Thursday, December 29, 2016

November Book Recap and December Reading List

Hey, did you miss me?  I feel like I was MIA for most of December, although blogging was frequently on my mind, and I've been thinking of how I want my 2017 to look- both personally and blogging wise.  So, since I never got around to posting my November book progress and my December reading list at the beginning of the month, I'm just lumping them into one post now.

First off, what I read:

I only made it through two books, but one was a duzy!  Gracious Living in a New World by Alexandra Stoddard had me by turns nodding in agreement, then rolling my eyes, and thinking this book was written for the 1%.  Stoddard is a successful interior designer in New York City who owns multiple homes and apparently thinks shipping furniture you find at the open air market while you're on vacation in France is something we all can do.  There were little nuggets here and there that I found useful but for most of us, staying in bed until noon for gathering ones thoughts and writing is not an option, nor is having a secretary just to transcribe our notes because we prefer paper and pen to untrustworthy computers.  I only finished it because I was more than halfway in and it's not that thick.

The other book I read was The World's Last Night by C.S. Lewis.  I always find Lewis refreshing and after finishing the Stoddard book, this was a nice change of pace.  Even though it was written decades ago, it felt as if a lot of it could have been written today.  It was pretty short so I breezed through it to, which was nice after trudging along through the previous book.

The book I acquired was one I read years ago, and gave my copy away, but have been looking for a copy for quite a while.  It's C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces, which is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche.  I remember reading it in high school, and loving it, but that's about all I remember.  I'm hoping it holds up better than some of the things I loved in high school.

2016 Totals:
Read- 34  Acquired- 51

Now, on to my December reading list:

  • The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty- I read What Alice Forgot, and enjoyed it, so I'm interested to see what Liane has up her sleeve in this one.
  • Dear Mr. Darcy by Amanda Grange is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's point of view, and to be honest, I can never get enough Jane Austen in my life.
  • Life's Companion by Christina Baldwin is a book about the importance of journal writing.  To be honest, I don't know if I'm going to get to it this year, but it sounds good, and has gotten really good reviews on Goodreads so I hope to pick it up soon!
  • Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood is a collection of short stories, and really, I just love her writing.  Every time I finish a book by her, I think to myself, I need to sit down and write.  She makes it seem so effortless and spins the mundane into these weird tales that just get down into your bones and stick to you.
Alright, well, I have a few more posts planned for the end of the year, and some new things cooking for 2017.  And as always, if you think there's a book I have to add to my lists, drop me a comment and let me know, or if you've read any of these, let me know what you thought!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December Goals

We're nearly halfway through December and I have yet to post.  December is always a bad month for me blog wise because Christmas is a busy time of year but it's also so dang dark!  I get up and it's dark, with it just getting light around the time I leave for work.  By the time I get home, it's already dark.  Ugh!  That leaves the weekends for photos and getting posts ready, but I just haven't been up to the task as of late.  I always have this big idea that I'm going to do all my photos for the week on the weekend and then write posts as I go, but so far, it hasn't germinated past an idea.

But, let's get in there.  I'll start with my November recap.  My goals were:
  • Read 4 books. Only read two.
  • Sew everyday.  Nope.  Ended strong and did the craft fair with one of my friends.  Pretty happy with how it went, but still have plenty of sewing to do.  I would also like to do more craft fairs in the future, so should really have a stash of finished projects ready to go.
  • Drink 64 oz of water a day. Was better about drinking, but still no where near enough.
  • Pray daily.  Didn't manage daily.
  • 10 minutes of planning out my day in the morning.  Didn't do this everyday neither. 
So I didn't meet any of my goals this month, which I don't think has every happened before, but that's the way it went.  December is already off to a better start.

  • Read four books.
  • Drink 64 oz. of water a day.
  • Restart morning pages, or evening journaling, basically some form of writing.
  • Be present for Christmas.  So often I feel like Christmas passes in a whirl of shopping and baking and cleaning that I don't really savor it.  This year I've already got lights on the front of our house, and a cookie baking date planned with friends.
  • Get 2017 planner done.  I use the Volt planner and love it, but I feel like I could make better use of it, if I incorporated blogging goals and stuff into it and made better use of the weekly prompts.
  • Work on my 2017 goals.  What do I want 2017 to look like?  
If you want to link up your December goals, or are just curious about what everyone else is doing?  Check out the link up over at My So Called Chaos.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

12 Days of Christmas Sign Ups are Open!

Guys, it's that time of year of again.  Chaotic Goddess Swaps have opened up the sign ups for their 12 Days of Christmas swap.

Curious about what joining entails?  You sign up and are paired with another blogger.  You then get to know your swap partner, and then you put together a package that contains 12 individually wrapped presents, then you ship it off, with delivery confirmation while your partner does the same.  Then you get to open one present each day in the 12 days before Christmas.  I've done it several years and it's always a lot of fun!  It's open to US and Canadian swappers and requires a $40 to $50 commitment. 

So, if you think it's something you'd be interested in doing, sign up today!  Just click the link above or click on the picture to be redirected to their website!

