Category Archives: Everyday Stuff

The Summer Wrap-Up

monthly-wrap-upIt’s pretty clear from our weather this week–rain for the first time in months and cooler morning temperatures–that summer may officially be on its way out. I can’t say I’m too disappointed. We had such a hot, dry summer that I’m ready for a taste of fall.

The kids are back to school, the activities and appointments are starting up again, and life goes back to its regularly scheduled programming. We made the most of our summer, though, with the kids spending a month away from home with various relatives and my husband and I taking a couple of fun trips to music festivals.

Over the summer I also did a lot of reading, finishing eleven books in July and August. Amazingly enough, they were almost all really good (with only one stinker in the mix):

  1. Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
  2. The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
  3. When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  4. Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith
  5. Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith
  6. The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick
  7. The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
  8. Blue Monday by Nicci French
  9. Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers
  10. The Circle by Dave Eggers
  11. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

My favorite new discovery of the summer was Alexis M. Smith, whose writing is just beautiful and impossible to put down. The new Matthew Quick and Joshilyn Jackson books are both wonderful (those are auto-buys for me), and I enjoyed getting into Dave Eggers’ writing.

The only one that really didn’t work for me was ‘When Breathe Becomes Air’, the autobiographical story of a young doctor who dies of stage IV cancer. His story is tragic, of course, but I didn’t gain any particular insights from reading it other than thinking he made some very questionable choices about how to spend the last years of his life. The book garnered a lot of praise and so it must have worked for some readers, but it didn’t for me.

Other than reading, I’ve also been working on crossing off some of the items on my 40×40 list. This month I’ve (finally) found a daily yoga and meditation practice that works for me. As some of you may know, I’ve been doing yoga for years but have struggled with making it a routine, made even more difficult now that we live in the country and I don’t have a local class to attend. I’ll write a longer post about this topic soon as I’d like to share with you some of what I found.

yoga

Wishing you a lovely September and peaceful transition to the autumn season. Happy reading!

Advertisements

Currently…

currentlyHello out there!

Loving: Working in the garden, learning as I go, and seeing (some) progress. The little yellow flowers on my cherry tomato plants are making me particularly happy.

Thinking about: The next step. I’m finishing up my job for my U.S. employer and trying to plan what’s next for me, professionally.

Anticipating: A weekend in the countryside with friends in early June. We’re planning to hike, cook, and catch up after several years of not seeing each other.

Watching: I just watched ‘Anne with an ‘E”, which I enjoyed despite the controversy of remaking a beloved show. It felt different enough from the original for me to appreciate it for itself. I have to say, though, that I hated the plot twist in the last episode and hope that one is settled quickly in the next season.

Listening to: Audiobooks–I just finished ‘As You Wish’ by Cary Elwes yesterday on Trish’s recommendation. I’m looking forward to listening to Phoenix’s new album that comes out in a couple of weeks.

Eating: I made my first risotto from scratch last night, and I have to say that it turned out absolutely delicious. It was much easier than I anticipated, just time intensive.

Wishing: That technology had advanced to the point where I had a self-driving car that I could program to take my children to and from various activities and appointments while I stay home to get stuff done. It would be such a life changer. Come on car companies, get on it!

Hope you’re having a lovely week!

Currently…

currentlyIt’s Sunday night and the week ahead promises to be a busy one, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. This is the last week of a big project for work and also the last week before my kids’ holiday break from school, so fingers crossed that a week from now we’ll all be heaving a sigh of relief. Santa’s on his way…

Loving: The sunsets as seen from our back yard. They’ve been so beautiful this week.

Thinking about: The upcoming holidays. It will be our first Christmas in France after two years away, so we’ll get a chance to catch up with family we haven’t seen since our return. Also, my oldest will be turning 13. I almost have a teenager! Yikes.

Anticipating: Pulling out our Christmas box and decorating the new house. (Yes, I know we’re late. It’s hard to get motivated because we won’t actually be here for Christmas, but I still want to make the effort). I love this time of year.

Watching: ‘The Good Wife’. I never watched this one while it was on, so I’m catching up on Netflix. I love Alicia but don’t understand the attraction to Will. Really? Peter is much sexier, in my opinion. I also hope she and Cary get to be on the same side again soon.

Listening to: Podcasts while I work. Do you have any favorites that you can recommend? It really helps on days when I’m stuck doing tedious tasks.

Eating: Nothing special. The girls and I were supposed to have a sushi date this week but the restaurant was closed. Boo.

Wishing: That my daughter’s fever would go away. She woke up with one yesterday morning and I’m just praying it doesn’t end up being pneumonia again, as she’s prone to getting it and at this time of year it normally knocks her out for a week or so. Not this week, please.

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

The November Wrap-Up

monthly-wrap-up

About a year ago I stopped blogging, and that was absolutely the right thing for me to do. Since then, we found out my husband’s company was closing their Atlanta office, we debated staying in the U.S. or going back to the job that was waiting for him in France, and we ultimately decided to move back.

We returned to France in July, and life since then has been a whirlwind. We looked for a house, lived in a temporary apartment while waiting, then finally closed on a house and moved in early October. The girls started new schools and I adjusted to working from home (temporarily) until I can look for a new job. We started over, again.

