The Nicest, Sweetest Person I’ve Never Met

I debated if I should post anything at all but we lost a dear blogging friend and I’m sad to say that this happened over the summer and I just found out about it this week. I am so sad over this.

Amy, of The House of the Seven Tails passed away in May (really?). I heard this second-hand from another blogger but it’s left me a little stunned. Bloggers disappear for a number of reasons. Especially in 2014. It seemed like so many moved on or decided to focus on other things. I  knew Amy was battling a number of health issues but we had regular interactions and I really got to know her quite well. As well as you can get to know someone you’ve never met.

But in early summer, I lost touch with her and when her birthday came up on Facebook recently it hit me that I haven’t heard from her in a really long time. I’m so sad over the news. She loved her cats more than anything. I think even more than books. I feel badly for not being there for her at the end. She was always so positive no matter how she was feeling.

I am thinking of you Amy. I am glad you are pain-free and no longer struggling, but I miss you.

One Word Says It All (2015)

Rethink

It’s taken me such a long time to come up with my “one word” for 2015. For me, choosing one area of focus tends to work much better than say going with the average resolutions.

Last year, I chose “Simplicity” which worked pretty well. All of 2014 was dedicated to making things a little easier both around the house and at work. I feel as if I learned a thing or two about my busy life. One, it’s not fun to be busy all the time and no one wins any Brownie points for the glorification of busy. Two, a lot of it I put upon myself. My drummed-up expectation of my working mom self, is what’s messed with me in previous years.  But hey, I never said I was perfect! That said, things are slightly better in that area.

This year, I’ve chosen “Rethink” which sounds like a non-word but it was handed to me during a church service. Seriously, I was sitting there pondering my word and Pastor Rusty George handed it to me on a silver platter during the series titled Fresh Start. If you care to actually listen to the service, you can find it here. He zeroes in on Rethink at 8:48. Technically, he uses the term “Rethink It” but you get the idea.

This word appeals to me on many levels. I am a quick thinker, and in turn, quick to react. This works great for me only half of the time. Often, I will make an immediate decision, and then the weight of that decision will stay with me for days. Not saying it’s always the wrong decision, but my confidence over the decision is sometimes not there after I’ve made it.

Or, something will fly out of my mouth only for me to regret it later. I have trigger mouth. I can control it at work, but not so much at home.

Sadly, this trigger way of thinking also affects my health. Yep, I have Lupus and there are times when I decide to skip my meds for awhile just to see if they are doing anything. Sometimes it takes months for me to feel lousy but I almost always do.

I seem to enjoy tempting fate.

So, although I am still focusing on simplifying my life, I am adding Rethink to the mix. I’ve technically been doing this since the beginning of the year without me noticing it and it’s added a calmness to my otherwise chaotic life. Taking an extra moment to respond or act can sometimes turn a negative into a positive. It comes down to perspective and sometimes to get a clear handle on it, you have to take the time to rethink it.

That’s my plan. To rethink everything before acting. This will apply to me saying “yes” all the time when volunteer opportunities come up. It will apply to my food choices. It will apply to decisions made at work. Basically, to everything. It sounds a little daunting and exhausting but really, it’s a brief moment of reflection and with January almost behind me, I can honestly say that it’s not tough to do.

Hopefully this little bit of mindfulness will help with my simplicity kick too.

Giveaway Winner: A Matter of Mercy

A Matter of Mercy

According to Random.org, the winner is Elisabeth Fox! She is a long time reader of this blog. So happy you won, Elisabeth! I am emailing you now.

Sunday Matters: It’s a Formal Kind of Weekend

Sunday Matters

The Teen’s winter formal was this past Saturday. There was no last minute dash for clothing or anything this time around. He got a suit for Christmas and he wore that. They chose to make the corsage and boutonnière, which kept it all simple but nice. They had a family member take photos and they met up with friends for dinner before heading to the dance.

Winter Formal 2015

While he was out of the house, we kept The Girl entertained. She’s easy. She just needs buttery popcorn and a good comedy and she’s good to go. It’s funny, because she doesn’t talk to her brother all that much when he is around but she misses him when he’s gone so we have to keep her occupied. That’s the five-year gap in action.

