Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holidays, Engagement, Layovers, and Abstinence

Hello readers!

I apologize for not updating this blog. As with most of you (I would assume), I've been out and about with family and friends for the holidays. I finally flew up to Alaska to meet my boyfriend's family. Matt and I have been dating over 3.5 years, with no opportunities to meet his parents! His family was gracious enough to take me in for 10 days and show me around the Island. I've always wanted to visit Alaska, and let me tell you: it doesn't disappoint.

While there, Matt proposed to me while on a hike up one of the mountains. It was perfect: the snowy mountains, sunshine, and ocean, and a wonderful man. It's everything I could have imagined, and I'm so happy to spend the rest of my life with him :)

The whole experience was beautiful. But I'll tell you--10 days isn't near enough time to spend with my boyfriend. We'll have to wait another 3 months to see each other again :(  BUT I feel so blessed to have wonderful future in-laws and an amazing fiance.

I am now hanging out in the Anchorage airport awaiting my red-eye flight. *sigh* I hate when the holidays have to end.

Three book related comments:

1) I'll be starting a poll on here today...I'm debating whether or not I should make it a new year's resolution to not buy myself any books during 2011. Before you gasp and un-follow me, hear me out: I have over 35 unread books on my bookshelf. People also like to give me books as gifts. My thought is that it would encourage me to read what I have, or visit the library should I think I really need a book.It'll also save me money, and perhaps save me some room I on my bookshelf. Please vote to let me know what you think.

2) Have any of you read Ahab's Wife by Sena Naslund? I have the book and began reading it on my trip. I'm 80 pages in and nothing really exciting has happened. The book's back cover sounds so good and it has excellent reviews, so I guess what I'm asking is: is that accurate? Is it worth continuing the next 600 pages? PLEASE let  me know if you've read it!

3) Thank you to those of you who voted in my reading goal for 2011. The results are in and majority rules: my reading goal will be set at 12,500 pages, a 2,500 page increase from my 2010 reading goal. I appreciate the response in helping me make up my mind!

Have a happy new year!

P.S. I apologize if you feel the title of this blog mislead you, with the "Abstinence" portion. Abstinence is the voluntary suppression of pleasure--in my case, being unable to purchase a book for myself for a whole year would definitely be a suppression of pleasure.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Double Cross

Good evening, readers!

With just under a foot of snow from yesterday (that's right--the news reported it to be 11.5 inches--yuck!), I swore I would not leave my apartment all day. Now I'm glad that I didn't. I've been wrapped up in James Patterson's novel Double Cross, and was able to start and finish it today.

About a month (maybe 2 months?) ago, I had reviewed Cross by James Patterson and informed everyone about the series of Alex Cross novels. If you haven't read it, click here: Snickerdoodle Coffee. This is the second novel within a somewhat mini-series of Patterson's Cross series. If you are a Patterson fan and haven't started on this series, please do! They just keep getting better and better!

In this particular one, Alex Cross is being hunted by two serial killers--one of them a killer who loves a large audience, and the other is The Mastermind (He's baaa-aaacccckkkk!). To complicate things, Cross is on an investigation with his girlfriend Detective Bree Stone, and us readers know Patterson has no problem killing off Cross's significant others. Patterson keeps the excitement up until the end, and I'll give a little spoiler: one of the two serial killers walks. Dun dun dun!

Here are my stats for this one:
Rating: 9/10
Pages: 389
2010 Reading Goal: 10,501/10,000

If you haven't voted yet for my page goal for next year, please do! It's the poll located at the bottom of each page of my blog. I'm extending the poll's closing date, but not by much.

So...that's what I've got about books. I've also completed wrapping Christmas gifts and will be mailing those off this week. Today, I was able to clean more of my apartment and make a delicious dinner (chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese; whole grain penne pasta; green beans; a glass of Gewurztraminer wine, and sugar cookies for dessert!). Weekend Warrior? We'll see how tomorrow goes ;)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Coffee, Cleaning, and SATC

This blog was not intended to be written about cleaning, because it is a rare day that I do clean. Yesterday, surprisingly, was one of those rare days. I have yet to figure out how to get into that particular state of mind that makes me want to clean, but I recognize when it exists and usually try to take advantage of it.

