Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Stack of Books: November 2015

Linking up with Anne--a little late to the party this month!  Things were slower than usual this month.  I abandoned a few books, and for a few days I just wasn't reading anything (oh, the horror!). 

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
I put in a hold request for this during the summer, and it had been so long that I'd just about given up on this one.  Cute.  I hope it's the start of a series.  There were almost too many potential suspects to keep track of, but it was a fun read.

Hollow Man by Mark Pryor
This was a non-Hugo Marston novel about a British expat who works as a D.A. in Austin--and plays guitar and writes songs on the side.  Who also happens to be a psychopath.  This was a one day read.  Gripping and creepy.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
I just loved it.  And now I want to see the movie that came out over the summer.

Silas Marner by George Eliot
Seems the more I love a story the less I write about it.  I feel like this one and Madding Crowd need a book club...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Stack of Books: October 2015

Here we go:

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

I may be one of the last people on the planet to read this.  Oh, so tragic!  Young love + cancer = bereft reader.

The Gift of Failure, Jessica Lahey.

A great reminder to back off and let the kids struggle.  And no sooner had I finished it than I received a text from one of my kids--one of those, "I forgot my homework, can you bring it to me?"  Oh, how I agonized over that one--and ultimately, I didn't take the forgotten homework.

The Life Intended, Kristin Harmel

One of Anne's Flights of Fancy from her summer reading list.  I just loved.  Such great advice for life packed into a sweet and compelling story.  Chick-lit with some real meat on it.

Speak, Louisa Hall

I picked this one up off of the new release shelf at the library.  The author of Station Eleven is quoted on the cover as saying that this novel doesn't remind her of any other book she's ever read.  And I gotta say, that's a true statement.  Six narrators tell their stories--different times, different places.  And it's all loosely related somehow.  Just can't neatly connect the dots.

10% Happier, Dan Harris

I'd heard Dan Harris tell his story on GMA.  Anne mentioned this book, so I thought I'd check it out.  It was pretty good.  I liked how he kept it real--he shared his frustrations and doubts about the process.  One thing that bothered me?  Very narrow page margins.  And really long paragraphs, and/or a smaller-than-I'd-like font.

A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson

Well, Life After Life was one of my favorite reads of the year.  At first, I was thrilled to be back with Ursula and Teddy and Nancy.  And after a few hundred pages, I was getting restless.  The ending...well, I didn't like this one as much as I did Life After Life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My Stack of Books: September 2015

Linking up with Anne!

Here, in no particular order, are some of the books I have read in the last month.

Kate Atkinson, Life After Life
This was one of my top reads of the summer.  I am an absolute sucker for anything WWII-era, and set in London, no less. 

Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
Post-WWII, set in London.  I'm not sure how this book ended up in my library bag, and I think I'll get more out of this one on a re-read.  So many heavy themes in here--love, hate, faith, God, life, death.

Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety
This was the second Stegner novel I read this month.  Anne raves about it so much--and it didn't disappoint.  It's about not much and everything all at the same time.

Secrets of a Charmed Life, Susan Meissner
At the end of this book, there is a reading group guide or something, and in that section, Meissner mentions Life After Life as an influence--so that's how I got to Life After Life.  Again, this book is right in my wheelhouse.  The descriptions of life in London during the war are so heartbreaking.

The Spectator Bird, Wallace Stegner
My "starter Stegner" because Crossing to Safety wasn't available at the library at the time.  After finishing the book I learned that this is the third novel to feature the main character.  I would recommend Crossing to Safety over this one.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple
I've seen this one everywhere and finally got around to reading it.  Entertaining. I love stories where you get a chance to see an opposing character's point of view--Liane Moriarty is good at that, too.  This was entertaining.

David Lodge, Therapy
This was a re-read.  I first read this about 20 years ago, and Anne had mentioned David Lodge in a post recently, so I sought this one out.  Toward the end of the story, the characters go on a pilgrimage in Spain.  That stuck with me from 20 years ago, and it still sounds like something I'd like to see and maybe do...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Goals: Around the House

One of my perennial goals is to hang family pictures in our home.  When we first moved into this house ten years ago this week, I was stuck.  I wanted to badly to have this house feel like home, and yet we had just gone through the psychological trauma of de-personalizing our old home so that we could sell it.  I was afraid of nails!

I have improved over the years, and there are a couple of places in our home where I have put up a gallery wall.  Command adhesive strips have really helped--if I want to move the pictures, they don't leave any holes in the wall!

Last summer (as in 2014) we finished our basement.  We had some shelves built into one wall, and last year, I put in most of these pictures.
 It was a good start, but other than that, the walls were left blank.
And that's a lotta wall space!
On our California trip, I brought home cards to frame as souvenirs.  Once we got home, I chose some pictures and ordered enlargements from Snapfish.  I have used Snapfish since back when I used film in my camera--I have pictures from when my son was born on their cloud.  (That son just turned 12 over the weekend.)  And then I took advantage of all of the great coupons at Joann and Michael's last weekend.  And today I used every last command strip in the house for this--the start of our new basement gallery wall.

Here is how it looks next to the bookcase.  There is plenty of room to the left of the frames to add on as we go.  We have many years of past vacations I can add.  In fact, I ordered some prints from our 2014 vacation just today.

