Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I've been missing Oregon lately. I think some of the best times I ever had there were of sliding down 8th street hill and building snowmen in the winter.

Today, I was looking through my GPS and had selected a specific coffee shop to stop at before continuing on to my next high school. I was unable to find the one I selected. Grumpily, I turned around hoping to find a little kiosk somewhere to satisfy my craving. Then: Serendipity.

Serendipity means to make a positive discovery by accident. Serendipitously, I found Serendipity, the coffee shop, in Dickinson. I walked in and fell in love. They serve delicious wraps, too. It's located on the corner of Dickinson State University's campus.

I felt like I was in Oregon again. The interior has bold, basic colors and there's plenty of seating. A large menu for food and coffee is located at the front counter, and coffee-related art adorns the walls.

I Googled it. http://www.serendipitycoffeehouse.com/ is the link for the website. Come to find out, the coffee shop was inspired by a local family's time spent in Oregon. They loved Oregon coffee shops so much, they wanted to bring that quality back to Dickinson, where they are originally from.

In the meantime, I feel like I am home, thanks to Serendipity.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sarah's Key

Hello, Readers! I hope you're all having a great Sunday, curled up with a good book and coffee! I know I have been!

This morning I just completed reading Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. If you do not already have this book on your reading list, I highly recommend you put it on there! The novel (which has an amazing, innovative plot) tells two tales that merge into one. The reader is first introduced to Sarah, a ten-year-old girl in Paris, 1942. The French police, by orders of the Gestapo, are rounding up Jews in the area to bring to Auschwitz. Confused and trying to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a hidden compartment in the wall of their bedroom and promises she will return. When she is brought to the Vel' d'Hiv', she discovers that she won't be able to return to save her brother. I won't spoil that story any more for you.

The other main character the reader is introduced to is Julia, an American journalist married to a Parisian. She is reasearching the Vel' d'Hiv' for an article she's assigned to write, only to find that her husband's family is connected to Sarah, the ten-year-old Jewish girl. I won't go into detail on that, either.

What's important is that you know this novel has a wonderful story line and is a very fast-paced read. I had difficulties putting it down! If you're looking for a Christmas gift for anyone with interest in WWII, this may be right up your alley, too! I purchased it from amazon.com for just under $6, so it's available for a good deal!

Rating: 9/10
Pages: 293
2010 Reading Goal: 9,916/10,000

I am now just pages shy of reaching my 2010 reading goal for this year, woo hoo! And I'm finishing up another novel (just under 200 pages) that will get be there pretty soon! If you haven't already, please vote in my poll for what my page goal for 2011 will be. I've noticed on my statistics (yes, I can creep on my audience like that) that I'm getting several new readers. For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome! I should probably clue you in about the page goals, too. Every year, I set a certain number of pages I'll be reading. This year the goal is 10,000 pages. Next year, I will be increasing that amount, but need your help with what the new goal should be. You can vote in the poll at the bottom of my page. It closes sometime in the middle of December, I think.

Anyway, I have to get packed up to travel (again!) in the yucky weather. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I don't like titles...

...because I feel they pigeon-hole my thoughts. For example, if I title my blog "Starbucks Coffee," it will be your expectation that I discuss Starbucks coffee somewhere in my blog. Well, I don't want to talk about it. I may never make a title again.

This is what I woke up to this morning. Look. It's all gray and white and gross outside. You know what that means? I'm going to stay inside aaaallllllllll day...drinking coffee, hot chocolate, blogging, and, I'm sure, reading. I could clean, but the garbage is outside and I want to avoid outside at all costs. Including the cost of a gross apartment. And I'm slightly lazy. This Weekend Warrior thing? I don't know that I'm cut out for it. Maybe there's a reason I wasn't bred to be a Weekend Warrior. Maybe it's because I'm such a great blogger :P and should concentrate all my energy on that. Kidding.

I heard that sigh of relief, audience!

It is quite drafty in my room and I was planning to get some curtains today for my bedroom. But 2 inches of snow?!?!? Not worth leaving unless it's necessary to survival. I'm a pansy like that. I do worry, though, about Max. Max is my iMac. He sits right by the drafty window, in spite of this gross weather. Poor Max. Those curtains were mainly being purchased for him. Maybe I'll have to brave the weather anyway.

