Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February Goals

Here we are, half way through February, and I still haven't listed my goals. My masterminds group got together last Monday, so we were already nearly a quarter of the way into February by then, so basically, what I'm trying to say is that this month is flying by!

Here's a recap of January:
  • Daily quiet time.  Managed to do this about 3/4 of the time.
  • Work out at least three times a week.  I think I only hit this once, but the rest were all two times a week.  One of my friends from work goes so a lot of times we convince the other one to go or I'd be going even less.
  • Church every Sunday.  Uhm, I made it twice.
  • Twelve blog posts.  We were at six.
  • Get together, or set dates to see four friends.  I did this!  There was some early morning breakfasts, an after work supper, and a weekend trip to see a friend about two hours north of here that was so much fun!
  • Send four letters.  I sent more than four letters, I'm not sure they were all encouraging, but at least people knew I was thinking of them.
  • Sew at least 1/2 an hour a week.  Happened only once.
  • Write at least 1/2 an hour a week.  Didn't happen at all.
  • Save $100 for travel.  Saved $50, but then spent it on my trip north.
  • Read four books.  Managed to accomplish that!

So here's February's goals.  I'm scaling back and since it's a short month, just focusing on a few things.
  • Read four books.
  • Paint my laundry room.  It's still the matte white it was when we moved here ten years ago.  I'm dreading it because the room is so tiny and there's five doorways to trim around along with a set of cabinets, and the washer and dryer.  But it's looking tacky and it's time.
  • Work out three times a week.
  • Get together with friends four times.
  • Twelve blog posts.
  • Start getting up at 5am.  This one would allow me almost four hours before I have to be to work, so it would give me more time to sew, write, or even clean before work.
So how did your January go, or how is your February going?  Let me know.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

February Reading List

The books I picked for February are all fiction, but there's quite a variety of genres represented.

Here we go:
  • South of Superior by Ellen Airgood was loaned to me by one of my friends.  It takes place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is my most favorite spot, and seems to just be a story about small town living and how it shapes the protagonist who is new to the area.
  • Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple is written all in letters and emails and faxes and the like, but they all work together to tell the story of a mother who disappears and how her daughter resolves to find her.  More comedy than mystery, it's gotten great reviews.
  • Madd Addam by Margaret has been on my reading list, a couple times now- once in October of last year, and again in November of the year before.  I really want to finish up the trilogy, so I'm hoping this is the month I do it!
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is probably considered young adult, which I normally avoid, and reliving the awkward teenage years doesn't sound fun, but the book appears solid in the reviews department and to be honest, it's a little on the thin side so I figured it was a good pick for a short month. 😉
So there it is, my February reading list. What are you reading this month?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

January 2017 Reading Recap

So we're already a month into the new year.  My goal for 2017 is to read 48 books.  (Same goal I've had for the past two years, but I haven't been able to reach it yet.  Third time's a charm.)  So, I need to read four books a month to stay on target.  Here's how January looked.



I did get four books read!  They were:
  • The Man from Bejing by Henning Mankell was a nice, cross continent mystery with action taking place in Sweden, China, and even western Africa.  I love a good Swedish mystery in the winter time, but this one kept you in the know for most of the story, and you knew half way through the book who the killer was and the motive, you were just hoping the main character would put it all together. 
    One thing that annoyed me was how naive Birgitta Roslin, the protagonist, was. She was smart and kept her wits about her for the most part, but she did some stupid things, like randomly asking strangers in Beijing if they recognized the picture she had of her prime suspect for a mass murder.  I may just be a cynical American but this seemed like a bad idea on so many levels- like first off, the odds are minuscule that anyone will recognize the man in the picture so it's probably a waste of time, and if they do, then what?  And, if they recognize him, it's probably not because he's a fine, upstanding citizen known for doing good.  She also gives out her contact information to everyone and their brother, and spills her guts about looking for a killer to random strangers, but won't tell her husband she was mugged.  It just didn't really make sense to me.
  • Dear Mr. Darcy by Amanda Grange, which was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice via letters many of the characters write each other.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  Due to the fact that it gave more dimension to Willoughby, Georgiana Darcy, and even Mary Bennett.  It was quite enjoyable. 
  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown has been on my radar for quite a while, and I am glad I finally read it.  It was more about living a whole-hearted life, than about letting go of perfectionism, although I guess if you're a perfectionist than you need to let that go in order to live a whole-hearted life.  I am not a perfectionist, but it did really make me think about a lot of the things I do in my life, and make some resolutions on things that I need to change.
  • The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg was a Christmas gift from a friend and is all about living a happy life with less based on the Danish concept of Hygge.  Hygge is kind of like minimalism but it also involves nature, entertaining friends, good food, hominess, and being content.  I kind of picture it as practical minimalism.  I was happy to see I was already practicing a lot of the concepts, but it encouraged me to do more.  It's very practical and if you're new to the Hygge concept, I'd really recommend it.
As for what I acquired, both were Christmas gifts I received in January:
  • The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg which has already been read
  • Daily Rituals by Mason Currey is all about what different artists did to prime their creative pumps.  This was from a friend who I frequently discuss creativity with and it should be an interesting read.  Each artist is featured over one or two pages and just thumbing through it has proven interesting.
2017 totals: 4 Books Read/ 2 Books Acquired.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday- Must Read of 2017

