Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Time Travel Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Last reading challenge of the year and not much time to spare! I just completed the Time Travel Reading Challenge and really enjoyed it.

I came across this challenge, hosted by Alyce and thought it would be really interesting. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is one of my favorite books and I wanted to read more time travel books. I read three books for the challenge:
  1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  2. The Cross Time Engineer by Leo Frankowski
  3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
 I really enjoyed all three books, but Outlander was my favorite. I have already read the second book in the series and will continue to read the remaining books in the series.

2010 451 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

I cut it close on the last book I was reading for the year, but I have completed the 451 Reading Challenge.  :)  I really enjoyed this challenge, and waited until the end of the year so that I could read A Christmas Carol at Christmastime. I will definitely be looking to see if this challenge will be continued on next year, and even if not, I will continue to read books from the list.

Based on the weekly feature, 451 Fridays, on Elizabeth's blog, which is in turn based on the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, where a group of people are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of saving the books, they each 'become' a book - memorizing it and passing it down generations. For the challenge, a list of 451 amazing books has been put together to choose from. I' had chosen the Flame level and read 6 books from the list:
  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  5. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  6. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Sunday, December 26, 2010

8k Training

After sporadically working out through the fall, I decided to do another structured running program since the C25K program worked out so well for me. This past Monday, I started Hal Higdon's 8k Novice program. I was really hoping to have Chicago's Shamrock Shuffle be my graduation from the program, but it's scheduled the day after one of my really good friend's wedding this spring, so that's not really going to happen! So, still going ahead with the training, I'm hoping to find a local 8k this spring to run.

I just completed my first week and so far, it's going well. Each day of running was only two miles, and while I was capable of running further, I think it's a good starting point, since I haven't been too consistent lately with running. The other test will be when I start Week 3 of the training and am no longer on vacation. I find that getting in six days of working out a week is not too hard when I don't have to fit in in with a full day of work and two hours of commuting! So far, I am really enjoying the training and like that it incorporates other cardio and strength training, and hoping I can keep up with it!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Back Home

I'm back from my last business trip of the year and hopefully, I'll be home for the next 5 weeks or so. This last trip was back to Korea and I have to admit, it did make me pretty apprehensive hearing about North Korea shooting at South Korea a week before my departure! It was definitely a topic of conversation with my family over the Thanksgiving holiday. My trip went on as scheduled, however, I didn't find it so sensationalized there as it was here at home. Granted, this very well could be because I don't know Korean and can't listen or read their news, but in speaking to the people there, and in the newscasts I saw in English, it seemed that they have concerns about it, but they've been dealing with this for many years now.

Overall, my trip was good. We stayed at a new hotel, which was really nice and had a gym, so I was glad to get in several workouts there during my stay. As a bonus, the one day I had off, it was sunny and in the low 60s, so I took a long walk and enjoyed the nice weather. Then, I proceeded to come home to a snowstorm with frigid temperatures back home in Michigan. I definitely didn't mind it so much; I was glad to be home and thankful I traveled back before the storm instead of being delayed in it. So, now on to getting everything ready for Christmas and finishing my shopping this week!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jane Austen Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

 Down to the last month of 2010 and I just completed my next reading challenge, the Jane Austen Reading Challenge. I am so glad that I joined this challenge! I have gone over thirty years without reading a Jane Austen book, and now I will definitely be planning on reading the rest of her books.


The books I read included:
  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  3. Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange
  4. Austenland by Shannon Hale
I would have a real hard time choosing my favorite between the Jane Austen novels; I really enjoyed reading both of them. I just love how it's 200 years later, and the stories are timeless and still enjoyed by so many readers. I also enjoyed both of the Jane Austen-related books. The first was Mr. Darcy's Diary, which is Mr. Darcy's view on the romance and then follows up into the marriage of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. The other was Austenland, which is set modern-day. Jane is rather obsessed with finding her own Mr. Darcy and goes on a Jane Austen-era vacation in England.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Awesome Author Challenge Wrap-Up

I just finished the Awesome Author Challenge and really enjoyed it. I read some books by authors that I may have never picked up and will continue to read some these author's other works too.


