Friday, November 13, 2015

Sign Up for 12 Days of Christmas Swap!

Ahhh!  Life has been crazy here lately, but that's for another post.  For now, I just wanted to pop in and let you all know that sign up are open for the 12 Days of Christmas Swap from Chaotic Goddess.  I do this one every year and it's so much fun!  You buy you partner twelve presents.  Mail them off, all wrapped and ready to go, and then they get to open one a day right up to Christmas.  Sound like fun?  Sings up close November 16, so get going.  If you blog and would like to join in, head over to Chaotic Goddess' for more info!

And I promise I'll be back in the loop more soon!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November Reading List

Since we're almost through 2015- yikes!- I decided I should go back and try to read some of the books I had been hoping to read earlier in the year, but didn't get to.  So here's what I'm hoping to read in November:

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood- This was from my April list.  I got it from my Broke and Bookish secret Santa last year, and really think it's time I read it!

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose- This one was on my June list, but never got read.  I bought it on Amazon a couple years ago but never got around to it.  Since I'm not going to do NaNoWrMo, I figured this might be a good, albeit weak, alternative.

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name by Heather Lende- This was a pick from way back in February!  The blurb on the front says it's part Anne Lamott and part Annie Dilliard, and after discovering Anne Lamott this year, I want to read it all the more!

Faithful Place by Tana French- I added this to my list just last month, and I was really looking forward to reading it, but didn't get through the books I had started in September!  I love Tana French so I'm excited to read it!

So, even though it's going to be a busy month, I'm hoping to get through my reads for November by reading more and wasting time surfing online less.  What are you hoping to read?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

October Book Recap

Well, October was a really sad reading month here!  I was definitely busier with schoolwork, and getting together with friends on the weekends, but I also slept in later and spent time just twirling around the internet.  So, I'm kind of embarrassed to show what I've read versus what I bought, but here goes:

Yikes!  That's right, I only read one book!
  • Bogtrotter by Richard Coffey is the story of Richard and his wife Jeanne lived in the Twin Cities.  Had successful jobs, and took part in the hustle and bustle of normal life, but always longed for a place of their own, in the quiet.  They decided to sell most of their things, move to rural, northern Minnesota, and build a little cabin on a bog, with outdoor plumbing and no electricity.  It was interesting.  I don't think I could do it, but it was a good read about slowing down and loosening the control stuff has on our lives.  But, I really do love a nice hot shower and that I don't have to cut firewood to keep my home warm through the long winters.

I found quite a few books thanks to two different stops at two different thrift shops and a book showing up on my wishlist at Bookmooch.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky- No I have never read this modern classic!
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman- I liked Stardust and I know Beth from Printcess and Miss Angie from My Socalled Chaos both love Neil so I when I saw this one for 50cents, I scooped it up.
  • Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald- Usually I stay away from Oprah Book Club books.  I don't know why, it's kind of pretentious to not want to read something because I consider it too "mainstream" or "popular",  But this one takes place in Nova Scotia, a place I've always wanted to visit, and with winter coming, it sounded like a good read.  Gothic family saga and all.
  • A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs- After reading the reader reviews on Goodreads, I'm thinking I maybe should have not got it, but it too was 50cents.  Worse case, it sits on my shelf for a long time before finding it's way back to Goodwill.
  • Gift of the Red Bird by Paula D'Arcy- D'Arcy wrote this book after her husband and baby.  After such loss, she needed to restore her faith.
  • Natural Wonders of Wisconsin by Don Davenport- This is more a reference book.  It lists national, state, and local parts, resources available there, hiking trails, etc.
  • A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller- Prayer is something I need to do better about.  I thought this book looked good.
  • 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller- Sounds like a lot of hype, but maybe I can glean a thing or two from it.
So what are you looking forward to reading?

2015 Totals

Monday, October 26, 2015

Forest Bathing... It's a Real Thing

About a month ago, I found an article in Vegetarian Times (October 2015 issue) about shinrin-yoku or forest bathing.  No, it doesn't mean stripping down to nothing and running around in the woods naked.  It means "taking in the forest atmosphere".  We all know being outside gives us a vitamin D boost, but according to this article, being in the forest can also reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and boost your immune system.

