Tuesday, February 10, 2015

my january books

It's that time again. Safe to say I'm killing my "read more books" goal for 2015. I'm also learning that it's hard for me to award any book five stars. Click any title for the goodreads page (are we friends yet?); I've just included a few short thoughts on each title.

Someday, Someday, Maybe - I read this book because it was written by Lauren Graham and I love Gilmore Girls and have heard that it might be made into a TV show. I thought it was cute. It kept my attention, but I think there are so many other things that could have been explored - the main character's relationship with her best friend/roommate, for example - that I was left wanting a little more than just being inside the main character's head all the time. The nods to the 90s were a fun addition and it was great for reading before bed.

Everything I Never Told You - This was my first audiobook experience. I found the narrator's voice really soothing and the third person narration very fitting for something I was going to listen to the whole way though. I found this book pretty heartbreaking but very well done. I liked getting in each character's head. It's hard to explain the story without over simplifying, but if you ever wanted a book about a family that shows why they treat each other the way they do and focuses on specific instances that can shape a person's life, then I recommend this.

The Vacationers - I guess I was on a family dynamic kick because I read this right after Everything I Never Told You and this family was dysfunctional in a completely different way. Nothing really happened and the characters kind of seemed like cliches. It kept my attention fine, but didn't leave me satisfied at the end.

Summer Sisters - I saw this was one of Steph's favorites and it was available as an ebook through the library, so I thought I would give it a shot. Judy Blume, y'all. If you grew up reading about Fudge and Margaret and all the other characters Blume created, then your adult self will probably love the nostalgia in this. There were a few parts that were a little too teen sexual awakening for my taste (remember, I don't care much for YA), and I didn't love that one of the main character's apparent magnetism was never fully understood by the reader (at least, not by me. She seemed like a selfish jerk). I liked the main character and the way the story was told, though.

The Interestings - I totally chose this book by its cover, then went to Goodreads and saw my friends gave it mixed reviews. Like Summer Sisters, its origin is during the summer in the 70s, so I don't recommend reading them both at the same time because I got some details mixed up. Basically what both books taught me is that you should marry your first summertime love before your BFF goes and marries him instead, leaving you wondering "what if" for the rest of your life. I found myself thinking about this book and its characters after I finished, so I think if you don't mind a somewhat meandering, character-driven novel, then you should give this one a try.

One More Thing - I wanted to like this book since it was written by BJ Novak (Ryan from The Office). Getting through the short stories that seemed like bizarre non-sequiturs felt torturous and I dreaded my self-imposed reading time. I quit after about 40 pages.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - This book was pretty cute, but the disjointed nature of the way the story is told combined with the fact that I read it a little at a time each night before bed caused me to forget a lot of details. I can't blame the book for that, though. A pretty cute story where a 15 year old girl pieces together the details of her eccentric mother's disappearance. It isn't as serious as it sounds, I promise.

I'm not sure if it's because of the medium or the stories themselves, but Everything I Never Told You and The Interestings stand out to me the most. I've been writing a few notes about each book as I finish, and if it weren't for that, I would have completely forgotten about The Vacationers had I not documented it here. I'm continuing to love audiobooks - thanks to Kristen for pushing me that direction - and if you've yet to try them, I highly recommend seeing if your library offers them. I listen while I walk the dog, commute, clean, and even while I go walking at lunch. Let me know if you give it a shot.

Linking up with Steph and Jana...
Life According to Steph

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

cookie time

A few weeks ago, Andrew and I realized we hadn't had any good treats in a long time. The same day he went to Common Bond for lunch and brought home a cookie for me, I went for a walk at lunch and brought home cookies from two different places for us to sample later. Realizing we had three different cookies in our house from three different places at once, I did what any blogger with a DSLR would do: I made it into an official cookie tasting that I could photograph and make into a lame blog post.

I took the cookies and numbered them one through three. The Common Bond one was incredibly easy to tell apart since we've had it so often. One was from Michael's Cookie Jar, which we've had a few times before, and the other was from Porch Swing Desserts, whose cookies we had never tried.

Cookie spread

I made ballots. If we had a working printer, I would have done that, but use what you've got, right? Each cookie was rated on a scale of 1-5 on its chocolateyness, texture, and overall deliciousness.

