Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday is Here.

I wish I had some clever, pithy story to tell you all about my weekend, but I don't.  My weekend was full of books, new recipes, and coffee.  Not too exciting, but kind of just the way I like it...

A good portion of my Friday was spent in the jail, which is not usually the way I like to start my weekend.  But it's a fact of life for a defense attorney. 
I made stuffed shells for the first time ever, and they were AMAZING.  
Recipe to come.
I also made pumpkin fluff, which was delicious as usual.
And I attempted to make my own Pumpkin Spice Latte.  
It was not that good, but I'm not giving up on figuring it out. 
Saturday, Donny went to a car show in the morning while I finished book #48 of the year.
It wasn't my favorite book, and I was glad when I finished it. 
Later that night, we went to Barnes & Noble after dinner while it POURED outside.
B&N is a very dangerous place for us, but we made it out with minimal damage to the credit card.
I played with our new Keurig for a while this weekend.  It's fun for now and convenient at times,
but I can definitely see this being shoved into a cabinet when the new-ness wears off. 
I watched the Emmys last night, and I was pretty disappointed that Modern Family won again.  
I thought this year was by far their weakest yet, while Big Bang Theory was dead on every single week.
While practically none of my favorites won last night, the one award that I was most 
invested in was the Best Guest Actress in a Drama.  I ADORE Carrie Preston in The Good Wife,
and I'm SO glad she won!!

Of course, this week is one of my favorite weeks of the year-- the new season of television!  I'm so excited that all my favorite shows are back, and I can't wait to try some promising new ones.

Mingle 240

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall To-Read List.

My GoodReads to-read list is getting out of control. I have over 200 books on it, some from years and years ago. So, I've decided to start reading some of those books from a couple years ago in an effort to clean out my list. Coming up are...
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain
A Time to Kill by John Grisham

There are also several movies coming out this fall/winter based on books, so of course I have to read the book before I go see the movies.
The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort
(TWoWS might be a problem because it's not carried by my library!  Anyone want to share??)
The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Austenland by Shannon Hale

And then three of my favorite authors have books coming out soon that I am SO excited to read! I'm going to have to read a few Michael Connelly books to catch up to Gods of Guilt, but that won't be a problem.
King & Maxwell by David Baldacci
Sycamore Row (sequel to A Time to Kill) by John Grisham
Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

What's on your upcoming to-read list??  Anything I need to add?

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Weekend.

Happy Monday, y'all!  I had a particularly good weekend this weekend.  Nothing over the top exciting, but a nice weekend relaxing with my wonderful husband.

A client of mine was particularly happy with the resolution I got him in a case, so he showed up late last week with some delicious pumpkin cheesecake for my assistant and me! I am not a big cheesecake fan, but holy wow, this was delicious. I need to find out where it came from!
The other day, I came home from work to find a flier had some in the mail offering us a special code for a free Keurig!  I was skeptical, but we went directly to the Keurig website to order it, and it worked!  We've really been wanting one, but haven't wanted to spend the $100+ for it.  So, we were pretty stoked.  It should arrive tomorrow!
I got my hair cut on Friday after a few months (yes, months).  For some reason, getting my hair cut is one of those things that I put off forever.  But, my head feels so much lighter and airier!  (And ps-- this is third day hair here.  Thank you God for giving me curly hair.  And TIGI for making Catwalk Work It hairspray.)
Later that evening, we went to Target to look for a K-Cup holder, but of course came out with all sorts of other things, including these Pumpkin Spice m&ms!  I was skeptical of them after the Candy Corn m&m disaster of 2012, but they were surprisingly delicious.  The pumpkin spice is very subtle and very good.
Saturday morning I got up to play tennis with a friend, and it was BEAUTIFUL outside-- sunny and 68 degrees.  I wanted to stay there all day.  But I went home and spent some quality time with college football.  Later that evening, I got in the car to discover that Donny had left it on a country station earlier, and the most annoying song ever was playing when I got in. I know, I know-- I'm a bad southerner for not liking country music. I can't help it.
Donny has gotten obsessed with into researching his family history.  He's found an ancestor that fought in the Texas Cavalry during the Civil War and another that came over on the Mayflower!  So, I decided that I'd start building my own family tree.  I've only gotten my paternal grandfather's side done, but I found records that took me back to the 1600s in Germany.  So cool.
Sunday after church, Donny wanted to go to Buffalo Wild Wings since the Cowboys game wasn't airing locally.  So, I went with him.  We got there early enough to grab the last booth, where I read my book while he watched the Cowboys.
Speaking of books, I'm SO close to making my goal of 50 books this year!  I want to finish it up ASAP, but I'm also a little burned out on books.  So it might be a few weeks before it's done.

How was your weekend??
Mingle 240

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Club Friday-- The Book Thief.

