Monday, January 9, 2017

Bout of Books 18: Wrap Up

And...just like that Bout of Books 18 has come to an end. Read-a-thon weeks always seem to go too fast. I didn't do as much reading as I would have liked to, but that's my own fault. For some reason, motivating myself to read was difficult. I think I'm still slowly trying to pull myself out of last year's reading slump. But...I am still pretty pleased with how much I actually did get done. I will say that having a tracker with little checkboxes is a darned good way to make myself feel better about what I accomplish.

Since the last time I posted an update, I finished a book, started a new one, and participated in the second Twitter chat. I'm calling that a success. The chat was fun, as always, and the ever present book recommendation question resulted in me adding a new pile of books to the TBR. This may be to my detriment, but I don't care. I like finding new authors and books. Variety is the spice of life, right?

Books I Finished:

I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I will admit...I was skeptical at first. sister-in-law praised it, so I figured I had to take it on. I'm so glad I did. It was just the jump start I needed. My creativity has been lingering and I haven't written or made anything in far too long. I just wasn't feeling the spark. But this book has reminded me of why I do the creative things I do. It's for the joy I find in them for myself. They don't need to be anything magnificent or astounding to anyone else in the world as long as they make me happy. It's freeing to come back to that realization. It makes me find joy in the idea of jumping back in. I'm very thankful for that.

What I'm Reading Now:

I got this book from a friend of a friend in a Facebook book exchange. Best. Idea. Ever. I love getting random books, especially from another avid reader. Even better? Not only did this friend of a friend rave about this was already in my TBR pile. Perfection. I'm breezing through it and so far I'm pretty pleased. I'm even happier to know that this is my third book of 2017 and it's not even half way through January. I'm already doing so much better than I did for most of last year. If I can kick this reading slump, I will be a very happy camper. I've missed it.

Look at all of those pretty checkmarks!! Obviously I didn't fill them all, but I am so pleased by how many I did get to paste in. Each one of them brightened the smile on my face. It's so nice to know that I did something I can account for in a visual way. I may not be back to the levels of reading I was doing a few years ago, but it's such an amazing improvement over last year. Thank goodness!

Read-a-thons always seem to make me happy. I'm not typically a very social person, but enjoying something like this with other readers just makes me giddy. I am so very thankful for those who take the time and effort to put these event on. So...thank you Amanda and Kelly!!

And now that the read-a-thon is over, what will I do? Ah...the blogging will continue! Next up? The 2016 Book of the Year. Yep. Even though my reading was minuscule last year, I'm still going to put the books through the bracket. And there is another read-a-thon coming up shortly! The 24 in 48 happens later this month, so I'll be joining in on that one. There are things other than reading that will be getting written about, but the'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bout of Books 18: Update 1

Bout of Books 18 rolls on! I started out fairly strong, but then had a busy day followed by a couple of relatively lazy days. But...that's what I like best about BoB. No pressure, just read when and what I feel like.

I did show up for the first of two Twitter chats and it was fantastic as usual. Always so many fun people. It goes at a ridiculously fast pace. Be need TweetDeck to survive a BoB chat.

Though I haven't busted out a pile of pages, I did manage to finish my first book of 2017. On Monday, I completed John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. It was just what I always expect from a John Green read. It was relaxed and fun, the kind of book that can always drag me out of a reading slump. His books are always worth a read.

I got this one from my sister-in-law when I was back in Idaho for Christmas. It's nonfiction, all about taking charge of your creativity and going after what you want to do when it comes to producing your own creative product, whatever the medium may be.

For me, this is coming at just the right time and I'm very glad she thought of me when she had an extra copy. I used to write a lot, but I've let it fall aside, questioning my own abilities and wondering what they could possibly do for me in the grand scheme of things. But this book is reminding me that it's not important that your creative endeavors result in something earth shattering or magnificent. It's important to instead pursue your creative interests with appropriate passion and a lack of fear. It's been fairly inspirational thus far.

