Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Report [ #thecirclelinkup ]

Can you believe that it’s almost November?  I definitely can’t.  Time is flying by, and Baby Harrell will be here before we know it!

I know that my blogging has fallen by the wayside since being pregnant, but I have so many things that I’m hoping to put into posts soon… I have nothing but good intentions. :)

First up on that list is a little report of what I’ve been reading lately.  I haven’t done an update on any books I’ve read since July, but not a full post since February… So today I want to link-up again with Kiki at In Its Time for a little twist on this month’s #thecirclelinkup.

Instead of answering the lovely questions that Kiki provided, I wanted to kind of just go through the books that I’ve read lately and give my own little review.  Some good, some not so good… but I’ll be honest. :)

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

“When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened? In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.”

Zack’s mom lent this book to me and it did not disappoint.  This true account of Susannah Cahalan’s experience was equally intriguing and terrifying to read.  I had to constantly remind myself throughout that this was a real story happening to a real person, it was just insane.  I think it would be a good read if you’re interested in psychology but also if you’re in the medical field of any kind.  It’s a good lesson on empathy and truly listening to your patient’s needs and concerns.

Thumbs Up!

Save the Date by Jenn Doll

“In Save the Date, Jen Doll charts the course of her own perennial wedding guesthood, from the ceremony of distant family members when she was eight to the recent nuptials of a new boyfriend’s friends.”

I wanted to like this book, I really did.  I LOVE going to weddings, and I thought this book would be an interesting one for me… Sadly, it was not my favorite.  I felt like the whole book she was trying to make some profound connection between all these weddings and life… but never fully got there.  

Thumbs Down!

The One by Kiera Cass

“The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of IllĂ©a, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.”

This is the third book in “The Selection” series.  I was a fan of the series in general, but I’m really into the YA dystopian genre.  It was a mindless read that entertained, kind of the Bachelor meets YA dystopian society?  Sounds pretty lame, but it’s not as bad as it sounds.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to people, but I wouldn’t advise against reading it also.  I just read somewhere today that Kiera Cass will be writing 2 more books to this series.

Thumbs up!

The One & Only by Emily Giffin

“Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.
But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her.”

That description up there is extremely misleading.  Let me preface by saying I’m normally a huge fan of Emily Giffin’s books… but this one was not my favorite.  I always finish a book no matter how bad it is… but I seriously contemplated not finishing this one.  It was just too weird for me.  Of course I still finished it, but only with the hopes that Giffin could somehow turn it around, but that was not the case.

(big) Thumbs Down!

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

“Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.  Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.  To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.”

I had been meaning to read this book for a long time, I had heard great things.  Luckily it lived up to all the hype and I really enjoyed it!  It was a breath of fresh air after that last read up there. :)  This was my favorite read of the bunch.

Thumbs Up!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

“Eleanor, 15, is the new girl at school and bullied because she's overweight and dresses in a flamboyant manner. Park is a half-Korean boy who has lived in Omaha, Nebraska, all his life but still feels like an outsider. This is a story of first love, which very slowly builds from the first day Eleanor sits next to Park on the school bus. First they ignore each other, and then they slowly become friends through their love of comic books and 1980s alternative music. Park is the only good thing in Eleanor's life. Her home life is a miserable exercise in trying to stay out of her abusive stepfather's way, and finding new ways to wear the same clothes repeatedly since there is no money for anything extra. Park adores everything about Eleanor, and she finds refuge at his house after school with his understanding parents. Things finally explode at Eleanor's house and Eleanor and Park's relationship is truly tested.”

This was another book that I had been wanting to read for awhile and finally got around to it.  The story was heartfelt and it was a good read overall… I was just not a huge fan of the ending.

Thumbs Up!

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What’s next on my reading list?  Someday, Someday, Maybe and Beautiful Ruins… not to mention a couple childbirth books that were recommended to us!

