Thursday, December 31, 2015

A New Year

Usually I like to take this time to review the last year's resolutions and make some new ones.

Due to the breakup, most of my resolutions fell completely by the wayside. The only thing I accomplished was my reading goal. It was 40, I raised it to 50, and read almost 70.

Next year I hope to read 75.

So I failed all of my other goals. And on top of everything else, that makes me feel discouraged and indifferent (but defensive) by turns.

I guess I need to start form scratch. And I need a new year. This year has been such shit and I'm still so caught up in it. If only a new year was as clean a break as I would like it to be.

My goal this year is to get better. I am trying to eat a little better (mostly), keep going to counseling, and just get my life back in order and on track. I need to buy a new car and I need to start seriously saving towards getting my own place. That is my ultimate goal. It won't happen this year, but it is what I want more than anything right now.

To this end, I went through and completely organized my planner for next year. I will try to look forward more and not solve all my problems by buying books. That's where all my money goes right now instead of saving for car/home.

So that's that. Happy New Year everyone.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

December Reading List and Challenge

I am participating in a couple of things this December. First of all is an initiative I have been following on Tumblr called #ReadWomen in which we are reading books by women during the month of December.

There has been a generally positive response from the people I follow, but there have been some negative comments from some. Apparently people interpret it as "man hating." I want to clear up now that this is not the case. But there are a ton of books out there by white men who are usually cis and privileged. While women are not the least privileged group out there these days, they do not get as much notoriety as they should. Plus, reading books by someone different is good for you. You may just learn something and expand your world view. Not everyone sees the world the same way as a white male. So reading books by women, women of color, trans women, et cetera, will give you a different look at things. And how is that bad?

One person wrote up a good response to one of the people against the challenge (movement, initiative, whatever you want to call it). Here is their response to someone calling the movement sexist:

I didn’t want to get in this discussion, and after seeing other posts by you I can see you’re not even open to the possibility that you are wrong. No one is calling for the boycott of male or white writers, or talking about a conspiracy, if you don’t know there is an imbalance then you are severely [misinformed].
We looked at fall 2010 catalogs from 13 publishing houses, big and small. Discarding the books that were unlikely to get reviewed—self-help, cooking, art—we tallied up how many were by men and how many were by women. Only one of the houses we investigated—the boutique Penguin imprint Riverhead—came close to parity, with 55 percent of its books by men and 45 percent by women. Random House came in second, with 37 percent by women. It was downhill from there, with three publishers scoring around 30 percent—Norton, Little Brown, and Harper—and the rest 25 percent and below, including the elite literary houses Knopf (23 percent) and FSG (21 percent). Harvard University Press, the sole academic press we considered, came in at just 15 percent.” A Literary Glass Ceiling? I recommend you read that article is analyzing a study that shows that the overwhelming amount of books that get review are by men review by men.
Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people, according to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin. Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books? only 57 by Latinos, 69 Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans X
I’m done with this discussion, I have nothing to say to a person that thinks that a black person reading only books by POCs is racist. X."

And who knows? Maybe in another month or two, we can read books written only by people of color or by people with disabilities. The point is to draw attention to the imbalance.

In this vein, I have complied my reading list for this month accordingly:

Soundless by Richelle Mead
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
And depending on time/how I feel either Cinder by Marissa Meyer or Hunter by Mercedes Lackey or a re-listen of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern because it is winter-y.

I have also complied some recommendations for books to read:
Tamora Pierce: anything she has written is great, strong women and POC
Diana Wynne Jones
Kate Forsyth
Anne McCaffrey
Janet Evanovich
Sue Harrison: several of her books are historical fiction about native people from Alaska and the islands in the Bering Sea
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
And there are so many more out there.

Lastly, I am going to attempt to participate in the December Reading Challenge by Books and Cupcakes:
So that is that! If anyone out there wants to participate in either of these challenges (or both!) I highly encourage it!

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Series of Firsts

I ran into an old coworker the other day and she asked about my ex and I had to tell her that we were no longer together. She was astounded, but shared with me a bit of wisedom.

She said that losing her mom was the hardest thing she had gone through and that it took a full year to start getting over it. Because she had to go through all the firsts. There was the first Christmas without her mother, the first time she didn't get a birthday card from her mom, and so on.

She told me that the firsts are the hardest. But once you make it through the firsts, it gets better.

This will be my first Thanksgiving, Hannukah, birthday, Christmas, New Years since the break up. And I've been pretty torn up about it. I don't even want to celebrate with my family because it's the first time I won't have my ex with me (we had been together over nine years, it's hard to remember before that, so give me a break, yeah?).

Even worse than that, I can't stand to be surrounded by happy couples. I'm still a shitty friend who is jealous of her friends' happiness. Not that I don't want them to have that, and I am happy for them, but I am also too full of sadness for me. So I try to be happy for them while I am away from them.

But this is the first holiday season that I've been single in so long, after having had so much love and happiness and losing that. And the first is the hardest, right?

I hope you will all forgive me if I am distant this holiday season. Sometimes it's just better for the people around me and easier for me if I am by myself.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Note About the Red Cups

I'm sure by now everyone has heard about how "anti-Christmas" Starbucks is this year (as opposed to other years. We will get to that) because they are featuring simple red cups.
In the past, they had holiday/winter themed cups with pictures and sometimes cheesy sayings on them. Which were not specifically Christmas, by the way. Apparently these were a huge deal to some people. Which came as a complete surprise to this former Starbucks barista.

