Jan 31, 2013

The.Book.Chat. {short stories}

It's Thursday!
This week, the book chat co-host is the awesome Erinn of It's the Journey.  Erinn is a fellow military spouse and book lover.  She has a bold and honest quality to her blog that I adore.  The first post I read by her, she was standing on a toilet, and I knew right away she was going to be awesome and hilarious.


This week's book chat topic was suggested by Erinn, and I think it's a great one.  This was perfect timing for me personally because this is the first book chat when I don't talk about someone else's writing.  Next week, I turn in my first short story for class.  Eeek!  (In case you don't know yet, I just started pursuing a creative writing degree)

For some reason, I have always dreaded the short story.  It's probably from being spoon-fed so many in school, but I just never thought of reading them on my own.  I think we can all relate to the school assigned Poe and Hawthorne stories, like The Tell-Tale HeartRappacini's Daughter, and Young Goodman Brown.

...ringing a bell yet?

Yeah, the short stories of our history certainly have their benefit.  And any Reader's Digest subscriber will admit to loving them, I'm sure.  I just can't get into a story that fast.  And on top of that, my own assignment is only 300 words.  300 words!  That's shorter than most blog posts.

And for the record, I'm dreading it, but I'm not nervous about it.  I thought I would be nervous, writing (and sharing) my creative writing for the first time.  Elementary school poems don't count.  But so far, the class has gone fairly well.  I received my first constructive criticism and a B last week, which may have warranted a few tears, but I learned what I could and moved on.  The important thing is that I'm enjoying it, and I'm learning.

So, I haven't written the story yet, and I'm honestly clueless at this point what it will even be about.  Whether or not I share it, depends on how well I think it turns out.  I know it's not a big deal, and many of you have probably had to do it before, but it's a big deal to me.  It finally means a step in the right direction.

Okay, I can't not mention at least one short story I love (I guess it's actually a novella).


This is a great example of a big message getting across in a small space.  You can find a mountain's worth of other works written about this novella and how it was the landmark of early feminism, but honestly, I just loved it.  It was the first time I could really relate to a woman of historic literature.  I didn't always like her, and I don't necessarily agree with her, but she still got to me.  I have read it at least three times and I gain something different every time.  If you're a woman who has ever struggled with what it means to be a woman, you need to read this.

What are your favorite short stories/novellas?  Have you ever written a short story?

Grab a cup of coffee and come book chat with us!!

To join in...
1. Please follow the host and co-host 
2. Visit a few other book chat links and show some support.
3. Link back here in your post.  Or use the button provided.
4. Old posts are always welcome if you have blogged on the topic before.

Next week's topic: Re-reading.  Do you like re-reading your favorites?  What book have you read the most?


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Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win this great book!  

Jan 28, 2013

Book Review AND GIVEAWAY: The Mad Scientist's Daughter


I recently had the pleasure of reading this novel over our Christmas vacation.  I found the coziest spot in the house and buried myself away for hours at a time reading this book.

The story is about a girl who lives in a remote rural home with her parents who are both scientists.  From a very young age, she has lived with an android as a tutor and friend named Finn.  The story moves from childhood to adulthood and shows the evolution of their relationship from friendship to love.  

Here's what I love about this book...

The story moves quickly.  It's essentially a coming-of-age love story.  It progresses smoothly over the events of Finn and Cat's lifetime showing the evolution of their relationship from beginning to end.  It doesn't settle too long on one time or event, but you are still somehow able to connect to the characters.

The characters and setting are realistic.  These people are not perfect, but sincere.  I love that this is a sci-fi topic written in such realistic and normal settings.  This is not some super futuristic society, but a world very much like our own.  This is what makes the story so thought-provoking.  The whole idea of android/human coexistence is not that far-fetched after all.  We do have phones and cars that interact with us on command.  Watching these two characters fall in love and struggle with what it means to be human, I found the whole topic to be truly beautiful.  I love this story, and I love that she wrote it.  I truly hope you read it.

Trust me, you will fall in love with Finn too.

I was so caught up with it, I immediately emailed the publisher and practically begged them to offer you guys a free copy.  I just had to get this book into as many hands as I could.  I loved it that much.  And guess what....they agreed.


So here's your chance!  You can win your own copy of The Mad Scientist's Daughter!  

