Top 12 Favorite Books that I Read in the Last Year


Top Ten Tuesday is here again! Today I’m linking up to share my all time favorite books that that I read within the last year. The link up gave me the option for 3 or 5 years, but I didn’t read much after college. I think I maybe read two good books in the two years after college. College was over 5 years ago, so that pretty much precludes college, so I can’t include things like Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (At the time of writing, this novel was 50% off and the whisper sync version is only $3 – read here about how you can save a lot on Audible books! What works for Classic novels will work for all novels) or The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

I also couldn’t chose just 10. I wanted to pick many, many more novels, so you get 12 with an honorable mention! I also thought that I would share a favorite quote or two from some of the novels!

favorite books of the last year

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

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At the time of writing, this Kindle book was on sale!

This book is TOO funny. It is poignant, hilarious, and just so much fun.

That’s right,’ she told the girls. ‘You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”
― Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette

This Is Where I Leave You

this is where i leave you

I absolutely loved the insight into the dysfunctional family. The family is insane, but there is a lot to learn about life from the novel.

You have to look at what you have right in front of you, at what it could be, and stop measuring it against what you’ve lost. I know this to be wise and true, just as I know that pretty much no one can do it.”
― Jonathan Tropper, This is Where I Leave You

Girl, Interrupted

girl interrupted

This memoir was – for lack of a better word – memorable. It started a bit slow, but by the end, I understood the structure and totally fell in love with it.

Was insanity just a matter of dropping the act?”
― Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted

Gilead
gilead

This novel made me cry. Sobs. It was so rich in wisdom. I do need to read the sequels, but I’m a little afraid of tarnishing my perfect memory of this novel.

Memory can make a thing seem to have been much more than it was.”
― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

one more thing If you can’t laugh at this, you don’t have a sense of humor. I listened on to the audiobook, though. Delivery is EVERYTHING.

The wise quote:

You want to meet someone who likes the same things you do, and who likes you most when you’re most being yourself, so that when you are in a relationship, the person will truly be compatible with the real you.”
― B.J. Novak, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

The funny quote:

If you love something, let it go. If you don’t love something, definitely let it go. Basically, just drop everything. Who cares.”
― B.J. Novak, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

East of Eden

east of edenI can’t believe that I waited so long to read this novel. It is so rich and complex, but in an amazing way.

I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

The Grand Sophy

The Grand Sophy This novel is hilarious. It’s like if Jane Austen wrote a slapstick novel. It make me laugh out loud. I loved it. It was just so amazing.

It is abominable, Sophy!”
“Yes, if the motive were not pure!”
― Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy

The Poisonwood Bible

the poisonwood bible Again, why did I put this off? A story about a Southern Baptist preacher trying to force his culture on the African culture and the way that the family does and doesn’t mix with the culture was great. It was nice to read all the different viewpoints, too.

Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place. ”
― Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

The Blind Assassin

the blind assasian So, Alias Grace is my favorite Atwood novel, but it’s not the traditional dystopian novel that Atwood writes. I loved this one, though, because of the time period in which it was set!

The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

The Handmaid’s Tale

the handmaid's taleAgain, how long did I make it so long without reading this? I was a little dismayed after I read the novel and saw so many reviews that revolved around the gender roles in the novel. While you could definitely read this as a gender studies book and look at it through that lens, I saw it as a political warning that had nothing to do with gender. It’s more of a warning about what can happen if lots of little things can be passed as laws until they add up to something horrible.

Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

the perks of being a wallflower

 

So, I was 26 when I read this novel. I’m still 26, but only for another week. I am glad that I waited to read this book. Of course, every teenager in my high school was reading this in 2004, but I didn’t read it just because I refused to do what everyone else was doing. I did read it last year, though, and loved it. I think I was able to appreciate it a lot more in retrospect than I would have as a 16 year old. By placing 10 years between myself and the age of main characters, I gleaned a lot more than simply plot.

Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

 

I watched the movie first and loved it. Then I read the movie. Loved it. They really aren’t the same story at all. There are some parallels, but they’re different. They’re both good. That doesn’t happen often, but it was great. I recommend both.

Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly.”
― Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook

Honorable Mentions

honorable

Veronica Mars Series:

Not amazing literature, but I sure did love them!

Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line

Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell

The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, Book 2)

The Likeness was insanely creepy. I couldn’t put it down. It was so creepy that I had to keep reading just to get the feeling away. That has to be good and powerful writing!

