30 by 30: #13, #14, #26

I’ve decided to combine the posts for these 3 items because they all share the same reason I was/will be unable to complete them by my birthday: we’re having a baby! (I’ll post more about that later :))

#13: Lose 15 pounds
I really didn’t start making a true effort until January 1, when hubby and I started using the MyFitnesspal App and being more conscious of the types of food we were eating and the portion sizes.

Prior to getting pregnant I had lost a little over 5 pounds and I was really proud of myself for sticking with it. Of all the times I’ve tried to lose weight, this was the first time I had written down mini goals. I think it helped because it was more motivating to see “1.4 pounds to go” instead of “11.4 pounds to go” (those numbers are just examples).

#14: Cut 5 minutes off my Calle’s Miracle Run 5K time
I participated in the first 2 Calle’s Miracle Runs which help raise money and awareness for DIPG, a terrible, inoperable brain tumor that affects young children. Most do not survive one year after diagnosis. Family friends started a non-profit, Hope for Caroline, when their little girl was diagnosed in 2013. Unfortunately, she passed away last year. Here’s a link to Calle’s Miracle Run website, where you can learn more about Calle’s story.

This was to be the 3rd year I was going to run, and I had every intention of training and beating my previous time (as you can tell by the title of this 30×30 goal).

After learning that I was pregnant, I was uncertain whether training and running (since it wasn’t something I was doing normally) was a good idea, and so I decided to err on the side of caution and not run. Looking back, I realize I probably could have walked it. I was still in the nauseous period at the time of the Run so in the end I think I made the right decision. I was bummed I didn’t participate, but there’s always next year (and maybe I’ll include a jogging stroller)!

#26: Take a boxing class
Bought a Groupon: $30 for 4 classes, 1 personal training session, and gloves with ilovekickboxing.com. Was super excited to use it, but again, after finding out I was pregnant, knew this was an activity I would not be able to participate in just yet. And unfortunately, the Groupon was only good for a certain amount of time. This is definitely something I’d like to try at some point!

Pillowcase Dresses

In my catch up post a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was helping out a co-worker who was going on a relief mission by sewing up some dresses. Well, I finally finished the couple I had to do. I was procrastinating a bit, and then when I finally sat down to do them, I was only able to complete one as I had to go out and buy more bias tape, which I wasn’t able to do until yesterday. In total though, it probably only took me 2-3 hours to do both of them.

A little more information on her relief trip: she is going to Malawi, Africa with an organization called Villages in Partnership. She went last year and is returning again to do the same thing: help set up and run medical and dental clinics for the people who live there. They have a list of items requested (like pain medicines for adults and children– like Tylenol, Advil, etc., gently used prescription glasses, and other everyday items.). This year, as I mentioned in that earlier post, she wanted to include home-sewn clothing as well.

The dresses that I hemmed were a couple of different colors: 2 orange ones and 2 purple ones. I kept 1 purple one with me so I could use it as a guide to sew the remaining 2 blue ones.

20150502_214655

purple fabric

They’re very simple to put together and really cute!

20150502_213048

twins

shoulder tie

shoulder tie

close up of fabric pattern

close up of fabric pattern

I’ll be giving them to my co-worker on Monday when we get back to work. I hope they make some of the little girls happy!

Sewaholic Renfrew Top

On one of my trips to Joann’s Fabrics earlier this year, I found a great deep purple knit interlock called Blackberry by Sew Classics in the remnants bin (there was 1 yard left). I didn’t have a pattern in mind at the time, but I loved the color and how it felt and thought I could figure out something to make with it.

I also purchased the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern earlier in the year. I loved the different views and how you can take a mix-and-match approach with the different pieces. To start, I wanted to try View B. (One thing I noticed about the pattern was that piece #5 was marked as piece #6 (so there were 2 #6s on the pattern paper) so I missed tracing it at first.)

After buying the pattern, I thought the Blackberry interlock might be good to use for it. The color would go really well with a pair of work pants.

The pattern called for almost 3 yards for the size I needed, and I thought that might be a lot. I was curious to see if I could eek out the whole pattern with just the 1 yard of the Blackberry interlock.