Though I didn't set any official goals for this read-a-thon, I more or less piggybacked on a set of goals from a prior Bout of Books. And though there may not be a lot of checkmarks present on the graphic, I'm pretty pleased with how it's looking so far. Compared to my last abysmal read-a-thon performance, I'm actually making some progress. It's nice to feel like I'm getting back to the kind of reading I used to love to do.

And now...there are still three days to go. AND another Twitter chat on Saturday morning. I'm a little giddy about it.

How's your 2017 reading start going?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Bout of Books 18

Bout of Books 18

I'm a little slow getting to this thanks to my slow blog reading, but since it's officially after midnight on January 2nd in my particular time zone, Bout of Books 18 has officially begun! It's one of my favorite read-a-thons and I'm actually going to get to do a little participating since I'm between semesters. I love it when I get to read my own choice of books and not just assignments for classes!

Not familiar with Bout of Books?
The Bout of Books Read-a-Thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It's a week long read-a-thon that begins at 12:01am on Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever timezone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog
-From the Bout of Books team.
I've participated several times over the last few years, but my last participation was a little lacking. I missed out on one and a half of the Twitter chats, which are my favorite many good book bloggers out there! I also did rather sad in the actual reading department. But...that's going to change this time darn it! There WILL. BE. READING! As for the chats, there are two of on Monday night and one on Saturday morning. I'm hoping to be involved in at least one from start to finish and I'd very much love to get both.

What I'll Be Reading:

Sometimes I'm a planner, sometimes I'm not. This time...well...we're going with not...I'm just going to be grabbing books from my shelf that I've been wanting to get to for the last year or so. There will be no rhyme or reason, but likely some very good (and long overdue) reads.

Currently Reading: 
I'm currently reading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, so that's where I'll be starting. I'm close to finished with that one, so I'm bound to be moving on to another before the day is out.

Goals / Progress:

I was looking at some older posts for prior Bout of Books read-a-thons and found the handy-dandy tracker I made a while ago. I've decided it's time to revive it...I always do better at things when I have some form of accountability.

I'm leaving my old goals from way back during Bout of Books 14, but I've added in the goal to participate in both Twitter chats. I'll be honest, I don't know that I'll made every check box on this tracker, but it is always fun to see how much I can complete. I'm going to give it a whirl and see where it takes me.


I'll be doing updates periodically throughout the week, most likely every other evening. I'm not committing to a set schedule for that because ... well ... I'm just getting back into the blog groove thing and I don't want to shoot myself in the foot. So we're just going to wing it for now, okay? Okay. Great. Glad we got that out of the way.

I'll be updating the tracker as I go as well as keeping a list of what I'm reading and what I've finished. You know...the basics.

I think that pretty much wraps up the intro. So...with that all managed, I'm off to do a little reading before I head to bed.

Happy read-a-thoning everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Making Plans

Yes...the blog still exists. I've been hemming and hawing about writing simply because I didn't know quite what direction I was planning on taking. Honestly, it's still a bit of a craps shoot. But, I've flown by the seat of my pants plenty of times before, so why should now be different?

Where I've Been

It's actually been a bit of a crazy fast two months. Life moves too swiftly sometimes and the days just start blurring together. 2016 has been interesting, to say the least. My life is so incredibly different than it was just a year a lot of good ways. I'm happy. Really happy. And after a few years of a lot of stress and indecision, that is a wonderfully good thing.

I got out of a relationship that wasn't good for me. Things had been fading for the last couple of years and I had been struggling to keep it together, but it became clear that neither of us was benefiting from being with one another. It was painful and terrible and somewhat messy, but leaving was the right thing to do. And in the end, I found someone who truly values me for who I am and who treats me incredibly well. He is kind and generous and loving and I am incredibly lucky to be able to be with him.

I also discovered that getting out of a profession that I didn't love was one of the best things I could do for myself. It was a decision that wasn't completely voluntary thanks to some medical issues, but I made some major changes that let me leave that life behind. At this point, I can honestly say that I don't miss dentistry. I do miss some of the people, but I don't miss the constant stress and the physical pain that came from trying to make every day work despite my illness. Luckily, I was at one point smart enough to prepare for the fact that I might one day not be able to work in the field, so I don't now have to feel like it owns me. I worked very hard for the thirteen years I ran my practice and now those years have become something that was a good investment.

