Tuesday, January 27, 2015

12 Life Lessons from The Bachelor.

I can't believe that I haven't blogged about The Bachelor at all this season!  I'm actually kind of annoyed with it, but I just can't stop watching.  And last night's episode was just begging for a blog post.  

I didn't want to do a recap, since those who will read this post probably already watched the episode.  But I did learn some fascinating things last night from these women, so I thought we should all benefit from their knowledge...

1. If you're going to pretend to like an activity for your man, make sure to laugh maniacally. A lot.

2. Michigan has the best lakes. California lakes are "hell holes."

3. Skinny dipping is the way to a man's... heart? 

4. The best way to tell a guy you're a virgin is by pouncing on him while he's sleeping.

5. Pack a razor when you're going on TV in tiny clothes.

6. Always, always, always get in good with the sisters. They might hook you up with some Louboutins and diamond earrings.

7. Don't count your Disney princess dresses before Prince Charming calls. 

8. Sometimes the girl who finishes first isn't the winner.

9. Boys like girls with plans other than working out for 8 hours a day.

10. If your date is boring or won't shut up, let your mind wander to other pleasant things to cope.

11. Boys don't like girls who berate them for dating and lusting after all their friends.

12. But if you're pretty enough, you can get away with most anything.

Anything that I missed??  Do share!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekend Recap.

Friday was a rainy, dreary day.  I had a nice lunch with my friend Katie and a new girl in our Bible Fellowship class, Rachel.  I had plans after lunch to go to the library and then a movie with Donny.  But after I stopped by the house to pick up books to return, I just couldn't make myself go back out in the pouring rain.  So we stayed in and watched some recorded episodes of Fixer Upper.  I just want to hang out with Chip and Joanna Gaines!  They seem like such fun people, and we both love their show.

Saturday, I had another lunch date, this time with my long-time friends April and Jen.  It had been FAR too long since we've hung out!  Last time we were together, we were celebrating April's engagement.  So this weekend after lunch, we decided to go wedding dress shopping!  She found several that she really liked, including this one what was just gorgeous.  I can't wait for her wedding in November.

Saturday evening, Donny and I went to see Foxcatcher.  I was very excited to see it, but I was so disappointed by it.  Steve Carrell was truly fantastic.  But the movie was weird and actually quite dull until the very end.  I think they were trying to build up gradually to the end, but it just ended up being flat to me.  Donny wasn't a fan either.  

After lunch at my grandmother's house yesterday, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen making some things for this week.  I absolutely MUST have lunches made and ready to grab before I leave the house in the morning, or I'm subject to grab some chick-fil-a or go out with the girls.  So, I made my favorite egg drop soup, some egg foo young, and paleo mayo to make some chicken salad.  Now I'm fully prepared for the week!

What I didn't do this weekend was read.  I haven't been in the mood to pick up a book all week-- I think I've only read 50 pages or so since last weekend.  I hope I'll be anxious to pick up a book soon because my stack of library books is growing!

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Love Long Weekends.

This weekend has been a nice, long weekend!  Friday, Donny and I went to see American Sniper, which was fantastic.  And Saturday morning, I went to see The Imitation Game, which was also wonderful.  
I can definitely see how Bradley Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch were nominated for Oscars!  There are so many movies out right now that I want to see, which is kind of nice after months of nothing very exciting being released.  I don't remember the last time I went to the theater before this weekend-- it's been months!

I also was desperate to finish Songs of Willow Frost this Sunday.  The GoodReads description was very promising:  
Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s 
Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried 
away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the 
day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to 
the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen
who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced 
that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from 
Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where 
they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection 
to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated 
than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.

It started off pretty well, but the middle was just so sad and depressing and hopeless.  I hated the middle 200 pages, but I refused to give up on it.  I considered taking a break and reading something that wouldn't make me feel so bad, but I decided to soldier through.  And I'm glad I did.  The ending definitely got better, and I'm glad I finished it.  It was interesting to read a book with such an unusual setting-- Chinatown in Seattle in the 1920s and 1930s.  But it just wasn't a great book.  I gave it two stars since the ending redeemed it slightly.