20150103_202127

Sewaholic Renfrew & Blackberry Interlock

I traced all the pattern piece sizes I needed onto tracing paper and then tried my best to get all the pieces on the one yard of fabric. I almost succeeded! I was so disappointed when I discovered they wouldn’t all fit. I tried a couple of different ways to maximize the amount of fabric, but no luck. Because the fabric was a remnant, I wasn’t sure if they would have more in stock. I hopped online to Joann.com and found that they had more in stock in my local Joann’s!

I bought another yard of fabric and had no problem cutting out the pattern pieces. It was pretty quick to sew together and I was pretty pleased with the result. I’ve worn it a couple of times.

20150105_203253

The fabric ended up feeling a bit thicker than I was expecting when all was said and done. One change I would make is the size of the arm holes on the bodice piece. I would make them a little bigger as the armpit of the shirt is basically right up against my armpit and so can be a little annoying as the day goes on. (I suppose washing it a couple of times has shrunk the fabric a bit more because I don’t remember it being that way the first time I wore it).

When I walked into the living room to show hubby, he said “good job, babe. It looks like you bought it at the store.” I was pretty happy to hear that :)

IMG_20150208_214442

I think having a serger would be really helpful with something like this, but alas, I do not have one. Maybe some day…

(side note: I actually completed this shirt on Feb 8, but time got away from me and I just realized I still had this post in draft! I just had to update some references to time)

Playing Catch Up

Hi readers!  (Can I still call you that, do you still read my few sporadic posts?)

Well, life and work have certainly been very busy! So much going on that I’ve really neglected this blog, and I know I’ve said that quite a few times over the last year and a half or so.

Warning: there are no pictures in this post just some recapping, please forgive me :)

I haven’t made a ton of headway on my 30 x 30 list (not really surprised, to be honest, but a little bummed). I still have a few months to go (about 7) so I’m sure I can accomplish some of them! — Although I’m realizing I really don’t need to put an “expiration date” on when I want to do things, I thought it would be fun to kind of challenge myself. (But I’ve basically given up on the picture a day challenge, unfortunately — it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be!) So I think I’ll end up still trying to accomplish these items, even it takes me beyond my 30th birthday.

Reading

It’s actually been a slow reading year for me so far, only 10 books, and none finished yet this month! (I just posted my mini reviews for the February books and am drafting the March books). I find that I’m just not really into the books I’ve been picking up. I haven’t requested any e-books from the library in quite some time and some of the books I did request I never got to before they needed to returned. So unlike me!

I did start re-reading book 4 of A Song of Ice and Fire since the new season started on Sunday, so I hope to have at least that finished by the end of the month!

I am still participating in the volunteer reading with my work though due to all the snow storms we had at the beginning of the year we haven’t read nearly as frequently as in past years. I believe the program ends by the end of next month for this school year.

Sewing
Another area I’ve neglected — much more than reading! A co-worker of mine does relief missions each year and is doing another one this year. This time, she decided she wanted to make little dresses for the girls there (as well as dresses and skirts for the adult women). She asked if I’d like to help out and of course I said yes. She gave me a few dresses that were partially complete (I finished the hemming) and then also gave me a couple of dresses that were cut out but needed to be assembled. I need to finish those. (I have a little time as she leaves in about a month). I didn’t take any pictures of the other dresses since I didn’t really do much with them, but I’ll take pictures of the ones I sew together.

I started catching up on blog reading and a number of the blogs I follow are about sewing. It really inspires me to get into it again, so I’m hoping I’ll actually jump into things sooner rather than later. I am planning to make one of the diaper pouch/changing pad combos for my new nephew (he’s a week old today!) but need to pick up a few more things before I can get started. I’m hoping to get to the store this weekend.

Knitting
Not much progress here, either. I had started knitting my first sweater a while back, but had to rip it out and start over (luckily I wasn’t that far into it), which I did the other day, so hopefully I’ll keep up the momentum.

Work
Work was crazy hectic for the first quarter. I got a promotion, which I am super pumped about. I’m still in the same department and have the same manager, but now I have a different focus and have more projects to work on and more responsibilities in some areas, so it’s exciting!

We had a big 2-day off-site meeting at the end of March which I helped to plan and that really took up so much of my time. (We had really started some minor details before the end last year, but the real focus was January through March). I was so relieved when it was over! It went really well and everyone liked the venue, the topics, the presentations, etc. I even gave a presentation! It was my first real presentation to an audience of 100+ people at work, so I was nervous, but I think I did alright. (I got some good feedback from some of the attendees, so I feel pretty confident saying it went well!)

