Posts tagged ‘books’

June 11, 2013

Two Months to 30

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. And without going into my entire complicated train of thought, I’m going to give you what it all boiled down to: It’s finally hit me that I’m going to be 30 in two months.

Now I’ve never been one of those people who fears birthdays. To the contrary, I LOOOOOVE my birthday. I have a policy of no driving myself anywhere and no doing dishes on my special day. It’s the only day I make ridiculous demands (like this year I NEED H&H Bagels from New York for breakfast. NEEEEEEEED, people!)…granted, my husband would disagree. Despite the fact that my wedding and subsequent events made me feel self conscious, my birthday is the only day I love being the center of attention.

And this year is the big 3-0. Which is fine with me. I’m kind of excited about it actually. And up until just the other day, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

So what happened the other day, I’m sure you wonder. Well I was on the elliptical machine at the gym and I was scanning the eight or so televisions lined up hanging from the ceiling, each broadcasting a different program, and my eyes landed on a commercial. I think it was for an iPhone, but I’m not 100% sure. It portrayed these 20-somethings in different scenarios: on a college campus, in different landmark locations around the world, hanging with friends, at the gym, blah blah blah. And I realized it: I’m not one of them anymore. I’ve passed that phase of my life.

And it sort of took me to this concept of time, and I spent a few minutes feeling sad, like my opportunity to go after my dreams had passed.

Of course, that’s not true. But I feel like I spent my 20’s stagnant when I should have been out having adventures and trying new things and being a little more carefree. And then I think about all that I went through in my 20’s, all the growth and all the change and, as Jim reminds me, all the adventures I DID have. I mean I traveled to Europe and New Zealand and Hawaii and to all 50 states. I worked for a professional sports team. I got a bachelors degree. I wrote a novel. I got engaged…and broke off a six year relationship with a man I thought was my forever only to find an even better one waiting for me a few years away. I married that better man. I started writing a blog. I started a photography business. I bought a house. I’ve done a crap-ton of things in the last decade, probably more things than a lot of people my age have done.

But among the things on that list are not: living in another country…or living somewhere else in the US. Publishing a novel. Ceasing to work for my parents. … … thinking… … thinking… … I guess that’s it. I guess those are the major things I haven’t accomplished that make me feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. Wow, I’m kind of a whiner, aren’t I?

By the way, I literally just figured that out for myself. See? Writing it down does help you figure out life’s problems.

And since we have some more time in today’s regularly scheduled program, let’s check out my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30 and see how I’m doing with a little over two months to go.

Ok, so I simply copied and pasted the exact list from the “30 things to do before my 30th birthday” page.

1. Try (or create) 30 new recipes

             End of Summer Stuffed Squash

            Carrot and Fennel Soup

            Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

            Granola Balls

            Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

2. Buy a house

So excited to finally be a homeowner! Photos to come!

3. Write a(nother) novel

I’m working on this one. It’s about half done, and I’m pretty excited about it. It may be THE one! 🙂

4. Go to a storage auction (like Storage Wars only I’ve wanted to do this since I was 7 and my friend’s parents brought home a whole crap ton of treasures from one!)

– I still want to do this. I suppose I could call the place where we had out unit from the apartment and see when they do them.

5. Read 30 books

            Where we Belong by Emily Giffin  – Not her greatest, but still entertaining.

            Girl Walks into a Bar by Rachel Dratch – I have never been a fan of SNL and maybe that’s why I didn’t get this book, but it was really not very entertaining to me. I wouldn’t recommend it.

            The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – This book was so hard to get into. The whole first section was a bit confusing, but by the time the second section began, I couldn’t put it down.

            The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – I enjoyed this one enough. It was sort of strange, but it kept my attention throughout the whole book. I wanted to know what was going to happen.

            The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – For the seventh time, I adore this book!

            The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – It was good..and it was not my favorite at the same time. 

            The House at Riverton by Kate Morton – I enjoyed this book far less than The Forgotten Garden, but it still kept me interested through the end.

            Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr – This book was amazingly enlightening. It made me rethink my entire life starting with what I put in my mouth on a daily basis.

            Marrying Daisy Bellamy by Susan Wiggs – Susan Wiggs is one of my favorite authors. Her stories are relatable, yet always end happily, which I love.