This challenge is to read books from authors that have been recommended, but still haven't read. I had decided to do the Moderate level and read six books for the challenge. As for the authors, I took a mini poll on Facebook with my friends in order to get some recommendations on authors and came up with the following six:
  1. Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
  2. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
  3. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
  4. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  5. Champagne for One by Rex Stout
  6. Good Grief by Lolly Winston
My least favorite was probably Lady Oracle. I had picked that title so it could be considered for two reading challenges and probably should have went with another title. As for a favorite, I would have trouble picking one. I really enjoyed the other books and they are quite different genres as well. Overall, a fun challenge though!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

I just completed my second reading challenge of the year - Support Your Local Library. I signed up for The Mini level - 25 books. Since there's eight or so weeks left in the year, I expect to add to my total some, but won't quite make it to the next level.





  1. Good Grief by Lolly Winston
  2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  4. Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
  5. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
  6. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
  7. Magnolia Wednesdays by Wendy Wax
  8. Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury
  9. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
  10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  11. Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange
  12. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
  13. The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano
  14. Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas
  15. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  16. Champagne for One by Rex  Stout
  17. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  18. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
  19. Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  20. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  21. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
  22. Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
  23. The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens
  24. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  25. Persuasion by Jane Austen

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Used Books

I get almost all of my books from the library. On occasion if I'm making a birthday or Christmas list, I'll ask for a book series or a book that I know is really good. But, I'm not one to re-read books, so I would much rather make my way up to the library and check out the books. For the reading challenges I'm participating in this year, I was unable to find two of the books in our library system. I really didn't want to pay full-price for them, so I thought I'd try the used book route. Of course, I have to find the best deal for them, so I did some searching on the internet and found where I could get both books for under $10 with shipping. After they arrived, a slew of books I was waiting for at the library came in, so I had to get through all of them first. Recently, I started reading one of the used books I had bought and as I was getting near the end, I kept thinking to myself, we're not really close to a conclusion yet. Then all of sudden, I was on the last page and it was clearly not the end of the book. I checked amazon, and yup, my book was roughly 70 pages short. I guess that's what I get for purchasing a used book and trying to bargain hunt! I suppose I learned my lesson that I need to check if all the pages are there. I did e-mail the company, thriftbooks.com, and was not sure what to expect. I suspected they may tell me, it's used, no guarantees. But I got an e-mail back apologizing and that they are shipping the same book to me and have verified that the pages I'm missing are in the replacement book. So, even though I'm still waiting for the book so I can finish it, I was very pleased with their customer service and quick response. And I'll be a little more diligent in my used book searches in the future!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Girls Weekend!

Last weekend, I went down to Miami Beach with two of my best friends and we had a great time. Last year, we went to the western part of Michigan and stayed in a cabin for the weekend. At that time, we decided a beach was required for our next trip.  :)  So, planning began a few months ago. My friend, Nikki, found a great deal on a hotel, Palms Hotel & Spa, and we were all able to get pretty good prices for flights. We arrived on Friday and stayed until Tuesday. The weather was near perfect (one afternoon of clouds, but no rain). We spent every afternoon out on the beach and got some shopping in as well as an excursion to Gator Park. Saturday night, we made it out to the bar scene in South Beach and on Sunday night, we had really good Cuban food at Versailles. And one of the most memorable parts of the trip was being asked to be a bridesmaid for my friend, Kelly, who is getting married next year! Because of the wedding, there likely will not be a Girls Weekend next year, but I'm definitely looking forward to our next one!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spain

Last month, I had a business trip to the northern part of Spain. I really enjoyed the trip and would like to return for a vacation! It was a rather short trip, just under a week and we were pretty busy with trying to get through everything during our meetings. The city I was in, Mondrag√≥n,  is a rather small city in the Basque region. It's very pretty there, nestled in the mountains. The weather during the first part of the trip was perfect, upper 70s/lower 80s during the day and sunny. It did get cooler and rainy at the end of the week, and I was told this type of weather is more of the norm of the region. But, with the mountains and the fog, it's still very pretty.