All the King’s Men

I love Robert Penn Warren. This novel was incredibly interesting. It was not my favorite from last year, but I do think it bears mentioning!

Linking up with Broke and Bookish!

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links that help defray the cost of running the blog.*

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Categories: link up, Reading Tags:
10 Ways to be an Amazing Friend to Chronically Ill People


Chronic Illness Friendships:

I’m not going to lie. They’re hard. When you’re sick, you get kind of get flaky. You can’t make plans far in advance because you can’t predict a good or bad day. If you do make plans, it is more than likely that you’ll have to back out. I can’t even count (I could, but it would make me sick) how much money I’ve wasted on concert tickets over the years. Now, if I can’t buy a ticket the day of/it sells out, I don’t go, for example.

Chronic Illness Friendships: 10 Ways to Be an Amazing Friend to Chronically Ill People

I was inspired by a Twitter conversation to write about how to be a good friend someone with chronic illness. You need to remember that chronic illness can come in so many forms – mental health, neurological health, autoimmune disorders, among many others. Some are obvious and talked about, but others might be more hidden. However, if you know your friend is sick (maybe they send this to you…) here are some tips for chronic illness friendships!

Also, remember that chronic illnesses don’t go away. They’re chronic. It’s not like a broken leg that heals. Your friend will be battling a big monster of illness for the rest of her life. Your friendship can change her life more than you can ever know. When you get sick, friends are a precious commodity. Good friends are more precious than gold.

I will admit that this list was really hard to write. Not because the tips are hard to give, but because it is an emotionally charged subject for me. Like I said above, a good friend is more precious than gold. I don’t have the kind of friends that I describe below, so maybe it’s more of a wishlist.

Also, these tips can be a good reminder on how to be good friend to anyone. Friendships take work, if you want to have good ones.

If You Don’t Remember Anything Else, Remember This:

  • Consistency
  • Quality Time
  • Inclusion
  • Remembrance

How to Create and Maintain Amazing Chronic Illness Friendships:

  • Ask your Chronically Ill Friend (CIF) what his or her limitations are – and remember them. It is likely that you only see her on “good” days, so remember that she probably has a lot more limitations than you know about. I tend to hide mine because it is embarrassing that I can’t do what a normal 26 year old can do. And if I try to do those things, I can end up in bed for days.
  • Respect your CIF’s limitations. If your friend emails back and say that she can’t make it to whatever event or commit to something that far in advance, respect that. She won’t have the energy to defend herself by emailing back and forth. You might think you’re helping her by getting them out of the house, but she knows her limitations. Trust me, she’ll take you up on offers that she can do.
  • Invite your CIF to do things that fit within her limitations. If she’s too depressed to get dressed and go out to lunch, maybe stop by her house with lunch. Remember that maybe it could be hard to get cleaned up, but just say you won’t mind.
  • Ask your CIF what she wants to do! She might have some ideas. Perhaps you can block out an afternoon to spend time together and if your friend feels well, go do something she has been wanting to do, but hasn’t felt well enough to do. If she doesn’t feel well, maybe watch your favorite 90’s movie at home. Don’t put pressure on the time. Just commit to spending some time with your friend. The time is way more important than the activity.
  • Don’t pressure someone who is ill to push through her limits. She can end up even more ill. But, don’t forget her. She stills has feelings and craves human interaction. You don’t have to give up on her, but you may want to invite her to a group brunch instead of a night of drinking. Actually, incorporating her into group events and helping them make new acquaintances, if that’s something she is able to do, can be helpful.
  • Simple and little things mean a lot. Stopping by for coffee, even if you brew it at your CIF’s house can mean the difference between another day alone and a day of happiness.
    You might just be dropping by on your way home from work, but your CIF probably looked forward to it for days. I know when someone does that for me, I will slowly and steadily declutter, try to wash my hair, put on matching sweatpants and a shirt, etc. I will seriously and gladly prepare for days if I know a friend is stopping by for 45 minutes to chat.
  • Maintain your friendships with technology. CIFs are used to connecting with people online. Their phone might even be their lifeline. Simply texting, “Hey, how are you?” can be a game changer for a CIF. Being remembered is something that every single person craves, but the isolation that comes from being chronically ill takes that away.
  • Try to remember other things! If your CIF had a medical test, an important appointment, a birthday, or their dog got sick, a simple email or text is meaningful. Again, everyone likes to be remembered. Snail mail is fun, too! Everyone loves it. Make that trip to the mailbox a nicer one!
  • Being sick is expensive. Remember that your friend may be on disability, working fewer hours, dependent on family for financial support, etc. Insurance only covers a small portion of a lot of complimentary therapies that help with pain. Additionally, the copay on certain medications can be enough to cut in on a food budget. So, if you can pick up your friend’s library books for her or just watch a Netflix movie with her, that can be super meaningful.
  • Adjust your expectations. Maybe your CIF was your best friend, but now things are different. Maybe you are both hurting, but if you follow some of the tips above, you can show your CIF why they were your best friend and how much they mean to you.