Starting over is something we have some practice doing, although it never really gets easier. I tend to go into survival mode until the worst of the stress is behind me, and I think I’m just finally starting to come out of that. I’m feeling more like myself than I have in a while, and I truly think this move will end up being the right thing for us. Transitions are hard, though, especially for an introvert. I turn to reading as an escape, so I’ve been doing a lot of it these past months.

In November, I finished four books:

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

I enjoyed all of these, though the last two were probably the best of the lot. Pretty Girls is a solid Slaughter book–if you’ve read her before, you know what you’re getting. The two Kearsley novels were not bad but not great, either. The Shadowy Horses feels like an early novel, and A Desperate Fortune is better written but really dragged for me, particularly in the sections that were set in 1700’s France.

As I’m slowing starting to feel settled, blogging again feels right. I don’t know if this will be a long-term thing but I’m glad to be writing again, for now.

Wishing you a magical December and a very happy holiday season. Happy reading!

The (October and) November Wrap-Up

monthly-wrap-up

I’m a reading machine! Clearly, posting only once every two months is doing wonders for my reading habits, if not my writing ones.

It’s been a busy couple of months in my non-reading life as well. I started a new job mid-October which is going well so far. My commute is almost an hour long, which means I have plenty of time to listen to audiobooks.

In October and November, I manage to finish eleven books:

  1. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson*
  2. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
  3. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm
  4. The Accident by Chris Pavone
  5. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (audio)
  6. Lottery by Patricia Wood (audio)
  7. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell*
  8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (audio)
  9. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  10. The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig
  11. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith*

Three of these were five-star reads for me (signified by *), which isn’t too shocking considering they are some of my favorite authors. I probably enjoyed Carry On the most, however, simply because it completely surprised me. Having read Fangirl and not been crazy about the Simon Snow parts of that book, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with a book all about him, but I did. Rowell’s take on the ‘Chosen One’ was hilarious and touching and much more thought-provoking than I expected. So, so good.

My least favorite read this month, hands down, was Gone Girl. I waited a long time to read this much-hyped book, and I wish I had never read it at all. Getting in the car everyday and turning on this audiobook made me a little sick, and I wish I had just stopped listening rather than feeling that I had to finish it. What a depressing read. This may be my least favorite of the year.

I finished an item on my 40×40 list this month as well–I took my girls camping! We had the best time and I hope I won’t have to wait until I’m officially 40 to do it again. So much fun.

October 2015 014

Hope everyone has a great December and end of the reading year!

The (August and) September Wrap-Up

monthly-wrap-upTime flies when you’re having fun, right? I honestly don’t know where the time has gone since school started back in August. With the addition of Girl Scouts and other outside activities, our calendar has been pretty full.

But I’m not complaining. As much as I love having downtime, it’s been nice to get back into a routine and I’ve been having a lot of fun, so the saying must be true. In addition to reading, I finished FIVE things on my 40×40 list (woohoo!) The pictures below sum those up pretty nicely.

In August and September, I read eight books:

  1. Broken Harbor by Tana French
  2. Invisible City by Julia Dahl
  3. An Age of License by Lucy Knisley
  4. Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle
  5. French Milk by Lucy Knisley
  6. Run You Down by Julia Dahl
  7. The Secret Place by Tana French
  8. Last Ragged Breathe by Julia Keller

The one thing I could say overall is that with each of these author’s books I’ve read, they just keep getting better. Both the Dahl, French, and Keller books are in a series, with each book being stronger than the last. Knisley, who writes graphic novels, shows a marked improvement in her later works; French Milk was her first and it definitely showed. The one exception to that is John Darnielle. Wolf in White Van is the only book I’ve read by him so I can’t judge the rest of his writing, but in this case one was enough. I found WIWV (which received a lot of critical attention and praise) to be incredibly depressing. Not recommended.

Coming up in October, I’ve got a pretty blank slate, reading-wise. Plenty of room for surprises. On the 40×40 front, I’m taking my girls camping for the first time towards the end of the month and I’m almost finished making a quilt for my new niece. I’ll leave you with some photos of the things I got to check off recently!

Hope everyone has a great October and happy reading!

Currently…

currently

It’s been a while since I checked in with a ‘Currently’ post, so I thought I would talk a little about what I’ve been up to lately. I haven’t been reading too much this past week but there are plenty of other things taking over my brain…

Loving: That I’ve been sticking with my menu planning for almost a month now. I don’t always follow my plan to the letter but it is definitely cutting down on the number of times we eat out and I’m feeling less stressed about what I’m going to put on the table.

Thinking about: A job offer that I turned down this week. It was a hard decision to make but I weighed the pros and cons, talked to my husband, and decided that it wasn’t the right choice for me.

Anticipating: The Decatur Book Festival. an upcoming weekend away with my husband, and a camping trip with my daughters. So many good things to look forward to.

Watching: ‘Alone’. Did you guys watch this show on the History Channel? It was so good! I won’t spoil it by telling you who wins, but I found it to be such a thought-provoking and inspiring show.

Listening to: Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle on audiobook. I’ve only listened to one cd but I’m finding it intriguing.

Eating: Good things, mostly. This morning I went to buy doughnuts for a Saturday morning breakfast treat, and they were yummy. Tomorrow I’m making a sausage and kale soup in the slow cooker.

Wishing: That the right opportunity would come along and that my path would appear before me, clearly lit and well-blazed. I’m not good with uncertainty.

Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend and enjoying every moment of this last month of summer.