Thursday, December 29, 2016

Highlights of 2016

I love doing my yearly recaps because I like to look back on the memories (especially pre-blog days), but since I do my monthly ones, it's kind of pointless and repetitive.

So I thought I'd do a kind of highlights, if you will. Because I still like looking back on memories!

January

My mother in law turned 50 and we threw her a surprise party. It was awesome because we don't usually get to see that side of the family in the winter, and my mother in law had a great time.


Other things in January: finally got my new green card, which was a long time coming. KC and I started doing this every other Sunday thing where we made each other dinner, but that fizzled out in like February or March, I think. It was fun while it lasted!

February

I turned 29! Birthdays will always be highlights, right?


Other things in February:  the best part about birthdays is that everyone makes time for you, so I got to see a lot of friends and family and get lots of presents. Also, cake.

March

St Paddys is always a good time, KC and I got back together around then in 2012 so we always try and do something together.


Other things in March: we got a new TV! That was pretty exciting.

April

Thunder over Louisville! This was awesome because KC and I rarely get out and do Louisville-y things, so I'm glad we did, and it was a super fun day.


Other things in April: ran a half marathon and it wasn't my best, but it was my mental best and it's always a good race. I'm already signed up for 2017.

May

Kenny Chesney! Seriously was like the highlight of my year.


Other things in May: Oaks, Mother's Day and my first s'more.

June

Cruise!


Other things in June: car accident - boo.

July

Not much happened in July, but we did go to a Luau birthday party which was a good time.


Other things in July: Chelsea scared the living daylights out of me by playing dead a little too well, and it still scares me when I see her laying and she doesn't move immediately.

August

Birthdays! KC's & my friend's. Lots of outings.


Other things in August: Got my driver's licence/permit which allowed me to get my LIBRARY CARD.

September

Trip with my mum! Tons of fun. Still haven't recapped. Oops.


Other things in September:  I met the boy band of my childhood - Human Nature. It was also the longest KC and I had been away from each other since getting back together. It was weird! Also, I discovered Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, possibly a close second to the highlight of my year after Kenny Chesney.

October

We decided to sell our house about 2 years earlier than we originally planned. It was a hectic month with lots of painting and decluttering and stuff. We listed the house at the end of October I believe, and received an offer the first day.


Other things in October:  We bought a new bed (though we won't actually get it until we buy a new house). I ran another half marathon! We moved into my mother in law's basement - didn't want to have the cats at home while we were showing the house and stuff.

November

I ran another half marathon, this time in Richmond with Alyssa, Tracy & Lisa.


Other things in November: We handed over the keys at the end of November, though we didn't officially close until early December. Thanksgiving and stuff, obviously.

December

We officially closed on our house. KC and I aren't really pessimists exactly, but this whole process was ridiculously smooth, and we know so many people who have had issues selling, so we kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It didn't!


Other things in December: well Christmas, obviously. Lots of bad food. NYE this weekend!

I've always said that each year has been better than the last since I was like 21  - which is awesome, and 2016 is probably the first that makes me think... welllllll. It wasn't bad, it definitely wasn't bad, and I am not saying that every year has to be better than the last, but it was a nice little thing I had going on. 2016 was so much more than these highlights obviously. There were lots of (super crappy) things that didn't happen to me exactly, but still had an impact on my year. There was a lot of stress and crappy things, but compared to other stressful and crappy things they weren't that bad. I'm not trying to complain, because all in all, it was a pretty great year.

But here's to 2017!

What was the highlight of your year?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Best (and worst) books of 2016

Yay bonus book day! 

First, the stats:

8% audiobooks
51% ebooks
41% real books

I used to read a lot more e-books because it was the easiest way to get a book. I like audiobooks but they are just supplemental for me, when I can't be reading an actual book - like when I'm driving or running. My favourite way will always be a real book though, and I definitely read more of those once I got my library card.

9% were male authors, 91% were female.
I'm not surprised, I don't do it on purpose, it just so happens the books I reach for are written by women most of the time. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy books written by men - I am loving the Red Rising trilogy.