And always be consistent!

The difference between that person who drops in and out of your life at their convenience, which kind of hurts and a friend is consistency. Personally, nothing hurts me more (regardless of health) than having a friend who may or may not be a friend. I don’t live to be friends when it’s good for someone else’s timetable. #sorrynotsorry Even if it’s only once a month, once every other month, or less than you can spend time together, you can spare 5 minutes for a text or send an email once a week.

If you are busy, it literally takes 5 seconds to send a text that says, “Lots of work this week – can we catch up this weekend?” I just timed it. Do it.

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Categories: Chronic Illness Tags: ,
Thank You for Not Being Another Subscription


PopBasic Review
i tried popbasic

Last week, I received a box from PopBasic’s Felicity collection.

PopBasic releases a new microcollection of clothes and accessories each month, but they aren’t a subscription service! You can order any collection that is in stock at any time. I’ve tried so many subscription services, and they are either terrible, a pain to cancel by phone, or they’re a gamble because if you don’t keep anything, you may be stuck paying a $20 styling fee, if you’re like me, you buy something that’s just okay, in order to not waste the $20.

A look back through previous collections shows that most of their micro collections are quite basic. So, on one hand, you can dress them up or down. The collections with shirts would be verstile. However, some of the collections are so basic, like a white t-shirt, striped & lightweight scarf, and basic white clutch that you would probably already own similar items or create the look at half the price from other stores. Yet, other collections contain unique dresses (with pockets!) or very beautiful jewelry. So, some collections are definitely more impressive and look like a better value than others. But, since it is not a subscription, you can pick and chose whatever outfit you want.

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My box contained a long, but not quite maxi-length dress, a necklace, and a bracelet. Normally, I would not buy a thin, clingy, long dress because I like outfits that provide more definition. The necklace was unique, but not very high quality. I’m afraid that a few wears will tangle it beyond repair and that it will tarnish within a year. The bracelet, similarly, wasn’t anything to write home about.

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I did appreciate that the outfit came with a style card, so I could picture it with clothes that I already owned. I doubt that I’ll ever wear a floppy hat or wear this kind of dress in a season where I could wear sandals, though.

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I was pleased, though, when I tried the outfit on as a whole and styled it with my own cardigan and boots. I couldn’t find it (oops, need to clean), but I think my black belt would also help to provide definition, if I wore it under the cardigan.

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The dress is a little shapeless and long. Maybe I should have ordered a size down, so it would have been a little shorter. I would rather wear it as a long tunic over leggings with boots, to be honest.

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Due to the length on me, I really need heels to make my legs longer. Unfortunately I have this yucky arch problem, so all of my beautiful heels and boots are going to waste right now. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to wear them for short periods by next year, but right now, I pretty much wear tennis shoes or moccasins with custom orthotics. It makes dressing up really difficult. But, if I was going to wear the outfit, that’s how I would style it!

Overall, the packaging was cute and I like the concept, but the quality of this particular box was pretty low. It wasn’t even good costume-type jewelry, plus the dress was very thin. I would be interested in trying future boxes – maybe something more my style – but I don’t want to drop that kind of cash on something that I’m unsure about, especially quality-wise.

If you want an email reminder to check out preview their outfit each month, you can sign up here (with my referral link).

Disclaimer: Popbasic provided me with a complimentary box. The decision to review and opinions are all my own.

 

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Categories: fashion, Review Tags: , ,
How to Deal with One Sided Friendships


We’ve all had one sided friendships. You know, the ones where you send five text messages before you get one back. The kind of friend who tells you about the dinner party that they’re throwing, but doesn’t invite you. Maybe you go out of your way to visit them, but they’ve never done anything for you. But, you get what I’m saying. The friendships are one sided, and you’re the only one who is the friend.

one sided friendships

Yes, I chose a chain-link fence for that graphic on purpose. Because a bad friendship, like any bad relationship, can feel like a prison. It’s a horrible place to be.