All I ask is that you please be a follower of Sweet Green Tangerine via Google Reader or Bloglovin.

For an extra entry, add The Mad Scientist's Daughter to your To-Read list on Goodreads.  While you're there, add me as a friend! (not required for contest)

Just leave a separate comment for each entry with your email address and/or your name on Goodreads.

It's that easy!  Winner will be chosen on Sunday, February 3rd at 11:59 EST.

Good luck!!


Jan 26, 2013

Wardrobe Shopping List

I'm hoping to get a shopping day to myself soon.  My wardrobe is feeling tired and overworked.  I need some new items to freshen it up!  I made a little list of the things I'm looking for.  It helps me decide what to buy, so that I don't feel overwhelmed.  You know the feeling, when you pick up a blouse or a pair of shoes, afraid to buy them, not knowing what they will go with.   That's why it's helpful to make a list before you go, based on what items you need/want.  A little tip I learned from this stylist/blogger.

top to bottom, left to right:
1 :: 2 :: 3 :: 4 :: 5 :: 6
I can't wait to start shopping.  Wish me luck.


You.

This creative writing class I'm taking has reminded me how much I love (and miss) poetry.  I love the way it feels beautiful in a way that is indescribable.  This specific poet was introduced to me a few years back by a favorite teacher of mine.  He has a major collection of amazing, easily enjoyable poems.  This one, to me, is just delicious to my ears.

Litany

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine. 

{source}

Recited by a 3 year old? Yes, please.

Happy weekend, friends.


Jan 24, 2013

the.book.chat. {Currently Reading}


Welcome back for another book chat!  This week our co-host is Megan from Semi-Charmed Kind of Life.  Megan and I have been blog friends for a while now and she has always been a loyal book chatter since the very beginning.  Her blog is always so interesting.  Travel, books, sorority life, and more.  Not to mention, she is so sweet and fun to chat with.  Please go check out her blog and say hi.

Oh and I firmly believe she hosts the very best reading challenges.  The winter one is wrapping up now, but I bet my blog she's going to do one again this summer.  Seriously, they are so fun.

BWS tips button


Okay.  As for the book chat this week...
I decided to take it easy this week and just ask everyone to share the book they're currently reading.  If you just finished a book and want to share a review, that works too.

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So, right now I'm reading Ender's Game.  Let me guess...you loved it, right?  Your sister loved it, your babysitter loved it, your pediatrist loved it.  EVERYBODY LOVES IT!  So why can't I????  (feel my despair)

Every. night. I. pick. it. up...and nothing.  I read...and just...nothing.  I feel nothing for this character or this story.  I'm not invested, nor do I care much.  I could never pick it up again and it wouldn't bother me one bit.  You know what this is?  It's like reader's E.D. (look it up)

Too far?  Sorry.

Cialis for readers maybe?  Haha...I'll stop.

But the point is...we all know what it's like to feel like we're just chipping away at a book bit-by-bit, getting nowhere fast.  The remaining 300 pages seem like a hurdle, rather than entertainment.  Seriously, I could have read 3 other books by now!  Ergh!  On top of that...it drives me NUTS when I don't like a book that everyone else loves. What am I missing?  It's like I'm at a party where everyone else is having fun and I'm not.

I'm not going to give it up yet.  I do see the potential, and I think if I stick with it, I'll find the interest.  I believe it's going to get better.  I don't think it's a bad book, it's just not grabbing me.  I keep telling myself, it has so much in common with other books I love (Maze Runner, The Hunger Games) so I should love it.  I wish I knew.

Have you read it?  Did you struggle at the beginning too?  Did I just make a Cialis reference?

(This is what happens when I stay up too late to write my posts.  Hope I didn't lose you back there)

So...what are you reading and how do you like it?  If you choose to blog along with us, please just follow the simple rules below...

To join in...
1. Please follow the host and co-host 
2. Visit a few other book chat links and show some support.
3. Link back here in your post.  Or use the button provided.
4. Old posts are always welcome if you have blogged on the topic before.

Next week's topic: Short Stories and Novellas

There are plenty of co-host spots open, so please email me if you are interested!  And come back on Monday for a giveaway of one of my favorite books of the year!