Me- Forest Bathing

Fast forward to this past week.  It was probably the worst week at the hospital in a long time.  Just busy, understaffed,  it wasn't one big thing, just a million little things.  Two of my girlfriends and I had been planning for weeks to go to Copper Falls State Park on Saturday, but by Friday night, I was at my wit's end and almost texted to back out, but by the time it slowed down enough at work to do that, it was already after 10pm. 

Saturday morning was drizzly and looked miserable.  I called my mom and was telling her about all the little things that were going on, and they were so crazy- like hunting the hospital for chocolate pudding after the kitchen was closed because a patient insisted on chocolate- not vanilla, not yogurt, only chocolate pudding.  I just started laughing at the ridiculousness of it, and then I started crying because it's just all so crazy.  After I got off the phone, I texted my friend to be sure we were still on.  She thought the rain was going to clear off, so she thought we should give it a shot.

Well, we did.  On the two hour drive to Copper Falls we discovered that all three of us had had yucky weeks and we just vented a little and talked about life.  By the time we got to the park, it was chilly, but not raining and we were ready to give it a go.

Copper Falls

It was beautiful.  We hiked for hours.  We got off the main trail and went on the backpacking trail.  We didn't see another soul, and it was so peaceful.  The trail was yellow from falling leaves that covered it, and when we got to the bottom of the gorge we just sat by the river and watched the water.  We didn't even talk much.  We just walked.  And watched leaves fall from the trees.  And listened to the water.

Bad River- Seriously, that's it's name.
By the time we were done, my mind felt just as relaxed as it does after a massage.  My legs ached from walking, but it was a good ache.  I felt like I was going to make it.  Even if I had to go back to work on Monday and it was just as crazy as Friday, it was going to be okay.  So, that's when I became a convert of forest bathing.  I realized you don't get the same feelings from just being outside.  It's something about being deep in the woods.  Not hearing any traffic, not seeing any other people, just you and the trees.

So, if you're stressed out, and can't get in for a massage, get to the woods.  Find the nearest state park or county park and just get out.  Bring some water, some granola bars, and just start walking.  Make sure you know where you're going though.  Getting lost will probably just add to your stress, so try to avoid that.  :)

To see what everyone else is up, check out A Cute Angle's Monday Link Up!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Green Superfood Review

I've really been trying to eat healthy lately, working at cutting out sugar and adding more fruits and veggies.  I got the opportunity to try out Amazing Grass' Green Superfoods in three different flavors and was excited to try it.  Adding powdered greens to your diet is a good way to get additional vitamins and minerals and is supposed to be great for your digestive system and energy levels.

The greens come in cute little packets so you just have to add them to the beverage of your choice.  I was sent three different flavors: Original, Lemon-Lime Energy Blend, and Goji and Acai Berry Infusion.  So I decided to try them three different ways.

First, I tried the Lemon-Lime energy blend in just water.  It really did taste like grass, but it almost felt like it was fizzy.  I don't know if it was the citrus, or if my taste buds are so warped that it assumes anthing lemon lime should be carbonated.  It wasn't very tasty, and I had to practically chug it and hold my breath to get it down.

Next I tried Original, and added it to a green smoothie.  The fact that it was mixed with almond milk, blueberries, pineaple, and other greens helped, but it was still pretty grassy tasting.

Finally, I tried Goji and Acai Berry Infusion with apple juice.  It was drinkable, but tasted really sweet and still like grass.  I still found myself chugging it to get it down.

I have used other powdered greens and other Amazing Grass products, but I don't think I'd buy these again.  On the plus side, it really did make me feel more energetic, and awake, but getting them down was a pain.  The green color is not very appetizing, but they are truly healthy, and made from plants, gluten free, vegan and raw.  If you are interested in trying them, I'd recommend mixing them in with a smoothie or adding them to a little juice and just downing it as fast as you can.

