January Highlights

It’s hard to believe February is upon us. January didn’t necessarily fly by for me, but a lot of things happened in my life and I know February is going to be just as eventful.

So here’s what I was up to last month!

I read 12 books!

Lonely Postman IMG_0063 from-the-15th-district mac amostinconvenientmarriage
princess diaries princess in the spotlight earnest soulprint Legend
                                             mara dyer theevolutionofmaradyer

This was a huge surprise for me, because last month I was all upset that I couldn’t find enough time to read as often as I did before finding a full-time job.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Book Club Reads – I had so much fun chatting with other bloggers about these books! Tuesday’s posts always bring the best conversations :)

What I Watched

Gilmore Girls – Ok, HUGE surprise to everyone: my dad has gotten hooked on Gilmore Girls. My mom and I started watching the show back in September, but we’ve been taking our time. And this month we started watching it again and my dad watched one episode with us and was completely pulled in. So much so that he’s gotten upset when we watched episodes without him. I feel like I’m in some alternate universe where my dad, whose favorite shows are The Walking Dead and Forensic Files, suddenly enjoys Gilmore Girls. But hey, I’ll take it!

East & West Vlog – A new YouTube series based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. It’s just starting, but I really enjoy the actress who plays Margaret (also, she goes by Maggie!). I’m looking forward to seeing what the creators have in store for this one.

The Writing Majors – Another new YouTube series, but this one is really unique! It imagines Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson, and Oscar Wilde as grad school roommates. The actors are incredible and the episodes so far have been very enjoyable.

What I Listened To

This month I really dived into audiobooks! With my long commute, I’ve been trying to use the time for books, and it’s only taken me a couple of months to really get adjusted to listening to audiobooks. It’s amazing how weak my listening skills have become over the years. I have to really concentrate to actively listen, but I think it’s a good exercise :)

I also listened to Serial! For those who know me, when I discover something I love, I completely binge watch/read/listen. So, I listened to the first Serial podcast on my way to work last Friday, and I finished it just after midnight on Saturday. I HAD to know how it ended. The story-telling was so captivating that it’s hard to stop listening.

January Highlights

  • Watching Gilmore Girls with my family!
  • Starting to find my feet in my new job – things are finally starting to make sense!
  • Having deep conversations (or just really interesting conversations) with fellow bloggers! Meeting and conversing with other readers and bloggers is my favorite part about having a blog :)
  • Feeling more “adult” – This month we bought a car and paid off more bills, and I also just did a lot more “adult” things, like wine-tasting and making more independent decisions.

January Challenges

  • Although we moved back to the States at the end of August, we’re still transitioning. We’ve had to make big decisions about our future, and although I can’t reveal them yet, I am excited about them & about sharing them with the blogosphere in a month or two :) (and before anyone speculates, NO, it’s not about a baby).
  • Trying to multitask less. I read this blog post from I’d Rather Be Reading about singletasking, and it really helped me grasp how attached I am to multitasking. If I’m not doing two or more things at a time, I literally feel like I’m wasting time. So I’ve been actively trying to only do one thing at a time sometimes, for instance, while I’m eating. Lunch time at work is a great time for me to just take a step away from the computer or my phone or even from reading. It gives me a half hour of reflection time instead, and it’s also nice to detach from technology, too.
  • I almost forgot this one: we bought a new car!New Car

In February I’m Looking Forward To

  • Crossing off as many things from my 25 Things List as possible! I feel so behind, but some of those things I’ve known for a while I won’t be able to do (like visit England), and that’s ok. I made this list thinking we would still be in France and hopping on a train to the UK was easy to achieve. Instead I’m trying to enjoy the bucket list items I am able to cross off. Right now I’m crocheting myself a nice afghan :)

February To Be Read

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I’m still getting through My True Love Gave To Me for my book club (our next read is A Thousand Pieces of You which I’m stoked about!). I’ve also started the last book in the Mara Dyer series, but I’m sad for it to be over so I’ve been taking my time.

What were some of your highlights from January? Are there any books you’re looking forward to reading this month?

December Highlights

Happy New Year!! I know this post is a few days behind schedule, but I was taking advantage of some vacation time to relax and not worry about blog posts. Instead I was catching up on some reading :)

December was a pretty stressful month, actually, and I think a lot of that had to do with my reading goals for 2014. I’m a predictable procrastinator, and I pushed myself to read some bigger books near the end of the year because I didn’t feel like reading them months ago (I’m also a mood reader). BUT,  I was actually pretty satisfied with how I finished the year.

