Category Archives: books

things that made me happy in 2015

  

  • Dan, my amazing husband
  • Madison, Frieda, and Harriet, our wonderful pets
  • My fantastic family, my parents, siblings, in-laws, and extended relatives – they’re all extraordinary
  • My excellent friends
  • A challenging and rewarding job
  • Buying our incredible house!! : )
  • Getting to travel for through my job – to places I’ve never been, like San Francisco, and to places I’ve been to but got to discover new parts of, like Washington, D.C., and New York City
  • Podcasts
  • Books  (I met my reading challenge of reading 30 books this year! I’m setting the same goal for next year)
  • Lots of coffee
  • Rehabbing my knee
  • Trips to Columbus, Madison, OH, and Bowling Green
  • Hosting family and friends on trips to Cleveland
  • Indians, Cavs, and Columbus Crew games

  

  • Being diagnosed with celiac disease and starting to feel better
  • Fun nights playing Mario 3D World and Mario Kart
  • Meeting Matthew Dellavedova
  • Easter dinner at my grandma’s house
  • Many walks in the park
  • Trips to the movies with Dan and my dad
  • Getting new glasses and a new haircut
  • Attending showers for friends’ babies and weddings, and celebrating those terrific life changes with them
  • Learning to like running
  • Sitting on our deck
  • Visiting the Cleveland Zoo
  • Board game parties at my sister-in-law Cate’s apartment
  • Suppers at my parents’ house
  • Biking all over
  • Finally getting to visit the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH, with Dan
  • Cooking in our new kitchen
  • Watching football games and English soccer games
  • Decorating our house for the holidays
  • Back to the Future themed Halloween costumes with Back to the Future movie marathon leading up to it
  • Hosting Thanksgiving dinner for our families in our new home
  • A wonderful Christmas weekend with our families and time together approaching the new year : )

  

And of course, hundreds of little moments that bring a smile to your face every day – blaring Adele in the car and singing at the top of my lungs, naps under the electric blanket with my cat laying on my side, laughing with my husband over something silly, brunch after church, playing with my dog. My main focus in 2016 is to flourish – to focus on becoming healthier, growing in my faith, spending time with my family, and just plain enjoying and celebrating life.

What were your favorite moments of 2015? Any goals or hopes for 2016?

currently

  

  

  • Feeling: very pensive and introspective. optimistic. determined.
  • Eating:  guac + gluten free pretzels. LUNA bars. edamame salad + rice + quinoa.
  • Drinking: Perfect Fit tea – Unwind at night, Awaken for a pick-me-up. Dunkin’ Donuts Caramel Coffee Cake – black, as always. Water.
  • Reading: Still plugging away through Lawerence of Arabia. The Opposite of Loneliness.  The Apple News app.
  • Watching: The last few seasons of Bones. Star Wars 4-6.  Christmas movies. Parks and Recreation, season two.
  • Listening to: Playlists I made in college. Happier podcast. Christmas music. Nothing – just silence.
  • Trying:  To go to bed at 10 at the latest and wake up at 5AM every day. To be better. To not think as much.
  • Wondering: Next steps to take (while not overthinking!). What are the best gifts to get loved ones. When it will finally snow.
  • Hoping: To be present and happy during December. To make 2016 the best year yet. To meet my Goodreads Challenge of reading 30 books this year.
  • Enjoying: Our Christmas decorations, up for the first time in our new home. Walks outside in this crazy-warm Cleveland weather. Turning off the TV and reading. Time with family. BGSU football winning the MAC Championship.

weekly gems

   A walk with Madison in the park.

harry potter forever

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Like most children of the 90s, or really, any human being with an imagination and a heart, I will never NOT love the Harry Potter books and anything related to them.

It’s almost time for my yearly re-reading of the books. I can feel myself getting itchy. I keep thinking about how all the Harry Potter movies on Blu-Ray and the new illustrated edition of the first book are at the top of my Christmas wish list.

The need for a  Harry Potter fix is only being increased by the knowledge that people I know with have gone on the Harry Potter Studio Tour or will be visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Either experience would have me over the moon with joy!

Since I won’t be having an authentic butterbeer or pumpkin juice anytime soon, I’m going to have to curl up with some tea, pull out my plain old original copies of the series, and read away.

Maybe I’ll even imagine I’m in the Gryffindor common room while I’m at it!

weekly gems

Enjoying our new outdoor space so much!

Have a great weekend! 

weekly gems

 One of my favorite places!

 

weekly gems (a bit late…again)

     

Had fun watching a FA Cup game last weekend!  

read it: eleanor & park

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Title: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Book Number: 13 out of 75 (as part of my 101 in 1001 journey)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆  (One star = couldn’t finish; two stars = didn’t like; three stars = enjoyable; four stars = great read; five stars = fantastic)

Summary: Park never expected for the new girl, with her red hair and unlikely fashion choices, to become his first love – but she did. Brought together by bus rides, comic books, and music, Eleanor and Park not only fell in love, but became best friends. It’s not a new concept, two teenagers falling madly in love, but what is unique about Eleanor and Park are the challenges they face. While Park’s parents are devoted to each other and their children, maintaining a safe and loving home, Eleanor’s family life is chaotic, full of poverty and fear. Pair that with bullies at school, and Park become Eleanor’s main source of stability and love – a role he gladly accepts, and his parents slowly start to share.