What was the best book you’ve read this year?!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall Favorites [ #thecirclelinkup ]

The crisp air is here and the leaves are changing… it’s officially fall!

fall leaves 2

Today I’m linking up (a bit late) with Kiki to share all my fall favorites!

1. Favorite fall fashion/clothing item?  Boots, boots, boots!  I love when it’s cool enough outside to bring the boots back!  My favorite boots were a Christmas gift from Zack many years ago but they are starting to get a bit saggy, so I may need to invest in a new pair soon.  Honorable mention goes to leggings, scarves, and tights… all are also great fall items.

fall boots

2. Favorite fall drink?  Shocker—I’m not a fan of the beloved PSL. I just can’t hop onboard that train.  I am a lover of iced coffee mostly, but the crisp fall weather really has me craving a hot cup of something delicious.  I’m a fan of dirty vanilla chai's and Mexican mochas. :) 

I will say however, there is a local coffee shop that has a drink special in October called Frankenstein’s Jolt.  It’s a crazy blended concoction that includes chocolate covered espresso beans ground up in the drink… it’s seriously delicious, but definitely not pregnancy approved.  I will be looking forward to getting one next October for sure.

Speaking of pregnancy, my latest craving has been hot chocolate!  Specifically from gas stations at night… for some reason that makes it better. 

3. What's something on your fall bucket list?  Well… To be honest, I am not feeling very ambitious this fall season.  Today marks 30 weeks of pregnancy (!!!) and the exhaustion from growing a human is a very real thing.  I’m being practical this year and setting my standards low… if I get to do all the fun fall festivities, great!  But I’m not going to set myself up for disappointment. :)

4. Favorite fall recipe?  I mentioned a few things in this fall favorites post, like my chicken and white bean chili and these delicious “candy corn” cookies… I would say the cookies especially are a must-make item for the Halloween time!

candy corn cookies

5. Halloween candy or Pumpkin Spice Latte? Candy, for sure!

6. Favorite fall scent? I love the scent outside during the fall.  I don’t love many of the fall scented candles, but the smell outside is a hard one to beat.  (Christmas scented candles on the other hand are a different story, those are my jam.)

7. Favorite fall holiday? Thanksgiving and Halloween… are those my only 2 options?  Halloween is fun, but I love Thanksgiving!  The food in itself makes it a great day… but overall I just look forward to the no-pressure feeling of the day where you can just spend quality time with loved ones and reflect on all the blessings of life!

turkeys

8. What is fall (weather) like where you live?  The typical Oregon fall is mostly full of soggy leaves and lots of rain, but lately it’s been sunny and gorgeous…so we’ve been soaking it up while we can!

fall leaves

What’s your favorite thing about fall?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Third Anniversary Gift Guide Ideas [and my Etsy finds]

anniversary

It’s that time of the year again, September 30th marks Zack and I’s 3rd wedding anniversary! (And unofficially, 6 years since we first kissed!!)

This year we have been extremely nostalgic because it will be the last year celebrating as a childless couple. :)  We can’t wait to have this baby boy added to our little family but needless to say, things will be very different around here.

Each year I have tried to stick to the “traditional” anniversary gift guides, and have so far been pretty successful in finding gifts that both fit the theme, and that Zack has loved.  I’ve posted previously about my first and second anniversary gift ideas, (paper & cotton) and they continue to be some of this blog’s most popular posts!  It looks like I’m not the only one that struggled to come up with creative gifts that fit the traditional theme.

