Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Review

My reading has slowed down significantly. I blame the days getting shorter, and also after finishing "All The Light We Cannot See" no other books compare.  I only read two books in November and finishing one was a struggle.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This book was really good. I don't often read non-fiction, but when I do it's usually in memoir or biography form. It took me a while to finish the book because I couldn't read it before bed since I would have scary dreams about being a POW or eaten by sharks. I mostly read it on the couch while Charlie watched football. I kept gasping because things just kept getting worse for poor Louie. I can't remember ever gasping out loud while reading a book before. I wanted Charlie to read this book so we could have a book club but he was not into that idea. I don't want to read the science books he's reading so the book club idea died. I think it caught on with my brother-in-law and his wife though, so at least someone is doing it.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I liked Eleanor and Park so I thought I'd like this book by the same author, but I pretty much hated it. I forced myself to finish because although I hated it, I wanted to know how terribly it ended.  Spoiler...it ended terribly. In between each chapter was a clip from a fake book that was a lot like Harry Potter and it super annoyed me. Towards the end I just started skipping those parts to finish faster. I was annoyed by the whole book, I probably should have stopped reading it.

After returning Fangirl to the library I was uninspired by reading so I didn't get another book to read. That was probably a bad sign. To get myself back into it I've done what I usually do, read a book I've read 20 times already. In the summer the book is Summer Sisters,  in spring, The Times Travelers Wife, and in winter Little Women always wins. My copy is from 1921 from my grandmother. The old book smell just adds to the charm and comfort of reading it.  Reading it under a cozy Christmas quilt doesn't hurt either.



Do you have any good book recommendations? What book could you read 100 times?

Lauren

Friday, December 5, 2014

December Bucket List

Did you guys know it's December 5th! I kind of forgot. I'm not sure why but I am not feeling the Christmas spirit as much as in years prior. Perhaps I was just way overboard back then? In an effort to get more into it I've made a bucket list. Some are admittedly things I have to do, while others are just fun and I like doing them.

  1. Cut our own tree and decorate it with ornaments that Blaze cannot destroy. 
  2. Put white lights in the windows of our house. (I already did this, and I love driving home at night and seeing the candle lights on in the windows, it reminds me of my home when I was little.)
  3. Watch Elf, It's A Wonderful Life, Love Actually, and Home Alone 2.
  4. Bake Christmas cookies. (Most likely using this recipe.) 
  5. Sip hot cocoa with marshmallows next to the pellet stove.
  6. Wrap all my Christmas presents at the same time while listening to Christmas music.
  7. Listen to the "Celtic Woman Christmas" station on Pandora until my ears bleed. 
  8. Finish sewing all my presents by Dec 17th so I won't be stressed out. (This means I actually have to start sewing.) 
  9. Eat dinner by candlelight every night.
  10. Decorate a wreath for the front door. (Sadly this year I did not collect milk weed pods to decorate my wreath, and now the snow and ice have come and ruined all the pods.)
  11. Go for a night walk when it's snowing.
  12. Have a bon fire. 
  13. See a Christmas play (this weekend we're seeing A Christmas Carol.)
  14. Go to the Newfound Inn for dinner and drinks, and to look at all the lights and decorations. (a three year tradition that I absolutely love and so look forward to.)
  15. Start a new tradition.
  16. Decorate the mantel.
  17. Send Christmas cards. (This year I really felt totally out of ideas and found cards on sale for 50% off that I loved, so I did not/will not be making cards from scratch. Had I realized how upsetting this would be to my aunt I may have re-considered. The convenience factor was key.)
  18. Buy presents for the giving tree. 
  19. Go to a Christmas concert.
  20. Take a family picture that all four of us look good in. (That could take until next Christmas.) 
One of my favorite Holiday sights. The Newfound Inn. 

What's on your December Bucket list? Any favorite traditions?

Lauren 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Things I Like and You Should Like Too

Here is a (short) list of things that I am really enjoying lately and want you to like too. Mostly so that we can talk about said things together.

Serial. I am obsessed with this podcast. I listen to it while raking, and while driving. The other night I sat in the car, in the garage finishing listening to the podcast. Don't worry I turned the car off so I would not die of carbon monoxide poisoning. Luckily my friend texted me to remind me of that, but I also knew to begin with too, but thanks for caring Chandra. It's so good, you should listen to it. I really need someone to talk to about it. I am only on episode 6 though, so if you're farther than me then I actually DON'T want to talk to you.


Watching stand up comedy on Netflix. A friend came to visit and made me watch the beginning of "New In Town" by John Mulaney. After he left I finished watching it and laughed hysterically. Then, still craving more laughs I started watching more. I've watched "Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats" and "Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive". Both had me laughing until my sides hurt. Now I have convinced myself I have missed my calling in stand up comedy because I think I am as funny as these people. Then I remember I hate crowds, and talking in public, and most importantly, that I am only funny to people who know me very well.
source


Buying flowers for myself. Flowers make me really happy. They also make me feel like my house should be clean. The flowers deserve to be in a clean house. Every payday I buy myself some flowers, and clean the house. Aren't I so exciting? I'm doing a great job of selling you on all of my awesome/cool things I do.