6. Sell one of my photographs

– I need to try harder here. If I don’t put them out there, no one is going to buy them, right?

7. Paint pottery

This one is just a matter of doing it. There are two pla

8. Create my own signature cocktail

– Again, just need to do it. Get in the bar and mess around with some stuff!

9. Throw a party (in our new house!)

– Technically we threw Jim and 30th birthday party and we had a housewarming party. I guess that counts, but I sure want to throw a really good party still!

10. Learn to be happy with my body

I’m trying. It’s hard, but I’m getting there. Maybe not 100% in two months, but it’s a work in progre

11. Revamp my wardrobe (get rid of crap I don’t wear, update my style a tick)

Began this by getting rid of a ton of clothes, and slowly I’m building it back up with new stuff. It’s hard to save money for things like windows and vacations AND build up a new wardrobe, so this is slow going.

12. Figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life

-The neverending challenge for me. I’m getting there, though. Again, slowly. One year was a bit of a small time frame for such a goal.

13. Learn to be happy in Roseville

-Again, getting there. I’m trying to be as involved in town activities and such as I can, and it’s helping. It’s also helped that we now own a house here instead of just renting. I may never be 100% happy, but I think I can be content here…for the time being.

14. Get rid of everything I don’t need (We finally had our yard sale! So nice to have all that stuff gone!)

15. Find my perfect lipstick (inspired by my good friend, Jenny, who feels lipstick is a necessity in life)

-Another one I just need to do. Note to self: text Jenny and go to Sephora.

16. Find the perfect little black dress

– I got A black dress. It’s not THE black dress. So I need to go for take-two on this one.

17. Pay off all debts (excluding house from item 2 and car)

-Getting there! By my birthday our wedding rings will be paid off as well as almost everything that we charged before I wrote this. Since then we’ve had to make a few large purchases (mattresses and appliances) that we’re not going to be finished paying on by late August.

18. Try one of the crafts I’ve pinned on Pinterest

-Still need to do this.

19. Take a photo that really makes me go “wow”

-I take a lot of photos of people. And a lot of them catch my breath, but the one I’m thinking of isn’t going to be of a person…see? I might just be too critical of my own accomplishments…how many times now have I written “I did this, but it wasn’t good enough to cross off the list”….oy. Gotta work on that.

20. Go hiking in Yosemite

-Probably not going to accomplish this one, but hey, I’ve got two months!

21. Purchase a nice (non-Ikea) piece of furniture 

master bedroom3

22. Read a whole book in one day

-Oh, to have time for stuff like that these days…

23. Learn the live completely in the moment (starting with practicing mindful breathing and meditation)

-I think this is going to be another work in progress item. It takes time!

24. Take a class with Jim (maybe a cooking class, maybe a photography class or a tennis class, to be determined)

-Just gotta do it…

25. Learn how to fold a fitted sheet

-Jim learned how to do this one and showed me…although I have yet to do it for myself.

26. Compile a cookbook of my most-cooked recipes

-I’ve been doing this on the blog, but not in a book format

27.  I need to come up with something new because I couldn’t donate my hair to Locks of Love

28. Get a dog This is Katie!

29. Take a yoga class My sister-in-law and I have been going to yoga for about two months now and we love it!

30. Have an amazing 30th birthday

 

So there you have it. Progress for the most part. I haven’t really given up on any of them, and I sure have a lot to do in the next two months!

Is anyone else turning 30 this year? Do you have a list like this? Does anyone turning a different age have a list?

May 30, 2013

Ten things to be happy about 5/30/12

I haven’t written one of these posts in a while. I’m not really sure why. But I thoroughly enjoy them and it’s a good practice in gratitude, which everyone can use a healthy dose of every now and then.

 

1. My  brother is bringing me Starbucks! I can’t wait. I am seriously dragging today.

2. Tonight is yoga! When we started, I was nervous about the heat because the place we go to basically only does classes with some amount of heat. It’s been okay, though. I’ve actually been really enjoying it.

3. This weekend is my friend Stephanie’s bachelorette party! We rented a house and we’re spending the weekend relaxing, eating delicious food, and doing all sorts of girly fun stuff.