Just so you know, I don't really have anything specific to talk about today, so if you're looking for a point to this blog, please stop trying, and perhaps close this tab. I have a feeling this will go on and on forever. Or until my coffee is done brewing, whichever event comes first.

So I bought this great candle at Target on clearance (only $3.24, woo hoo!) called "Warm Caramel Apple". It is amazing. If you live near a Target, please go out and get one right now! And buy one for me, too, because mine's almost gone :(

My coffee is done brewing. Yet, unsurprisingly, I am not done talking--er, blogging. Lucky for you readers, right? Seriously, you have no obligation to continue reading. I actually recommend against the continuation of reading this blog. It will waste your entire day. Or morning. Or whenever. Because I'm good at talking. I get paid to talk. It's a glorious life, don't ya think?

How soon is too soon to begin writing New Year's resolutions? I usually have mine ironed out around Christmas day, but this year I have the urge to develop them early. Is that socially acceptable? I don't care. I'm doing it. I'm excited for a New Year. Not that this one hasn't been great, I just know there will be lots of exciting changes happening next year. This year's excitement is almost over :(

My hands are freezing as I'm typing this. Maybe I do need to brave the snow and buy a curtain for this room. Or maybe, I'll just brew more coffee and cling tightly to the mug to warm up my fingers.

I think I'm done blogging for now. I'm going to surf and creep around on the internet, but I may be back. This may be the blog that never ends. I feel sorry for my readers right now. I hope you haven't actually continued reading this far, in spite of my desperate attempts to deter you from doing so.

Have a great Saturday!

This is me. As a velociraptor.
UPDATE: I did make it to the store. I even went 35 mph at one point. It was just snow, no ice, so everything was ok. I was able to get my curtains and the new curtain rod. The curtains surprisingly perfectly match my teal bedding.  This made me very happy. They're also still the block-all-sunlight-and-cold-and-heat-and-velociraptors kind. Well, there isn't a guarantee on the package that they block velociraptors, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did. They'll at least block you from seeing them out your window!

Speaking of raptors, I've been Reah da Raptor all around my apartment today. All alone. It makes me feel like a doofus, but at least I'm happy! Also, slightly overcaffeinated. While at the store, I discovered the most wonderful product known to man:

Coffeemate Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer!!!

So, naturally, when I arrived home, I had to try it. With coffee. And it tastes so good, so much like a real peppermint mocha latte, that I can't stop drinking it! And I don't have decaff coffee (because, let's face it, what is the point of that?!?!), so I'm getting perhaps a little too wound up right now.

So...I'm sure I'll be back on here soon enough. Or raptor running through your neighborhood.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Brrr...it's cold here! And it was cold and snowy in Montana this past week, when I was traveling for work! I love traveling for my job, but am ready to take a break as this harsh winter weather moves in.

Earlier this week (as in Sunday night--I'm such a slacker!) I completed Sula by Toni Morrison. It really is as good as everyone says. The theme of good vs evil prominent in the novel was driven home through very realistic situations, even though the novel itself is fiction.
Rating: 8/10
Pages: 274
2010 Reading goal: 9,623/10,000 pages--ALMOST THERE!

Reflecting on my overall choice of novels in comparison to college-bound reading lists (ha ha remember those?!?! who would have thought that they would really impact you the rest of your life?!?!?), I'm reminded that I need to incorporate books with larger societal impacts. I have the desire to read them, but never seem to pick them up in bookstores. Two that have been at the top of my list since high school: Catch-22 and 1984. I still haven't gotten around to reading either of them, but did recently acquire Catch-22, so that may be coming up in my blog sometime soon. The other ones that were up there that I've read recently were Slaughterhouse Five and Fahrenheit 451 (which is AMAZING, by the way).

Sula brings me 377 pages shy of my reading goal for this year. I'm debating about next year's goal, so please vote in my poll if you've got an opinion about how many pages I should read for 2011.