We’re still really busy of course, and I’m taking a certification course to earn my Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma (a process improvement methodology), so it’s not just coasting along now that the meeting is over.

Life
Lots of things going on in life right now, some I’m not prepared to go into detail about yet, but will eventually! My sister just had her 3rd baby, a perfect little boy! He’s sooo cute. As mentioned above he’s a week old today, which is hard to believe already! One of my cousins is due in a few weeks (also a little boy) and we’re excited to meet him, too!

We’re still house hunting, not too seriously yet, but still want to get a house before the year is out. (any advice for first time home-buying is appreciated!)

So I guess that’s basically it right now. I’m hoping to have more regular postings soon. (I know I say that often, too)

February Book Reviews

5. Sharp Objectsby Gillian Flynn
Wow. It took me a couple days to fully process my reaction to this book. Words that immediately came to mind were: dark, twisted, sad, psychological. What a cast of complex characters, each with his or her own issues and secrets. I flip-flopped between 2 characters as the suspects for who committed the crimes in the book and was correct — at least that they were both involved, though in different ways and unbeknownst to each other (how’s that for a cryptic comment?)
It was really well written and it was definitely a page turner (I read it on my Kindle, so a page tapper?). I read it over 2-3 days (technically finished it around midnight/1am on February 1).

6. The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crimes #2), Jasper Fforde
Another clever romp by Jasper Fforde. I love the way he takes the typical nursery rhymes and morphs them into these stories. His writing style is very clever and witty, and has a dry humor to it. Lots of puns, too, which are funny. The characters are really well developed and each have their own distinct personalities. Definitely interested in continuing to read the series.

7. Landline, Rainbow Rowell
I read Rowell’s Eleanor & Park last year so thought I’d give another one of her books a shot. It was definitely a good look into Georgie’s (the main character) mindset. Using her landline telephone to talk to her husband in the past was an interesting concept and I understand that it was a device to help her realize what she needed to do. However, I felt like it took her way too long to do it. It wasn’t rocket science and something that most people would have realized way sooner. Not a favorite book and not sure if I’ll read any of her others.

January Book Reviews

I’m going to do something a little different this year in regards to book reviews. I’ve decided that I’ll do a monthly post with a mini book review for each book I completed within that month. On my book list tracker (2015), I’m breaking them down into months and the month will be linked to the review post, instead of the individual books.

So, without further ado, I give you the January book posts (imagine flourishing arm waving as a curtain parts on the stage…just kidding)

#1. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
This is only the 3rd Jane Austen book I’ve read (the other 2 are Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice).

It was a lot harder to get into than the others. I felt like the writing was harder to follow (though maybe the others were easier for me to read because I also knew the stories fairly well having seen the movies too). As I was reading some of it, it sounded vaguely familiar… I think I may have watched some of the movie before…

Anyway, the story started out so slowly (I think that’s probably why I struggled to stick with it). But the characters were probably what bugged me the most in this story. I had a lot more written about specific characters when I started my draft review (before I decided to do my reviews per month instead of by book), so to condense that I’ll pull out some comments:

  • Fanny – so timid/meek and naïve. She rarely seems to have energy. So much different than Austen’s other leading ladies that I’ve read. I got frustrated when she wouldn’t speak up or stand up for herself (especially in the scene with her uncle where she wouldn’t actually say why she couldn’t/wouldn’t marry Henry). I understand that this is probably more due to the people who “raised” her (including the abuse from her Aunt Norris and the way her cousins – except Edmund – looked down on her), but still. It was hard to think of her as a leading character when she never stood up for herself and took everything they dished out.
  • Lady Bertram – boy, what was the purpose of her at all? Such a lazy woman who can’t think for herself and needs her husband (or her sister) to make her decisions.
  • Aunt Norris – ugh, what a horrid woman. So obnoxious and self-serving. She’s one I would have liked to slap multiple times.

The plot is decent, but it was difficult for me to really get into the story. I actually first started reading this book back in June (2014) and after a couple of days put it down. I didn’t pick it up again until December 27/28ish, and then finished it on January 3.

