Resoultions Check-In #1

In order to keep myself on track with my New Year’s Resolutions, I thought I’d check in at the end of every month to see how my progress is going.  I was hoping that I could say I’d finished my January organizational project.  But no.  Snopocalypse (or Snowmageddeon) got in the way this last week and now, wouldn’t you know it, I’ve got one of those epic colds.  Not the kind you can still go to work with.  The kind you lay on the couch dying because you’re so cold that your skin hurts but you’re running a fever so you can’t actually get warm.  It has not been a fun three days.  However, I’m feeling a little bit better today and hope to at least get the laundry put away.  That’s the most pressing thing on my to-do list.

Here’s the progress I DID make in January:

  • I lost at least 7 lbs (my final weigh in was cancelled by the snow)
  • I made great headway in organizing my bedroom and I have a plan to finish it
  • I’ve been spending more time with people who make me happy and who bring out the best in me and working to let go of some of the negative I’ve been holding on to
  • I read 1 1/2 self help books–> The Tao of Martha (it’s not technically a self help book but it did inspire me to make some changes so I’m counting it) and I’m halfway through Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.  It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to share it with you once I’m finished.
  • I took some major steps to get more organized based on what I read in SGTSM.  I decided to make a planner for myself instead of using the one I bought.  I can’t wait to share it once I’ve actually put it together but let me tell you, I am SO EXCITED about it.

I’m hoping that February will be a more productive month in terms of my goals.  Hopefully I’ll get over this cold soon and can start running again.  My organizational goal for this month is either our dining room/kitchen or the hallway closets.  We’ll have to see once I finish my bedroom.

Here’s to a happier, more productive and authentic 2014!

XOXO

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How this Southern Gal and Her Family Survived the Snowpocolypse

You know, I had a completely different post in mind for today but it shall have to wait until tomorrow.  This one is more important, I think.

So the Snowpocalypse happened this week.  What should have been a mere dusting of snow for Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/North AL turned into 2-3 inches of snow and ICE within just a few hours.  By the time most businesses and schools closed, it really was too late.  My library closed at 11 and it took me three hours to drop my coworker off at home and make it back to the Hoover Rec where I spent the rest of Tuesday and most of Wednesday.  It would ultimately take me 47 hours after we closed to get back to my house.  My car was at the Rec Center until a few hours ago.  Hubby was in Tuscaloosa when it started and he got back to Birmingham 46 hours after the University of Tuscaloosa closed.  Thankfully his brother is a sophmore there and Hubby was able to stay in a dorm where it was warm and he had food.  My sweet sister was stranded in downtown Birmingham at UAB where she’s a student.  UAB cancelled classes at 12 pm on Tuesday and she got home yesterday (Thursday) at around 9 am.  Panda, bless her tiny little heart, spent two days alone at our house.  She’s completely fine, although a little more anxious than usual.  My grandmother and mom made it through as well.  They were both at home so got to just hang out and hang tight and ride it out successfully.

Despite being completely caught off guard by the storm, Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/surrounding areas fared extremely well, considering.  There was no real wide-spread loss of power.  There were actually, truly NO DEATHS caused by the storm.  People were out in droves helping each other get to safety.  When I was trying to get back into downtown Hoover, I saw people out in neighborhoods with shovels trying to clear the roads and pushing cars up hills.  On the news were images of business employees walking up and down the roads with free coffee.  There was even a man at the Rec Center who spent most of the day Wednesday driving people to their cars on I-65.  I myself got to experience the hospitality of the Hoover Rec Center and the City of Hoover.  The Rec Center stayed open as a shelter.  The Director of the Parks and Recs Department for the City of Hoover was there with us.  He and the Director of the Rec Center made numerous trips to the nearby Walmart to get food and other necessary items.  We had sandwiches and chips/cookies/fruit Tuesday night along with water, a variety of Coke products and hot coffee.  Wednesday morning, some men from the Public Safety department stopped by with 60 boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts.  For breakfast there were sausage biscuits and sausage and egg biscuits, donuts, ham and cheese croissants, all the hot coffee you could stand, fruit, water, soda.  For lunch on Wednesday they made hot dogs and offered chips and fruit and coffee and soda and water.  It was a real class act and I am so grateful to the employees and the city for helping make this happen.