This year the gift theme is “leather.”  More exciting than last year’s cotton, but not as easy to be creative as year one’s paper

My original plan was to buy Zack a watch.  He has a watch that he loves, but it hasn’t worked for a couple years… so I thought it was about time for a new one.  Creative?  No, but it was a gift I knew he needed.  This however changed when Father’s Day rolled around and his mom bought him this awesome wooden watch

Not only was this such a great gift in general, he loved it way more than any leather watch I would have been able to find. (Mom for the win! :)

So it was back to the drawing boards…

Here’s what I ended up with:

(I am posting this prior to actually giving it to him on the 30th… so if you’re reading this and you see/talk to him, don’t tell him! :)

Dumbledore’s Office Candle via Frostbeard on Etsy

I found this candle when I was searching for unique “leather” gifts.  As I’ve mentioned before here and here, Zack and I have loved listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks in the car during our longer car rides.  Now that we’ve finished the series we are so sad!!  But I can say Zack is almost as big of a HP fan as I am. :)

One description that I read of this candle scent said, “Cedarwood, Vanilla, Fireplace and Lemon with a hint of leather.”  After I purchased the candle the “leather” part of the description disappeared… so maybe this is a bit of a stretch?  I am going to call it good because you know Dumbledore’s office was filled with tons of leather bound books, it had to of affected the scent a little.  Right?  Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. :)

Chelsea Shorts via World Soccer Shop

This is not a leather gift, nor is it a creative one… but Zack’s current pair of Chelsea shorts are worn, stained, and ready to be retired.  It may not be the most innovative idea, but it is something I know he will love.

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Here are some other third anniversary gift ideas that I found that are more fitting for the traditional leather theme:

third anniversary leather gift ideas

-one- This leather luggage tag from Exsect would be the perfect gift idea for the traveling couple!  I love the personalization of the anniversary date, and then adding the unique coordinates makes it extra special.  I would love to do the coordinates where we got married, or maybe even where we took our honeymoon!

-two- For your book loving husband or wife, this Leather Bounded Book scented candle from FoxyFrogScents would be such a great gift idea.  Very affordable too!

-three- I love the subtleness of this personalized leather belt from moxieandoliver.  You could add your wedding vows, lyrics to your first dance song, or even just a personalized 3rd anniversary message.  It’s done in a classy way where it looks fashionable without being cheesy.

-four- This leather shaving bag from MarbleHillStudio is a classic choice for any husband. :)  I thought about purchasing this for Zack, but he already has a shaving bag that he loves… But this one is much nicer!

-five- I love this personalized men’s wallet from styledbydeniss, much like the belt above it’s subtle but very special!

-six- Finally, this leather accented card from ArtBySeezal is the perfect gift for the picky husband.  It sticks with the traditional leather theme, and it is so cute!  There are also cards specialized for other years too like cotton and wood.  It would be a fun tradition to get these special cards every year!

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Do you give the traditional wedding gifts?  What did you give/get for your third anniversary?

Be sure to check out my first and second anniversary gift guides too!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Baby Harrell [weeks 23-26]

bumpdate

Baby is the size of…  a mango [23], an ear of corn [24], a rutabaga or eggplant [25], and a scallion [26].

eggplant

Big Developments… “The network of nerves in your baby's ears is better developed and more sensitive than before. He may now be able to hear both your voice and your partner's as you chat with each other. He's inhaling and exhaling small amounts of amniotic fluid, which is essential for the development of his lungs. These so-called breathing movements are also good practice for when he's born and takes that first gulp of air. And he's continuing to put on baby fat. He now weighs about 1 2/3 pounds and measures 14 inches from head to heel.” (From Baby Center)

Cravings? APPLES!  This is the biggest craving I’ve had that’s lasted over the past few weeks.  Sweets in general are the only things sounding good to me, but I try and stick to mostly apples to keep it on the healthy side. 

Also, the craving for coffee is back with full force.  I have missed coffee a lot, but when I was sick all the time it did not sound appealing.  I have started drinking some decaf coffees every once in awhile.

Aversions? A lot of things are still not sounding great—macaroni and cheese and chicken strips especially.  I am, for the most part, feeling a lot better! *knock on wood*

Sleep? Zack and I have been working a lot lately so I’ve been extra sleepy.  This however, has not changed my sleep habits… I’m still tossing and turning all night long.  

