• January 11, 2017

    Books of 2016

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    If you’ve been reading the Bliggity Blog for awhile, you will know that a couple of years ago I challenged myself to read a book with a title from every letter of the alphabet.  Well, 2016 is the year I finally finished the challenge!  The last few letters were:

    E – Every Last Tie by David Kaczynski

    N – Name of the Wind (Kingkiller #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

    R – Reading Lolitta in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

    T – Ten Days in a Mad House by Nellie Bly

    V – Valentine Grey by Sandi Toksvig

    X – X-it by Jane George

    Once the challenge was complete, I kinda went to town with all the books I’ve been hanging on to as well as a bunch of books for book club!  I’ve really enjoyed having a group to read and discuss books with – it’s been really wonderful and I’m tempted to join another (goodness… would I have time?  Maybe a YA lit group?).  Anyway, in the past, I’ve always given a synopsis or review of the books I read, but this year there are just too many.  I enjoyed most of these books, though, and would recommend them all to the right reader!  :)

    Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

    You’re Never Weird on the Internet  (Almost) by Felicia Day

    An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Alder

    Push by Sapphire

    Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

    The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller #2) by Patrick Rothfuss

    As Always, Julia edited by Joan Reardon

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

    A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

    The Rat Queens

    Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya van Bremzen

    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

    Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

    The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

    Stir by Jessica Fechtor

    I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

    Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

    Buffering by Hannah Hart

    Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

    Currently, I am reading A Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo for book club and it’s been really good.  I’ll continue to keep record and share with you how things are going and what I’m new things I’m finding!  Right  now, I am on track for my goal of reading 30 books in the year before I turn 30!  :)

  • September 28, 2016

    September Round Up

    Wow, you guys, September came and went in what feels like a flash!  I don’t even know how we got here!  I guess a big part of this whirlwind month is that it was so busy (which is why I don’t have any pictures!  Sorry in advance)!  Here’s a little review of all the things!

    If you missed it, I started out September with a major hair cut for charity!  You can read more here.  It was such a rewarding and relieving event – plus I love my new hair!  It’s been so much easier to get ready in the mornings  which gives me a ton more time – I actually started doing dishes before I leave for work!  *haha*

    This month was my hubby and my 8th anniversary!  We usually try to go on a trip or do something big like that, but this year we just had too many other things going on to pull it together.  We did go out for a couple of nice dinners and had a lovely picnic lunch in the park, so it was still very nice.  True to our (sort of) tradition, we didn’t get each other individual gifts… we got one big “gift” for the both of us:

    That’s right, friends, we got a new washer and dryer for our anniversary!  I should have taken a picture of the ancient, rumbly, terrifying old machines… but let’s just say they were way past their prime and we needed the new ones!  Our kitty isn’t terribly impressed and I still don’t really know how to work the darn things, but I am a happy laundress!

    rat-queens

    This wasn’t a great reading month… too many other things got in the way.  I did enjoy a new (to me) comic called The Rat Queens.  The art style is glorious and the comic itself is the perfect balance of adventure and comedy.  There is quite a bit of strong language, so be aware of that, but it’s still really fantastic!

     

    animal-vegetable-miracle

    The book club book for October is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  That’s the only book I’ve really made time for so far.  The focus is on eating well from local sources to promote health, seasonal eating, and farming.  I like it a lot, but Barbara can be a bit preachy in her writing – I often feel like she’s wagging her finger at me like I’ve done something terrible.  She also sets the bar for her cause so high that I’m less inspired than I could be just because I know I could never measure up to her standard.  Worth a read if you’re interested in her ideas, but take it with a grain of salt.

     

    outlander-starz-poster2

    Besides being too busy to read much this month, I’ve also devoted a significant amount of time to my new favorite show: Outlander.  I’ve been meaning to read the books (and I still will), but I just couldn’t wait to watch the show any longer!  This is one of the most beautiful, thrilling, emotional, and intriguing shows I’ve ever seen and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who likes romance, Scotland, time travel, politics, history, or deep stories that make them think!

