Thursday, January 30, 2014

January Wrap-Up

It's the end of January and we are 1/12 through 2014! What a January it has been… Lots of crazy weather here in Southern Louisiana, including THREE snow days! Crazy! I'm so looking forward to spring and the warmth that it brings (even if I will miss these lazy days with my kittens!). 

January in One Word: Winter!

My Favorite Memories in January 2014:
  • New Year's Eve. It counts as January, right?
  • EY Pre-Busy Season Party… Fancy dresses, live band, and open bar make for a good time
  • Painting at Pinot's Palette. I think I did a pretty good job. Probably because I had a super awesome teacher, right Abby?
  • Trekking back and forth to New Iberia over and over and over to see my favorite boy
  • Making friends in gym classes
  • Book club at Pour and that yummy drink with wonderful conversation
  • Cymi Lynn's 2nd birthday party
  • Many lazy snow days with the kittens!
Books I Read this Month:
Ok, so I didn't have a lot of success at the beginning of the month with starting and finishing novels.... But these are some that I actually completed:
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Review)
  • The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
  • The Kite Runner by Kahled Hosseini (sorta) (Review)
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (Review)
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (again...)
Favorite Posts from the Month:
  • "I do." - This article is written by a woman about her husband. It's beautiful and sensitive and a response to the article of "23 Reasons to Not Get Married at 23". (Which I won't bother linking.)
  •  "What I Be" Project - This was posted on Bored Panda and is a beautiful and touching display of Steve Rosenfield's photo collection in which people are photographed with their greatest insecurities written on them.
  • Barnes and Noble published a blog post where Laurie Halse Anderson (author of The Impossible Knife of Memory) talks about her creative writing process and the fact that her husband built her a writing cottage. I now want a writing cottage.
Songs that were Popular on my iPod: 
This winter weather has me listening to some very chill music!

New Obsessions:
  • My planner by May Designs. It's super cute, compact, and actually keeps me on task... which isn't easy, especially since I have never actually succeeded with using a planner, ever.
  • Zumba, Bosu Balls, and exercising that's actually fun! Even if I have been snowed in all week, I'm looking forward to the Rec Center opening back up at school so I can get my groove on.
  • Carrots. I've eaten approximately 6 pounds of carrots this month. 
3 Things I'm Sad to See Go with January:
  • Jeromy's New Iberia client. I've become spoiled to having him close to me for the month of January!
  • Snow days! At least, I'm hoping we don't miss days and days of school in February, or I'll become one very (well-read) lazy individual.
  • Lazy work days... I know school is about to get hectic, and I'm not looking forward to spending all of my free time doing school work.
3 Things I'm Looking Forward to in February:
  • Valentine's Day!
  • The arrival of Baby Friday Broussard and finally finding out if I'll be buying dresses or jumpers for my new little niece/nephew!
  • My haircut next Friday... February is going to be a slow month, folks.
Favorite Quote from a Book I Read this Month:

“I swallowed the fear. It’s always there– fear– and if you don’t stay on top of it, you’ll drown. I swallowed again and stood tall, shoulders broad, arms loose. I was balanced, ready to move. My body said, “Yeah, you’re bigger and stronger, but if you touch this, I will hurt you.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, The Impossible Knife of Memory

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Year's Resolution Update -- Persue a Healthy Lifestyle

It's January 28th... How are you doing on your New Year's Resolutions? Oh? Those things? Yea.

I've found that with my verb choice for my New Year's resolution, it's been pretty easy to keep up with it. I don't feel pressure to EXERCISE or EAT RIGHT or DON'T SPEND MONEY. It's more about pursuing the lifestyle I want to have, both now and in the future.

One of my top priorities is Pursuing a Better Lifestyle. What does that include? Eating right (or at least limiting my pizza intake to once a week…) and exercising. Let's break this down.

Eating right has ALWAYS bee a challenge for me. Ever since I was a little girl, I was a picky eater. As in, my parents bought placemats that said EAT on them. I would sit at the table for hours, dividing up my food and making compromises with myself about how to make myself eat that stew or spaghetti. (Ironically, 2 of the dishes I cook the most now.) I never ate vegetables, and my 3 major food groups were fast food, chocolate, and cheese. And then there is that Coca-Cola addiction…

I've worked hard over the past few years to cook more and eat less fast food. Thankfully, it hasn't been hard to stay away from McDonald's; I just have to think about how terrible I feel after I eat it. This month, though, I tried to go a step further and control my snacking. I have a quick metabolism, which means that I'm pretty much always hungry. This month, instead of going for the chocolate or Oreos, I've tried to monitor my intake. I've been eating carrots and peanut butter, apples and peanut butter, peanut butter sandwiches (ok, so peanut butter is another major food group of mine…), popcorn with sea salt, and pita chips with cheese. This all may sound indulgent, but really, it's many steps in the right direction from where I'm coming from.

