Monday, February 8, 2016

February Reading List

Thomas Hardy, C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie

Another month, another group of books off my bookshelf to read.  I dug out some that have been sitting, patiently waiting for years this time!  Here's what I'm hoping to read in this short month. :)

Murder in Three Acts by Agatha Christie- I love Dame Christie and every now and then, I get a craving for a nice warm mystery.  I have a whole box of hers that I've been collecting since high school, so I really should get them read and pass them on for someone else to enjoy.  It's a Hercule Poirot mystery, and while I've always been more partial to Miss Marple, he's a pretty good egg.  (Haha, get it, because he's always described as having an egg shaped head.  Sorry, cheesy I know.)

Tess of d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy- My classsic pick of the month is not a warm feel good Valentine read.  From what I know about it, it's the story of how Tess messes up her life.  But, it's been sitting on my bookshelf so long, it has a bookplate with my maiden name in it (meaning it's spent more than 8 years sitting on my bookshelf- I'm guessing it's closer to 15).

C.S. Lewis Through the Shadowlands: The Story of His Life with Joy Davidman by Brian Sibley- You know when people ask you if you could invite three people to a dinner party, who would you invite?  C.S. Lewis has always been in my three.  The author The Chronicles of Narnia was a long time bachelor, but finally got married to Joy Davidman when he was 58.  She sounds like an interesting character in her own regard, and I'm looking forward to reading this.

Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman is kind of hard to describe, but involves multiple points of view, a murder, Norse mythology, and mystery, all on the Minnesotan plains.  It's not a very long book, but it's packed full of story.  I hope it resolves all these lines in a satisfactory way.

What are you currently reading?  Or, have you read any of the books on my list?  What'd you think of them?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Come Get Social With Me!

This week I signed up from Just Bee's Blogging Breakthrough Workshop.  It's targeted for new bloggers, bloggers looking for results, and bloggers wanting to dig deeper into blogging.  It's a great little seminar and with the coupon code on her blog, I was able to sign up for just $18.  I figured I've wasted $18 on a lot of worse things, so it was worth a shot.  Well, it's jam packed with all types of ideas for everything from photography, social media, hosting, and more.  I like that it gave me a jumping off point for a lot of stuff I knew I should probably be doing, but haven't done yet, so it definitely nudged me to make some pages.

First, I finally made a Facebook page for Chair in the Shade.  I've always been leery about getting my private life and my online life too close to each other, but when I started thinking about all the things I could do with Facebook, I finally decided to just take the plunge.  So, there's not much there right now, but if you'd like to stop by and like it, so we can stay connected, that'd be awesome!

Second, I finally got around to creating more professional social media links for all my platforms.  You can now find them all together at the top of the right hand column. Here's  little picture to see what I'm talking about.  It was so easy, I can't believe I waited so long to try it!

Sidebar links

I have links to my new Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and even my Etsy account (my shop is currently closed, but you can still see my likes and sign up to be notified when I reopen).

The seminar also got me thinking about some other things, but so far these are the biggies.

Finally, there's only a few days left to enter my giveaway for a $25 gift card to Book Outlet, so if you haven't entered yet, be sure to do so!  Unless you hate books or something...

So, that's what's new on the blog front.  Any tips or hints for blogging related programs or apps you think I should be checking out?  Let me know!

Friday, February 5, 2016

January Book Recap

First month into the year and I got a couple good books read and acquired a few more.  Here's how January shook out.