Monday, November 7, 2016

November Reading List

November's reading list is a little bit of a hodge podge.  But, I'm really looking forward to them. Here they are:
  • The Trespasser by Tana French- I know I just got this one, but I can't wait to see what happens with Antoinette and Stephen.  I really enjoyed getting to know them in the The Secret Place, and was excited to see they get another book.  Tana French usually introduces the lead of her in a previous novel, as a minor character.  Like, in Faithful Place, we meet Stephen Moran who is the lead in The Secret Place.  He's also in The Trespasser, but I'm guessing Antoinette Conway will be taking the lead in this one, she was a supporting character in Secret Place.  She writes such real, flawed, but human characters, I can hardly stand it. Part of me wants to save this one for the middle of winter, but part of me just can't wait.
  • The World's Last Night and Other Essays by C.S. Lewis- C.S. Lewis is my favorite theologian.  He can write deep, symbolic fiction, and he can write essays that feel like you're having a conversation.  There's been a lot going on lately, and a little Lewis is just what the doctor ordered.
  • The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes- I let one of my friends borrow this one and she said it was good but the ending wasn't quite up to par.  So, I don't really know what to expect, but time traveling and a serial killer is enough for me to give it a try.  I just hope it's not too gory.
  • The Mindfulness Habit by Kate Sciandra- I'm drawn to this one because it's supposed to help you increase productivity.  Yes please!  And, it's nice and slim so I think it's going to be to the point.  Sometimes I feel like self help books give you what you need to know in the first couple chapters but then needlessly drag on for another 100 pages.  So, this one is small enough that shouldn't be the case.
So what are you hoping to read in November?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

November Goals

Well, we're already almost a week into November. Time to update the monthly goals.  Before we get to November's goals, here's how September went.
  •  Set weekly goals.  I did this most weeks, and it really did seem to help me get stuff done that needed to be done.  I'm going to try to keep this habit going.
  • Read four books.  Nope.  Only got two done.
  • Sew 20 things.  Nope.  Sewed zero.
  • Clean my office/sewing room.  It's not as clean as I'd like, but it's much more usable now and in pretty good shape.
  • Start Christmas shopping.   Yep, we've started.  I also have some ideas cooking and am hoping to finish before December 1st.
  • Come up with morning and evening routines.  I think we're getting there.  In the last week I've started getting up an hour later which seems to be giving me more energy when I get home from work.  I've also worked on breaking tasks up into chunks.  Like, instead of starting a blog post from start to finish, I may just edit the pictures in the morning and then write it up after I get home.  And, I've been coming home on some of my lunches and throwing in a load of laundry or taking pictures when needed, or getting some errands done.  I live like four minutes from work so it's nice to run home to do something or cross something off the to do list.
Now, on to November.

November Goals
  • Read four books.  I don't think I'll make my goal of 48, but am hoping to beat last years total of 38 books.
  • Sew everyday.  Even if it's only a seam or putting a zipper in.  I think I get in my head that it's not worth turning the sewing machine on unless I have a couple hours to spend sewing, when really something is better than nothing.
  • Drink 64 oz of water a day.  This is less than I should be, but I think I'm not drinking nearly enough so 64 would be a start.
  • Pray daily.  I want to focus on a friend of family member each day and just spend a few minutes praying for them.
  • 10 minutes of planning in the morning.  I think it's important to just kind of go over what I want to get done for the day, how my goals are going, and have a little peace before I get started and out the door.  
And that's it.  I'm making it a pretty easy month on myself, but I want to focus on these things and work upwards from that.  Head over to My So Called Chaos to check out everyone else's goals for the month.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Sweet Progress Fall Box Swap Reveal

Last month, I posted that I was going to be participating in Sweet Progress' Fall Swap.  Well, it's time to do a big reveal.  I was paired with Lauren from Shooting Stars Mag and she put together an awesome box filled with treats.  Lauren is a book blogger who also loves Harry Potter and does a ton of reviews from a variety of genres. 

She put together a great package. It arrived on Halloween and I just kept pulling treat after treat out of the box!  There was an adorable owl mug, Starbucks coffee, candy, Halloween treats, a tea light holder, a cute little ghost in a jar, a new book to read, and a soft and cozy throw!

I just love it all!  Especially that owl mug.  It's just too cute.  The book looks great.  The throw is so soft, I unwrapped it and already caught the cat trying it out. We always keep our house a little on the chilly side for my taste, so it's going to come in handy on those chilly fall and winter days.   It was such a fun package to open.

If you want to see what everyone else got, you can find they link up at Mrs AOK and Happy. Pretty. Sweet.  Check it out, and follow one or both of these great ladies so that you'll know when the winter swap is taking place.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

October Book Recap

October was a relatively slow month for reading.  But, I did find a couple good books that I'm really looking forward to reading.

