This week in…

blogging.

I made two manageable goals at the beginning of the year: record a quote from every book I read and post at least once a week. So far I’ve kept that up! I’ve been posting very general thoughts about books, random things that occur to me when I am reading or when I begin writing the post. I’ve been calling these posts “Quotes & Notes” and so far, I’ve published ones on Things I’ve Learned from Dying by David R. DowThe Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin, and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Next week, you can look forward to reading about Tandem by Ann Jarzab, On Such A Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee and probably Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

reading. 

I’ve decided on a very basic reading schedule for 2014 based on what has worked well in January:

  • one book in translation
  • one book from work that is publishing in Fall 2014. I want to read the whole Fall fiction list, something I haven’t done in the almost 2.5 years I’ve been at this job.
  • one 2014 release (not from work)
  • at least one comic a week
  • the rest from my TBR in 2014 list

I feel like the reason I always fail at reading my TBR is because of all the new shiny books out there! This gives me two books that I’m allowed to buy a month, plus a third new book from work. All the excitement from Comics February has made me remember the days when I used to read one comic a week. It might not happen every week, but it’s good to have the goal. At my standard reading pace, this help me get pretty darn close to finishing off my 2014 list, while still not feeling bored by having my reading planned out for the year. ALSO I’m perfectly happy DNFing a book from my TBR list. I’ve already sent one out the door that I just couldn’t stand.

I’m not expecting every week to be perfect, but it helps to know what I want my 2014 reading year to look like (which I already talked about here and here) and actually applying that to a month’s worth of reading!

crafting.

I’m working on a “scrap” blanket, in an effort to use up ALL THE YARN. For a while, I was just buying any pretty yarn I saw, and then never finished any projects with it. Fortunately, all the colors I own compliment each other pretty well, because it’s coming together nicely.

scrap blanket

As for what I’ll do when this is finished and I have no yarn… I have been thinking of trying out one of two new hobbies: bookbinding and hand quilting. I’ve been following Trish’s progress on her hex quilt and I really want to make my own! I even picked out the fabric I would use. I am also obsessed with this bookbinding tumblr and I watched a ton of bookbinding howtos from Sea Lemon this morning. Both of these hobbies are going to take a little investment, so I have to decide! I have dabbled in bookbinding and sewing in the past, but not seriously. I’m looking forward to learning something new!

loving.

  • Andi’s post “15 Topics for your Blogging Blues” – I shall keep this post in my pocket for all the rainy blogging days.
  • Sasha’s post “Into Whatever Crazy Beauty Awaits” – The last paragraph of this gives me  chills. It’s so so beautiful and such a wonderful way to anticipate the new year. I’m trying to hold onto all the New Year enthusiasm as long as I can. When is it no longer acceptable to say Happy New Year?
  • Jason’s post “Comfort Food” – “I love [pb&j]. Like, the actual emotion. Like, I have an intense, fraught, passionate relationship with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.” Yup.
  • Linda Holmes’s post “Chris Christie and Pulling the Red Handle” via Clare @ The Literary Omnivore – Amen is all I really have to say about that.

looking ahead.

This week, I’ll be reading If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino (my monthly translation!), Someone by Alice McDermott (book club read), and The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. Plus anxiously anticipating Comics February!!!

What did you do this past week? What are you looking forward to next week?

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This week in…

blogging.

I took the week off from blogging, though not from reading posts. For the past 6 months, I’ve completely gotten rid of Google Reader, because I thought it would cut down on my stress. This is true, it did cut down on my stress, but then I missed a lot of really great things on all of your blogs. So this past week I decided the only thing to do was to completely delete every subscription I had in GR and add in the blogs I wanted to read daily. Now, the only thing in my GR are blogs that I want to see every time they post. I used to have a complicated tag system, but now it is simply Book Blogs, Craft Blogs and Food Blogs. The only casualty? I had a linguistics blog that I was reading and I can’t remember what it is called! I will keep looking for it though.

This week is the last week to post for the Poetry Project in September. Remember, this month’s theme is “classic” poetry, but feel free to read whatever you like and post, as long as it is about poetry!

reading.

I spent the week reading my book for the A More Diverse Universe Blog Tour hosted by Aarti at Book Lust. I read The Shadowed Sun by NK Jemisin, and I loved it. I read these books on the recommendation of Thea, one of the Book Smugglers, and absolutely adored them. I think I liked The Shadowed Sun more than The Killing Moon, the first book in the series, but it might have just been because I was much more familiar with the world this time around. I’ll tell you more about these books on my tour date, Wednesday the 26th, but they are a fantasy novel based loosely on Egyptian/North African cultures.

Now I’m reading Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer and I’m really enjoying it.  Up next: Ask the Passengers by AS King.

crafting.

I continued to work on my sister’s shawl and after ripping it out last week, I have to say, it looks so much better. I’m so glad I caught my mistake before I had done more. Moral of the story: read through the whole pattern before you start.