His and Hers Ballots

Cookie #3 was awful. Cookie #1 was fine, but Andrew didn't love it. Chocolate chip cookies are his favorite thing, though. so he's pretty picky. Cookie #2 was nearly perfect and was the resounding winner.

My only complaint, if you can call it one, is it's so soft it's almost cakey. The chocolate is the best, though.

Sorry, Michael's Cookie Jar (#1) and Porch Swing Desserts (#3), but Cookie #2 was just too great.

Please tell me you've done something equally ridiculous in the name of having a reason to break out the camera or make a blog post from nothing...

Monday, February 2, 2015

day in the life

I did a photo an hour post last year, but it was on an ice day and not a typical day in my life. I decided to take a photo an hour on a regular work day. I always wonder what people's daily routines are like and wonder where they are when I text them or they read blogs, or whatever, so I thought I would share what my life is like.

My alarm goes off at 5:45 every morning, and usually I snooze for a bit. This day, I picked up my iPad and read a few blog posts until I drug myself out of bed at 6:15. Andrew made coffee that morning, so at least I had that to help me wake up.

7:00 - 8:00 - My typical drive to work time. On Mondays, I normally have to stop for gas.

8:00 - 9:00 - So happy to have a clean desk upon getting to work. I should really try to spend a few minutes every Friday afternoon cleaning up.

9:00 - 10:00 - Water and breakfast while I work. Today it was granola bar but some days it's a banana or yogurt. I'm not a huge breakfast fan.

10:00 - 11:00 - I had an appointment to check out the event space at a new hotel downtown. It was a beautiful day, so the short walk outside was fantastic.

11:00 - 12:00 - Tour time! The event space in this hotel is set up like an art gallery. There are five of these boombox pieces that exist: one is at the hotel and the other four are owned by Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Adele, and Sting. The rooms in this hotel were beautiful and I made a mental note to staycation there if ever possible.

12:00 - 1:00 - I had hoped to be offered a free lunch at the hotel, but no luck. I normally take my lunch at 12:30, and on this day, I went to Trader Joe's for Super Bowl snacks, wine, and some frozen sides.

1:00 - 2:00 - On the way back to work. Shameless selfie because I was having a great hair day.

2:00 - 3:00 - Desk no longer clean = lots of work getting done. I was reviewing the menus from my hotel visit to see if it fit in the budget for a dinner in December.

3:00 - 4:00 - Still looking at the budget for the December event. Time to break out the cookie butter cookies I grabbed at TJ's. My coworkers loved them. I thought they were good, but probably won't buy them again. If you're really eagle-eyed, you can see I was gchatting.

4:00 - 5:00 - My work day ends at 4:30. The parking lot is two blocks from Toyota Center (where the Houston Rockets play).

5:00 - 6:00 - I go straight home, change clothes, and take Duncan for a walk before we lose what little daylight is left. We're normally out from 5:40 - 6:10.

6:00 - 7:00 - I totally failed here and forgot about my photo an hour. Andrew was home early and he made chicken and veggie tacos, which we ate on paper plates. Dinner was ready as soon as I got back from walking Dunk, but normally we don't eat until closer to 7:00. Instead of that night's dinner, you get a pic of our dinner the night before - chicken marsala, green beans, and rosemary potatoes.

7:00 - 8:00 - Our hang out/watch TV/blog time. I snapped close to 8:00, remembered my photo challenge, and sat up to take a pic with Bauer. He spends most nights laying on the back of the couch so he's close to us, but not too close.

8:00 - 9:00 - I try to do all of our ironing for the week on Sundays, but I tend to be lazy on it and put it off until Monday night. So, I was ironing and watching HGTV.

9:00 - 10:00 - It wasn't until I went to write this post that I see I missed another hour. 9:00 is normally "get ready for the next day" time - shower, feed the pets, load the dishwasher, and stuff like that. 10:00 is our unofficial get in bed and wind down time. We're firmly Team Coco, so we always go to sleep watching him. Lately, once his guests come on, I've been grabbing a book and barely listened to his show. I tend to stay up too late reading, which explains the 30 minute delay between my first alarm and getting out of bed almost every morning.

And that's a typical day in my life...