Thursday, March 23, 2017

30 Before 30: Year Check In

Last year I made a 30 before 30 list.  Originally I had intended to do a 28 in 28 list but I figured that would be too much pressure so I wanted to give myself two years to complete some of the things that I had come up with!  

So far I've done....horribly.  I literally have only completed like 5 things.  Major fail.  I feel like I should have completed at least half of them while I was 28.  Because now I feel like I have quite a bit to get through in the next year.  Plus, as I'm looking at some of these I'm not really sure what I was thinking.  Because a year in, there are few things that I want to take out and/or change.  But I think I'll just stick with my list and make it more of a priority in the next year!  

Let's see what I have done shall we?! 

1. Go to Washington D.C.    
Woo hoo!  This was accomplished last summer. And it was fantastic.

2. Go to Europe again.  
This will be happening in March of 2018.  I'm pretty certain I'l actually be IN Europe when I turn 30. 

3. Live in and decorate my own apartment.
Check! And let me tell you, it is the best!

4. Go on another cruise.
This is happening this June!  And I've already started paying for it and bought my plane ticket so I'm checking it off!

5. Run a 5K or some other type of race.

6. Try online dating again. 
I've joined Match and have been on a few date, none of which have lead to anything.  It's been really depressing actually.

7. Reach 1,000 Instagram followers.
I'm currently at 826 and I totally think I can make it to 1,000 in a year!

8. Get the domain I purchased to actually work with my blog and eventually re-design the blog again.
YES!  I finally got a domain to work!  I'm officially   I'm hoping to re-design the blog sometime soon.

9. Read 200 books - 100 for each year I have left till 30.
I'm not sure this gonna happen. But I'm gonna sure try.  

10. See a Broadway or Broadway type play.

11. Take a photography class.
I'm actually taking one this Sunday!  The best part is that it's specifically for bloggers so I'm super excited!

12. Make photography a side business.

13. See Michael Buble in concert. (Hopefully he goes on tour in the next two years.)

14. Go back to Universal Studios and see Diagon Alley.
BAH! I just got wind that this is probably happening when I'm in Florida in June!  I'm pretty much freaking out about it to be honest.  

15. Apply for the Fund for Teachers travel grant.
I'm not sure this is something I want to do anymore.  

16. Be healthier- possibly go down a jean size or two.
I'm not sure where I'm at one this one.  I don't even own a scale.  I do know that I'm still the same jean size as I was when I wrote this list, so that's good I suppose.  If only because it means I haven't gained any thing.

17. Buy a clothing item full price from Anthropology.

18. Pay off remaining my credit card debt. 

19. Build my savings.
I've started this too! So fingers crossed by the time I'm 30 it's a nice chunk of change.

20. Visit either: Boston, Chicago, or Seattle.  (or all three! :) )
I was supposed to be going to Chicago this summer, sadly it doesn't look like that is going to be happening anymore.  But I'm hoping to do a long weekend in either Seattle or Boston instead.  I've decided to add Charleston as an option here too! 

21. Meet my future husband.
Nope.  Well see how this year goes.

22. Take a (or preferably multiple) workout class - Zumba, Pure Barre, Spin....something!

23. Attend another blog conference.
Sadly I couldn't attend Thrive this year, but I'm really hoping to be able to attend next year! 

24. Go skiing.
This was another one that almost happened this year but didn't.  My mom really wanted to go over Spring Break but we ended up staying home.  We've been talking about going in December though! 

25. Record a vlog.

26. Learn to do my hair in an up-do.

27. Learn to like wearing high heels.
Accomplished.  Now ask me if I actually wear them that often and the answer is no.  But when I do I actually like it!

28. Eat in a restaurant by myself.

29. Send close friends and family birthday cards starting this summer.
Ok so maybe starting next week, rather than last summer.  I've already got my first one ready to go!

30.  Go to the Houston rodeo.
This was supposed to happen this year and sadly it did not.  Next year for sho!

I've left a few blank with no update or anything because those are the ones I had forgotten about.  I think I need to write this list in my planner and have a note in my phone so I'm more aware of it.  

I am really glad I gave myself until I was 30 to accomplish these because clearly if this had been a 28 in 28 I would have failed HORRIBLY!  But I am excited to have something to accomplish in the next year.  Gives me something to work towards and that is always a good thing! 

Sidenote: If you've never read the book 30 First Dates and you're almost 30 (like me!) I highly recommend it.  It's about a girl who write a 30 before 30 list and incorporates dating into it to help her accomplish the items on her list.  It is so cute and totally worth a read if you're close to or already at 30! :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Break and Birthday Shenanigans

29 and feelin' fine!  Wow that sounded lame.  But I have to say it is true.