I read 9 books in December

That doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but 3 of those books were Classics, one of which was in French! 

themessenger julesverne NorthandSouth
MontanaChristmas MatchMadeInTexas FullSteamAhead
aseparatepiece ThisisWhatHappyLooksLike PaperTowns

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My post about my and my husband’s 3rd Wedding Anniversary received the most hits last month :)

Highlights from December

  • Christmastime!!! I love decorating the house for Christmas. Our tradition is to bake Christmas cookies and watch It’s A Wonderful Life after the tree has been set up and decorated.
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  • Visiting Mount Vernon for our 3rd Wedding Anniversary. We attended their special Christmas Illuminations event, and it was so much fun that we hope to go again this year!
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  • The Broke and the Bookish’s Annual Secret Santa Event. This was my second year participating in this event, and this year it was the best ever! I was so thrilled when I found out that I had received the event’s coordinator, Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner, as my secret santa! I think I had more fun picking gifts for her than opening my own gifts! But my secret santa, Alana, did a phenomenal job at gifting me the perfect books! And she also sent me a dinosaur magnet and a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows necklace! So awesome, right??
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December’s Challenges

  • For me, the hardest thing about December was how busy and stressed out I was. Since I started my new job back in November, I’ve realized how little time I can devote to reading now. My commute is 1 hour-1 hour 30 minutes each way, depending on traffic, and so when I get home at night it feels like I have enough time to eat dinner and watch an episode of Supernatural with my husband before I either crash from exhaustion or force myself to go to bed so I can get up for work again in the morning. I’m still shocked that I was able to read 9 books this month, two of which were solely audiobooks. A couple of the Classics I would listen to from YouTube during my commute and then pick up the paperback at home. I’m hoping that we’re able to relocate somewhere closer to my job in January or February, but until then I will just need to come to terms with the fact that my job trumps reading :(
  • Reading Journey to the Center of the Earth in French! To cross off one of my 25 Things, I finished reading Jules Verne’s epic adventure in French last month. I had read the first half back in July (each July to celebrate Bastille Day, I like to read a Verne book. This is my patriotic side coming out, something that Americans delight in having while the French kind of laugh at), but I hadn’t finished it and I wanted to read it by the end of 2014 for my Back to the Classics Challenge. It was hard, but I managed to finish the book in 4 days (I could only read about 50 pages a day before my head started hurting).

Looking forward – January TBR

JanuaryTBR

What I’m Looking Forward to in January…

  • My husband had a phone interview last week and he has another interview tomorrow where he will be given a software test (he’s an engineer so it’s some type of design software). We’d appreciate prayers! He’s been unemployed for over a year now and it has gotten really hard on him.
  • I’m really looking forward to working towards keeping my bookish New Year’s Resolutions! So far, so good. I’m stressing out less about reading, and I’m NOT checking out books from the library until I’ve finished the ones I’ve been renewing since November. I’ve also avoided buying any books in the 4 days since New Years Day (hey, for some people, that could be a record).
  • I bought some yarn today and plan to crochet an afghan this month! I haven’t crocheted anything in about a year, and this is also a bucket list item I’ve put on my 25 Things list :) So expect a post in a few weeks about that!

What were some of your highlights from December? Any big wishes for January that you’d like to share? I’d love to know!

November Highlights

Oh my gosh, it is December already!? Whaaaat!

October was a big month for me, but November was just as busy and eventful. This month brought some great, new changes to my life, and it was also a bit of an awakening for me as well. My blogging and reading time entered a bit of a lull, but if you keep reading on you’ll see that it’s been worth it :)

November Highlights!

This month I read 7  books! (Which might not seem like a lot, but it surprised me because I felt like I hadn’t read anything this month)

thebeautifulamerican thetroublewithflirting waroftheworlds thewonderofallthings
            robinhood weddingnight somethingstrange

I still need to get my review up for The War of the Worlds, and later this week I will be hosting a blog tour for The Beautiful American, which I am so excited to talk about!

