Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Reading Through My Bookshelf: Summer Months

Time for a round-up of the reading I did over the summer!  I did quite a bit, so I'm going to need to reach back in my mind palace to recover all of the books...


From my bookshelf:  Cheaper By the Dozen, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Princess Bride, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, The Gun Seller, The Magician's Nephew, The Help

For book clubs:  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Burning Girls, American Gods

Upon recommendation: Lost in a Good Book and The Well of Lost Plots - both from the Thursday Next series



What I liked:  So much to like!  Re-reading The Princess Bride was delightful.  It made me appreciate the movie all the more.  The movie and the book are true companions to one another.  (Of course, it helped that Goldman also wrote the script for the movie.)  I've been throughly enjoying the Thursday Next series.  I can't believe I haven't read beyond The Eyre Affair before now.  They're full of witty wordplay and literary allusions.  And puns, so many puns.

What I didn't like:  Memoirs of a Geisha... ugggh, this one fell completely flat on its re-read.  It's a well-written book in terms of its descriptions, especially of colors, textures and nature, but its storyline is weak.  The main character is shallow, selfish and immature throughout the book, even when the author tells the reader that we should feel differently about her, or praise her actions.  I might be removing it from my shelf, I was so disappointed in its re-read.

Something that surprised me:  I read American Gods on an e-reader.  I was planning on getting the book, but it got too close to the time I needed to read it for book club, so I downloaded it on Jordan's tablet.  Using an e-reader is getting easier, even in the area of connecting with the story, but it will never replace paper books for me!


What I'm reading next:  Frankenstein for book club (my spooky October pick!) and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for personal reading.

Previous bookshelf reads can be found here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Finishing out my Skirtember challenge



I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful month to complete my skirt challenge.  This September has been very good to us - last week it got up to 80!  80 degrees, guys!  I know those of you out west are battling the upper 90s, but it's rare for it to be this warm this late in the year.  It could last all through October, I certainly wouldn't mind!

I have TWO Skirtember challenges over at phenotype: fabulous.  Here's week 3 and week 4.

// Apropos of nothing, I just looked through all of my old Facebook profile pictures.  I know I have a youthful looking face - I get reminded almost every week - but six years ago I really had a baby face.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Life update

Anxiety:

Much, much better.  Little things crop up from time to time (often in conjunction with my period, but not always), but it looks differently than it used to.  I have so many sources I can draw from - talking to Jordan, prayer, recalling past conversations or advice - which allow me to sort through my thoughts more easily.  Dismissing things entirely is still hard, even if they're irrational (for example, one of my current anxieties centers around making dinner... bizarre, I know).  I've found it easier to wait it out, knowing that my anxiety will switch or fade in due time.  I'm still taking anti-anxiety medication.  I have a doctor's appointment next month, and I'm going to ask if he thinks I should be done with it.  I'm really fine either way, though I kind of wonder if it will help through the winter, since winters are hard for me.

Jordan's business:

It's been going very well!  Things have settled into a nice rhythm, with Jordan keeping his work to normal business hours, for the most part.  Having Jordan available, both physically and emotionally, when I'm off of work is a pretty big deal for me.  I can definitely do short-term busy seasons, but it wears on me when the weeks pile up.  But, like I said, that's been much improved.  He isn't turning a profit from his business yet, but we're hoping that will change in a few months.  If not, we're still doing a-ok financially, and it's a blessing we take for granted all too often.

This summer:

Was much better than I thought it would be (see: anxiety).  On one hand, it went by in the blink of an eye, but on the other hand, it felt like a restful time.  I haven't finished my third summer goal though.  I was planning on it, but Jordan said he wanted to rearrange the place I was going to put the painting (which we haven't done yet), so I put the painting on hold.

Vacations:


We were able to go up to my family's cabin in the Northwoods two times this summer.  Both were wonderful, a mixture of fun and relaxing.  The second time we went up with friends and their two small daughters (one of whom is pictured above), which was extra fun.  I'd love to go up another time in the fall, but we might not be able to squeeze it in.  Jordan and I might, might, brave winter camping - the cabin has no electricity or running water, just a wood stove to heat things, which will make for VERY chilly outhouse trips - but we'll have to see if we have it in us this winter.

Monday, September 15, 2014

I can't come out to play, I've got chores to do

(A note about the title: a friend of ours used this excuse for not going rock climbing with Jordan and I two weeks ago.  I thought it was funny that an almost-30 year old was still using chores as an excuse!)

Two weekends ago, Jordan made us all the meals from Friday to Sunday.  This was an unexpected event, especially since I do 99% of the cooking in our house.  I actually found it hard to relax and have someone else serve me in this way.  Tasks I feel I need to compete, such as the dishes, and cooking, I find hard to ask for help.  I take them in as my responsibility, and I feel like I'm slacking, or being lazy, or something is wrong, if Jordan takes care of them for me.  I know it's an area I need to relax control in, but actually, this isn't the direction I was intending this point to go in...

Lately, I've been thinking of task division in the house.  I haven't given it much thought, since Jordan and I chose household responsibilities a long time ago with minimal muss & fuss.  Generally, it falls as such...