4. I am almost finished editing photos from Jim’s dad’s wedding! And they turned out pretty great. I’m happy with them. This is one of my favorites so far.

jim and nancy

5. My friend Reanna and I are Costco shopping for the weekend today. I know maybe that makes me kind of lame, but I love Costco!

6. Jim and I are going to Alaska this year! We’ll be spending the 4th of July there as well as attending a wedding of close family friends of mine. I’m beyond excited! Below is one of my favorite photos from our last trip in 2009…too long ago.

alaska1

7. I joined a new book club! Two might be a bit to keep up with, but that’s okay. Just another excuse to read more! And I’m really excited about meeting and getting to know a new group of girls. You can never have too many friends…or read too many books!

8. We got a new juicer! Not that there was anything wrong with our old juicer. We’re donating it to a friend, and we upgraded. Our new one can do more greens and also can make almond butter and ice cream, which is really exciting!

juicer

9. I made a really yummy quinoa salad two nights ago. We’ve been eating it for dinner the past two nights, and I have it for lunch today. Just another hour and a half! P.S. I’ll be posting the recipe soon!

10. I got my wedding ring cleaned yesterday! And its so shiny and pretty today.  It’s an amethyst, so it’s purple, and when it’s clean the stone turns to such a dark color. It’s almost like a different ring.

Your turn! What are some things you’re really happy about today?

May 29, 2013

Love for The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby: The Book

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby has been my favorite book since the first time I read it in high school. I don’t really know why. I guess it’s the way one person can be so completely consumed with something that it takes over his entire life, controls his every move. It’s fascinating to me, even though I can’t relate to it. I’ve never felt so driven by that kind of desire that it creates the basis of my identity.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, The Great Gatsby tells the story of Jay Gatsby and his undying love for Daisy Buchanan, the girl from his youth whom he fell in love with, but never quite felt good enough for. As a result, he spent his life creating a world of abundant riches and gross luxury. He amassed great amounts of wealth in hopes that he could lure her back to him, despite the fact that she’d already married someone else. He spends his days wheeling and dealing and his nights hosting ridiculously lavish and exceedingly wild parties at his “castle” across the bay from Daisy’s house, hoping to catch her attention and pique her interest.

I relate more to the character of Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, who is on the outskirts of all the drama, but seemed to be unwillingly sucked into it. He’s an observer of it all and pretty much the only one who walks away more or less unscathed (despite the movie’s assessment that he winds up in a sanitarium…which isn’t far out of the realm of possibility). I can relate to Nick because I’ve never enjoyed being the center of attention. I’ve always been more of an observer, a sideliner, and when I find myself somehow in the midst of it all, I’m extremely uncomfortable and don’t really know what to do with myself.

And then there’s Daisy.  The perfectly poised girl of Gatsby’s dreams, donned always in white, from her dresses to her house to her car. She’s the “innocent, pure and perfect” girl Gatsby remembers her to be.  She’s also extraordinarily selfish, has mood swings like to worst PMS you can imagine and keeps everyone she knows just at arm’s length so no one ever realizes she’s such a complete confused mess.

I think what I love most about this book is the extreme use of symbolism. Fitzgerald’s use of color alone speaks more about his characters and the world they live in than anything they could say. One of the (seven or so) times I read this book, I circled all the colors. Every page has at least one circle. And my very favorite of all of those symbols is the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. It basically embodies Daisy herself: the jealousy Gatsby feels that he doesn’t have her, the great wealth Daisy herself possesses and a beacon not just for incoming boats, but also for Gatsby himself. “Here’s Daisy!” it says, and gave him something to look at when he couldn’t look at her.

My second favorite symbol is the billboard eyes of T.J. Eckleburg. Even in the 1920s, America’s values were deteriorating. Money was valued over morals and these eyes, “dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground” in the place of a God that had long been removed from American life. They were simply an advertisement for an optometrist in Queensborough, but in the world of Gatsby, they were as good as God watching over those who had replaced their belief in God with a belief in wealth.

I think F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book transcends time. You can see the same paradigms today that he wrote about almost 100 years ago. I think that’s part of why it remains such a great story, and why it made such a great movie.

The Great Gatsby: The Movie

gatsby movie

I’m not going to say too much about the movie except that I LOVED IT.