I still haven't fully moved into my apartment. I moved in on a Saturday in August, and began work the following Monday. For the month of August, I spent any free time I had putting the necessities in their place and organizing them. I started traveling in September, and have been gone 4-5 days every week since. This upcoming week will be my last week traveling for work. I'm pretty excited to be back home most of the time (hence the poem I wrote that made me sound homeless). I realized, though, that I'll likely have to move out in May or June--so should I just leave some stuff packed? I've got a second bedroom. My intention was to use it as kind of a sewing/crafts room. Right now it's a graveyard for all my unpacked items. One of these days, I'll get around to fixing it up as my sewing/crafts room. In the meantime, I suppose I should find my motivation first...

Anyway, I cleaned for at least 4 hours yesterday! My desk, which usually gets the worst of the clutter (consisting of little notes-to-self, lots of books balanced on the heaping pile of clutter, a couple of magazines, grad school info, and dirty dishes) is now perfectly clear. It hasn't been that way since I moved in! I also did my laundry and packed my last suitcase to bring out for work purposes for the rest of the 2010 year.

So, what happened to the rest of the cleaning, you ask? I was totally on a roll, and then:

I had innocently turned it on (I own all the seasons and have seen them all before, so I thought it would be good background noise as I diligently cleaned) only to be grossly distracted by the show! Eventually, all motivation I had went out the window. Dinner went from being a pasta feast to being a can of cold corn (no judgments!) and I became a lazy bum engrossed in the lives of these four friends--again. So disappointed. Here's what I've figured out about my motivation to clean:

  1. It only happens once a week, max. Take advantage of it while it's around.
  2. It does not happen without coffee. Ever. Even at 10pm.
  3. Watching HGTV usually enhances productivity.
  4. Watching SATC diminishes all productivity.
  5. It always comes around before I have guests over. Too bad I never have guests over here!
I suppose that's a start. Maybe when I'm 30 I'll have it better figured out. In the meantime, I'm going to sip on some Stephen's Peppermint Cocoa (because it's amazing--if you haven't already tried it, please do, it's a MUST!) and watch HGTV to see if the cleaning motivation comes back to me. If not, I've started on another good read...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

You People...

Perhaps I'm ready to be done traveling? I sat down to type of a FB status update and ended up writing this poem. It may make some of you laugh. I will finally be done traveling (at least for this semester) one week from today.

You people...
You people who wake up knowing where you are...
You people who stay in the same time zone day after day...
You people who use a refrigerator, not just a cooler...
You people who have the opportunity to freshly grind your Starbucks coffee beans every morning...
You people who get to nap on couches instead of in cars outside high schools...
You people who don't drive around strange towns in search of unprotected wifi...
You people who live out of closets instead of suitcases...
You people who have stoves and ovens to cook your food, not just a microwave if you're lucky...
You people who use plush towels instead of overbleached white ones...
You people who don't spend every Sunday packing and driving...
You people...
I envy you people.
And one day, one day very soon, I will become one of you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Welcome to December! This is probably the most unproductive month for reading, as far as I'm concerned. It's surrounded by holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. Ultimately, December means getting to spend time with loved ones, which is great. But it also leads to book neglect, unfortunately. Books are loved ones too!

So, as we wade into December, I encourage you all to pick up a book from time to time. It's ok if you don't finish it, but you deserve those couple of minutes each day to yourself.

This is where my most recent read comes in: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. This novel is comprised of thoughts (expressed through short stories) of daily encounters. It's one of those "feel-good" novels. Some stories are a little more depressing than others. I was on a rollercoaster ride of emotions: a little sad, laughing so hard I'm crying, deep in thought, smiling, and giggling to myself when I have a similar experience. But most of all, it brought me back to childhood. Not necessarily the innocence of childhood, but the sheer enjoyment of life, a constant count of life's lessons. It's perfect for this busy holiday season. If you do not already own a copy, I encourage you to get one (I've seen several on shelves at used bookstores--now that I've read it, I'm horrified anyone would ever want to part with their copy!). It's only 196 pages, and each story is only 2-4 pages. But don't read it all at once (even though, at times, you'll want to devour it) because it won't allow time for the lessons to seep in. It's the perfect way to take a quick break in your busy day to make time for reading and remembering your blessings.

Here's the info for this book:
Rating: 10/10
Pages: 196
2010 Reading Goal: 10,112/10,000
I finally reached my reading goal! Woo hoo! That won't stop me from continuing to read the rest of this year though--but the holidays may. If you haven't already, please vote for my reading goal for next year. It's currently a tie between 12,500 pages and 14,000 pages, and I need someone to break that tie!

In spite of the busy busy holiday season, I hope you are all able to find a few minutes in your day to relax with a mug of coffee, cocoa, or glass of wine and a fabulous novel. Have a great December :)