Donny spent the weekend building stuff in the garage including a new shelf for me in our bathroom!  I've been wanting to get some of my appliances (flat iron, Clarisonic...) off the counter for a while, and so he made a shelf for me.  He's going to make another one (at least) to get some of my products off of the counter as well.  

It's come in so very handy to have a husband who can build and fix things!  I'm still in love with the butcher block kitchen island he made for me on New Year's Day.  The bottom shelf is now filled with all my small kitchen appliances, which has cleared up SO much counter space! 

Speaking of kitchen appliances, my parents bought me a waffle maker for Christmas this year, and I've been loving it.  I've been eating Brittany Angell's Extra Crispy Paleo Waffles this weekend, and they're AMAZING.  Thank goodness for a way to eat some of my favorites while still being grain and dairy free!

On a whim the other night, I bought a new lipstick that is not at all what I normally wear.  I spent the weekend trying to get used to its brightness.  I'm still not sure about it because it's SO different than my usual nude/light pink lip.  But it's really starting to grow on me!
Lipstick: MAC Milan Mode
Lipgloss: bareMinerals Marvelous Moxie in Stunner

Last night, my Patriots beat the Colts in pretty spectacular fashion, and I'm so excited to see them in another Super Bowl!

And today, I'm off of work and enjoying the day watching Downton Abbey reruns and reading.  Not a bad day off!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My 2015 Book Challenge.

One of my favorite things in the last few years has been participating in some blogger book challenges (Megan hosts my favorite one twice a year).  Thanks to these challenges, I've been pulled out of my favorite genres, read books that I otherwise would not have read, and discovered wonderful new authors.  Some of my favorite books have been discovered through these book challenges-- The Pilot's Wife, the Harry Potter series, and Hyperbole and a Half, just to name a few.

So I decided to make my own book challenge for the whole year!  I took many categories from a popsugar list, some old challenges from Megan's blog, some links on pinterest, and some of my own ideas.

There are 44 categories on this list, and my goal is to read 52 books this year.  So that leaves me with 8 "freebies" to read that are just for me.  And I do have a few self-imposed rules:  

- All books must be over 200 pages long
- Only three re-reads allowed unless 1) it's been more than 10 years 
since I first read the book OR 2) the category calls for it.
- No counting one book for multiple categories.  Each category gets its own book.
- I may switch books previously assigned to a category as the year goes, 
as long as they all get covered by only one book.
-All books must be started and finished within 2015, unless the category states otherwise.

So without further adieu, here's my list!

I hope to update my progress every other month or so in order to keep myself on track.  I can't wait to get started!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Favorite Books of 2014.

I still can't believe that I read 100 books this year!  Some were fantastic, and some were duds.  I won't go over every single one of them, but these were my favorites of the year.  I couldn't do a top-10 list because there were way too many great books!

First, and probably my proudest accomplishment, was the Bible.  I finally read it through in a whole year, like I've wanted to forever.  I learned so much!

I discovered some fantastic authors in 2014.  One of the best was Harlan Coben-- I read 17 of his books this year!  I can't tell you how much I loved the Myron Bolitar series.
I also read much of Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove series this year.  While I found it sometimes cheesy and predictable, they're very sweet stories, and I'm quite sucked into these people's stories!

I finally dove into the Harry Potter series and LOVED it.  JK Rowling created an amazing world with such great characters that I could not stop reading.  Amazing.
But my favorite author of 2014 was Sarah Addison Allen!  I hardly have words to describe how rich and deep her characters are while still being whimsical and light and just beautiful.

I also read some fantastic books outside of these authors.  My favorite book genre is mystery and suspense, so that's where most of my reading time is spent.  There were some great books in this genre last year that it was hard to narrow down my favorites!