Other Symptoms? I have been having some really bad back pains.  We were able to take a trip down South to visit Zack’s family last week and Zack surprised me with a prenatal massage!! It was so amazing, and it helped for a few hours… but then the pains were back again.  I’m sure they will only get worse as I get bigger, but it is rough!

Our baby boy has been moving around like crazy! Zack has been able to feel him a lot, and his mom and cousin were able to feel him too while we were visiting!  I am starting to see my stomach move from the outside too which is just crazy.  It is really strange to feel something so active inside of you… but I am thankful for the insane blessing of being pregnant and the constant reminder that he is alive and well. :) 

What I Miss?  Feeling “normal.”  I can’t remember what it feels like to be hungry.  I just get nauseous instead… and to just sit without any aches or pains.

I am not meaning to sound like a complainer—I am so thankful for this experience… I just want to document everything so I can remember it all and maybe even compare to a future pregnancy. :)

Maternity Clothes?  I finally found some maternity pants that fit!  I am so excited for the cooler weather to wear them now!  I also got a few more hand-me-downs from Zack’s cousin… My closet is packed and ready for cooler weather.

New Baby Items? Oh man you guys… This little guy is going to be one fashionable dude.  We have been so extremely blessed with so many amazing hand-me-downs  and gifts from so many people.  We are set from birth to about 9 months!  We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the generosity from our families and friends.

Now we just need to start putting his room together… it’s filled with boxes and tubs at the moment and my nesting brain is starting to kick in.

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That is all. Until next time, folks! :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Life Lately

This is kind of a random post, but I feel like I haven’t just sat and blogged lately, just put my fingers to the keyboard and typed out whatever…

I haven’t had much energy to do all the of posts I have been hoping to write, I have been keeping a list in my phone and still hope to do them one day when, *fingers crossed,* my energy returns.

So without further ado, here is a general bulleted look inside my brain right now…

  • Last week we were able to sneak away to visit Zack’s family down South and it was so great!  It was a much needed break from work and we managed to cram our summer relaxing into 5 short days.  It was glorious.

medford collage

1. My pillow setup for the long car ride. 2. We love roadtrips. 3. My handsome husband enjoying coffee in our favorite little town to visit. :)

  • For the past year or so we have been listening to all the Harry Potter audio books during our long roadtrips.  It has been awesome to share my love for HP with Zack who isn’t much of a reader… and it keeps him awake while driving which I obviously love too!  Sadly, we just finished the last one!!  Any suggestions for good audiobooks?  HP will be hard to beat, but we’re open to suggestions.
  • At my next prenatal appointment I have to do the glucose test and for some reason I am really dreading it.  I’m just worried I will get sick everywhere and have to do it all again… and of course I’m also nervous about getting the results!  I haven’t been able to really eat very well throughout this pregnancy, and I don’t know if that helps prevent gestational diabetes (?) but I am just stressing about it.
  • Other than that worry I have been so surprised with myself throughout this pregnancy.  It is my general nature to worry and over prepare for everything.  But thus far this has not been the case.  Yes, I worried a lot during the first trimester which I think is normal, but after 20 weeks those really diminished.  Zack has been very proud that I haven’t been stressing as much as he expected… and I am actually proud of myself too.  I think it has been a total God thing, there’s no way I could normally be like this.  I found the above image below when I first found out I was pregnant, and I read it when I get those little doubts creeping in.  It has been really helpful!

  • This past Sunday night we were able to watch our sweet niece Harper overnight for the first time!  She is such a joy and we had so much fun!  Unfortunately, Zack worked late the night before, and we both had to work early the next day… so our time with her was limited, but we are already looking forward to our next little sleepover with her. :)

harper

Well, that’s all for now… I am hoping to get a “bumpdate” up this Friday, but we will see.  Thanks for bearing with me during this weird little blogging hiatus.  I appreciate all of you. :)