Because I work for the City too, I volunteered while I was in the Rec Center.  I helped keep the women’s restrooms clean and stocked and helped make sandwiches and coffee and serve the food.  There were about 200 of us refugees at the Rec Center and we all came together to make the best of an impossible awful situation.

The entire three days was stressful, there’s no doubt about it.  And now, I’m suffering from the most epic of colds.  I’m just so thankful that I had a warm and safe place to go and that Hubby and Sister did too.  I tell you what, though, we are all working hard now to get prepared, should something like this happen again.  I know for sure that I’ll seek shelter again next time instead of pushing things to the limit.  But, fingers crossed, it wont happen again and all my planning will be for naught.

XOXO

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Weekend Good Read: The Tao of Martha: My Year of Living or How I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off The Dog by Jen Lancaster

Welcome to the Weekend Goodreads!  Each week(ish) I will post about a book I’ve read recently.  Don’t worry, there wont be too much plot involved, mostly just my thoughts and reactions to the work.

The Tao or Martha: My Year of Living or Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter off of the Dog by Jen Lancaster

***WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW***

I’ve been meaning to read Jen Lancaster’s books for awhile now.  I (shamefully) own several but I’ve never gotten around to reading them.  So when The Tao of Martha came out last year I knew that was the one I was going to start with.  I absolutely adore anything crafty and the title sounded so great.  I’ve never been the biggest fan of Martha Stewart but I have to give her props, the lady knows ALL THE CRAFTY THINGS.  I listened to this book and it started out strong but then I made the horrible mistake of reading some reviews of it on Goodreads.  Yikes.  The fans seemed pretty evenly split, they either loved this book and, like me, had never read anything by her and wanted to read all her other books or they had already been big fans and didn’t care for this one as much.  The ones who didn’t enjoy it made some really good points that I immediately noticed were spot on.

Let’s start from the beginning…

Jen Lancaster and her husband Fletch recently moved to the Chicago suburbs after years of living in Scarytown, USA (my words, not hers).  They have three dogs and two cats.  The premise of the memoir is that 2011 was a really tough year for Jen.  A lot of little things happened that, piled on top of each other, resulted in a year she was more than happy to end.  So with the start of the new year, Jen decides to change her way of thinking and embrace a happier state of being through practicing the art of Martha Stewart.  We travel through the whole year, from Christmas 2011 to Christmas 2012 and learn with Jen what the Tao of Martha is and how she is embracing it.

My thoughts:

I went into this book expecting a craft version of Julie and Julia and initially I was disappointed.  That is not at all what this book is.  Sure, there are some very specific times when Jen goes full on Martha and hosts some swanky sounding get-togethers.  But there is no day-to-day, this-is-the-Martha-thing-I’m-doing-today.  I think it really takes about half of the story before Jen really starts embracing the Tao herself.  There’s a lot of live and learn which I appreciate because there are somethings that she does that I have already done or would so do.  And, as some of the Goodreads readers pointed out, there is a fair amount of complaining about things that, as a newlywed, newly graduated twenty-something I can’t understand.  She has landscapers and pool boys and an arborist.  An ARBORIST.  What the crap?  Are these first world problems she’s complaining about.  Yes.  Is she aware that they’re first world problems she’s complaining about?  ABSOLUTELY!  She is more than aware that she’s in a great place in her life and that the little things she complains about are actually stupid first world problems.  She even sometimes pokes fun at herself for her complaining.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I do plan to read more by Jen.  I feel like she is someone who could be a great friend of mine.  The funny, magical things about books are that they sometimes come into your life just when you need them.  I’ve had this audiobook almost since it came out but I hadn’t listened to it until just last week.  And it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Because Jen has inspired me in a couple of different ways.  Not only have I started to embrace the Martha myself (I’ve been checking out all her books and now I’m looking through her social media sites for ideas) but some of her principles really fall into 2014: The Year of Me.  This has been a little bit of a tough week for me.  I decided to really cool off a friendship I had with someone.  I care for this person but I can no longer let them tear me down to build herself back up.  It’s always really hard for me to stop being friends with someone but my whole premise for the 2014 is to put myself back on the list of people who are important and need to be taken care of.  Because I haven’t been on that list…maybe ever.  And that’s all going to change 🙂

Read The Tao of Martha.  It’s really good.  If you can, listen to it.  It’s even better because Jen reads it herself.  And she’s a nut.  I’m pretty sure she’s actually the voice in my head right now.  And that’s not a bad thing.