During my last afternoon in Spain, the engineers from the company I was meeting with took me to a nearby modern cathedral, Arantzazu. It's up in the mountains and in a very beautiful area.



I only had one small complaint during my trip and it was their meal times and habits are much different than at home. They have a bigger and later lunch and then a smaller and later dinner than I am used to. It would not be too much of a problem other than the later time of dinner and we were in a small town with very few choices of an earlier dinner (actually, only one that I found). I tend to keep roughly the same sleeping hours as at home when I'm on business trips and don't stay up too late. Otherwise, it was a fun trip and I am looking forward  to next next trip to Spain!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Football!

One of my favorite parts about fall coming? The return of NFL football! And with a new season, the possibility of my favorite team actually doing well. Unfortunately, we are usually disappointed quite early in the season, but maybe that'll change this year! (One can always dream, right?)


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Korea

Well, the slew of business trips have started! Last week, I was in Changwon, South Korea for design review meetings. I have been there once before; in early 2007, I was there for a month. I can say August in Korea is very, very different than January! All week, it was so hot and humid, and they do not quite have the same air conditioning standards I am used to at home! Overall, it was a good trip. During my last visit, there was much to get accomplished and I worked every day. For this trip, everything went well, and we were able to go sightseeing one day. First, we went to Bulguksa, a Buddhist temple, about an hour and a half away from where we were staying. I found it very interesting. Each of the temples had services going on and I found the area where little temples had been built out of rocks very interesting.


Afterward, we went into Pusan, Korea's second largest city. We visited the 2005 site of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation), which can be toured, and then we walked around the island the convention center is. I took several pictures, and it was very pretty with the ocean and the surrounding mountains. But, since it was so warm and humid, it is quite hazy. I would not mind returning on a clearer day, it was a very enjoyable day of sightseeing.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cycling

I went for my first bike ride in years, and oh my, it certainly felt like it! Since reaching my goal of running a 5k, I've wanted to start incorporating other activities into my workouts. And the county I live in has the Bay to Bridge Trail which I've wanted to check out for both running and bicycling. So, this afternoon, I mapped out a route and was hoping to go 8 miles. Soon into the ride, I was distinctly feeling each muscle not normally used while running! I ended up turning around on the trail at the end of the Algonac State Park and heading back home, going a little over over 5 miles. I came home and told Jim I no longer feel like I'm anywhere near being in shape! So, I will definitely be adding in a bike ride into my workouts once or twice a week from now on!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Treadmill Running

I've been running since April and yesterday was my first day of running inside on the treadmill. I had put off my running for two days this week and after not sleeping so well Friday night, I didn't have the motivation until early afternoon. It was already in the upper 80s and sunny, so I decided to head to the gym instead. After that experience, I really hope I can keep up my running once the weather gets cold and winter sets in (regardless of what craziness work will bring)! Running on the treadmill did seem easier since I can set the pace and stick with it, but I did find it quite a bit more boring than being outside and enjoying the scenery. Luckily, I have a couple more months of warm weather before I need to worry about the treadmill.  Looking forward to getting back outside tomorrow!

Favorite part of my running route

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Camping

I think we used our boat more this past week than all of last summer! Four years ago, Jim and I bought a boat and even though it has a cabin, we mainly use it for day trips to go a bay about a half hour away from where we live and have stayed on it once overnight. This past week, I was on vacation and Jim's two sons stayed with us. Jim suggested that we take the boat across the lake and stay for a couple nights at a metropark with a marina. He was unable to take the whole week off, but the marina is closer to his work so we left a car there so he could work half days. We had a great time! There was a lot for the boys to do with the beach, pool, putt-putt, etc. and even though the weather was hot, luckily, our boat came with a portable AC unit, which made sleeping quite comfortable. While the topic of a larger boat did come up, we will definitely be planning a similar trip for the near future.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Family Vacation