This week, I'm joining up with the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish to share my top ten list.  This week is a freebie week, so you can make a list about whatever you want.  Mine is the list of books that have to get out of my TBR stack and get read!


I feel like my house is getting a little overran with books as of late, and I know my husband feels the same.  There's books stacked up in our living room, dining room, my office, and even our basement.  I know it's pointless to go on a book buying hiatus, because sometimes you find something you just can't pass up or you've been looking for forever, or you're fairly sure it's going to be one of those life changing reads. 😉 But, I do want to be more conscious about what I haul home this year.

So, here's the list of books that have been sitting on my shelves for far to long, and it's time for them to be read and passed on!


  1. MaddAdam by Margaret Atwood.  On the list since: 09/15/2013.  It's been on my monthly to be read list several times, and I enjoyed the other two books in the trilogy, love Atwood, but just can't seem to get this one read!
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  On the list since: 02/05/2014.  I hear nothing but good things about this book, but I have a feeling that it's going to be a big time tear jerker so I haven't read it yet.
  3. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen.  On the list since: 08/03/2015.  I love a good Scandinavian mystery and this is the first of a series so you'd think I'd be jumping all over it, but haven't yet.
  4. A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay.  On the list since: 09/01/2015.  I liked the other book I read by her, and have even added this one to my monthly reading list, but it's yet to even get cracked open.   
  5. Children of God by Mary Doria Russell.  On the list since:10/04/2016.  The Sparrow was literally my favorite read of 2016, so when I found the sequel at the library book sale, why didn't I drop everything and immediately give it a read?  I don't know.  I guess I'm just worried it will be not that good.
  6. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.  On the list since: 06/26/2013.  Originally on a list of recommended reading from my Women's Studies professor.  I found a copy at a used book sale, snapped it up, and have proceeded to let it just sit on a shelf since.
  7. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.  On the list since 08/03/2015.  Sad truth- I was unaware what the Appalachian Trail was until the whole scandal in South Carolina with Governor Mark Sanford's staff said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail while he was really in South America with his mistress.  That was in 2009.  But now that I've learned of it's existence, it definitely intrigues me.  Bryson is funny and truthful, which I think will make a good mix for this book.
  8. Grace Eventually (Thoughts on Faith) by Anne Lamott.  On the list since: 07/01/2016.  I love Anne Lamott.  I think I may have mentioned that once or twice.  So I can't believe I've let this book sit on my shelf for even six months.  She encourages and makes you laugh and opens your eyes all while feeling like you're having a nice visit with a friend.
  9. An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina.  On the list since: 10/05/2015.  This is an autobiography of the man who stood up against the Rwandan genocide and hid people in the motel he managed, you may have seen the movie- Hotel Rwanda. 
  10. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.  On the list since: 06/26/2013.  I know I've had this book for longer than I've been on Goodreads, but I have yet to read it.  It's won a Pulitzer Prize, it's got a high rating, but I've just never picked it up.  I think this is the year I'll get it read.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

January Goals

A new year always feels like a fresh start at goals.  I know it's all a head game and you can get back on track anytime of year, but there's just a newness about a new year.  But, before I can get into 2017 plans, I have to recap 2016.  Ugh.  This isn't going to be pretty.

December Goals
  • Read four books. Only read two.
  • Drink 64 oz of water daily. Coffee? Maybe.  Water?  Not even close.
  • Restart morning pages.  Nope- only once.
  • Be present for Christmas.  It really didn't feel like Christmas until about Christmas night. I already have plans for next year.
  • Get 2017 planner read. Yes!  Managed to get a plan in place for this, and it's working so far.
  • Work on long term goals. Yes!  I have a 2017 and beyond to do list started and an idea of what I want the year to look like. 

2017 Theme: People and Experiences > Things
I want 2017 to be about trying new things and being with people instead of worrying about things and spending time maintaining them or looking at more stuff to buy online.  My house is full of books and things and I have plenty of projects I can work on that will require little more than elbow grease and time to get done.  I want to spend my extra money on travel and not more clothes or fabric or books or things I don't really need, so that's going to be influencing several of my monthly goals throughout the year.

January Goals
  • Daily quiet time.  Preferably in the morning, but time to do my Bible reading, some devotionals and just get in a good mindset for the day.
  • Work out at least three times a week.  With temperatres below zero and winter making it dark when I get up in the morning and dark when I get home from night, and just an overall feeling of lethargy, I finally broke down and joined the gym here in town with one of the girls from work.  We've been doing good about keeping each other motivated and I've found the elliptical is actually bearable when I have some music to listen to.
  • Church every Sunday.  I have been skipping out of church for over a year, and while I don't feel like you have to go to be a Christian, I felt like for me, it was time to go give it another look.
  • Twelve blog posts. I know I've been neglecting the blog, and I feel like I have a plan to remedy that.
  • Get together or set dates to see four friends.  Since leaving the hospital, I don't see a lot of my work friends regularly and while everyone says, "We need to get together." I want to actually do it.
  • Write four letters. I just want people to know I'm thinking of them.  So, sending cards is an easy way to do this.
  • Sew at least 1/2 an hour a week. I think a half an hour while easily turn into more, but I want to set a weekly goal because it's easy for me to neglect my sewing machine for weeks on end.
  • Write at least 1/2 an hour a week. I need to get over the fear of not writing well enough and just write.  Half an hour seems a reasonable starting place.
  • Save $100.   I travel on the cheap.  AirBNB and little mom and pop hotels are just my style, but travel still takes money so I want to set aside some money each paycheck to cover things like gas and food for trips.
  • Read 4 books!  This is going to be the year I reach 48 books!  I'm determined!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

January Reading List

A new year, and a new chance to meet my reading goals!  I'm once again aiming for 48 books. (Third times the charm?)  So here's what on my list for the first month of the year.

  • The Gift of Imperfection by Brené Brown was originally on my reading list last September, but I never even started it.  For 2017, I really want to clear some room on my shelves and I really want to get some the books that have been on my reading list read.  I've heard Brené on a couple podcasts and a TED Talk so I'm thinking I'll enjoy this book all about overcoming the need to feel like an overachiever.
  • Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton was originally written in the 1940s and is set in South Africa, involving race relations and injustice.  I know it's a pretty well known classic, but I never read it, so time to change that.
  • First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde has been on my shelf for years, but I had to track down the prior book in the Thursday Next series before I could read it.  I believe there's a time hop of several years in this one and I'm looking forward to having all the characters fresh in my head, because last time, there had been a couple years between me reading the books.
  • The Man from Beijing by Hennning Mankell, who is the author of the Wallander books, has been on my shelf for only a couple months, but I'm ready for a good Scandinavian mystery.  I love Wallander, but this one is a stand alone without him, so I thought it'd be a good starting point for my first foray into Mankell.
So, there it is.  What are you reading this month?  Or have you read any of these, and if so, what did you think?  Drop me a comment with your thoughts.

Monday, January 2, 2017

December Book Recap


December was kind of a shabby month for reading, but it always seems to be, with Christmas and everything.  I did finish two books and managed to only acquire the books my Secret Santa sent me.  So here we go.

Read
  • Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood and it Atwood perfection.  It was nine short stories, the first couple connected the next couple not.  She has this way of writing that makes you feel for the characters.  You understand their motives, even if their motives are wrong or crazy or horrible.  I feel like she understands human emotion better than any writer, or maybe she's just not afraid to kick up the rocks and reveal the dark reasoning underneath.  She's just always great.
  • The Trespasser by Tana French was not my favorite Tana French but not my least favorite neither (for one does not dislike Tana French 😉).  It left me with a pretty substantial book hang over while I tried to process what it was about the story that kept it from blowing my socks off.  In the end, I think I thought Antoinette was too distracted with her own problems to see what was right in front of her nose.  She just was all wrapped up in thinking everyone was against her and Stephen was all wrapped up in far flung theories... Maybe it was their sleep deprivation, but I felt like they had a better rapport when they first met in The Secret Place.  The mystery was good, the solve was there, I just feel like they deserve another book.  Although, when you think about it, French frequently shows their detectives at lows instead of highs, so maybe this fits.  I just didn't enjoy it as much as some of her other books.
Acquired
All these came from my Broke and Bookish swap partner, so you can read more about the books here.
2016 Grand Totals 
Read: 36
Acquired: 54

So, I got  more books than I read.  But, the good news is my bookshelf is well stocked for 2017 and I hope to finally meet my book reading goal and cut back and how much I add to my collection.