I hope you all have a great weekend full of warm blankets, hot cocoa, and a good book :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekend Warriors

How are Weekend Warriors bred?

You know who Weekend Warriors are. They come into work on Mondays and have managed to deep-clean their whole house, weed their garden, paint a bedroom, do all their grocery shopping for the week, experiment with a new baking item, bring their kids to the park for a few hours, get a couple hours in at the gym, go out to dinner and a movie with their spouse, and read a 600-page novel? I'm lucky if I can accomplish one of those tasks in a weekend.

How do these people become like that? Is it a gene in them, or the way they were raised?

In regards to housecleaning, I think of my best friend growing up: every Sunday morning, the whole family would deep-clean the house. It usually took about three hours, with all five of them working on it. There were no playdates or phone calls allowed during this time, only cleaning. It fascinated me. Their house was always spotless, and on weekdays they picked up regularly.
My upbringing was slightly different: it was on a case-by-case basis. As in, when the house is messy, clean it up. Sure, sometimes it would get messier than we had realized, but we would spend an afternoon cleaning it like crazy. My mom also liked to incorporate at least one larger project, like cleaning out the kitchen cabinet. Everyone would deep clean the house, then work to purge what's in the cabinet. In all honesty, that cabinet was lucky to have been gone through once a year. I also remember frantically cleaning before any guests came over, or before going on a trip anywhere.

Flash forward to the future: I know this best friend of mine still loves a clean house. Whether she's stuck to the Sunday routine or not, she stays on top of all cleaning for her house and it's always pretty clean. I, on the other hand, go through stages. I let things wait until I'm either motivated enough to clean or it starts to smell (ha ha...kidding?). Or, should I have the threat of anyone coming over, that's motivation enough to clean.

This analysis with these two situations tells me that Weekend Warriors are not bred, but rather learn from the environment around them. The question now is, is it possible to retrain yourself to become a Weekend Warrior if you've never been one? It can't be that easy to convert, since I only know of a handful of people I'd consider to be Weekend Warriors.

I suppose the first step would be to quit blogging and finish cleaning my living room. Is there a book I can get on this? Becoming a Weekend Warrior for Dummies kind of book? Ha ha ha not likely...but I'm going to amazon.com just in case...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

North Dakotan

Yesterday, I changed my residency: I am now officially a North Dakotan.

I'm filled with bittersweet feelings on this subject. I have a passion for Montana and everything it stands for. I miss it a lot, even though I'm only 20 miles away. But ultimately, this change reflects a new stage in my life. I really love my job, enough to sacrifice my MT residency. Maybe this just means I need to spend some time reflecting on my values. I don't know that I've been able to comprehend yet that I will always be a Montanan at heart, in spite of what drivers license I hold. Until I was actually in college, I had never thought I'd want to live in Montana forever. I had imagined I'd eagerly trade my license in for an Alaska, Washington, or Oregon license upon graduation. Things change, though, I guess.

Work is going well, but definitely keeping me busy. This week was really nice because we got a holiday on Veteran's day, so the campus was closed. That was my day to play catch-up, and now I feel like I can actually breathe. Thank goodness.

Next week I get to see my family in my hometown. I haven't seen them in 3 months, so it will be nice to visit. I'm traveling for some college fairs, then will return to my hometown for Thanksgiving the following week. Woo hoo!

In other news, I would like to recognize two very special people in my life who have birthdays today. My mom, who has been an inspiration to me in every aspect of my life. And Yahtzee, the best roommate I've ever had. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings has saved me! It's like a gift from Father Time, allowing us to play catch-up. Sure, it can be a pain in the butt in the spring, but it's such a blessing come fall.

Thanks to daylight savings, I was able to wake up earlier, get out of bed, and be super productive! I did all my laundry (which has been piling up far too long) and put it all away. I thoroughly cleaned my kitchen and bathroom, and even went to work for 3 1/4 hours. I'm pretty proud of myself for not working all weekend. I get so consumed in my work that I often wear myself out and become less and less productive. I left my work at work and enjoyed the weekend without the everyday stress of work. I also got to chat with Matty for a long time via Skype last night. I'm so excited spend Christmas with him and his parents--just over a month until I get to see him again!