What awesome stuff have you been up to that I should look into doing so we can be cool together? 

Lauren 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Habits

Last month I tried to do five things every day.

  1. Read
  2. Create
  3. Exercise
  4. Floss
  5. Have Patience. 
Can you guess which one had the lowest success rate? "Have patience", obviously. Do you even know me?

I even made a check list to chart my progress. Because, I like giving myself arbitrary checks. 

This month my journey continues. Part of me feels like some of these things have become habits, but another part of me knows that if I stop putting checks on a chart I will probably stop doing these things because I won't have to be accountable. Sounds crazy to feel accountable to a checklist on your fridge that no one else cares about, but I swear it works.  Especially for flossing. I tell myself I'll feel much better checking a little square to say I flossed, than I'd feel skipping it, so I floss before bed.


What counts as what you ask?

Read: books and magazines count. Online crap does not, nor does work stuff. My goal here was to unplug and wind down before bed. It's also kept me reading into the fall, which has not happened in the past. No time limit on this goal 5 minutes counts just as much as 2 hours. 

Create: Sewing, knitting, felting, scrapbooking, art journaling, writing blog posts, baking and cooking, yes cooking. all count in my book. I have figured out that if you force yourself to create everyday you get a lot more done. There is no time limit, I could sew for 2 minutes and it would count. But that never happens. Previously I would not do something creative because I only had 20 minutes and didn't feel like that was long enough to get into a groove so I'd sit on my butt and do nothing. Now I have 20 minutes to meet my goal so I'll do it. Another strategy I have found works for me is to stop while I am still inspired. Sounds dumb right? Actually it works because I am more excited to go back to the project the next day than having to start over again thinking of something creative the next day. 

Exercise: Running, crossfit, walking the dogs for 30+ minutes, hiking, and recently raking have all counted. I aim for 30 minutes or more, but will still give myself a check for 20 minutes. Mostly, as long as I sweat it counts. 

Floss: That's easy, did I floss or not? I hope my late grandfather who was my first dentist is happy about this goal. I also hope my dentist now will be happy about this. I'll still get cavities though I am sure, I think I have very porous teeth. Also I recently went to the dentist and the hygienist still asked me with the same tone of voice they always do "how often do you floss?" as if saying "you obviously need to be reminded to floss, because no one does this everyday."

Have Patience: This is definitely the hardest one to measure and to keep. As someone who writes measurable goals all day you'd think I'd have made goal 5 something you could actually measure, but no. I mostly mean this in terms of my home life, so it pertains to Penny, Blaze, and Charlie. I seem to do a relatively good job of having patience at work, which is surprising considering the maturity level of the children I work with. It's when I get home that I feel like I've used it all up and have none left to give. But in making this goal, and attempting to make it a habit, I have realized that there is not a set supply of patience in a day. I want to put a check on my chart so I'll bite my tongue, do something I don't really want to do, and be flexible. Funny thing is it's easier to keep doing this once you have started. Patience momentum. If you asked Charlie I am sure he would say he notices no difference in my behavior but I do notice it and feel much better going to bed at night knowing that I didn't snap at anyone. 

I thought about adding a 6th for November, but I think another month to get these more ingrained into my mind and my schedule will be good. I read it takes 21 days to make a habit. I must just be extra slow compared to normal people in habit making. 

What habit do you wish you had? 

Lauren 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Capsule Wardrobe (ish)

I've been reading about capsule wardrobes a lot lately. Must be a new blogger thing. The basic idea is that you have 37 (or some number you pick) items of clothing, including shoes, that you wear for a three month period of time. Only those items. I read that people only wear 25% of their clothes anyways, so why not only have that 25% of the clothes out to pick from?

My brother in law is a self proclaimed "minimalist" and has been talking about that idea a lot. When he gets something new he throws out or donates something else. One in, one out. I've also been reading about simplifying your life, having only things that make you happy around, etc. All of these ideas collided with my summer to fall clothes switch over about a month ago. Usually I just take the fall clothes out and put the summer clothes away. This time I was (mostly) ruthless in my switching. I threw a lot of yucky clothes out, got rid of items I had had since college (seriously), and donated items I never wear. My biggest issues are items that I've sewn that aren't 100% perfect or ill fitting. I have a hard time getting rid of those things, even though I never wear them, because all I think about is how much time went into creating it.

Inability to give up clothes aside I did slim down my clothing significantly. I also put aside clothes that I couldn't get rid of right now, and if I think about a particular item or want it before Christmas I'll get it from the other closet and wear it, if not, it's gone.