If this had been my first Austen experience, I’m not sure I would have continued with her other books, so I’m happy that I had read some others first, and I will still read her others. (I read a website that said that Mansfield Park is rather different from the rest of her novels, especially where the leading female character is concerned. I was happy to hear that there is hope for the remaining novels I have yet to read, because I will read them!)

#2. The 39 Clues #4: Beyond the Grave, Jude Watson
The fourth installment in a race for clues around the world. It is a collaborative effort among a number of authors (each book is written by a different author). The story is a little out there, as I highly doubt an 11-year-old, a 14-year-old, and their au pair would be able to do most of the things they do around the world, but I guess that’s the adventure of it all.

I originally read the first one to see if it would be something my niece would enjoy and didn’t really have the intention of continuing on, but then saw that the next books were available through my library ebook catalog, so just kept reading them.

The books tend to focus on one country, person, theme, etc. per book. For example, one book was focused on music, Mozart, and his history. So it’s still educational for kids, which I think is great.

And now I kind of have to admit that I’m curious to get to the end of the series and see what awaits the kids…

#3.  The Girl with the Windup Heart (Steampunk Chronicles #4), Kady Cross
Since this is the last in the series, I don’t want to get into the details and will rather talk generally about the series as a whole. I hadn’t really read much steampunk before this series, and for the most part I enjoy it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to fathom that young characters (mid-teens to 20/21) do what they do, but like mentioned for the series above, it’s part of the story’s adventure. But the ideas, machines, and inventions, are pretty cool. It’d be pretty amazing to see what our world would look like today if some of the things described in these books existed back in the 1800s…we’d certainly be more advanced!

The series is typical in that, at the highest level, it’s a story of good vs. evil. However, it’s not just the good guys vs. the bad guys (though there is definitely plenty of that). Some characters have the internal struggle, too (some are more apparent than others).

I liked the cast of characters, it was rather a motley bunch which made it fun.

#4. The Big Over Easy (Nursery Crimes #1), Jasper Fforde
Oh Jasper Fforde. I really enjoy his books. The Thursday Next series was my introduction to Jasper Fforde when I was in college. And though I enjoyed the earlier books in the series more than the last, I still enjoyed. So a high bar was set for this series, and it was met.

Fforde crafts such quick-witted and funny characters. The dialog between characters has me chuckle out loud from time to time. To take kids’ stories, like nursery rhymes, and turn them into adult crime stories cracks me up (no pun intended with this book, where Humpty Dumpty has his great fall…).

I would love to see this series (and the Thursday Next series) as TV shows or something; I think it would be quite funny to watch.

He is a very clever author and I look forward to reading more of the series (in fact, I’m currently reading book 2).

 

So this was a rather lengthy post. I’ll definitely be mindful of that in future months!

30 by 30: #8 Travel to somewhere I’ve never been

Date(s) completed: January 19 – 23, 2015
Location: England

This was a trip for work, so I didn’t really get much time for sightseeing and touristy things, but it was still a good trip. It was great to interact face-to-face with people I usually only connect with electronically (email, IM, and such).

This post might get a bit lengthy. (you’ve been warned).

I flew over Sunday night into Monday morning. Since Monday was a US holiday, I was able to use it as such and was able to do a bit of exploring. My hotel was in Marlow. What a picturesque little town! I definitely would want to explore further if/when I get the chance to go again.

Church across the Thames from the hotel

Church across the Thames from the hotel

Obligatory photobooth pictures when in England

Obligatory photobooth pictures

Another view of the river.

The hotel had some things that I wasn’t used and at first I thought my lights were broken. Apparently you stick your room key in a little box by the door which will make the light switches work. When you take your card out, they all turn off — good way to conserve electricity!

How to make your lights work

How to make your lights work

They also had a towel warmer and a dial to heat the tiles in the bathroom (fancy!). They also had something in the mirror that would clear out a perfect square if it got all fogged up from the shower steam (super fancy!).

towel warmer

towel warmer

Two things I found strange: half a shower door & the paper lining in all the cabinets and drawers. I felt like I had to stay very close to the shower head so I wouldn’t get water everywhere! (It did heat up really fast which was nice)

Half a door?

Half a door?

Pike?

?