First, what I read:
  • Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde is book four in the Thursday Next series.  It took me a while to track this one down, but it was worth it.  These books are just fun.  I guess they'd be classified as fantasy or sci fi, since they take place in an alternate version of England where croquet is a major spectator sport, there's dodos, neanderthals, and time cops, but it's fun.  So much fun.  I laugh out loud frequently while reading these and this one was no exception.
  • Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith took me a while to get through, but it was a good read. I don't read a lot of books that take place in Russia or communist Russia, so this was interesting, but the book was just too far fetched for me.  I loved how they delved into Leo, and his wife Raisa's relationship and how it changed and grew throughout the story, but the whole child murder angle was just too ridiculous for me to find plausible.  While I enjoyed this one, I don't think I'll go look for the other two books in the series.
What I added:
  • Letters to Zell by Camille Griep was a surprise gift from my Sweet Progress Swap partner- Lauren from Shooting Stars Mag.  Her package was awesome by the way, so be sure to stop by tomorrow to see the reveal of what she sent, but for now, here's a little taste.  This book looks like it's going to be fun!  It involves some of your favorite princesses- Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty- spun in a new light.  One that has them questioning their happy ever afters, so it looks like it will be great.
  • The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell was found on Bookmooch.  I was drawn to this one because Henning Mankell is the author of the Wallander books, which is one of my favorite BBC shows, so when I found this book that takes place in Sweden, but wasn't part of the series.  I'm a sucker for Swedish mysteries.
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was discovered at the bargain book table for only six bucks.  It's been on my to read list for a while, so I decided to snap it up.  I love dystopian fiction and this one takes place in the Great Lakes region, so that's a double bonus.
  • The Trespasser by Tana French.  This was a surprise treat in the mail that arrived from one of my best friends.  I don't think it's any secret by now that I LOVE Tana French so I'm excited to dive into her latest book and see how it fares with the rest of her canon.
So, while it wasn't a very big reading month, I did get through a couple and the books I added, I'm really excited to read.  How was your October reading?

2016 totals:
Acquired- 50

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October So Far

This month has been a blur!  I feel like all I've done is work and sleep and I know I've been MIA  for most of the month here at the blog, so I thought I'd give you all a little recap.

Word to describe the month: exhausting.  It feels like I'm playing whack-a-mole.  I just get one thing done and something new pops up.  I had new struts done on  my car and a recall taken care of.  Then we decided to reside and put new windows in my old house that I rent out so that required more paperwork and decisions.  I got my first cold in over a year and just crashed on Saturday.  I had one week where I was gone every night after work except one.  Introverts do not thrive on that at all.

Some of it was fun outings.  Like I went and saw Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children with two friends after work one night.  And I went to my first Lu La Roe party.  And my husband and I went out for dinner to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary.  And revisited the Fred Smith Concrete Park one Sunday afternoon, otherwise known by me as the Weeping Angels of Wisconsin.  Fellow Doctor Who fans, tell me I'm wrong.

I feel like this picture accurately depicts how I look,
both the paleness of my complexion and the circles under my eyes.

Watching: Not much of anything.  NFL on Sundays, and reruns of The Big Bang Theory when I get home, but that's about it.

Working on: Keeping a routine.  And staying on top of housework.  Somehow, this is still a struggle for me.  I get up almost three hours before I have to be to work, but usually spend that time doing laundry, dishes, packing lunch, making breakfast, and doing the odd jobs like hauling the trash out to the garage or to the curb if it's that day of the week, refilling my bird feeders, watering plants.  Then it's time to get ready and it's off to work.  After I get home, I make supper and then kind of just veg out.  I may read a little, but I'm no getting nearly as much done as I did before.  I've decided to start cutting my after work schedule back, because I have been so tired lately, even with getting enough sleep.  I need to make time for fun writing and exercise and I just don't have the energy for that right now.

I also officially gave my notice at the hospital.  I had stayed on casual after I quit because my new job was only going to be about 32 hour a week, but now I work just over 40 and the weekends are my only time to get stuff done.  I also was planning on them only needing me once in a while but they never replaced me or another girl that left so they were asking me to work a lot more than expected and with Christmas right around the corner and feeling pressed for time anyway, I figured it was time to say goodbye.

Looking forward to: Things settling down.  I feel like it's getting better, and my cold is pretty much gone, so I'm feeling optimistic for November.

Here's a few more pictures from the Concrete Park, as well as my cat being on the coffee table (which is not allowed, but I'm a horrible disciplinarian), and a picture of a surprise book that arrived in the mail Saturday from a good friend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October Goals

So, September was like the worst month ever as far as goals go.  I didn't manage to reach any of the goals I had set!  First time I've been completely shut out in a month.  It wasn't that I was depressed or that I decided they weren't worth the work, it was just that I feel like my schedule is so jumbled.  It used to be that I'd get up and have about seven hours before I'd have to go to work.  Then I'd get home from work at 11:30pm and be in bed by 12:30am at the latest.  Now, I get up, have about two and a half hours before I leave for work and then get home around 5:30pm, and have about four and a half hours before I'm in bed by 10pm.  It's just been weird getting used to having two blocks of time and most of it being in the evening.  I've also found it's way easier to be social when you're off work by 5:30.  I have something going on at least a couple nights a week after work. 

Anyhow, still working out the kinks of the schedule.  Here's what I was hoping to do in September:
  • Set weekly goals. (Only happened one week.)
  • Quiet time and exercise before computer. (Happened a handful of times.)
  • Exercise three mornings a week. (Nope!  Did do a couple walks after work though.)
  • Read four books. (Only read two.)
  • 20 blog posts. (Nope. Only 8.)
  • Sew 20 things. (Closest I got was picking up some more fabric.)
  • Start Christmas shopping list. (Nope.)
  • Gratitude journal or morning pages. (Gratitude journal happened like twice.)

