Thursday, November 30, 2017

November Reads

Zero stars = hated it
One star = did not like it at all
Two stars = eh, it was okay
Three stars = liked it
Four stars = really, really liked it
Five stars = absolutely loved it

1-Star (1)
*The Remains of the Day (Fiction, Kazuo Ishiguro)
I really wanted to like this book.  But, it just wasn’t for me.  I did not like Stevens (the main character).  He just had zero personality.  And no guts.  And I found all of his reminiscing stories about his previous ‘lordship’ boring.  I was expecting it to be more ‘Downton Abby’-ish.  But instead it was just Stevens going on and on about how much he didn’t like his new American boss and how he wished he was still the butler for his former English boss.  I don’t know.  It just wasn’t my thing.

(owned, will donate)

2-Stars (2)
*Reading People (Non-Fiction, Anne Bogel)
This is another book that I REALLY wanted to like.  But I didn’t.  Basically, Anne compiles all of the personality tests that are out there and summarizes each one.  But throughout the whole book, I just couldn’t figure out WHY.  I get that it’s good to know why we’re all different, especially in relationships, but to me this book just felt like a compilation of a bunch of information that can easily be found online.  Plus….it was just soooo overwhelming.  She lays out all of this information and then does nothing with it.  I think Gretchen Rubin’s personality framework (the Four Tendencies) is so much better and easier to understand and SIMPLE.  Ironically, The Four Tendencies personality framework was not included in Anne’s book.  ?  However, I still love Anne and her podcast is one of my favorites (What Should I Read Next).

(listened to the audio version free on Hoopla) 

*Artemis (Fiction, Andy Weir)
I was excited about this book because I loved The Martian.  And this book started out strong, but quickly fizzled.  Too much science stuff (yes, I know it's a book about the moon) and the main character grew increasingly unlikeable throughout the book.

(owned, will donate)

3-Stars (2)
***To Capture What We Cannot Keep (Fiction, Beatrice Colin)
I picked up this audio book (on CD) at the used bookshop for my road trip to see my family.  I started it on the way there and finished it on the way home.  It kept me entertained, and had an interesting plot: the caregiver of two teenagers in the 1800’s live in Paris during the construction of the Eiffel tower.  One of Gustave Eiffel’s architect’s falls in love with the caregiver.  At times the plot was a little slow, but I enjoyed it for the most part.

(owned audio book, will donate)

***Dot Journaling (Non-Fiction, Rachel Wilkerson-Miller)
I am a sucker for all things bullet-journal related.  A lot of people criticized this book because they said the author was ripping off the ORIGINAL bullet journal creator.  But that is so far from the truth.  She even credits him in her book for creating the original bullet journal.  But the original bullet journal creator did not talk about pretty weekly spreads, monthly trackers, other trackers, how to make it pretty, how to make nice banners, etc.  And that’s what this book does.  It is full of illustrations and REALLY good ideas for different layouts.  I liked it.

(owned, keeper)

4-Stars (5)
****Year of Yes (Non-Fiction, Shonda Rhimes)
One of the BEST memoirs I’ve ever read.  Shonda Rhimes is the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, For the People, etc.  She is HILARIOUS.  And wise.  And YOUNG for everything she’s accomplished.  She references soooooo many characters and moments in Grey’s Anatomy that made me laugh out loud and also tear up.  She is brutally honest about her fear of public speaking and being the center of attention.  She is brutally honest about how working mothers in Hollywood claim ‘do it all’ (spoiler alert…they don’t, even though they tell people they do.  They have loads of help/nannies/house cleaners/cooks, etc.).  She was honest about everything.  It was a great book.

(owned, keeper)

****Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls (Non-Fiction, Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo)
An extremely non-traditional bedtime story book.  The book contains 1 page stories of notable women from all time periods and from all over the world.  Brave women that accomplished things.  Some are more widely-known than others (Helen Keller, Julia Child, Jane Austen, Cleopatra, Simone Biles, Hilary Clinton, etc.) but most of them I had never heard of before and couldn’t believe that I had never heard of them especially after I read what they had done.  Each story was accompanied by an illustration done by multiple women all over the world.  It was just such a unique and beautiful book.  I learned a lot!  Side note: it was one of the most successful kick-starter campaigns ever, which is why it was published.  I believe another volume is coming out soon.  Great for kids (and adults!)