Because I arrived early on Monday morning, I planned to go into London for a few hours to try and see some of the main sights (you know: Big Ben, London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, Tower of London, Museum of London because they had a Sherlock Holmes exhibit, etc.). A co-worker recommended that I do a hop-on/hop-off bus since I only had limited time to be in London and that might provide me with a good look at a bunch of things in a short time. I thought it was a great idea, so I purchased a ticket before I left home. The bus had 4 different routes so I would have plenty of stops along the way.

I picked the wrong bus tour. I got into London (at Paddington Station, which I now know is a bit too far from everything and I should have taken the Tube to another station, but I digress…). I walked for probably 20 minutes to one of the stops on one of the bus routes (near the Marble Arch and Hyde Park) and waited for the bus. And waited. And waited. And… you see where this is going, right? Turns out only one route went to that stop and could take 20-30 minutes between buses arriving. So I looked at the map and decided to walk to the next stop (which had 3 routes stopping at it, which would mean more buses, right? Wrong.) I walked about another 15 minutes to the next stop and waited. And waited. I finally saw the bus I needed! — on the other side of the street. (The entire time I was in the city I think I saw the bus company I needed 4 or 5 times — never where I needed it to be — but the other hop-on/hop-off buses were all over the place and stopping everywhere!)

To make a long story short, I never got on one of the buses. I felt like I was chasing it for a while. I decided to give up on the bus and just walk around a bit. I wandered around London for a few hours instead. Unfortunately, I really didn’t know where anything was in relation to where I was, so I actually never saw anything that I listed above… not even in the distance/on the horizon! I tried to make my way to Westminster Abbey at least, by following the signs for it, but then after a while I didn’t see them anymore. So I gave up and headed back to Paddington. (I’m pretty sure I ended up walking down the street where some of the embassies are…)

Luckily, the day was sunny (though cold) so it was a good, brisk day for walking (similar to weather back here, but the locals couldn’t believe how cold it was!). I got back to the hotel and waited for 3 of my colleagues to arrive so we could go to dinner. We had a nice dinner at a local Marlow restaurant walking distance from the hotel. Also, I had one of the best sleeps of my life that night. I don’t even think I moved. (Basically hadn’t slept since Saturday night since I only slept for about 1 hour on the flight over).

A fun fact: I wore my fitbit that day. I ended up with a total of over 22,000 steps and walked approximately 9.3 miles in that 24 hour time period!

Onto the rest of the week — I worked for the rest of the days and had a couple of work dinners. Productive days and really great dinners with good groups of people, so it was a successful trip. I would love to go back. If I was able to go for work again, I’d definitely tack on some personal days to do proper sightseeing—- and really plan out what I wanted to do! (I’d also see if hubby would travel with me for those personal days so it would be like a mini vacation for us —- and we learned that his cousin in France would only be about a 4 hour train ride away from London on the TGV.)

British pounds

British pounds

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll get a chance to go again sometime this year.

Have you ever been to England/London?

30 by 30: #17 See ZooLights at the Stone Zoo

Date(s) Completed: N/A

Unfortunately, I didn’t end up going to see the Zoo Lights this season. :(

We made a plan to go last Friday. I thought it would be a nice way to end my vacation before heading back to work on Monday. Early that evening, hubby was having back spasms so instead of the ZooLights we went to the hospital. (The previous weekend we were in a car accident. I won’t get into too much detail about it, but I will say: a woman ran a red light and T-boned us on the passenger front tire side, we’re OK, but our car was totaled, we have to deal with insurance claims, and had to buy a new car. It’s such a hassle to go through the insurance stuff and we weren’t planning to buy a car right now, so that was an unexpected expense…)

Anyway, we thought we could do the Lights on Saturday instead, but then the weather was crappy. Sunday was the last day, but we already had plans.

So while I definitely want to go next year, it won’t happen before my birthday (if it’s like 2014, it’ll begin about a week after), so it won’t count in the 30 by 30 list.

Looking back at 2014

So maybe I posted this and my last post out of order (perhaps I should have done the look back before the look ahead). But this one required more work and thought so it comes after.