In the first place, Starbucks is a very "liberal" company. Did you know that? They do several different things to help the farmers who grow their crops, they organized volunteer projects in local communities, and they try to take care of their employees with all kinds of benefits. Want to know one thing they offer? Health insurance for same sex partners. Yep. Welcome to Starbucks.

I think Starbucks is, overall, a great company (even though I LOVE small, local owned coffee shops and I realize the two don't always co-exist very well...). It was the first job I worked that I felt valued as an employee.

And now there are all of these people in an uproar over cups. Of all things. Really? Christmas is ruined for you? Speaking of people who need more Christ in their lives.

First off, it's exceedingly selfish and also very hypocritical. I never heard any of these people complain about how Starbucks employees have to WORK ON CHRISTMAS. Apparently they don't care about that part, as long as they get their cups. I worked Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas every year that I was a Starbucks employee. And while I like to celebrate a little of Christmas and a little of Hannukah, there are not shortened days for Hannukah. I just feel like the Christians are already privilaged, but these particular "Christians" are so wrapped up in themselves that I doubt a Christmas cup would be enough to draw out their Christmas spirit anyway.

And those people should be ashamed of themselves.

Plus, it is people like this who give real Christians a bad name. Real Christians care more about, oh, I don't know, family, their fellow man, charity, the disasters occurring around the world, and the things they are supposed to care about.

An additional note: I cycled through several different holiday cups during my Starbucks career and I never, not once, heard someone say that the cups made their whole Christmas season. In fact, I heard way more ridicule about the pictures and especially the cheesy sayings than I ever heard compliments about them. I can't figure out where these people are coming from. But seriously, grow up.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Review of Carry On

I just finished reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.
Do you ever feel reluctant to finish a book because it's so good? And you are afraid that no other book could ever be as good? This was one of those for me. (I have felt this way about all of my favorite books.)

And it is soooo very nerdy. I love it.

In case some of you need the background story, here is a brief synopsis. In Rainbow Rowell's novel, Fangirl, the main character is obsessed with a series of books-the Simon Snow books. The author is getting ready to release the final volume in the series and the main character (of Fangirl, not of the Simon Snow series), Cather, is trying to finish her epic fanfiction: Carry On, Simon.

Well this book IS her fanfiction! That's right, it is a fanfictional (is that a word?) ending to a series of books that doesn't even exist. And if that isn't some sort of epitome of nerdy, I don't know what is.

Anyway, I got very attached to most of the characters. Especially Baz, Penny, and Ebb. Side note: what the hell ever happened to Nicky after he tried to help Baz?! Did I miss that? And does Simon ever find out about his parents?

I did not like Agatha. She can jump off the drawbridge for all I care.

I love the way that magic works in their world, all based on phrases, lyrics, et cetera, that hold influence and power. And that explains their need for normal people as well as spell evolution.

And I felt that the ending was kind of bitter sweet, especially for Simon. 

Overall, I loved this book, but I could see that it's definitely not for everyone. It's another of those that, I think, has a specific target audience. But for me, 5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Halloween Reading List

Oh yes, it is that time of the year! My favorite time of the year! And I need a book list to go with it, obviously. So here is the run down:
  • The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. Recommended by a friend.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Because I have never read it. I know, shame on me.
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker. Again, one I have never read. I plan to listen to this one.
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Another new one that I plan to listen to.
  • Oh and The Sword of Summer, the new Magnus Chase book by Rick Riordan. Because I wait all year long for his books to come out. I don't care if it's Halloween-y or not. I will read it as soon as I can get it and you can't stop me!
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I always read this one in October, but I may not get to it this year with my other planned reads. 
  • M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman. This is a collection of stories I stumbled across more than a year ago and haven't read yet. I have it as an audiobook and will read it if I finish my others in time.
  • And, if time allows, The Diviners by Libba Bray. New one that I have seen recommended by a couple of book blogs I follow. It sounds spooky, but not scary. Right up my alley.
It started to turn into a list of classics because last year I realized how few of these I had read. It's about time I fixed that.

I also decided to participate in this book challenge by purrfect.reads on Instagram:

If you would like to follow my progress, do so via my Instagram or my Tumblr.

Anyone else have spooky reads this year?

Friday, September 25, 2015

On Just Being Ok

Most of the time, I am only ok. If you ask me how I am, chances are high that my answer is, "Ok." Some days it's an enthusiastic, surprised, "Ok," because I am surprised and pleased about actually feeling alright. And sometimes is a strangled, "Oookay..." because I barely made it to ok that day.

I can't remember the last time I told someone I was "Good" and meant it. Because most days it's hard to even make it to ok, much less anything better. Those days are the ones where I am extra sad or extra tired. The days where I have to dig deep within myself to care enough to get into the shower. Because sometimes that's hard. Sometimes the motivation and energy is not there.