reading list

So for what I read, I got three of the four books from January reading list read.
  1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik (note: one of my friends is borrowing it so I subbed a similar sized book for the picture above).  This was a good book.  I really liked the first half, the whole setting laid out, and the mystery of The Dragon and everything about the village, but to me, it just felt like the second half just wasn't as amazing.  It was still good, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the first half.  It felt like it was just holding on by it's finger tips.  More characters were introduced, and I didn't feel like all the relationships or reasoning for why certain people acted the way they did was logical but I would definitely read other books by her, and be up for a sequel to Uprooted.
  2. A Little Princess by France Hodgson Burnett.  Okay, I'll admit it.  This book made me cry.  I wasn't  sure how it ended when I started reading it.  I know I've seen the movie and such, but just wasn't sure.  It's an obviously Victorian type story where good is pure good and bad is always bad.  There's not a whole lot of depth to the characters, but it's a children's story and a pretty good one.  Note, at the start of the book, Sara really annoyed me with her solemn, brave, perfectness, but the kid grew on me.
  3. Reluctant Saint by Donald Spoto.  Do you ever realize that there's large chunks of history that you know very little about?  That's how I felt reading this biography of St. Francis of Assisi.  The 1200s are not usually my jam, but this biography made me realize how interesting some of the people were from this time.  I'm not Catholic, but just reading about Francis and all he went through, and how he went from being like the wild child of Assisi to living in a cave and  fasting and praying was just really interesting.  It made me want to find books on St. Clare and Jacoba- two of the women who followed Francis' order, and just learn more about the saints in general.
Books I Acquired
  1. The Mindfulness Habit by Kate Sciandra.  This was on my want list so when it came up on Bookmooch, I had to get it.  I'm always trying to be more in the moment.
  2. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriaty.  This was a gift from my Book and Cuppa partner, Diana.  I haven't read any of Moriaty's books, but I'm really looking forward to giving this one a whirl!
  3. The Door by Margaret Atwood.  I know I've mentioned it like one hundred times before, but I really love Margaret Atwood, so when I found this collection of poems at the library used book sale, I snapped it up. Can't go wrong when it's only 50 cents!
  4. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo.  I'm hoping Jo Nesbo will be able to fill the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo hole in my heart, and again, this was from the library book sale, so not much to lose.
  5. Phantom also by Jo Nesbo.  I'm wondering I have to start this series with book one.  I suppose that'd be the logical spot to start.  This is book nine.
  6. When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I haven't read any Ishiguro's books befoere neither, but since this was at the book sale and so cheap, I snapped it up too.
2016 Totals:
Read 3
Acquired 6

Thursday, February 4, 2016

February 2016 Goal

We're in the second month of year already!  2016 is 1/12 done!  So that means it's time to talk about how January goals went and what I'm hoping to accomplish in February.  First off, here's a recap of January:

The Good

  • Exercised at least three times a week for 20 minutes a time!
  • Had quiet time nearly every day.  (Missed once the whole month!)
  • Finished my 21 Day Cleanse.  (Want to know how it went?)

The Bad
  • Only read three books, instead of my goal of four.  (I'm still okay with that though.)
  • Did horrible about writing Morning Pages.  Did it for maybe the first two weeks and then never again.

Overall, I was happy with how January went and am looking forward to building on that momentum in February, so here's what I want to do this month!

February Goals
  • Increase exercise to five times a week, at least twenty minutes a time.
  • Get back on track with Daily Pages.
  • Read four books. (Five would be even better, but I'd settle for four.)
  • Continue daily quiet time.
  • Really celebrate Valentine's Day- send cards to friends, spoil husband, make treats, etc.  Basically, just make everyone around me feel loved.
  • Make my home feel homier- plan gallery wall of family and friends' pictures, make valance for kitchen window, make curtain for my office.  
  • Try hand embroidery.  I've been looking for a more portable craft, and I always liked counted cross stitch, but hated how if you messed up one square, it could through your whole design up.  I have a Pinterest Board filled with hand embroidery ideas and am looking forward to trying it.
So, that's what's on my agenda.  What are you hoping to accomplish this month?  And be sure to check out the linkup over at My So Called Chaos and A Peek at Karen's World to see what everyone else is planning for too!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book and Cuppa Show Off + A Giveaway!

Alright, so I got all sorts of cool things to show you guys today!  First off, the Book and Cuppa Swap from Chaotic Goddesses is wrapping up.  I was paired with the lovely Diana from Book of Secrets.   She reviews books and especially likes mysteries, suspense, some classics, and gothics.  We had some similar interests  and we had fun getting to know each other and I really enjoyed reading her blog, and its gorgeous!  Seriously, go check it out!

So, want to see what I got?  Check it out!

