Hello, February

As the new month starts, it’s time to say HELLO, FEBRUARY

Hello to this shortest month and continually lengthening days and glimpses of the new season to come…

Hello to celebrating Happy Hearts Day…

Hello to winter bulbs coming into bloom…

Hello to a bit less work travel (knock on wood) so some of the January hellos can be enjoyed more this month…

Hello to settling into a new role at work…

Hello to the buzz and build up to the Academy Awards…and trying to see a few more of the nominees before the winners are announce…

Hello to saying goodbye to dear ones who are moving away…

What are you saying HELLO to during this February?

Belatedly linking up with Carole and Kat for Think, Write, Thursday

Reading Roundup…Q4 2016

So, the lack of book posts during the last part of 2016 does not mean that there wasn’t reading happening – in fact, there was plenty of reading happening. Since my last book update, there were 14 flight segments and some vacation time in the midst of work to finish out the year – all of which meant reading time. Before 2017 gets too far underway, a quick check-in on what books filled my time as 2016 ran towards completion.

  • Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein was a fun young audience read that requires the characters to call upon children’s books and games to solve clues to win the great prize as a new library is being opened in town.
  • Books 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 in the James Rollins Sigma Force series – I’m enjoying this series…but to continue reading I will need to switch to picking up the actual book from the library for at least number 8. Really? Why aren’t full series available in the same format?
  • A return to Three Pines in A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny was a good way to pass the time and I continue to work my way through the series as books are available via Overdrive. This is a series where I tend to agree with the buzz in the blogsphere – there’s substance and not just hype.
  • I picked up Hillbilly Elegy: A Memory of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance in October and read it just before the election. It was one of my favorite reads of the year.
  • The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett was a fun combination of a modern day mystery about the provenance of Shakespearean works and flashbacks to what happened in the days of Shakespeare.
  • A modern day retelling of Sense & Sensibility by Joanne Trollope that had sat on my nightstand for far too long was finally finished. I first learned of this book in 2014 when I met up with a book club friend for dinner while I was in London for work – this series of modern day best selling authors taking on the Jane stories in The Austen Project is something I will continue to read along the way. I do wonder if this would be better just as a modern movie remake.
  • The Mackinac Incident was a “deal buy” – a so-so thriller about a terrorist plot to blow up the Mackinac bridge and an unlikely hero trying to thwart the attack; but I picked it up because it was set in the Michigan Upper Peninsula and I enjoyed the descriptions of the area in the story.
  • The Secret to Hummingbird Cake was a nice read focused on 3 friends in a small southern town and how life may not turn out as you plan but friends and cake can help the journey.
  • Hamilton: The Revolution was a good audio read and continued my appreciation of the Hamilton musical phenom.
  • Christmas on Jane Street: A True Story was a quick read to start the Christmas season. When I lived in Chicago, there were several years when I bought my tree from a corner lot similar to the one this author runs in NYC – it was fun to hear about life on the lot.
  • Meet Me at the Cupcake Café was a sweet story by Jenny Colgan – in a similar vein to her Little Street Bakery. The seasonally appropriate sequel Christmas at the Cupcake Café wasn’t quite as flavorful.
  • Letters from Santa was a free novella set in the cold war that was a cute read in the days leading up to Christmas.
  • In the days right after Christmas I finished my first “under the tree” read – The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Turner. As a cat family, Artisan Dad picked it out as a book for us all. In 9 chapters, it was a clever and fact filled read about cats and so much more. An engaging read and along the way there were quite a few tidbits to file away for trivia.

As 2016 reading came to a close, the Goodreads “your year in books” was a fun snapshot of my reading. I had set a challenge to read 44 books during the year and ended with 63 books complete. Of course, who knew that I would end up with so much travel time this year providing so much prime reading time. This is a fun snapshot of my 2016 in reading:

As I turn the page on the 2016 reading, a few observations: it was a year of several series and they will continue into 2017 as they are available via Overdrive; I need to continue to do a better job of balancing fiction with non-fiction as I read; once again, there were several “must read” books that I finally read in 2016 where I definitely felt like the hype wasn’t there for me.

What are you reading these days?
What are your reading goals for 2017? 

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for QuickLit.

Recently…December 2016

Ah, DECEMBER…a month filled with holiday hustle and bustle…first snowfall…twinkling lights…lots of peppermint…mailboxes filled with actual mail as Christmas cards arrive…holiday traditions old and new…connecting with family and friends and more…

In the midst of it all, these are the things that filled my December days…

Reading…a hodge podge of books to end the year: Sigma Force Books 6 & 7 by James Rollins; Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe and Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan; Christmas on Jane Street by Billy Romp; Letters from Santa by Becca Whitham; The Lions in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker…a long overdue review post for the last couple of months is queued up for mid-month…

Watching…lots of Hallmark channel Christmas movies…the Pentatonix Christmas Special was a fun hour – it felt like a classic Christmas special that could stand the test of time…It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, as per family tradition…

Listening…completely in the Christmas music mode…in addition to favorites from Christmases past, this year I added the latest Pentatonix Christmas and The Piano Guys Christmas to the rotation…

Adventing…taking time each day to focus on the reason for celebrating the Christmas season…reading from Watch for the Light in the evening during the season…also, doing a daily scripture writing exercise that pulled from Old and New Testament verses to prepare for Christmas…

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Traveling – Part 1…a quick trip to Milwaukee near the middle of the month…it was the 10th MKE trip for the year…winter temps and winds were in full effect while I was there so my new winter coat was fully tested on the walk to the office each day…the Milwaukee airport was filled with holiday cheer as I waited to head home…