26% were from the library, 15% were arcs and the rest were either purchased or borrowed from someone.
Considering I only joined the library back in August I think that's pretty good! Maybe next year I will change it to say already owned or bought in 2017 so I can see how many books I buy vs already own/borrow.

3% were nonfiction.
Nonfiction is totally not my jam. My non fiction choices are almost always memoirs like You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) or As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, which are the kind of books that 'read' or feel like fiction, if that makes sense. They are also always audiobooks because non-fiction cannot hold my actually-sit-down-and-read-attention. 

As for other genres - so many can fit in different sections and I don't think I read a huge variety. Lots of YA, fantasy, romance and 'chick lit', with a sprinkle of mystery or thriller.

Star rating breakdown:

Clearly I am quite fond of that 4 star rating! I always feel bad giving 1 star, so not too many of those. I thought there would be more 3 stars.

No DNFs this year. I don't know why. Perhaps I just didn't even bother with books I knew I wouldn't like, or if I gave up/put aside really early I didn't record it because I might go back to it. It could also be because I suck at quitting books.

The first book I read: well, I think I started it in 2015 but the first book I finished in 2016 was Revolution which I very much did not like at all, no sir.

The last book I read: Well, we have a couple more days but as of right now it will be The Hypnotist's Love Story.


Longest book: Empire of Storms

Shortest book:
 Batter Up


The best books this year

Shades of Magic - I can't wait for the 3rd!
Soulless - I absolutely adored this book, the rest of the series was good as well, but the first hit it out of the park.
Take Me With You - I still think about this book and I read it in May.
A Hundred Summers - Loved this.
Swear On This Life - Such a good one, gobbled it up.
Beauty & the Clockwork Beast - this is definitely one that is not for everyone, but oh! My heart with this book. I wish I could erase it from my memory so I can read it again.
Maybe In Another Life and One True Loves - loved both of these. Girl can write.
Red Rising Trilogy - okay, technically not finished this trilogy yet, but I have a feeling I will love the 3rd as much as the first 2.

                 
                 

Runner up reads

Graceling & Fire - I loved both of these, Bitterblue less so.
The Wrath & the Dawn (and the second) - loved these, and don't quite know why.
The Butterfly Garden - I really don't read books like this often, and I couldn't put it down.
Small Great Things - Picoult always makes me feel all the feelings, but this time she made me really think.
Eligible - I recognise this isn't great literature, and it's not even a good P&P retelling but still. My heart loved it.
A Knight In Shining Armour - Not gonna lie, the ending made this book a runner up instead of one of the best. I understand it and it made sense, but it took away a little of the loving from my heart and I can't help that.
I Let You Go - another that's outside my normal kind of book and I couldn't put it down.
Penryn & the End of Days series - I don't know what it is about these books but I still think about them and got such enjoyment out of reading them. Definitely not for everyone, but absolutely for me.

         
         
       
Disappointing reads 
(they weren't bad, they were just disappointing for some reason or another)

Brooklyn, The A to Z of You and Me and When I Found You. I had high expectations for these for different reasons, and they all fell flat. I was most disappointed with When I Found You, because I loved Take Me With You.

 

Wish I hadn't read these

Exposure to a Billionaire and The Last Star.



Best books by month:

January: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
February: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
March: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
April: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
May: Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino
June: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
July: Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde
August: Beauty & the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen
September: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
October: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
November: Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas
December: Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

That's all folks. Linking up with Steph & Jana.

If I had to choose just one book to be my favourite of 2016.... I would probably say Beauty & the Clockwork Beast because I just loved it so much, and didn't expect to. Does that mean it was the best book ever, and everyone will love it? Absolutely not, far from it. But that's the fabulous thing about reading, something for everyone!

What was your favourite book in 2016?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Goals and stuff

Linking up with Steph & Sara to share the results of my Autumn goals and share the next lot of goals.