And then there are some days where I hit ok pretty easily, but I realize that "ok" isn't enough. Ok doesn't get my chores done or get me to the gym or run my errands. And while this makes me feel a little hopeless and inadequate, it also gives me hope. On these days, I can see past ok. And part of me feels that I will never get there, the logical part of me knows that one day I will feel good, or even (heaven forbid) happy. And I miss happy. My crying session the other day revolved around me waking up in the middle of my day (the equivalent to the normal person's middle of the night) crying about wishing I could be happy again. Yep. This is my life.

I have been listening to an audiobook called Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (which I am really enjoying, by the way) and she had a chapter about her friend's "Spoon Theory." The idea is that, every morning, you wake up with a given amount of spoons to spend for the day. 
Why spoons? I don't know. The point is, that some people have more spoons than others and that doing anything takes at least one spoon. And people who are sick or have disorders or for a plethora of other reasons have fewer spoons than most people. Well, right now I don't get many spoons everyday. And I wish I could get more spoons, but right now that seems impossible. 
That also means that I have to be selective about spending the spoons that I have. Which usually amounts to me not going to the gym. Because it takes all my spoons just to get up, shower, make my lunch and breakfast and go to work. And I plan ahead and try to have extra spoons for days when I need to, for example, clean the rat cage, or run errands. I need to prepare even more spoons in advance if I know I have to talk to someone (like me not yet filling my prescription because I actually have to talk to a real person or not calling someone back the same day because calling them back tomorrow seems easier). 

Reading this book came at a pretty good time, obviously. I thought the spoon theory felt like my life right now. I may be mildly depressed (OK, I'm depressed, sue me), but it isn't serious and it is certainly situational. And I know I need to move forward in my life if I am going to get out of this depression because depression has a way of holding you back and holding you in place. But I can only fight with as many spoons as I have. And sometimes, I barely have enough spoons to make it to "ok." One day, I hope I get past ok. Because I miss happy.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fangirl Review

I liked this one so much that I wanted to share it here as well as my book blog.

I just finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which I read via audiobook (it counts, this very book says so).

I went in not expecting much because I had heard that it was good, but that it didn’t live up to her other books. Granted, I have never read anything else by this author (yet). But I ended up giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. I love it.

This book spoke to me on another level. I felt like she was in my head for much of this book. I related to the main character in so many ways (except that I am not a great writer, of fanfiction or fiction. Let me know if you need a research paper written). I saw myself in the main character, Cather (also, I love that name). When she was feeling betrayed and like her world was coming down, I related to her then, too. I cried for her (and for myself because I have been so emotional lately and her emotions spoke strongly to mine). But I also wanted to wrap her up in a blanket and love her and take care of her.

I was anxious for so long because she would not do her assignment! And it drove me so crazy that I was talking to her (I talk to my audiobooks if they are good. It’s a sign that I am drawn in and invested, not a sign that I am crazy...).

Book quote: “‘No,’ Cath said, ‘seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.’“ I got to this part and went, “That’s me!”

I also loved her roommate, Reagan. She was so funny and just a little wild. But through the teasing (which was legitimately funny), she always had Cather’s back when it really mattered.

And I thought it was wonderful how Cather could escape into her fictional worlds. As a fantasy reader myself who is not always in touch with the real world, it was nice to meet a character who felt the same way. That’s one of the reasons I read: to escape and explore different worlds.

Additionally, the narrators of the audiobook (yes, narrators plural) were very good. It was done a little differently than other audiobooks I have listened to, but it was good!

I could see how this book would definitely not be for everyone and I did see many negative reviews. I think there is kind of a target audience, of which I am a part of. For me, this was a very personal read and it made me laugh and cry and think. So I love it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Distractions and Reading

It's been a while since I blogged. My life feels so transitional and surreal right now that it is hard to think about things, anythings.

My main goal for a while now is just to distract myself from feeling and from thinking about the breakup (loss of relationship, home, et cetera). Besides spending WAY too much time on the internet (sorry Facebook friends for posting tons of articles, pictures, status updates... and I know some have noticed...) I have also been reading much more than normal. So much in fact, that I upped my yearly reading goal from 40 books to 50 (because at the end of August I was at 39 read for the year... and I'm still 7 books ahead of schedule...).

I have started to become more active in book communities on Instagram and Tumblr and Twitter. Because of that, I began a little Tumblr book blog where I can share pictures, quotes, and book reviews. I just started it, so it is a little rough around the edges still, but here it is: Literary Treasure Trove. If it does OK and I keep up with it, maybe I will link it back into this blog more. So I will be posting fewer reviews here and much more on the Treasure Trove. There are a few books I will probably post reviews of here, when I particularly love something or for special events (like October Halloween reading. Because Halloween).

Plus, I have been rewarding myself for emotional/physical strain of moving with books, so my book collection is increasing more rapidly than usual.

So that's my new thing. We will see what comes from it. Right now, it is a nice escape. Just read all the time and write about what I am reading.

Monday, August 24, 2015


A positive sounding title for a post that's not entirely positive.

Often when I go through difficult or stressful times in my life, my dreams start to reflect that. I know this is my brain trying to work through everything, but sometimes they are uncanny. Lately, I feel as though I am just going through the motions of living without actually feeling or experiencing much of it. Working nights doesn't help. So I think it's a good thing that my dreams show that my brain is working on my problems while I am sleeping.

Isaac and I were together for so long that it was very common for him to appear in my dreams. He was rarely the focus, but usually he was there, by my side, someone to count on. Since the breakup, I have had a couple of these, but not many.