This is a very complex issue, so I’m just touching on one aspect that I have had to deal with a few times since I got really sick. When you get really sick, you find out who is a friend and who is simply an acquaintance.

My advice is not applicable in every situation.

The most confusing things that I’ve realized about one-sided friendships is that when you finally confront the other side of the friendship, they usually have no idea. They think you two are perfectly good friends. #StabInTheHeart, right? Like, you’ve been being eaten up over what to say, how to deal with it, talking it over with your significant other/family member, and then the other person has no idea that she isn’t even a friend. I don’t even hold people to very high standards of friendships anymore. Like, “Glad you’re alive,” once a month is cool.

There are tons of good reasons to try to maintain a friendship when it feels like you’re alone in it – like if your friend is depressed or going through a hard time, so they aren’t responding. But, there are plain old friendship fizzles.

From some very painful, personal experiences, I’m here to share my tips.

How to Deal with One Sided Friendships

  • Recognize that you’re in a one sided friendship.
    Sometimes it’s gradual. Like, she doesn’t respond for awhile, but then all of a sudden she wants to meet for coffee, texts you, and is generally in your life. That’s confusing, so you never know where you stand because you then text to set up the next coffee date and never hear back! The worst? When she wants to know why you didn’t tell her you were going through a hard time. Maybe because you didn’t think you were currently friends?
    Sometimes it’s really obvious. Maybe your friend goes on and on and on about the great weekend plans she has, but she doesn’t invite you. Guess what, you’re not in her circle of friends.
  • Say something.
    You don’t have to be mean or start a fight. Since these people can be hard to get in touch with, you may have to email or text. I wouldn’t suggest this with a coworker or someone you have to see on a regular basis – you probably don’t have a one sided friendship with someone you see on a regular basis. You might not like them, but that’s different. But, for like an old college friend or someone you have to go out of your way to see, technology is helpful.
  • Be careful what you say.
    You might save your friendship if you don’t attack her. I mean, you’ve been trying to be friends with the other person, so there is probably something you like about her. I have done everything from apologizing for bothering her (which I honestly felt like I was doing) to flat out telling the other person to just stop offering advice because she isn’t my friend if she only talks to me on her own terms. Or even, as a generic example, “Are we friends? The way you _________ (don’t respond, don’t accept my invitations, ignore me, fill in the blank), communicates that we aren’t friends.”
  • Decide what you want.
    Do you want to salvage the friendship? Maybe just letting her know that it’s one sided is a wake up call for the other person, so she realize she’s been selfish. If she’s been going through something personal, but didn’t feel comfortable telling you, that’s her prerogative, but at least you will know where you stand. You don’t need to pour your soul out to someone who won’t confide in you.
    Do you want them out of your life because they’ve hurt you? Then let them know. You don’t have to say “I’m cutting you out of my life, you life-draining, bitch,” but you can let them know that you are sorry that you don’t have room for them anymore after you bring the topic up.
  • Stand by your decision.
    Sometimes friendships end. A lot of times, they fade out. That hurts. I think that hurts more than a friendship “break-up,” since you don’t quite get closure. I always wonder what is wrong with me. Why was I not good enough to be considered a good friend? Why didn’t I get included in invitations? What can I do better with my next friend? Will I ever get another friend?
    When you just stop talking, it’s ok, but if you’re the only one keeping the friendship going, take a second to reevaluate why you keep pursuing the friendship.

How do you deal with friendship break ups? Are they as painful for you as they are for me? Do you say anything or just let it drop?

one sided friendships

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Categories: life thoughts Tags:
My Dogs Love this Amazing Alternative to Greenies


Do you care about your dog’s dental health? I’m always concerned about Rylie and Josie’s teeth, because I don’t want them to have to have full dental cleanings more often than necessary.

Alternatives to Greenies

February is National Pet Dental Month, which is near and dear to my heart. My childhood dog, Buddy, only has half of his teeth left! (I still think he’s quite a looker, but it makes it difficult for him to eat). Buddy was rescued after being starved in a basement for a prolonged time, so I’ve always wondered if malnutrition and neglect hurt him down the road.

I’ve tried giving Greenies to my dog Josie before, but she gulps them down way too quickly. I bought her the ones for larger dogs to slow her down, but then I was afraid that would upset her stomach. Even Rylie, who is much smaller and slower at eating, can chow down on a Greenie in just a matter of seconds, which makes me a little nervous. Actually, just last week, I gave Rylie a small Greenie under the covers (so Josie couldn’t see) and the two of them circled that area of the bed like vultures for hours. The kind of crazy way they act after they eat Greenies always makes me nervous, too.