Jan 23, 2013

Spicy Quinoa Chili

I don't think I've officially come out on the blog yet, but...I went vegetarian six months ago.  Remember when I did the Vegan for a week thing last year.  Well, I did that because I wanted to see if I could do it.  If I could eat meat-free while also preparing food food my carnivorous boys.

As it turns out, I can!

But it has it's challenges.

Some nights I'm cooking two meals at once. Other nights I'm eating only salads and side dishes.  I'm learning the ropes of alternative proteins.  I was a vegetarian during my teen years, but my parents cooked all of my veggie meals for me, so I came into this not knowing what quinoa, tempeh, and lentils were and/or how to cook them.

I have to say my favorite of these three so far is quinoa.  It's so versatile, healthy, affordable, easy to prepare and yummy!  You can keep cooked quinoa in your fridge to throw in spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, salads and the one I'll share with you today...chili!

I wanted to make Chili my way.  I have been perfecting my Chili recipe for years now and I wanted to transform this recipe into a meatless option.  It's very easy to have two batches of this recipe brewing. One with ground beef.  One with quinoa.

And if you are NOT a vegetarian, this chili is hearty and delicious.  You won't miss the meat at all.

Here's what you need:
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable broth
Chili seasoning (You can use the packet or a homemade blend like this)
1 can diced tomato - undrained

1 green bell pepper - chopped
1 small jalapeño - diced

1 can red kidney beans - undrained
1 can black beans - drained & rinsed
1 tsp crushed red pepper (vary for desired spiciness)

And here's what you do:
Prepare the quinoa as it says on package.  You usually want two cups of liquid per cup of quinoa, and I have found one cup of quinoa translates to about 1lb of ground beef.

In a large pot on med-low heat,  transfer quinoa (with any remaining liquid).  Add seasoning, tomatoes, bell pepper, and jalapeño.  This recipe will be dryer than your traditional chili.  It will get soupier as it heats.  You can add broth or tomato sauce if you'd like (a little at a time).  Simmer on low heat for at least 15 minutes, but like any chili, the longer you let it sit on low heat, the tastier it will be.  Just be careful, don't let it burn.  After the peppers are soft, add the beans.  Make sure to drain & rinse black beans or you'll have black chili.
Last, add the crushed red pepper.  This is optional, but it just adds another element of heat.

As for the jalapeño and red pepper, you can adjust those to your taste.  I like it spicy and this was pretty spicy.

Garnish with sour cream, cheese, chives, crackers, corn bread or serve over macaroni like I do.

Enjoy!

Jan 21, 2013

Movie Review: Argo

I have made a pledge this year that I would try to see all of the Oscar nominations before the award show.  I love watching the Oscars every year, but I hate that I have hardly ever seen more than one of the movies nominated.  It's hard to make a pick when you haven't seen the movies.  So this year, I'm going to do my best to see them all before February 24th.
So far, I have two down.
Les Miserables and Argo.
Last night, I dragged my friend to the theater to see a movie she had never even heard of.  What a trooper.

And here's my review...

Argo is based on the true events surrounding the hostage situation at the US Embassy in Iran in 1979-1981.  Six US citizens escaped the embassy and found refuge at the Canadian Embassy.  To avoid the Iranian Revolutionaries finding the Americans in hiding, CIA agent Tony Mendes came up with a plan to sneak them out that involved faking a Hollywood movie.

My thoughts:
Wow.  This movie had me at the edge of my seat from beginning to finish.  There was so much suspense, at some points almost too much, which I don't discredit the film for.  It made it an enjoyable movie to watch.  I think without that added suspense it would have fallen flat in places.  For a story that everyone knows (or should know) the ending to, you have to keep us biting our nails somehow.

It had the right amount of violence, which for my taste, is almost none.  It was intense, for sure.  It was an intense conflict.  They captured the intensity perfectly.  The moment when the angry mob ambushes the embassy, I had chills.  So, so, so many chills.  It felt real, without being disturbing.  That can be tricky, but they pulled it off.

This movie had the right balance of drama and comedy.  It was certainly by no means a comedy, but John Goodman and Alan Arkin really brought a lovability to the movie that counteracted all of the sadness.  All of the acting was rock solid.  They made me laugh, they made me cry, they stole my heart a little bit.

