Monday, August 22, 2016

Movie Madness

It’s about that time again. Fall is upon us which means it’s movie time. The Fall Film Challenge to be exact. Every year Jenn hosts this challenge. Last year was my first time participating and I’m happy to say that I was a winner. If you think watching 25 movies, that you’ve never seen before, in 3 months’ time is easy then you clearly need to join in. View the link. Read the rules. Make your list. 
Last year I made my list, and a few edits as we went along. This year, no edits are allowed. Fortunately, I took my sweet time making my list. Here’s what I’ll be watching this fall:
1| about adolescence Fast Times at Ridgemont High
2| about a character’s rebirth or rite of passage Burnt
3| about a comic book character Green Lantern
4| shot or set in Washington, DC Patriot Games

 5| set in an academic environment Election
6| about failure A Streetcar Named Desire
7| about a man vs. god/gods Dogma
8| about a man vs. himself Southpaw
9| about an invention or an ingenuous individual Tomorrowland
10| set in jail or prison The Shawshank Redemption
11| about a dog Frankenweenie
12| about loss The Lovely Bones
13| about man vs. man The Way Way Back

 14| about man vs. nature Cast Away
15| one that has a monster or monstrous individual Gangster Squad
16| shot or set in Pennsylvania Flashdance
17| about a character’ quest of some kind Raiders of the Lost Arc
18| about a character who goes from rags to riches Limitless
19| about a man vs. society The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
20| originally released in the thirties Frankenstein

21| about undesirable individuals or elements Sleepers
22| about a voyage and return Before Sunrise
23| about wizards or witchcraft Now You See Me
24| originally released in the sixties The Graduate
25| about a yearning or obsession Sleeping With the Enemy
And there you have it. If you have any questions about where I’ll be come September 1st, this is it. Aside from the obvious amount of movies in a 3-month time frame, this challenge is particularly challenging for me because I have already seen so many that would qualify. 1930s? Hello…. Gone With the Wind? It definitely makes me have to work harder. 
Have you seen any of these? Are you going to be participating?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

You Should Know...

It's been a while since I participated in Confessions so here we are.

+ This month to date I have spent $116.59 on stickers. I green-lighted myself for the Jamison Reid Designs September subscription box and after that, it's no more until November (when I buy new inserts for 2017). You guys, they're just so pretty!

+ I've basically been phoning it in on this space for a while. I'm blaming on the "dog days of summer" even though I seriously don't have any idea what that phrase actually means. Really, it's just because I truly don't have anything blogworthy going on right now and I believe in quality over quantity. 

+ I've been slacking on my gym routines. It's not that I haven't been going, although the week after vacay was a rough one, and this one hasn't been going so well either, it's more I have limited time and don't get to do everything I want so I feel like I'm not working as hard. 

+ I went to the Seneca Lake Wine & Food Fest is March 2015. I bought almost an entire case of wine for myself. I went to CreamRidge Winery last October and bought 4 bottles... and here I'm still stocked to capacity. And I bought 2 more this past weekend at th NJ Wine Fest. #notsorry

+ I was thisclose to buying a ticket and booking a room for PlannerCon 2017 in San Fran for March. I was even watching flights on Kayak. Then I did the math, like, on paper, and realized it wasn't practical for right now. Not to mention, so expensive. It would have been a little under $900 for a 2-day event. I spent way less than that for my upcoming vacation.

+ Speaking of upcoming vacation. In T-26 days I will be hopping on a plane to go get a new passport stamp.

+ I went shopping with a friend this past weekend. I got some great pieces and thought I did pretty good. When I added up my receipts that night it was anything but. $600.35 I'm not happy about the number BUT I did get a good variety with replacement sneakers and sandals, clothes for work, a new Longchamp (There was no way I wasn't buying a new Longchamp from the outlet) and a long-sought after trench coat (sticker said $178, I paid $46, all the wins!) so I should be good for the rest of the year.

Perfect for fall! 

So flipping excited.

+ I'm starting a honest to God spending ban/freeze for September. I'm really taking the time to lay out my guidelines and rules and make sure I have all the month;s plans and activities factored in. No "stuff I forgot to budget for"!

That's it for today. Sorry there's nothing exceptionally juicy today!  What are you confessing to?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

What I Read Vol. 1

I've decided to finally categorize this monthly thing we do about books. Took me long enough. And by categorize, I mean give it a proper title with some numbers. Whatever, I'm rambling.