    On YouTube, I’ve gotten addicted to Carpool Karaoke.  A lovely co-worker suggested it after First Lady Michelle Obama was on and oh. my. gosh.  So fun!  I really love James Corden and he’s done a really lovely job with the series.  Michelle was my favorite guest so far, but I also really loved Adele and Elton John.

    Because I’m a multi-tasker, I’ve been planning for a short trip to Hawaii while watching all those YouTube videos.  that’s right, next month I’ll be boarding a jet plane with my BFF and enjoying the surf and sun in Hawaii!  We are super excited!  I’ve been researching and learning and planning all month and am practically packed already because I’m so excited.  *grins*  Don’t worry, you’ll hear all about it when I get back!

    Lastly, I ran a 5k this month with my husband.  The last one I did was about a year ago and I’ve been exercising a lot, so I figured it would be easy.  Guess what?  It wasn’t.  The course was very different (lots of hills and running on dirt) and I just struggled so much!  I was pretty disappointed, but I learned for sure that I am really not a runner.  I’m just not.  This realization made my hubby sad since he enjoys running, and he was so encouraging and supportive… he even tried to convince me that we’d run together at home and he’d try to help me get better.  Poor thing… so much hope was dashed that day.  I’m glad we did it, but don’t hold your breath waiting for me to try again!  *haha*

    So, that’s my big story for this month.  I hope you are enjoying this time of transition from summer into fall as much as I am!  Go play in some leaves and drink some coffee!

  • August 31, 2016

    August Round Up

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    Ok, friends, I am going to try something new!  I’ve been thinking lately that there are often things each month that I’d love to share with ya’ll, but that defiantly don’t warrant an entire post to themselves, you know?  So, at the end of each month I will pull together a little round up of experiences I had during that month to share with you!  Hopefully I have enough interesting things each month to keep this going… ha!

     

    Books

    August was a super busy reading month!  I recently starting going to a book club at the local co-op (we read food and cooking themes) and the book for this month was As Always, Julia.  I really struggled through this book and couldn’t actually finish it – Julia Child seemed like a marvelous woman, but her friend Avis drove me up the wall!  She seemed so superficial and uppity – I couldn’t handle it.  *sigh*  Have no fear, though, I filled the rest of my time with some really fun YA: Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children and A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning.  They were both pretty quick reads, but very entertaining.  I’m really looking forward to the move and Netflix series (respectively) which is really what gave me the final kick in the pants to read these books.  *grin*  The last book in August is Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking which is the book club book for September – so far so good!

     

    Stranger-Things

    When I wasn’t reading in August, I was watching Stranger Things on Netflix.  There has been lots and lots of praise for this all across the internet and for good reason – Stranger Things hit me right in the nostalgia feel-goods and I LOVE IT.  I totally relate to those little boys – opening with D&D in the basement… you guys… that was me!  So,  why isn’t there more?  Why?!  Whyyyy?!?!  *Sigh*  I can’t wait until the next season comes out and I can’t encourage you enough to watch it if you haven’t!

     

    Kubo

    The only movie we went out to see this month was Kubo & the Two Strings and it was AMAZING!  Wow.  I mean, the style was so beautiful and matched the feel of story perfectly.  I have a soft spot in my heart for stop-animation anyway, but this film really was beautiful.  I don’t want to give the story away, so please just promise me you will go see it!

    I’ve also spent some time (probably more than I should have… but we won’t talk about that) dining around on YouTube.  I’ve been watching Carrie Hope Fletcher’s channel (It’s Way Past My Bedtime) for a while now, but her recent video, The Little Things, really struck a chord with me.  I love what she has to say and think more of us need to hear her message.  Please take a minute to think about her video.