I had lowish expectations when I heard that The Great Gatsby was going to be turned into a movie again. The first couple versions I saw left quite a bit to be desired. When I heard Baz Luhrmann was behind it, my confidence increased a touch. If anyone can recreate the Jay Gatsby of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s creation, it’s Baz Luhrmann.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Not even a little bit. The story wasn’t changed, with the exception of putting Nick in a sanitarium, but I thought that added to the story. It was the perfect vehicle with which to tell the story on screen.

The biggest problem I’ve had with previous movies is the downplaying of the character of Gatsby. Gatsby is loud. Colorful. Vivacious. His personality is huge. His parties are huger. And other video versions of Gatsby have been simply watered down. Leonardo DiCaprio did Gatsby right. He threw so much personality into the character that you could actually believe in him.

I also thought Carey Mulligan did an exceptional job at portraying Daisy. She was just standoffish enough, just catty enough, just rude and condescending and completely wishy washy enough.

Overall, the movie followed the book, sometimes even word for word, and gave almost exactly the visual I’d always pictured in my head while reading the book.

Personally, I can’t wait to see it again!

Have you seen The Great Gatsby? Have you read it? Did you enjoy either as much as I did?

April 12, 2013

Life Altering Change

Jim and I have been making some major changes over the past month. I told you a little bit about our juice reboot, but it’s gone beyond that. We’ve decided we need to overhaul our entire attitude toward food and change what we put into our bodies while we still have the chance to make a difference in our own lives.

It all started on St. Patrick’s Day as we sat down to feast on processed food and plenty of beer. I was scrolling through Pinterest during a commercial on tv and the following image popped into my screen.

fat sick and nearly dead

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. “Interesting,” I thought, and checked Netflix to see if they had it. They did. And we watched (you can watch on Netflix if you have it, or through Amazon, free with prime or a $2.99 rental).

It’s about Joe Cross, an Australian who suddenly realizes he needs to make some changes in his life. He goes on a 60-day juice fast while traveling around the USA promoting healthy living. For whatever reason, this film struck a chord with us and we embarked on our own 4-day juice fast the very next day.

But somehow that wasn’t enough and through the “Reboot with Joe” website, I learned about a new documentary, Hungry for Change, that was showing for free for a limited time that week (also available for rental through Amazon).

hungry for change

This one was huge for us. Not only did it tell us a lot of stuff we already knew was bad for us, but it explained why, and that’s huge when you’re talking about stuff like diet soda, which I knew was bad for me (sadly, other people think it’s good for them), and I already stay away from, but did you know that it causes blurred vision, headaches, nausea, vertigo, memory loss and seizures and for those reasons pilots are not allowed to drink it while or prior to flying? Holy Cow! I won’t go into all of the details of the movie, but I highly recommend it. It features many prominent figures in the health/wellness world and Jim and I both found it to be insightful and eye-opening.

Along with these two videos, I read a book.

crazy sexy dietThe word “diet” turned my head the other way when I first saw this one. I didn’t want to read a diet book, but after reading the first few sections of Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen, a book devoted mostly to recipes whereas Crazy Sexy Diet is mostly information, I decided I needed to read Crazy Sexy Diet too. Carr never thought she was going to be a diet guru. She was an actress and photographer and when she learned she had cancer, her entire life changed. Doctors gave her a prognosis and she said screw that! From there, she transformed her life, started following a plant-based diet and claims she’s never felt better, cancer and all. But that’s her story, and you should get her books and let her tell it. Check out her website too. It is an amazing source for information, recipes and community support.

But back to Jim and I, because we don’t have a book and if you want our story, you’re going to find it here. Granted, our story isn’t that long yet, and you’ll have to keep coming back if you want to learn more, but here it is so far.

As I mentioned, we did a 4-day juice fast just after St. Patrick’s Day. I felt more energy after the second day of that fast than I have in so long. But then we had a crazy Napa 30th birthday party to go to, and we needed to quit the fast so we could have some fun (also, we weren’t so sure about fasting for longer than that at a time. We want to be healthy, not crazy and dangerous with our bodies). Having fun, by the way, is okay. We also went to the Food Trucks event in Roseville last night and had Po’Boy sandwiches from the Cajun truck. It’s okay.