Last week was basically a week long weekend for me.  I spent the entirety of my Spring Break hanging out in my hometown with my parents and best friend.  And while it wasn't terribly exciting it was still one of the best weeks I've had in a while.  I would have posted this recap yesterday but I drove for 10 hours straight and was exhausted by the time I got home.  The older I get the harder it is to sit in one place for that long!  

Any who, here were the highlights of the week!

MY BIRTHDAY!  Saturday I celebrated my 29th birthday!  I celebrated with pedicures with my mom, seeing Beaty and the Beast, and a delicious dinner at one of my families favorite restaurants Billy Cruise.  

Side note: Beauty and the Beast was amazing!  It was actually much better than what I thought it would be, because I was worried that it would be so CGI that it wouldn't be believable.  But that was not the case at all.  I loved that it basically mirrored the animated classic perfectly and I loved all the new songs that were added too.   I'm excited to see it again this Thursday!

Please excuse the fact that you can see my bra strap in two of these! (insert eye roll emoji here)  Clearly I am NOT a fashion blogger! ; )

 A big thanks to Ashley (The Wandering Weekenders) for taking my birthday pictures for me this year!  I love that she and I have made this a tradition!

Quality time with my parents.   Living 10 hours away from my family can really suck sometimes.  I sometime wish I lived in the same city as them so I could pop over for dinner whenever I wanted.  So it was great to have some uninterrupted time with them.  

Photoshoot with my bestie.  Not only does living 10 hours away from you parents suck but so does living 10 hours away from your best friend.  Thankfully she and I talk basically everyday so it's not that bad.  But nothing beats getting to see her in person.  Especially now that she has a little girl.  Every time I'm in town though I make a point to spend a night or two with her.  This time around we decided to have a little photoshoot.  Before she became a full time mommy, Ashley was a rockstar teacher and a year or so ago she opened her own little shop on a website called Teachers Pay Teachers where she sells lesson plans and other items to other teachers.  She's decided to take her success a step further and create a full on website and focus her attention on Classroom Management.    SO....she needed a few professional photos to use for her new site.  Plus I needed a few photos that I could use here on my little space of the internet so we took pictures for each other! 

Las Cruces, NM surprisingly has some great photo spots and thankfully we were able to snag some pretty good ones!  

Brady found a new home with my parents.  Ok so this last one isn't exactly a highlight but it's not a lowlight either.  For a while now, I've been thinking about letting Brady live with my parents.  They have a nice big backyard and a way for Brady to be an indoor and outdoor cat.  He has so much energy and it's been hard to keep him cooped up in my apartment.  So I made the very rough decision to leave him with my parents.  He absolutely LOVES being outside and I can tell that he is so much happier.  But I may or may not have started bawling as I drove away on Sunday morning and it is super quite in the apartment without him.  Thankfully I still have Sadie but she is so much quieter and  laid back than Brady is.  My mom has been sending me pictures and updates on how he's doing and thankfully I'll be able to see him every time I go home! 

I just went through a bunch of the picture I took of him as a kitten and now I'm getting weepy again.  

So I think this is a good place to wrap up.


Over all it was a pretty good week.  Very laid back and relaxing.  I loved getting to spend my birthday with my parents and brother.  Next year I'm hoping to be in Europe somewhere, right now it's looking like it's gonna be Iceland and Denmark (woo hoo!), so it was really nice to spend my 29th with them.  

I wish I could say I was ready to come back to work but I'd be lying.  I'm so over this school year and am anxiously awaiting June 2nd!  :)

Linking up with Biana for Weekending!


Friday, March 17, 2017

Goodbye 28......

Today is my last day being 28.  I'm sorry what!  How in the hell has this year gone so incredibly fast?  I know I've said this a thousand times on this blog of mine, but time feels like it is literally flying by!  I just looked at the post I wrote last year when I turned 28 and I wrote about the 5 things I was most looking forward to in my 28th year of life.

So I thought it would be fun (for who? Me I guess and you too) to see what became of those 5 things.  Did they come true?  Did they not?  Let's see shall we?!

Living by myself for the first time ever.  So far this has been amazing.  Early on it was semi lonely and I found myself wishing for a roommate.  But it's been 8 months and I can safely say that I LOVE living alone.  I love having my own space.  I love being able to do everything on my time.  I love how my apartment decor has really come together.  I've learned a lot about myself living alone and I'm glad I've had this time with....well myself.  Which probably sounds totally weird but is true.

Maybe, possibly, hopefully meeting my person.  Yeah this didn't happen.  I dated here and there but nothing stuck.  I feel like this is the most frustrating aspect of my life right now and I'm just not sure what to do about it.  I know I know, I'm supposed to stop thinking about it and when I do it'll just happen.  But hello!!  I've been doing that for the last 5 years and it still hasn't happened.  It's getting to where I'm officially going to be the last person in any of my friend groups without a significant other.  I continuously ask myself why I wasn't one of those girls that met her "person" in college.  And quite frankly the whole dating thing is exhausting, especially as I get dangerously close to thirty.