(owned, keeper)

****The Story of Arthur Truluv (Fiction, Elizabeth Berg)
Elizabeth Berg is BACK.  She USED to be one of my favorite authors (The Pull of the Moon is one of my favorite books).  But for the past few years, her books have been awful and I haven’t even read a lot of them.  Which hurts me a little.  But when this one came out, it was getting really good reviews (similar to her early book reviews years ago), so I picked it up.  And couldn’t put it down.  It’s not a deep read or super ‘literary’ or anything, but I loved the story.  It reminded me a lot of AJ Fikry (which I loved).  Likeable characters, good plot (although extremely predictable).  It’s an easy, light- hearted read, perfect to read in between ‘deeper’ books.

(owned, keeper)

****Lagom:  The Swedish Art of Balanced Living (Non-Fiction)
This was a delightful little book, along the same lines of the Hygge book that was popular last year.  Lagom is all about balance and frugality.  And it was such a pretty little book too.  I mean, look at the beautiful BALANCED cover:

(owned, keeper)

****The Hundred Dresses (Fiction, Eleanor Estes)
This is a children's book and I can't believe I had never heard of it before now.  And talk about a classic, this one won the Newberry award in 1945.  It tackled bullying and it's consequences and forgiveness.  All in 37 pages.  A beautiful little story.

(e-book, keeper)

Total Books Read: 10 (5 non-fiction, 5 fiction)

E-Books: 1
Audio: 1
Real Books:  8
Abandoned books: 0

A decent month, with 5 four-star reads!!!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

3 Random Things

I was looking through the pictures on my phone and came across a few random photos.  So, because I'm kind of bored, here they are.

1.  This shirt I bought last weekend at the mall.  It makes me laugh.  If you don't watch Bob's Burgers, you won't get it.  If you do, well, you're welcome.

2.  I pulled up to our house the other night and it looked so cozy.  It's taken me a while to get used to this place, and it doesn't feel completely like 'home' yet, but it's getting there.  Things like this make me love it a little bit more each day.

3.  Earlier in the week, we went to pick out some things for my mother-in-law's kitchen.  It's actually happening!!  Hopefully they will start next month.  She picked the tile, cabinets, and counter tops and hardware.  I love the place we went to, they had all of our 'in budget' options laid out for us so we could pick and choose.  It was super easy.  She picked and I LOVED the choices.  She will have two red brick walls in her kitchen which will go well with her choices as well.  I'm excited!  (although I know it's going to make me want to redo my kitchen also ha ha).

That's all.  :)

Black Friday

And the tradition continues!!

We had a fabulous time Thursday night for Black Friday.  We got started a little after 9:00 and were home just before 1:00.  We went to Kohl's, Walmart, and Old Navy.  Get this....we SKIPPED TARGET!!!!  I looked through the add and nothing was really screaming at me so we decided to skip it.

Because we are REALLY watching our budget I only put the things we needed on my list.

At Kohl's, I got my husband some new dress shirts (GREAT DEALS) and some slippers, a blanket for our bed, a set of drinking glasses, and a coat for Iceland.

The coat is a 'Heat Keep' coat and it is is light, but fold-able and folds into the little pouch (attached).

I also bought a cross-body bag for Iceland (it was NOT $69.00...I paid $25 for it).  I wanted something brown, but NOT leather (because it is always very wet in Iceland).  Score!

At Walmart, I bought my usual 1100 thread count sheets, along with a little fireplace space heater (which was my one 'non-essential' purchase).  I am in love with the little fake fireplace.

It's so cute I can't stand it.

My friend bought her daughter a giant teddy bear at Walmart and when we left, we buckled him in the backseat.  Safety first!