What I Watched In November

Like I talked about last month, Matt and I have been binge watching Supernatural. We watch a couple of episodes most nights, and right now we are halfway through Season 5. The first two seasons were amazing! I am totally in love with Sam and Dean and I LOVE their relationship. I think the fact that they are brothers as opposed to best friends makes the show so much better. But seasons 3 and 4 were kinda disappointing. Season 5 is better, but honestly, every time Castiel pops up, I know the rest of the episode is going to go downhill (except for the Trickster one! Oh my gosh, that’s one of my favorite episodes so far).

I also started The Blacklist, and I think I’ll be binge watching the rest of Season 1 next month (I have SO MANY QUESTIONS!).

I saw The Maze Runner finally (and broke my cardinal rule by seeing the movie first), and loved it, but I also saw Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal and was creeped out. Good movie, but not the kind of thing I want to see twice.

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My most viewed post from November was my update on my 25 Things list! I’m slowly crossing off things from my list of 25 Things For My 25th Year, and I’ve done some pretty big and exciting things throughout the past couple of months!

Favorite Memories From November:

  • I GOT A JOB! Woooooo! I talked about this in my 25 Things Update post, but I’ve been employed for nearly 3 weeks now and I love it so far. My husband and I are very thankful for God’s provision.
  • YALL Fest!!! I could go on and on about this amazing experience, but I sort of already did that ;)
  • Thanksgiving! This was my first Thanksgiving in 3 years that I got to spend in the States, and since it is my favorite holiday, I was very excited about it! My grandfather came to visit us for the long weekend and it was really nice getting to spend some time with him. I spent Thursday morning watching the parade and cooking up all my favorite dishes from last year.
    thanksgiving

Biggest Challenge From November

NOT ENOUGH READING TIME! This is the one downside to working full-time: I don’t have as much time to read and blog. My commute to work is about 1 hour and 15 minutes, so I’ve been listening to audio books to make up for it, but not all of the books I want to read for reviews, for example, are available on audio book. Hopefully this month I can catch up on my TBR pile :)

December To Be Read:

I listed most of my TBR for next month on last week’s Top Ten Tuesday post, but I also plan on finishing the books on my Back to the Classics list, which includes North & South, The Journey to the Center of the Earth, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Things I’m Looking Forward To In December:

  • Matt and I celebrate our 3rd Anniversary later this month! Hopefully we can spend a 3 day weekend somewhere nice.
  • CHRISTMAS! But mostly Christmas decorating! I love Christmas, but I really love getting ready for Christmas. Usually we would have gotten our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, but we were busy visiting family, so we’re doing that one night this week instead and I AM EXCITED! Matt and I have a tradition of decorating the tree, making Christmas cookies, and watching It’s A Wonderful Life :)

What were some of your favorite moments/books from November??

25 Things Update!

25thyearEarlier this year I posted a list of 25 things I wanted to do in the year before my 26th birthday. I feel like I’m a little behind, and there are already a few entries on the list that I know I won’t be able to cross off this year, but that’s ok. The whole point of this list was to give me some fun goals for the year and I’m already very pleased with the fun things I’ve been able to do so far.

Over the past several months I have been able to cross off some things from my list that I never got around to posting about! I feel bad about that because I could have easily made individual posts for these things and shared with you more pictures. But sometimes a shorter update is better :)

Here are four things I crossed off earlier this year that I never got around to posting about!

#12 Swim in the Mediterranean

Before we left France we took a day trip down to St. Cyr, which is about an hour east of Marseille. The water was so clear and blue, I can totally see why so many people like to vacation in the south of France. The beach was really crowded, there were even people waiting for other people to get up so they could take their spots. The weather was beautiful and although we had to drive three hours there and back, it was such a lovely day. I would have really regretted living in France for two and a half years and never getting to see the Mediterranean.

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#14 Join a club

Several months ago my blogging friend Regina @ The Sunflower Pages mentioned that she wanted to start an online book club focusing on Young Adult books and I immediately jumped on board! I love reading books with other people, and the fact that it’s an online club was even better for me since I was living abroad at the time. Now that I’m back in the States it’s still nice chatting with people from all over the place.

bookclub

So far we’ve read Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson (LOVED IT), If I Stay by Gayle Forman (just in time for the movie),  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. Right now we’re reading Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard.

#20 Attend a masked ball or period-era ball or maybe just a really elaborately themed party

In June we had to say goodbye to our Grenoble community, and it was even more bittersweet than I thought it would be because they threw us a Disney costume party! It was so well done between the decorations, the food, the games, and of course the costumes :)

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Matt and I as Peter Pan and Wendy :)

Disney Party

Winnie the Pooh and Mickey & Minnie Mouse cakes!