We did another juice fast last week and we plan on doing one next week. The weeks between, we’ve been replacing one meal with juice and eating healthfully the other. We have smoothies for breakfast (usually filled with fruit, spinach or kale, protein powder, chia seeds and spirulina…it’s a seaweed) when we’re on the fast and when we’re not, and sometimes a little snack like a handful of walnuts and raspberries if we need it. We’ve also been kicking up our workouts, and by kicking up I mean doing them. We take Katie for long walks or go to the school down the street and play basketball. We both kind of hate working out, so we try to make it fun.

We’ve had very few desserts in the past month. We cut our added sugar down to almost nothing (okay, sometimes I have a few chocolate chips with my walnuts, but again, its okay!), and in the month we’ve been doing this, I think we’ve had caffeine twice. We’ve almost completely cut out dairy products and eggs and started eating more quinoa, wild rice and tons and tons of vegetables!

Mostly, I feel amazing. I have energy (except when I can’t sleep at night, like last night…argh!), I have a positive attitude toward the world. I want to get outside and do things. I want to cook. When I find myself craving something, it’s not tater tots or ice cream, it’s walnuts or carrots or oatmeal (oatmeal, people!). I was on such a tater tot kick before I started this and they don’t even sound good anymore!

As I mentioned before, though, this doesn’t mean we won’t partake in foods we’ve enjoyed in the past. Jim fully intends to continue eating meat when we’re out with family or friends or on special occasions. And I don’t see myself passing up roasted figs with goat cheese and honey come fig season. But we’re no longer okay with putting so much crap into our bodies. There’s increasing research that concludes that filling up on fats, simple white foods like pastas, breads and sugars and the plethora of lab created, chemical “food” products on grocery store shelves these days causes cancer and chronic diseases, and we just don’t want to risk it. It’s like stepping into a fire and just hoping you don’t get burned. We’ve seen too many people we care about…and so many people those people care about get diagnoses of cancer and heart problems that it seems stupid to us not to do something to stay off that increasingly long list.

So stay tuned for more tidbits and tales of our journey to health. I’m sure it’s going to be a bumpy ride, and it won’t always be easy, but we’re going to make the trek and hopefully come out on top as a result.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy my “lunch.” I’ve got carrots, oranges, fennel, red cabbage, baby kale, spinach and sweet potatoes today all wrapped up in a pretty purple juice. As Tucker would say, “Aaaaahhhh.”

If you find yourself intrigued, please ask me about our experience. I have tons of information, recipes, opinions, and advise if you’re interested in making a change like this in your life.

March 27, 2013

The House at Riverton: Book Review

I was excited when we picked this book for book club last month. We’d read Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden last year, and it was phenomenal. Couldn’t put it down. I was expecting the same out of The House at Riverton, and while I enjoyed it, it didn’t have that same amazingness that The Forgotten Garden had.

The story follows Grace, a house maid eventually turned ladies maid through the course of her tenure at Riverton. The story focuses on the suicide of a poet, an old family friend and years leading up to that point.

Things I liked about the book:

The setting. The old manor house filled with staff and surrounded by beautiful grounds. Not to mention I’m a sucker for anything that takes place in England.

The concept. A man dies mysteriously and everyone’s lives change as a result.

The twists. But I won’t tell you about them in case you haven’t read the book.

Alfred.

Things I didn’t like about the book:

The way you don’t get back to the suicide until the very end.

The incredible amount of sadness. There were times I had to put this book down because it was getting so sad.

I know it was a different time, and people behaved differently, but I would have liked Grace to have confronted a few things that she just let lie, and then the people who they were relevant to died and she never got to say them or learn how the people felt about them. I know, I’m being vague, but read the book and you’ll get it.

The House at Riverton pairs well with a glass of champagne.

The House at Riverton pairs well with a glass of champagne.

Overall, I enjoyed The House at Riverton. It was entertaining enough, albeit a little too sad. Would I read it again? No. Would I recommend it to a friend? I don’t really know. Probably not. I’d recommend The Forgotten Garden first. In fact, I have recommended that one.

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think?

February 25, 2013

The Thirteenth Tale: Book Review

We read The Thirteenth Tale for book club two months ago (yes, I’m a little behind writing the review. That’s  just me. I’m learning to accept it; you should too), and I think we all agreed we enjoyed it, but we also seemed to agree that it was….quirky.