    I’ve also discovered a new favorite in Peter Hollens and really love his music!  So many beautiful renditions of songs I really love, and everything is done acapella!  It’s really pretty amazing what he can do!  Enjoy:

    Some other sort of miscellaneous things I enjoyed this month were: the Plant Nanny app to help me track my water intake, Iced Chai because it’s still freaking hot, my first Escape Room experience, and our local Library Comic Con which was small, but really well done!

    Whew, what a busy month!  It’s been a crazy end to the summer, but it’s been a good one!  There’s good things on the way and I am so excited to share with you everything this fall has in store!

  • February 3, 2016

    Lent: 40 Days and 40 Nights

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    Can I be really honest and serious for a minute?  I’m struggling.  I mean, for the most part, things in my life are great.  I have family and friends who care about me, a nice home and plenty of stuff to fill it up with.  That’s not the problem.  The problem is that my spiritual self is feeling pretty lost and lonely these days.  I’ve drifted away from my faith and don’t have a clear path back.

    Here’s the thing, I believe in God, but have little confidence in churches as they (in my experience over and over and over again) currently exist with so much focus on the negative and nitpicky details, exclusionary behaviors, and political leanings.  I believe in salvation through Christ, but can’t stand the behavior and beliefs of the extremely vocal (hopefully) minority in America whose outspokenness has alienated not only those who don’t believe, but many, many followers of Christ as well.  I don’t want to be associated with people who use the Bible as a weapon to hurt and shame people or a soapbox to stand upon and to hurl their bigotry and hate from.

    That is not my faith.  That is not my Bible.  That is not my God.

    Because of a combination of these problems and many personal hurts and wrongs from the Church, I have not had my butt in a pew in a very long time.  For a while it felt fine because Hubby and I had a regular Bible Study with friends that kept us connected to God and allowed for questioning, conversation, and learning that is impossible to fully achieve on one’s own.  As all good things do, though, this too fell apart and left me on my own to maintain my relationship with God and continue to learn what I could.  You can guess how successful that was.

    So, now, looking at the season of Lent that is before us I wonder what I can do to bring myself close to God again.  How do I cultivate my faith with no leader and no others with a commitment to study or pray or learn other than myself?

    I don’t know.

    I do have an idea, though, that I hope will be a good place to start.  I found this book, 40 Days and 40 Nights by Ilene Segalove, that is intended as a journal guiding the reader on taking time out of each day (for 40 days) to focus on self-discovery.  It’s set up in such a way that you choose your own intent – love, relationships, career, religion, etc – before starting and let that focus area color your responses to each journal prompt.

    Book-Pages

    So, this is where I begin.  Starting next week until Easter, I will not be giving up things so much as adding to them.  I will follow the daily journal prompts and try to open my mind to God’s plan for me.  Perhaps by the end of it all, I will have either built such a routine that I am able to study on my own, or I will find others to study and share encouragement with.

  • January 13, 2016

    Books of 2015

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    In 2014, I challenged myself to read a book with a title from every letter in the alphabet.  I wasn’t able to complete that challenge in 2014, so I continued it in 2015 (and will finish up in 2016).  Jeeze, I feel like I’m a really slow reader!  I think part of it is that I’ve read all of the Game of Thrones books in the last two years, and those books take forever to get through!  So don’t blame me, blame George RR Martin!  ha!

    Anyway, at the end of 2014, I had read letters A, B, C, F, G, H, I, K, O, and S.  In 2015, I read letters D, F (yes, again), J, L, M, P, Q, U, W, Y, and Z:

    Feast-for-Crows

    Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

     

     

    Dance-with-Dragons

    Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

     

     

    The-Joy-Luck-Club

    Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

     

     

    The-Lovely-Bones

    Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

     

     

    Me-Talk-Pretty-One-Day

    Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

     

     

    Paper-Towns

    Paper Towns by John Green

     

     

    Quiet

    Quiet by Susan Cain

     

     

    Under-the-Udala-Trees

    Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

     

     

    Wild

    Wild by Cheryl Strayed

     

     

    Yes-Please

    Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

     

     

    Zel

    Zel by Donna Jo Napoli

     

     

    In 2016, I’ll be looking for titles that start with E, N, R, T, V, and X to complete my reading quest!