GoodReads Synopsis: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.  Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

My Thoughts:  I had such high hopes for this book given the rave reviews.  But sadly, I just didn't love it.  The story was really good, although predictably sad given that it took place from 1939 to 1943 Nazi Germany.  But I absolutely hated the way it was written.  Not only was it narrated strangely, but the author also committed one of my biggest pet peeves-- telling me that something bad is going to happen long before it happens.  I don't mind subtle foreshadowing, but when the author directly tells me that one character is going to die but "we'll get to that later," I'm not happy.  And this happened multiple times.  So I spent the whole book stressed out.  I much prefer shocking deaths to actually be shocking, not anxiously awaited.  Also, this book was supposedly a "Young Adult" book, but it was really heavy and long for a YA story...

I know several people who have absolutely loved it, so I suppose that it's worth picking up if you can get over the strange narration, heavy-handed foreshadowing, and sad storyline.  Of course, if you love World War II and Holocaust stories, then I'd say you should definitely read it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Songs that Define Me.

I'm not a huge music lover.  Sure, I like to have the radio on while I drive, but I frequently don't know names of artists.  And I don't remember the last time I went to a concert unless I was playing in the orchestra for it. However, there are many specific songs that are so much a part of my life that I immediately feel like I've taken a ride on a time machine when I hear them...

When I was little, we listened to a lot of country music.  Somehow along the way, I lost my ear for it and really don't like it now.  But these songs will always hold special places in my heart.

Garth Brooks-- Thunder Rolls.

Sawyer Brown-- The Dirt Road.

As I got older, I started listening to other music.  A lot of it was contemporary Christian music, which is still primarily what I listen to now.  But, I also got into mainstream pop music in junior high and high school.

Live-- Lightning Crashes.  This was the first song that I remember liking that wasn't country or Christian.  I've got it on my iPod and listen to it even now sometimes.

The Wallflowers-- One Headlight.

Goo Goo Dolls-- Iris.  Really?  What list of music from the late 90s doesn't have this song on it??
I remember listening to it over and over and over during heartbreak in junior high.

Jimmy Eat World-- The Middle.  This became the quasi-anthem for my senior class.

Then I went off to college and law school, really branching out for the first time on my own and learning what kind of music was "me." This was the time I developed a love for the 70's and 80's music.  I listened to Aerosmith, Journey, The Eagles, etc. quite a bit.

Chairmen of the Board-- Carolina Girls.  This was pretty much a given at Chapel Hill.

Five for Fighting-- 100 Years.  This song will forever define my senior year of college.
It's about growing up and older, which was staring me in the face that year.

Billy Joel-- Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.  I fell in love with Billy Joel my senior year of college.  It's a love that has carried on to this day, but I remember the exact moment when I first heard this song.

The Fray-- You Found Me.  This song came out right as I was about to graduate law school.  I listened to this album a lot while I was studying for the bar exam, and it never fails to remind me of that time in my life when I hear it.

Once I was (finally) done with school, I started to develop a fondness for some hip-hop (aka good dancing music).  I also had a brief love affair with Rihanna before she went crazy.

Usher-- Yeah.

Then, I met Donny, which (as you can imagine) led to a whole slew of songs that have been important at different stages of our relationship.

Warren Barfield-- Ten Hours.  During the long-distance phase of our relationship,
I would seriously sit at home and listen to this song and cry.  I can't listen to it anymore.

Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson-- Don't You Wanna Stay.

Billy Joel-- You're My Home.  One day when I was feeling particularly guilty about "making" Donny move here and leaving his family and home, he sent me this song.  It was one of a few Billy songs that I had never heard before.  There may have been more crying...
Billy Joel-- Just the Way You Are.  This was the first dance song at our wedding.

So, there's the soundtrack of my life.  What songs define you?

Helene in Between

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Love/Don't Love.

Today's post stolen from inspired by Christy.

- This morning, I got a free breakfast from Chick-fil-A!  Love.
- I've also developed an addiction to Chick-fil-A where I want to eat there for every meal of every day.  Not good.  Don't Love.

- Our first anniversary is coming up in two months, and Donny has decided to plan our anniversary trip and surprise me.  He's picking the destination, booking it, and planning our activities.  He NEVER plans anything (preferring to just wing it...), so I'm very excited and happy that he's decided to do this all by himself!  LOVE.

- Despite a few weeks of playing well, the Yankees are facing a very uphill battle to get into the postseason.  Don't Love.
-  I got a mani/pedi this past Saturday and went with fall colors instead of my summer staple of hot pink.  Love.
- I started watching Grey's Anatomy again from the beginning on Netflix.  I had forgotten just how great this show was in the early years!  Love.