I've also been eating 5 times a day, because they tell you to do that for your metabolism, plus I'm just that hungry all of the time.

Exercising is the second facet in this New Year's resolution. Throughout my childhood, I was a dancer. Hardcore. Some years, it was four to five days a week. Hello, exercise that's FUN.

Adult exercising is not nearly as fun... Aerobics? Strength and tone? Weights? No fun in that. Mostly, any exercise that makes me think about the fact that I'm exercising is not fun for me.

So, I've had to figure out what DOES work for me.

*Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor, a professional trainer, or any type of exercise guru. This is what works for ME, which may not be the same thing as what works for you!*

I am lucky enough to go to a school that offers REALLY AWESOME free classes through the Rec Center. I've found that making my schedule a week ahead of time keeps me going. (Not more than one week in advance though. Can't put too much pressure on myself…) This is what my planner looks like for this week… (I loooove my May Designs planner!)

Once I actually get to the classes, my struggle is making the most of my workout. The biggest fact I've learned this month is that exercising is a mind game. It's not physical at all! It's purely about convincing my mind that I can do this. I can overcome and push past my "limits". When I give in to my mind, I'm not sore the next day, nor am I satisfied with my workout. It's only when I push further than my mind thinks I can go that I feel results.

Also, working out is NOT PRETTY. Sweaty. Red face. Those yoga pants? Yea, they are cute, but they also help me kick BOSU ball butt. That's why I get to the front of the class for every class I take. If I'm in the back and looking at everyone else in the class, I can only think about what I look like, how dumb I look, and if I'm half as sweaty as these girls. If I'm in the front, I can't see anyone but the instructor, and I can stay focused on what I'm supposed to be doing.

All in all, I'm pretty proud of my progress and how well I've stuck to my New Year's Resolution. I've put together a Pinterest board to keep track of some great motivational quotes, healthy eating tips, and exercise ideas for you all to enjoy. You won't find those "30 Seconds to a Big Booty" pins on this board! (Because, let's get real, how often are we going to do those exercises on our own? Or maybe it's just me?) Check it out, follow the board, and Pursue a Healthy Lifestyle!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

“There are moments when you can't believe something wonderful is happening. And there are moments when your entire consciousness is filled with knowing absolutely that something wonderful is happening.” 
― Rainbow RowellAttachments

Book Title: Attachments
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: 2011
Genres: Adult Fiction, Chick Lit, Humor
How I Found It: Mentioned on The Perpetual Page-Turner
Goodreads Rating: 3.97 Stars 
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Thursday, January 23, 2014

That Time I Quit A Book

Let me preface this post by saying that I do not protest book quitting. There are billions of books out there; if you aren't getting into a book for whatever reason, be it the writing style or super lame characters or a sucky plot, then by no means should you push forward just because you started it. Put that book down and pick up another one that will transport you in a way that all book lovers love to be transported.

No, this post is about something different. I've quit books. I've quit books that most people like without looking back (I really, really hated Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Sorry, not sorry.). But this book is different.

I have somehow managed to make it to the age of 24 and 9 months without reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. How? I'm not sure. It has a Goodreads Rating of 4.20 and is recommended by every person I talk to. But I quit it.

This book is written beautifully. The writing style of Hosseini drew me in from the first page, and his descriptions of the Middle East provide an insight into a culture I know nothing about. He made Kabul sound beautiful and exotic and thrilling. It was not the writing style that threw me off.

The story follows two young boys who were raised together from birth, just like their fathers were raised together. However, one is of the Pashtun culture, while the other is the Hazara minority. While these boys were raised as brothers, one of them was a servant in the other's household.

Last night, I realized I couldn't read any more of this novel. It is so dark. I refuse to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet (although I feel like I might be the last person on Earth who hasn't read the whole series...) I will say that it is haunting and beautifully written, but I couldn't stomach the plot, and that is why I quit this book. It hit me in a way that most books don't hit me, and maybe, for that reason, I consider it a wonderful novel, even if I could only read 60 pages.