We have a copy of What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, which has been on my wishlist since last summer.  It's a nontypical mystery, in that twenty-nine year old Alice wakes up to find she's thirty-nine and her life is all twisted around from how she last recalled it.  So, she's trying to figure out what happened in the last ten years to get her to this point.

She also sent me this awesome coffee cup!  It's the perfect size.  I love roomy mugs, but they still need to fit under my single cup coffee maker.  This one is perfect, love and it's bright and cheery too.  Great for early mornings.

As if that wasn't enough, she also sent two Chocolove candy bars!  I love Chocolove.  They're made in Boulder, Colorado, and they come in like twenty some different flavors.  And... a bag of coffee from The Roasterie, which I'm looking forward to trying.  I love trying new coffee and regional brands are a great treat.

And now... on to the Giveaway.  I'm always on the lookout for new affiliates who I think will be interesting and provide something worthwhile.  Recently, I signed on with Book Outlet.  They have a wide selection at great prices- like seriously, I found some for $1.95.  I kind of look at them as a used bookstore price wise, but with new books.  They have all genres: mysteries, kids books, fiction, memoirs, cookbooks, adult coloring books, you name it, you can find it.  One feature I really like, is that you can type in any authors name and it will show you any books available by them, but also other books that are of similar taste.

So, up for grabs is a $25 gift card.  To enter, simply visit Book Outlet, and give me a title of a book you'd like to buy if you won the gift card.  If you follow along on Bloglovin, you can get a second entry.  If you don't and would like to, just click the link in the entry box.

Winner will be selected at random and notified by email.  The person selected, will have 48 hours to respond and I will get the gift card info to them.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.  

Book Outlet

And, be sure to check out the link up over at Chaotic Goddess to see what everyone else got from their partners, and find some cool, new reads.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday-The Classics!

Today I'm linking up with the lovely crew over at The Broke and the Bookish to share my top ten list.  And it's freebie week.  But before I share my list, a little background...

I was home schooled through high school.  That's right.  I didn't have a prom, no football team to cheer on, no clique to hang with, and no after school clubs.  But that doesn't mean I didn't have a community to hang out with.  I had friends that I saw in the flesh, sure, but I also had other friends.  No not message board friends, or blog friends, but penpals!  And I loved it.  There's just something about paper and pen and the thrill of getting mail.  There was also a strong community of desktop published magazines and newsletters.  Think of it as similar to a zine, but with regular features, stories, and articles about whatever.  And yes friends, I had one.  I published a magazine with ClarisWorks 3.0 on my Macintosh Performa.  It was fun, and actually similar to blogging.  But it really helped you make new friends.  And don't scoff, I still write to one penpal fairly regularly, keep up with several on Facebook, and even owe my love of the Upper Peninsula to a penpal who lived there that I visited one summer in high school, and she took me all over, and fed me thimbleberries, and pasties and we grilled out on the shore of Lake Superior.

Now, one thing this large community of (mostly) girls loved more than anything was 19th century literature- Charles Dickens, the Bronte Sisters, George Eliot, Wilkie Collins, and the like.  But our by far and away favorite was Jane Austen!  I became so enamored with classic literature that I resolved only to read classics.  I figured that time was too short to spend it on fluffy books when there was all this great literature to read.  It took me years to realize that lots of good books were written by authors who were still alive and that I was ignoring some great books by setting so narrow a scope.

But now, this year, I decided I want to read some classics again.  One per month is my goal, and I went down to the basement to cull some classics out of the bookshelf I have down there.  (A kind of home for forgotten books.)  So, without further ado, here's my book reading list of Classics for 2015, in no particular order.

english literature

I haven't read any of these prior, so it should be an interesting reboot of high school English class of sorts.  What do you think?  What classics did you enjoy, and do you still read them?  And don't forget to go to The Broke and the Bookish and check out the link up!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Things I Learned When I Gave Up... Coffee, Cheese, Bacon, Chocolate, Bread, and Alcohol for 3 Weeks

So, one of my goals for January was to complete my 21 Day Purification Diet.  Which meant no dairy (except butter), no bread or pasta, no caffeine, no alcohol, no chocolate, no sugar unless it was in fruit, and only a little meat.  Basically it was all fruits, veggies, water, and lentils for the first ten days, and then for days eleven to twenty-one, I could have a little lean meat with my fruits, veggies, and lentils.