The story is about an amateur biographer, Margaret Lea, who is hired by a famous author, Vida Winter, to write her life’s story before she passes away. It travels from present time to Vida’s childhood and back throughout the book, chronicling the ins and outs of Ms. Winters’ troubled childhood growing up in a rural English manor house and the family secrets that made her the person she became. For the sake of giving away too many details about the book, I’m going to leave the description at that. If you need more info, feel free to visit Goodreads.

The hardest thing for me about this book was my inability to really grasp the characters in present time. Margaret is troubled, melancholy and has potential to be very interesting, but she seems to fall a bit flat to me. Likewise, Ms. Winter has moments where she becomes very interesting, but just as I was starting to feel a connection to her or some sympathy for her, the author snapped to a different direction, leaving that bit of feeling hanging in the wind.

I have a hard time really describing my feelings about this book. I felt very compelled to continue picking it up, continue devouring the story, but at the same time, I felt continuously disappointed. And sad. It was truly a sad story. Each character either died or lost everything that meant something to them…or both. And at times it was hard to follow exactly what was going on in the story. There were a lot of instances where you simply had to assume that what you thought was happening actually was happening. There wasn’t always confirmation in the following sentences or chapters.

Overall, I’m glad I read this book. I’d been wanting to read it, and now I can say that I have. I won’t say it changed my life or gave me a new perspective on the world or on literature or anything like that, but it was entertaining enough to get me from start to finish without giving up.

November 27, 2012

Finding Happiness

To say that I’ve been busy lately would be an understatement. To say that my life is chaotic at the moment would be one too. And to say that I’m completely and utterly happy would be a third.

In August, when I put together my list of thirty things to do before I turn 30, I added “Learn to be happy in Roseville.” It seemed like such a daunting task. There are so many things about this town that I just despise: the lack of character, the cookie-cutterness of it. The fact that most of the restaurants and stores are national chains and the neighborhoods are a sea of suburban track housing. How could I ever be happy in such blah surroundings?

I’ve always believed that old saying that wherever you go, there you’ll be. Problems and all. That’s probably why I never moved to Boston or London or any of the other crazy locations that I was sure would make life so much better. Don’t get me wrong. I still think I’d rather live in either one of those places, but I was always aware that simply being there wouldn’t change me. I do, however, think I’ve remedied a couple of the major problems that made me feel so strongly about my current locale.

First things first. I am NOT a beige person. I believe our previous housing situation is to blame for my unhappiness in two three four ways. The first is beige. Our apartment, the hallway to our apartment, the exterior of our building was BEIGE. Is there an uglier, less happy color? Secondly, It was roughly the size of a shoebox which meant we had to rent a separate home for all of our pretty wedding gifts, our camping equipment and our childhood mementos in the form of a storage unit. Not to mention, it ALWAYS  looked and felt cluttered and that causes me some serious cognitive dissonance (I’m not a messy person, but there’s nowhere to put it all!). I can not handle clutter (insert involuntary shudder here). Thirdly, it was dark. When you have to turn on a light to see in the kitchen regardless of the hour, there’s no way you’ve got enough natural light. Lastly, I believe that not having a place that was really home was getting to me. I mean sure, we had a place where our stuff lived and where we slept at night and had our nosh and Scooby Doo or Nancy Drew video game marathons on Sunday afternoons, but it wasn’t ours. It was…standard. And it wasn’t enough.

In walks our new house (no, not literally…we actually walked into it, but that’s not the point). Which, by the way, we love. And we OWN. And while it WAS beige when we moved in, now it’s a pretty shade of grey with a touch of blue and more than enough sunlight to satisfy my vitamin D requirements. We’ve put holes in the walls with no regard for a security deposit. As I mentioned before, we painted….the WHOLE HOUSE. We even painted one wall a dark blue and one room a beautiful teal green color. We have a garage for our camping stuff, a big enough kitchen for all of our shiny new wedding gifts and even an entire room just for my books!

I know, I know. “We want to see pictures!” Well, you’re going to have to wait. Because while I’m uuber excited to have enough space for all of our stuff, we are still living in clutter, the clutter of the still-needs-to-be-put-away. So when I get it all together, I’ll write a whole post full of photos of our new house. Deal?

For now, I’ll post this one for you: Our new pooch, Katie.