Would I recommend it to anyone? I'm not sure.
Will I ever pick it up again? Probably not.
Does it deserve the praise it has gotten? Absolutely.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Club -- January 2014

Last night, we held our book club meeting for January. One year ago, we were discussing our first book ever, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, at Barnes and Noble. Last night, we met at Pour, the local wine bar, to discuss our twelfth pick. (You can see a list of books we read in 2013 at the bottom of this post.)

Instead of choosing one particular book, however, we chose a genre to focus on, historical fiction. I LOVE historical fiction! It was Megan's turn to choose the books for us, and she gave us three options:

     Loving Frank  by Nancy Horan
     The Other Boleyn Girl by Phlippa Gregory
     Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sherratt

Sadly, due to the craziness of the holidays, I was only able to read one of the three books. Of course, The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory is one of my favorite books ever, especially when it comes to historical fiction, and I never pass up an opportunity to read it. The intrigue! The scandal! The suspense! The fact that it's based on facts! I love King Henry VIII and all of his philandering ways, and Philippa Gregory does a wonderful job of really putting the reader in the time period through the eyes of someone who has great emotion and character.

Although most of us just read The Other Bolyen Girl, Megan talked about Loving Frank, which is  based on a true story of an architect and his wife, and it has a crazy ending, so it's definitely on my To Be Read list.

I got to choose the book for next month, but I'll talk more about that in a later post. :)

PS. I just added a link of books that I'm looking forward to reading at the top of my page, so check it out if you are looking for new books to read, and let me know what you read and how you liked it!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Having a friend made everything else suck less.” 
 ― Laurie Halse Anderson, The Impossible Knife of Memory

Book Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author:Laurie Halse Anderson
Publication Date: 2014
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction, PTSD
How I Found It: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Everyone!
Goodreads Rating: 4.25 Stars 
My Rating: 5 Stars

The Characters:
Hayley Kincaid - Eighteen year old high school senior
Andy Kincaid - Father of Hayley and war veteran suffering from PTSD
Finn - Hayley's boyfriend
From the Publisher: 
For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.
My Thoughts:
Let me start by saying that while I'm a HUGE fan of Laurie Halse Anderson, her books are tough. Rape, depression, bullemia, cutting... She is not scared to go there because she sees her body of writing as a way to help teens connect and, hopefully, help them with the problems they are facing. So, of course, when I saw on Twitter that Anderson was coming out with a new novel, I had to have it. Last night, I found it at the library in a sheer twist of fate, since it was released just last week.

When I got home, I started reading it. And reading it. And reading it. Next thing I know, I'm finished the book and it's past my bedtime. Woah. I can't remember the last time I sat down a read a book cover to cover. This book grabbed me.

The main character is entrancing. It is told from first person point of view, so you can really get into Hayley's head. I felt like her big sister while I was reading it. I would want to shake my finger at her every time she started a fight with Finn or skipped class. I wanted to hold her and comfort her when she got in a fight with her dad. Watching her struggle and grow throughout the book is the definition of a coming of age story. You see her process, grow, withdraw, gain insight. I cannot say it enough. This character is developed.
Of course, PTSD is something that is almost taboo in our society, like many mental illnesses are. The people who deal with it day to day are prescribed medicine, but most of them aren't given the treatment they need to overcome their trauma. While I know people who have dealt with (and are still dealing with) PTSD, I feel like I will never be able to comprehend their struggles because it's something so far out of my element. This novel did a great job of shedding light on this common, and often mistreated, mental illness. Anderson grew up with a father who suffered from PTSD, so this book is a way of talking about her past, as well as spreading the word about the horrors our soldiers suffer with on a daily basis.
I wouldn't say this was a novel about PTSD. This was a novel about a child having to raise a parent, about a girl realizing the strength within herself, about a father coming to terms with his past, and about the hope for a better future.

Read this book.
The Pros:
Developed Characters
Nuanced Plot
Realistic Issues
Controversial Topics
The Cons:
Underdeveloped Secondary Characters
Favorite Quotes:

 "Everyone is born a freak," notes Hayley. "Every newborn baby, wet and hungry and screaming, is a fresh-hatched freak who wants to have a good time and make the world a better place. . . . Most teenagers wind up in high school. And high school is where the zombification process becomes deadly."

"I turned the page in Slaughterhouse Five, a forbidden book at Belmont because we were too young to read about soldiers swearing and bombs dropping and bodies blowing up and war sucking."