Ha ha.  We made our obligatory stop at Del Taco for burritos and Diet Coke, then headed to Old Navy.  I got a hat and scarf and gloves there.  I started an 'Iceland' shelf in my closet:

It was a success!  And I was very proud of myself for sticking to my list.  :)  

5 States in 5 Days

So….a couple of months ago, I got an email from my Dad.  He told me that he and my mom and my sister were going to go to Springfield, MO.  He thought it would be fun to surprise my mom with a visit from me and asked if I could possibly meet them there.  I checked with my husband, checked my calendar, and discovered that it was the perfect weekend for it!!!

So we (sneakily) made plans and I left this past Wednesday (a week ago today!).  I drove to Oklahoma City first to break up the trip a little bit.  I got there fairly early, and my first stop was a cool bookstore I found online:

It was awesome.  An amazingly curated selection of REALLY cool books.  Books I had never heard of, never seen before, and just BEAUTIFUL books.  I wanted to touch all of them (and I did touch a lot!).  The owner was super friendly.  As was the store dog.  If I ever go to OKC again, I will definitely go back to this great bookstore.

The next morning, I left pretty early and started driving north to Pawhuska, Oklahoma.  The home of The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  I got there early…by 8:00.  I had heard that the crowds can be crazy and to get there early.  I could have eaten breakfast, but honestly I wasn’t hungry at all and I just wanted to check out the store.

But first, the drive was really pretty.  I was pleasantly surprised by Oklahoma!  As I was driving to Pawhuska, I passed (part of) the Drummond Ranch.  Very hilly, loads of trees changing color, etc.  And then I made it to Pawhuska, which was….not much.  Basically 1 main street.  A charming main street though, with the Pioneer Woman Mercantile being the main attraction of course.  

The restaurant is on one side of the lower level of the building and the store is on the other side.  Upstairs is the bakery.  The store was amazing.  I went through it at least 6 times and each time I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before.  She carries SOME of her brand that can be found at Walmart, but not much.  Most of it IS her brand, but can only be found in this store (or online).  Just a HUGE variety of stuff.  Quirky, beautiful, and just an odd (but good) collection of goodies.  The customer service is fantastic and everyone was extremely friendly.

And I am kicking myself for not taking pictures of the bathrooms.  Yes, I know it’s weird.  But the bathrooms were beautiful but sooooo simple.  Super heavy wooden bathroom doors, and no toilet paper holders.  A bunch of toilet paper rolls sit in a wire basket on the back of the toilet.  Which is genius.  NO ONE HAS TO CHANGE THE TOILET PAPER ROLLS.  And considering the Merc gets (on average) 6,000 visitors per day, this is a big deal.  Anyways…the bathrooms were pretty.

I bought some goodies at the bakery (we were all impressed except by the chocolate chunk cookie, which I ordered by accident).  I also tried one of her famous cinnamon rolls (it did not disappoint).

After that I headed to Springfield.  It was quite the drive.  I went through maybe 6 teeny tiny Oklahoma towns on the way.  I thought my GPS was leading me astray, but it wasn’t.  I got where I needed to go!

I arrived in Springfield, texted my sister, and drove to a bookstore (of course) and surprised the heck out of my mom.  It was great!  We stayed there for a bit, then checked into our hotel, got unpacked and settled and went to Outback for dinner. 

Friday we picked up one of my aunts in Aurora and then drove to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  This was my third trip there.  It’s just a quaint little pretty town in the Ozarks.  We walked up and down the streets, went into a few of the shops, and ate lunch at a little cafĂ©.

Saturday we went to another bookstore, then met up with my other aunt, uncle, and cousins for lunch.  It was so nice to see them!  It had been way too long.  We drove around to another small town (southern Missouri is just a string of little towns all like 10 miles apart) to see my Grandpa’s rental house that is for sale.  My uncle had done sooooo much work on it.  It is pretty much move-in ready now.

And then Sunday….I drove home.  I do pretty okay on long road trips, even by myself.  I had audiobooks with me (I finished one and got maybe ¼ of the way through another one) and also music.  Fruity candy helps keep me alert and awake too.  I was home by about 3:45.  It’s about an 11 hour drive for me.  Closer than Nebraska!

So it was a quick trip, but I packed a LOT in there and got to see my family AND my ‘extended’ family which was great.