I was so excited to try these Blue Buffalo Dental Chew because Blue Buffalo has an excellent reputation. I thought it was worth my dogs’ dental health to try another brand of dental chew.Alternatives to Greenies

The first thing that I noticed was that neither dog acted insane. Josie took it from my hand, but she didn’t swallow it. In fact, I tried to run after her with the camera to snap a picture, so she went outside to just sit and hold it in her mouth for a minute.

Alternatives to Greenies Alternatives to Greenies

This was Rylie’s second experience with the alternative to Greenies, Blue Buffalo Dental Chew. I had to coax her to take it, but I would rather that than the way the two of them would climb on the table to get lick and try to turn over a laundry basket that had Greenies in them.

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(She doesn’t mind looking at the bag!)

Rylie took her time to break up the treat and eat it slowly, which was a relief.

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Josie did the same thing!

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(Kind of creepy…)

Overall, I have been happy that both dogs like the treats, but don’t go insane for them. They take the time to chew them, so I don’t have to worry about them not getting the effect or choking. Also, they don’t pester me for more. They’re quite happy with the one.

Also, when I used to give them the occasional Greenie, I had to separate the dogs because they would get crazy territorial. Josie only ran away because I had a camera, and she thought I was going to take her treat back. And, so far so good on tummy issues. Neither dog has especially sensitive stomachs, though. They don’t get many t-r-e-a-t-s (we have to spell it at the house because they DO know the word) and no people food.

After they finished the Blue Buffalo Dental Chews- minis – my husband and I had a little fun trying to make it look like they were going to attack the bag by placing a treat behind or beside the bag. So, here are just a few cute pictures!

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Thank you to Chewy.com for providing the product in exchange for an honest review! I can honestly say that as long as their stomachs stay ok, I will be ordering more!

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Categories: Pets, Review
Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books


It’s Top Ten Tuesday again, so I’ll be linking up to share my top ten favorite heroines from novels, (tv, and movies).

Veronica Marsveroinca 2

 

Veronica Mars started as a television character, but she’s been a movie character, and now the start of two novels that follow up that movie. The premature ending to the show was infuriating, but I get by with the movie and books. I love her self-assurance, self-reliance, relationship with her father, and general smarts. She will kick your ass and still use you as a pawn to get to where she wants to go–to solve the crime. I wish I was that clever.

Buffy Summers

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Buffy. Oh, Buffy. I love you. She started out as a slightly insecure vampire slayer, but over the years, I enjoyed watching her turn down the counsel, formal training, being self-reliant, taking care of her sister, and all of that.

Elizabeth Bennett

lizzie bennett

 

Girlfriend is smart, witty, won’t settle, loves her family, and can tell cranky aunt lady where to shove it, politely. Who doesn’t want to be her?

Jo March

Jo-March

 

If you haven’t noticed the trend, I like smart girls. Jo has a huge heart that puts her family first – something I wish I had more of. Jo is hysterical and witty. Jo chooses to love the smart dude. I mean, she had two good choices, but she’s smart enough to know what’s good for her.

Hermione Granger

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Oh Hermione. She wants to be the best at everything. She’s not afraid to study hard. She works hard, but she also knows how to be a fiercely loyal friend. I find fiercely loyal people the most admirable.

 

Katniss Everdeen

Katniss Everdeen

 

Again, Katniss is so smart. She’s physically and mentally strong. She cares about her family and friends above everything else, but she’s also willing to be the face of a revolution. It’s not easy, but she freaking puts herself out there and fights for what’s right. Who doesn’t love that?

Cassandra Mortmain

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I Capture the Castle is one of my favorite books ever. Cassandra is reflective, smart, and is family-oriented. She also doesn’t take the path of least resistance. She makes hard choices. She doesn’t accept the love of men she doesn’t love back just because it would be secure or easy. She’s willing to wait and write her own story.

Jacquetta of Luxembourg: The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins’ War #3)

9542439Jaqcuetta shows up in several of the Cousins War series books and is based on a real person. I loved her the most because she was the matriarch of matriarchs. She had a young marriage to a much older man. After he died, she gave up a lot to marry for real love. She gave birth to more kids than I can even remember. She raised children that grew up to be kings, queens, princess, and princesses. I just found her a very admirable character after reading that series and would love to read more biographies about her.

Alicia Florrick:

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Um, I think the graphic says it all. Get it, girl.

