Sunday, February 21, 2016

5 on...Sunday?

Y'all, third post THIS WEEK.  Crazy, right?  I don't know what inspired this increase in blog activity.  But you know what's going to keep it up?  5 on Friday Sunday!  Because there are few things I love more than making a list.

 O     N     E

I haven't updated on the 21 day fix.  Well round 1 is done!  I am currently doing a week of maintenance, then I'm going to start it back up again.

I am officially a fan of the fix.  It is super hard and intense, but you can see immediate results.  I still need to be able to have some cheat meals, but overall, both Bech and I really like clean eating.  I struggle with the protein aspect, because we don't normally eat tons of protein.  But I loved eating more fruits and veggies.

I ended up losing 6 pounds.  I was hoping for more, but I cheated the last two weekends of the fix.  And, I know that I gained a bunch of muscle.  

I didn't do my measurements before I started (because I'm dumb and forgetful), but I did them a week in.  So after a week of maintenance, I retook my measurements...12 inches lost!  

T     W     O

One thing I am enjoying a lot about the fix is the exercising.  I don't normally like exercising at all.  But I am actually enjoying all of Autumn's videos.  Her motto is "You can do anything for 60 seconds," and I love it.  Sometimes, I feel like there is no way I can do another burpee, and then I think, it's only 60 seconds (then a 15 second break)...I can do 60 seconds.

But it has made me realize what my favorite type of exercise is--Pilates.  I love yoga, but I want a little more intensity than the normal yoga workout provides.  Pilates is a great answer to that.  It's a little faster paced and there is a little more strength training, but it's not as hardcore as Autumn's cardio workouts.

I'm about to do another round of the fix, but I am thinking after that I might do 60 days of Beachbody's Piyo workout.  Any one have any experience with it?

T     H     R     E     E

Y'all, Bachelor this season is almost done.  I don't watch a ton of TV, but I do NOT miss this show.  I usually try to resist, but then get sucked in by Pinterest Told Me To's recaps.  But this year I started watching right from the beginning because I love Bachelor Ben.

Any other Bachelor watchers out there?

F     O     U     R

We are officially on Baby Watch 2016.  My sister is due at the end of this month with a little girl, Anne Douglas.  I have been making tentative plans for the next couple of weeks because we plan on hoping in the car and heading down to DC as soon as Katy tells us she's in labor!

Gil has no idea what's going on, but Jack is pretty pumped to be getting a baby niece.  I have been watching two little girls during the week (one 4 months and one 6 months) and Jack just loves them.  He asked me the other day if we could buy Vivian (the 4 month old).  Um, pretty sure her parents might have something to say about that!  But he can claim Anne Douglas as his.

F     I     V     E

Bech's little brother is getting married the first weekend of April, and the boys and I are headed down South at the end of March.  CAN NOT WAIT.  I love springtime in Mississippi.  And it is always fun to leave the cold north for a Mississippi spring.

I will have just wrapped up my second round of the fix, so I'm not going to go too crazy.  But you better believe I will have a couple of snow cones while I'm home.  Plus, I NEED some Sakura Bana sushi!

So there you go...five random thoughts/topics from my head.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book List, Part 2

Alright, Part 2 of my book list.  I am going to work on non-fiction next, because it will be a little easier.  I don't read a ton of non-fiction.  I actually struggle to get through non-fiction books (whereas I can tear through some fiction).   So here we go:

Bread and Wine

I had this book sitting on my kindle for months and decided not to read it.  I knew that I would want to hold this book in my hands, and I was right.  I loved it.  I would describe this as a book of snippets about faith, family, community, and food.  And interspersed throughout the book are recipes.  Can it get better?

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

This is one of the only non fiction books that I have read a second time.  When we moved to Malawi in 2008, Bech had just read this book and Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food.  He started getting really into local, organic food and also into cooking.  When we moved back to the States, all I wanted to do was buy food at Kroger.  We actually had separate food budgets because he wanted to shop at the local coop.

Somehow I picked up his copy of this book and read it.  And, whoa, it changed a lot of my views.  Even if you aren't necessarily looking to change how you source or cook your food, I will still suggest it.  Barbara Kingsolver, her husband, and her two daughters move to West Virginia and commit to spend a year eating only local and in season food.  Each chapter is divided up by the month.  It doesn't feel super preachy; it reads much more like a story.  But you still end up learning a lot (and wanting to cook lots of new food!).  Plus, there's a little Vermont shout out in it!

Mere Christianity

Any surprise here?  If you know me at all (or have read my blog at all), you know that I love me some C. S. Lewis.  So I could just put any and all Lewis.  But I'm going to give you my two favorites.

Mere Christianity is an apologetic, or a defense of the faith.  What makes it stand out is two things.  First, Lewis became a Christian later in life.  He has such an interesting perspective on faith.  Second, Lewis is so clever!  This book is where he introduced his liar, lunatic, Lord argument, which is one of my favorites.

The Four Loves

Bech and I actually led a study on this book while in college.  I haven't read it in it's entirety in a couple of years and really need to.  It goes through the four types of love, and I think it's really an insightful look into love and human behaviour.  Bech and I still reference points from this book often.

Again, you will not be disappointed in any Lewis books!