Last weekend, we went on vacation to Mackinaw City with my family. Other than our wedding, it has been years since we've done this. In total, there were 15 of us; Jim and I, my mom and step-dad, my two sisters and brother-in-law and future brother-in-law, step-brother, four nieces, and two step-sons. The trip turned out quite as I expected - a lot of fun with a little craziness thrown in! Unfortunately, there was a bit of a mix-up with the hotel on who was checking in on which night, so there was an issue with the first night and the hotel completely booked up, but luckily, everything ended up working out. On Friday, we went to the indoor water park across the street and later on, headed out to the beach. Saturday was our day to go to Mackinac Island. We got the package that included the carriage ride and Fort Mackinac. Overall, we had a great time. I've been to Mackinac several times, but had never been to Fort Mackinac and thought it was really interesting. On Sunday, my family headed home, but Jim, the boys, and I stayed for an extra day. We went across the Mackinaw Bridge into St.Ignace to the Deer Ranch. I wasn't sure really what to expect but we had a good time feeding the deer and seeing them up close. Overall, a real fun vacation!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

First 5k!

I am a C25K graduate and just ran my first 5k this morning! I am so glad that I stuck with the program and entered today's race, the Blue Water Hospice River Run. It started at 8am and is a half hour away, so it was a pretty early morning. And many thanks to my husband, he's sick with a cold, but got this morning to take me to the race and cheer me on. I did not set any sort of time to complete it in, as I was not sure what to expect. My goal was to run the whole thing, no walking, and not finish in last!  ;)  I had run three miles earlier this week in about 34 minutes so I was hoping somewhere around that for my first race. It was a little crazy at the beginning of the race, I am not a fast runner and really should have started closer to the back instead of the middle of the group. But, I got into my pace and was able to run the whole course and was happy to see 32 minutes as I was getting close to the finish line. I sped up as much as I could and finished at about 32:58, although we'll see what the official results are when they come in. I am planning on another 5k at the end of June and will be working on improving my pace the next four weeks.  :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

First 5K Is A Week Away!

I am in my eighth week of the C25K program and I am so proud that I've been keeping up with it. This week, I sent in the registration form for a 5K near me next Saturday morning. I will be short one day in my training, so I am planning to do only two days of Week 8 and then have next Saturday's run be my graduation day from the program. Currently, I'm up to running 2.75 miles so getting to 3.1 should not be a problem during the next week. My pace is a little slow, but I figure I can work on that after this first race. I also have my second race planned for the end of June.  :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Belated Anniversary Gift

This past Saturday, I made dinner and as we were finishing eating, Jim surprised me with a belated anniversary gift - tickets to see Huey Lewis and the News.  :)  I am so excited to go see them! I know, I am such a dork! I used to listen to them when I was young and still love their music. They come to Detroit for a summer concert every year it seems, but we live over an hour away from the venue and just haven't made it to see them. Well, rather, I probably haven't bugged Jim enough to take me. But, it must have sunk in! This year, the concert falls on a Thursday night in July, so we are planning to take a vacation day Friday and hopefully enjoy the day out on our boat if the weather cooperates.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Three Weeks In

And I am really enjoying the Couch to 5K program. I just finished Week 3 this morning and am looking forward to beginning Week 4 on Monday. Each of my workouts this week, I was able to add on to the standard program, and do an additional interval. From here on out though, the length of the runs really starts increasing! And many thanks to Carli at Running Into Shape for the podcasts that she has created for the program.

I found a 5K race close by that coincides with when I will be completing the program. I'm really hoping to keep up with it so that I can enter the race.  :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Couch To 5K

Week 1 Day 1 is complete!

I had heard about this running program a while back and a couple weeks ago decided to try it out. We've had a busy past couple of weeks and I was finally able to start the program this week. Sponsored by Cool Running, Couch To 5K (C25K) is a nine-week running program that gets progressively harder each week with the end goal being able to run a 5K. I've never been much of a runner solely for exercising purposes. I've played lots of sports and played soccer for 20 years or so, but never really enjoyed running just to run. I'm hoping that with this being a structured program, that will change. In addition, they have podcasts to listen to while running and I really enjoyed DJ BeatSmith's Podrunner Intervals - it's dance music including cues with when to switch from running and walking. So, here's to the next nine weeks and sticking to the program!