  • Declutter and get rid of stuff. I did so well on this I accidentally got rid of a house. But seriously, moving is a great way to get rid of stuff because you don't want to pack it. 
  • Track eating and lose weight. No. I need to learn once and for all, tracking my eating is never good for me. I just need to eat well without tracking every calorie or meal.
  • Focus on running and speed. Not so much with the speed, but I ran semi consistently up until Richmond. After, not so much.
  • Pay shit off, don't spend, save money. I am still going strong with not buying stuff for myself (clothes, shoes etc) but we spent a lot on the house and a few things here and there, plus Christmas gifts. We made a large payment on the car (high five) and I paid off another card.
Life According to Steph

So, I'd say I did pretty okay.

I know lots of people don't like new years resolutions, and I totally get that, but I love them. Sure, you can be cynical and say it just gives you an excuse to be a lazy sod until January 1st, or you could just say yay for clean slates, lets do this shit! Like I do.



I love making yearly goals. It's fun.

Here were 2016's:

  • Exercise consistently (3-4 times a week) and eat well (lots of fruit and veg). Check! Less on the eating well side, but still.
  • Try new recipes. Check-ish (first of the year great, second half bad).
  • Shop less. Save more. Check-ish again, working on that shopping addiction, focusing on saving.
  • Pay off debt. I have paid off a lot of my debt but I am still working on it. I shopped too much in the beginning of the year.
  • Fix the house up a bit. Nothing crazy, but paint some rooms and work on the list. Yep, and we sold it.
  • Successfully set up some sort of meal plan routine. Nope.
  • Give up soda. Also nope, but I decided I don't care. One vice. 

And for 2017...... I don't know. Even though I love making yearly goals, there's just no telling where you will be or who you will be a few months down the line, and goals and ideas change.

I have some things I want to work on this year - pay off my debt, turn 30, go to Australia & NZ, meal plan and get the grocery budget down, don't go crazy when my shopping challenge ends, break 2 hours in a half marathon... I want to work towards all those things but making goals at the beginning of the year and only halfheartedly looking back on them or trying to adapt them as my life or opinions change just wasn't working.

So, instead, I thought I would do quarterly goals. I think that works better for me vs seasonal goals (but I still might link up with you ladies if you continue to do the link up).

But first, here's a picture of Penny being Penny.



Moving on, first quarter of 2017:

  • Continue exercising 4-5 times a week. Run, weights, yoga. Focus on speed with running.
  • Get grocery budget down. Seriously, the amount we spend for just the two of us is ridiculous.
  • Meal plan. I know this goes hand in hand with the above. I always kind of half-assed meal planned and I wanted to get better, but now with our current living situation we are eating a lot of frozen pizzas (KC) and raisin bran (me) and it needs to stop.
  • No eating out for lunch. SERIOUSLY KRISTEN. This is SUCH a waste of money, it never tastes as good as something I can bring from home, and it is just a ridiculous waste of money. STOP IT.
  • Organise photos and plan photo books. I had my photos organised a few months ago but I decided I don't like the way I did it, and I didn't keep it up and they are all over the place and need to be done again. Also I really want some sort of year book or photo book collection and I need to start getting them organised so I can order them (sporadically throughout the year because $$).
  • Book NZ & Australia. I wanted to book the flights by the end of the year but we haven't yet. Other than that, hotels, tours, tickets etc. 
  • Go to the doctors or at least make appointments. Dentist, lady doctor, skin doctor, normal doctor and eye doctor.
  • Pay off debt. I have 2 cards left. I really wanted them gone before my birthday. I have been making this goal for like 2 years (or if we are being honest/technical, 10 years) but this is the first time I have actually focused on it, made a plan, stuck to the plan and gotten close to the end, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I have NO desire to get back into this mess - whereas when I was younger, the goal was to pay off so I could spend again. Not this time.
  • Find a house! Oh yeah, this is pretty important. We are currently living in my MILs basement and to be perfectly honest, I don't want to start looking until I've paid off my debt, booked Australia, finished paying the car off that we wanted to pay off, and have a little more in the bank... I know that all seems like a lot but it's not. Once we get the ball rolling on everything we should be good.
  • Turn 30. Yes I know this one is a silly goal especially since I don't really have any control as long as I keep.. you know.. living. But anyway. 30 is coming up and there you go. Let's do this shit.