The dreams I've remembered most vividly are the angry dreams where I am yelling at him for ruining my life (and one odd old-time-y dream where I was yelling at him for ruining my "virtue." Lord only knows where that treasure came from). Only one dream featured us getting back together, though I was still going to move out, interestingly enough. 

Some dreams centered around our division of our joint stuff, which we haven't really discussed, but is a sore and stressful point for me.

And then the other night, I had a different dream. I was driving somewhere with a younger Scott McNeil look alike (obviously triggered by dug up memories from the recent announcement that he'd be at this year's NDK). There is a rather large age gap between us, though it wasn't as big in my dream. I wouldn't label him as being particularly attractive and I know very little about him, but I think my dream was just looking for a filler. Someone else, maybe someone unknown, to fill the gap.

In this dream, we were driving and we kept in physical contact while he drove, holding hands and at one point I think I was laying down with my legs across his lap. Safe driving habits, I know. I was wearing the fuzzy purple slippers my mom made me, which I love. Even in my dream, I took that as a sign that I felt very comfortable with this guy.

The relationship was still fairly new in my dream. But he took me to dinner and coffee and told me later in the car how much I meant to him. Then we had casual and amusing conversation as we drove. In my dream, this guy was so easy going, honest, open, and comfortable. And it was obvious that he thought I was pretty great. And then my mom's stupid cat woke me up.

Why did I share this dream? Because it was the first one that was different. When I woke up, I wasn't sad or angry (except at the cat). And most importantly: it gave me hope.

After this break up, I felt like I would never want to work so hard for or pour so much of myself into another relationship ever. And, to be honest, I felt that I wouldn't ever find someone else anyway. I know, I know. I hate it when my girlfriends say things like that because I see so much good and beauty in them-who wouldn't want to be with them? I tried to tell myself this, too, but all I could see in myself was my faults, insecurities, and recently acquired jaded outlook (that even if I found someone, I could never leave myself so vulnerable as to take the leap again).

It was nice to dream about a budding romance for myself. Something so light and easy and wonderful seemed so nice. And it made me happy. Maybe, one day, I will find that again. But for now, I think it's enough to know that I will be OK and that there are other possibilities out there. Logically, I knew these things already. But it is different to feel that these things are possible. It made a difference. And it was a very nice break from feeling the way I've been feeling lately.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Bingo Update

I completed my first book bingo square!
I just finished "In the Unlikely Event" by Judy Blume and I wanted to share some thoughts.

This was an interesting book and I have been pretty torn about how much I liked it. There were some things that I loved, like the Jewish references which reminded me of my own family. But it was a very emotional read. It centers around a New Jersey town in the early fifties when three planes crashed in their town within 58 days. The book follows a variety of characters who are all affected by the crash(es) in some way.

I had a friend who was in a plane crash and she was the only one who survived. I remember that event so clearly in my mind because the hospital called me and my mom about her. I still cry just thinking about it all. Not only that, but I was witness to how this crash affected (and still affects) the lives of her and her family. Having witnessed all of this first hand made me extra-sensitive to this book.

Possibly due to that and other personal experiences, I may have projected too much of myself onto one of the main characters. Her life changes in huge, scary, and sudden ways and she was only fifteen. Closer to the end of the book, she comes to terms with all of these big issues in a very short time frame. Maybe some people can do that, but it took me years to come to terms with similar situations in my own life. Because her "ending" wrapped up so quickly, it left me feeling very dissatisfied about how her story wraps up. Which is sad because I liked the way many of the stories found their endings.

Overall it was a good book, but be prepared: it's an emotional one. And be wary of triggers centering around plane crashes.

As for my Bingo challenge, this is my first square, not counting my free space. I am currently reading "The Hot Zone" and "The School for Good and Evil." You see, if I am reading an intense book like "The Hot Zone," I also need a lighter, happier book, hence the two books. I listened to "In the Unlikely Event" and therefore had to draw a new audiobook (three books at once is pretty standard, though it means I have to be creative about my Bingo game). I drew another audiobook: "The Book Without Words," so I will start that soon!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

August Book Bingo

I stumbled across this fun new idea on Instagram! A couple of the book themed accounts I follow created/are participating in an August Bingo Book-a-thon. See: nicole_in_neverland: August Bingo Book-a-thon. And here is another person I follow who is doing a slightly different take on the Bingo card: readingdiares: August Bingo Book-a-thon. There are different ways to approach this game.

I was intrigued so I compiled a to be read (tbr) list and randomly placed them on a bingo card that I created. 
My Bingo card!

The same list went on another piece of paper to be cut out, folded, and put in a bowl so I can randomly draw my books. I made some markers I can tape to my card as I go.

My books are a mix of physical and audiobooks. Since I drive so much, audiobooks are a great option for me. And since I tend to read and listen to multiple books at a time, I will have to get creative about how I play this game. I own some of these, but several I can easily get physical or audio copies of to help me balance what I'm reading (I hope).

Anyway, it should be fun! I hope others might join the game. Updates are being put under the hashtag bingobookathon on Instagram, an will probably come up in Twitter or Tumblr as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Envying Your Happiness (And an Apology)

Yes, you read that correctly. I am envious of the happiness of others.