G. K. Chesterton is yet another of my favorites, and this book may be my absolute favorite non-fiction book.  Chesterton is brilliant and absolutely hilarious.  I fell in love with this book in college and still re read it often (I am currently doing so on my kindle--free book for the win!).  

Orthodoxy is another book of Christian apologetics but with a slightly different bent than Lewis' Mere Christianity.  Lewis is fairly rational in his arguments.  Chesterton appeals to the faerie world a lot.  I know that sounds like a strange description, so you'll just have to read it to know what I mean.

My favorite quote from the book:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

A Severe Mercy

This is a fun book to have on the list, because, although it is a non fiction, true story, it reads like fiction.  A Severe Mercy is the love story of Sheldon and Davy.  Sheldon writes the story after Davy has died (he says that on the first page--I didn't ruin it for you!).  Warning, you will sob, like shoulders shaking, tears streaming down your face sobbing.  But, it will be worth it.

Alright, there's my list for non-fiction.  You'll probably laugh at the difference in length between this and my final (fiction) list.  I just am not a huge non-fiction fan!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Book List, Part 1

I've had a couple of people lately ask me for book lists.  I am flattered, but I'm not completely sure why.  I suppose the only answer is that I read...a lot.  I read at least one book, often two, a week.  Sometimes that number is closer to three.

If you are amazed at that amount and wonder how I have time, I have two tips.  First of all, I have the kindle app on my phone so that I can read wherever, whenever.  I read for at least 20 minutes every night on my phone.  I am lucky because I share a kindle account with my family.  They buy books they want to read, and then I read them.  It works great for me.  But if you don't want to spend a bunch of money to be able to read on your phone, either read the classics (often they are free to download, like Anna Karenina) or check out ebooks from your library (just ask how at the front desks...librarians are incredibly helpful!).  I use both of those methods often.

My other tip is to read multiple books at once.  I would say, no more than three.  But I always have a book going on my kindle app and a physical book that I am reading.  That way I can sit in my kids room and read the physical book and then work on the kindle book later that day.

So back to my list.  I decided to break my suggested reading list up into three sections: fiction, non-fiction, and popular fiction.  And today, I'm going to start with popular fiction.  I think of this category as the "book club" group.  These books probably aren't going to win a Pulitzer or be remembered 50 years from now.  But, they are fun, entertaining, and engaging reads that I would recommend to others!  Also, this list is, by necessity, ever changing, unlike my two others.  So what I recommend today might be totally different a year or two from now, just based on what I'm reading.

Liane Moriarty

When I worked in the UVM library, I would always put aside interesting looking books while checking them back in.  This is how I came across What Alice Forgot.  Since then, I have read all six of her books.  She is a wonderful writer.  Her books are really interesting.  They aren't mysteries, but they keep you wanting to know more.  Plus, she deals with some pretty big issues, especially in her latest Little Big Lies.  My least favorite is The Hypnotist's Love Story, but honestly, they are all good books.

The Flavia de Luce series

Alan Bradley is a British man living in Canada who writes about a precocious preteen chemist/detective, Flavia de Luce.  Flavia lives in the countryside of England in the early 1950's and she is a HOOT.  These books are absolutely delightful.  And what's more fun than reading these books is listening to them.  The woman who reads the audio versions does a great job.  (Check out a free trial on Audible or see if your library has them on cd).  I would suggest this series even if you aren't a mystery fan.

Elin Hildebrand

I hesitated adding this name to the list.  Listen, her books can be pretty cheesy.  But the books are all set on Nantucket and some even center around food.  These are quintessential summer or beach reads.  Don't expect anything deep.  Do expect to enjoy them.

Louise Penny

Louise Penny is a Montreal native who writes the Armand Gamache mystery series.  Y'all, I never buy books.  I borrow or check them out.  I pre-order her books.  That's how good she is.  Now, if you aren't a mystery fan, then skip this.  But if you love mysteries, I strongly suggest Penny.

The Book Thief

This one has been out for a couple of years, but if you haven't read it, you should.  I love books that have to deal with World War 2 and the Holocaust, and this one is incredible.  Warning, it is not a happy book.  

And, they made a movie of this book a couple of years ago and I thought they did an amazing job!  Read the book first, though.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This one has also been out for several years, but it's one of the first I read on my kindle.  It deals with WWII, but its about a British island that was occupied.  This is a much happier WWII read.

The Little Paris Bookshop

Why is it books are almost always better set in Europe?  This books is a little longer and was harder to get into.  But it is so good.  I really enjoyed the writing.  

All the Light We Cannot See

Another great WW2 book.  The book switches in time and in stories a lot, which kept me interested.  Plus, it's just a beautiful book.  Warning, it isn't the saddest book I've ever read, but it's definitely not the happiest either.

Me Before You

I'm going to jump on the bandwagon with this pick, but I really did love it.  Plus, there is a movie coming out, and Will Traynor is played by Finnick (from the Hunger Games movies).  Again, not necessarily the happiest of choices, but I loved it.  I haven't read the sequel, but I'm on the waitlist at my library for it.

So there you go.  No Pulitzer prize winners, but good, entertaining reads.  Again, check out your library for these books!  It's free, and if you hate the book, you didn't waste money.  If the book you want is checked out, you can get on the waitlist.  If your library doesn't have the book, they can use Interlibrary Loan to get the book from another library or they might even be willing to purchase the book (although your library should have all of these titles).  I'll be back soon with the rest of the lists!