I have been thinking a lot about my yarn stash and how I want to use it up, and I’ve been thinking about trying to work on a few projects that will completely use up my yarn through the year. I’d like to create something new every month, with a goal of finishing 12 projects throughout the year. I like to crochet, but I often stop in the middle of a project. I have so many things that are half finished around my apartment. I’d really like to sit down and finish them. Are there any other crocheters or knitters or crafters out there who would be interested in making this a challenge?

Have a lovely week!

Pin It and Do It Update!

So, we are well into the Pin It and Do It Challenge and I have pinned and done so many things! Some things have pictures, many do not. You will have to live with my words.

Totoro!

Original Pin: 

Source: heavens-hellcat.livejournal.com via Lu@RegularRuminationPinterest

I’ve been working on Totoro off and on since February, but I didn’t get farther than about half the body. Check out my progress so far:

I was trying to hide it and have it be a surprise for Michael, but eventually it was too difficult to disguise the fact that the thing I was crocheting turned into a Totoro sized ball. He’s really excited about it! Which is good, because that was the goal. I changed the ear pattern a little bit to make the ears more shapely. (And, in my opinion, more Totoro-like.) The difference is small, but it’s there. It was also a pain, because I didn’t write down what I did for the first ear and then had to wing it for the second. I took it out several times to get it to match, but basically I reduced the stitches sooner than the original pattern called for and once it was the size I wanted, I extended the skinny part of the ear for more rows. His little chest arrows have been annoying. I can’t seem to get them centered properly! Maybe third times the charm? Totoro is stuffed with old t-shirts, that I was originally going to fashion into a rag rug, but this is as good a use for them as any. Also, looking at the two images side-by-side, I’m not sure why my Totoro seems to be so much skinnier. Hm. Might have to stuff another t-shirt in there.

Refrigerator Oatmeal!

Original pin: 

Source: theyummylife.com via Lu@RegularRumination on Pinterest

I didn’t take pictures of my refrigerator oatmeal because it wasn’t very cute. I made these recipes almost exactly, except I never got around to buying chia seeds. I started with the blueberry maple and it was DELICIOUS. So good. I definitely recommend making sure you’ve stirred it up though, because the distribution of my ingredients wasn’t great. Then I went on to make the vanilla/raspberry recipe. Except my raspberries were moldy. And I had just bought them too! I was so disappointed, so I added some blueberries. I’ll admit, the flavor wasn’t great and I needed something with a little sweetness in there. I used plain greek yogurt, like the recipe called for, but I imagine for the flavors where you don’t add maple syrup or chocolate or peanut butter, or a very sweet fruit like a banana, the vanilla or honey flavored greek yogurt would be a good touch. Or just a tiny dollop of honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup. I will definitely be making this again. I’m excited to experiment with other flavors. I want to try a peanut butter/chocolate one.

Scarf!

 

 

This is one of those things that is so simple, but I never would have thought of it! I love Pinterest for this type of thing. The weather here has been really strange and chilly and rainy, so I never know what to wear. When Meg came into the city, it was a beautiful day, but I thought it might be a little cold, so I decided to wear a scarf. I tied it like this and I thought it was pretty cute! It probably works better on a longer scarf/pashmina than the one I used, but I was still glad to knock off something else from my list!

That’s it for now! Hopefully I’ll have even more pinned and done next weekend. Are you participating in the Pin It Do It Challenge? What have you completed?

Trish’s Pin It and Do It Challenge

So! Pinterest! I have found that I am a very visual person. Realizing this was kind of a shock to me because I always think of myself as a words-girl. That’s true, too, but seeing a picture of something helps me remember it. Anyway, I like the structure of Pinterest, even though there are some things on there that frustrate me. (Can we talk about when people don’t link to their pins correctly? Drives me NUTS. I often go through and repin them with the appropriate link if I can find it. Which wastes a lot of time. Which is why I limit my pinning. And my Wikipediaing of books I’ve read. But I digress.)

Anyway, long rambly introduction aside, Trish (and posts from Heather and Debbie) convinced me that I should just jump on this here bandwagon and run with it. Yes, I just mixed my metaphors. Deal with it. I am joining Trish’s Pin It and Do It Challenge! Woo! Basically, we have to sign up to actually do the things we pin. I suppose I should ask: does purchasing things count? Because I have actually bought two of the things I’ve pinned. I’m really skilled at shopping.

I’m joining at the “Pinterested” level, which is 4-7 pins. I think I can manage that! Right? Right. Here are a few pins I’m already pretty excited to try out:

 

(Cheating, I totally already started this one. But I need to finish it!)

 

 

I really want to crochet a bag and this tutorial will come in handy. Matter o’ fact so will this pattern:

Source: m.michaels.com via Lu@RegularRumination on Pinterest

I have a board of prints that I’d like to purchase and frame for the apartment, so that is on the list as well. Plus, there’s always that good standby: food!

 

 

Er, or drinks! Doesn’t that look delicious?