Where I'm Going

As for where I go from here in the professional department, that's still a bit up for grabs. My good investment is paying off in more ways than one. Life has arranged itself in a way where I am stable enough to not have to work in a formal profession for the foreseeable future, so I can take my time and decide what I really want to do when I grow up. I've been attending college courses for the last two years and working on my English and accountancy degrees, but...I think I may shift things slightly once more. I'm good at accounting, but (much like dentistry) it just isn't something I love. Writing, on the other hand, has never failed to be something I enjoy. I'm considering taking next semester off, but I plan to continue to pursue some form of English education (and potential employment) -- formal or otherwise.

In the meantime, I have myself a pending new job. It's one that I'm terribly excited for. In just a few months, I should officially have myself the job title of Mommy. Amazing really.

I've always wanted to be a mother, but it just wasn't in the cards. (I'll likely write more about that at a later date.) After a trip back to Idaho to clean up some details from closing the business this past summer, I found myself terribly nauseated on the flight back to Minnesota. The feeling continued for days afterwards. A week later, I was surprised to learn that I was, in fact, not getting sick, but pregnant. It was a bit of a shock, but a really good one.

It's been a pretty good pregnancy thus far. I really can't complain. We've been getting excited and slowly accumulating things in preparation for his arrival. We still have a lot of work to do, but we're plodding along.

The house we live in is an old farm house that we have been planning on renovating. Originally, that was intended to be a slow-paced project, but a few things have needed to be accelerated since there will be a new baby in the house. Part of the new journey for the blog had been planned for following our home improvement projects, so now we're getting a bit of a jump start on that.

Right now, the projects are primarily focused on stripping wallpaper from two of the bedrooms and repainting. We'll be putting flooring into what was the storage room so that it can become our bedroom and the room we're currently in will become the nursery. The color palette for his room has been all picked out and he'll be decked out in foxes. (I'll share more about the house and our plans in a later post.)

Currently, we have about 11 weeks to get our act together and have everything somewhat prepared. Wallpaper has been removed from one of the rooms and it's ready to paint. We're moving boxes around to clear it out and then the fun begins. Once that paint is finished, I'll start removing wallpaper and painting the other room, while flooring is installed in the first. After that, it's furniture moving and assembly. With any luck, things will start really coming together over the next month.

In addition to the house projects, I'm taking an active part in running our farm. We raise Belted Galloway cattle (Oreo cookie cows) and Berkshire pigs (black pigs with white feet that have superior meat quality). We're likely adding some poultry and lambs in 2017. I'll be in charge of our blog (coming soon...) and our marketing/social media presence, in addition to helping with the day-to-day activities required to keep our little herds going. I'm very excited for what the next year could hold for us in that direction. It has some great promise and it's a life I really love. I'll be sharing bits and pieces of that here on this blog, but will mostly be directing that information to the upcoming new farm blog. (Keep an eye out for that in the next month. I'll be posting about it here.)

My goal with this blog for now is just to keep it going. I'm going to be making myself a new posting schedule to keep me in line and (with any luck) should be able to start having things to share over the next few weeks. The plan for now is to try and post at least once a week. Writing will be centered around a hodgepodge, per usual. There will be project posts, to be sure, but there will also be posts about books as in the past along with some farm stuff, some mommy stuff, and ... just life in general.

I realize that this has been a long and full post, but I needed to get myself caught up a bit so I had a place to start. If you've stuck with me this far, thanks. I'm really looking forward to sharing some of this new and crazy life with you. There is so much that it potentially has in store. Life is truly amazing. You can never quite predict what you're going to get.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween!

It's been an odd year for me with the move and the change in living circumstances. I'm still getting a bit adjusted I think. So...I have some bad news. No crazy pumpkin display this year. (Don't fret...this isn't the end of the fun...)We did grow some pumpkins in our garden this year, but they were mostly smaller in size, so carving and assembly really wasn't an option. I did consider creating a painted display instead. But...I opted out because of these guys...