Capsule wardrobes seem to work well for people who work from home and have a casual style. I'd say I have a casual style, but I cannot wear jeans to work everyday. Due to this trimming down my closet to 37 pieces seemed to daunting and downright impossible. I had 37 cardigans alone! I have since cut down the number of cardigans drastically by getting rid of the ones I never wear or the ones with stains and rips, why did I keep those anyways? I also got rid of about 6 pairs of work pants. I realized that it seemed like I had a lot of pants to wear to work, but I only ever wore 3 of them because they fit and were comfortable, the others were ill fitting, stained (seriously what's wrong with me) or just not a color/style I wear. One pair has 4 buttons and a zipper, which is way too much for someone who only has 10 seconds to go to the bathroom between students. They're gone! I did the same with my jeans. Who needs 6 pairs of jeans, only two of which you wear, when you only wear jeans on the weekends, and to be honest many weekends you just hang out in workout clothes/pj's/sweatpants anyways?

This is a very long winded way of me introducing my new style goals.

1. Buy or make only pieces you're sure you'll wear, fit with items you already have, and can be worn multiple times.
2. Diversify, match different items.
3. Have a color scheme.
4. Flip clothes hanger to other side once I've worn an item so I know I wore it this season.


I have a feeling no one will care about this post, but if I say it I'll feel more accountable and stick to it instead of falling back into my old habits. "Make it public make it happen."

Have you heard of this idea? Think you could do it?
Lauren

Monday, November 10, 2014

Keeping It Real Race Recap

Well, I promised I would start sharing "real" stuff here, so the real truth is the race I ran on Saturday sucked.  It was a 12 mile trail race. Mistake one was drastically underestimating the elevation profile of this race. Mistake two was drastically overestimating how much I had actually trained for this race. Conclusion to these two mistakes, wicked bummer of a race.

The first two + miles were up a mountain, so I walked, and huffed and puffed. By the top my legs were jello so running down all of those switch backs was a real pleasure. It had rained the day before so there was ice everywhere, and lots of slippery leaves. This resulted in me tripping and in two instances totally wiping out. The people in front of me and behind me kept falling too so I didn't feel so bad, but I also did feel bad because it hurts to fall. I think I sprained my pinky finger catching myself, but everyone I ask says it looks normal. I also banged my knee on a root or rock or something hard. At mile 6 I told myself to drop out, but by mile 7, where you could drop out, I had convinced myself not to drop out, then mile 7.7 I was kicking myself for not dropping out. At that point my legs were alternating between feeling like jello or lead bricks. Since I was not having much luck getting my legs to work, and the tripping and falling kept happening, I decided to just switch my mind set to "I am hiking" and not "I am running a race, and sucking ass at it." The views were really great. You could see the lake and towards the end of the race you "hiked" past several water falls. People were very spread out by the last 4 miles so I was totally alone wondering if I was even going the right way, doubting all of my previous life choices.

The end of the race must have been designed by someone who really hates all people. You run up a road to the carriage house, then turn left and continue running up these old winding steps to get to the "Castle in the Clouds".  Charlie was waiting for me on the step, upon seeing him I immediately began to cry since the entire race had been very mentally and physically challenging. If I thought he would have said yes I would have asked him to carry me.  He walked with me to the finish line where I continued to cry until I forced myself to laugh at how stupid I was acting.

These are the stairs. I did not look .00001 percent as beautiful as this woman. At the finish line you have to turn around and walk your sorry butt back down the hill you just ran up. Seriously a sadists made this race up. Once we got back to the carriage house and met with our friends I sat down and was able to laugh about how seriously dumb the entire race was, and how delusional I was, and also how dumb it is that people willingly pay money to do this type of stuff. The after race food consisted of bagels, beer, whoppie pies and beef stew. The beef stew was all I could eat and was ice cold by the time I finished, so I took one bite and spit it out. Moral of the story is if you want hot food at the end of a race, run faster.

My new running friend had an excellent race so I gladly listened to her recant her success. Our other friend tried to run the 4 mile race but had an asthma attack and had to quit. Charlie finished 6th and "ran almost all of the race." Of the four or us two had a good race and two wanted to die. Pretty bad odds if you ask me. 

There was nothing but ice cold soup to eat so we packed up and set out to find food. I wanted to get ice cream at Ben and Jerry's in Meredith, Charlie was sure they were closed for the season. After looking it up online my phone said that they were open and I convinced him to take us, but once we got there the sign said "closed for the season." Google, you let me down. Instead we went to a pizza place next door and I had hot chocolate and gluten free BBQ chicken pizza. Probably a (little bit) healthier choice. Once we returned home though I made gluten free brownies to eat with vanilla ice cream on top. Not healthy, but who cares, I "hiked" 12 miles. Get off my case. It was delicious #noregrets.

On Sunday I was quite tired but managed to force myself to rake leaves for 3 hours, hang out with the dogs and do laundry. 

If you are wondering, I will not be doing this race again next year. Charlie said he would, he has issues. I'll go for a hike, take pictures of the pretty view and watch people try not to puke hiking up the last part of the course. 

I have not signed up for any more races, so staying motivated this winter might be an issue. I am going to try to run (at least) one mile a day from Thanksgiving until New Years. I did it last year and only missed one day. Running helps me have an easier time skiing, so I'll have to remind myself of that when I don't want to go for a run. 

I hope you had a less painful weekend than mine. What was the last really dumb thing you did? 

Lauren 
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