On to October!
  • Set weekly goals.  I seem to do better when I have a to do list of sorts for the week.
  • Read four books.  (Which should actually be six books, if I want to have a prayer of making my Goodreads yearly goal of 48.)
  • Sew 20 things.  The craft fair is fast approaching.
  • Start Christmas shopping.  I really want to enjoy December and not spend it scouring the internet for gifts and trudging through stores.
  • Clean my office/ sewing room.  It's gotten pretty cluttered again.
  • Come up with a morning routine.
  • Come up with an evening routine.
And that's it, but as discombobulated as I've been, it's going to take all my mental powers. :)

Want to see every one elses goals?  Check out the linkup over at My So Called Chaos.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

October Reading List

So, I'm going to need to read six books a month for the last three months of the year to reach my goal of 48 books read for the year.  It's not impossible, but it's definitely going to take conscious effort on my part.  I'm still hopefully, and I'd like to get even more than six done in October and November so I can take it a little easy the month of Christmas. :)  We'll see.

I should finish Child 44 this week, and then it's on to one of these gems...

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde- Now that I have the next three books in the series, I figured it's time to pick it back up.  I'm a little fuzzy on where the action stopped in the last book, but Fforde usually does a good job of bring you back up to speed.  Thursday Next, the heroine of these books, lives in an alternate world to ours where literary characters are real.  These are funny, witty, and well written, and I'm so glad I can finally pick up the series again.

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood- This is the finally book in the MaddAddam trilogy and I've had this one in my to be read pile for quite a while.  I actually had it on my reading list last November but never got to it.  I'm hoping this is the month.  Fall seems like a good time to read about a dystopian world.

Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott- I love Lamott, but this is my first foray into her fiction.  I hope it's as dazzling and her essays.

Dracula by Bram Stoker- It is October after all, so this seems like an appropriate classic to tackle.  Reading the description on Goodreads made me realize I really don't know much about this story at all.  I've seen various incarnations of Dracula in movies but I'm not really sure I've seen one totally based on the book.

Well that's what I'm hoping to read.  How about you?  What are you reading this month?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

September Book Recap

How September flew!  I ended my job at the hospital on September 9th, and started my job at the credit union on September 12th.  So my whole routine has been turned upside down, but I think it's going to be a good thing once the dust settles.  Unfortunately, all that upheaval caused a lack of reading on my part for September.

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell was unique.  It had three narrators and revolves around two sisters growing up in the slums of Scotland.  Their loser parents wind up dead, and the girls decide not to tell anyone because they'd rather continue fending for themselves than be put in foster care.  Their elderly neighbor knows something is up, but can't quite put his finger on it.  He's determined to help the girls out anyways.  There's a wide assortment of wrenches in their plan, including a drug dealer their dad owed money to, an over zealous grandfather who shows up, and a truancy officer.  Goodreads describe it as "coming of age" and I suppose it is.  And it was good, but there was just something missing for me.  I can't quite put my finger on it.

Silas Marner by George Eliot was my only other read for the month.  This book took me way longer than it should have, but by the time I finished it, I wasn't really sure what all the hoopla was about.  It's a classic, but it doesn't really have anything exciting, or suspenseful happen.  Silas Marner goes from being a miser to a nice fatherly type figure who cares for Eppie's happiness above his own, but I felt like this could have been knocked down to a short story no problem.  Blasphemous I suppose, but I think it's by far the most disappointing classic I have read to date.

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, 
and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki were all part of my Books n Bloggers Swap with Jenni King.  You can read more about it here.

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood was found on a trip to Goodwill.  It's a collection of her short stories, so I'm looking forward to giving it a read.

and at the library used book sale I found:
One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, the author of A Walk in the Woods
Children of God by Mary Doria Russell, which is the sequel to The Sparrow- my favorite read of 2016!

So that brings my year to date totals up to 30 books read, 46 books acquired.  I'm really going to have to have a good fourth quarter to get my goal of 48 books read accomplished, but I do think it's still possible!  How bout you?  Are you on track with your yearly reading goals?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fall Sweet Progress Swap is Open

Guys!  This job change is seriously wrenching up my mojo!  I really like the job and the people I work with, but it's been way harder for me to adjust to getting up and going to work in the morning and then having the evening free instead of having all morning free and then rolling in to work at three in the afternoon.  But, it's getting better.  I've been making lists and working on getting back in a routine.

This week I have lots of exciting blog stuff planned and I'm kicking it off today with the announcement that Happy. Pretty. Sweet. and Mrs. AOK have opened the sign ups for the autumn edition of the Sweet Progress swap.  Remember when I signed up last July for the summer edition?  Well, now we're on to a new season so it's time to get ready for more fun!

If you're interested in joining up here's what you need to know:
  • Sign ups close October 6, so get moving.
  • It's open to USA and Canada.
  • You'll be paired up with another blogger, get to know them, and put together a box of about a $20 value before shipping.
  • Ship your package by October 26.
  • Link up opens November 1st.
  • For more info, visit either of the hosts.  And to join, you just need to fill out the Google form on their blogs.  (Click the picture above to be taken to their blog. 
So if you love fall, get in on the fun!  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Outdoor Entertaining

Living in northwest Wisconsin means you spend a lot of time outside.  We don't have many big cities nearby, but we have plenty of woods, water, and nature to enjoy.  Two weekends ago, I went geocaching with some girl friends and we had way more fun than any of expected.  This week we got together for a campfire and to try out some new marshmallow roasting sticks.