I did this because I was the heaviest I've ever been.  I have headaches, I was having heartburn, and sometimes I'd have gallbladder pains- not acute, but like bloating and feeling like I was a Macy's Thanksgiving day balloon after eating.  So, I wanted to just kind of give myself a reset, and what better time to start than the first of a new year.  Here's what I learned (and how I felt).

1. Giving up caffeine is hard.  I started weaning myself off between Christmas and New Year's.  Which was not fun.  I love coffee.  A lot.  I had a day of numbing headache, but I lived.

2. The first three days were the worst.  I felt like crap.  I was hungry all the time.  My back ached for no apparent reason. I felt hot, but didn't have a fever.  It almost felt like I was getting the flu.  But then I just woke up on day four and felt better. I was really glad I had taken the first few days of the New Year off so I didn't have to feel so doggy and try to work because I just laid around the house and watched t.v. and read and napped.

3. I stocked up on fruits and veggies, and thought I'd be good to go.  But, I missed bread- sooo much.  I never realized how much bread I ate. I had dreams about going to Subway, and getting a sub, just because bread sounded so good.  I ate a lot of lentil soup, and all I could think of is how good it'd be with a hunk of crusty bread.

4.  I snack way more than I realize.  A lot of times, I get hungry, and then it's like my blood sugar bottoms out and I start getting sweaty, and shaky, and hangry, and I wolf down something not healthy.  I'm sure this is part of my problem with losing weight.  But, when I was eating a diet of less refined carbs, my blood sugars stayed level, and even if I got hungry, I didn't get hangry or shaky.

5.  Having to be around foods you can't have while others are enjoying them totally sucks.  They ordered pizza at work one day.  And it smelled soooo good.  I had packed a salad and I will admit, I felt a little dejected eating it while everyone else had pizza.

6.  But, once I realized I was actually losing weight, I felt pretty stoked.   I had done this diet once like ten years ago, and while everyone I did it with lost weight, I did not.  It was very disappointing.  So, I went into thinking that even if I didn't lose a pound, it'd be good for my body and mind to stay away from junk for a while and try to get some good habits established.  So watching the number on the scale go down was exhilarating!

7.  And that made me want to exercise.  Because when I was done with the diet, I wanted to keep the weight off, and maybe even continue losing some. Of course, this was in the middle of a -20 degree cold snap, so walking outside did not sound appealing.  So, it was "Hello treadmill and Spotify" time.  Treadmills aren't my favorite, but it's a doable option and gets me off my butt.

8.  By the last couple days, I was sick of veggies.  I should have kept track of how many pounds of produce I consumed, but I know I was stopping at the store every  couple days to get more.  I was already planning what I would eat for my first meal off the cleanse.  (Homemade tacos!)  I don't even want to think about eating anymore broccoli or cauliflower for a while.  This red lentil soup recipe was a lifesaver!  I think I made it twice in the last three days.  It was super good, filling, and healthy.  I will definitely be making it again.

9.  Day 22 rolled around, and I was so excited to wake up and have coffee!  I swear I got the shivers, just tasting it.  And it smelled SO good!  But I was good and only had one cup.

10.  I lost eleven pounds, and I am fitting into clothes that didn't fit before, so I'm hoping if I stay on a healthier path with my food choices, and keep exercising, I'll keep it off and lose some more.  I always felt like I was accepting of how I looked before, but I gotta admit, it does feel good to lose weight.  I noticed my posture is improved, my skin is clearer, I haven't had any headaches since I got over the caffeine withdrawal ones, and I do feel pretty good.  So, even though I was a little apprehensive when I started and skeptical of any sort of diet, it turned out to be a success.  And, I still haven't had chips or chocolate!  Or gone to Subway for the dreamed about sub bread.  I'm sure I will sometime, but I haven't even been craving them, which is crazy!