Reading 100 or more books.  Negative.  I met my yearly goal of 50 books and since then I've read 11 books, so that brings my total since this time last year to 61.  I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote this one to be honest.  How I thought I could read 40 addition books from January - March 17th is beyond me.  

Visiting our nations capitol.  My family and I visited Washington DC last July and it was a phenomenal trip.  It was the first trip we'd been on as a family in about 5 or 6 years and we had the best time ever.  We visited all the major sites and even got to tour the Capitol and The White House.  As a teacher who specifically teaches US History, I think it was important for me to visit the Capitol.

Creating and completing a 28 in 28 challenge for myself.  So it turns out that I ended up writing out a 30 Before 30 list as opposed to a 28 in 28 list.  So I guess that means I need to write a 29 in 29 list for this year!  Would it be cheating to include some of the items on my 30 Before 30 list?  Because I totally think I might have to do that.  Also stay tuned next week, because I am going to be doing a year check in on my 30 Before 30 list!

Well,  over all I think my anticipations for my 28th year were pretty good.  Two of them were obviously things I knew were going to happen and the last three were things I was hoping to happen.

I sometimes wish I could get just a little flashes into what my life if going to be like in the next 15 or so years.   Then at least I wouldn't have to worry so much about the choices I'm making or the things that aren't happening that I wish would happen.  But life doesn't work like that does it?

So I guess I'll just have to have faith and be patient.  :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Your Next Favorite Book: February Reads

February was good reading month.  I had set a goal to read at least 5 books in the month of February and I did it!  Although according to Goodreads I'm currently five books behind schedule in my reading challenge.  This month I have a goal to read another 5 and thankfully it's Spring Break so I'm hoping to get a lot of reading in!

I'm only reviewing 3 of the five I read in February because I was able to review two of them in my January reads post.  Which you can read here.

Goodreads Synopsis: Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

My thoughts:  Of the books I read in February this was by far my favorite!  I LOVED this book.  I was a little worried because I really loved The Lunar Chronicles and I was worried that this book wouldn't live up to those.  But it totally supposed my expectations.  I feel like there are a ton of versions of Alice in Wonderland out there but none of them focus on the story of the Red Queen.  So it was fascinating to read one person's perspective on why she is the way she is.  I was sad when I found out that this is going to be a stand alone novel.  I would love to read more about her version of Wonderland and more on the Red Queen but alas that is not to be.  

If you were forced to read at least one book from this review then make it this one.  It was funny, sad, and the love story was delightful.  I even found myself getting teary eyed towards the end.  Point is you should read it!  It's good, real good! :)

We read this book for one of my book clubs and I'm super excited because we've decided to have a tea party in April and officially talk about the book!  

Goodreads Synopsis: After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these "guests," and human names for the animals, it's no wonder that the zoo's code name became "The House Under a Crazy Star." Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story—sharing Antonina's life as "the zookeeper's wife," while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism. 

My thoughts:  I'm not even sure where to start with this one.  So I first heard this title as I was watching the movie trailer for the film based on the book.  And seeing as how WWII historical fiction is basically my favorite, I knew I wanted to read the book before I saw the film.  So I bought it and was surprised to realize that this is not a historical fiction (based on a real life figure) at all but actually a non-fiction book.  I'm not a huge fan of non-fiction books.  In fact I'm pretty sure I've never actually read one before now.  I thought the book was only going to be about Antonina and her zoo but the author actually goes into a ton of detail on the "guests" (which was what uses to refer to the thousands of Jews Antonina and her husband hide in the zoo during the occupation of Poland) of the zoo and on the science surrounding the doctrine of the Nazis'.  I found myself just wanting to read the parts about Antonina and skimming all the other parts.  One thing I didn't like was that she would jump from writing as if it were a fiction novel to writing like it was a non-fiction one.  It read like novel when she was writing about Antonina but then would switch to a non-fiction style writing when she went into details on the "guests" staying at the zoo and on why and how the Nazi's came up with their ideology regarding creating a "pure race" (insert hard eye roll at that last part).  She also went in to a lot of detail on the Polish Resistance because Jan Zabinski played an instrumental roll in the fight against the Nazis by the Polish people.  

Now my thoughts and feelings on the book will in no way stop me from seeing the movie.  Mostly because I have a feeling this is going to be one of the rare instances when the movie is better than the book!  If you like non-fiction then it may be the book for you, but if you've seen the trailer for the movie and think the book is going to be strictly about Antonina and the hiding of Jews in her zoo, then just wait for the movie! 

Goodreads Synopsis:  They said she was a murderer. 

They said she killed her sister.

But they lied.