Traveling – Part 2…enjoying 12 days of Christmas in the Ville with family and friends…when the year winds down with lots of unused vacation days, you take them!…this extended time at home deserves a separate post to be published in the next couple of days…

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Traveling – Part 3…ringing in the new year with some of my favorite people over in State College – opening presents, board games & puzzles, First Night State College, tasty meals & beverages, staying up late, plenty of time with my girlies –

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Playing…a fun new board game with the family in the Ville and in State College…Latice is a clever strategy game that combines parts of dominoes & Uno into a game that was fun with all ages…

Baking…lots of Christmas cookies while home for Christmas…

Cooking…most of the month felt like I was cobbling together meals, there wasn’t a strong meal plan…meal planning is back in action in the new year…

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Sipping…all the Christmas flavored coffee, especially enjoying our favorites from Door County CoffeeCranberry Vanilla Wonderland tea was an almost daily iced sipper…adding a shot of elderberry extract into the morning iced tea that already contains apple cider vinegar and ginger…

Looking ahead…as we say Hello, January…a month filled with “new”…and work trips…and full on winter…and more…

What filled your December days?

Linking up with Leigh for the What I’m Into round-up.

Hello, January!

As the 2017 calendars are put into use and the feeling of “new” permeates…a few moments to look ahead and welcome in the month (and the year) and all that it holds…a chance to say HELLO January… 

HELLO to a new year filled with new potential…watching the amaryllis bulb & paper white bulb evolve this month is a fitting reminder of starting anew…

HELLO to a return to meal planning…life is much better when I take a few moments each week to plan out the menus and shop appropriately…

HELLO to a new slate of vacation days and making fun vacation plans…a March trip south on the horizon will warm the cold days of this month…other trip possibilities are ruminating…

HELLO to a new reading goal for the year…and “under the tree” reads to be devoured…this is the sort of weather that makes me want to read all the time…

HELLO to fostering hygge during these winter months…embracing the opportunity to stay cozy in the house when winter weather says it is better to be inside – a fireplace, reading, knitting, cooking – my home is filled with many things to fill the cold times with warmth…

HELLO to more Kon Mari and continuing to cull through unjoyful and unnecessary stuff in the house…a first Green Drop pickup is already on the calendar…

HELLO to new opportunities at work…the chance to stretch and grow while tackling something new…

HELLO to the 12th year of hanging my shingle out at this blog…hello to establishing more rhythm to posting out here, even if nobody is reading…

HELLO to a new “one word” for the year and determining how to live that…hello, FOCUS…

What are you saying HELLO to during this January?

Linking up with Carole and Kat for Think, Write, Thursday.

Recently…November 2016

Ah, NOVEMBER…a month filled with…falling leaves…shorter days…the election…my birthday…unplanned car expenses…Thanksgiving…Giving Tuesday and the start of the advent season…In the midst of it all, these are things that filled my November days…

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Reading…with airplane time & holiday time, an eclectic assortment of books were completed…Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance…The Bookman’s Tale by Charles Lovett…The Last Oracle by James Rollins…Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope…The Mackinac Incident by Len McDougall…The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale…and listening to Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda…

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WatchingThe Durrells in Corfu was a delightful Masterpiece Theater find…easing into Christmas movies on The Hallmark Channel…

Listening…thoroughly enjoying the latest Pink Martini album

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Traveling – Part 1…to Milwaukee to start the month with a 2 day trip that extended to 3 days & confirmed why I always pack just a bit extra for the unexpected delay…on a crisp autumn evening, dinner at a favorite cafe was perfect…

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Traveling – Part 2…a long weekend over to State College with my girls…on Friday morning I had to get the girls off to school – Miss V was ready for the bus way early so we were outside for 35 brisk minutes…fun times exploring local shops & getting a jump start on Christmas gifts…taking Christmas card photos…celebrating my birthday…impromptu concerts…intense board games…all around fun!

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Traveling – Part 3…home to the ‘Ville for a week…(minus a few days for a quick MKE trip)…plenty of R&R time at home with the family…Rebecca & I enjoyed 2 sessions at the local salt room…the family that reads together – one afternoon I looked up from my reading to see that we all had our noses in books or other reading…

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Traveling – Part 4…another 2 day trip to Milwaukee from the ‘Ville…I brought my “traditional” Thanksgiving Monday leftover Nantucket Cranberry Pie for breakfast, even on the road…

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Cooking…a tasty family Thanksgiving menu that included “my” Brussels sprouts…inspired by the Thanksgiving in a Blanket video recipe making the rounds, Mom turned our leftovers into a delicious Stromboli that used her fabulous yeast crescent roll dough…once back home from the Ville, a go to Shepherd’s Pie was whipped up for the week…

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Baking…a delicious Cranberry Pumpkin Muffin recipe that is much healthier than my “go to” of the Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread mix of years past…an easy Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroon recipe to take to the office Thanksgiving luncheon…my Nantucket Cranberry Pie for the annual Thanksgiving lunch at church in the ‘Ville…

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Sipping…Lots of coffee & tea…both hot and iced…splurging on a Vernors during a layover in Detroit…

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Looking ahead…as we say Hello, December…a busy December filled with a couple of weeks of work and then a couple of weeks of time away with dear ones to relax, recharge & celebrate the Christmas and New Year…

What filled your November days?

Linking up with Leigh for the What I’m Into round-up.