The Gods of Guilt // The Silent Wife // The Other Typist // Before I Go to Sleep // The Man from St. Petersburg // The Firm // The Burning Room

These are some of my other fiction favorites.  Mostly chick lit and Christian fiction, which was surprisingly better than I expected.  Often, I find Christian fiction kind of cheesy, but I loved these.

I also read a fair amount of non fiction this year.  Mostly memoirs, which I always find fascinating, but also one that totally changed the way I see food and one that had me seething about our justice system.

And last, but certainly not least, is a book that is technically non-fiction but doesn't really fit in a category.  I did not really want to read it, but I need a book by a blogger for a book challenge this summer.  And within 20 pages, I was curled up on my side crying from laughing.  Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half was quite possibly the most entertaining book I read all year.  It was so hilariously funny (while not being very snarky and mean) but also with the most poignant description of depression I've ever read.  I definitely recommend it!

What were your favorite books of 2014??  Tell me so I can add them to my to-read list!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

December Rewind.

Happy New Year!  A new year is always bittersweet-- I had to see the old year end, but I do love the fresh start that a new year brings!  But first, I'm going to reflect on the end of 2014.


This month was not the best month for books even though I did read 11 books in December.  Several of them were good, but nothing really stood out to me as fantastic.  Except, of course, the Bible, which I finished yesterday!  A Wreath of Snow and Gray Mountain were at the top of the pile this month.

Obviously, I listened to a lot of Christmas music this month, so those are on this list.  The other two non-Christmas songs were some of my favorites of 2014.  I couldn't stop singing them!

Love Runs Out by One Republic

Take Me to Church by Hozier

Jesus Born on This Day by Avalon

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns

Ring the Bells by Travis Cottrell and Natalie Grant
All Creation Sing by Fee

1.  I finished 100 books this year!  I can hardly believe that I did it.  I really had to push myself to read 11 books in December to get it done, but I'm glad I did. I also finished the Bible yesterday to complete reading it in one year.  I feel so accomplished for getting it done.  I've started to read it in a year several times before and never finished it, but I actually did this year!
2.  My brother moved to Los Angeles.  We all had a farewell dinner, and it was a great time.  He and his wife Morgan seem to be settling in well, but they were definitely missed at Christmas this year!
3.  I was very crafty this month!  I made an advent calendar for our house and a food passport for Donny for Christmas.  I hope to blog about them more later this month with better pictures.
4.  Our Christmas was wonderful-- full of family, laughter, and presents!  And I had a fantastic birthday celebration with some great friends.
5.  I dropped my DSLR camera on Christmas night and apparently damaged it.  Now I have to ship it to Nikon since there's not a place locally that will repair it.  Sadly, I don't think it will be cheap.  Plus I will have to live without my camera for a while.  :(

6.  I read Michelle Knight's memoir this week, and it's stuck with me.  Her ordeal was so horrifying and traumatizing.  I can't imagine living that way for SO long.

7.  I tried a lot of new beauty products this month that I'm loving!  The Ole Henriksen Three Little Wonders set plus my the clarisonic have been amazing for my skin!
8.  We spent New Year's Eve at my parent's house hanging out and watching What About Bob.  It was a fun, laid-back night.  Perfect for us.  
Our last picture of 2014!

1. Clarisonic Mia-- a total game changer in skincare.
2. Coach Poppy Blossom-- I wear it every day and can't stop sniffing my wrists!
3. New Girl-- I've been watching it since it first aired, but recently I started it again from the beginning on Netflix.  It's so much funnier the second time through than I remember!

1. No more pressure to read!  After having to read 10+ books the last few months to meet my goal, I'm ready for a little break from the pressure of reading.

2. I'm doing another Whole30 this January.  I did two last year (the second less successful than the first due to my own   I'm looking to cleaning up my eating and to the feeling of wellness that I know will come from it.

3. Downton Abbey starts again this Sunday!!  I've been re-watching the previous four seasons on DVD so I can catch up, and I've been reminded how much I love this show.

4.  I'm getting the itch to re-design my blog.  A new year, a new look.  I'm looking forward to having some time to change things up a bit.  Of course, I need to find some inspiration!