Sophy (The Grand Sophy)

the grand sophy

 

I discovered Georgette Heyer’s novels last summer. I almost fell out of my chair laughing at the antics that “The Grand Sophy” got into during the novel. The novel, set during the regency period, is like what Pride and Prejudice would be, if it was a comedy. Like a slapstick comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed her.

Who are your favorite heroines? Who did I miss? I had to cut the list!

Linking up with Broke and Bookish!

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Categories: link up, Reading Tags:
My Worst Job Ever

So, after reviewing 365 Blog Topic Ideas, which I decided probably wasn’t for me, my husband, who thoroughly enjoyed his last interview on the blog, wanted to participate by using some of the prompts.

Today’s prompt: Your Worst Job

brian authorBy Brian

As a teenager, my parents never gave me an allowance. If I wanted to buy something, I needed to earn money. Usually I earned money by cutting our lawn. Other times, I would help my dad with handyman stuff. I didn’t enjoy his projects, since most of the time I held things or carried things back and forth. It was boring, but I did it anyway because I got paid, and I had things to buy! Unfortunately, I was only able to do these jobs during the summer, so once school started back up, my cash flow stopped.

My mom worked in the school office, so when I started 10th grade, she told me about an available position for an after school job. For a 16 year old looking to make some cash, this sounded great, right? What kind of opportunity had presented itself to me? It was a janitorial position at the high school… my high school.

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At the time, I didn’t care about how my popularity would be affected by being a janitor at my high school. I wasn’t popular, so I didn’t have much to lose in social status. There weren’t many people hanging around after school, so I wasn’t concerned with social ramifications. No one other than people participating in some kind of after school activity would see me, anyway.

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My responsibilities as a janitor were pretty limited, and every day was the same. I would borrow a master key from my mom to get into each classroom to empty the garbage cans. I had a big garbage can on wheels where I would dump out the garbage cans into my big garbage can. If a trash can liner was particularly gross, I’d replace it. Once that was done, I would vacuum the carpeted areas in the school office as well as the mats in front of the doors. This would take me about an hour and a half each day.

I was getting paid $5.50 an hour – slightly over minimum wage. And that was huge for me. How many of my peers had jobs and were making money? Not many! I didn’t have to wait for my birthday or Christmas to get things I really wanted. I could just buy the things I wanted myself.

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As a janitor, you would think this would have given me an inside scoop into the inner workings of my school. I was excited to finally satisfy my curiosity. Since I had a master key, and I had to empty ALL the garbage cans, this meant I had access to the entire school. I thought I was going to learn the secrets of the underground-teacher-world we mere students weren’t allowed to see.

My expectations were too high, though. The teachers lounge, for example, was less impressive than I was led to believe. There was just a couch, a coffee maker, and a table and chairs. With a name like the teachers lounge, you would think there would at least be a bar, buffet, hot tub, cigar room, pool tables, a spa. Nope, not even a TV.

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Ok, well maybe there were still secrets to be found. Maybe I would stumble across someone’s love letter in the trash. I enjoyed getting the inside scoop into the latest high school gossip, just like the next person. I never did find any love letters, and trust me, I kept a look out for them.

There were a few perks, however. Sometimes I’d find a cool pen (and I really love a good pen) on the floor that would still work. Finders keepers, after all. Every now and then someone would throw away something I could still find value in. A pencil case someone didn’t want anymore? Don’t mind if I do. Unfortunately, I never did find anything cool like an Ali Baba sword.

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Despite the perks, I still hated this job. The work itself wasn’t bad, in fact it was easy. The garbage itself wasn’t that bad either. It mostly included notebook paper, pencil shavings and tissues. The cafeteria garbage a little worse since it included leftover food and half-empty Coke cans.

The job became routine, and I learned to deal with it. After doing the same thing over and over again, I could just zone out and not even think about the work I was doing. But every now and then, I’d have to snap out of autopilot and come to the realities of this dirty job.

One particular example is when the biology class would dissect frogs. I’m not sure what the proper disposal protocol was, but somehow the frog remains would end up in the regular trash, and it was up to me to handle the pungent smell of formaldehyde and frog remains.

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It was still a good job. It accomplished my main goal of earning some spending money. I mostly spent it on computer related stuff, but I also used the money to buy a surround sound system, which I still use to this day. This was also my first real job, and it gave me the foundations for my work ethic. It gave me the opportunity to have some responsibility in showing up on time and doing what I was supposed to do, and I carried that with me through all the other jobs I’ve had since then.