Campfire Collage

Since we got together after work, I wanted to make something quick and tasty for supper.  So, we roasted some veggies in the coals.  I had gotten everything cut up in the morning, so when my friends arrived, I was able to just lay everything out on a tray and let people assemble their packets.  I used precooked sausages, but you can use hamburger or hotdogs or whatever you like.  I also precooked my potatoes because I wanted to be sure they would be done in time.  I also used julienne carrots, shredded cabbage, onions, parsley, basil, and chives.  But, you could add mushrooms, cauliflower and whatever other veggies you desire.  You simple pile your selection on to a sheet of aluminum foil, add a little butter, salt, pepper, whatever you like.  Then tightly wrap it up and bury it in your campfire.

We only roasted ours for about fifteen minutes and as you can see, it was cooked through.  Size of packets and fire temp will definitely affect your cooking time, you also need to be sure your meat is cooked if you use something like raw hamburger.  There's something about cooking your food over a fire that makes it extra tasty!  I'm hoping to get a couple more campfires in before the snow falls.

For dessert, smores, of course!  But, I wanted to fancy it up a little, so I decided to go beyond just Hershey bars and grams.  I also had mini Mounds bars, Rolos, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Brownie Brittle and gluten free crackers.  It was fun trying different combinations and I ate way too many marshmallows.  Tripworthy sent me a box of their roasting sticks to try.  They're telescoping, so they fold up small and have a handy little carrying case.  My first impression was that they didn't feel super sturdy, but I was wrong, they held up great to a night of roasting and the handles are nice and smooth.  While you can buy stronger sticks, they don't fold up and these worked perfectly.  If you do a lot of camping away from home, these are worth a look due to their travel friendliness.

So, what's your favorite thing to roast over your campfire?  Let me know in the comments below.

I received these roasting sticks from Tripworthy in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How to Diffuse Essential Oils- Two Ways

So, if you have any interest in essential oils, I'm sure you've seen those nifty little, electric oil diffusers.  They're great and Amazon sells tons of different styles- ones that look like rocks, ones that have color changing lights, different shapes.  But, what if you're not sure you want to invest in a diffuser?

If you're just getting started playing around with essential oils, you can find soapstone oil diffusers that use candles  for under $10 at Walmart.  You use a tealight candle to heat your essential oil solution and provide yummy, clean smell wherever you need it.  Just, add water to your diffuser's basin, mix in oils of your choice and place a lighted tea candle inside your diffuser.  The heat will help the scent permeate the room.

Using a Candle Diffuser

For a little fancier way to get some natural scent into your living space, you can heat some herbs or fruits and essential oils on the stove top.

Stovetop Diffusing

It's September so fall is coming.  That means it's time to put away flowery scents and switch to citruses and spice.  Bergamont is a great citrusy scent.  It's uplifting, and supposed to relieve anxiety.  It's one of my favorites.  Here's two ways to diffuse it.

Candle Diffuser
10 drops bergamont
5 drops clove
Mix with water in the diffuser, light your candle and enjoy the fresh fall scent.

Stovetop Diffuser
10 drops bergamont
1 sliced lemon (or orange)
1 cinnamon stick
Place in a kettle on the stovetop, simmer on low.

Regardless of which method you use, be sure to keep an eye on them.  If you end up letting all your water evaporate off, you could wreck your soapstone diffuser or end up with burnt lemon and cinnamon stick in your kettle.

I received this bottle of essential oils for free from Tomoson in exchange for an honest review, but all thoughts are my own.  If you are interested in purchasing your own bottle, you can find them on Amazon, currently for $14.50.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September Goals and August Recap

We're already 13 days in to September!  It's crazy!  And I'm finally getting around to posting them.  Ugh!  But, I did have them made at the beginning of the month and met with my goals group already, things were just busy at the beginning of the month here on the blog.  So, let's jump right into how August went...

August Goals
  • Reestablish morning routine.  Doing better but still not there.  This is going to be really important with starting the new job and being back to working a day shift.
  • Start back with morning pages.  Ah no.  Like not at all.
  • Walk at least three times a week.  Another big fat no.
  •  Clean eating.  I maybe did a little better, but still have a long ways to go to get that back under control.
  • Sew twenty things for the upcoming craft fair.  Yes!  And have more ready to go!
  • Read six books.  Nope.  Only read three.
  • Four creative excursions.  Yes!  Went kayaking by myself, and spent three different days with three different friends.  Plus, took a little hike on a new trail with my baby brother, so I think this one went pretty well.
  • More blog posts.  I was aiming for twenty, but ended with fifteen, which was still my best month in 2016.

Here's what I'm to do this month:

  • Set weekly goals.  I think I'll do better with my monthly goals if I have a weekly attack plan.
  • Quiet time and exercise before turning the computer on.  I have a habit of turning on the computer and then getting sucked in for hours, neglecting things like my morning routine.  I think this will help turn that around.
  • Exercise three times a week. 
  • Read four books.
  • Twenty blog posts.  I came so close last month that I really want to see if I can do it this month.
  • Sew twenty things.  If I can make twenty things each month before the craft fair, my table will be well stocked.
  • Start Christmas shopping.  At the very least, make a list.  I want to be done with my shopping by December 1 so I can actually enjoy Christmas and all the festivities and not be stressed with shopping.
  • Gratitude journal or morning pages.  Aim to do one or the other each day.
So that's my September goals.  And don't forget to check out the link up over at My So Called Chaos to see what everyone else is working on this month!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Books n Bloggers Reveal with Jenni King!