I didn't realize it for a while. I have been sad, angry, depressed, et cetera since the break up (of course) and in moments of relief, numb.

So I was listening to this audiobook "Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)" by Jenny Lawson. I was just getting home as she was describing the chapter in which she gets engaged in the most hilarious way possible only to break down in hysterics as I tried to park my car. I was trying to laugh at her outrageous narrative while simultaneously crying--mourning my own loss of my love, my life as I knew it, and a good chunk of my happiness (see also: my security, stability, home).

It then occurred to me how often I have been glossing over my friends' posts about recent engagements, weddings, vacations, honeymoons, home improvements, and so forth. I give them cursory glances and quickly scroll past. For everyone (sorry guys). I had to file away recent wedding invites, thank you cards, and photos, not really realizing why I felt the sudden need to "put them away."

It's because looking at your happiness makes me sad. It makes me miss what I had, (what I thought I had?) and what I thought my life was heading towards.

We were engaged. Vaguely making wedding plans. It was going to be beautiful, unconventional, and fun. We had so many projects going to finish our home to make it really ours. Plans for the future where we would live in a house, or at least a town home or condo where no one would be living above us to wake us up at odd hours of the night. Or maybe our slightly sacrilegious imaginings of purchasing a beautiful ex-church and converting it into a unique home (in which we would rent portions out for gay weddings--this was pre-the recent Supreme Court ruling).

Instead I find my life suddenly and harshly devoid of all of these things. My life had become so entangled with his and our lives so centered around our relationship that I ended up feeling exceedingly lost (and maybe a little broken). I had poured so much of myself into our relationship, especially after our last rough patch (because we were going to make it work! And I had no doubt so I jumped right in with both feet) that I am having trouble finding myself again.

So the happiness (especially in relationships) of my friends serves as a near constant reminder of everything that I have lost. Which right now, seems like an overwhelming amount.

I apologize to my friends. I am happy for you, and I would never wish for any one of you to be unhappy or to give up your happiness. But I envy you right now. I know at the very least, this makes me mean, selfish, and uncaring. I am very sorry for that and I hope no one has felt that I don't care about you or that I am not happy for you. But right now, I can't look at the pictures of the beautiful weddings and smiling faces on the beach. I can't look at the wedding-planning posts and pictures of house renovations and romantic dates nights. I promise that I will be better in the future and I offer the warmest of congratulations. But right now, I have to pass over them. Later on I will go back and look and rejoice for you. But right now I have to keep my rejoicing quiet and brief. I won't mourn forever.

I hope you will bear with me and forgive me. Realizing this made me feel like a horrible person. At the same time, I just need time to mourn. Just know that I love you all and I am happy for you, even if I can't express it in so many words.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A New Chapter

We have come to a sad ending in the last chapter of my life. My boyfriend (and fiancé) of 9 years and I broke up. It has been very hard and I am heartbroken, but comforted by our amicable split which allows us to still help and support each other, my family (who really stepped up to the plate for me) and my friends who have always been amazing at cheering me up.

It's been occasionally stressful because our lives are so very intertwined (which was so easy to do) that it is hard to separate them again. We own so much jointly, we have joint money, joint bills, joint possessions.

Again, I felt overwhelmed by the idea of packing and moving again because I am so very sick of doing that and I thought that this would be my home for many years to come. Plus, this was my home and I put a lot of work and thought into it, too. It's hard to lose that. (Conversely, I think it would be hard for me to stay here because everything reminds me of Isaac).

I am getting better. I know that, one day, I will be OK. That helps. It feels like way too much right now, and I am still so emotional, hurt, angry, stressed, et cetera that sometimes it is hard to remember that. But my appetite has already started to come back a little and I am sleeping a bit better. My crying sessions (of which there are many, about things as trivial as towels to things as big as finding a new place to live) are becoming fewer and farther between (generally). That's also a relief. Even after the first day, I was tired of crying and hurting. It is nice to have a little relief from that, even if I am still a little bit of a mess. But I will survive this and one day I will be OK again.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Dress Fail That Turned Into a Skirt

I was out perusing fabrics, like you do, when I found this fabric:
It is green with metallic grey (which looks purple) and a bit of yellow.
And I fell in love with it. Plus it was on sale! A yard and a half just waiting for me. I thought I would make a little summer dress with a circle skirt. And I wasn't going to use a pattern--mistake number one.

With my mom as a personal consultant, we went to a fabric shop to find another color to mix with my lovely patterned fabric. She suggested this yellow, which I never would have considered, but which looked very nice with my fabric:
This yellow matches the little bit of yellow in my fabric perfectly.
The skirt part was easy, since I have made circle skirts before. I tried to find a basic online pattern with instructions for a dress bodice that was very cute. Mistake number two. 

And mistake number three is probably my lack of dress dummy. If I had one, I think I could have salvaged the top. I know what I want for my birthday...

Anyway, the top was not working out, but the skirt was definitely worth saving. So I added a band and I already had the zipper! Of course, I also managed to seriously mess up the zipper twice (have I mentioned that I hate zippers?) and it took some serious motivating to rip it out yet again to try to fix it. The band around the top didn't fit right either (again, a dress dummy would be great) which helped motivate me to tear it all out again. Third time is the charm, right?