Right Now:

Enjoying a cup of coffee before heading off to church. The Girl was invited to Six Flags by a friend so they will be attending an earlier service and then will spend a few hours at the park. That means The Hub and I are on our own for church today since The Teen attends a different church.

This Week:

Theater meeting this week for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and rehearsals for Annie. Oh, and a hair appointment. That’s all I have right now. Oh yeah, work stuff but it will be the second week of school so hopefully things will settle down a little. Actually, the first week wasn’t all that bad except for some work drama that really should never have even happened.

On my to-do list. fixing our leaky faucet. You know how little things come up here and there around the house and it just takes forever and a day to fix them? Like that door painting thing I took care of months ago. It was on my list for ages and seriously, it took me 20 minutes to do. Well, the faucet is no longer just a drip-drip. It needs to be dealt with.

<Update> We took it apart, could not find a replaement part so we put it back together until we can find one and now it’s not dripping. Go figure.

Reading:

I finshed West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan (review to come) and I am now trying to figure out what to read next. As far as ARCs, I have some good ones to dip into. Her by Harriet Lane, Dead Wake by Erik Larson, The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer, Nesbo’s Blood on Snow and Five Nights in Paris by John Baxter. And really, that’s just a drop in the ARC bucket but those are the ones that are the most recent.

But, I also have soooo many awesome library books like I’ll Give You the Sun, All the Light We Cannot See, and Us.

See my problem? How does one choose? Plus, there is a Murakami that I have not read, South of the Border, West of the Sun. Decisions, decisions.

Watching:

Halfway through season two of Orange is the New Black. Not as fun as season one but still very enjoyable.

I am also on a classic movie kick and have been recording a lot of movies lately. Ones I’ve never seen like Singin’ in The Rain. How is that possible?

Making:

At the moment I am making nothing but I have been craving Chicken Scaloppine (lightly pan seared with butter, wine, capers and lemon sauce). Mmmmm.

Grateful for:

Artsy kids. Both of my kids have a love for the arts and that makes me very happy.

Happy Thought For the Week:

The nice weather has really cheered me up. I’ve been a little down with being sick but this warm, sunny weather has made me happy and I believe it’s continuing all this week. It’s easier to tackle the work week when it’s like a spring day outside.

Review: TransAtlantic

Transatlantic
TransAtlantic

By Colum McCann
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812981926, May 2014, 336pp.)

The Short of It:

Non-fiction elements mingle with fiction in this Irish-American tale which begins in 1919 with the first nonstop transatlantic flight.

The Rest of It:

If you’ve read McCann’s work before, you may recognize the format of this novel, which feels like a collection of interconnected stories. The story opens with Alcock and Brown’s first transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to County Galway. Their mission is riddled with challenges, of which, eventually lead to a crash landing. From the title, you’d think that the book is about this trip alone but no, after just a short section on the flight itself, McCann moves on with his story which focuses on Frederick Douglass’s visit to Ireland just as the Great Famine begins to fully take its hold. From there, we meet Lily Duggan, a maid who is inspired to create a new life for herself in America.

This story spans many years and goes back and forth as it’s told and I know for some, including myself, this doesn’t always work for me. In fact, as soon as I realized I’d be jumping back and forth in time, I audibly groaned. But honestly, McCann’s handles it so well, that it never seemed to bother me at all and his style of writing, which consists of short, clipped, sentences made the reading experience quite a pleasant one. His writing creates a sense of urgency which gives the story that “unputdownable” quality that so many of us look for in a book.

There’s a little bit of history, which prompted many in my book club to look up additional information and the fictional parts were well-done and engaging. I read it in just one sitting, which is not something I often do but the story is constructed in such a way that it’s hard to find a good place to set the book down. A good problem to have, if you ask me.