We rescued her from the SPCA in Sacramento. She’s the sweetest dog, about a year old. She loves to be around people and hates the back yard! Which is too bad for her because she’s going to be spending some time there, especially while we’re still getting stuff put away. Her previous owners brought her to the shelter because they didn’t have enough time for her. She comes to work with me every day, so we don’t have a problem there (and don’t feel so sorry for her for having to spend time in the back yard. She is by no means neglected)! She’s part black lab and part…..we don’t really know. The vet speculates terrier, but she also looks a little like a basenji. We won’t ever know for sure, but we don’t care anyway. We love her regardless of her pedigree.

Katie’s been with us for about two weeks, which means she got to meet the families at Thanksgiving. They all loved her. And we had such a great time seeing all of them. Although there was one person missing at the dinner table this Thanksgiving: Jim’s uncle Ken, who passed away at the end of July. There was a moment toward the end of dinner when I realized that the last time I’d sat at the formal dining table at Jim’s parents’ house had been…I don’t even remember the occasion… but Jim was working late and didn’t make it to dinner. Uncle Ken was being his obnoxious self and terrorizing Jim’s sister, Tricia. It wasn’t a particularly eventful evening or memorable in any way except that he had been sitting across the table from me during that dinner, and now he won’t ever again. Uncle Ken would have loved Katie.

Two Christmases ago, Uncle Ken and his wife, Elaine, spent the holiday in Mexico with my family. Uncle Ken is in black next to me. The guy above him is the bartender at the hotel where they stayed. He’d become part of the family by the end of our trip. And the head in the background to the right of the bartender is my youngest brother, Dan. I can barely remember Uncle Ken without that giant smile on his face. For as much of a pain in the butt as he could be at times, he sure did love life. I’m so glad we got to spend this time with him.

But enough of hanging out on the verge of tears. Life is good. And there’s so much to love about it. Uncle Ken would have been so pissed if he knew we were sitting around crying over him. He’d want us to feel the joy in our lives. And between owning our own home, having a new pooch in our little family, being closer to Jim’s family, and the numerous little things that make life amazing, I think I may just be able to stay happily in Roseville. …for a while anyway.

September 13, 2012

30 things to do before my 30th birthday

Last month I turned 29. I am not like most people when it comes to birthdays. I freaking love mine! I love that there’s a day that’s just mine and I don’t have to drive or pay or do dishes. I can’t change the fact that it comes around once a year, so why fight it?

Lil Man helping me finish my birthday ice cream…

But this was the last of my twenty-something birthdays. So far I don’t feel like that carries any kind of stigma, at least not for me. I know people tend to go bat-shit crazy when they turn 30, 40, 50…you know, the milestones after 21. But for now, I don’t feel like the world is going to end or that I’ll be instantly rocketed into senility. That being said, I do realize it’s a milestone and it’s caused me to reflect on my prior 28 years and nineteen days and I’ve made a list: 30 things to do before I turn 30. It’s more fun stuff than crazy “Oh my god, I haven’t DONE THIS!” type of stuff, and while I’d love to finish it, it won’t completely screw up my life if I don’t. It’s for fun, for motivation, a little bit of enrichment and some of them are just so I can say I did.

Without further adieu, the list!

30 things to do before I turn 30

(This list can also be found in a tab at the top of the page!)

1. Try 30 new recipes

2. Buy a house

3. Write a(nother) novel

4. Go to a storage auction (like Storage Wars only I’ve wanted to do this since I was 7 and my friend’s parents brought home a whole crap ton of treasures from one!)

5. Read 30 books

6. Sell one of my photographs

7. Paint pottery

8. Create my own signature cocktail

9. Throw a party (in our new house!)

10. Learn to be happy with my body

11. Revamp my wardrobe (get rid of crap I don’t wear, update my style a tick)

12. Figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life

13. Learn to be happy in Roseville

14. Get rid of everything I don’t need

15. Find my perfect lipstick (inspired by my good friend, Jenny, who feels lipstick is a necessity in life)

16. Find the perfect little black dress

17. Pay off all debts (excluding house from item 2 and car)

18. Try one of the crafts I’ve pinned on Pinterest

19. Take a photo that really makes me go “wow”

20. Go hiking in Yosemite

21. Purchase a nice (non-Ikea) piece of furniture

22. Read a whole book in one day

23. Learn the live completely in the moment

24. Take a class with Jim (maybe a cooking class, maybe a photography class or a tennis class, to be determined)

25. Learn how to fold a fitted sheet

26. Compile a cookbook of my most-cooked recipes

27. Cut my hair and donate it to Locks of Love

28. Get a dog

29. Take a yoga class

30. Have an amazing 30th birthday

So there ya have it. They’re not all amazingly exciting or anything. Some are downright boring and serious, but these are the things I hope to accomplish in the next year. I’ll keep you up to date as I tick them off.