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What’s the worst job that you’ve ever had? Did you take away any life lessons?

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Categories: Guest Posts Tags: ,
How to Make Amazing Candy Coffee


I accidentally created a candy flavored coffee in December. In fact, I have a picture of my mistake because I was tagged in a #WIDN Instagram post, so I took a picture as I was doing it.

Candy Coffee: How To Make Mounds Flavored Coffee

At the time, I was testing out the Keurig 2.0, which I reviewed here. I made a mocha coffee and was intending to put some peppermint mocha creamer in it! It was going to be a very Christmas coffee. What I didn’t realize, as I snapped that picture, was that I had picked up the coconut creamer!

I was so mad at myself to wasting two K Cups (because I drink a lot of coffee), but I decided to try a sip of it. A-Mazing. Wow. Loved it. I realized that it tasted like Mounds coffee.

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Since I don’t use the K Cups much, I realized that there was a slightly less expensive way to recreate my new favorite flavored coffee!

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So, here is how I make the coffee now, but you can easily make it with the K Cup. In fact, when both my husband and I were sick, so my husband was drinking hot tea like it was going out of style, and I was way too tired to lift the coffee pot, but needed caffeine, I used the mocha K Cups.

Recipe:

1. Begin by making a mocha coffee, either with a K Cup, flavored coffee, or plain coffee with chocolate syrups.

2. Add coconut creamer and any extra sweetener to taste.

3. Stir and enjoy!

What’s your favorite flavored coffee?

 

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Categories: Recipe Tags: , ,
10 Book Related Problems that I Have


I’m two days late to this party, but I just had to jump in – and hope to participate in the future because the prompts are so fun.

This week’s prompt is:

10 Book Related Problems that I Have

1. Time.

I know a lot of people would be envious of the amount of time that I have to read, but sometimes being sick gets in the way. I listen to books when I can’t get my eyes open, but I fear that I’m missing the really good parts. That’s why I save things like crime series (Hello King & Maxwell and your stupid narrators, music, and sound effects) or books that aren’t as important to me for those days.

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2. Too many books!

I want to read ALL THE BOOKS. My wishlist on PaperBackSwap is maxed out. I always have 10 books on hold (the max) at the library. I have audible credits and have figured out how to get classic audible books on the cheap. I also saw that buy 5 get one free book deal on Thriftbooks and had to buy the books that my library didn’t have. So, I have books crammed in the living room shelves, in the bedroom shelves, and all over my nightstand. It is not unusual for me to fall asleep with books in the bed.

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3. Getting to the Library

It’s no secret that I have some mobility issues. I try to wait until the last possible date to pick up books, so as many as possible will be in and I can return finished books. Fortunately, my library is kind enough to let my family members pick up my holds, if they have my library card. I couldn’t use them, if that wasn’t possible.

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4. Deciding what to read next.

So, I have so many books that I want to read. It’s hard to pick what to go with next. Of course, I juggle a few books at once, but I am influenced a lot by recent reviews that I read, new books in series, books that I said I would read to review, and now that I’m trying to get back into writing essays, I’m trying to read more examples of good ones, plus advice on non-fiction writing.

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5. Fiction Vs. Non-Fiction.

My last problem brings me to the Fiction vs. Non-Fiction problem. I love fiction. I always have. My mom read books to me every single night before bed all the way through elementary school. I didn’t want her to stop when I was in the 6th grade. I was an English major, so that was quite a bit of fiction. I just gravitate towards getting lost in fiction. However, I love history. The history department at my school recruited me aggressively to be a double major, I was most of the way to an accidental minor in Religion and there was really only one history professor that I liked. I love authors who write about history in a way that makes it feel like a story. Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, and other books in that vein. And now that I want to work on my own writing, I’ve accumulated, but haven’t read those writing books yet.

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6.  Self-imposed pressure to read as much as possible.

Ever since I had more time to read and started posting quick reviews every month, I have been putting pressure on myself to read more and more. If I don’t read as many as the month before, I feel like I let myself and everyone else down. It makes no sense whatsoever, but I can’t cut myself a break.

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7. Finding an author I love, but getting burned out.

Sometimes an author is so good that I want to read all of his or her books in a row. Some authors are really versatile, so this isn’t a problem, but other times, each book is individually good, but too many at once feels like reading the same book on repeat!

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8. Picking a medium.