The majority of my focus for 2014 was, of course, on our wedding. (In fact, when someone asked me in November what I wanted for my birthday and/or Christmas, I realized that I hadn’t given any thought to those two days because I was so focused on October 4 — it was like I forgot anything came after it). We did a lot of planning, organizing, and spending money to make our wedding fun and memorable. And we really did have a wonderful time. Check out my wedding post here.

In between the wedding planning (which, by the way, I’m happy we had a longer engagement so we could actually enjoy the planning process) and related wedding activities (like the wedding shower, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and honeymoon), we did have a few other things going on:

  • I attended a Lean Six Sigma conference for work earlier in March
  • We planted a garden in May which gave us delicious foods all summer long (I mentioned this in a post back in September, I believe).
  • We went camping in July with my cousin & her family, and my work BFF & her fiancé and we saw black bears twice (one was behind a Dairy Queen). We’ll all be going camping again next year. We actually booked our trip for next summer while we were there in July: Thursday through Monday over the 4th of July weekend; it’ll be the longest camping trip since we started the annual summer trip (in the past we did a Friday to Sunday). 2015 will be our 4th summer doing this.
  • We took day trips to do outlet shopping and other things
  • I had my 10 year high school reunion at the end of November
  • And now we’re getting ready for Christmas and the end of the year

Other 2014 recaps:

Books
I have to update my list on here, because I’m now at 79 books for the year (and have a few that I started but haven’t finished). It’s been a decent reading year, not too many 5 star ratings (based on the Goodreads scale), though. My 11-year-old niece just read all of the Harry Potter books for the first time (and in less than 3 months total time to read them all!). She kept calling me periodically to talk about them, it was so cute. For Christmas, I bought her the 8-DVD set of the movies and am also going to give her a “coupon” for a 1-Day Harry Potter Movie Marathon with Auntie Nell. I’ve been looking up some fun HP themed snacks that I can include in our day. I think it will be a lot of fun! (I don’t intend, or expect, to get through all 8 movies in one day, but it’ll be a good start for her. (And that’s what I plan to use for my movie marathon item on my 30 by 30 list).

(I mentioned some of my reading plans for 2015 in my Looking Ahead post)

Crafts
I haven’t done a whole lot of crafts this year, but what I have done is posted to my 2 projects pages (see the tabs above for Knitting and Sewing). And I’ve also mentioned some goals in my Looking Ahead post as well as included a couple of craft related items on my 30 by 30 list.

 

So that’s kind of where I am right now. I have 2 weeks off from work (started this Monday and I don’t go back to work ’til Jan 5 so I’m looking forward to catching up on some things and gearing up for the new year).

I’ve had a wonderful, blessed year, and am so happy I’ve been able to share it with so many great people (including all of you!)

I hope you have a restful break if you get time off from work. And of course, I wish you all a very merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a happy new year!!

Looking Ahead to 2015

I know I’ve said this in my last few posts, but I really am going to make an effort to post more often/regularly in 2015 (forget saying the rest of this year, it’s over). I’m hoping to have a number of posts throughout the year documenting my 30 by 30 list, but in addition to that, I’d get to get back to why I started this blog in the first place: books and reading!

I’m going to set a few goals for myself in 2015. I’m not planning to join any reading challenges as I’ve proven that I can’t keep up with them (other than back in 2012 when I started this blog). But I do want to make a conscious effort to read a larger variety of books. I tend to read a lot of historical fiction. I’d also like to tackle more of the books sitting on my shelf as opposed to constantly borrowing ebooks from a couple of local libraries.

So my goals for blogging and activities in 2015 are:

1. Complete all activities on my 30 by 30 list! (and post about them)
2. Post more regularly – at least 1-2 days/week (maybe Mondays and Thursdays?) — utilize scheduling posts to help with this!
3. Bring back “With My Reading Buddy” & “Monthly Wrap-Up” posts
4. Read 5 non-fiction books
5. Read at least 5 books from my physical book shelf
6. Post about knitting and sewing projects
7. Continue to read & comment on blogs I follow — but try to do it more often :)

That’s all I can think of for now, but I’m sure I’ll think of other things as time goes by.

30 by 30

Today is my 29th birthday. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen and heard a few people attempt a “30 by 30″ list, and after giving it some thought, I’ve decided to do one, too!

I’ve added a page to my menu bar called “30 by 30” where I’ve posted my list. The majority of things on it are things I’ve never done before, but there are some that I would like to do again before I turn 30.