Have you read Transatlantic? It came out some time ago and I immediately added it to my Kindle after reading Let The Great World Spin, but for some reason it just sat there, unread.  Such a shame because I really enjoyed it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: It Was Me All Along (A Memoir)

It Was Me All Along
It Was Me All Along (A Memoir)

By Andie Mitchell
(Clarkson Potter, Hardcover, 9780770433246, January 6, 2015, 240pp.)

The Short of It:

A warm, sometimes funny, often heartbreaking novel about a young girl trying to find herself.

The Rest of It:

Yes, folks! It’s a memoir. I know I don’t read them often but this was written by a blogger I’ve been following for the better part of a year and a half. Andie Mitchell’s blog, Can You Stay For Dinner? chronicles her weight loss journey, which truly began when she was in college, but it’s really about so much more than that and although the blog alludes to certain periods in her life, the book goes into them in detail.

Raised in a loving family but one battling the effects of alcoholism, Andie learned at a very young age that food could be comforting. Her love of food is both a blessing and a curse, and all the while her story is told with the utmost honesty, tinged with a great deal of shame.

There was a decade, back in the 90’s I want to say, where weight loss memoirs were a dime a dozen. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve read one, but this one really has a different tone to it. Yes, it focuses on food and weight loss but it’s more about a young woman trying to find her place in the world. Mitchell’s struggle for acceptance, her bouts of isolation and shame, are things that we can all relate to, regardless of weight.

On her blog, she writes as if she’s talking to a close friend. The book has that same tone. It’s warm and inviting and even though I don’t know her personally, I feel as if I do. Plus, her story is inspirational. She lost over 135 lbs and at no point was it easy.

The other thing I really enjoyed is the way she writes about food. She’s a foodie, no doubt about it and any foodie will be drooling over her take of a perfect cupcake or pizza pie. Clearly, her love of food is still present but the way she views food is what’s changed.

I really enjoyed this one. If you’re looking for something different to break up your fiction pile, give this book a try.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Sunday Matters: Winter or Spring?

Sunday Matters

Right Now:

It is so lovely out right now. It’s 54 degrees at the moment and will probably end up being in the 70s. The sun is streaming through the window and I hear the coffee pot doing its thing. It feels more like Spring than Winter.

This morning, the plan is to hit church and then rush home for the Green Bay game. Of course we’ll miss about an hour of it but The Hub seems to think he will jinx something if he watches the first hour so he’s okay with missing it.

This Week:

Off on Monday. Yes. But still have rehearsal. We are in the final rehearsals for Annie. The Teen is getting his ‘Rooster’ down and The Girl’s feather duster/servant dance is coming along nicely. The shows are almost sold out. It’s going to be a good crowd when the show hits in February.

There are two doc appointments to deal with this week and I have to keep reminding myself of them because no matter how many reminders I set (Wunderlist, Sunrise, Keep) I continue to forget about them.

Speaking of shows, The Teen created a Kickstarter for the Spring production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He’s almost 50% there but I’m rather proud of the video he put together so if you want to take a peek, do so here.

This Saturday is the winter formal and for once, The Teen does not have to work it. Now that he’s out of ASB he can go and just enjoy it.

Reading:

I am reading this little gem. F. Scott Fitzgerald and old Hollywood. How can you go wrong?

West of Sunset

Watching:

Last night I watched Election. Remember that movie? Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. The Girl wanted to see it but there were a few parts in there that we had to FF through. I don’t remember those parts being in there the first time I saw it.

I watched Moonrise Kingdom, again. Fun movie. Watched a few more episodes of Orange is the New Black (season 2).

Haven’t caught up with American Horror Story at ALL. Four episodes on my DVR to watch. I can’t watch it when The Girl is around and at night, I am wiped out from the antibiotics I am on. I will get to them soon.

Making:

At the moment, nothing but I want something good tonight. It’s so nice out. Maybe something on the grill?

Grateful for:

This three day weekend and naps. I am not much of a napper but I’ve needed them these past few weeks.

Happy Thought For the Week:

It’s going to be a short week which is good because classes start at the university this week and it will be a bit hectic.

What are you up to? Reading anything fantastic that I need to know about?

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