June's Read Your Books challenge finally got me out of my reading slump. I'm telling you, it takes one good book and then you're off and running! Here's a look at what I read, or didn't read.

These first 2 books I actually read in June, but seeing as this was all I read, I wasn't about to participate in July's linkup. 

It Was Me All AlongIt Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I tried sooo hard to get into this book. I've struggled to maintain a consistent weight my entire adult life, and it's difficult. So I thought I'd be able to relate and dive into this book.

Unfortunately, I just couldn't. I couldn't relate as I have never been grossly overweight, and I couldn't relate to the manner in which she ate. That's not to say that what I did read was bad, it wasn't, it just wasn't for me.

365 Little Blasts of Love365 Little Blasts of Love by Amy L. Fiedler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the interest of shamelessness, I am finally letting the secret out. Some of you may or may not know that for the past 6 months I worked as an editor. This book is the culmination of many long nights. 

I have read these pages over and over, both as a reader and as an editor. If you're looking for daily, or whenever, inspirational mantras with applicable context, this is the book. 

JuneJune by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not sure where to even start reviewing this book. It's rare that I love a book so much that I'm at a loss as to what to say about it.

I was pulled in within the first five paragraphs. The author has a way of giving life to inanimate objects. Two Oaks wasn't "just" a house. It was a character. It felt, it hoped.

"Houses that dream are built for the ages (one or two perhaps, in every small American town). Once revered as grand homes, they are now merely called "buildings." They're the columned fortresses stranded on the back streets you pass on the way to visit elderly aunties; sights to whistle at while snapping a cell phone picture, before motoring on. Constructed by ambitious dreamers (in the case of Two Oaks, an oilman named Lemon Gray Neely, who broke ground on the lot in the heart of St. Jude, Ohio, in 1895), such grand estates spend their infancies priding under the touch of skilled craftsmen, certain they'll provide shelter to everyone who steps across their oak thresholds for centuries to come." - June

Told from both 1955 and 2015, June is a story that tells a story of love, loss, betrayal, and hope. June and Lindie are best friends from two very different worlds. When Hollywood comes to this small, rural Ohio town, everything changes. Who they thought they were, what they knew and wanted.

Cassie has just lost her grandmother. After leaving New York and heading back to Two Oaks, she wallows in her own self-pity until one day a man shows up at her door informing her of an incredibly large inheritance forcing family secrets to be uncovered and new bonds formed.

I absolutely LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down. Past/present narratives are a favorite of mine and this book did not disappoint. June is a book that will pull you in, a story you won't want to leave.

Things I Would Say: Essays, etceteraThings I Would Say: Essays, etcetera by Alyssa Ammirato
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Words can be painful, joyful, truthful, hopeful.... but sometimes they're just raw. And that's exactly what these were. How do you review someone's feelings? Their emotions? You can't. You just read them and feel them. And I felt this book.

One of my favorite passages:

"scraping my throat for the words I need to banish you, but you've tied too many knots in my tongue and I choke on my goodbye"

So raw, so true. Because we've all felt this.

Laguna Beach: Last Night in LagunaLaguna Beach: Last Night in Laguna by C.M. Albert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked this story. For one, anything that takes place at the beach is a hit with me. I can easily skip into beach mindset and get lost in the story. And that's exactly what happened here.

Bex has a "gypsy soul". She's never lived anywhere long but has found her place in Laguna. Except she's going to be leaving it all behind as she moves to New York to help her sister. Bex goes on a quest to do all her favorite things on her last night in Laguna and finds it may not be as easy to leave as she thought.

Where the Heart Is (Ribbon Ridge, #0.5)Where the Heart Is by Darcy Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a short and sweet novella. Found myself easily getting sucked into the story and falling for all the characters. Perfect in-between read.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The 411 - July

As I mentioned last month, I'm going to try real hard to get, have, and keep my blogging shit together this fall. To start out on the right foot it's time to finally get in a linkup that for some reason I always seem to miss.

What's New With You

July was a crazy busy month. I feel like the days came and went faster than I could look at the calendar. Even with the whirlwind, it was a lot of fun.

The beginning of the month found me home with the fam for the holiday weekend. Between the food, the pool, and the Slip n Slide, I had one amazing weekend.

The very next week I started training at the yoga studio. I was a little weary about adding more t my plate, especially when there really was no benefit to me, but that's what karma is all about. I've been working there for 4 weeks (as of today!) and I do enjoy it. Plus, free yoga whenever I want is pretty awesome.