Monday, April 5, 2010

What's In A Name Challenge Wrap-Up

My first reading challenge of 2010 is complete! I really enjoyed this challenge and had fun choosing the books too. My reviews of the six books I read:

Food - The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Set during the Great Depression, it traces the migration of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California and their subsequent hardships as migrant farm workers.

It took me a little bit to get into this book, but after I did, I was really glad to have read it. Even though it is a fictional story, it was very interesting to get a glimpse of what life was like during that era of the Great Depression. I was slightly disappointed with the ending. I suppose I was expecting a bit more closure with the story, but overall, a really good book.

Body of Water - Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury
Eight years ago, during a stormy weekend on the shores of Hawaii, Connor Evans broke his vows. He's kept his secret, until the woman from Connor's past dies, leaving behind a young son . . . Michele never thought her family was perfect, but they were happy. Now her family is on the brink of destruction. Will a lonely child help bridge the distance between them—before it's too late?

This was the last book I read for the challenge and it was probably my favorite of the six books. The plot really makes you think about each character's situation and what you might do in their shoes. The is the first Christian novel I've read and I will definitely look for other books by the author. 

Title - Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
Joan Foster is the bored wife of a myopic ban-the-bomber. She takes off overnight as Canada's new superpoet, pens lurid gothics on the sly, attracts a blackmailing reporter, skids cheerfully in and out of menacing plots, hair-raising traps, and passionate trysts, and lands dead and well in Terremoto, Italy.

This book takes place with the main character, Joan, retelling her past in order to explain how she is in the situation she is at the beginning of the book. I did enjoy reading about her past and her years growing up, but her marriage and details of that seemed rather glazed over to me. Again, this was another book where I found the ending lackluster. It didn't seem like there was much closure and it ended rather abruptly.

Plant - Magnolia Wednesdays by Wendy Wax
Vivien Armstrong Gray spent years working her way up the ladder to become one of the top investigative reporters in the business, and it only takes a split second to have it fall apart:. In quick succession she is not only humiliated but also jobless and pregnant at 41. With few choices left, she returns home to Georgia to wait out her pregnancy and write scathing articles ridiculing suburbia under a pseudonym for a magazine in New York. While following her sister and her niece and nephew around, observing life, Vivien finds plenty of fodder for her articles. But as time passes, Vivien realizes she’s become deeply entrenched in people’s lives, so the articles become harder to write.

I thought this book was a rather fun read. While I thought the story was quite predictable and some of the story lines were not too plausible, the characters were likable and entertaining. Overall, I did enjoy the book.

Place Name - The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
In an upstate New York backwater, Truly, massive from birth, has a bleak existence with her depressed father and her china-doll–like sister, Serena Jane. Truly grows at an astonishing rate—her girth the result of a pituitary gland problem—and after her father dies when Truly is 12, Truly is sloughed off to the Dyersons, a hapless farming family. Haunting the margins of Truly's story is that of Tabitha Dyerson, a rumored witch whose secrets afford a breathtaking role reversal for Truly.

I really enjoyed this book too. I felt for the main character, Truly, as she was teased a lot because of her size and what she had to go through. This was another book where you could really think about what you would do given the same situation.

Music Term - The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
Will Truesdale, a rootless, handsome Briton, arrives in the colony in 1941, and is swept up by Trudy Liang, the blithe and glamorous daughter of a Shanghai millionaire and a Portuguese beauty. They quickly become inseparable, their days spent in a whirl of parties and champagne, but when the Japanese invade, Will is interned and Trudy resorts to increasingly Faustian methods to survive. After the war, Claire Pendleton, the naive wife of a British civil servant, arrives. She begins giving piano lessons to the daughter of a rich Chinese couple, and falls in love with their wounded and inscrutable driver: Will.

