Monday, March 21, 2016

What I've been Reading in January

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah Like Anthony Doerr's book All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale is also a modern historical fiction novel set in France during World War II. This book follows the lives of sisters Vianne and Isabelle and is as equally gripping and thrilling as Doerr's book.

Locke & Key, vol. 6 by Joe Hill I have a huge fan of Joe Hill (aka Stephen King's son)'s graphic novel series, Locke & Key, and in January I finally finished it off. The series concludes in the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. I read it all in one sititng!

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem In January I decided to check out Emma Watson's feminist book club called Our Shared Shelf on Goodreads and this was the first book selected. While I enjoyed Steinem's stories about life on the road and found them to be inspiring, I also found the book's episodic writing style to be a bit disjointed and hard to follow at times.

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue I stumbled across this book at the library and decided to read it before the Academy Award nominated movie came out. For those of you who don't know, the book is told from the perspective of a 5 year old boy who has been held captive in a room for his entire life. I thought the book is WAY better than the movie!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

MMD 2016 Reading Challenge

Hello friends! You all know that I love reading and I love a good challenge! This year I discovered that Modern Mrs. Darcy has come up with a simple and easy reading challenge for those of us who want to add a little bit of structure to their book selection, but don't want to feel pinned down. Plus, it's totally doable because there are only 12 books on the list (that's only 1 book a month).  

I'm in, are you?

Make 2016 your best reading year yet with this reading challenge. It’s simple and doable, but provides the structure you need to approach your reading list with intention in 2016.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What's Making Me Laugh: Dame Judi Dench on The Tracey Ullman show

In case you are unaware, Tracey Ullman is back on the BBC in The Tracey Ullman Show, a 30 minute sketch comedy show with brilliant impressions, poignant political humor and tons of fun. By far my favorite sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show are the ones where Ullman plays Dame Judi Dench, a national treasure, who is always up to no good. 

Check out a few Dame Judi Dench sketches below. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What I've Been Reading Catch-up: October- December

Although I've fallen a bit behind on updating what I've been reading, rest assured that I've still been reading. Today I thought I'd catch you up on some of the books I read from October through December 2015. Don't worry, a January post is coming soon!

After You by Jojo Moyes  Since my husband and I listened to Me Before You on Audible last year, we decided to listen to the sequel this year. The story picks up on Louisa Clark's life after the first book. Like most sequels, this book isn't quite as juicy as the first book, but it was still fun to re-visit old characters.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway In September I travelled to Paris with my BFF, so I wanted to read a book about Paris life on the train. This book is about British and American ex-patriots in the 1920s who travel between Paris and Pamplona in pursuit of love, leisure and bull fighting.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell I picked up this book because I was such a huge fan of Eleanor & Park, but this has got to be my least favorite Rainbow Rowell read to date. This story follows Georgie, a wife, mother, and T.V. writer who is at the end of her marriage, but finds a way to communicate with the husband she fell in love with years ago via the telephone.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King   I was looking for something a little spooky to read in October near Halloween, so of coarse I picked up a Stephen King book. This book is the first in a detective series trilogy about a serial killer and the retired cop who aims to catch him. This book had an air of familiarity to it as it referenced a real life serial killer from my home town. The story was gripping and I couldn't put this book down.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova   This book had been on my reading list ever since the film came out last year. I found this story to be fascinating, tragic and horrifying. Warning: you will probably think you and everyone around you has early on-set dementia when reading this book.

The Martian by Andy Weir   My husband and I had to listen to this book on Audiable before we watched the movie. Unfortunately, we took our time listening to the book and missed the theatrical release and had to wait to watch the film on video at home. I definitely think the book is better than the movie.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton   Unsure of what to read during my Winter Break from work, I borrowed this book from my husband's bookshelf. This book follows an 18 year old bride in 1600s Amsterdam whose distant new husband gives her a miniature cabnet of their home which changes her life. This book's story was slow initially, but once it got going it was full of all kinds of twists and turns.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell   Do you love the Harry Potter series? Did you love Elenaor & Park? Then you will love this book! This was my favorite book at the end of 2015.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Best of 2015

Last year I wrote that I wanted to travel in 2015 and I did travel quite a bit! In 2015 I visited four countries (Belgium, Ireland, France, and Spain), I travelled to Scotland on my own, and I saw a whole lot more of the English Countryside. 

This year there will be even more travel in my future as I hope to visit Germany, Northern Ireland, and Finland and see even more new places within the UK before I make my BIG MOVE back to The States later this year.  

Overachieved My Reading Goals

I was struggling at times to keep up with the Beautiful Mess book club in 2014, so I set an achievable goal of reading 15 books in 2015...and I ended up reading 47 books! I followed along with the Beautiful Mess Book Club until it puttered out, and then I went on to read several books that I hadn't yet read on my home bookshelves, and some other recommended reads. 