Left to right: Sage, Pippa, & Canadian
If I had painted the pumpkins, these guys wouldn't be lucky enough to get a good little treat. They not only find pumpkins delicious, but pumpkin is a natural dewormer for pigs. So...I'm taking the easy way out and pampering the pigs. The little ones will get a few, but the majority will go to the bigger guys and gals. They love them. In fact, these girls' mama has already wolfed down her fair share over the last month or so.

But all is not lost! I still have some Halloween goodness for you. I was lucky enough to be contacted a while back by a gentleman working on an article featuring Halloween crafts. He featured my first lawn display...the Pumpkin Massacre from way back in 2011. In addition, he has some other great decorative ideas that you can consider incorporating into your own displays next year. You can have a little reminder of where the pumpkin fun all started and find some new creative Halloween fun. Head over here and check it out!

As for me...I'm getting ready to put my traditional Halloween chili in the pot and then I'll be making cornbread later in the evening. We live out away from town, so we aren't likely to see any trick-or-treaters, but we have candy at the ready just in case. We'll probably end up eating it all ourselves...such a shame. I'm obviously devastated. And...since I'm now apparently a Minnesota girl, we'll be cozying up on the couch and watching the Vikings game.

I hope you all have a wonderfully spooky Halloween!!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lazy Blogger

Yep. I admit it. I've been super lazy about blogging. But...I have an excuse. No...really. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you already know it. Ready?

Yep. That's right. The laziness is the result of this little bean. Three months of constant nausea and exhaustion and I'm finally feeling like myself again. We're at 15 weeks today and thus far 2nd trimester is soooo much better.

So, with any luck I'll get my act together. I'm revamping the blog and it will be getting linked with another blog that I'll be starting up here shortly. Stay tuned. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bout of Books 17: Update 2

Bout of Books

It's only Thursday and I'm already exhausted. How did that happen? I used to be a lot more resilient than this. Rats.

I have actually managed to get some reading done, which is awesome. I am mildly disappointed to admit that none of it has been true leisure reading, which is a bummer. However, I have been lucky enough to read some interesting things.

I've read a chapter of American history regarding the years following Reconstruction and the shift to an industrialized nation. To be honest, that was the worst of the reading thus far. I'm interested in the subject material, but the book is not written very well. I'm mildly disappointed in my instructor's choice of texts. It seems to skim over a lot of material and not really provide anything of substance. Let's hope it improves with the semester.

My Asian history class had a much better set of reading materials. Interestingly enough, he started us off with a chapter excerpt from Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success. It was a chapter about airline crashes and the influence of cultural norms on professional communication. I really enjoyed it. So much so that I have added Gladwell's book to my TBR.

My professor for that class seems like a really interesting guy. He even suggested a novel for me once he found that I am pursuing a degree in literature. Thus, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is also now a part of my TBR.

Finally, I spent last night diving into a chapter on the basics of psycholinguistics. I am incredibly interested in this field of study, specifically early childhood language development and most particularly in hearing impaired and mentally challenged children. Yes...I have a varying amount of academic interests. My learning will never be complete...

Amidst all of this brain busting reading, I've been breaking every 2-3 hours to feed my piglet, Pippa. She's a bit of a spitfire. Lots of energy. With any luck, she'll pull through. She's increased in her fluid intake and she seems to be putting on a bit of weight in her midsection, but she is still substantially smaller than her litter mates. I'm hoping that she does some catching up in the next few weeks. Right now, statistics put her at a 50% chance of survival. But...she's a fighter and I have high hopes for her.

And's back to schoolwork. I have a lecture and a TED talk to complete for Asian history this evening and a short essay to prepare for American history on perceptions of the Old West versus the New West historians' take on that period of American expansion. I'm becoming thankful that I only took nine credits this semester even though I'm used to taking at least twelve. It may work out in my favor.

Until next time... Happy Reading!!

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