date night with the husband!  
We took some books to the used bookstore to sell then to went to my favorite hibachi Japanese steakhouse for dinner.  Oh so delicious...
After dinner, we went to the new Golfsmith store since Donny has recently taken up golf.  This wall of driver covers cracked me up.
And then we went to a store that my brother has told us about that supposedly had a huge, unique selection of beer.  And it did have some cool stuff that you don't find in a regular store.  But some of those beers were insanely expensive (we're talking $5 for a single bottle).  Donny got some Shiner summer beer that he has loved, but he wasn't overly impressed with the place.

... read a lot in this depressing book on Saturday.  I can't say that I believe her claims entirely, but I really don't think she killed Meredith Kercher (although I never did even before I read the book).  The rest of her perception of the events just seems so far-fetched.  Although if what she says is true, she was completely railroaded and the concept of justice in Italy is a joke.  But I can understand why she feels the way she does, and it is fascinating to read.

... got a hole in one!!  I spent most of the day Saturday lying around the house or in the backyard and started to get a little restless by the end of the day.  So Donny got me out of the house to go play some putt-putt!  We ended up splitting the rounds, but I got a hole in one!!  :)
... finally watched Argo all the way through.  We went to see this movie in the theater when it came out, but we went to a 10:30pm showing.  So, I got a nice nap in during the middle.  But we found the blu-ray at Target on Saturday for only $15, so I finally was able to see the whole thing!  It was so good-- I highly recommend it! 
... had some birthday cake.  Sunday, we celebrated both Father's Day and my dad's birthday (which is today).  My mom made this delicious cake for him!  We're also going to dinner tonight on his real birthday.  :)

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend too!
Mingle 240
 
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