 

 

This recipe has been on my radar for a while. I buy breakfast a lot, because I leave home too early to eat. One of the breakfast places near my office has goats milk yogurt with chia seeds (I know.) and it’s actually really delicious. This recipe sounds super easy and delicious and perfect for grabbing out of the fridge and eating once I get to work.

Now that I’ve gone through and decided some things I might make, I’m getting more and more excited. I hope you’ll think about joining in if you haven’t already! Thanks, Trish, for coming up with such a fun challenge.

Looking back at 2010

One great thing about having a blog is that I can go back and look at my resolution post for New Years and see how I did.  So how did my 2010 compare to the great visions I had for it 12 months ago?  Let’s find out.  (I realize that this might be one of those posts that’s only interesting or useful for me.  I won’t be offended if you skip over it!)

I had 10 goals in 2010 (I’m so clever.):

1) Healthier equals happier. Yeah, I think I accomplished this.  Back in January 2010 I was the heaviest I’ve ever been in my whole life and even though I haven’t lost all that much weight, I’m slowly (oh so slowly) making this part of my life better.

2) Spending does not always equal happier. I need to do better with this one!  Since Spain I’ve been trying to build back up some savings.

3) Stress-free equals happier. I did pretty well managing my stress at the beginning of the year and over the summer, but this holiday season has been particularly stressful for whatever reason.  I try to remind myself every day not to let the little things stress me out, but I could be doing better (not that that needs to add another stress on my life).

4) Read more classics!  Read 15 classics published before 1970.  FAIL.  I read 3.

5) Use challenges as a way to focus reading, to read more books by women, by people of color, by authors from different countries. Well, even though I gave up all my challenges, I still did an excellent job.  Of all my reading, I had almost a 50/50 split between men and women and over 50% of my books were written by a POC author or featured a prominent POC character.  I do want to read more books in translation and from different countries in 2011.

6) Find more of a balance between the genres of fiction, non-fiction, recently published and older novels, YA and middle grade. This sort of happened organically.  I read a lot more non-fiction and a lot less YA this year, two things I wanted to accomplish.  (Not because I don’t love YA, but just because I wanted my reading to be more balanced.)  I also read more recently published novels.

7) Read more poetry & 8) Read more short stories. Both of these were failures.  I did read some poetry, but not enough in my book and I read barely any short stories.

9) Find more time in my life for things like crocheting and cooking healthy meals. Win!  I actually read a lot less books this year than last year and I’m totally okay with that, because I’ve been crocheting and cooking a lot.  I’m also on my way to finishing my first knitted scarf.

10) Write more. I’m going to do this.  Really, I am.  I didn’t in 2010, but… I will in 2011!

So…um… 4.5/10.  But this isn’t a numbers game – overall, 2010 was a great year and I’m so pleased with the goals I did accomplish.  Besides, I can’t be perfect. I have to have  some goals for 2011, right?

Enjoy your New Years Eve, kids.  Check back in 2011 for my new New Years Resolutions!

This week in review.

Reviews posted, fabulous links & more!

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This week I posted about two books I really loved: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi and A Year By The Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson.  They are very different from each other, but both came at just the right time.  Ship Breaker is suspenseful and well-crafted, while A Year By the Sea is certainly imperfect, but a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one woman.

Next week, you can look forward to reviews of On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan and Born Round by Frank Bruni.  I loved both of them.  In fact, I’m loving all these positive reviews I’ve been writing lately!  Let’s keep it up with the good books!

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Photo credit: Flickr user psychbird

At the Bridges is my personal blog and this week I posted about what it is like to finally reach a fitness goal.  For me, this one was kind of abstract, but people always talk about what it is like to be “above” the exercise, to not be constantly thinking about how painful it is to run or how difficult it is to breathe.  I finally reached that goal and you can read about it here.  

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I’ve found some really interesting blogs and posts this week:

One of my old friends has a fitness blog where she talks about her road to getting healthy.  It’s called An Epic Change and she’s so inspirational!  I highly recommend checking her blog out.

In addition to An Epic Change, I somehow found the blog Living! with ZenLizzie.  I love the look and feel of this blog and to top it all off, Lizzie seems really inspirational and fun.

Also, have you checked out this fabulous blog?  Called Reading and Reviewing- Books reviews by Karen Elizabeth, it was originally brought to my attention by Eva.   I absolutely love the idea and think the blog itself is just gorgeous.

Guys!  LOOK AT THIS GORGEOUS BLANKET!  I want to make one so bad and I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of all my yarn when I moved.  (Yarn is the most difficult thing to store ever.  Especially when your room is the size of a closet.  A very large closet, but a closet nonetheless.)  I might have to invest….  Oh Alea, why do you do this to me with your darling crafts?!

I’m not vegan or vegetarian, nor would I probably ever want to be, (stop glaring at me Eating Animals), but this chili looks so delicious it might convert me.

Have a good Saturday!