Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 Goals: Books!

It's that time of year again. When everyone is making resolutions for the coming year.  I always feel like a resolution is destined to fail unless you have a plan to go with it though.  One resolution I always make is to read more.  In 2013 I met my goal of 24 books, but 2014 was a pretty sad book year.  I thin part of it is that I read less at work.  I used to read on my lunch, but now I often play Scrabble on my cell or surf the net.  So, I decided for 2015, I need a better plan than just carrying a book with me.

I decided that I want to read four books a month.  (Which is way more than I read this year.  But, I have plenty of free time if I cut back on surfing the web and plenty of books, so that's the goal, at least until the snow melts- then it may be re-evaluated.)  In order to make this more apt to happen, I'm picking four books out at the end of the previous month and aiming to get through them in the coming month.

Here are my picks for January:

And here are the Goodreads synopses for them and how I got the book:    

The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall (won the book and DVD on a blog giveaway): What would you do to inherit a million dollars? Would you be willing to change your life? Jason Stevens is about to find out in Jim Stovall's The Ultimate Gift.

Red Stevens has died, and the older members of his family receive their millions with greedy anticipation. But a different fate awaits young Jason, whom Stevens, his great-uncle, believes may be the last vestige of hope in the family.

"Although to date your life seems to be a sorry excuse for anything I would call promising, there does seem to be a spark of something in you that I hope we can fan into a flame. For that reason, I am not making you an instant millionaire."

What Stevens does give Jason leads to The Ultimate Gift. Young and old will take this timeless tale to heart.

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney (from a library used book sale): Small-time private investigator Ray Lovell veers between paralysis and delirium in a hospital bed. But before the accident that landed him there, he'd been hired to find Rose Janko, the wife of a charismatic son of a traveling Gypsy family, who went missing seven years earlier. Half Romany himself, Ray is well aware that he's been chosen more for his blood than his investigative skills. Still, he's surprised by the intense hostility he encounters from the Jankos, who haven't had an easy past. Touched by tragedy, they're either cursed or hiding a terrible secret-whose discovery Ray can't help suspecting is connected to Rose's disappearance. . . . 

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett (from my Secret Santa parnter): Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalizing mysteries with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt's Possession.

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays

 A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot (found at a second hand store- brand new! for 98 cents): A Chance to Die is a vibrant portrayal of Amy Carmichael, an Irish missionary and writer who spent fifty-three years in south India without furlough. There she became known as ''Amma,'' or ''mother,'' as she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship, a refuge for underprivileged children. Amy's life of obedience and courage stands as a model for all who claim the name of Christ. She was a woman with desires and dreams, faults and fears, who gave her life unconditionally to serve her Master. Bringing Amma to life through inspiring photos and compelling biographical narrative, Elisabeth Elliot urges readers to examine the depths of their own commitment to Christ.

 So there you have it!  Wish me luck. :)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

5 Things- Last Time in 2014!

It's crazy that 2014 is almost finished.  I've been polishing my goals for 2015, and thinking about what I hope to accomplish in the coming year.  I love New Year goals.  It's like a fresh notebook to write all your dreams in.  So this week, most of my things are related to making 2015 awesome.

1.  I enrolled in Campfire Chic's Spark e-course.  I don't feel super burned out per say, just more like overwhelmed and not sure what I should be doing.  I have followed Kam's blog for a while now, and this e-course is only a 30 day project- you get an email each day and only costs $10.  I figured it was worth a shot.  :)  I've only gotten the first two emails but I think it's going to be a good thing for me.


2.  Originally I was going to make my own planner for 2015, but then I realized I wanted something more than a planner.  So, I got the Emergent Task Planner notebook from David Seah.  It's only for 3 months, but each day gets its own page and there's lots of room for making lists and planning out your day.  I'm not one to plan out my time in increments, but I think it will still work for me.

3. I finally backed up my blog.  It's been on my to-do list, since I saw My So Called Chaos' New Blogger tips post about how easy it was to do.  My husband got me a cute little flash drive for Christmas, so I figured it was time.  It took like all of 5 minutes to dig up the instructions again and do it, but I feel much better now that I have done it.