July 10, 2012

Book Review: Gone Girl

Don’t you hate when you read a book, especially a long one, and you’re loving it; it’s so amazingly holding your attention that you can barely put it down, and then you get to the end and it totally flops? Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was that book.

It’s a story about marriage at its rockiest. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy moves girl from NYC to dying Mississippi river town. Girl hates it. One day girl disappears.

As I said before, the story starts out well. I was compelled to pick it up any chance I got just to see what happened next. In the first section of the book, you aren’t sure what happened to her. Is she still alive? Did her husband kill her? Did she run away? Did someone kidnap her? So many unanswered questions. I found myself unsure of who I was rooting for. You know what I mean, right? There’s two sides, of course, and its usually easy enough to decide whose team you’re on. But I found myself going back and forth the entire way through this book. I couldn’t predict how it was going to turn out or who would “win.”

But then, at the end of the first section, you get the big answer. You know what happened to her. And you’re compelled to continue reading to figure out how the heck she’s going to get out of the mess she’s in. Because she is in a big mess. And he’s in a big mess too. And all the little pieces unravel and squirm toward the end. And then, it just dies. No closure, one giant loose end just floating around out there. It’s like it was hurling full speed toward a giant cliff and instead of something miraculous happening, it just falls of the edge.

I contemplated writing a further review below, but I don’t think I want to. I don’t think its worth my time because I’m kind of over being pissed off at this book. If you’d like to have a chat about it, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll go to town on it.

Other than that, I do NOT recommend this book.

Has anyone else read this? Did you have a different opinion?

June 18, 2012

Book Review: Under The Tuscan Sun

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it or not, but I’m in two different book clubs. And as such, I figured I’d start sharing my opinions of the books we read with you.

As I mentioned in a previous post, in one of my book clubs, we read Under the Tuscan Sun for our June meeting.

amazon.com

I had a love/hate relationship with this book. It was written like a journal of sorts because the author took the content from a notebook that she kept beginning when she and her boyfriend, Ed, purchased the house in Tuscany. That being said, there was no plot, no storyline. It was simply a collection of thoughts, observations, recipes and tidbits from the experiences the author had purchasing, remodeling and spending summers at a house in Tuscany.

There were parts I really enjoyed. The book evoked in me a desire to experience life in another country, a completely different culture, a simpler way of life. It also made me consider the merit in cooking simply, eating in season and instilled in me a strong desire to grow an herb garden.

On the other hand, I wished there were some photos of the house, a floor plan maybe, some before and after photos of the things that were changed. There were parts of the book where I had a very hard time visualizing what she was writing about. At the end, there’s a whole chapter about taking up the floor and there being layers and layers of stone below it. I just couldn’t picture it. I ended up skimming the chapter because if I can’t see it in my head, the words are just words.

There wasn’t a lot of dialogue, and I found that left something lacking. I had a hard time relating to the author. There was very little about her life, about her personality, about who she really was. Pair that with the fact that she obviously has unending wealth (buying a house in Tuscany, spending a ton of money to fix it up and then flying there twice a year…she can’t be simply “getting by”) and it was entirely impossible to relate to her. I didn’t feel for her, I couldn’t see the world through her eyes, and I couldn’t imagine what it might be like to be her. If you ask me, these things are crucial to really being able to enjoy a book.

So overall, I don’t think I would recommend this book to anyone. Someone in our group asked “Did this book make you want to go to Italy?” I can’t say that it did. In fact, I think, based on the book, my opinion and desire to visit the country has lessened. Of course that’s not to say I wouldn’t go given the opportunity or that it’s no longer on my list of places I’d like to visit. It just didn’t strengthen my desire like I would have expected a first-hand depiction would have.