XOXO

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Happy New Years!

*Note: Obviously the 12 Books of Christmas became the 5 Books of Christmas.  Life got busy and I didn’t get around to posting all 12 reviews.  However, this year will bring more reviews and lots more fun!*

It’s New Years, y’all!  Well, it’s a few days AFTER New Years but I’m super excited about this.  I love New Years because it promises new beginnings and better things to come.  It also signifies the end which in this case doesn’t bother me so much.  It’s been a long year.  Hubby had thyroid surgery in February then we moved in June, graduated with our Masters in August, Hubby started his PhD also in August and that took a lot out of both of us.  Also, I managed to only lose about 10 pounds the whole damn year which frustrates me to death.  I DID however finish graduate school and subsequently get a full time job at my most favorite library!

I have big hopes and plans for the new year.  I’ve dubbed 2014 the year of Me.  I love taking care of my family but it takes a lot out of me and in the past I haven’t put nearly as much energy into taking care of myself as I have into caring for everyone else.  That’s going to change this year.  I’m going to read more, bake more, craft more, play more video games, travel more and relax more.  I’m going to work out more and get to place where I’m comfortable with my body and, subsequently, myself as a whole.  I’m going to paint my nails and drink more tea and just do all the little things that I really enjoy but have taken for granted.  I’m also hoping to blog more consistently.  I don’t think I’ll ever be someone who blogs every day but I’m hoping for at least one post every week or 10 days.

I’ve struggled with a few things this past year.  One of them was money, the other was comparing myself to others and finding myself lacking.  Money is something that’s always been really hard for me to deal with.  I grew up poor, we lived in my grandparent’s house and my grandparents paid a lot of the bills.  We shopped at Walmart for everything, including clothes, and I got made fun of for it.  When I got my library job I started changing my spending habit to make up for how I’d felt growing up.  Now, I’ve got a Bachelors and Masters degree and a mountain of student loan debt to plow through.  So one of my main goals this year is to set up a budget that will allow me to get through as much of my debt as possible.  Because I have big plans for the future, big expensive plans.  Hubby and I would like to buy a house as soon as he finishes his PhD.  We’d also like to buy into the Disney Vacation Club because we’ve decided that’s where and how we want to spend a lot of our vacations.  But those are both expensive so we have to save up for them.

My other big goal this year is to work on my self esteem.  It’s very low, so low it really doesn’t hardly exist.  But I’m hoping to work on that this year.  It’s going to be year of personal growth and reflection.

I know I’ve given myself a lot to work on but I think it’s all about building better habits and once I’m in the habit, it’ll be easier.

So tell me, what are your resolutions?

XOXO

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Sherlock Season 3 … Or Why I’m Angry at England and On Hiatus From Social Media

I could not have explained my entrance into the world of fangirl or how I feel about waiting for Sherlock any better.

Sara Dobie Bauer


The day of my fangirl birth stands out in infamy. I was minding my own business, and my husband was scanning Netflix. From my office, I heard snippets in the background: British snippets. Next thing I know: “Babe, come watch this scene.”

“What is it?”

“The BBC’s Sherlock. You gotta watch this part.”

It was the scene where Watson and Sherlock first meet in the lab at St. Bart’s and Sherlock tells Watson his whole life based on nothing but observations. I remember thinking, “Well, this Sherlock guy is cute, isn’t he?”

I sat down and watched the first episode with my husband. Soon after, we finished season one. Then, season two. By that time, I was enamored with the show and the odd fellow with the odd name: Benedict Cumberbatch. And … oh, right, Sherlock had apparently jumped off a building to his death.

sherlock.2x03.the_reichenbach_fall.hdtv_xvid-fov 421What follows is what…

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For the 5th Book of Christmas: Deception of the Emerald Ring

For the fifth day of Bookmas, I read:

The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Lauren Willig

***WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW***

Decpetion of the Emerald Ring is book three in the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig.  In this book we learn the story of Geoffrey, Lord Pinchingdale and his wife Letty.  There’s was a fun story!  Also, Eloise and Colin finally have a real flirt moment!  So things are moving (at a snails pace but still) for them!