Here it is!  The reveal of all the awesomeness my Books n Bloggers partner sent me.  First off, a little recap:  Books n Bloggers is hosted by the amazing ladies over at Chaotic Goddess Swaps.  This time around I was paired with the amazing Jenni King.  You can see her YouTube review of my package here.

I was so excited when I saw her package sitting on my doorstep Tuesday morning, and when I opened it, I was even more excited.

I love unwrapping books!  It helps keep the mystery going as long as possible.

So, of course I had to dive right in and rip off the papers.  Let's take a quick look at the extra treats she sent first. 

  • We have some some coffee from a local shop that smells amazing.  I can't wait to finish the bag I'm on so I can try it.  
  • Also some adorable little kitty toys that the two brat cats were quite interested in.  HB likes to carry stuff around in his mouth and these are the perfect size for that.
  • And some awesome washi tape.  I use washi for card making, envelope sealing, gift wrapping, and journaling so I'm looking forward to trying out these beauties.

And as for books.  She sent me some amazing picks!

  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette was added to my wish list based on a review from someone I can't recall now.  It may have been Beth from Printcess but I can't recall.  Jenni has read this and gave it five stars!  And I see the author has also wrote for Arrested Development, which is one of my all time favorite shows, so that makes me all the keener (or is it more keen, I don't know), to read it!
  • Burial Rites has only recently popped on to my radar.  Lindsey's Library reviewed it in July and gave it five stars, and Jenni said she loved it as well and thought it looked like it'd be right up my alley, so now I'm eager to give it a try.  It's a historical mystery set in Iceland.  Uhm, yeah, I think it's safe to say I'll be enjoying this one!
  • A Tale for the Time Being is one Jenni hasn't read but thought it looked interesting and I would enjoy based on past reads.  It takes place in Japan and involves the finding of a lost journal washed up on te beach and the mystery of finding its owner.  I'm always trying to stretch out of my comfort zone of reading books set in the US and Europe, so looking forward to this one as well!  
So, I had a great time swapping with Jenni! She sent me such lovely books and coffee and washi tape and cat toys!  Totally spoiled me.  It's all right in my wheelhouse and I really enjoyed her channel!  She's engaging and fun and gives great reviews.  You should definitely check her out.  Also, don't forget to head over to Chaotic Goddess Swaps to see the link up and check out the books everyone else got in their swaps.   

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September Reading List

Guess what!  I finally finished Silas Marner.  And I don't feel like I was missing out on anything by waiting until I was in my thirties to read it.  It's a nice little story, but I don't know if I'm missing a bunch of subtext and hidden meaning, or what, it just really didn't do much for me.  But, the good news is that I can finally get to some of the other books on my to be read list.  Here's what I'm hoping to read this month.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith.  If this looks familiar, it's because it was on my to be read list last September.  I really want to watch the movie on Netflix, but not until I read the book, so fingers crossed, it's going to happen this month.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  This is my classic pick for the month.  To be frank, after all the fun I had with Silas Marner, I'm not really looking forward to this one, so if you've read it and enjoyed it, please give me some encouragement,

An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina is also a repeat.  It was on my list in October of 2015.  But now that I've finally finished We Wish to Inform You... I really want to read Paul's story.  He's the gentleman that Hotel Rwanda was based on.  He did amazing things that he viewed as just doing the right thing.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown was scrounged up at Goodwill.  I've listened to some TED Talks Brown has done and an interview here and there, so I'm excited to read this one.

So what's on your reading list this month?  Or did you read something good last month?  Let me know!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday- TV Shows of My Childhood

Top Ten Tuesday this week is actually not book related at all but TV.  So, in honor of it being back to school time and all, I'm going to share ten of my favorite shows from my school age years. Now, I graduated in 2001, so all these have been off the air for quite some time, but they deserve a trip down memory lane.

Let's get started... in chronological order:

MacGyver (1985-1992)- Loved Macgyver!  He could fight off bad guys with a paper clip, chewing gum, and a lighter.  I'm pretty sure I didn't understand a lot of the episode since I was 9 when it went off the air, but I really liked it all the same.  My mom tells how I used to get excited when it came on every week.  I actually bought my brother season one for Christmas a few years back and we had fun watching it.  It was cheesier than we remembered, but still fun.

The Wonder Years (1988-1993)- I was pretty young when this show started, and I didn't even realize it was set in the 1960s and 1970s until after it was off the air.  But something about Kevin and Winnie and Arnold, I just loved.

Saved by the Bell (1989-1993)- I spent many a Saturday morning watching this.  Some of the shine has faded as the actors grew up and you hear horror stories of how the cast was behind the scenes, but at the time I loved Jesse and Zach.  They were definitely my favorites.

Family Matters (1989-1998)- Ah Family Matters.  Cranky Carl, dorky Steve, suave Stefan.  TGIF was always my favorite block of TV programing.  I loved Step by Step, Full House, all of them.

SeaQuest DSV (1993-1996)- Perhaps the first sci-fi show I loved.  It didn't hurt that it had Tiger Beat heart throb Jonathan Brandis in it, playing the child genius who communicated with a dolphin.