Well, almost:
Ugh, silly zipper...
Good enough! I decided at this point that I was over it. My mom said no one would notice besides me anyway...

Side note, I ended up using this tutorial (not exactly because I found it after I purchased my zipper) which is the best I have seen thus far: The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew a Zipper.

I sewed a little hook and loop at the top of the zipper to help keep it closed and hidden. And then my mom came over to pin my hem (do you see how much I need this dress dummy?) and that's that!

A pretty spring-y skirt! I wore it to Cat and Drew's wedding and got several compliments on it (and was told that I look like a Disney princess! Life achievement right there!). And yes, that is a matching bow in my hair! And the skirt is magical because it really spirals out when I twirl! I love it! I want to make a closet full of different circle skirts! And I think I need to make a cute tulle skirt next. Or more plaid circle skits because I am seriously in love with cute plaid skirts.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Day Thirty-One: Read This Month

I managed to meet and surpass my goals! The photo is of the physical books that I finished: Gone With the Wind and Reaper Man. I also started reading Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman.

For audiobooks, I finished Night Circus, listened to A Wizard of Earthsea, Fablehaven, and started the second Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star.

Not too shabby! Thanks for reading and watching for my photos on this photo challenge!

Day Thirty: Freebie/Old Friend

I read this series via audiobook and absolutely fell in love. There is something really amazing and special about these books (to me). I first listened to them during my grad program, but then I kept listening to them over and over to keep me company because I was so often alone. So the characters became my friends and they were all near and dear to me. This narrator is one of the best I have encountered, too.

So here is The Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede (read by Amanda Ronconi):

And sorry it is a little late! Saturday was a crazy day for me!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Day Twenty-Nine: Trees

I don't think I have any books about trees, but here are a couple of books with trees on the cover!

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards (yes, THE Julie Andrews) and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Day Twenty-Eight: Book Soulmate

Wow, my book soul mate? That seems like a loaded question! And it was difficult for me to figure out.

First of all, I don't think I have any one book that is my soul mate because different books speak to me on different levels. I ended up selecting three of my very favorites, but it is certainly not a complete list of my favorites. I excluded books that I had already used in the course of this photo challenge, for one, and I did use many favorites on different days (like The Graveyard Book and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which is actually an awesome choice for my book soul mate. Oh well).

So here they are:
How about book soul mates?
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, which I inexplicably love always. Tuesday's With Morrie by Mitch Albom, which I read at a point in my life that I really needed to hear his messages. Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce as another that had always been a favorite. I had to include the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder because I grew up reading them and they have meant so much to me. I also wanted to include Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, but my copy seems to have gone missing...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day Twenty-Seven: Award Winning

I discovered that most of the books I own that have won awards are books for children... So here are some Newberry winners!

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Day Twenty-Six: Plot Twist

The most recent book I read (or listened to, rather) that had several plot twists was this one, Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde:

Not to be confused with (the horrible, never touch with a ten foot pole) Fifty Shades of Grey. Totally different book here.

Jasper Fforde creates very interesting worlds and I definitely got lost in this one. I loved this book and all of its twists and turns. I can't wait for the next installment!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Day Twenty-Five: Mug

I don't think I have any books with a mug on the cover so here is my current book with my (Disney princess!) mug of coffee.

Good way to start the day!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Day Twenty-Four: Tearjerker

As a general rule, I don't go out of my way to read sad books, but I have read that make me cry for various reasons. Usually bitter sweet endings or touching moments. Here are a few:

In the Stone Circle by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Day Twenty-Three: Audiobook

I listen to a lot of audiobooks these days, since that is what I have the most time for. Here is a photo of my current audiobook!
Fablehaven by Brandon Muil, read by E.B. Stevens

Friday, May 22, 2015

Day Twenty-Two: Classic(s)

This is a little unconventional for this challenge, but I sort of inherited this lovely book set that includes nearly all of the most well-known classics:

And I love it. It really has just about everything you could want. Philosophies, sciences, plays, myths, and more. I think it is called The Great Ideas collection or something. I use it to for reference more than anything. It's totally awesome.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day Twenty-One: POC Character

At first, I panicked and thought: I don't have any books about POC. Which is a total lie. I actually have tons, I just never thought about it much.

Hazel and Leo from the Heroes of Olympus sprang to mind, as did Daja and Frostpine from the Circle books by Tamora Pierce. The Graveyard Book came to mind because I always imagined Scarlett to be black, even though Neil Gaiman doesn't specify, to my knowledge.

I settled on a collection of books (I actually have more than can reasonably be put in a picture!), most of which I read during my Race and Ethnicity in American Literature class:

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is one I read for a book club, but I think I chose it. The rest were from my class (a couple others we read I did not include like Maus I and II and Hunger of Memory). I enjoyed all of them except Native Son and I struggled with several parts of Jasmine. No-No Boy may have been my favorite of these, though I also liked Their Eyes Were Watching God. And Reservation Blues was very interesting. All of these are very interesting books from a cultural clash perspective. Good reads.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day Nineteen: Magazine

I don't really read magazines. The only ones I do read are Scientific American and this:
Nice and educational, right?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Day Eighteen: Indie Book

Wow. An Indie book? I wasn't entirely sure what that would entail. Not well known? Small publisher? Both?