I received these free samples from SocialNature in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts are my own.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday- Writing Duos Edition

The Broke and the Bookish hosts an awesome top ten every Tuesday, with a different theme.  This week's theme is Top Ten Writing Duos you'd like to see.  Which two authors could write a beautiful book together?  I decided to try to pair a deceased author with a modern author, and managed to come up with five pairs so ten authors total.  Here's my pairings:

  1.  Margaret Atwood and George Orwell- Imagine if the author of The Handmaid's Tale and 1984 could get together?  The resulting dystopian work would probably make us shutter.
  2. Diane Setterfield and Emily Bronte- These two ladies could cook up one awesome Gothic mystery!  Diane Setterfield wrote The Thirteenth Tale and Emily Bronte was the author of Wuthering Heights.
  3. Audrey Niffenegger and Victor Hugo- Yeah, I know Audrey's books tend to have a fantasy element to them, but both write books with powerful characters who are flawed and both books usually involve lots of tears for the readers.  I picture The Hunchback of Notre Dame meets The Time Traveler's Wife.
  4.  Tana French and Thomas Hardy- Both love to make characters that are mess ups.  If you compare In The Woods to The Mayor of Casterbridge, you can see how their characters pasts come back to haunt them.  I think that together they would make a very flawed character who you still love and want to see succeed.
  5.  Kathryn Stockett and Jane Austen- Both wrote books centered on domestic life- Stockett with The Help and pretty much everything Jane Austen wrote.  Skeeter even seems a little like Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice or Emma.  So together they could cook up a female protagonist who we see a little of ourselves in and who acts in a way we could aspire to act.
What do you think?  Who would you love to see write a book together?   And click on the picture to be taken to the link up and see everyone's writing duo dream teams.

Friday, October 9, 2015

8 Years of Marriage and a Field Trip

Tuesday was my husband and my anniversary.  We have been married for 8 years now.  That seems impossible, and then other times it seems like we've always been married.  Like having my own place and living on my own seems as if it was eons ago.  I think that's good.  We're in that comfy groove where we say what's on our minds for the most part and harass each other but still hold hands and send each other goofy texts that are pretty much just pictures of our cats doing weird things.

Usually we go somewhere for the weekend around our anniversary, but this year we didn't really plan anything.  I had Tuesday and Wednesday off from work so about a week before our anniversary we really started talking about it.  We finally decided to take a train ride up north with the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad, and then just go out for supper.  I booked the tickets.  It was $12 a person, so not a big financial commitment, and we thought it'd be fun.

We weren't really sure what to expect but when we got there, the depot was very nice and has a large gift shop with snacks.  We were promptly boarded into a refurbished 1913 interurban train car, and off we went.  It's only a 45 minute ride, and the fall colors weren't at their peak yet, but it was still fun.  The interior of the car is pretty with stained glass a neat light fixtures, the view was still pretty, and it was something fun to do.

Left- Train Car; Top Right- Interior of Train Car; Bottom Right- View Outside

After the train ride, we stopped back in the gift shop to get a Christmas ornament.  We try to buy one every time we're on an anniversary trip, so when we decorate the tree each Christmas we have a souvenir to remember past trips by.

Then we continued on north to Minong, which is about an hour south of Duluth, Minneosta (and only about five minutes north of the train depot).  We didn't really have anywhere in mind to eat, but I pulled up TripAdvisor on my cell phone and we decided to try Longbranch Smokehouse and Grille.  It's the number one restaurateur in Minong.  (To be fair, there's only like six to choose from.)  When we saw the outside, we had our doubts.  It either had massive amounts of character, or was going to turn out to be a dive.

Side View of Longbranch
We decided to live a little and give it a shot.  We walked in and were immediately greeted.  Our waitress was really friendly, answered any questions and was very nice.  We got chips and queso cheese sauce for an appetizer and then Jim had a bacon cheeseburger and I got a pulled pork sandwich.  It was soooo good!  I'm not even a big barbecue lover, but the meat was super tender and the sauce was just the right amount of sweet and smokey.  We loved it!  If we're ever in Minong again, I'm betting we'll be back.

We would have probably never stopped if we were just driving through, but thanks to TripAdvisor we decided to give it a shot and were really glad we did.  So, it was a good anniversary- nice weather, trying new things, good food, and a nice ride home on the back roads.  And if you're ever driving through Minong, Wisconsin and craving good barbecue, now you know where to go. :)