Some books just don’t translate well onto audio, my preferred method for fiction. Even with the multiple narrators that new recordings are using, it can be hard. For example, I’m reading Astonish Me, which skips around chronologically. Even thought the narrator gives the new date at each change, I think that seeing it or being able to flip back a few pages to see what the last chapter was would be more helpful. One book that I picked up at the library in paperback, Dept. of Speculation, is probably best in hard copy, but sometimes you don’t know that until you’ve already started.

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9. Choosing reading over other activities.

I love to read, but I love to listen to music. I like some TV. I like other things, but reading is great companionship when I feel lonely and sick. However, sometimes I sacrifice other things I enjoy in the name of reading. I need to stop competing against myself.

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10. That TBR list that is out of control.

I read a review, see something on my Goodreads feed, etc., and it gets added. For every book I read, it feels like 3 get on the list. The fact that I like to sign up for online reading challenges is not helpful, either!

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Linking up with Broke and Bookish!

You can add me on Goodreads here!

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Categories: Reading, Uncategorized
Good One, Dana Fox. The Joke’s on Me.


365 Blog Topic Ideas

 365 Blog Topic Ideas Review:

So, I went through a SUPER dry spell, creatively, during the Holiday season. Everyone else was churning out cute DIY crafts, but I couldn’t get out bed. I watched a little TV and read a bunch of books. But, I couldn’t think of anything to write.  I don’t have an “editorial calendar,” per se. Like, I schedule stuff as I write it, but I read about people who post crafts on Mondays, reviews on Tuesdays, etc. Yeah, not going to happen over here.

365 Blog Topic Ideas ReviewSo, I was that “lifestyle blogger who has nothing to write about.” I decided to pull the trigger and order the book off of Amazon. It was like, well, I am paying to keep this blog up, but I’m not putting anything on it. Time to get inspired.

All I have to say is, good one, Dana Fox. Seriously, I applaud you for getting a publisher to print this fairly heavy paperback out and charge like $12 for it. It’s a glorified blog post! One idea per page. Pretty much nothing that I haven’t seen on someone else’s blog post titled “40 Blog Post Ideas” (if you put a whole bunch of them together).

As I flipped through the book, I noticed that several ideas are already link up topics that I see on a regular basis.

Link ups are a great place for inspiration, if you’re running low. Don’t follow my lead and only participate in “Currently” link ups. People get tired of those. Source: Reader Survey.

The ideas in the book are not bad. They are kind of simple, though. On one hand, that gives you latitude to get really creative, but on the other hand, if you take them literally, you’re going to end up with some shitty posts. It’s just kind of funny that I paid money for these ideas. Yes, now they’re at my finger tips. I can mark them off as I do them. Maybe they’ll inspire a good post–like if I take her idea and make it better. I do feel like I moved past “share what’s on your lust list.” (And yes, my husband got a GOOD laugh out of that prompt.)

Yes, making a collage of things I want might get a bunch of comments from people who want them too, but do I want to show off my green eyed monster, or do I want to write meaningful posts? That’s something that each blogger has to wrestle with; finding the balance between the heavy, messy posts and having fun. Blogs are a creative outlet, so I like to mix the two, of course, but I’d rather not post than post the types of things that I read and think “could that blogger have been any more lazy?”

I have no idea where I read this advice, but it makes sense to me: if you don’t have anything particularly great to post, it’s better to let a really good post sit at the top of your homepage for a few days. It can actually increase engagement on that post.

So, don’t get me wrong. This 365 Blog Topic Ideas review is not negative. It has some stuff with which you can work, but maybe split the cost of a copy with a friend. Look at it when you happen to be at the bookstore. I don’t know. It just is not worth the cost. It could have even been a PDF to get someone to sign up for a newsletter. But major props to Dana Fox for getting this published, to the publisher for creating an appealing cover (so people like me will judge it by its cover), and to Amazon for not showing any of the inside contents. I could have done more due diligence and searched out some more reviews, but I didn’t. That’s why the joke is on me.

With that being said, my husband has asked if he could use the prompts. After we unearthed his tripod blog from when he was 17 for the interview link up, he has since found his old live journal and other blogs. Since he doesn’t want to start a lifestyle blog, he’s going to be using some prompts (and I’ll make sure that he includes graphics and everything–because he’s a talented photographer and photoshop user), and I’ll post them every other Sunday, as long as they keep being funny. If he does a lust list, it’ll probably be puppies, computer stuff, and some weird science experiment kit. But, he is full of surprises. So, stay tuned.

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Categories: blogging Tags: