Tag Archives: books

Weekly roundup: staycation edition

19 Aug

Last week, I had a staycation. I took the week off from BOTH jobs – haven’t done that in the four years I’ve been working two jobs. My goal was to not be a sloth and just sit on the couch all day every day. I wanted to be deliberate in what I did each day. I also wanted to try to break my TV habit.

I set out a plan of things I would do every day: Run, yoga, read, knit, and dance practice. Then I figured out the other things I wanted to do. Because I’m nerdy, I made a list.

staycation-list

So what did I do?

*I ran four out of five days. Including my first two-mile run without walking since I broke my foot!

*I did yoga four out of five days.

*I read. A lot. All I have left on my reading to-do list is finish “A Passage to India” and reread “Anna Karenina”.

*I purged. Took a bag of books and bag of CDs and DVDs to Half Price Books and made $30 on it all!

*I packed. My parents and nephew came over on Wednesday morning and helped. My mom packed my kitchen, because she ROCKS at that. My nephew (with some help from my dad) hauled everything out of the basement for me. I was afraid to do that because hauling my bike out of the basement is how I broke my foot.

half-packed

*I finished packing everything I own except my clothes, my bathroom stuff, and my furniture. This is everything:

all-packed

I’m trying to decide if that’s still a lot of crap or if it’s a minimal amount of stuff to own.

*I practice my school figures for dance. A LOT. Sometimes I went to the studio, sometimes I did them at home. But I practiced. Four dances down, six to go! (Six? Seven? I can’t remember. That’s my teacher’s job.)

*I listened to podcasts. I was so far behind on mine. I added it up (again, because I’m a nerd), and it was about 20 hours of podcasts. I still have 3 hours left. But I used the podcasts instead of the TV all week – yay!

*I caught up on Game of Thrones. I had watched season one on Netflix. A very kind friend gave me her HBO log on so I could watch the rest. And I did. OK, so I did watch some TV.

*I knitted. Again, I’m up against a deadline, so I’m frantically trying to finish this. I’ll show you it when it’s done. But I made great progress on it!

*I did some strength training on two days.

*I biked. Twice for fun, but four or five times as a mode of transportation around the neighborhood. I biked to meet friends, I biked to the studio, I biked to the co-op.

*I had breakfast with LS, lunch with NA, dinner with MK.

*I purge my closet and took a garbage bag full clothes and shoes to Goodwill.

*I refinished some toddler chairs I had.

refinished-chairs

*I did NOT look at my work email. Not once. I kept the notifications on, so I could see if anything came through that needed my attention. But nothing looked like it did, so I didn’t open it ONCE. Proof:

emails

Yep, 88 unread messages. Sweet. Only about 30 of those are ones I had to deal with when I got back today. Thank you, awesome boss man, for dealing with the rest! I know it’ll be payback when he’s gone for two weeks next month.

*I lost three pounds!

*I got a cold. After all that, a summer cold showed up Wednesday night. Luckily it’s a minor one, so I feel OK. Just a little coughy.

All in all, it was a great week. I feel refreshed and rested and ready to resume my crazy schedule!

Blogging challenge, day 10

11 Aug

August blogging challenge, day 10: Opening lines from five favorite books

Ooh, I love books! Here are my favorites.

1. “It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.” Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

2. “To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.” The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

3. “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

4. “Mr Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table.” The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

5. “The invitation came on a Saturday morning, just in time to wreck my weekend.” Asking for Trouble, by Elizabeth Young

What I did on my summer vacation

12 Jun

Or at least what I did the last six weeks that I haven’t been able to do anything like run. Or bike. Or dance. Or wash dishes. Or knit. Well, OK, it was just the last two weeks I couldn’t wash dishes or knit, but still. Annoying. But really, what else can you do when you look like this?

gimpy-me
SIGH.

So what DID I do?

I went on a boat ride on Lake Minnetonka with people from the dance studio. It was fun, but it was the day after my surgery so it was a bit exhausting. I got a bit crabby, but I think it was that I was annoyed with the surgery. I was back to feeling that my life was on hold AGAIN, like I did after I broke my foot.

I started going to church again on a regular basis. I had kinda fallen out of that practice, but I really felt the need to go back. So I did, and it was great. And I started doing some bible study with two friends of mine. Which has been really interesting.

I saw a bunch of friends. I tried to stay busy and keep an active social life, since I wasn’t at the studio much and that’s a big part of my social life. I had dinner with friends, watched Sunday night PBS with MH. I saw “The Great Gatsby” with my book club. I went to Showcase. I had coffee with friends.

I worked some overtime at my day job. It’s our busy time of year, and it was completely my choice to do it. But it helped me stay ahead at work and not get so stressed. Plus I get time-and-a-half, so why not?

I dogsat for my friend WH again. She got a new cat (that makes two cats and two dogs), and the new cat THINKS he’s a dog. But look at that face!

crosby-the-cat-who-thinks-he-is-a-dog

So stinkin’ cute. I’m not much of a cat person AT ALL, but he was hard to resist. Especially when he demanded to sit on my lap and then fell asleep.

I watched TV. I caught up on Foyle’s War, rewatched Arrested Development and watched the new season, I caught up on Psych, I watched more of the West Wing, I watched all of House of Cards, I watched some past Project Runway, and I started a new series (well, not new, it aired on BBC around 10 years ago) called Monarch of the Glen. Thank you, Netflix and Hulu. You really helped me get through the last 6 weeks.

I knew I was starting to feel better because I felt like reading this past weekend. I read “The Devil in the White City”. If you haven’t read it, and you like mysteries, read it. It was really good. A little creepy because, you know, serial killers and all. But it’s well-written and a very interesting story. That’s not a story, really, as it’s describing about stuff that really happened. Non-fiction! That’s the phrase I was looking for.

And I thought. A lot. A LOT. Me with nothing to do and no physical activity leads to thoughts. Thankfully, not the thinky place. But thoughts. I realized I like working out. And I actually like running. *Shudder* Well, I like the way I feel after working out. So I know it’s important. And I know it really helps with my mental attitude. I also realized that when I go back to dance, I want to have more fun. I don’t want to get frustrated with me or my progress or my teacher. But a lot of that starts with me and my attitude. I want to just enjoy it. I want to enjoy that I’m there, enjoy that I can do it (now that I know what not doing it feels like), enjoy that I can do it well, and enjoy just the whole process. I still want to be good; I’m still driven in that regard. But I don’t want to forget to have fun. So I need to remind myself of that each and every time I go to the studio until it doesn’t need to be a conscious thought anymore.

Oh, and I also drank. And gained a few pounds. Because, you know…not doing the normal amount of physical activity coupled with sitting and doing nothing except watch TV can lead to that.

But…starting Monday, I can ease back into running. THANK GOD. Tomorrow I’m going to try biking. And then one week from today, I get to DANCE again.

Weekly roundup

15 Apr

Last week, I…

*Had dance lessons with a different teacher while mine was on vacation. It’s always interesting to work with another teacher. But it makes me appreciate how well my regular teacher and me work together. Not that the exchange lessons weren’t great – they were, just not as great as my regular lessons.

*Started dog-sitting for a friend of mine. My two companions:

bailey      meg

More on our adventures soon.

*Practiced at the studio again with my friend SH. I really enjoy that. It’s like having a workout buddy. But for dancing. But it’s not a dance partner. You know what I mean.

*Wondered what I should be writing about on my blog.

*Watched “The Count of Monte Cristo” with my book club. We had just read it for book club, so we watched the movie as a group. That was fun! We’re reading “The Great Gatsby” for this month, so maybe we’ll watch that when the new movie version comes out in May.