  • January 14, 2015

    Books of 2014

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    Last year I challenged myself to read books whose titles start with each letter of the alphabet.  I am a somewhat slow reader, so I never expected to complete 26 books…. but 10 is significantly below my usual number of books in a year!  I’ve done a lot of thinking about that and I think the fact that the Game of Thrones books are all the length of at least 3 regular books should count for something here.  Right?

    *grin*

    Anyway, I think this year has been a pretty good one in terms of reading and feeling challenged overall by what I am reading.  So, without further ado, here is my 2014 reading list:

    An-Abundance-of-Katherines

    A – An Abundance of Katherines

    Not my favorite of John Green’s books, but still worth reading.  I enjoyed the book, but it was definitely a teenybopper book with a whiney protagonist.  I also thought the situation (road trip to get over a dramatic break up turned summer job and living with people they – and their parents – had never met) seemed too far-fetched for me.  Still, if you just accept the story and don’t think about the logistics too much, it was fun to read.

     

    Book-Thief

    B – Book Thief

    Great book!  I haven’t seen the film adaptation yet, but I think I will.  I love that the whole story was written from the perspective of Death.  I have always had an interest in World War 2, but I have never seen the story brought to life quite like this book was able to do.  I definitely felt connected to – and worried for – the “book thief.”

     

    Fault-in-Our-Stars

    F – Fault in Our Stars

    A much better book by John Green; I’ve rarely cried so hard over, well, anything.  The story is a little unbelievable and romanticized, but I don’t think that is a bad thing, here.  John did a great job pulling all the right heartstrings and wrapping it all up in metaphor.  And if you haven’t, see the movie too… they did a great job sticking to the book!

     

    Game-of-Thrones

    G –Game of Thrones

    Clash-of-Kings

    C – Clash of Kings (Game of Thrones 2)

    Storm-of-Swords

    S – Storm of Swords (Game of Thrones 3)

    The Game of Thrones series is amazing and I love it.  I love it so much!  *grin*  For those who are intimidated by the size of the books – don’t be!  They are well written and kept my interest throughout.  If you’ve seen the show, the books are SO worth reading because they go deeper and provide so much more insight into the lives and thoughts of the characters.

     

    Handmaid's-Tale

    H – Handmaids Tale

    I am much less enthusiastic about this one.  Don’t get me wrong, it was decent in its own right, I just don’t usually go for the dystopian/science-fiction genre.  Definitely some interesting perspectives and cautionary themes regarding extremism and religious oppression.

     

    Indian-Killer

    I – Indian Killer

    This book was also not one of my favorite genres, so I think I’m a little less enthusiastic than maybe I should be.  I’ve read Sherman Alexie’s short stories and young adult novels before, so I had something much different in mind when I started reading Indian Killer.  Alexie was clearly very angry when this book was written and most of the focus is on race and feels just too political for my personal taste.  Overall, the story itself was good and the characters were well written and interesting.

     

    Kitchen-House

    K – Kitchen House

    I really liked the Kitchen House.  This is a great historical fiction about a white servant girl who was raised by and works with black slaves on a plantation in the South.  This tugs at some heartstrings and was really hard for me to put down!

     

    Orphan-Train

    O –Orphan Train

    Orphan Train turned out very different than I had expected – and not in a good way.  I’ve read a lot of reviews , and it seems like Orphan Train is one that people either love or hate – very little middle ground here.  The author divides narration between a current day foster child and an orphaned girl from the early 1900′s.  I get the connection she was trying to make, but I feel it was poorly done; I would much rather have read a book about one or the other girls – not both awkwardly mushed together in one book.

