Tuesday, December 13, 2011

my fave books of 2011

As the year comes to an end, I thought I would share a few books with you that I have read in 2011 and absolutely LOVED!! Maybe you will find that you want to read one (or more) of them, or even purchase one as a holiday gift for someone.

I am a big fan of goodreads.com and this year I noticed they had a "reading challenge" that you could set for yourself. Back in January, I set it at 50 books. As my first year OUT of graduate school and finally free to read for fun, I thought this would be a fantastic challenge. Towards the end of the year and closing in on 50 books, I bumped my challenge up to 55 and it looks like I will just make that. I'm at 53 right now.

What I also love about the site is it's organizational capabilities...you can create your own bookshelves to sort your books in a way that suits you. Lovely!

As for my 2011 favorites:
My absolute most favorite book of 2011...The Soldier's Wife. I couldn't get enough of this story, it was one of those that makes you want to neglect all other necessary duties in your life i.e.work, shower, dishes, cooking etc...you get the point. It was that good. Setting: WWII, Guernsey occupation.
Unbroken was another book I plowed through...all 400+ pages of it. It was a heart-breaking history lesson wrapped up in a wonderfully written story about Louis Zamperini's life during WWII. Amazing.

The Scent of Rain & Lightning was one of those books that made me sad once I was done with it...not that the story was necessarily sad, although some parts were, it was more that my "relationship" with these characters would no longer exist. Loved this book!!

I'm not exactly sure how I was led to Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, but I'm really glad that it happened. This was such a heart warming story...once you get through the first chapter or two...and BONUS---it's set in Savannah, GA!!! I would love to see this made into a movie. Author, Beth Hoffman is such a sweet woman too...who I've communicated with via Twitter, and I anxiously await her next book, which I believe comes out in 2012.

I had wanted to read Secret Daughter so badly that after many months of waiting and hoping it would come to my local library in the form of an e-book, I finally had to "overlook" my slight phobia of REAL library books and check this one out. And it was worth it. A great international story with a very realistic story line for today's world.

Another book I waited and waited to read electronically from my library, but finally accepted that it was just not going to happen, so I also checked Still Alice out from my public library in real book form. A story about a woman who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's and how it affects her very successful professional life and her family. We hear so much about Alzheimer's these days, I felt I needed to read this one. I will also be reading Genova's other book "Left Neglected" in the near future.

Friday, December 09, 2011

25 books of Christmas

My December Daily layout about "25 books of Christmas"

After hearing about this on a couple different blogs, I decided that we absolutely HAD to do this in our house too...25 Books of Christmas. It works just like an Advent calendar really. Each night, E will open up a wrapped book (Christmas themed) and we will read it at bedtime. We have been having a great time with this so far. He really looks forward to it and it is helping to get us out of the rut of reading the same books over and over again.

December has been fantastic so far. In the mornings, we have our Lego City Advent calendar, which is helping tremendously in getting E out of the bed...even if he does run right back to it and hide under the covers. In the evenings, we have our books. It's great.

The only hang up...um, we don't have 25 Christmas-themed books...but we will soon. We started with about 8-10. I purchased about 5-6 used on Amazon for super cheap, I'm talking .01, so essentially they cost me $4.00 w/shipping. Love!!  I did splurge on a couple new ones that I knew we would love (Merry Christmas, Splat; A Pirates Night Before Christmas). I figure this is a great investment as we'll do this every year for quite a few years. Yay!

So far, we have read: 

I'm taking suggestions for any "must-read" Christmas books you think would be great additions to this project...I'm pretty sure I'm still short of 25. :)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

books!! books!! books!!

So many books. So little time.

I just wanted to share a few books with you that I am DYING to read...since getting my Nook, I've been getting my e-books through my local library (free!!) which is absolutely wonderful. The only downfall...they don't have EVERYTHING...in particular, they are no longer going to have anything published my Harper Collins because they have put strict rules on the number of times an e-book can be circulated which forces the library to buy multiple copies...all that to say, I'll have to buy a couple books from B&N because I can wait no longer! Luckily, with all those hotel points O has been racking up, he got me a gift card to B&N. I've been anxiously checking the mailbox every day!! Hee!!

The Golden Hour by Margaret Wurtele

This one has been on my "to-read" list for while!!

This one will be published in early 2012...it sounds sooo good!!