4. This year feels like Christmas was upon us in no time.  I knew there was only three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and thought I was doing good, but all of a sudden, Christmas was here and I didn't bake nearly as much as I had been planning on, I didn't finish a lot of the gifts I wanted to make, I had things made that never got listed in Etsy, and I didn't even finish my Christmas cards.  One of my goals for next year is going to be to get ready early, so I can actually enjoy the Christmas season in 2015.  

5. This is not so much a thing as a question.  How many blogs do you guys read?  I use Bloglovin, and I love how easy it is to keep track of all the blogs I follow, but I find if I don't check in at least daily, I quickly end up with an overflowing list of unread posts.  Like we're talking 300 posts. Any tips or tricks for following your favorite blogs?  Should I be limiting the number I follow, or just skimming more?  Let me know what your system is.

Friday, December 26, 2014

12 Days of Christmas Show Off!

This was my second year of participating in the 12 Days of Christmas Swap (hosted by the ladies over at Chaotic Goddess Swaps).  I was partnered with Ashley from Happy. Pretty. Sweet.  And happy, pretty, and sweet all are good words to describe Ashley.  We know each other from the blog world, but it was fun to actually email each other and see how much stuff we have in common.  We both love Jane Austen and Doctor Who.  She's very crafty and she loves cats.  I think if we lived closer we would have to hang out.

My huge package from Ashley arrived right in the middle of work-pocalypse.  We were crazy busy and someone ended up crying at least once a day just from feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.  Then some strain of gastroenteritis started making its rounds through the hospital, hitting both patients and staff.  My little present a day was the bright spot of the day many days.

So, want to see what I got?  I was going to write down what I opened each day, but then I was sure I'd remember. Guess what, I don't.

So in no particular order, here are my 12 Day of Christmas gifts:
  1.  A package of "hello" note cards.  Super cute!  Red with gold lettering.
  2.  A pair of polka dot socks. 
  3. A cute, blingy bracelet.
  4. Knit cowl and ski band in turquoise.
  5. Some Crabtree and Evelyn lotion and shower gel.
  6. A copy of Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer.  Sounds good.
  7. Some bright and fun body glitter.
  8. Lindt chocolates.  Yum!
  9. Some Frozen themed tissues.
  10. Ulta body lotion in "Fresh Lilac"
  11. Tea!  Love tea in the winter.
  12. Headphones.  They were in the package, but I tore them open and having been using them.  These came at a perfect time, because my current pair have a bare wire and I'm not really sure they're safe to be jamming in my head. Thinking I should make the headphone cord wrap I saw on Pinterest.  Especially since HB likes to chew on my headphones.
If you want to see what everyone else got, including what I sent to Ashley, go check out the swap link up at Chaotic Goddess.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

5 Things- December 21

Another week down.  Can you believe we're almost done with 2014?  This year has been filled with happy moments along with disappointments, but I guess that's how every year is, right?  Here are things I'm loving, looking forward, or thinking about this week.

1.  Christmas cookies!  As in, I have hardly baked any!  I did make two loaves of babka for the hospital Christmas tea.  Basically, every department takes a day hosting the tea with a different theme.  The theme for our day was Christmas breads.  I forgot to take a picture of my bread, but here's a babka I made last year.  It's kind of like a rich coffee cake with its roots in eastern Europe.  I learned the recipe in my Craftsy Bread Making Class.  At this point, I'm kind of thinking Christmas cookies aren't worth the hassle.  I don't have anything else I need to serve them for, and I'll just end up eating 90% of them myself.  (Just ask the peanut butter cups I made two weeks ago.)

Walnut Babka

2.  2015 Goals!  I love making goals and to do lists and no time seems more perfect for new goals than a new year.  I took myself out for lunch on Friday to make a list of what I am hoping to accomplish in the coming year and some action steps for the bigger goals.

3.  Mastermind group!  I saw a link on Lemon and Raspberry a few months ago that was about how to start and run a mastermind group.  It sounded intriguing and it made sense.  Sometimes you need someone to push you on, brainstorm with you, and hold you accountable.  I had one friend in mind initially who would be great to pair with this, and shortly after another friend popped in my head.  It was crazy because the second friend and I are not very close.  We grew up together in the same 4H and stuff, and say hi when we run into each other, but we never really hang out together.  But, I had this feeling she'd be perfect for it.  I ran into her at church one Sunday and after the service we were chatting and I just sprang my plan on her.  And she was totally game. 