Thoughts: I enjoyed this book a great deal, and I’m glad I did – I picked it for my book club’s January meeting! First of all, it’s set in 1986, and I just have a thing for books that are set the past, but aren’t really “historical” novels (similar to Rainbow Rowell’s book, Attachments, which I LOVE). Rowell does a fantastic job of portraying the intensity and sincerity of teenage love. She also did a wonderful job of developing characters the reader can connect with and root for. The story is told in chapters that alternate between Eleanor and Park’s point of view, which I think really fleshed out both their characters and the depth of their love for each other. I didn’t give this book five stars because I wasn’t sure how I felt about the very end of the book. I keep going back and forth on whether I’m satisfied with it or if I wish there had been more. Nonetheless, I am pumped that this book will be a movie in the near future!

Have you read Eleanor and Park? What did you think? If I liked Eleanor and Park and other books by Rainbow Rowell, what else would you recommend?

Are you on GoodreadsI am. Let’s be friends!

(above image source)

read it: comfort and joy

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Title: Comfort & Joy

Author: Kristin Hannah

Book Number: 11 out of 75 (as part of my 101 in 1001 journey)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆  (One star = couldn’t finish; two stars = didn’t like; three stars = enjoyable; four stars = great read; five stars = fantastic)

Summary: Joy Candellaro is a high school librarian whose having a tough time. She’s recently divorced due to her husband’s cheating, and is missing her best friend – her sister, who also happens to be her ex-husband’s new fiancee. She is dreading what used to be her favorite holiday, Christmas, and decides she will finally travel like she has always wanted to. Without telling anyone, she drives to the airport and convinces a small chartered plane to let her join them on their trip to a town called Hope.  When the plane crashes and Joy is stranded some distance away from the wreckage, she makes the unthinkable decision to just literally walk away. After traveling for miles, Joy finds herself in town of Rain Valley and seeks shelter at a closed inn. With the help of lonely six-year-old Bobby O’Shea, Joy convinces inn owner and Bobby’s father Daniel to let her stay. Joy learns the family is struggling with the recent loss of Bobby’s mother, and finds herself taking steps to help the O’Sheas, despite her best efforts to restrain herself.

Just when it seems like Joy is about to have a beautiful Christmas after all, her precious new world is shattered. Joy must decide what is true and what’s not, and if seizing a small chance for happiness is worth the the bigger chance of heartbreak.

Thoughts: I adore this book for a few reasons: (1) The main character works at a high school, which I can of course relate to, (2) it takes place in the Pacific Northwest, which I have never visited but love to read about and hope to see someday, and (3) the first half reads exactly like a made-for-TV Hallmark Christmas movie. I understand that description would cause some people to pass on reading it, but for me, that’s an excellent hook. However, the book does take a turn that I was not expecting and it became distinctly not Hallmark-like, in the best of ways. It was a fun book to read around the holidays, but I think would be enjoyable at any time of the year.

Have you read Comfort and Joy? What did you think? If I liked Comfort and Joy and other books by Kristin Hannah, what else would you recommend?

Are you on GoodreadsI am. Let’s be friends!

(above image source)

read it: big little lies

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Title: Big Little Lies

Author: Liane Moriarity

Book Number: 10 out of 75 (as part of my 101 in 1001 journey)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  (One star = couldn’t finish; two stars = didn’t like; three stars = enjoyable; four stars = great read; five stars = fantastic)

Summary: Welcome to the Australian, beachside community of Pirriwee Peninsula, where the parents of the students at Pirriwee Public School create as much drama as your favorite reality show.

Madeline is a passionate, confident woman whose ex-husband and his hippie wife have recently relocated to Pirriwee. To add injustice to annoyance, their five-year-old daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest child, and her teenage daughter could not want any less to do with Madeline.

Madeline’s friend, Celeste, is gorgeous and kind, but rather preoccupied. Everyone assumes its because she is mother to kindergarten-age twin boys – but is that all?

Together, Madeline and Celeste befriend young, new-to-town Jane and her young, also-entering-kindergarten son. Jane is shy and seems to be holding onto some secrets herself, but when on the kindergarten orientation day a line gets drawn in the sand, the three quickly become allies in what will play out as a year-long battle culuminating in a death at Pirriwee Primary School’s annual trivia night.

Told in flashbacks and pieces of witness testimony, piece by piece the secrets of Pirriwee’s residents are revealed, true natures come to light, and, finally, we learned who was killed – and why.

Thoughts: I LOVED this book. I read it in November 2014 while I was recovering from ACL surgery. It made me laugh out loud and cry. It made me fantasize about living by the sea and feel warm waves of gratitude for my wonderful family, husband, and friends. It made me wish I could write and create engaging characters with as much depth and seamlessly address difficult issues with as much grace and realism as Moriaty can. It made me text my friends who aren’t in book club with me and tell them to read this book.

Have you read Big Little Lies? What did you think? If I liked Big Little Lies, what other books would you recommend?

Are you on GoodreadsI am. Let’s be friends!

(above image source)

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