Mid month I went out with friends all week. I did an after work happy hour with a former coworker, Friday lunch with another former coworker, had one of the best blates in a while, celebrated a friend's 32nd birthday, hit the beach... Again, and had Stewart's for the first time.

Back in June I finally used the massage gift card that I got for Christmas. Of course they also roped me into becoming a member. It's not cheap but I'm looking on the bright side - every month I get an hour long massage, or for an extra $10, a facial.

I took Oreo to get updated rabies shots so that I could take him for his "spa" appointment. At the risk of being shamed as a horrible pet owner I'm going to admit that my cats have never once been professionally groomed. I brush them frequently and I clip their nails myself. This summer the shedding has been out of control. Needless to say, Oreo wasn't too thrilled with me.

Since summer isn't summer unless you're at the Jersey Shore, I met up with a friend for a beach day.

Why not finish the month the way it started, right? I spent the entire last week of July down the shore in Seaside with the fam. I've said it before and I'll say it until I'm blue, Little Miss is my most favorite person in the whole Universe.

The best thing about this is that when you give a 4 year old a drink umbrella, she does the only logical thing with it. That's also a picture of my "second kneecap" because the ocean made me its bitch from jump. Also, the Jersey Shore house. Yes, the one from TV. ::insert eye roll emoji here::

All in all, July was excellent! Here's to having an amazing August! What did you do this month?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What I Learned from a Bad Yoga Class

Several  years ago I went to my first yoga class. It was a free event and I thought “why not?!”  The best part was that I immediately fell in love. I was pretty pleased with myself for being able to keep up with the class, maintain correct form and if I'm being honest, proud that the teacher didn't correct my form at all. 

Fast forward a few years ago and my friend introduced me to Bad Yogi. I remember being completely enraptured by Erin’s energy and philosophy. This was yoga I could get on board with. 

Of course, my practice has wavered since then. I'm consistent and then I'm not. I can hold plank and other times I need to drop to my knees. Sometimes my feet are flat on the ground in down dog, others I just can't stick it. 

Several weeks ago I went to a free yoga class in NYC. I had been to these sessions last summer so I was excited to start going again. But if we're being honest, it was the worst class I've ever taken. 

Now, I realize that sounds anti-yogi and pretentious. Who am I to judge another teacher? Here's the thing, though, this class didn't flow at all. My body was not a fan and it immediately put a damper on my time on the mat. Even my friend that was with me was having a difficult time for the same reasons. 

I immediately realized the lack of flow made me uncomfortable. I heard myself thinking things like, “I'm not liking yoga right now”; “Why aren't we flowing like all the other classes I've taken?”; and “ugh… This isn't how we should be doing this.” 

And then I checked myself. 

I was present. I was in this park on a gorgeous summer evening with cool breezes flowing over me, the sounds of the city creating their own music, doing something that brings me peace. Showing my body, mind, and spirit the love it deserves. I was showing up. 

And that's all that mattered. 

Sometimes things don't go the way you want or hoped they'd go, but that's where the lesson is. Instead of complaining I didn't like the sequence, or just staying in child’s pose, I did what I could and kept moving forward. 

And that's the number one lesson to life. That magic trick everyone is always looking for: 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Highly Recommended

Sometime back in 2015 Kristen and Erin started this. Now I'm picking up the torch. We all have favorite books and, as all of blog-land knows, we all love talking about and sharing the books we've read. Here are the 10 books I feel you MUST read (in no particular order)!

1// The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
I read this book back in 2009 upon the recommendation of a friend of mine. She actually sent me her copy to borrow. I read it and immediately felt in love with this sad, raw, memoir. I've been recommending this book ever since and even got my own copy just to own it. 

2// Please Stop Laughing at Me by Jodie Blanco
This is right up there with The Glass Castle. I was never picked on in school so I can't even begin to imagine what Jodie went through but she does an amazing job painting the picture in this book. As kids, we don't think about how our actions affect others. Sometimes those actions affect that person for the rest of their life. 

3// Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I thought this book was beautifully written. I was pulled into this story from the very beginning. I felt for the characters, I cried for the elephants. I could vividly see the story as I read it. Then I saw the movie and it meshed with everything I had envisioned on my own. 

4// The Giver by Lois Lowry
I only just read this book for the first time in early 2015. As soon as I finished it I had two thoughts: WTF took me so long?! and what happens next?! Banned or not, this book should be read by everyone. Feel the feelings people. 