*Went for frozen yogurt with SP because it’s spring. Kinda. Because this is totally a spring forecast:

spring
I don’t know why it says Mendota Heights when I’m in St Paul.

No? Oh well. It is what it is. I want it to get warmer just so people stop complaining ALL THE TIME about the weather.

*Worked out A LOT. Which felt great. And tiring.

All in all, a pretty awesome week!

Weekly roundup

2 Apr

In the last two (sheesh, I’m behind) weeks, I…

*FINALLY shared some of the amazing recipes I’ve made lately, including a super one for homemade peanut cups.

IMG_0675

My friend LG read about them and tried them the very next day and loved them.

*Had a book club meeting where we finished “The Count of Monte Cristo”. It was a loonnnnggg book, and I had the abridged version (by mistake.) I’d like to go back and read the full version someday because I do feel like I missed some details. Someday.

*Went for coffee with my niece LB who was home from college for spring break. So fun to see her!

*Enjoyed a very lovely day off, including a long run outside. Well, long for me…about 2 miles. Slow (about 10:45 per mile), but still, I ran them all!

*Was all fancy and had dinner with my friend SH at a private club in St Paul. So posh.

*Saw the hand surgeon about my wrist. Surgery is scheduled for the end of May.

*Had dinner with my friend SP. And we tried a fantastic place for dessert. SO GOOD. And I could feel the diabetes setting in just walking in the door.

*Practiced at the studio. I do dance homework at home, but some things you just need the studio space for. But I hate practicing at the studio. Which is silly and ridiculous but true. My friend SH feels the exact same way, except I don’t think she practices at home. So we made a pact to meet at the studio once a week to practice. We did it last week for the first time, and it was great. Like having a workout buddy but with dance.

*Caught up with the fabulous KB over coffee. Alas, it was way too short – we didn’t cover everything!

*Took a knitting class with DF. It was great because she had never knit, and I learned some basic things (cough cough cast-on) that I never really learned properly.

*Had Easter dinner with the family.

Weekly roundup

18 Mar

Last week, I…

*Got a Kindle Fire!

kindle!

And it’s awesome.

*Went to the doctor and learned I need to have hand surgery soon to remove a cyst on my wrist. Luckily it shouldn’t interfere with my life too much. But still annoying. I find out more next week.

*Waged war on the mice.

mouse-war

Cotton balls with peppermint oil on them in tea defusers. And dryer sheets. Our house smelled like peppermint linen for a while. Then the smell dissipated, and we saw signs of the mice again. So more peppermint oil, more dryer sheets, and refresh both more often.

*Had dinner with MH and heard about her amazing trip to Belize.

*Saw “Searching for Sugar Man” with SP. It is a great movie – well deserving of the Oscar it received. Go see it. And then go listen to the music.

*Made these…

most-awesome-cookies

More on those soon!

*Finished “The Great Gatsby” for book club.

New technology

13 Mar

Every year, I get a tax refund. I plan it that way. My friend DP is appalled by that. He firmly believes that you shouldn’t pay more than you owe. Ever. I get that it’s my money and that I’m lending it to the government for free. But really, if I saved that money, what kind of interest would I really be earning? Even if interest rates were good, I’d still want a refund. To me, it’s like bonus money.

This year, I’m being responsible with most of it. But I did take some of it and get something I’ve wanted for a long time.

A Kindle Fire!!

I’m writing this post on the WordPress app on it right now. It’s not easy as a computer, but it’s pretty handy. Plus I’ve already started reading a book on it over lunch, which was great. I love the portability of it. So much easier than a big book!

So I’m excited. I think this is going to be great, especially if I have downtime at the studio and over lunch. This was a good buy for me.

Even if it means the government got my money for free last year.

Daily prompt: Call me Ishmael

6 Jan

“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.”

Who wouldn’t want that? I would love to be so captivating and charming that men don’t realize I’m not beautiful. And not even just men. I think it’d be great if people in general found me so interesting and charming and captivating. Sometimes I feel less than average – that I’m not special enough to be remembered. (This is sometimes reinforced by the fact that people sometimes don’t remember meeting me.) So I’ve always been fascinated by that description of a captivating woman.

“Gone with the Wind” is one of my favorite books. The movie is excellent, but the book is so much better. I think I was about 13 when I read it for the first time. And I’ve been hooked on it ever since. I’ve reread it so many times, the dust cover completely wore out.

gone-with-the-wind

(Yesterday’s daily prompt: Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post.)

Riot & Frolic presents 91 books to make you smarter

17 Oct

You’ve all heard me talk about my friend’s blog Riot and Frolic. I actually followed her blog before we became friends because I love it so much – it’s an amazing and funny blog. Go check it out. And then come back here. I’ll wait…

Oh good, you’re back. Today she posted about books. I love to read, and I thought her list was awesome (other than the clear mistake of not including Crime and Punishment or Grapes of Wrath). So here, with her permission, is her blog post…

***

I’m getting dumber.  It’s a fact.  I use my computer and my smart phone too much, so my handwriting is deteriorating along with my spelling ability.  I spend a lot of time talking to people with a very limited vocabulary (because they’re under the age of 5).

I decided to compile a list of “CLASSIC BOOKS!!!” (use your moviefone voice).  Like those ones that I never read in middle school and high school that I was probably supposed to.

Taking suggestions from The Modern Library, The World Library, Time Magazine, The Guardian, some slightly random advice from Divine Caroline, and a trusty Facebook poll, I narrowed down a quite epic number to 91 books that are guaranteed to make me smarter.

Right?

Rules for the list, in case you are appalled that Tale of Two Cities or Twilight isn’t included:

  • I had to have heard of either of the book or the author.
  • Either the book or author had to be mentioned on 2 or more of the above-mentioned catalogs.
  • No author could have two entries (because Dickens and Shakespeare and Tolstoy make up like 20).

Here’s what I got…

Top##books

Yeeeeeah.

Rules for the reading list:

  • No fair checking off ones you read 5, 10, or 20 years ago.
  • Reading real books is more fun, but many of them are free on iBooks, Kindle, Nook, and the like.
  • Pick up whatever looks interesting and START READING.

Team of Rivals

8 Jan

I finished (finally!) “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

It was a good book. What was so amazing was realizing Lincoln’s strength in uniting people. He had a natural talent for that, and he also worked hard to do it during his administration. He made sure people were heard. He may not have done what they wanted, but he listened. And if he didn’t do what they wanted, he often explained why in such a way that they completely understood his choice.

That, to me, is what politics should be. People working together, voicing different opinions, but reaching compromise or at least understanding. None of this left-is-bad, right-is-bad mentality. Lincoln was also driven by a sense of purpose to keep the Union together. He kept that goal, that purpose always in his sights when making decisions. He also worked to keep people’s spirits up during the war, never losing faith in the purpose and helping others stay upbeat about the outcome.

It also made me wonder how that skill could be learned and/or applied in everyday life by everyday people. Do we listen to each other and the other side enough? Do we explain our choices when they impact others? Or do we just bulldoze and do what we want and expect others to like it? Obviously, I’m not talking about simple little decisions like what I have for lunch. But those bigger decisions that impact others – do we work to be inclusive and consultative? I will be the first to say that you can go too far with consultation and reaching consensus. So there does need to be a balance.

I think the telling thing about Lincoln was how broken up people were upon his death, even people in Washington who started as his enemies. He had worked to include them, listen to them, and they were truly grieved at his assassination.

(Side thought: How different would reconstruction have been if Lincoln had lived? He was already showing himself to be more lenient and kind towards the South than the rest of his cabinet. By killing Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth made it much more difficult for the South to recover from the war.)

The book made me think about how people are treated and included. Something we can always try to keep in mind, and most of us often don’t.

It’s a long book, but well worth it. Lincoln is a fascinating character to read about.

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