I have from November 20, 2014 through November 19, 2015 to complete this list.

I’ll have a post for each item when I’ve done it and will also give the reason why it made it on my list.

One item I want to call out is the Picture-a-Day Challenge. Instead of writing a post about it, I’ve decided to have a page on my menu bar where I will post each day’s picture (see “30 by 30 Picture-a-Day”).

Here’s hoping to a wonderful last year in my 20s!  :)

I’m a Mrs.!

Hi everyone! I’m back! (at least, I plan to be!)

I’m going to start off by saying this may be a lengthy post, so if you don’t feel like reading it all, at least take a look at some of the pictures. And fair warning: I probably used a lot of exclamation points. :)

My wedding was on October 4 and it was wonderful! We had a such great day. It went by so quickly, as many people warned us it would. The great thing about getting married today is all the technology available to help us capture the moments and memories! We had a professional photographer (obviously!), a photobooth at the reception (and we got a flash drive of all the pictures that were taken at the photobooth), a free phone app where people could upload pictures they were taking, and of course everyone had phones or cameras to take pictures! We also got a GoPro (our wedding gift to ourselves) to film bits of the day (as well as the rollercoasters on the honeymoon!) The only downside was that it went by so quickly and so we weren’t able to really spend a lot of time with each person/group of people. But it was so wonderful to see all of our friends and family, especially those who traveled from other states. Everyone seems to have had a great time, so that makes me even more happy!

Our photographer was Allison Hanson and she did an amazing job! We are SO happy with the pictures. (The only thing I’m sad about is that she is moving to South Carolina so I won’t be able to use her for future things!) Here are a few of the ones she took (click each to enlarge):

DSC_2305-L

My niece, nephew, and me

DSC_2318-L

My girls and me

DSC_2668-L

Quick reading break

DSC_2675-2-L

oh hello there

DSC_2712-L

awww

DSC_6425-L

Sonny had to be a part of our day!

DSC_4082-L

pretty flowers

After the wedding we had one day off to relax and pack before heading off to our honeymoon in Disney World! That was a fantastic time, too. We stayed at Coronado Springs, which we liked. We did all 4 of the main Disney Parks (Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom), and the 2 Universal Parks (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios). My favorite rides were the rollercoasters (especially the indoor ones like Rockin’ Rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios and Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios). Each day was spent at one park and then we’d head back to the hotel mid-afternoonish to relax and get ready for dinner (which was usually back at the park we were in for the day, at least for the Disney parks).

1997 was the last time I was in Disney, but I thought I remembered it fairly well — let me tell you: there were tons of new things and I really didn’t remember much of it after all! That was part of the fun though, re-discovering some things. (I did remember my favorite ride the last time I was there, Star Tours in Hollywood Studios — but it wasn’t a different video sequence, still fun though). We did the Harry Potter rides at Islands of Adventure but were unable to do the one at Universal Studios because the wait was a 2 hour minimum almost all day long! And of course, at both Universal parks I had a Butterbeer. (and it wasn’t bad, either) :)

M. took most of the pictures on the trip and I still need to upload them, so no pictures to share just yet.

All in all, we had a wonderful wedding and honeymoon, but it is nice to be back home. We got home late Monday night and I also had Tuesday off from work, so I began the name changing process. Then it was back to work on Wednesday. It was nice to have a short week to settle back into everything after being off for 2 weeks! (I felt like I had been away for ages)

Now the only things left to do related to the wedding are thank you cards and posting vendor reviews, and we’ll be sure to get that taken care of sooner rather than later.

(And I also need to get used to the idea of being called “Mrs.”, having a new last name, calling M. my husband, and being called a wife…)

Is anyone still reading this?

This year has been kind of crazy and one where I have neglected my blog. I’m maintaining the list of books I’ve read this year, and have posted a couple of reviews for some Net Galley books (2 more to come soon!); but other than that, I’ve been really bad about the blog.

My wedding is 3 weeks from today, so it’s probably safe to say I won’t be on here much between now and then. We’re going to Disney World for our honeymoon :) (I think we might be more excited about the honeymoon). It has been a long time since either of us has been there, so we’re super excited. We’re staying at a Disney resort, have our FastPass+ set up, and our dining reservations with the dining plan — we are in good shape! (And we got our Magic Bands earlier this week!!)