This book was just such a sweet feel-good story that made me cry. I owned it for a while but parted with it because I'm not a re-reader. 

6// The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman
I talked about this book in November's Booked post and I truly feel the things I said. This is an amazing book about family, love, loss, guilt, and compassion. It was very well written. I immediately loved the relationship between Rose and her sister-in-law Helen. Mort, Rose's husband, was immediately disliked. Such a miserable man. But as the story is told over the years as the families grow and age, you feel for the characters. You come to understand that sometimes love is the only thing needed because it will supersede everything.

7// The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx
I think Erin mentioned this one in her list and for good reason. This book was insane. To get an up close and personal look at the life of a heroin junkie is something that doesn't happen unless you're dealing with it personally. Reading the journal passages from when Motley was on tour are almost jaw-dropping. I was able to empathize but at the same time often found myself mentally screaming at him to just keep it together. I think it's well written and I found myself unable to put it down.

8// Find the Good by Heather Lende
I absolutely loved this book. Really, any book that can make my eyes do that watery thing is an instant favorite. The author is an obituary writer in Alaska and the book talks about the things she's learned about how to live life. You guys, this book is so sweet. It was just one of those make you smile to yourself, feel good books. I definitely recommend it.

9// Leaving Time by Jodi Piccoult
My God. What an incredible book. Elephants, psychics, a little mystery... This books had everything for me. Read it. Just read it. 

10// The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
I read this after, as usual, putting it off for a while. I listened to the audio version while driving home from NY one night and I fell in love with the story. This book is magical. Pure, soul-inspiring magic. Aside from recommending a book to absolutely everyone who will listen there is only one other honor I could bestow to a book I love. An honor I've never actually given to any book. A re-read. But I adored this story so much I feel it needs to be read and read again. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Read Your Books: The Aftermath

If there's one thing that I think we can all agree on it's that we're all massive book hoarders. How many of us have stacks on stacks on stacks of books on our shelves or waiting in our Kindles to be read and yet there we are in Target or the library getting new books. In an effort to make a dent in those piles Dani and Erin challenged us to "read my books". 

The point of the challenge was to get through as many books we already owned as possible. I talked about my personal TBR and now I'm going to check in and let you know how I did.

So it turns out it took me halfway through the month before I finally picked up a book and didn't put it down after one or two pages. Once I found my groove, though, I knocked out a couple.

S.E.C.R.E.T. (Secret, #1)S.E.C.R.E.T. by L. Marie Adeline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book sometime last year solely because of the cover and the name. What was this S.E.C.R.E.T? Curiosity won and I bought it. Only to let it sit on my shelf.

When I finally decided to read it I was sucked in immediately. For a romance novel, I absolutely loved this book. I went beyond the plot and thought about the lessons this book taught. Self-love. That's the message I received, and I would encourage anyone to read this. The romance scenes aren't cheesy and they're honestly not even the main focus. It's about Cassie wallowing in her misery. Her ex-husband has recently passed and now she must find a way to move forward and reclaim her life. It's about how as a S.E.C.R.E.T. candidate she learns to rebuild her life and reclaim her power. With the help of S.E.C.R.E.T. she does just that. But is she ready to take the plunge and fly on her own?

A Raisin In The SunA Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one of the only books on my original list that I actually read. I'll fully admit that this was chosen because of how short it is. It's a play. I started reading it on the floor one night and finished the first act rather quickly. I was pulled in needing to know what was going on with this southern black family post-war, and what was to become of them.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this. I know because there were so many lines and passages I wanted to highlight.

I think this book should be read by all. Those who want to start creating, those in the middle. Those who have "failed" inn their creation, those who are stuck.

For me, the key thing that I took away was to make and create no matter what. If it's amazing, great. If it's okay, great. If it's terrible, great. The outcome does not matter.

Gilbert touches on the question of what would you do if you knew you couldn't fail. But she goes deeper and asks-and I love this- what would you do knowing that you very well could fall?

I didn't actually own Big Magic, Alyssa does. But she let me borrow it so I'm counting it because I didn't buy it and I didn't get it from the library.

I have to say, I'm mildly disappointed with myself over this. I honestly thought I'd be able to get through more books. In my defense I was in the final stages of editing my friend's book, and our deadline was June 15th. There wasn't a lot of time for pleasure reading. Still, I did clear my shelves of two books.

How did you do?