"I swallowed the fear. It’s always there– fear– and if you don’t stay on top of it, you’ll drown. I swallowed again and stood tall, shoulders broad, arms loose. I was balanced, ready to move. My body said, “Yeah, you’re bigger and stronger, but if you touch this, I will hurt you."

“The smoke shifted direction and I breathed in. Breathed out. On the inhale I was angry. On the exhale…there it was again. Fear. The fear made me angry and the anger made me afraid and I wasn’t sure who he was anymore. Or who I was.”

 “I hadn’t planned on telling him the truth. It had become easier to lie about most things because it didn’t hurt as much when he ignored me. In my defense, I hadn’t planned on finding him clear-eyed and sober, either. It was hard to know how to play the game when the rules kept changing.”

"Leaning against my father, the sadness finally broke open inside me, hollowing out my heart and leaving me bleeding. My feet felt rooted in the dirt. There were more than two bodies buried here. Pieces of me that I didn’t even know were under the ground. Pieces of dad, too."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Whew! Hello!

What a whirlwind of a few weeks it has been! As a child, Christmas was always my favorite time of year. I mean, whose isn't? The presents, the food, the pretty outfits, the presents…. I love the festivities and the excitement, plus the free time to run around with my cousins while my parents were otherwise occupied with the cooking and visiting.

As I've gotten older, the Christmas season has gotten more and more hectic. It seems like I have less free time, more expectations, and more responsibilities. Add in significant other's families, and I've had more running the roads and less time to actually appreciate the time I have with family and friends.

Not. Cool.

As part of my New Year's Resolution, I've trying to refocus my energies and make times like these more memorable. It can be so hard to stay in the moment when your schedule is full, but what's the point of having a full schedule if you aren't enjoying every moment of it?

My goals? Put my phone down. Have quality conversations with the people I love. Start saying no to things that I actually don't want to do or don't have time to commit fully to. Sounds simple, but it is NOT. I'm the type of person who likes to have every minute of my day planned out, and it's very, very hard for me to say no. However, I've noticed that because I stretch myself so thin, I don't have time to actually enjoy the time I'm spending doing things I enjoy because I'm constantly worried about what I need to do next.

So, I'm PURSUING a more rich and more fulfilled life, and that starts with doing things to better myself and my relationships with my friends and family. Friend dates and family visits top my list of things to do before school and work starts back up next week.

[Image by Ant1_G via photopin cc]

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: Pursue Greatness

Happy New Year, y'all!

As I've mentioned before, I'm a starter. I love to start new projects. I get a thrill out of planning (and shopping for) new projects. However, I'm not always so good at following through with those projects. December was a book phase, where I started 5 (FIVE!!!) new books that I did not finish. (I know, shameful!) There was also the running phase, the scrapbooking phase, and the to-do list phase (that was a manic one, for sure..).

Obviously, I'm also not very good at keeping resolutions for the new year.

In fact, I had gotten to the point that I had given up making New Years resolutions and just focused on winging it. But I love new beginnings, and, this year especially, I'm hoping to work on myself and get myself ready to enter the workforce full time when I graduate in December. Yikes.

I have been thinking about my resolutions intensely for the past few weeks, but I couldn't come up with a way to set it up that satisfied my OCD/love of categorizing things. Then I stumbled across this article on A Practical Wedding, where Rachel Wilkerson describe that she has a simple method for making resolutions and sticking to them. She assigns a verb to the year.

It makes sense that I would love this idea so much. VERBS! I love verbs.

So I decided that my verb of 2014 would be PERSUE.

Persuing a healthier lifestyle.

Pursuing a meaningful career.

Pursuing healthy friendships.

Pursuing better money habits.

Pursue is a great verb, because it doesn't allow me to ever stop. There's no goal to reach. There's no finish line that says I can stop being healthy, making friends, going after my dreams. I hope to be continuously working on this resolution throughout the whole year, not because I don't think I'll accomplish these things, but because I want to constantly push myself to be a better person.

2014 is here, and I finally feel ready to face the new year head on!

EDIT: I wrote this post a few days ago, in anticipation of the busy New Years Eve and New Years Day I had on the books. Yesterday, I stumbled across this website via Twitter. It's a whole community dedicated to this one word idea. (I still think verbs are the best.) Check it out! Sign up! See other people who are PURSUING the same goals you are! (wink wink) And let me know what word you are picking!