As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

My thoughts:  I found this book at Target and was immediately drawn to it.  I was in the mood for something a little darker and this fit the bill.  The story was intriguing and left me guessing pretty much the entire time.  I did think the ending was a little rushed.  I would have liked a little more detail and a little more closure.  I gave it a five stars on Goodreads but with the rushed ending it was really more of a 4.5 rating.  I'd really like to read another of Chevy Stevens books, particularly Never Let You Go.  I have a pretty long list of TBRs but I have a feeling I'll be purchasing it in the near future.

Goodreads Synopsis: One duel could be considered a matter of honor, but three duels are attempted murder! With enlightened society outraged at such reckless behavior among young noblemen, the Prince Regent orders Robert Whitworth, the earl of Tamdon’s heir, and Lord Dominic Wolfe to end their dispute by allying their families through marriage. Whichever party refuses to comply will forfeit his lands and title.

Whitworth relishes the idea of sending his younger sister Brooke to his enemy’s remote estate. He knows the Wolf will reject her as a bride, thereby losing his wealth and status. The Wolf, however, is determined to scare away the Whitworth chit. With dueling no longer an available means of destroying the man he abhors, he will be satisfied to see him lose his lands and title. But he hadn’t expected his enemy’s sister to be so resourceful or resilient.

Brooke Whitworth has been dreaming of her first Season in London because she intends to win a husband who will take her far away from her unloving family. Instead, she is being sent to the Yorkshire moors to wed a mysterious nobleman whose family is cursed and who has thrice tried to kill her brother. But there’s no room in her heart for fear; this man is her means of escape. She will make him love her!

My thoughts:  This wasn't my favorite Johanna Lindsey book.  I love her Malory series and this  one just wasn't as good as those.  It passed the time just fine and would be an ok read if you're looking for something but she just has so many others that are so much better.  That I can't whole heartedly recommend this one.   

So like I said, if you have to pick at least one of these to add to your own TBR I would suggest Heartless.  It really was very well done and I wish I owned it myself because it's definitely one that I would go back and read again on a rainy day when I needed something to read!

Linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Three Things

I saw this fun little ditty floating around the blog world a few months ago.  Most recently (if you consider October recent) on Kristen's blog and it's been sitting in my drafts for a while now (since October).   And seeing as it's birthday month I figured now was the perfect time for another little get to know you post!

Three thing's I'd never give up: 
My ability to read, getting my hair highlighted, and traveling (stealing that one from Kristen cuz it's a good one!)

Three favorite vegetables:
Zucchini/squash, tomatoes, potatoes.  I really want to add avocado to this but I know technically that's a fruit.

Three shows I watched faithfully from beginning to end:
Charmed, Boy Meets World, and The Office.  I've literally seen Charmed like 20 different times from start to finish.  Mostly because it's always on TV early in the morning and I always turn it on as background noise because I can't stand getting ready in silence.  I just finished Parenthood all the way through and that was an emotional rollercoaster.

Three places I want to visit inside the US:
Seattle, Boston, and Savannah

Three places I want to visit outside the US:
French Polynesia (Moorea and Bora Bora), Austria, Iceland.  I've been seeing lots of thing about French Polynesia lately and y'all it is breathtaking.  I remember thinking that when I saw it when the Real Housewives of Orange County went there on one of their big trips.  And I'm hoping to cross Iceland off this list next March!

Three things I always have with me: 
Lipstick/gloss, a book, and my phone.

Three things that are always in my car:
An umbrella, sunglasses, and loose coins.

Three most recent calls were from/to:
My Uncle (yesterday was his birthday and I'm a good niece), my parents, and my best friend Abby.

Three books I read and loved in college: 
Ok this one is tough because I can't exactly remember all the books I read in college.  But I do remember reading The Giver and The Secret Garden in my children's literature class and I loved both.  I had never read The Giver because I hated the book cover (yes, I totally judge books by their covers) and thought it was going to be totally boring.  Oh, how wrong I was.  And I just never picked up The Secret Garden for some reason.  And lastly I suppose is the first book in The Century Trilogy by Ken Follet, Fall of Giants.  It's one of my all time favorite book series and I read the first in college.

Three most often used makeup products:
Mascara, I've been using Covergirls Lash Blast for at least 5 or 6 years now.   Under eye concealer, I have horrendous dark circles under my eyes that MUST be covered.  Right now I'm using Tarte's Maracuja Creaseless Concealer but I'd really like to try the itCosmetics undereye concealer.  And finally eyeshadow, the Naked 2 palette to be precise.

Three things that make me laugh:
 people scaring other people (I especially love it when Ellen does it to celebrities and her producer Andy), dogs humping human legs, babies cussing.

Three things that make me cry:
Grey's Anatomy and Parenthood, thinking about my cats getting lost/dying, and thinking about a close family member dying.  And when it's close to that time of the month, EVERYTHING!  Seriously it's bad.

These kinda of posts are always fun to write and the ones I like to read the most!  Have a great Tuesday!