Boy Meets World (1993-2000)- Another TGIF show.  This had my other childhood crush, Rider Strong.  I still haven't seen Girl Meets World.

Animaniacs (1993-1998)- The only cartoon to make the list.  I remember thinking this was hilarious.  There was usually a Pinky and the Brain sketch in each episode, which were always my favorites- two lab rats who were bent on taking over the world.  Brain was smarter than a normal lab rate and Pinky was his English accented, dopey side kick.

The X-Files (1993-2016)- Moulder and Scully.  The perfect team.  I had to sneak episodes of this one because my mom was convinced it was too scary/evil for me to watch.  Scully rocks an amazing assortment of pant suits and Moulder has some of the widest ties I've ever seen.  They were cool and funny and took turns saving each other.  I really wanted to be Scully and work with Moulder when I grew up.

The Pretender (1996-2000)- A young man escapes from The Center, where he's spent his whole life.  He's a genius and uses his talents to help people who have been wronged, all while running from goons The Center sends after him.  What's not to love.

Roar (1997)- If you enjoyed Hercules or Xena, this show would have been right up your alley.  It was only on for one year, and starred Heath Ledger, before anyone knew who Heath Ledger as the lead.  Vera Farmiga played one of his sidekicks.  It was at the height of Riverdance and the popularity of all things Celtic.  I used to tape the episodes on VHS and watch them again and again, and was very heartbroken it wasn't picked up after it's initial season.

So do you remember any of these? Or what shows did you always watch when you were in school?  Drop me a comment below and check out everyone's tv themed list.

Monday, September 5, 2016

August Book Recap

So August wasn't the good reading month I was aiming for.  I did find some new treats but as for reading, I'm really getting hung up with Silas Marner and Gracious Living in a New World.  I'm hoping to finally finish both those this month, and get on to some more fun reading.

Here's what I read in August:

A Jane Austen Devotional by Steffany Woolsey- I used this one in my daily quiet time.  It used a passage from Jane Austen and tied it to a virtue.  I really liked it, and it made me want to read the Austen novels I haven't yet, and reread the ones I've already read.

48 Days to Work You Love by Dan Miller- I read this one at the start of my job odyssey and it was really interesting, and motivating.  It has the usual job looking resources like resumes and cover letters, but what made this book stand apart is that it focused on changing career changes or finding a fulfilling side hustle.  If you are at a career crossroads, or just feel as if you're not sure what you're supposed to do with your life, I really recommend this book.

30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs compiled by Bruce Wilkinson- This book started out really promising, then lagged in the middle, then ended well.  It has thirty chapters and each one was written by a different Christian author and focused on an aspect and how improving it would help lead to a spiritual breakthrough in your life. 

What I acquired in August:
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie- A classic recommended by 48 Days to Work You Love.

The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesteron- Anytime I find a used Chesterton, which is not very, I pick it up.

The Power of Prayer in a Believer's Life by Charles Haddon Spurgeon- Another classic to add to my study on prayer.

A Pocket Guide to the Stars and Planets by Duncan John- Another Bookmooch find.  I've been looking for a book that will help me learn to identify the constellations.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes- This was reviewed by Beth on Printcess.  I was intrigued and added it to my wish list on Bookmooch, and wouldn't you know it, a copy came up just a few weeks later.  So I snapped it up.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley- Another classic.

Run to the Mountain by Thomas Merton- I stumbled across this one at the thrift store, and wasn't so sure about it, but for a dollar, I figured it was worth checking out.  I'm not Catholic, but I seem to be drawn to books about Catholic saints, monks, and authors.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker- This is another one that I've seen other bloggers ooh and ahh over, so when I found a copy at Goodwill for half price, I snapped it up.

2016 Year to Date:
Read: 28
Acquired: 39

Sunday, September 4, 2016

August So Far...

Yep, I realize it's September now, but the end of the month turned into a big whirlwind of emotions and things.

Word to Describe the Month: Frazzled.  I was put on call A LOT in September.  Like 25 out of 40 hours some weeks.  Not being at work isn't the end of the world, it's the uncertainty of not knowing if you're going to get called in or not.  Like, I would be in the middle of making dinner and then have pull something out of the oven, because I had to go in.  Or I'd debate chancing mowing my lawn and hope they didn't call me in.

Then, I had a week of vacation near the end of the month and I had all sorts of plans of things to get done, but instead I was this frazzly mess trying to figure out if I should stick it out at the hospital or apply for another job.  I live in a tiny little town.  Jobs are not plentiful here.  I've been at the hospital for almost nine years.  But, I finally pulled the trigger and applied for a different job, had an interview, and got the job.  I was sick to my stomach right up until it was time to leave the house.  And then, once I got there and we went over everything I felt like it was totally the right decision and just at ease about it all.  I've given my notice at the hospital and start the new job on September 12.  So, while most of the month felt frazzled, it's ended well and I'm looking forward to something new!

Watching: With all the on call time spent sitting around at home, I watched Jessica Jones and Stranger Things on Netflix.  And loved both.  Note: You don't have to love comic books to love Jessica Jones and if you love the 1980s, and a show that's a cross between Stand by Me and It, you need to watch Stranger Things.