I found the part of the story with Will and Trudy quite interesting, including their story of when Japan invades Hong Kong and how the different nationalities were treated. I did have some trouble getting interested in the story of Claire and Will's affair. It seemed like it just added an almost unneccessary layer with the switching back and forth between the two stories. Not a lot seemed devoted to Claire's story and I didn't really associate with her. But, I still enjoyed the book as quite a bit of it was devoted to the war era.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mallory Ann

My third niece, Mallory Ann, entered the world as a St. Patty's Day baby! My sister went into labor Wednesday morning and a few hours later had Mallory. Unfortunately, I've been sick this week and couldn't stay long at the hospital because I didn't want to get anyone sick. But, looking forward spending more time with her! My oldest niece is so excited about being a big sister. Congrats to Ricky, Melissa, and Meredith!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Happy One Year!

Last weekend, Jim and I celebrated our one-year anniversary by taking a long weekend and going to Traverse City and staying at a bed and breakfast. We had such a good time! The reason we picked the area is for the wineries and our property is close by. We are unable to get to it in the winter because the road (this term is used loosely) is not plowed and can only be accessed by snowmobile. In terms of snow, this has been one of their worst winters in that area, so we thought we may be able to get back to our property while we were up there.

We took a half day off work Thursday and reached the bed and breakfast, Country Hermitage, just before dinner. The innkeepers, Patrick and Lynn, were so nice and very accommodating. (And Lynn cooks amazing breakfasts as well!) Jim had called ahead and had flowers for me in our room too.  :)


On Friday, we attempted to get to our cabin, but with no avail. Even though the snow wasn't extremely deep, it had melted and re-frozen and the truck would just sink in it. So we had friends who were snowmobiling in the area at their cabins and we met up with them for a little while

Saturday was our anniversary and I had contacted a bakery in Traverse City to make us a small cake for our first anniversary because we didn't have the top layer of our wedding cake from the Dominican. I went and picked that up in the morning and during the afternoon, we went to a couple of the local vineyards and wineries on Old Mission Peninsula. Neither of us had been wine tasting before, and we had a lot of fun. This is the view from the first  winery we went:


After the wine tasting, we relaxed for a bit and then went out to dinner at aerie, a restaurant on the 16th floor of the Grand Traverse Resort. Dinner was really good but I couldn't let Jim order any dessert because of the cake I had for us back at the bed and breakfast.  :)  So, after dinner and a drink at the lounge, we headed back to the bed and breakfast to eat our cake and exchange gifts. Overall, we had a great time and it was such a relaxing weekend.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day! It seems like this year is already flying by, which if it means that it seems like spring will get here quicker, I'm all for it! This is the first year in the five years since Jim and I met that we haven't gone someplace warm for a winter vacation. We thought about it, but have since decided to skip it this year, save the money, and spend some of it on getting things re-done in the house. The first project is our living room. We just bought the paint yesterday (two shades of tan) and will be getting a new doorwall soon that leads to the backyard. I also found some frames and shelving that match our furniture well and can replace all the hodge-podge of decoration we have in that room. It was the only drawback of combining our belongings when I moved in with Jim, it all didn't match too well, so we're finally getting around to fixing that.

Also on today's agenda (besides spending the day with my Valentine!) is booking the bed and breakfast for our anniversary in two weeks. We're both looking forward to our relaxing long weekend getaway. And I still can't believe it's already been a year!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fun But Busy Weekend

This weekend has flown by so far. Yesterday, we had my step-sons' pinewood derby race and my niece's third birthday party. I spent Friday evening making three dozen cupcakes and one giant cupcake. I received a Wilton giant cupcake pan for Christmas and it was my first attempt. I had heard of people having trouble with it and read online for tips and used a modified recipe. I was quite pleased with how it turned out. I ran out of time to decorate it before the party so my sister and I finished it at the party. I'll be making another in two weeks and will be trying out some different things for decorating it. The birthday party was a lot of fun. My brother-in-law is a volunteer firefighter and the party was at the fire hall. The kids had a blast checking out the firetrucks.