And finally, I have to say I'm so disappointed that Ben Affleck was denied the Best Director nomination.  I know he won the Golden Globe for it, as well as the Best Film, but I really wish his name was up for the Oscar.  Everything in this film was spot on.  The design, the music, the acting, the location, the way they recreated Iran of 1980, it was damn impressive.  He was robbed.

Last note. I just have to say, I love when film or literature shines a light on an event in our history that few people really know about.  I knew about the Iranian hostage conflict, but I never knew about Argo.  On top of that, I loved how this movie explained the situation between Iran and the U.S. so even if you knew nothing, you could keep up.  And if you only knew a little, you could really gather an understanding of what it was all about.  It makes you think about the conflict in the Middle East a little differently.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Go see it!
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Jan 17, 2013

the.book.chat. {Pet Peeves}

Whew! I apologize for not posting all week.  I'm adjusting to school and let's face it, I'm very good at putting things off.  So here we are for another week of The Book Chat.  This week, I'm excited to announce that I will begin recruiting co-hosts for the book chat and our first co-host is Miss Brighton of Dear Brighton!
Brighton has been participating in the link up for a few weeks now and I just love her enthusiasm for books and blogging.  Plus, she's just a super sweet gal who shares many of the same favorites as me.  I finally have someone to gush about J.R. Ward novels with, so you guys are off the hook.
Please go over and say Hi to Brighton.

simplebrighton


Okay so today's question (suggested by Brighton) is...
What are some of your bookish pet peeves?
This is a great topic because sometimes while I'm reading, I get so irked by the littlest things that I start to spur off entire blog posts about it in my head.  Those posts never make it to life, so now is the chance!

1. Being clumsy is not a flaw.  Why are all teenage girls clumsy?  I feel like authors need a way to set their female characters apart from other girls and make them more down-to-earth and relatable, so they make them clumsy.  And that's just not enough.

2.  On that note, Edward was 90 years old.  Did that occur to anyone?  Just because his body didn't age doesn't mean he's exempt from being a total creep hitting on 17 year old girls.  You were alive during Woodstock, the moon landing and the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Imagine a real man who was alive for all of those things and imagine Bella making out with him.  Gross.
The same goes for a multitude of other YA paranormal novels.  Don't mean to pick on Twilight so much.

3.  Hard back book covers.  What is the purpose of those things?  I can't stand them so I just take them off.

4.  The person who keeps their library book far, far past the due date when I have a hold on it.  I'm talking to you, guy who's had Ender's Game since August.

5.  Dying and/or flickering book light.  Give me some warning if you're going to crap out halfway into a good chapter.

6.  Audiobook readers who feel it necessary to over dramatize the opposite gender's voice.  Hearing a male reader read a girl's line in a super high voice sounds like something out of Monty Python.  All I'm picturing is a man dressed as a woman.  The same goes for females pulling out their baritone for male lines.  Just read the damn book.

7.  No, Barnes & Noble, I don't have a members card and No, I don't want a members card.  Bump your discount up a bit, and maybe it will make me feel like a member, and not a schmuck.

8.  Nicholas Sparks movies.  We get it, they found love in an unexpected place.  Let's move on.

9.  Spoilers.  Seriously, some people have no restraint.  Thanks, it's not like I can un-hear that!

10.  Long chapters.  I can't just put the bookmark in halfway through a chapter.  But if I'm falling asleep and it's another 8 pages to the end, I will torture myself.

11.  Loose ends.  I love a good ending that wraps everything up nicely where all my questions are answered, and I have closure.  It doesn't have to be a happy one, but I hate endings that leave me with so many questions.  I'm looking at you, Perks.

12.  I think I've mentioned this before, but I cannot stand when people touch me while I'm reading.  If I'm reading in bed, Jeremy's foot cant even be touching my foot.  The kids will want to cuddle up with me while I'm reading on the couch and it drives me nuts.  I have to just put my book down, because who doesn't want to cuddle with their kids? (me, sometimes)

I'm sure I can think of more.  Probably after I read all of yours, I'll think of more.  Sorry if that sounded kinda gripey.  I've been holding those in for years!  It was nice to just get that all out!

I seriously cannot wait to read yours.  What are some of your bookish pet peeves?  It can be anything pertaining to books or reading.  It doesn't have to be like mine. I hope you choose to link up!