- I've been stuck on level 350 of Candy Crush for weeks, almost a month.  Most frustrating level yet.
- Tonight starts a new chapter in my small group.  I did decide to stay in the small group after writing this post.  After a hiatus for most of July and August, the four of us remaining got together to decide what we were going to do as a group.  As I suspected, every one in the group had considered leaving ours to find another group.  But we had all independently decided that we wanted to stay.  We also agreed that we should attempt to add new people, so we invited four other ladies to join us.  We've got a children's minister, a nursing student, a dog groomer, and a food service saleswoman coming tonight.  Two of the new people are married, and one is engaged.  I'm SO excited about the expansion of our group and also the new book we are beginning (Duty or Delight by Tammie Head).  It's about transforming our relationship with God from a duty to a true delight.  It's certainly a message I can use right now.  Love.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Club Friday-- The Art of Racing in the Rain.

GoodReads Synopsis:  Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.  Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.  A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human only a dog could tell it.

My Thoughts:  I knew this book was going to be good no more than five pages into it.  It is absolutely beautifully written.  The story was very unique, as it was told from the point of view of the dog, which was hilarious and creative.  It took a bizarre turn about halfway through the story that I didn't love, but overall the story was wonderful.  I loved the dog, his family, and was a little sad for this one to end.  I definitely recommend reading this one!!  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fall Bucket LIst.

Before I get to my Fall Bucket List, let's see how I did on the summer list!  
See an MLB and MiLB game.  Yep! Two MLB games and lots of minor league games, so this one gets a check!
Watch Fireworks.  Again-- yep.  After the Kannapolis Intimidators game.
Go to the Beach.  I think this was my favorite one to check off the list. :)
Have a Pool Day.  Probably my second favorite to check off.  Such a great day with my mom at the pool.
Read Lots of Books.  Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, I finished 18 books.  Check!
Travel to a New Place.  This would be Baltimore.  Check.
Do Something New.  In July, we went to an outdoor concert at a winery with a co-worker of mine and her husband.  I had never really been to a winery, and it was a great evening!
Make Something New.  I didn't really make anything other than food.  But I did try multiple new recipes, so I'm counting those.
Take Pictures with my DSLR.  I did some-- especially in DC and Baltimore.  We took the camera to the beach, but I left the memory cards at home.  So, no DSLR pictures were taken...  Boo.
Go on a Bike Ride.  Total failure here.  Not even close.
Go to a Farmer's Market.  Nope.  Didn't get to one.

So, overall, I think I did pretty great on my summer list!  I decided not to get quite as ambitious with my fall list, though, since fall is usually pretty busy plus Donny will be back to school.  But I'm pretty excited about getting all these done this year!
Blowing Rock
Go somewhere for our Anniversary
(anywhere but home)
Visit Texas
College Football game
More DSLR pictures
Read 15 Books
Make something with pumpkin
Go to the fair

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Blogtember-- World Travels.

If you could take three months off from your current life and do anything in the world, what would you do?  Well this is easy.  I'd travel travel travel!!  By the time three months was up, my passport would be FULL of stamps!
Three months probably isn't enough time to see the WHOLE world, but I'd sure try...  I think the best way to do it would be to start in the east and work my way back home.

So, first stop is the south Pacific islands of Fiji, Tahiti, and Bora Bora.  

Then, we'll work our way east through Asia (sorry Australia, you didn't make the cut for this trip) beginning in Japan and China.  We'll visit Tokyo, Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and more.  Then, we'll make our way through Vietnam and Thailand before a stop in India to see the Taj Mahal.

From India, we'll go to one of the top places I've been dying to visit-- Russia.  (In this game, we'll pretend like Americans are still safe in Russia...)  We'll hit both Moscow and St. Petersburg.  

Next up is our Western European tour, which will likely take the longest, as there is so much to see!  Germany, France, Italy, Spain, England, Ireland, and the Greek Isles.  So much to see here-- the former site of the Berlin Wall, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the canals in Venice, Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London, the beauty of Barcelona, the pubs in Dublin, and the Mediterranean Ocean from the cliffs of Greece...

After Europe comes Africa, which honestly is a place I never cared too much to visit before I met Donny.  But he LOVES Africa, so I've started to come around on visiting the continent.  On this imaginary itinerary is Morocco, Egypt, and Victoria Falls on the Zaire/Zimbabwe border.

From Africa, we head to South America then Central America for stops in Rio de Janiero, BrazilMachu Picchu, Peru; and the Panama Canal. Again, this region has never really been a huge destination for me, but these few places fascinate me.

The final leg of this journey will be back here in the good ol' USA.  There are so many places I've never been, but the top destinations for me would be the West Coast (with a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway), visiting LA, San Francisco, and Seattle, then onto Chicago, a Yankee game in New York City, and a quick stop in Miami Beach   And of course, I can't travel all over the US without going to see some of my favorite people in Texas!

See why I said there's no way this would only take three months??  Who's with me?