Char:  cooking, laundry, sweeping/mopping, dusting, organizing, doing the dishes

Jordan:  making the beds, cleaning the bathroom, yard work/mowing the lawn

Both:  hoovering, taking out the trash/recyclables

Our chores fall along fairly typical gender roles, but we didn't design it as such.  I enjoy cooking and doing the laundry.  It's not that Jordan can't sweep or mop; I feel a need to keep the floors cleaner than he does.  Jordan likes to have the bathroom spic & span, so he takes on that role.

I know task division in the household can be a source of tension for couples, and I'm grateful it's rarely been contentious for Jordan and I.  How do you split up chores in your family?

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I have another Skirtember post - check it out!

Monday, September 08, 2014

What's the most awkward way to return from an unplanned, late-summer* blogging break?


By posting on your even-more-abandoned fashion blog, of course!

+1 awkward point for me!

Anyway, I'm doing my own little Skirtember challenge... check it out here, or play along!


*Can I talk for a moment about the rush into fall?  I don't like it.  Lemme quote Joy the Baker for a moment: Everyone insists on talking about the end of Summer and I say no!  I’m still wearing white shorts and sunglasses despite the September calendar.  No ‘Welcome back from Summer’ emails for me, please.
I like fall, don't get me wrong.  But it will come in its own time.  There are still plenty of summer temperatures, summer activities and lazy summer-y weekends to be had!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Putting up fences

Second summer goal, crossed off the list!  And boy howdy, was it a doozy.

We bought our house (three years ago!) knowing that the fences needed to be replaced.  We tossed the idea around last year, but never got to it.  This year, we're putting our foot - and our money - down and making the needed house improvements.  (See also: spending almost $300 on curtains, blinds, and a rug.  Again though, needed improvements.  If we balk at the price of things, we never go through with it.  And we're replacing the blinds/curtains in our bedroom, upstairs hallway, kitchen and living room, so it evens out to a pretty good deal.  But enough about that.)

We set aside a weekend specifically for the fences.  We invited Jordan's family and friends over, promising them food in exchange for labor.  Jordan's family was especially gracious, and put in a lot of time, along with our friend, Herb.

All in all, we spent about 27 hours, over 3 days, working.  I definitely hit a point, around the 19th hour, on Sunday night, where I just couldn't do it anymore.  I just stared as the boys kept on keepin' on.





Look at everything we did!  We...
 - tore down the old fences
- cleared away the old dirt/grass/weeds
- dug new post holes (BY HAND.  Well, I didn't do this part - the post hole diggers were too heavy - but the guys did. I did help shovel some of them out though.)
- put the posts, sealed with concrete and dirt
- put up the rails
- measured, leveled and measured again
- sawed the pickets to the correct lengths
- nailed up the pickets
- repeated, since we put up two fences
- cleaned up

I've never completed a project on such a grand scale before.  I'm definitely proud of what we did.  The new fences are beautiful, still smelling good (mmm, cedar!) and lined up so neatly you could use them as a ruler (thanks to the ever-meticulous Jordan and his dad).

What's the biggest project you've completed?

Friday, August 08, 2014

Custard Battle 3: Golden Gyros vs. Kopp's

I've heard some people mention "the end of summer" approaching.  Some schools in Tennessee have already started their regular year.  What kind of malarky is this?!  My school hasn't even finished summer school yet!  We're done next week, and then two weeks off - my longest break of the year - so I especially feel like there's still a lot of summer lovin' to be had.  Also, it feels like summer well into September anyway, so the fun doesn't need to stop, even if the calendar technically says it should.

As I said before, let this be the summer of ice cream!  Or, more accurately, custard, since I've only visited one ice cream place as of yet.  So far, our winners have been Gilles and Oscar's... how do today's challengers stack up?

Competitor 1:  Golden Gyros on Lincoln Ave.



What?  A gyros place in a custard battle?  Indeed.

I was at my in-law's, and my brother-in-law, Garrett, and I decided to visit my other brother-in-law, Preston, pictured above, who works at Golden Gyros.  Most of my in-law's are lactose-intolerant, so custard isn't a popular item in their house.  But Garrett and I aren't, and dang it, we wanted some dessert.  So off we went, on a lovely walk.  We got to gently harass Preston at his place of work and got some cones to boot.


We both got double-dip cones of French Silk.  Or, excuse me, we got double-dip cones of Magic.  I don't know what Golden Gyros puts in their custard, but it is the most delicate, satisfying, mouth-watering custard I've had yet.  I wasn't really hungry for dessert, but I put that cone away like nobody's business.


Competitor 2:  Kopp's on Layton Ave.

Ah, Kopp's.  Often held as the pinnacle of custard goodness.  High school date hot spot.  (Look at the pretty waterfalls!)  Their interiors are stainless steel, open, almost warehouse-esque.  My hometown rivals were Oscar's and Kopp's, yet I haven't been to Kopp's in years, and I had never been to this location.


Sidebar:  look at my outfit.
Flannel, and jeans.
Nothing keeps me from custard; not wind, nor rain, nor cold Wisconsin summers!

I got a waffle cone of... something.  I don't remember what, but it was just okay.  Whatever flavor was supposed to be the base wasn't strong enough.  I also finished my friend's s'mores sundae, which was a big disappointment.  They didn't even put graham crackers in it!  The chocolate was all off too.  Also, Kopp's was the most expensive location I've been to so far.

Final verdict:  The hole-in-the-wall Golden Gyros takes down the behemoth Kopp's handily!

I hope you still have fun summer adventures planned; what are they?