     

    On the whole, I would recommend all these books – to the right readers – and genuinely enjoyed most of them myself.  For the coming year, I will continue to read through the alphabet and, with luck, I will actually have all 26 by 2016!

  • July 30, 2014

    Last Time I Cried

    Honestly, I am so not a crier.  I hate crying and don’t usually feel the need to cry.  Usually if I do, I’m either super tired or my body is killing me with hormones.

    Growing up, I was never told not to cry, but there was always the idea floating around that I needed to be strong and Cowboy Up.  The way I see it, ain’t nothing wrong with that.

    But, back to the question at hand.  When was the last time I cried?  The last time I remember crying (the quiet, weeping kind) was when watching The Fault in Our Stars at the theater with my husband.  The last time I remember really crying (the ugly, snot running from your nose, chest heaving kind) was when reading The Fault in Our Stars before seeing it in theaters.

    Damn you, John Green.

  • July 17, 2014

    Favorite Childhood Book

    Oh my gosh.  This is so hard!  If there is one thing I am passionate about, it’s reading.  That’s been true since I could read.

    To make this a little easier on me, I decided to break it down into sections.

    Because I am a huge nerd.

    Early Childhood: Green Eggs and Ham

    When I was learning to read, I loved this book.  I remember bringing my copy with me to school every day to read with my older friend who could actually read.  I think at some point I had actually memorized it instead of actually reading it, but I was so proud of myself for getting through the whole thing.

    Middle Childhood: The Secret Garden, American Girl books, and the Bailey School Kids

    Once I got a little older and started working on chapter books, I really loved these books.  For a while, I couldn’t choose just one to read, so I’d have several going at the same time.  I remember talking with my mom about that decision, and she confirmed that I was nuts.

    Tweens/Teens: Harry Potter

    Yes.  Harry Potter.  Forever.  I could write a million pages about how much I love Harry Potter.  And how many times I’ve read the series.  Every time a new book was coming out, I would re-read all of the previous books before reading the new one.  Now that they are all out, I still re-read the series every couple of years.  And I’m pretty sure that will be the case until I die.

    So, there you go, I am a huge book nerd.

    Wait… maybe that’s my dream job, being a librarian?

    *grin*

  • February 5, 2014

    Geeking Out

    Never-Forget-What-You-Are

    Professional nerd, Wil Wheaton said “being a nerd or a geek… is not about what you love, it’s about how you love it.”

    The things nerds love have the beautiful tendency to bring likeminded people together.  We are drawn to things that matter.  Things that are interesting or exciting to us.  Nerds love to share what they love with other people and drag their friends kicking and screaming into their fandom’s until their friends love their fandom as much as they do.    It’s so exciting to find people who love something as much as you do.  To share that love and excitement and all of the inside jokes, feelings, and fears.  And the best thing of all is that it doesn’t matter what the thing is that you love.  Hey football fans, you know what I’m talking about.  Whovians and Sherlockians know too.

    So, it is with great enthusiasm that I share with you a couple things that I am totally geeking out about right now!

     

    Thing One: Game of Thrones (the books)

    Oh man… where do I even begin?  I am almost through the first book and it’s amazing!  George RR Martin is a fantastic writer.  At first I was intimidated by the sheer size and number of books in the series (and it isn’t even done being written yet!) as well as the huge number of characters to keep track of.  I wasn’t sure if it would be tedious or awesome.

    Spoiler: It’s awesome.

    I don’t find it hard to keep track of the characters at all.  The way this book is put together is so well done that I know who is who and where we’re going in the story for the vast majority of the time.  And when I do forget who someone is, there are lists of characters in the back for reference.  Easy!

    I can honestly say that I haven’t been this jump-up-and-down-squealing-and-never-put-it-down excited about a book since Harry Potter.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read a lot of books since HP7 and most of them were really good… just not that good.