Top Five Reads of 2015
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

What I Made in 2015
2015 will best be known as the year I got re-focused on drawing and painting. Over the summer I joined up with not one, not two, but three different local Urban Sketching groups (and then I joined another in the fall) that get together at a designated location once a month to draw. I also continued to work on Virtual Paintout drawings and I started doing some acrylic paintings. One of my friends from high school challenged me to an art exchange in the fall and I went mental with it! 

I also did a bit of knitting this year, although not as much as in previous years. I knit 5 bears for the Mother Bear Project, I sent some knitted bunnies to the Woolen Woods Project at Radcliffe County Park in Notthinghamshire, and I knit a few Christmas presents for my family, friends and myself.

Early in 2015 I learned about the Thread of Life cross-stitch project hosted by Sharon Mossbeck and I was able to stitch up a piece that was shown at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield in November and will be shown again at Cromford Mills in April 2016. 

Top Five Music Posts

Top Five Funny Posts

Top Nine on Instagram

Ho Hum
  • Exercise- I was off to a great start with sticking to my fitness goals in 2015 by blocking off some time to exercise after work each day. But as my workload increased (as well as multiple incidents of me forgetting to pack my gym clothes), working out at the gym was replaced with reading/ vegging out at the library. I might give this goal another go in 2016.
  • Capsule Wardrobes- I spent a lot of time de-cluttering at the start of 2015 and I had a lot of fun creating hypothetical "capsule wardrobes," but I had a hard time sticking with them because a) I didn't sew or knit as much as I planned/ wanted to. b) I found it hard to limit my daily clothing choices when there's so much to choose from. 
          I did take away some good lessons from building capsule wardrobes. I do plan to continue making capsule wardrobes on Pinterest to focus my clothing shopping/ making, and I'll continue to focus on quality over quantity by shopping for higher end and vintage pieces instead of High Street/Fast Fashion.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

After Christmas Sales

The Monday after Christmas may be called "Moody Monday" in the UK, but I find it hard to be moody when there are so many great post-Christmas sales out there. It's the perfect time to cash in those Christmas gift cards or get the stuff you really wanted this Christmas. Here are a few of my favorites from the Nordstrom after Christmas sale, where many items are up to 50% off.

Givenchy statement necklace; Proenza jersey dress; Collarless fringe jacket; Cashmere sweater; Blanket scarf; Sandal; NYDJ bootcut jeans; UGG cable cardigan; 5 pocket pants; Corduroy jeans

What are you shopping for during the post-Christmas sales? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What's Making Me Laugh: ":DRYVRS Ep. 1 featuring MacCaullay Culkin

Are you one of those people who watch the movie Home Alone every holiday season to get into the festive season? Have you ever wondered how Kevin McCallister turned out after being terrorized (and defeating) the "Wet Bandits" as a child? Well, MacCaullay Culkin ambiguously reprised his performance from Home Alone in the first episode of a series called :DRYVRS (which is a play on the peer-to-peer car service called UBER) and it's seriously disturbing...but in a funny way.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

What I'm Listening To: Bill Murray and George Clooney "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'"

If you've read my blog for awhile, you might have noticed that I like to watch a bit of festive programming during the holiday season. I recently watched the Bill Murray Christmas special on Netflix, A Very Murray Christmas, which was filled with celebrity cameos like Rashida Jones, Jason Schwarzman and Miley Cyrus, and I thought I'd share my favorite song from the show: "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'" performed by Bill Murray and George Clooney.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays! 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What's Making Me Laugh: Caga Tio and the Caganers

Hello Friends! Are you looking for a new holiday tradition? During a recent visit to Barcelona, I learned that locals don't celebrate the holiday with Santa Clause or Father Christmas. Instead, they celebrate with Caga Tio (a.k.a. Caga Tio de Nadal) or "Uncle Poop". Caga Tio makes his appearance on Dec. 8 during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and children under 12 feed him and keep him warm by covering him with a blanket in the days leading up to Christmas. On Dec. 24th children sing a song to Caga Tio threatening to hit him if he doesn't poop out any treats, then they beat the log with a stick and go up to their rooms to pray while Caga Tio (with parent assistance) poops out their presents under the blankets. Check out this video featureing Anthony Bourdain and Nora Jones to observe:

Also, it is popular in Catalonia to add a Caganer or defecating peasant who wears a red cap to family nativity scenes for added giggles. You'll also find many shops around the Barcelona Christmas Markets selling celebrity figures as Caganers.

The more you know! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What I'm Listening To: Loose Tapestries- "Can't Wait for Christmas"

Season's Greetings! The holiday season is upon us, and this year comedian Noel Fielding has teamed up with Kasabian to form the group Loose Tapestries and they've penned the ultimate Christmas song. Check out Loose Tapestries- "Can't Wait for Christmas" song below:


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