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!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Book and A Cuppa Swap

Hello, hello!  Today, I'm just posting a quick note to let all you know about Chaotic Goddess' latest swap.  If you were bummed you missed out on 12 Days of Christmas, you may want to join the Book and A Cuppa swap.  It's super easy and the ladies at Chaotic Goddess (Beth and Miss Angie) do an awesome job running efficient and fun swaps.

So what do you do for Book and Cuppa?  First, sign up!  Click on the picture above to be taken to the sign up.  Then post about it (like I'm doing right now).  Wait to be paired up with your partner. Once you have your partner, the fun begins.  You can email back and forth and stalk each other's blogs to find out what to send.  Then, you put together your package (valued between $15 and $30), which contains a mug, a book from your partner's swish list, and whatever other hot drink or book goodies you feel like sending.  Send out your package, with a tracking number.  Then wait to get your package, and post a reveal.

Easy peasey.  All the dates and more specifics are at Chaotic Goddess Swaps.  But sign up soon!  Sign ups close January 11!

Monday, January 4, 2016

January Reading List

So, I may not have reached my reading goal for 2015, and December was so crazy, I just focused on finishing books I had started and didn't even pick a reading list, but 2016 is a fresh year.  I'm going to shoot for the same thing I tried for last year- 48 books, which comes out to four a month.  Here's my January reading list.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik- I received this book in my Books 'n Blogger swap partner, Olive from abookolive.  She's great and she loved it (it was ranked #4 of her Top 10 Favorites of 2015).  This also made Page a Vu's Top 10 Reads of 2015 list, and Beth of Printcess reviewed it and loved it as well!

The Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi by Donald Spoto- I want to read more biographies and historical books this year.  St. Francis of Assisi is one of those people who I know very little about, but am intrigued by what I do know- he grew up rich, was known for being a party animal, gave it all up for his faith, and is the patron saint of animals.

A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett- I didn't read many classics last year, and that's another area I want to improve on.  After reading Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden in which Hodgson Burnett is a minor character, my curiosity was piqued and I thought I should really read her books even if I already know the gist of the story.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey- A perfect winter book.  I bought this one for Jolene of With a Little Help From My Friends when we were Books 'n Bloggers swap partners years ago, and I thought it looked interesting.  When I found it at the library book sale for .50, I had to get it.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

December Book Recap

So with Christmas and all, I made quite the book haul in December, and didn't get a whole lot read, but 2016 is a fresh start, and I'm hoping to clean off my bookshelves a bit.  In the meantime, here's what I got in December and what I read, and my totals for the year:

If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name by Heather Lende- I don't remember where I first heard of this book, but I'm glad I read it.  It's a simply enough read.  Heather writes the obituaries for her small town newspaper in Alaska, she's active in the community, and with such a tiny population, everyone pretty much knows everyone in town.  Each little chapter usually details the death of someone in the town, her meeting the family, and some other story that ties in some way or another.  

I saw some reviews on Goodreads who said that they thought the author was bragging about how superior she was for living in a hard place in the middle of no where and boasting about how they live far from hospitals and many modern conveniences.  (When her son's appendix ruptured they drove all the way to Whitehorse in a snowstorm to have it removed, because the ferry wasn't coming that day, and the weather was too bad to fly.)  But to me, it was more about what's nice about small town living, and how even if people disagree with each other, they still try to help each other.  It wasn't bragging as much as proving to people that living in a small town in Alaska isn't as horrible as you'd probably imagine.  The scenery sounds beautiful, and after reading about the locals, it sounds like it'd be a fun place to see.

Be forewarned though, the last chapter is the only one that made me cry.  It's a real tearjerker.  And a section in the last paragraph really resonated with me,
" I have wished that, after every single obituary, I'd known the person better, that I'd asked them one more question while they were living, said thank you one more time, smiled  another hello in the grocery store, or invited them over for dinner." 
It made me want to spend more time being nice, trying to lighten others burdens, even those I don't know, and especially those I do.

A Godward Life by John Piper- This was a devotional I had found at the thrift shop.  I finished it at 11:30 p.m. on December 31. It was 120 readings and a lot of it made me think.  I like books that make you look at things in new ways.

Shades of Grey
by Jasper Fforde- I love Jasper Fforde, so when I found this one on bookmooch, I had to mooch it.  He writes these awesome fantasies that are always similar to our world but twisted in all the right ways.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett, The Temptress by Paul Spicer, and The Secret Place by Tana French- All three of these came from my Broke and Bookish Secret Santa: The Bookkeeper's Apprentice.  We have similar tastes so I'm intrigued to read The Temptress and The Man Who Loved Books Too Much.  The Secret Place was on my wishlist, and I love Tana French so I'm sure it's going to be great.

365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart is a devotional I got as a Christmas gift from one of my friends.  I plan to use it for 2016.

In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore is from the thrift store, and sounds like it will be a good read.  I am all about living life intentionally, relishing the small moments, and living simple.

Also from the thrift store: The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards and Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well by Nancy Atherton.  Neither one is something I would probably normally pick up, but they both sounded interesting and like a nice change of pace.  What can I say, those people that write the descriptions of the back of paperbacks probably love me.  I can totally be swayed into buying something if I like what they say.

Friday, January 1, 2016

January 2016 Goals

A new year means a time for new goals.  I've spent the past month thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2016 and how to accomplish, and while I'm tempted to make 50 different goals and set to work on all of them, I decided less may be more in this case.  Here's what I'm hoping to tackle in January.

  1. Successfully do my 21 Day Purification Diet.  No caffeine, alcohol, sugar, cheese, ice cream or bread for twenty-one days!  As a carb lover, I'm nervous, but I think I'll feel much better after I'm done, and probably while I'm doing it.
  2. To go with my take care of my physical self better.  Exercise at least twenty minutes, three times a week.  I initially wanted to plan something big, like work out for an hour a day, five days a week.  But I know I'll hate it, and as soon as I miss a day or two, I'll just give up.  So, I figured I'd start with something really manageable.
  3. Read four books.  I didn't get 48 books read in 2015, but I think I could have if I hadn't had schoolwork and so many other projects in the last  quarter of the year.  I'm setting the same goal for 2015.
  4. Daily quiet time. I want to up my spiritual health.  So, making sure I take time each day to pray, meditate, and read the Bible are on my must do list.
  5. Morning pages!  Actually, just a morning page to start with.  This is more for my mental and creative health.  I did it before, and really loved it,  It's time to get back in the habit.  It's also a key building block to writing more in general.
And that's all I'm aiming for in January.  Just laying the groundwork to work on bigger goals in coming months.  I even made an Excel spreadsheet to track my progress.  I ordered the Spark Notebook, but it won't be here until midway through January.  I am looking forward to its arrival though since I love making lists and checking things off.

The Monthly Goals: a Goals Linky Party at My So-Called Chaos and A Peek at Karen's World 

And, if you want to link up your goals, or see what everyone else, is striving for this month, head over to the link up hosted by Miss Angie and Karen!