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Look, some new rules!

To join in...
1. Please follow the host and co-host 
2. Visit a few other book chat links and show some support.
3. Link back here in your post.  Or use the button provided.
4. Old posts are always welcome if you have blogged on the topic before.

Next week's topic: What are you currently reading?  Share your thoughts.

If you are interested in co-hosting the book chat, please email me! I'd love to work with you.


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Jan 10, 2013

the.book.chat. {Self-Help, Instructional, Inspirational}

Good morning friends!
It's book chat Thursday!
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Today, I want to ask YOU.  What are some of your favorite inspirational, really-got-you-pumped-about-life, books?

I'm embarking on a pretty exciting journey this year.  (Back to school, moving to Germany, starting my career)  I could use some real motivators for those inevitable bumps in the road.

I'm looking to you for recommendations!

This is one I've seen on the shelves that I've been wanting to take home...


And a few of you have suggested this one as well...


If you've read these or if you have any others you just must share, please do!

Just link up below.  And as always, the button (above) is available to spread the word about the book chat.  Just make sure you link back here somehow.

Next week: Do you have any pet peeves in books that really drive you nuts?  Those things that pop up over & over & really get on your nerves?  Can't wait to hear it.  
Next week's co-host: Dear Brighton 


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Jan 8, 2013

Royal Teeth: Live Show Review


It just so happened that while I was back in Arizona, aka modern civilization (sorry, Alabama) I had the opportunity to see this new band, Royal Teeth play an intimate show in Scottsdale.
Royal Teeth is one of those bands I have heard repeatedly on AltNation (SiriusXM) and instantly loved their hit song, Wild.  When I heard about the show on Twitter and realized I would be in town, I purchased the tickets immediately.

The night started out a little dull.  I wasn't a fan of the venue or the opening band, but Royal Teeth blew me away.

This band was phenomenal.

I knew they were a fairly new band, but they do not act like a new band.  They are so comfortable on stage.  They were full of energy, and they connected to the audience.
The lead singer would jump down into the crowd to sing and dance with their fans.  My favorite part was the solo drum he had next to him while he sang.  The energy he exhibited in just singing and banging that drum was contagious.  At one point he took my phone from my hand and began recording the audience while he was singing. I couldn't thank them enough for just putting on such a FUN show.  
This is the kind of band that just gets you pumped up.  I'm so thrilled that I had to chance to see them now.  I have a feeling this is only the beginning for them.  From what I hear, they are filming their official video now and working on their first full studio album.


I love this band, and I think you will too.

You can purchase their EP "Act Naturally" here.
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Jan 7, 2013

Going back...


Today is a big day for me, friends.
I'm going back to school.

A brief history of my college life...
I went straight to college after high school.  After two years of college, I chose to get married and move to Germany with Jeremy.  Then, Jonathan was born, and we moved to Savannah.  In Savannah, I returned to college full time and nearly finished my degree in Middle School Education.  Then Jude and two back-to-back deployments (simultaneously) happened followed immediately by flight school...so here we are.

I have 118 credits to my name and NO degree.

Ha! Not for long.

I finally decided that life was never going to lay a seamless path before me and make getting a degree easy for me.  There really is no perfect time.  Thanks to some motivation from Jeremy, I found the best school for me with the online program that I needed and I enrolled.

I feel like it is a great fit.  I decided on Southern New Hampshire University.  And here's the kicker...my degree is Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing (!!).
It was so exhilarating to officially sign up for this program.  Like a part of me was breathing a sigh of relief..."finally".
I have always wanted to be a writer, but I had always chosen more "practical" career paths, like teaching, but now it is clear that there is no better career for me.  I have the freedom to write from home, wherever we live.  I can still be there for my boys while also dedicating myself to my work.  I'm kicking myself for not doing this sooner.  There's a lesson in here, kids.

This is my first time attempting college online.  I'm nervous, but I'm glad that I made this choice now.  I would gladly accept any suggestions or advice that you can offer.  I have always been successful in school.  I prided myself on my grades and commitment.  I'm not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but teachers love me.  Call me a teacher's pet if you want, but it worked for me.  I'm afraid that I'm going to lose that interaction online.  But what I lack in interaction, I plan to make up for in good-old-fashioned hard work.