Another one I've been waiting on for a while...this might be my next or 2nd next book to read!!

And you may have noticed, that yes, they are all books which take place during the WWII era...which I am completely obsessed with. Who knew?!? I sure wasn't obsessed with it back in high school.

I'm hoping the holidays provide ample reading time...I know the 14 hour car ride to TX will...as long as E is entertained of course. Really hoping I can check a few of these off my list before the end of the year. And I only  have 3 books left to read to meet my Goodreads challenge (and get my "badge")...Hooray!!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

a few random thoughts

*i'm hardly motivated to post these days as it seems i'm posting purely for myself...well, I guess that's reason enough. I'm recording my thoughts/experiences, right?

*I'm still trying to cram too many things into one day: work, ymca, scrapbooking, reading, bedtime w/Ethan...there just isn't enough time for it all. one of these days I'll realize that.

*I was home "sick" today...I actually feel fine, but I have next to NO voice. that doesn't work so well being a school counselor. i came home early on Monday and refrained from talking as much as possible both then and today. It works well until I pick up E. :)  hopefully tomorrow things are better as I have 5 classes to teach. and 3 more on Thursday and 3 more on Friday. (yikes!!!)

*only 9.5 work days left until Christmas break. Woohoo!!

*E and I are Texas-bound for Christmas this year and I could not be more excited. I cannot wait. Christmas is SO much better w/ALL of the family. we are driving out with mom and her husband and then flying back so we can stay in TX longer.

*Ethan will have his first experience ice skating while there...so excited for that.

*Also extra excited for this Christmas with Ethan as I think this is a perfect age to truly enjoy the holiday. Last year, he totally "got" the idea of Christmas, but this year, even more. We are doing our very first Advent Calendar (Lego City) and it's so enjoyable to watch him open the "windows" every morning. 

*there are just SO many wonderful things about the holiday season with an almost-four-year-old!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

lots of good stuff

Seems that I've run into a little good luck lately (nice change!)...and it's about time!

I recently won "A Train in Winter" from Goodreads.com --a WWII book...right up my alley, my absolute favorite era to read.

Just about a week before that I won 25 Christmas cards from Shutterfly from my friend, Lindsay's blog...and that saved me a good chunk of change. Woot!

I have entered quite a few blog "contests/giveaways" lately and actually won one of those as well...from Bella Blvd...I won the "Winter Wonderland" paper pack. Cute!!

And lastly, but having nothing to do with luck, in today's mail I received a letter from my employer stating that in January we will once again be exempt from paying our insurance premium. Wahoo!! It will be nice to have a little bit "extra" post-Christmas. 

It's all I can do to NOT go play the lottery!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Christmas Cards Ordered!!!

So excited that I've already ordered our Christmas cards...WAY ahead of last year's schedule...a true miracle.

Also, GO TO SHUTTERFLY to order NOW...40% off cards (CARD40), Free shipping on orders over $30 and the cutest labels to match as well!!

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

www Wednesday

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?

• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

And so...here we go:

Currently reading:  "Before Ever After" by Samantha Sotto...I am really enjoying this book so far and just need more time to sit down and devote to reading. My reading time has been lagging lately. Sad.

Just finished reading: "Next to Love" by Ellen Feldman was the last book I finished...yes, I was reading "The Last Letter from your Lover" but did not realize i had reached my 21 day window (e-book) from the library and when I went to read it the other day I received a message on my Nook saying my rental period had expired. Sad. So I'm back on the waiting list for it and hopefully it comes through soon so I can finish it....and not forget all that I've read.
What I'll read next: "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern!!! I'm SOOOO excited to read this one too!! It's waiting for me right now at the library (e-book) so as soon as I can finish my current book, I'll be diving into this one!! Sure hope it lives up to the hype it's been getting.

Side Note: My favorite book this year so far remains "The Soldier's Wife" by Margaret Leroy!! Check it out if you enjoy WWII historical fiction.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading: Next Love by Ellen Feldman

I recently finished reading: Maine by Courtney Sullivan....which was "ok" but did not live up to the "hype" that it has been getting...at least for me.

Next, I plan to read: The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes. This sounds sooo good...a mix of history and romance...what could be better?

Monday, October 24, 2011

scrappy goodness

Just sharing a few things I've made recently.