The pinewood derby race was a lot of fun, I'd never been to one before with having all sisters. My step-sons' cars may not have been quite the fastest (luckily they weren't the slowest either!), but I think the boys and Jim did a great job designing and making their cars.

  

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Tenants

Well, everything is transitioned from our previous tenants to our new tenants for the condo we rent out. And I'm so glad that it is! We had three and a half days with the condo empty and of course had scheduling issues with the painters. Luckily, everything worked out, with just minimal anxiety on my part! I'm extremely grateful that we have tenants and are able to get some sort of reimbursement while paying two mortgages, but I would prefer not to have to do the landlord thing at all. The current tenants signed a two-year lease and I am so hoping that selling it is an option in two years!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Reading Challenges

I'll be using this post to organize my books and progress for the reading challenges I joined this year. I was a little more ambitious than I thought I was going to be for my first year of challenges and joined six.  :)

451 Challenge (5/5) - Completed!

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Read
  2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck- Read
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Read
  4. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - Read
  5. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Read
Awesome Author Challenge (6/6) - Completed!
  1. Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood- Read
  2. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier - Read
  3. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster - Read
  4. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - Read
  5. Champagne for One by Rex  Stout - Read
  6. Good Grief by Lolly Winston - Read

Jane Austen Challenge (4/4) - Completed!

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Read
  2. Persuasion by Jane Austen - Read
  3. Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange - Read
  4. Austenland by Shannon Hale - Read

Time Travel Reading Challenge (3/3) - Completed!

  1.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Read
  2.  The Cross Time Engineer by Leo Frankowski - Read
  3.  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - Read

What's In A Name Challenge (6/6) - Completed!

  1. Food - The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - Read
  2. Body of Water - Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury - Read
  3. Title - Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood - Read
  4. Plant - Magnolia Wednesdays by Wendy Wax - Read
  5. Place Name - The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker - Read
  6. Music Term - The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee - Read

Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge (30/25) - Completed!

  1. Good Grief by Lolly Winston - Read
  2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Read
  3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - Read
  4. Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood - Read
  5. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee - Read
  6. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker - Read
  7. Magnolia Wednesdays by Wendy Wax - Read
  8. Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury - Read
  9. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier - Read
  10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Read
  11. Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange - Read
  12. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin - Read
  13. The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano - Read
  14. Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas - Read
  15. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - Read
  16. Champagne for One by Rex  Stout - Read
  17. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - Read
  18. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks - Read
  19. Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon - Read
  20. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - Read
  21. Something Blue by Emily Giffin - Read
  22. Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers - Read
  23. The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens - Read
  24. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - Read
  25. Persuasion by Jane Austen - Read
  26. Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers- Read
  27. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - Read 
  28. Austenland by Shannon Hale - Read
  29. The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson- Read
  30. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Read

      2010 451 Reading Challenge


      I am really looking forward to this challenge, hosted by Elizabeth. Based on the weekly feature, 451 Fridays, on Elizabeth's blog, which is in turn based on the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, where a group of people are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of saving the books, they each 'become' a book - memorizing it and passing it down generations. For the challenge, a list of 451 amazing books has been put together to choose from. It's just going to be a challenge choosing the books for the challenge! I've decided to do the Flame level and read 5 - 6 books from the list. For more info or to sign up, visit 451 Challenge.

      2010 Jane Austen Reading Challenge


      I am signing up for the Jane Austen Reading Challenge. I am really looking forward to this one as well, hosted by Haley. I've been trying to incorporate more classics into my reading and with this challenge, I'll be able to read some Jane Austen, as well as re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs since they are also part of the challenge. I have decided to do the Newbie level, which is read two books by Jane Austen and two re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs. For more info or to sign up, visit Jane Austen Challenge.

      2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge


      I'm not one to purchase many books because it can get quite expensive, so I do frequent the library quite often. And since I moved in with Jim, the library is within walking distance, which is really nice too. This reading challenge is hosted by J. Kaye and runs all year. There are four different levels and I'm choosing The Mini - check out and read 25 books. For more info or to sign up, visit Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge.

      Happy New Year!



      Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2010!