Needless to say, I'm nervous.
And excited.
And determined as all hell.

I'm so ready to finish my education.
I'm so ready to start my professional writing career.
Wish me luck!
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Jan 4, 2013

Five Things...

Today, I'm linking up with Julie at Back to the Basics for her Five for Friday link party.

So here are the five things I'm loving...

1. Nesting dolls

I have always loved nesting dolls, but it seems now they are popping up everywhere.  My best friend got me those nesting doll measuring cups for Christmas.  Aren't they great?
I have only one real nesting doll of my own. I found her at a flea market and she has no babies, just a lonely matrioshka.  I'm pretty fond of her.
And how about those YGG nesting dolls!  They sold out in ONE day.  But not before my mom snatched up a set for Jude.

2. Amazon Student
Amazon came to my rescue this week in a big way.  The books I ordered from the school's book store were put on backorder (last minute, so thanks for that).  I was able to get the text books I needed in time using Amazon Students FREE 2 day shipping.  Hallelujah Amazon!

3. my new iPad
Jeremy surprised me Wednesday with a brand spanking new iPad.  It's mainly a going-back-to-school present, but I'm still clueless as to what else I should be using it for.  If you have any good blog/design/writing/music apps to suggest, I'm all ears!

4. Les Miserables

I saw this movie last weekend and I have had the music in my head for 6 days straight. No joke.  I bought the soundtrack because I just needed to hear it, hoping it would get it out of my head.  I actually thought I could just listen to Anne Hathaway sing "I Dreamed a Dream" at my leisure.  Ha.  Cue the snot and tears as I'm driving.  Still, I can't stop listening to it.
If you haven't seen this movie yet, you need to.  Everyone did such a remarkable job in this musical.

5. The ELEVEN link-ups for yesterday's book chat!
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Seriously, that was awesome.  I love hosting the book chat whether 2 or 200 people link up.  Seeing all of the new people as well as the return of some old friends...yesterday was a good day.
If you have any topic ideas or want to co-host the book chat with me, please email or comment below.

Next week's topic is self-help or inspirational books.

Happy Friday!

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Jan 3, 2013

the.book.chat. {2013 Reading Resolutions}

I'm not one for making resolutions, unless it comes to reading.  
Here are my reading goals for 2013...

 I'll get plenty chances to do this since I'm going back to school this year.  I guess the goal here would be to enjoy it.

 I love blogging about books.  I have no intention of quitting.

 I have no business buying new books with the collection of un-reads I have at home.

 I'm a repeat library patron.  I'd like to keep that up.

This is less a reading resolution and more a writing one.

I finished this year off at 33 so I didn't bump it up too much.  And when you consider I'm going back to school full-time and moving to another country this year, I think this is a hefty goal.

What are your reading goals for 2013?
Blog about it and share it below!
Please link back to this post or use the button below.
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Next week:  Speaking of resolutions...what are some of your favorite self-help or inspirational books?

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Jan 2, 2013

Highlights from our Arizona Vacation

We just got back from our Arizona Christmas vacation.  It's always so nice to be home with family, but it's always a whirlwind.  We hardly get the chance to reflect on our time there.  It's nice to have my phone on me to catch my favorite moments...and here they are.


My favorite moments...
- The kids sleeping on both flights.  Total angels.
- Taking them to the mall.  We don't have a nice mall here so a mall with a train and a play area is practically Disney World.
- Watching them play with their cousin.
- Christmas all around.  The lights, the gifts, the traditions.
- Eating up all of the precious time with my precious niece.  This girl loves her fancy clothes so this mom of two boys was in heaven.
- Getting quality BFF time.
- Being with Jeremy's family gave me a lot of time to relax.  I finished an entire book in two days.
- Seeing Les Mis with my mom and best friend.  We may have cried our brains out the whole time, but we had a great time.
- Driving through the snowy Arizona mountains.  iPhone pics do no justice to those views.
- Going to an intimate performance by Royal Teeth.  (an entire blog post on this to come)
- Catching snowflakes on our tongues.
- Being with the ones I love.

It was a great end to a great year.  Thanks to everyone who helped make it special.
Happy New Year!!
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Reminder:
The Book chat is tomorrow!