Anyway, I did a little research (is that sad?) and discovered that it seemed to be a bit of both. Small publisher or self-published books that often stumble into a certain niche.

Apparently my book collection is a little too run-of-the-mill.

The book I used for my name is one, but I already used that and it's not fair to use it twice.

I have a few that are from small publishers, but most of them are ones that I used as references or have not read at all yet. Relics from my parents' "library" after we moved. (My parents collected TONS of books, like you would not believe, and they were stashed, crammed, and otherwise piled onto book cases in our basement. I took just about anything that sounded interesting).

As I was searching my shelves, I stumbled across one of my favorites:
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by Josephine Leslie (aka R.A.Dick)
I had to look, and the publisher was not one I recognized. Of course, it was also published in 1945. I looked up the publisher and it is a small one and I know many people haven't read this book, so I decided it was good enough for the prompt!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day Seventeen: Library/Book Store

I had already decided to do a bookstore. Part of this reason was that it is Sunday and libraries weren't open. And since I work nights, it was difficult to get a chance to go to a bookstore (I didn't manage it and wasn't sure what I would take a picture of if I had).

In my area there aren't tons of bookstores. The closest to me is Barnes and Noble, which I do frequent. There are a couple of Tattered Cover shops, which are great shops, but definitely out of my way.

My very favorite bookstore was the famous Powell's in Portland, Oregon, which I visited a few years back. It is amazingly huge! A book lover's dream! There was also a nice large book shop in Eugene, Oregon that I visited last year and loved, but I can't remember what it is called.

Since I live in Colorado and can't simply go over for a visit, I wasn't sure what to do. Then I remembered that I had merchandise from Powell's! So here is my Powell's tote bag!

A good friend of mine also got me a pint glass from Powell's. I couldn't find a good way to get a picture of it with the bag, so I went with the bag by itself. If anyone goes to Portland, I highly recommend visiting this shop!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day Sixteen: Favorite Book Couple

I have been re-listening to the Heroes of Olympus series lately, so I really wanted to do Leo and Calypso. Since I don't own the books, I couldn't think of a way to do this. Nico and Will were also strong in my mind because I think that's the cutest (almost) couple ever right now!

So I went back to a very old favorite: Daine and Numair from The Immortals series by Tamora Pierce.

I was always in love with Numair myself, so it stands to reason that this would be an all time favorite!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Day Fifteen: Frustrating Read

I try hard to avoid books that frustrate me, but I have had my share. There are different levels of frustration so it took a while for me to narrow it down. I finall settled on this:
The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey
I have read many of her books and I usually enjoy them. I read the Five Hundred Kingdoms series because they are silly and entertaining. More light-hearted and mixed up takes on fairy tales, which I like.

This book is part of the Elemental Masters series, which is a different and more serious take on fairy tales. I have enjoyed all that I have read so far (with one that stands out as being not as good) except this one. First, it was drastically different from its predecessors, but not in any way that I found redeeming. Secondly, much of it seemed too contrived and the characters weren't well developed nor very likable.

I had tried to read it once many years ago and couldn't get into it at all. I left it and read the next book in the series, which I liked. Just last year I went back, determined to read it. And I did. I usually enjoy her books and she has the ability to be a good writer, so I was frustrated that she did not adequately demonstrate her skills here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day Fourteen: Your Name in a Book

Yeah. My name is Samara. So far, I have yet to encounter it in the books I have read. However, my mom found this particular book and bought it solely because my name is in the title. I'm not even sure she read it! I found it on our bookshelves several years ago and made off with it. I think I perused the first few pages and was not overly drawn in, but maybe one day!

So here is Samara, the Wholehearted by Nancy Bauer!

Aww, you didn't need to name a book after me *wink*

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Day Thirteen: Interesting Topics

When I think of interesting book topics, I tend to think more of nonfiction than my usual fiction and fantasy. Two particular books came to mind when I saw this topic:

Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku (who is amazing, by the way. He is amazingly intelligent and educated and this book is very cool and fun) and Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan (I love his other books. This is told from the perspective of the character Percy Jackson, but the mythological stories are sound as well as interesting).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day Twelve: Did Not Finish

It is not very often that I do not finish a book. There are some books that I find very intense and I put them down (sometimes for a year or more!) until I can handle them again. But if I find them that intense to read, I think that is a mark of a good author. I did this with Practical Magic, which was on hold for nearly two years. I still have The Shining City by Kate Forsyth on hold (it's been more years than I care to count, but the first book was scary and intense, though amazing. The second book gave me anxiety only about 30 pages in!) I absolutely will finish it however. I am even now starting to get to a point where I am ready to manage it. She is such a great author and I love her books, but I need to take them slowly!

There have been a few books that I did not like. After hearing wonderful things about him, I decided to try Piers Anthony's books. I (somehow) managed to make it through his first Xanth book, A Spell for Chameleon. I thought the book itself was HORRIBLE, but that his overall ideas were so promising and cool! So I thought, the second book, The Source of Magic, would surely be better! Nope. And do you want to know where I stopped? Close to the end, in the middle of a climactic battle scene. I was so freaking annoyed with his writing that I could not read more, no matter how much promise his universe and general ideas held. I was so angry. His books could have been SO good, funny, clever, amazing, but he seriously knows how to beat a dead horse with a stick and I could bear it no longer!