Disney Party

My friend Laure (Minnie) who drove down from Lyon to see me, and my American friends Joy and Lisa who planned the party :)

Disney Party

My wonderful friend Dalene who was one of my closest friends in Grenoble. I miss her so much!

#21 FIND A NEW JOB

This was one of the biggest things on my list, and in my October Highlights post I shared with you that I had an interview in the beginning of November. Well…I GOT THE JOB! I started last Wednesday so this week is my first full week. So far, I love it! It’s a very small office (there are 4 of us), but that makes everything so much more personal. The job itself is low-stress and relaxed, which is a nice change of pace. I’m very excited for this new direction I’m taking, and I’m also looking forward to my husband finding a job so we can find a place to live & finally be able to settle down and unpack our wedding gifts (they’ve been in their original boxes in my parents’ basement for nearly 3 YEARS because we moved to France right after getting married).

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me, encouraged me, and gave me interview advice! I am so so thankful :)

2013 Wrap Up Post: Most Interesting Search Engine Terms

Greetings from Florida! This post is coming from the good ‘ol Sunshine State, where I will be until tomorrow. Our trip to the States has been wonderful thus far, and I am quite sad that we will be headed back to la France in a week, but it will be nice to see our puppy again after so long.

This post is also coming from our brand new iPad that my parents surprised us with for Christmas! It is convenient writing from here :)

iPad

I was genuinely shocked!

Check back later next week for my “Visit to the States Bucket List” (yes I made one before flying over here–I know all you expats can relate), but for now enjoy this fun little piece all about the most interesting search terms that have brought readers to my blog. I can’t take credit for this idea, but hopefully it will bring you some smiles all the same :)

  • work is not very hard – I don’t know anyone who can agree with this one, especially not any of the teachers I work with!
  • interesting facts about parcheesi – umm…what?
  • what is the best portrayal of mr rochester in a jane eyre movie – ahh! I like this question, and I think I answered it in this post, but out of the four adaptations I watched, I would have to say Toby Stephens in the 2006 BBC adaptation was my favorite portrayal. BBC always does well :)
  • maleficent stained glass disneyland paris – don’t mind if I do:

    Maleficent

    Inside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland Paris

  • an american in france novel – maybe one day I’ll get around to writing one…but today is not that day.
  • jimmy durante song in who’s got mail – those songs are awesome, right?? Here are the links to As Time Goes By and Make Someone Happy
  • 5 month australian shepherd – well, if you insist :)
This is how he still likes to wake us up each morning :)

This is how he still likes to wake us up each morning :)

And there you have it! Maybe next year will turn up some funnier searches :) Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season! I myself hope to get back into blogging more often in the new year; right now I’m too engrossed in library books!

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 9

thankfulnessToday I am thankful for my husband.

I work Saturday mornings and Matt always drives me there and picks me up (as opposed to me taking the bus). 5 minutes after he dropped me off today I realized that I forgot some little finger puppets I needed for my classes, and I called Matt and asked him if he wouldn’t mind too terribly to drive back to my work to drop them off. He didn’t mind at all; he didn’t complain about just getting home (which I would have totally understood, and I might even do that myself) he just asked when I needed them by and that he would drop them off.

I know this seems insignificant, but it’s those little things that he does that makes me realize how much he loves me and how much I am blessed to have him for a husband :)

Is there anyone in your life whom you are thankful for today?

30 Days of Thankfulness: Days 7 & 8

thankfulnessI was a little busy yesterday and I got home too late last night to post, but that is ok since the things I am thankful for yesterday and today, joy and hope, go hand in hand ;)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” [Romans 15:13]

There are literally hundreds of examples I could write about to describe my joy, peace, and hope…but I’ll just go with my work experience yesterday. Thursday afternoons are usually one of my hardest times of the week, mainly because I have two classes that overlap for half an hour and that typically includes some crying and not-listening on the kids’ behalf. Yesterday, however, even though there was some intense crying at one point, I left work feeling so joyful and encouraged that I now have so much hope for that class and for myself as a teacher. I know I’ve said this before, but I never imagined I would be a teacher, and now I can tell that the joy I get from teaching children probably means that this is something I should be doing. And I not only love my job, but I have an amazing boss and coworkers who encourage and give me hope me all the time.

What are you feeling joyful and hopeful about today?