I am loving Shimelle's current class as it is helping me use up scraps...these cards are proof!

A wild mix of of patterned papers...scrapping outside my box!!

Different from my normal scrappy style, but I'm loving how this one turned out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I'm on a scrapbooking marathon these days...and so, I joined in on Shimelle's newest class. I absolutely love it as it has already (in only 3 days!!) given me some great ideas to use up my paper stash.

I've already busted out 3 layouts and 3 cards...while simultaneously staying up to date on my Learn Something New Every Day mini-book.

Now if there were only more hours in the day...

Sidenote (& some humor): My mom just (kindly) sent me an email with some health tips in it...the article she was (kindly) referencing was one on weight loss tips...apparently, in order to lose weight these days, in addition to eating right and exercising, it turns out that I need to get 8ish hours of sleep per night...yeah, that would so not work for me...I'd have to eat dinner, clean the kitchen & dishes and then climb directly into bed. Totally unrealistic. Destined to be fat forever. Yay me! Bwahahaha!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

time time time...see what's become of me.

*I feel that all I've been doing for the past few weeks is talk about how I don't have time for anything these days.

*I hate that statement "I just don't have time"...really hate it. True or not. Ugh. Where does the time go?

*Recently, I've even had less time for reading...partially due to being so freakin' tired every night and going to sleep at 9pm (or earlier!) instead of staying up to 10:30ish reading like I used to.

*Apparently the 5:45am wake up is catching up with me.

*For the past two weeks, I've also only gone to the Y to run once each week. Pathetic.

*I'm sorta regretting signing up for the WDW Princess 1/2 next February because I know I'll have much LESS time to train than I did for the 2010 race. *sigh* Being the crazy competitor that I am, I know I'll be disappointed if I don't beat my time from 2010...but with the way my running routine is going, or shall I say NOT going, I'll be lucky to finish upright!!

*Some of the things I've noticed that have taken some of this time include: the start of the TV season...i.e. Grey's, Private Practice & House. They are really the ONLY shows I watch (or attempt to watch) on a regular basis. I DVR them but still finding the time to go back and watch them is equally challenging. Last night I pooped out at 9pm with Ethan and so I have both shows to watch...the perk of DVRing is being able to skip commercials and saving a little time that way. Yay. The other time-stealing activity lately - and this is NOT A COMPLAINT - is the lovely fact that my Detroit Tigers are still playing ball in October. Woot!! Finally I'm able to see them on TV, and yet, sadly, I've not been able to stay awake for all of the games (and some of them I've not wanted to be awake for). They head on back to TX for Game 6 on Saturday...I sure hope they can pull off this road win...otherwise it's O.V.E.R....but then, at least they beat the Yankees! Woot!!

*I've also been (trying to do) doing some scrapbooking - making some mini-books...particularly some December Daily books to sell in my Etsy shop. Please check them out, it's a great project to take part in and during such a wonderfully festive month.

*While I'm excited for some fun plans this weekend, I'm also realizing that those plans come at the cost of no relaxing "down time"...Friday nights have become my 'regular' day at the Y...so E and I will head up there at 5:30pm when "child watch" opens - he loves playing there--they have a train table!! Saturday we are headed to the mall & scrapbook store w/mom...she had rotator cuff surgery a few weeks ago so she can't drive right now. I desperately need to pick up some shirts for Ethan...he is smack-dab in the middle of sizes right now 3T-4T...3Ts are just a bit too small all over and the 4Ts he nearly drowning in...so of course I'm buying 4Ts but it drives me nuts that he sorta looks like a homeless child in his sloppy clothes. LOL!!

*You know I mentioned last week that we were robbed of our "fall break" this year...the kids got Fri and Mon off, teachers got NOTHING. Everyone is upset about it...we are (were) ALL ready for a break and we did not get it. Sure we got out at 1pm on Monday, but that doesn't make up for it. We will have NO time off until Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, the public schools were off yesterday and today for their Fall Break. Lovely!!  As a result, Ethan has said he doesn't want to go to school every.single.morning this week which is VERY unlike him. When I pick him up, he says he had a great day at school, so I know he likes it there...not to mention he is a little sponge and learning A TON!! They are teaching them all the letters in sign language too. Pretty neat. So anyway, I am taking a Personal Day on Tuesday and cannot wait...E and I will stay home and be the laziest people on Earth that day (for those wondering, I can't take Monday off due to a crazy schedule & the nightmare of rescheduling).