In addition to blog neglect, I haven’t done a lot of knitting and sewing either (you can check out my knitting and sewing pages to see pictures of the projects I have completed — I haven’t done posts for everything, but still posted pictures on those respective pages). I am working on knitting a pair of socks. They’re my first “real” pair, so I’m curious to see how they’ll come out. It’s slow going because I’m only doing a little at a time. But I’m hoping to bring all that back after the wedding/honeymoon.

We started a vegetable garden this spring, I’ll do a post on that later (with pictures). We’ve had a million tomatoes (I’m pretty sure that’s not an exaggeration.) We keep giving some to family and people at work because we can’t eat them fast enough. I’m planning to make homemade pasta sauce. Maybe I’ll try it this weekend while fiancé is off on his bachelor party weekend.

I had my bachelorette party weekend a few weekends ago. My girls surprised me with a trip to Newport, RI. We had a lot of fun. The weather was beautiful and we did a winery tour and tasting, did some wandering, some shopping, hit a few bars; not a super crazy weekend and I loved it! (I also had the best home fries for breakfast.. they were unbelievable!) Apparently Newport is the place to go for bachelorette parties because we saw a ton of brides and bridal parties (one guy even commented that I was the 19th bride he saw that weekend!)

Let’s see, what else? Not a whole lot more is happening other than finalizing everything for the wedding, but I also don’t want to be one of those people who keeps talking about all that stuff ad nauseam, so I will leave you here. :)

REVIEW: The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber

The Book of Strange New Things
Michael Faber
NetGalley ARC (e-book)

I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I received no compensation for this.

I had to think about this story before I was ready to write a review. I liked the mix of faith, religion, and science fiction. At first, I was a little concerned that it might be one of those books that shoves religion in your face, but it wasn’t. In fact, it was intriguing to see how faith and religion played a role and changed throughout the story.

Let’s back up for a minute: Set in the future, The Book of Strange New Things is the story of Peter Leigh, an evangelist who gets hand-picked to go on a mission to bring the Word of God to an alien race. (However, let’s remember that Peter and the other people from Earth are the real aliens, visiting a distant planet — a distinction Peter is quick to point out after his arrival there). The idea of the space travel is a fascinating one, and even more mind-blowing is that they had developed a form of communication between this distant planet and Earth. Peter and his wife were able to email each other! As I mentioned, I was a little hesitant that this book might be too preachy, but it was not. Religion and faith were almost like other characters to the story. (In reading reviews on Goodreads, there was one post that I thought did a great job of summarizing the story without giving away too much detail. Check it out here.)

Being able to read the correspondence between Peter and his wife was good because you could see how their relationship was affected by their separate experiences, distance, and time. Their relationship and faith were put to the test. You could feel Peter’s helplessness when he heard bad news about home (home=planet Earth). You could see his struggle to be able to sympathize when he was so far away and unaffected.

Peter’s relationship with the natives, called the Oasans, is a really cool aspect of the story. I liked how the author showed symbols when they were speaking; a good reminder that though they were learning English, they were still not human. The Oasans were such a humble, gentle race and I thought they were really interesting characters.

The cast of characters was colorful, especially the natives (no pun intended — if you read it, you’ll understand why I say that).

I wish the story went on a bit longer than where it ended because I would have liked to see what happened next. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I will not say more than that.

After taking time to think about it, I would recommend this book.

Patriotic Golf Ball Pouch

So last weekend fiancé asked if I could make him a zippered pouch for his golf balls. (I mean, I’ve made club covers, a golf tee pouch, and a golf shoe bag, so why not one for the golf balls, too?)

Anyway,last weekend was also Memorial Day Weekend, so he picked out a patriotic fabric. I made it Sunday so he was able to take it with him golfing on Monday morning.

The one thing I’ve found aggravating with the last couple of zippered items I’ve made is that my needles keep breaking on the zippers. The first couple I made went perfectly fine with no problems, but now all of a sudden I’m having trouble. (I do use a bigger sized needle for the zipper part so I don’t think that’s the problem — maybe it’s my sewing speed? – any thoughts/recommendations?)

Not much more to tell, so here are the pictures:

DSCN2120

DSCN2122