I'm sure his fans (of which he surely has many, have you seen how many books he has written???) will find this blasphemous. My dislike was so strong that I doubt I will go back to read any other books that he has written.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Day Eleven: Flowers

This was another tough one for me. I searched through my book shelf for a book that had flowers on it. And this one has a flower in the title, too!
Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
Too basic? Oh well... I don't have any flowering plants at home to take pictures of/with. And due to our recent snowy weather, there is a shortage of outdoor flowers, too! I did my best with what I had.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Day Ten: Favorite Title

This was a tough one for me. Did it mean my favorite book? My favorite title, regardless of whether or not I have read/liked it?

I looked though my bookshelves and came up with some contenders, but nothing that knocked my socks off.

I went through my goodreads list and found a book I listened to a while back:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. The very first thing that caught my attention was the title! As a bonus, I really enjoyed the book, too.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Day Nine: Other Worldly

I read quite a bit of fantasy, all of which is pretty other worldly. So I had to think of one that stood out from those. I ended up picking two:

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson and The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

These are both fantasy, but they both stand out in my mind as being rather unique fantasies.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Day Eight: New Release

My most recent purchase of a recently released book:
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

I waited years for this book! Finally! Tamora Pierce reviewed the first book, Seraphina, before it was released and wrote that she loved it so much that she read it twice. Because of this, I bought Seraphina shortly after it was released and I really enjoyed it! That was at least four years ago and I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel since then.

This just came out in March, but I just bought it this month and I am excited to read it!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Day Seven: Friend's Favorite

I have many friends who read a lot. To be quite honest, I am not entirely sure what their very favorite books are! But I do have books that friends have bought for me or recommended for me to read. This is one that my friend, Becca, raved about for a while and then bought me for my birthday:

It is The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I finally read Jane Eyre so I could catch some of the literary references and then I read The Eyre Affair right away. It was so good! I look forward to reading more in the series.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Day Six: E-Reader

I don't have an e-reader, so here is what I use to read my books! (And yes, those are sleep pants patterned like the 4th Doctor's scarf.)
This may seems strange, but I don't have an e-reader! I read actual books or I listen to them on my iPhone. Only once did I read a book on my iPhone, if that counts. But I can't take a picture of my iPhone with my iPhone...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Day Five: Laugh Out Loud

Kind of a different topic. So, funny books. Most of the books I read have some humor in them, which I love because it keeps me engaged.

After thinking for a while and coming up with little, I decided to go through my recently read pile and see which book made me laugh the most. I found these:

Plum Lovin' and Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich. I like her books Ailey because they make me laugh. I always work in time to read a couple of her books here and there when I need something funny.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Day Four: Favorite Series

A good majority of the books I read are part of series and I have so many that I enjoy that it was difficult to choose. I finally went back to one of my oldest favorites, The Immortals by Tamora Pierce!
You can see that they are very well loved.
I thought about other Tamora Pierce series, because I so love them all. The Witches of Eileanan series also occurred to me as did the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus books. So many to choose from!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Day Three: LGBTQ Character

Tough one. My initial thought went straight to Niko DiAngelo from the Percy Jackson books because I love his character. However, I do not own any of the books where his homosexuality is revealed (except on audiobook), so I had to cross that off.

My next thought was of Lark and Rosethorn from the Circle Universe by Tamora Pierce. Their relationship is fairly subtle, but I love it. And this is one I could photo graph a text moment of:
From Briar's Book

They make me smile!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Time I Made Cookies

This week at work was lab week, which basically means that we got to have lots of fun, games, and food at work. We played BINGO every night (who could collect a set of 5 specific samples first!). There was a scavenger hunt and a competition to see would could build the best animal from things you find in the lab. Crossword puzzles, fun quizzes and different food every night.

Basically, it was awesome.

Friday marked the end of lab week and we were all encouraged to bring lab themed food. So of course I made cookies.

My friend, Lydia, got me these awesome science cookie cutters for my birthday a while back. Plus, I am a nerd and already had nerdy science cookies pinned on my Pinterest boards.

So I used most of my cookie cutter set, plus a glass to cut circles. I made a basic sugar cookie recipe that I have that is designed for cutting shaped cookies.

For frosting, I wanted to try something a little more advanced. I looked (on Pinterest) and found this recipe and set of instructions: I am Baker: Sugar Cookie Decorating 101.

I really liked how smooth and neat these came out, despite my inexperienced and shaky hand. And then I embellished and let them set! I had four different types. Here are my lovely cookies in all of their glory:
Classic Erlenmeyer flask
A bubbling beaker
Blood vial, just like we really get in the lab.
And, my favorite, a culture plate! My frosting wasn't very cooperative, but it was fun and cute!
It was hard work! I made 19 cookies total. It took me nearly three hours to do everything. And I made some outstanding messes throughout the process.

Isaac was my guinea pig. He informed that they were very sweet, but otherwise good. And also cute.

My coworkers gave me lots of compliments and said they looked very professional (I think that was just being nice) and that they were delicious!

Day Two: Bookshelf

I have several bookshelves, but here is (most of) my favorite book shelf!

The bottom two shelves are not shown, which may be good because the books are stacked even more haphazardly than on the third shelf. I have WAY more books than I have shelf space, so I just start stacking them up near where they should go...