The only problem with my weekend? Toni Morrison is sitting on my nightstand, pouting. I haven't even touched Sula all weekend. Essentially, that was my whole plan for the weekend. Sure, cleaning would have been nice, but a good book? Priority. I'd like to think I could get some reading done on the road, but that's a joke. I've only gotten as far as taking my book out of my bag and setting it on the nightstand. Working 10+ hour days doesn't really leave one in a condition to pick up a book while in a really comfy bed...

This week I'll be driving a fair amount, since there are no vacancies anywhere in Minot (which is partially my fault, waiting until tonight to call for a reservation Tuesday). I'll just come home. Oh, and it's going to snow Tuesday night. Figures. Audiobook? Either James Patterson's Roses are Red or Kathy Reich's Bones to Ashes. Either way, I suppose I'll be deeply entranced and not even notice the long drive or the icky weather. Or maybe just sleep in my car (half-kidding).

Now: time to connect with some very important people in my life. And maybe Toni, too ;)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Book Junkie

Welcome to Saturday. I hope it's going well for all of you. As usual, nothing is crossed off my to-do list, but my coffee is delicious and I've spent the morning curled up with a good book, as though that justifies my smelly dishes scattered throughout the apartment.

I wonder: at what point will I need a book intervention? I'm not even kidding. I get such a high off books and reading that I'm surprised there hasn't been an intervention yet. I suppose it may not happen until I start becoming a hoarder and skipping work to read (which, ideally, is not in my future). As a hoarder, my apartment would be a complete pigsty--except for my books, neatly organized by size in my decluttered bookcase :D

I was wandering around on blogs on this site (blogspot.com), and found lots of people who blog their book reviews. Not only that, but they're sent the books by publishers and authors for an honest review. They also post the reviews on sites like amazon.com for non-bloggers to read. Sometimes, they'll also be mailed extra copies of the novel to do give-aways for the readers of their blogs. The reviewers appear ridiculously swamped, though, and several of them had postings on their sites that they are not accepting any more books to review for the next 6 months or so, until they get caught up. I'm not going to lie, I'm extremely envious of these bloggers. I want that job! Ah, if only I had the time and an opinion everyone wanted to hear...

In my wanderings, I discovered different pages I can have within my blog site, so I finally was able to create a list of my books I've read. I know I've had lots of friends beg me for my book reviews (and I'm giving them away FREE! :P), so I've posted my books I've read, along with the rating I've given them. There isn't a method to my rating system, so beware that I may have enjoyed one book I gave a score of "7" to over another book I gave a score of "7" to, but I found qualities in them that proved worthy of the same score. ANYWAY, if you scroll up the page, under the title and description of the blog, there is a label called "Book Reviews," which is where you can access that list. I'll try to keep it updated as I complete my novels. Don't forget, too, that you can vote on my 2011 page goal at the bottom of the page. I'm closing that poll December 15th.

Speaking of completing novels, I just finished probably one of the best audiobooks ever. It was long, yes, but not once was it boring. The book was Drop Dead Beautiful by Jackie Collins. In the beginning, the reader is introduced to so many characters that it's hard to keep them straight. As the story continues, we're able to see how the lives of each of these individuals is somehow connected. We learn secrets, lies, and plans for each character, all impacting the lives of the other main characters. This audiobook was so engrossing that I wasn't able to wait until Monday's drive to finish it. For the first time to date, I brought the audiobook home with me to complete it; it was THAT GOOD. For anyone looking for a suspenseful novel (not scary at all, though), this is definitely at the top of the list. Had I read it, I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to put it down. Overall score: 10/10.