I am learning that "slow and steady" is the way to go when making a house into a home!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Trip Pictures (Mike, this one's for you!)

As I mentioned in my last post, we took an epic family trip last week.

Entering Yosemite from CA-140
Our first stop--Tunnel View

The kids seem to be enjoying the day.

View from Yosemite Valley

Can you hear me yelling at the kids?  Especially the one with the camera?  There were signs posted all over about how some fleas (that live on squirrels and other small rodents) have tested positive for plague.  For PLAGUE.

Pictures really don't do it justice--to come into a park and see all these massive granite mountains.

In years past this was probably a riverbed with dangerously rushing waters.  Not so this year.

I'm 98% sure this is Sentinel Dome.

Half Dome.  One of the coolest things I've seen.  Haze in the picture is actually smoke from a wildfire that is about 3 hours away.

At the top of Sentinel Dome.  Not easy to walk up a big rock at 8000' elevation. But we're smiling anyway.

 A couple of days later, we were heading north to Muir Woods.

Again, pictures don't do it justice.

Sausalito for lunch.

We spent hours (and hours) in the car:  Three hours from SFO to Yosemite.  At least a half hour from our hotel in Yosemite to anything in the park.  Three hours back to San Francisco.  Two and a half hours to Monterey. Another two and a half hours to Hearst Castle.  And then four hours back to SFO in time for the red-eye home. The silver lining to that is that Rob realized that he does NOT want to take a family trip where we drive cross-country.  I'm pretty pleased about that development.  I prefer family vacations where we're in one spot (like the beach) and we generally eat in and just relax.  I don't particularly enjoy trips where we have to unload and reload the suitcases and the car every couple of days.  It's hard enough to get everyone packed up the first time, and to have to worry about re-packing and making sure nothing gets left behind and keeping the dirty clothes separate from the clean clothes...well, it's almost too much.

So that was our summer trip.  Pretty grand.  I'm sure the kids will look back on that one as pretty awesome.

Monday, August 31, 2015

What I'm Into: August 2015 (and a welcome back)

I'm linking up with Leigh for the first time in a long, long time.  Life took me in some different directions over the past year or so, and being here couldn't be a priority.  I have decided to come back, to resume linking up and posting here, because I have missed the conversations.

Today was the first day of school for the kids, and I was very relieved about that.  I started a new job in April, and Rob started in a new position at his work shortly after that.  We've both been adjusting to increased demands on our time, and there have definitely been some growing pains.  We just took an epic family vacation last week, and we are all still suffering from jet lag.  This first week back will be extra challenging!

This blog has had many flavors over the years, and I've decided that as I move forward, it will reflect the things that interest me: kids and parenting, looking good and feeling good, meal planning, and of course, reading. 

But enough with the catch up, let's see what I've been into this August:

Not much watching went on this August.  As a family, we tried an episode of In the Wild with Bear Grylls.  We saw the Kate Winslet episode.  We enjoyed it, but due to a DVR programming failure, we haven't seen any more.  Next up for family viewing: Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!  We had missed the Sharknado hoopla of previous summers.  This was so bad, it was hilarious.  Very bloody--a little too much gore for my taste.  But very campy.

As for personal viewing, I have been watching Doc Martin.

 I discovered this on a British channel when Rob and I were in France.  Rob doesn't get why I like it so much, but it's full of quirky characters and is set in a beautiful seaside town in England.  I think that's all the explanation needed.

Fawlty Towers: One of the waiters we had last week recommended this series.  It's an old British series starring John Cleese.  I admit, I tried watching the first episode on Saturday (after we took the red-eye home from California).  I couldn't stay awake.  I will give the rest of it a shot, but I feel like what was so groundbreaking back then may just be the way it's done now, so it won't feel so new and fabulous to me.  I had a similar experience when I finally saw Annie Hall--25 years after it came out, it didn't feel original because so many rom-coms follow the Annie Hall template now.

I go into major meal-planning mode every September, and this year is no different.  I will share more on this soon.  I also discovered many new cooking blogs through Pioneer Woman--and she has a new book coming out this fall.

I read a couple of the Madame Chic books this summer, and I just loved the 10 Item Wardrobe idea so much that I have given it a shot.  It's more like a 20 Item Wardrobe, but it has made getting dressed for work so much easier.

I had a summer reading plan.  I called it "Three Classics and One New One."  The classics: Middlemarch, War and Peace, and To Kill a Mockingbird. The new one: Go Set a Watchman.  I got three-fourths of this plan done.  I abandoned War and Peace about 40 pages in.  So many names!  So many people to keep track of!  I decided that this might be better winter reading. 

But!  There were many other classics that I read over the summer: Howard's End, Crossing to Safety, Persuasion, and The Spectator Bird, among others.  And there were plenty of titles from Modern Mrs. Darcy's Summer Reading List. It has been a very good summer for reading.

So there you have it--August.  It's good to be back.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Stack of Books: August 2014

I'm linking up with Anne again.  I have finally hit my stride with the summer reading.  We have about two weeks left before the kids go back to school, but I have no intentions of slowing down!
I'm feeling lazy this month, so no reviews, only pictures:

See you in September!