Mornings are for Coffee and Contemplation

Working on:  A lot of sewing.  It was a crazy productive sewing month.  I lost count but I know I finished well over twenty things, which was my goal.  I have a lot of blog posts in mind for September and some new projects in the works.

Looking forward to: A new job.  Wearing something besides scrubs!  Not working holidays and only one Saturday morning a month.  No nights.  I don't know if I'm going to know what to do. Also, the NFL starts back up next weekend.  We had our fantasy football draft last week and it went really well.  Yahoo ranked my draft as the best, so I've been talking smack to my husband all the time.  He beats me every year, but I think this may be my year!  And, finally getting my goals back on track.  It's been kind of a rough last few months!  Masterminds meets today, so looking forward to getting back on track.

August in photos:

Pictures clockwise, starting from the top: My parents dog, Cora, she's almost nine months old now.  Spent one of my days off driving in the hills near my town; love this lake.  Sunflowers at my parents house.  They have rows and rows on the edge of their field.  And, a little bridge my brother and I found when we were checking out a little trail in town.

Hope your August went well!  Did you do anything fun or exciting?  Any big plans for September?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Using Essential Oils to Clean Naturally- Lavender

Using Lavender Oil to Clean

Alright, this is my last post for cleaning ideas with essential oils.  And I saved my favorite oil for last!  Lavender is good for so many things, but normally it's thought of as a perfumer for things like bath salts and bombs or sachets for in your lingerie drawer because of it's relaxing properties.  But, you can easily use it to give your laundry a light, natural scent.

Here's how:

When you go to put your laundry softener in, simply add some essential oils to the softener cup.  I use an unscented softener with about ten drops of lavender.  Sometimes I use a citrus scent, sometimes vanilla.  Depends what I'm feeling.  If you don't use a liquid softener, you can mix some baking soda or washing soda with your oil of choice and add it to the drum of you washer prior to filling.  I have a front load washer and when washing sweaty workout clothes, I often add about half a cup of washing soda to give my detergent a boost.

I was recently introduced to New York Biology's essential oil line.  If you're looking for a source for affordable essential oils, you should check them out.  Lavender smells great, they're pure oils, and bonus- they even come with a handy dropper which gives you much better control over how many drops get dispensed.  They're also very affordable.  Right now on Amazon, you can get one ounce of lavender for $10.50. 

I received a free sample of New York Biology's lavender oil in exchange for an honest review through Tomoson.  All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Using Essential Oils to Clean Naturally- Peppermint

I have two cats, and while I love them, they definitely make more work in the cleaning department.  There's all the cat hair that needs to be vacuumed up, litter box, cat toys scattered around the house, and food and water dishes.  Sometimes, I feel like they leave the house smelling a little less than fresh.  So, a lot of times when I vacuum I use baking soda to deodorize, and I add some essential oils to make it smell fresh.

It's super simple.  Just throw some baking soda in a bowl.  I usually use about a cup.  Add essential oils of your choice.  I usually prefer peppermint or grapefruit.  Stir in about 10 drops our so.  Then, you just sprinkle it over your carpeting.  I usually just use my hand but have used a flour sifter before to get it really evenly dispersed.  Then, you just let it sit for a little bit.  I usually wait fifteen minutes or so.  Then you just vacuum it up.  If you have a bag vacuum, you may not want to do it all the time, because then you're just filling your bags with scented baking soda, but if you have a canister, it works great!

I was recently introduced to New York Biology's.  If you're looking for a source for affordable essential oils, you should check them out.  Shipping was fast and I was very happy with the quality of the oils.  Smells just as it should, they're pure oils, and bonus- they even come with a handy dropper which gives you much better control over how many drops get dispensed.  They're also very affordable.  Right now on Amazon, you can get one ounce of peppermint for $14.50. 

I received a free sample of New York Biology's peppermint oil in exchange for an honest review through Tomoson.  All opinions are my own. 

Using Essential Oils to Clean Naturally- Tea Tree

I was first introduced to essential oils by a lady who had me babysit her son when I was in high school.  I thought they were kind of mythical and unreal but she gave me some lavender, and I did like how it smelled.  A few years later, we started selling them at the Hallmark store I worked at and then I really got hooked.  I've been using them ever since.

One of the easiest ways to get started using essential oils is in cleaning.  You gotta do it anyway, why not cut out some of the toxic chemicals and go with something natural that smells good.

One of the best oils to clean with is tea tree oil.  Personally, it's not one of my favorite scents, but tea tree is a great antibacterial and antimicrobial which makes it awesome for cleaning in areas where you need germ killing powers, like in the bathroom or on kitchen counters.

Here's the "recipe" I use:

Tea Tree Oil

Fill an empty spray bottle about 1/2 to 2/3 full with water.  Fill almost to the top with white vinegar.  Then add about 10 drops of tea tree oil.  Shake.  And then spray where needed.  You can also add another essential oil if you have a smell preference.

And that's all there is to it.  If you're looking for a source for essential oils, I was recently introduced to New York Biology's.  I like them because they are pure oils, and bonus- they even come with a handy dropper which gives you much better control over how many drops get dispensed.  They're also very affordable.  Right now on Amazon, you can get one ounce for $12.50.

I received a free sample of New York Biology's tea tree oil in exchange for an honest review through Tomoson..  All opinions are my own.