Also, today marks the 22nd birthday of my best friend, Jessie Mae. I love her to pieces and wish I could be there with her and a bottle of Two Buck Chuck to celebrate :P  Happy Birthday, Jessie Mae!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

It seems as though the only time I can ever write is late at night, when I'm feeling really restless. I don't mean writing like blogging, I mean working on one of my novels. I wonder if that's normal? I had always pictured authors to be a little neurotic, maybe that's where this is coming from. I assumed they did not get up until around 10 AM. In the early afternoon, they would research and drink and endless supply of coffee (ha ha can you now see why I always wanted to write?!?! Kidding!). Their writing would go deep into the evening, and occasionally into the wee hours of the morning. You could walk by their office to find them with a cup of coffee in hand, squinting at the screen, and pounding away furiously at the keyboard, as if the thoughts won't be committed to paper if they don't get written NOW. They would crawl into bed around dawn, and repeat the cycle, day in and day out.

I only wonder this because I don't know that I've ever had a stream of consciousness as thorough as I do in the wee hours of the morning. During the day, when I look at my writing, I'm always slightly astonished at how good--or at least, professional--it sounds. Somehow, it all just comes to me when I'm writing at night. However, when I try writing during the day, my delete key gets all the exercise, and I maybe have written one sentence by the end. Maybe I've got some Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing going on...

I'd be curious to find out how published authors write, and if it's anything like I had imagined. Being a full-time writer? THAT would be a dream come true. But in the meantime, I'll have to settle for these early morning hours, writing 3-4 pages here and there, in hopes to eventually complete one of my books and have it published.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Northern Travels

Earlier this week I went to Canada. It was the first time I'd been up there in at least 10 years, but probably more. It was great, don't get me wrong, but I was ready to come back down to the States (mostly because I was roaming and can't live or work without my cell phone). Here are some awesome qualities our neighbors to the north possess that I wish we would embrace:
  • Kilometers: I don't know why we insisted on creating our own system, but we did. Metric system=much better, much more universal, and more logical.
  • Beautiful hotel rooms: I stayed at a Super 8 and a Travelodge, both of which were HIGHLY impressive. Granted, I paid about double what I would in the States, but they were really, really nice. Also, my room at the Travelodge had a 50" plasma LCD tv.
  • Continuing the "grading" system: when we're kids, we grow up with a logical grade to describe our year in school ie 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, etc. For whatever reason, when we get to high school, we switch to calling them freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. In Canada, they are simply grade 9, grade 10, grade 11, or grade 12. What is a sophomore anyway? What does that actually mean?
  • Friendly border patrol: I seriously thought for a moment I might not be allowed back into the States. It was highly suspicious that I was only in Canada for 2 days for work. No worries, though, I made it back.
  • Tolerance of distance: driving 4 hours appears to be no big deal. Sometimes when I tell people we're 4 hours away, the look on their face is as though I told them we only accept students with a bright green mohawk that stands at least 16 inches tall. Yeah, their eyes get THAT big.
I put in a lot of hours this week (a 14 hour day yesterday alone) and am ready for a night off. The good news is that I was able to finish 2 audiobooks and make it about halfway through another one.

One of the books was Something Blue by Emily Griffin. It's a decent novel: predictable, but not too bad. The most fascinating part of it was that I was able to despise the main character throughout the entire book, which I don't think was Griffin's intention. I found the main character to be self-absorbed, egotistical, and narcissistic. Originally, this is the impression the author wants readers to get. However, by the end of the novel, their opinion is supposed to change to find the main character to have undergone complete change from the inside out.
My rating: 5/10

The other book I completed was the second novel in Steig Larsson's short-lived series, The Girl Who Played with Fire. It was just as good as the first one in the series, but I am definitely left craving more. I just hope I don't feel this way after the next one in the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Steig Larsson, who had intended for the series to extend to 10 novels, died after these 3. I'll be so upset if the next one leaves me hanging! I think I'll be purchasing the next one in the series through my audible.com account, since I'm sure I'll be getting 22 more hours in on the road!
My rating: 10/10

Also, as far as page goals go, I figured out how to put a poll on my blog, so you can vote for my 2011 page goal simply by scrolling down and clicking whichever goal you think would be best! It doesn't make you log in or give any information, either, for you creepers out there :P

On a random note, on Saturday I finished painting all the main areas of my apartment in a streak of motivation. I finished it all on Sunday, and now I feel pretty satisfied coming home to a semi-finished apartment. Now all I need to do is clean it. Too bad I can't find where I left last week's motivation...