I know that's a lot of goals in one post. So here's a picture of the fluff monster:


I wonder if I should be embarrassed that I call her the fluff monster. To be fair, she is a monster BUT SO FLUFFY.

Here's to 2017! Got any goals? Or better yet, meal planning tips?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Books Lately

My reading has been all over the place lately. Read a million things in one day! Read nothing for a couple weeks. You know, whatever.



The Boston Girl - Anita Diamant - 4 Stars

Listened to this on the drive to Richmond, so finished it in one go which is rare for me and audiobooks. I wish I hadn't put this one off for so long, I don't know why I did. It was such a lovely book, entertaining and sweet. Not especially plot driven or deep, but that is the nature of the way it is told. I highly enjoyed it and felt like I was sitting down with a grandma telling me the story of her life, which I imagine is how the author wanted you to feel.
A Knight in Shining Armor - Jude Deveraux - 4 Stars

Total 'guilty pleasure' or chick lit, or shelf candy, or rom com or whatthef*ckever, enjoyable, squeal inducing, 'listen to this line KC' and all that jazz. It was kind of predictable in certain ways (like I want the happy ending in all my books) but I had no idea what was going to happen whilst reading, which was great..... because I (highlight for spoiler) got really mad at the ending. But then I accepted and moved on.
If you like Kate & Leopold, I recommend!
A Kingdom of Dreams - Judith McNaught - 4 Stars

I enjoyed this very much. Definitely had flaws but I was totally into it and oblivious to the real world. If you like historical romance, I recommend it. It's a little bit of a hot mess, but I really liked it.
Notorious RBG - Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik - 4 Stars

Listened to this one on the drive back to Louisville, so again finished it in one go. I knew nothing about RBG except what I'd heard/read from Steph, Jana and other bloggers. It was definitely interesting and she sounds like an amazing person and one can only hope to be half as fierce as her. As for the actual way it was told, it was a bit dry in parts and jumped around a lot and really felt like non fiction, if that makes sense. But I still enjoyed learning about her.
Lilac Girls - Martha Hall Kelly - 4 Stars
I  received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've had this netgalley book since March. Oops. I always find it hard to review or talk about books like these, such a hard subject matter, always emotional and disturbing. This was not my favourite book like this, which of course sounds absolutely horrible considering what it is about. 
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day -Winifred Watson - 3 Stars

More like 3.5. I had no idea this book was written in 1938. I'm glad Heather told me it was a DNF for her, because it adjusted my expectations. It was quite hard to get into, written in a way I'd never encountered before, with lots of words used that had different meanings (slut, hussy, ejaculated and orgy to name a few) that made me giggle like a 13 year old. But anyway. Once I got into it, it was a super quick, light, easy read and quite enjoyable.
On Dublin Street - Samantha Young - 4 Stars

Pretty solid typical romance.  Slightly ridiculous in parts yadi yadi yada who cares. I liked it and it passed the time just fine and dandy.

Not My Father's Son - Alan Cumming - 4 Stars

I knew nothing about Alan Cumming, though I had heard what his book was about. To be honest, I thought it would make me much more emotional, and parts of the story about his dad did make me sad and cry because of the parallels to my own story, but in other parts I was SO bored. Other parts I was laughing like a looney. Overall I enjoyed it.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake - Amy E. Reichert - 4 Stars

Predictable, mushy and fluffy, but totally adorable and thoroughly enjoyable. Made me hungry.
Mine Till Midnight - Lisa Kleypas - 4 Stars

Exactly what I expected and passed the time just fine.
Hex Hall series - Rachel Hawkins - 4 Stars

This was a fun, interesting, light series. I thought the first 2 were better than the 3rd, personally. The whole series was better than I expected looking at the cover or synopsis, so that's always good.


Definitely Not Mr. Darcy - Karen Doornebos - 3 Stars

Eh. I didn't hate this book, but I felt like it had way more potential and it did not live up to it. It started off strong but fizzled out. I prefer Austenland and would recommend that over this.


TL;DR - I would recommend The Boston Girl, Notorious RBG and The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.

Linking up with Steph and Jana.

Life According to Steph




Read anything decent lately?