*So that's life in a nutshell...a big nutshell apparently considering the length of this post.  :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

30 lists in 30 days - chapter 3

And finally, the last of my 30 days of lists project!! I really enjoyed this project and I love my chunky new mini-album!!
Just a few of my favorite things...

It would be really nice if some of these things *were* real!

The screened in patio remains a dream...

Good shows...miss them!!
As a Virgo, I can only avoid/ignore the housework for so long.

A dream come true!!
There is always a "to-do" list!

Not too many exciting things here...

Ohhh...to rule the world!!

September was at best "little bit" awesome.

It's the little things, people!!

Friday, October 07, 2011

my random thoughts

*my primary random thought right now is about how disgusted I am that teachers/staff are not getting our 1 whole day of Fall Break this year...that's right, they took it away from us (Monday) and instead we will spend the day in Faculty Retreat...practicing praying FOUR different ways. And lunch isn't until 12:30pm...WTH? Way too late for lunch. Oh and I lacked to mention that Friday we have another retreat...but with people from other schools as well. Shoot.Me.Now.

*I currently have ZERO "fun" plans for the weekend, which means it will be sucked up by laundry and cleaning. I was going to attend an "intro to yoga" workshop on Saturday but after some unexpected medical expenses for the little guy this week, I decided to cut the yoga workshop. I've lost count of how many years I've been wanting to learn yoga...maybe by the time I'm 50 I'll have the chance.

*I've been feeling extremely short on time lately. More so than usual for some reason. I wishI never started scrapbooking because it takes too much time, but I love it too much to give it up entirely.

*I'm really struggling with the lack of "me-time" lately...trying to be strong and some days are better than others.

*I forgot to post this yesterday when I wrote it and at this moment I am enjoying playing Legos with my sweet E!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Banned Book Week - Sep 24-Oct 1

First of all, I can't believe I am going to admit this, but until this year I never knew Banned Books Week existed!! Did you? I find it rather interesting and as I was reading Book Journey, one of my regular book blogs recently, I noticed she was looking for a few people to participate in the weeks activities. 

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity and I chose to read a book from the Banned Book List and do a review of the book here on my blog.

The book I chose is Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Also, before this year, I didn't realize this book was even on the Banned Book List.

It has also been a surprise to many that at the age of 40 (!!), this is the FIRST time I am reading this book. I somehow made it through school without having to read it and honestly, I'm thinking that I probably would have connected more with the book at a younger age than I did now.

I am rather obsessed with books which take place in WWII, primarily stories of the Holocaust, so I had really looked forward to reading this book, especially in honor of Banned Books Week. For some reason, however, I really struggled with this book. I had always heard such fantastic things about it and many of my wonderful Goodreads friends have given it 5 stars, so I was quite hopeful that I would feel the same. I did not.

I found a lot of it to be rather repetitive, but I suppose that is typical for a diary. Regardless of my lack of fondness for the book, I still think it should be a required read for educational purposes as it provides a unique perspective of this time in history.

Why was it banned? 
This book was banned for passages that were considered "sexually offensive," as well as for the tragic nature of the book. Various reasons have been used to justify banning Anne Frank's acclaimed diary. In one 1983 incident, four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for its removal because it was a "real downer." This claim earned the book a  fifth place on ALA's Ten most farfetched reasons to ban a book."

The Washington Post published that Culpeper County public school officials have decided to stop assigning a version of Anne Frank's diary to 8th grade students after a parent complained that the book includes sexually explicit material and homosexual themes

To date, more than twenty-five million copies have been printed in fifty-five languages. 

Thank you to Book Journey for this opportunity...I really enjoyed participating!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

30 lists in 30 days - part 2

Here are the next few 'lists' I've made for my 30 lists in 30 days...and yep, I'm still a few days behind.
This was a great weekend - my girls day out to lunch & shopping.

I pretty much feel like this @ every moment.

I cannot wait to go to the pumpkin patch this year.

This list was a struggle...sometimes NOTHING motivates me!

I'm not a big procrastinator but when I am, these are the things that help me.

I'm a comfort dresser, for sure!

Might be trying Yoga for the FIRST time this Thursday....so excited!!

Wishful thinking/dreaming

Easiest list ever...hee!