    The hardest part of being a little late to the Game of Thrones party is avoiding spoilers.  I already know every character I ever dare to love is probably going to die a horrible death.  I think I’m ready for that.  And I have a few hunches about some other stuff… but I’m trying not to let too much outside knowledge in so I can sit back and really enjoy the book for what it is.

     

    Thing Two: The Nexus 10

    Guess who saved up all her allowance for 6 months and bought a shiny new tablet (yes, my husband and I still have allowances.  And the only debt we have is our mortgage and a student loan.  So there)!  It was only delivered this week, so I haven’t figured out all of the little nuances and tricks yet, but whoa… so shiny!

    *grin*

    So far, it’s super intuitive and easy to figure out.  I have a Kindle Fire, but tend to neglect its tablet-like abilities because it just isn’t very intuitive to me.  But the Nexus… I barely have to think about how to get where I’m going and what I need from it because it’s all right there waiting for me.

    I’m also loving the 300ppi display.  Colors show up brilliantly and lines are crisp.  Watching videos has been flawless so far and even the speakers are good enough that I don’t need headphones to hear.  The only thing I need now is a separate little keyboard so I can work on these blog posts from anywhere!  Who knows, maybe that will help me get things done before its last minute.  Like tonight.

     

    Don’t judge me.  At least I managed to tear myself away from my geekyness to share my geekyness.  And now you want to try it too.  Right?

    Spoiler: It’s awesome.

  • January 8, 2014

    Reading Through 2013

    Books

    In my resolutions post last week, I mentioned that I want to read my way through the alphabet.  The idea is that I will read a book that begins with each letter of the alphabet in 2014 (although 26 books is probably shooting pretty high).  I’m not going to go in order because I have a series I want to read that wouldn’t be in alphabetical order, but I’m going to try to get all the letters in anyway.

    Part of the reason for this resolution – or, goal – is because in 2013, I challenged myself to only read books that had been banned or challenged.  That particular challenge was really interesting and satisfying to me as a reader.  It caused me to pick up books I’d never heard of before and read things I probably never would have picked up otherwise.  This year, I am hoping the alphabet challenge will present similar benefits.

    Ultimately, last year with the banned and challenged reading list, I chose to participate because I believe in the importance of reading books that make you think.  Books that have difficult topics that make you wrestle with it until you learn something, solidify your beliefs, or feel something you’ve never felt before.  Books that commonly earn a banned or challenged status are typically misunderstood by those seeking to ban them.  I believe the best thing you can do with a banned book or a book with a subject matter you aren’t necessarily comfortable with is to read with an open mind and try to understand the context of the “offensive” portion of your book.  Once you’ve read the book in full, think about the purpose and what is meaningful to you (or others) about the story.  Many of the greatest books in all of literature have been banned for some offense to someone… so please don’t let the idea of a book being “bad” stop you from reading it.  Don’t let it stop your kids either (read their books yourself if you are concerned about age appropriateness and be ready to talk to them about tough subjects that will come up when they read it).  It’s all about critical reading and thinking about things in different context to fine the real meaning.

    The books I read last year were mostly found on http://www.ala.org/bbooks/.  There is also a ton of great information about how and why books are banned and the importance of reading provided there, so please check it out and see for yourself.

    The following is my reading list from 2013:

    Harry Potter

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

    Always Running

    Always Running by Louis Rodriguez

    Perks of Being a Wallflower

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

    Their Eyes Were Watching God

    Their Eye’s Were Watching God by Zora Hurston

    The Great Gatsby

    The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

    Looking for Alaska

    Looking for Alaska by John Green

    Sophie's Choice

    Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

    Oliver Twist

    Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

    The Kite Runner

    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

    Great Tree of Avalon

    The Great Tree of Avalon by TA Barron

    Whether you challenge yourself with lists and themes like I have or just read whatever you love, keep reading, my friends.  Get your books open, Kindle’s fired up, and read everything you can!