Poor Eloise.  She can’t be left in peace by her family, oh no.  Her kind but meddling grandmother has to arrange a date for her.  Sort of.  Turns out, Eloise’s grandmother has a friend whose son is also in England not too far from London.  So Granny gives her friend’s son Eloise’s phone number.  Because we all know that a single woman in a foreign country must be in want of a man (see what I did there?!  lol 😉 )  Truthfully I don’t even remember the name of this guy Eloise goes out with.  What I do remember is that Colin, having recently returned to England, coincidentally goes to the same restaurant Eloise is at and ACTUALLY STOPS BY TO TALK TO HER DURING HER DATE.  And you can totally feel the chemistry between them as they’re talking about the Pink Carnation and Eloise’s discoveries.  There may be hope for them yet.  And THEN, they actually make plans to go on a date THEMSELVES!  Yahoo!!!

On the historical side, we are reintroduced to Geoffrey, another friend of Richard and Miles who also works for the Home Office and is in cahoots with the Pink Carnation.  Geoffrey is desperately in love with Mary Alsworthy but she is poor and not really the same quality as Geoffrey so the two plan to elope instead of having a lavish wedding.  But a simple elopement would be boring, of course.  No, Mary’s sister Letty is essentially kidnapped by the coach driver waiting to pick up Mary and taken to meet Geoffrey who, in the dark, cannot tell the difference between the two women.  Thus, society thinks that Letty has been compromised by Geoffrey even though nothing happens between them, and the two are forced to marry.  Shortly after their wedding, Geoffrey leaves London for Scotland without so much as a word to Letty.  Well Letty is having none of that and travels to Scotland herself to collect her wayward husband.  Visiting this story are Henrietta and Miles and there are some fun explosions and lots of intrigue.

I had a hard time connecting with this book when I first started it.  It wasn’t exactly what I was in the mood to read and I started out not really caring for Letty.  She just complained and bemoaned her circumstances SO.MUCH.  Coming after Henrietta and Miles, I didn’t care so much for Letty and Geoffrey.  There’s not as much chemistry between them as I was expecting and hoping for.  But the book ends better than it started and I am still sticking with the story but it hasn’t been my favorite of the series.

XOXO

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For the 4th Book of Christmas: Second Chance

My head hurts.  And not the “I haven’t eaten or had caffeine” kind of way.  The “omg my sinuses are exploding out my head and the pressure is too great and I can’t move” kind of way.  So this is going to be brief but don’t let that fool you.  This is one of my top three recommendations when patrons ask for “a good book”.  For reals.  I am constantly handing this book to patrons because it is that.good.

So without further delays, on the fourth day of Bookmas, I read:

Second Chance by Jane Green

***WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW***

I love a good story within a story.  Obviously, I’m on book six of twelve of the Pink Carnation series and each book is two stories in one.  But once upon a time, many moons before I discovered the Pink Carnation, I discovered Jane Green.  I was at the beach on vacation with my family and when I’d been picking out my vacay reading, I’d picked the appropriately titled Beach House by Green.  And it was so good.  It’s been one of those books that really stuck with me and introduced me to an author I didn’t know.  Since then I’ve read a good bit of her backlist and all of her new books.  But my most favorite has been and still is Second Chance.

Second Chance is the story of a group of friends who reunite after tragedy.  When one of their number is killed in a terrible and tragic way, these friends who haven’t seen nor heard from one another in many years come together to remember and grieve together.  And they rediscover what it is about them as a group, as a whole, that makes them so much better and stronger.  Each friend is given their own storyline with their own problems to solve but the whole thing is woven together beautifully.  One thing about Green’s books are the endings.  They’re happy but not in a traditional chicklit way.  They end much the way they would if these were real people.  I’ve been content, however, with all of the endings.

This story really illustrates the power of friendship and how transformative having a really great support system can be on a person’s life.  It really made me value the friends that I have in my life, especially the ones I’ve had for so many years.  Some of my friends, I’ve known for 20+ years.  Which sounds strange since I’m only 26.  But it’s true, I still have some of my friends from childhood and we still get together and are silly and laugh until we ache and tears are rolling down our faces.

If I had to really emphasize something from this book it would be to not take for granted the people who build you up.  In today’s world I think it’s so rare to have people who really, fundamentally care about each other.  Tell them you love them and spend time with them because they could be gone without warning.

XOXO

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