We met up with the other friend for supper a few weeks ago and we had a great first meeting.  I think it's going to be great.  We started a Facebook group and are going to try to meet once a month at least.  We all are driven and have big plans, but need someone to be pushing us along.  I think it's going to be great!  If you need help accomplishing your goals, I highly recommend at least looking into starting a group.  Think beyond your inner circle.  Sometimes what you need is not a friend, but an accomplice. 

4.   Christmas shopping is done!  (As long as my last packages from Amazon and Target get here in time.)

5.  Loving Spotify Premium!  They were giving a 3 month trial away for dirt cheap and I signed up.  I think I may be addicted.  No commercials, can I can listen to whatever I want on my cell phone instead of having my play lists shuffled.  I have it going almost constantly.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Forced Slow Down and A Belated Musical Monday

So I've told you guys how work has been crazy, and there's been tons to do to get ready for Christmas, and if you could see my house right now, it looks like a bomb has strewn objects all over it in a random pattern with no logical order.  My sewing room is a disaster, there's weeks worth of tooth paste spit in my bathroom sink, dead plants in the window sill, and cat toys everywhere.

Do you ever feel like that?  That life is just spinning out of control and all you can do it hold on?  That's how it feels here.  I keep making lists and trying to get everything done, but it's just not happening.

Lake Superior- October 2014
I like this picture of lake, because it kind of looks like how I feel right now, waves of more stuff crashing in- stuff to do, places to go, work, everything piling on top of each other.

Then, early yesterday morning, I woke up with a stomach ache.  I chalked it up to eating ice cream right before I went to bed, but no such luck.  I'll spare you the details, but I was sick.  I called in to work about 9 am, and at the hospital, anytime you have diarrhea, vomiting, or similar gastroenteritis symptoms, you have to be off for three days.  I spent most of the day in bed or the bathroom.  I slept a lot, and then I finally felt like eating real food around 6 pm. 

I feel much better today.  I think sometimes your body just quits on you.  You're stressed, you're eating junky food, you don't take care of yourself, so your body just decides to hit reset for you.  This morning, I feel like I can get the house clean, finish wrapping presents, maybe even do some baking and get some blog posts wrote.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes, getting sick is really a blessing in disguise.  I feel more "with it" today than I have in weeks, and that feels great.  I'm craving a nice big salad, and I have two forced days off at home to get stuff back in order. 

And... I also have a belated selection for Musical Monday this week.  This song pretty much encapsulates how I'm feeling.

So, better late then ever to show up at Musical Monday, right?  Want to see what everyone else was listening to this week?  Head over to My So Called Chaos where the link up lives to see what everyone else is listening to.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I'm Here, I'm Here!

Oh my goodness.  December has been a crazy month.  I mean, it's always chaotic with Christmas and everything that goes along with that, but it's also been absolutely nuts at work.  I've been doing a lot of day shifts so I get home and I'm just exhausted.

But, I wanted to pop over and give you all some sign of life.  And, I have another swap to show off.  For the Broke and Bookish Secret Santa, I signed up for the two book swap.  And my partner spoiled me!  Shipping dates are kind of open ended in this swap.  You just have to mail your package no later than December 15, so it was  a nice surpries to get mine over a week early.  Here's a picture of my treasures:
A photo posted by Kayl (@lavender_kay) on
Amanda from Fig and Thistle had my name and the package she sent was awesome!  She sent me Madd Adam by Margaret Atwood- one of my favorite authors and The Bookman's Tale which is a bibliophile mystery- one of my favorite subgenres.  And if that wasn't enough, she also sent a package of coffee, some chocolate and the cutest little pins.    I forgot to take pictures of what I was sending my partner. But she got two books off her list, some peppermint hot cocoa, and a candy bar too (same brand but different flavor of what Amanda sent me). 

I'm also in the midst of opening my 12 Days of Christmas pressies  and will be sure to post a pic when that's done.  It's been so nice to have something to look forward to when I get home from work each day.

Hope you all are surviving the holiday season and hopefuly I'll be back in the blogger groove soon!